“Canadians are struggling right now,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters after a meeting of the Liberal Caucus in London, Ontario. “And we’re going to be there, as we always have been, to have people’s backs, to invest in the kinds of things that support Canadians and grow the economy at the same time.”

The pressure is on for the Liberals as they straddle behind Conservatives in popularity. The entire Liberal Caucus surrounded Trudeau as he unveiled new measures to increase housing supply and address affordability issues across Canada. The first measure was the axing of the GST for rental property developers in hopes of spurring more development.

The federal government also issued a challenge to municipalities to repeal or amend exclusionary zoning policies to access the government’s housing accelerator fund. The City of London is one municipality that has already done this, as the Liberals announced federally assisted housing projects in the region.

While it is a positive move in the right direction to address the housing supply, many economists believe much more needs to be done to produce the 3.5 million units needed by 2030 to meet future demand.

Trudeau also announced that he would be calling the heads of the country’s largest grocery chains to come up with a plan to bring down the price of goods in the near term. The Prime Minister threatened that if the grocery CEOs did not produce a plan, then “(the government) will take further action, and we are not ruling anything out, including tax measures.”

The Leader of the NDP, Jagmeet Singh, had already taken a similar action months ago. However, calling CEOs of grocery chains to Capitol Hill had little result in changing prices for ordinary Canadians.

The Liberal’s new measures are obviously a response to the rise of Pierre Poilievre’s Conservatives in the polls. The Conservative leader has made pocketbook issues the heart of his ad campaigns this past summer. Trudeau is under the gun to improve economic conditions for struggling Canadians before the next election or risk a dismal performance for his Liberal party.

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