Federal officials are ironing out the details of a program to help cities buy properties left vacant due to the pandemic so they can quickly create affordable housing.
The government has considered the property acquisition program for months as it looks to keep people falling into homelessness heading into the winter with temporary shelter measures set to expire.
That could lead to overcrowding in existing emergency shelters, or push more people onto the street and create the conditions for the novel coronavirus to spread among people who are already vulnerable.
Sources who have been part of discussions with federal officials about the scope of a program, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail private conversations, say the Liberals are considering whether to announce a program before their throne speech later this month or to wait and include it in the speech.
Mayors of Canada’s biggest cities hope for the former.
The municipal leaders say they could use the money quickly to buy buildings set to be sold soon, rather than have to wait months or years for the construction of new affordable units.