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November 15, 2017

Liberals drop pledge to waive GST for new rental-housing construction

The federal government is dropping a campaign pledge to waive the GST on the construction of new rental units, claiming research has shown there are better ways to boost the supply of affordable housing.

The GST plan is one of just three pledges out of 364 government commitments that are listed on a new tracking website as “not being pursued.” The federal website, launched Tuesday, lists the government’s progress on the items in the mandate letters provided to cabinet ministers.

Most of the mandate-letter pledges reflect political promises made by the Liberal Party during the 2015 election campaign. The disclosure of mandate letters and follow-up tracking is part of a broader pledge to be more transparent about government objectives and whether or not they have been achieved.

The new website places pledges into six categories: 66 were listed as “completed fully met;” one – the resettlement of 25,000 Syrian refugees – is listed as “completed modified” because the target was not achieved as quickly as promised; 218 are listed as “under way on track;” 13 are “under way with challenges;” three are “not being pursued;” and 21 are listed as an “on-going commitment.”

The classification was the result of conversations between public servants in departments and public servants at the central Privy Council Office, but the ultimate decisions are political and made by cabinet.

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