The official communiqué from the federal provincial and territorial housing ministers is little more than a collective pat on the back. The Ministers met Friday, December 4, in Gatineau for their first national housing summit since 2005. With a record 1.5 million Canadian households in core housing need, and another two million living in substandard housing, the comments about “significant progress” and “good progress” seem to fall short of the reality. The Ministers confirmed that they will keep their housing funding promises for the next five years – even though recent information from the federal government shows that they only managed to commit 3% of the $1.9 billion promised over the last 14 months.
The lack of progress in moving towards a comprehensive and fully-funded national housing plan underlines the urgent need for Bill C-304, draft legislation that is being reviewed by a Commons committee. The bill would require the federal housing minister to consult widely and bring a national housing plan back to Parliament for its review within 180 days.
The full text of the FPT communiqué is printed below.
Federal-Provincial-Territorial Meeting of Ministers responsible for Housing
Gatineau, Quebec – December 4, 2009
FEDERAL / PROVINCIAL / TERRITORIAL HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS MINISTERS COMMITTED TO HELPING VULNERABLE CANADIANS AND CREATING JOBS
GATINEAU, December 4, 2009 – Federal-Provincial-Territorial ministers responsible for housing and homelessness met today to discuss progress on joint efforts to improve housing for vulnerable Canadians and to stimulate the economy. Ministers also discussed investments in housing, homelessness and social infrastructure, notably those announced in Canada’s Economic Action Plan and provincial and territorial economic stimulus plans.
The meeting was co-chaired by the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and the Honourable Yvonne Fritz, Alberta’s Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs.
“Stimulating the economy and creating jobs is a priority for our government under Canada’s Economic Action Plan,” said Minister Finley. “Housing investments are a key element to this plan and all orders of government have been working very hard to get investments on the ground quickly. Together with our provincial and territorial partners, our efforts have resulted in significant progress in implementing housing-related economic stimulus measures.”
“Housing ministers from across the country have come together to discuss strategies to help our most vulnerable people meet their core housing needs,” said Minister Fritz. “We have achieved good progress, and we look forward to building on this momentum.”
Federal, provincial and territorial governments invest in a wide-range of housing and homelessness programs targeted to Canadians in need, including homeless people, low-income families, seniors, persons with disabilities, northern communities, recent immigrants, Aboriginal peoples and victims of family violence.
In addition to the work being done in each jurisdiction, Ministers have also been working together to invest in and deliver funding for housing initiatives to stimulate the economy, notably under Canada’s Economic Action Plan and provincial and territorial economic stimulus plans. These investments will build new and renovate existing social housing for low-income Canadians. To promote quick implementation of these measures, the majority of the funding is being cost-matched and delivered by the provinces and territories through amendments to existing agreements, where provinces and territories are responsible for the design and delivery of the specific initiatives. As a result, housing-related funding has moved quickly into communities and many projects have begun.
Ministers recognize that addressing housing and homelessness issues requires the coordination of all orders of government, the private and non-profit sectors. Ministers agreed to build on recent discussions and look forward to continuing their collaboration, ongoing dialogue and making improvements on their joint investments in housing and homelessness initiatives, including funding through to 2014.