Ottawa- “Canada needs a National Housing Strategy,” says NDP MP Libby Davies (Vancouver East), who tabled a Bill today in the House of Commons to establish such a strategy. Seconded by NDP Housing Critic, MP Megan Leslie (Halifax), the Bill brings all levels of government together to work to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for all Canadians.
“Rising unemployment and the cost of housing, and the lack of safe, affordable housing affect the health and wellbeing of tens of thousands of Canadians,” said Davies. “The federal government must step up to take an immediate and coordinated approach to address this growing crisis.”
The Bill calls on the federal government to work with provincial, municipal and aboriginal counterparts to establish a national housing strategy to ensure the cost of housing does not interfere with the ability to meet other basic needs like food and access to education.
“Investment in social infrastructure makes economic sense and puts Canada on track to meet its national and international commitments to end homelessness,” said Leslie.
Until the mid 1990s, Canada led programs developing cooperative and not-for-profit housing but has done little in the past decade. The federal government has recently been criticized by the United Nations and housing advocates across the country for its lack of action on affordable housing and homelessness.
And the NDP isn’t impressed by recent allocations for housing in the Conservative budget.
“There have been dozens of budget announcements for housing in the past, but a fraction of that money gets spent because of untenable requirements, including matching provincial funds,” added Davies. “We need strong legislation to guarantee that money is turned into housing.”
“Forcing cash strapped municipalities to come up with more funds for housing is a burden they simply can’t afford,” said Leslie.
The Bill also calls for:
• Not for profit housing
• Housing for the homeless
• Access to housing for those with different needs including seniors and the disabled
• Sustainable and environmentally sound design standards for new housing