Canada is one step farther from establishing a national housing strategy.
On February 27, Bill C-400, An Act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians, failed to pass to Committee for review. This puts a complete stop to the bill introduced by an Opposition member almost a year ago.
The bill called for all levels of government to agree on a plan to ensure all Canadians have access to housing. As the voting showed, political sway dictates how Canada handles affordable housing.
It is well known that Canada is the only G8 country without a national housing strategy. Instead, the federal government uses an Affordable Housing Framework to reduce housing need across Canada.
Under the Framework model, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation manages the federal funds. Provinces and territories enter into Investment in Affordable Housing bilateral agreements and cost-match the federal contribution. Program design and delivery takes place at the provincial level. The newest Framework runs from 2011-2014.
The drive to require the federal government to create a national strategy through legislation is not new. Since offloading social housing and related programs to provinces and territories in 1993, the federal government has been merely an indirect participant.
Committees in both the Commons and Senate have proposed adoption of a national strategy.
But as chair of British Columbia’s Tri-Cities Homelessness and Housing Task Group Sandy Burpee noted, the current economic climate makes it unlikely that the federal government will embrace restarting a federal housing program.
Use of a loosely styled framework may seem prudent to allow for localized programming to meet identified needs and priorities, but it is a missed opportunity.
In 2009, the Wellesley institute aptly laid out four reasons that Canada needs a national housing strategy:
Those reasons are still valid today.
The federal government wants to work more closely on affordable housing;
Provincial and territorial governments want to contribute to creation of the strategy;
The value of affordable housing investments can be ascertained;
Housing programs will be less fragmented and uncoordinated.
As blogger Megan Yarema put it, “Canada has an incessant housing problem that will only be addressed through targeted pro-active measures across the country.”
A country-wide response to affordable housing would also enable a concerted focus on prevention rather than treatment. Reports and studies have shown that identifying and managing houses issues before they become problems is more effective than dealing with the aftermath.
Now more than ever, federal government leadership is needed to address the issue of affordable housing.
Homes for Women Campaign Launched
Homes for Women, a broad-based national campaign to raise public awareness of women's homelessness, foster public policy and program change and spark individual, community, corporate and government action to prevent, reduce and eventually end women's homelessness, was launched in Ottawa. The campaign is hosted by YWCA Canada. Partner organizations include Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, Canada Without Poverty, All Our Sisters, Justice for Girls, the Canadian Women's Foundation and YWCAs and YMCA-YWCAs across Canada.
The Homes for Women Campaign is supported by new polling information. Women have become Canada’s fastest growing homeless population, but action can reverse the trend, organizers say.
Insecure Employment Doubles in Past 20 Years
A new study by McMaster University and United Way Toronto, which surveyed 4,000 working adults, found that only about 60 per cent of adult workers in the Toronto and Hamilton areas have permanent jobs. The remaining 40 per cent work in “precarious employment” — jobs that are temporary, part-time or contract – and without stable paycheques or benefits. The study also found that precarious employment or insecure work has increased by 50 per cent over the past 20 years. The report, It’s More than Poverty: Employment Precarity and Household Well-being, says unstable jobs has a harmful effect on families and communities.
Coldest Night of the Year Walk Raises Over a Million
On February 23, 2013, people walked in support of The Coldest Night of the Year, a non-competitive 5- and 10-km winter-walk fundraiser supporting select Canadian charities that serve the hungry, homeless and hurting in cities and communities across Canada. #CNOY raised over $1 million this year.
CBC Special Sheds Spotlight on Homeless in Nova Scotia
The CBC's Angela MacIvor recently spent a few weeks speaking to people who are homeless, and the people who help them in Nova Scotia. CBC aired a special feature each day on a different subject affecting the homeless.
University Students Sleep Outdoors for the Homeless
From March 10-15, 2013, University students across Canada will sleep outside for 5 Days for the Homeless (@5days_Homeless) - a campaign which aims to create awareness and raise funds for the homeless in communities across Canada. The campaign was launched in 2005 and has raised close to a million dollars for local charities working with the homeless.
CMHC Changes Lending Rules
The federal government announced changes to CMHC’s lending programs that support existing social housing projects. The changes will allow non-profit and co-operative housing sponsor groups to refinance in order to undertake needed capital repairs and renovations and extend the life of their projects.
New Affordable Housing Opens in Winnipeg
The governments of Canada and Manitoba celebrated the construction of the Living Gospel Church Family Place, a seven storey, 38-unit apartment building that will enhance housing quality and accessibility for families in Winnipeg.
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