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OTTAWA – Seven provinces have signed up to an assistance program launched under the National Housing Strategy, new documents show.
So far, the government has announced agreements with four of them for the “Canada Housing Benefit” component, which should benefit low-income families, veterans, Aboriginals and refugees.
Money has already been paid to Ontario, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Documents submitted last week to the House of Commons indicate that agreements have also been reached with three other unnamed provinces.
In October, the governments of Canada and Quebec announced a housing agreement that included $ 454.3 million for the Canada Housing Benefit. According to the press release from the Quebec Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, “a joint federal-provincial committee will be set up to allow Quebec to direct this funding by choosing investments aligned with its own priorities”.
Federal assistance is paid to an individual, not to subsidized housing. Previously, the tenant could lose the benefit if he moved.
Sunday marked National Housing Day. The federal government took advantage of this day, three years ago, to unveil its National Housing Strategy.
It has since added new components to this policy, including $ 1 billion in assistance for municipalities and other community housing providers. to help them buy properties and turn them into homes.
Municipalities intend to spend this money quickly in order to force the government to increase the fund.
Social housing providers for Aboriginal people also want the federal government to introduce a program for Inuit, Métis and First Nations living in urban areas.
A parliamentary committee is due to publish a report on the subject by the end of the year. This could lay the foundation for a program that would be unveiled in spring 2021.
“The federal government needs to establish a different national strategy for Aboriginal people living in urban versus rural areas. Canadians accept that Indigenous peoples will develop and oversee such a policy themselves, ”said Robert Byers, chair of the Indigenous Caucus working group of the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association.
“The time has come for the federal government to get to the bottom of this and announce a policy as soon as possible.”
The Minister of Families, Employment and Social Development, Ahmed Hussen, took advantage of the day to announce the members of the first National Housing Council of Canada.
The role of this committee will be “to guide the Minister on, in particular, the effectiveness of the National Housing Strategy, with the aim of improving housing conditions and advancing the gradual realization of the right to housing”.
Members will have to work together with a future “federal housing advocate” whose nomination process was launched on Sunday.
The committee will be co-chaired by Tim Richter, president of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. According to him, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the failures of the housing system in Canada. Many Canadians are at greater risk of contracting the disease simply because they live in poor housing conditions.
“The council will provide support for the strategy and give a voice to those experiencing homelessness or in need of housing,” he said. He will put pressure on governments to react more quickly to the housing crisis in Canada, ”said Mr. Richter.
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