Sixty-two and one-half years – that’s how long the federal government will have to spend on affordable housing, at the current rate, to equal the $125 billion “emergency” bailout package for banks and other mortgage lenders that federal finance minister James Flaherty has just extended. The profits of Canadian banks have slipped slightly from the record-breaking levels of 2005, 2006 and 2007, but the big six are still racking up billions in profits. Banks have tapped into about half the federal dollars that are on offer, and the government money is basically a form of cheap funding designed to provide a private backstop the private mortgage industry. While the federal government was quick last fall to put the unprecedented bank bailout fund in place, federal investments in affordable housing for low and moderate income Canadians (including the 400,000 jobs lost since the recession started) have remained relatively stagnant. The “step-out” in federal housing programs from the 1970s means that there is an automatic annual decrease in federal investments in existing affordable housing. In September of 2008, the federal government extended funding for its national homelessness initiative, and several related housing programs, with funding frozen at previous levels for the next five years. In the January economic stimulus budget, the federal government announced an additional $1 billion annually this year and next for affordable housing investments.