Open Letter to Paul Martin on Housing

Dear Prime Minister,

I wanted to take this opportunity to offer my congratulations as you take on the challenging role of Prime Minister. Like many, I watched as the new members of your cabinet were sworn in on Friday December 12. I was shocked to discover that there would no longer be a Minister of State (Housing). Later that day, CMHC did confirm that Hon. David Anderson, Minister of the Environment would be the Cabinet member responsible for that specific crown corporation.

This sends a strong message that affordable housing has been further downgraded by your government. We are facing a nation wide affordable housing shortage and we need strong dedicated leadership. As you are well aware, in November of 2001 the federal government signed with the provinces and territories an Affordable Housing Framework Agreement. Now more than two years later many of the provinces have not matched the federal monies as agreed to. Without a member of cabinet focused on housing, I see little chance of any significant progress made on this file.

As Housing Critic and co-chair of the Liberal task force on housing when your party was in opposition you made strong denouncements of the then federal government. In 1990 you made the following statement about the Conservative government’s lack of leadership around affordable housing:

“…the government sits there and does nothing; it refuses to apply urgent measures that are required to reverse this deteriorating situation…The lack of affordable housing contributes to and accelerates the cycle of poverty, which is reprehensible in society as rich as ours.”

I urge your government to make affordable housing a priority. The federal government must be an active player in insuring Canadians have access to decent and affordable housing. As you promise change and democratic reform let’s also see basic principles of equality met by showing strong federal leadership in the area of affordable housing.

I look forward to your response on this important issue.

Libby Davies MP, Vancouver East