The Parliament of Canada
Video Link: https://youtu.be/onfITQScBHc
The full text is in the video
Below excepts chosen by the editor
Mr. Richard Cannings (South Okanagan—West Kootenay, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the member for Saskatoon West for bringing forward this important motion on Canada’s housing crisis and what the government should be doing to deal with it.
The housing crisis is widespread and very diverse across the county. It is different in every community, city and rural area. It goes from rising homelessness to ridiculously expensive housing markets that exclude first-time buyers; to rural seniors who have nowhere to go when they want to downsize to low vacancy rates that are often exacerbated, at least in my riding, by online vacation rentals, to crowded and often mould-ridden homes in remote indigenous communities.
When I meet with mayors in my riding, business people and service groups, the priority they bring to me is almost always the same, which is housing. ………
When I recently talked with employment agencies in Oliver, B.C., I heard that many local businesses could not fill openings. Hotels were hiring, and senior care homes were desperate for employees. Restaurants had signs on the tables apologizing for slow service, because they only had one waiter working. The reason was that the people needed to fill these positions could not find housing and so they moved on. The most ironic story in this vein was a service agency in Penticton who received grant money to coordinate its affordable housing program. It hired someone, who arrived, but they gave up the job because they could not find housing.
This is a crisis that is hitting the Canadian economy. There are very personal impacts, but it is also hitting our economy. It is expensive to have this crisis go on for Canada as a whole.
We have heard that the federal Liberal government in 1993 abandoned the housing sector, which is a situation maintained by both Conservative and Liberal governments since then. We have heard that 1.7 million Canadians live in core-housing need.
I would like to provide a perspective from riding of South Okanagan—West Kootenay.
The South Okanagan “Vital Signs” report provides a report card on many aspects of life in the west part of my riding. The report gives housing a C- based on low vacancy rates, high rent cost and high housing debt levels. Rental vacancy rates in the area is around 1%, about half the national average. As well, 50% of renters in my hometown of Penticton are paying more than 30% of their income on rent.
I used to live in a little village called Naramata. The average house price there is $740,000. In Penticton, it is only $476,000. Who can afford that? What kind of young couple can afford to buy a house for $470,000? That is the average cost of a house……..
One of the big issues in rural areas is providing housing for seniors who want to stay in their hometowns and scale down to smaller homes, so they do not have to take care of their large acreages. ………………….
There are other success stories around my riding like that. In Okanagan Falls, the South Skaha Housing Society is building 26 units of affordable housing and similar projects have gone on in Naramata and other communities.
I would like to move now to the topic of homelessness, which is a crisis within this housing crisis. Many might associate homelessness with urban areas, but it is just as tragic a situation in smaller towns and cities. What we need is for government and community agencies to come together and simply create homes for the homeless. Penticton has become a model case for this co-operative, integrated approach. An initiative called 100 homes has brought together more than a dozen groups with a clear vision to house the homeless and the project has been very successful. They have already exceeded their goal of 100 homes, having produced 133 units as of last July. They are now in the process of setting new goals, with a view to housing all the 400 people in need in Penticton.
One of the valuable lessons that 100 homes has learned in the past months is that funding is needed for support services, as well as the housing units themselves. Given both social support and a roof over their heads, many homeless people can quickly return to normal lives. Everywhere I go in my riding, I find groups that are doing amazing work for the homeless and other disadvantaged people. ………..
We need bold action from the government now to tackle this housing crisis. We have done it before. I grew up on a Veterans’ Land Act subdivision in Penticton. I still live in the house that I grew up in. After the war, the government-built thousands and thousands of homes across this country to help the people returning from war and rebuilt this country. We can do that again. I am very happy to support this motion.