NBMC’s Response to Rental Review Report

by New Brunswick Multicultural Council
May 11, 2021

Fredericton, NB The Government of New Brunswick (GNB) released their final report on the New Brunswick rental landscape on May 7th,.  The report presented the results of a 90-Day rental review, throughout which the New Brunswick Multicultural Council (NBMC) and its member agencies actively participated.

In its involvement, NBMC called for a stronger strategy to develop and offer affordable, adequate and community-integrated housing for newcomers arriving in New Brunswick, especially in rural areas, and to address systemic racism and discrimination in the rental sector.  Housing shortages, lack of housing options for larger families, income-to-rent disparity and low quality of rental options have been identified as ongoing issues for newcomers looking to establish themselves in their first home in New Brunswick. NBMC has also been working in close collaboration with employers across the province looking to grow their workforce but grappling with housing shortages near their workplace.

NBMC applauds the inclusion of its proposed recommendation to invest in a business plan for a provincial non-profit rural workforce housing development corporation, an initiative led by NBMC in partnership with the New Brunswick Business Council (NBBC).

We are pleased to see the concerns from the newcomer communities shared in this report, and to see workforce housing development included in the list of recommendations,” said Moncef Lakouas, president of NBMC. “We believe this initiative will add capacity where there is currently a gap and support communities across the province in welcoming newcomers looking to establish roots in New Brunswick”.

NBMC acknowledges that there is still much work to be done to develop new, affordable and inclusive housing in both rural and urban New Brunswick, and that this initiative will require strong partnerships across the province.

Many employers in rural communities are struggling to find housing for new employees and we expect the problem to worsen in the years ahead, as immigration efforts ramp up to address the growing number of retirements across the province” added Alex LeBlanc, CEO of NBBC. “We believe that a non-profit Workforce Housing Development Corporation, focused on rural communities, could be a key part of the solution mix – especially where non-profit capacity is lacking and private developers are unable or unwilling to respond to a clear need faced by employers and newcomers.”

NBMC also recognizes that more work is needed to protect tenants and to ensure rental units are appropriate for families – in NBMC’s recent survey on systemic racism, nearly 64% of respondents perceived racism in the housing sector, such as being denied rental  based on their race or ethnicity or facing discrimination and attacks from neighbours.

Newcomers face additional challenges in finding housing in New Brunswick, including additional red tape to purchase a home, discrimination, arriving with larger families and lack of familiarity with the region or how to find available rentals,” noted Ginette Gautreau, Interim Executive Director at NBMC. “We hope that moving forward, the government will further invest not only in housing developments, but also in protective measures and incentives for affordable and diverse housing for all New Brunswickers.”

We know that access to affordable and quality housing is a human right. We want New Brunswick to be the destination of choice for newcomers hoping to start a new life in Canada. However, that will not be possible unless we continue to work towards better rental protections and more affordable and accessible housing options.  NBMC is committed to continuing its work with government partners to enhance its housing strategy to meet the needs of a growing New Brunswick population and address ongoing challenges in the rental landscape.