An average of 20,000 Montrealers a year leave the island and migrate to the suburbs, and the Quebec government wants to do something about it.

Yesterday Jean-François Lisée, the minister responsible for Montreal, released a report he commissioned looking into why so many young families are leaving the island.

He said families would stay if they could, but a shortage of affordable, single-family housing is leading to an exodus to the suburbs, where homes can cost under $100,000.

“Their first choice is to stay in Montreal, and they cannot afford it, or even if they can afford it, the supply of apartments with a third room is simply not there," Lisée said.

He said the key is to lower costs through the laws of supply and demand. Tax incentives for developers who build low-cost housing or renovators who fix up existing ones are also ideas on the table, as is a possible bank of public land set aside for single-family homes.

“If we can achieve the supply and we lower the cost, they will come,” he said.

Ad campaigns by various governments emphasizing the quality of life on the island have failed, Lisée said.

“Clearly, a number of measures have been taken, but it’s not enough. So we need to do more. We will do more,” he said.