Letter to Minister on CCPA/TRAC Report on State of Social Housing in BC

The Honourable Joe Fontana,
Minister of Labour and Housing
House of Commons, Ottawa
Dear Minister,

I writing to bring to your attention a recent report released by the Canadians Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and the Tenants’ Rights Action Coalition titled Home Security: The State of Social Housing in BC.

The report finds that the BC provincial government is diverting funds earmarked for housing into assisting living spaces to meet provincial health care commitments. While assisted living spaces are needed in BC so is social housing.

As you are well aware in 1990 you co-chaired a Liberal Task Force on Housing with now Prime Minister Paul Martin. In the report you described the need for a federal role as “leadership must come from one source; and a national vision requires some national direction.” The Liberal Red Book of 2000 went on to promise $680 million over four years on affordable housing. The Affordable Housing Framework Agreement signed in November 2001 was finally introduced as a cost sharing agreement with the provinces. However, the Agreement has done very little to created more available affordable housing, there is an urgent need for federal leadership.

Many provinces have not come close to matching the federal funds dedicated and in the case of BC they are spending the funds in other areas. I believe it is the federal government’s responsibility to ensure that there is accountability for the funds earmarked for affordable housing. There is a pressing need for affordable and social housing in communities across the country. It is time that the federal government invoke an accountability mechanism.

I urge you to direct CHMC to release the Annual Statement of Expenditures and Annual Performance Reports, as required under the bilateral housing deals. This would allow for a clear assessment of how affective the Affordable Housing Framework Agreement has been and let it be known how much remains uncommitted of the $1 billion promised.

I would also like you to take up with the BC government the redirection of funds for affordable housing to other programs; this practice cannot be permitted.

I look forward to your reply on this important matter.

Libby Davies, MP (Vancouver-East)
NDP Critic for Housing and Homelessness