The Premiers of Canada’s provinces have made a strong commitment to negotiating a comprehensive, long-term national housing plan with the federal government. The new commitment came on the final day of the Council of the Federation meeting in Niagara-on-the-Lake on July 26.
The millions of Canadians living in more than 1.5 million households that are precariously housed, along with tens of thousands of Canadians who are homeless, were looking to the Premiers’ meeting for action on housing and homelessness. Housing experts and advocates, along with faith, community and business leaders, had all called for a new commitment from the political leaders of Canada’s provinces in advance of the CoF meeting.
The final communiqué begins with a strong statement about the strong links between public services and the social and economic health of Canadians: “Premiers are committed to a fair and inclusive society where citizens have access to public services that support their well-being and help them contribute to the social and economic fabric of society”.
The specific housing commitment notes that “Premiers underscored the importance of access to affordable and social housing. They acknowledged that although measures are in place, these measures are insufficient.”
The Premiers have “called on the federal government to work with ministers of housing on a long-term federal funding commitment for housing, which would outline a comprehensive and sustainable strategy to effectively meet the diverse housing needs for both today and future generations”.
The Council of the Federation meeting was chaired by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and, although most of the sessions were held in private, the commitment to housing has reportedly been taken up by most of the Premiers.
While federal, provincial and territorial housing ministers met for several national summits during the first decade of the 21st century, and signed several short-term housing agreements, there has not been a national housing summit that engages the federal, provincial and territorial governments for the past four years.
More information on national housing and homelessness issues: the Wellesley Institute’s Precarious Housing in Canada
The first national State of Homelessness in Canada report from the Homeless Hub and the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness