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Canada’s Housing Crisis Will Persist on Tradespeople Shortage, CBRE Says

(Bloomberg) -- Canada doesn’t have enough skilled tradespeople to build its way out of its current housing shortage, threatening long-term damage to the country’s social fabric, according to a top executive at one of the world’s biggest real estate firms.

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Housing is becoming the central issue ahead of Canada’s next general election, currently expected in 2025, with a lack of dwellings and rapid population growth driving up prices. The country needs an additional 3.5 million homes, which would involve more than doubling its pace of construction, according to a 2022 study from Canada’s national housing agency.

“The inconvenient truth is that we are not going to hit those targets — we will likely not get anywhere close to those targets,” Paul Morassutti, CBRE Group Inc.’s chairman in Canada, said at the Vancouver Real Estate Forum on Wednesday. “Even if we had approvals across the country to build thousands of units, we cannot physically build them, because we don’t have enough trades.”

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Policymakers must “get something done, because this is definitely a crisis,” he said. There’s little sign that home prices will fall as supply-demand imbalances have only gotten worse, and they may even rise once buyers return to the market, Morassutti said.

“The scale of the problem, which has been many years in the making, is massive,” he said. “Income inequality and housing affordability are very pernicious issues. Left unaddressed, the damage to our social and economic fabric will only worsen.”

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