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VIEW FROM THE HILL: MPs probing how to spend $4B on housing acceleration

Newmarket-Aurora MP Tony Van Bynen weighs in on housing measures in federal budget, end of blood donation ban for gay men in our monthly video interview

View from the Hill is a monthly series in which Newmarket-Aurora MP Tony Van Bynen answers questions about the major federal issues of the day in a video format.

Newmarket-Aurora MP Tony Van Bynen said all levels of government should work together to address the housing affordability crisis.

The federal government released its budget last month, which included billions toward addressing the issue. Included is a $4-billion housing accelerator meant to deal with red tape at the municipal level, with Van Bynen studying it at the committee level. 

In this week’s View From the Hill, NewmarketToday asked Van Bynen about how the federal government is dealing with housing, as well as a policy change on blood donations. NewmarketToday provides general topics of discussion before the interview but not specific questions.

A summary of the interview is below:

Q: The federal government introduced its budget, which includes initiatives on housing, such as a $4-billion housing accelerator fund to address red tape at the municipal level. How substantive do you think the government measures are? Is it enough to curb the housing affordability crisis we find ourselves in?

Van Bynen said the housing accelerator will work to figure out how to get some “bureaucracy out of the way."

“How can we provide an incentive for people — not just private enterprise but municipalities and regions — to go forward and activate and make housing available?” Van Bynen said.

He said he is a member of a committee studying the issue to find how to make the fund most effective. He said they hope to have recommendations by September. 

Q: Bureaucracy at the municipal level has been a focal point with the province, as well. That’s led to some friction, with local municipalities questioning the province’s approach and exactly who is to blame for developments getting bogged down. How do you see that conversation, as far as how much municipalities may be at fault for slowing down development?

Van Bynen said the committee will work to define the problem and address it.

“Rather than blaming people, I’d like to have an understanding of where the bog-down is, or where the slowed down process is so we can find a solution,” he said.

He said he would like to have all levels of government sit together at one table to process development and help it progress.

“There are so many levels of government involved, and the challenge of the federal government is it’s not just levels of government, but you have different jurisdictions across different provinces as well,” Van Bynen said. “It’s a significant challenge.”

Q: Health Canada made some changes regarding blood donations. Gay men will no longer have a three-month wait to donate after sexual activity, and instead, Canadian Blood Services will screen all donors on their sexual practices to determine if a wait is necessary. Eliminating discriminatory practices in blood donations has been an issue for years, with the Liberals promising it in 2015 and the Liberal government facing criticism for not moving on this faster. Why did it take as long as it did? 

Van Bynen said Canada faced an issue with disease transmission through donated blood.

“Similar to COVID, we didn’t understand enough of it when it started, so we take an overcautious perspective,” Van Bynen said. “I’m glad to see, with the help of science and research, we’ve been able to come to the point now where we know we can go forward safely.”

He acknowledged the discrimination and said it is unfortunate.

“I’m glad to see we’re making really good progress now and hopefully we’ll find a better way to deal with risk issues in all aspects of health care.”