Posts Tagged ‘housing security’

No National Housing Strategy for Canada

March 12, 2013

A few days ago  I read a blog post on the ALIV(e) (Awareness of Low Income Voices) blog. A woman was talking about how hard it was to afford a two bedroom apartment for her and her daughter with a disability, and how they needed to move into a one bedroom to be able to afford the rent when only receiving ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) payments (read the full post here). She wrote about how without the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB)—which has been cut from social assistance this year—she would not have been able to afford first and last month’s rent on the smaller apartment, and would have ended up homeless or in a shelter due to rising rent costs on her two bedroom. She would not have been able to downsize to save money to support her and her daughter. Had she been in this same situation this year instead of last, she would be in the shelter system, which costs the province and region far more money, and is far less healthy for those involved.

This woman’s situation is, unfortunately, not unique. Many people in Waterloo Region, and indeed across Canada, who are on social assistance cannot afford rising rent costs on a stagnating monthly rate. Many will need to take apartments in ill-repair, which may have mold or utilities that do not work. Others will end up homeless living on the street or in shelters, or become what we call the invisible homeless, living with friends or family but not really having a place of their own.

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For these reasons, I was excited to see that NDP MP Marie-Claude Morin introduced Bill C-400: An Act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians in parliament. The bill called for the government to consult groups involved in housing, including provinces, municipalities, and aboriginal groups, and report back to parliament with a report on a national housing strategy. As Guelph MP Frank Valeriote points out in this speech, Canada is the only G8 country without at national housing strategy. As a country, we need to have a plan to house everyone in safe accommodations that fit the size of the family. Many studies, including this one from the Wellesley Institute, show that this will lead to improved health conditions for Canadians.

Though Bill C-400 passed the first reading in parliament, on Wednesday, February 27th it was voted down to be read a second time. Though every MP from the Bloc, NDP, and Liberals voted for the bill, every Conservative MP voted against it. It should be noted that with private members bills, MPs are free to vote how they choose and are not legally obligated to follow party lines. Click here to see the full breakdown of votes.

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