Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act

An Act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.

Sponsor

Marie-Claude Morin  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Defeated, as of Feb. 27, 2013
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

The purpose of this enactment is to require the Minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to consult with the provincial ministers of the Crown responsible for municipal affairs and housing and with representatives of municipalities, Aboriginal communities, non-profit and private sector housing providers and civil society organizations in order to establish a national housing strategy.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

  • Feb. 27, 2013 Failed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act
Private Members' Business

February 13th, 2013 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise again in support of the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot's motion to create a national housing strategy.

As we know, the Government of Canada used to be a big player in the housing market of Canada. However, the Liberal government, in the 1990s, got out of the housing market completely and left it up to the provinces and to the cities themselves. We have never really recovered from that decision by the Liberal government.

Whenever we ask a question about housing, the Conservative government likes to say that it is spending a lot of money on housing, but it is taking credit for something the NDP did. The NDP actually was the party that, in a negotiation with the Liberals in 2005, negotiated that there should be money spent on housing in Canada as part of the budget. That money is still there. However, the Conservative government is attempting to cut that money. It has also threatened to cut off money for the co-ops in Canada, which is another bad sign of things to come.

Bill C-400 would force the government to create a regime that would deal with the provinces, deal with the municipalities and deal with the territories to put together a strategy that would create affordable, reliable housing for all Canadians, not just those who have the money to do it.

In my riding, we have 16,000 seniors. Over 15% of the riding is currently over age 65. Some of those seniors are desperately afraid that they are not going to be able to find a place to live in the near future, because there is no strategy, either provincially or federally, to create housing that seniors can afford. We have a growing number of these seniors.

There are places where seniors' housing can be affordably built. In the province of Ontario, they are tearing down hospitals. They should be using those hospitals, as in my riding, as seniors' housing. They are tearing down schools. They should be using those schools, as in my riding, as seniors' housing, because those seniors deserve a better place to live. We deserve, as Canadians, to have a housing strategy put forward at the federal level, and the bill does exactly that.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act
Private Members' Business

February 13th, 2013 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise with mixed emotion to debate this bill since it is not the first time that I have spoken on this issue and yet the dire need for secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing is no less significant now than it was when this matter was before a previous Parliament. The bill received its support then and there is every reason for it to receive the same support now.

When each of us here wakes up in our ridings, we wake in accommodations that we can afford. In fact, I would wager that many of us have cottages or, in the case of some here, a second residence for when they are in Ottawa. We are more than fortunate enough to afford that luxury, but not every Canadian is. According to the most recent figures that date back to before the recession in 2008, which brought about serious economic instability, 13% of Canadians exist in what is called “core housing need”.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation defines this situation as when “housing falls below at least one of the adequacy, suitability or affordability standards and [one] would have to spend 30% or more of its total before-tax income to pay the median rent of alternative local market housing that it is acceptable”.

Housing is adequate when it is reported by its residents as not requiring major repairs. Housing is suitable when there are enough bedrooms for the size and makeup of resident households, according to National Occupancy Standard requirements. Housing is affordable when dwellings cost less than 30% of total before-tax income.

These are basic common sense criteria that should be inalienable, yet still we can easily recall the images that came from Attawapiskat last Christmas where none of these standards were met, houses that were little more than garden sheds made of plywood, more mould than wall.

In the face of the most recent economic crisis, the government has been more than willing to promote its position within the G8 as an innovator and model for the rest of the world and yet we exist as the only member of that group, one of a few of all industrialized countries, without a national housing strategy. In fact, trends would show that we similarly lag in the development of a national food policy, another mechanism to combat poverty.

It will be disconcerting to a majority of Canadians if the Conservative government does not feel it is the federal government's role to more meaningfully deal with the national crisis of poverty, housing and homelessness. Indeed, on May 9, 2012, this very Parliament passed Motion No. 331, brought forward by the hon. member for Shefford, confirming that:

—the government should: (a) keep with Canada’s obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the right to housing under the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; (b) support efforts by Canadian municipalities to combat homelessness; and (c) adopt measures to expand the stock of affordable rental housing, with a view to providing economic benefits to local housing construction businesses.

Today's Bill C-400 is the natural progression from that motion if in fact we are genuine about dealing with this issue and our previous support of Motion No. 331 has been more than a meaningless facade to leave people thinking that we actually care.

Michael Shapcott, director general of the Wellesley Institute, a funding provider for multiple expert studies on housing and health, is clear on this issue. Canadians with homes are healthy Canadians and healthy Canadians mean reduced health care costs, yet another reason that we need to pass this legislation. Just yesterday, Mr. Shapcott wrote that while this bill was before the House, Toronto added its 700th name to the roll of men and women who had died as a result of homelessness in Canada's largest city.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is also clear on this issue. FCM policy advisor Joshua Bates said in committee during the last Parliament:

Chronic homelessness and lack of affordable housing are not just social issues; they're core economic issues. They strain the limited resources of municipal governments and undermine the economic well-being of our cities, which are the engines of national economic growth, competitiveness, and productivity.

According to the government's very own economic action plan from September 2010, every $1 invested in housing reaps a net benefit of $1.40 to the Canadian economy, spurring growth, jobs and productivity. Meanwhile, homelessness costs our fragile economy $4.5 billion each year without any net benefit at all. Clearly, investing in this problem is the only marketable solution, the only one that will negate the detrimental impact this scourge has on our economy, while fostering growth and productivity.

More still, the Senate report, “In from the Margins”, shows that this is a cross-partisan issue. The subcommittee, comprised of Liberals and Conservatives, concluded that regulatory constraints, time constraints and declining operational support from the federal government were interfering with an integrated consideration of housing and homelessness. Specifically they identified that:

—unaffordable and inadequate housing, even for those who are currently able to meet their needs and aspirations, can contribute to poverty, and to a spiral that can include losing jobs, dropping out of school, and being unable to sustain families.

To that end, the report very clearly recommended that an integrated approach to housing and homelessness requires that the federal government, in collaboration with provincial governments, representatives of municipal governments, first nation organizations and other housing providers, develop a national housing and homelessness strategy. We need a national housing strategy, and we need that strategy to work for lower income and marginalized Canadians.

My own community of Guelph is no exception to this. In my life before politics, my time with the Wellington and Guelph Housing Authority, working with valuable community groups such as Onward Willow, Women in Crisis and now the Guelph and Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination, affirmed my strong conviction that taking action to create affordable housing is, without question, one of the most effective ways to lift entire families out of poverty and into prosperity.

Still, as of this fall, Guelph's vacancy rate is 1.4%, well below the 3% that is considered a healthy balance between supply and demand for accommodation. Meanwhile, the population of Guelph and the surrounding Wellington County has grown 11.2% in the past decade. As of this month, unemployment in Guelph is at 6.2%. While Guelph's economy is above average for Ontario, affordability remains a challenge for families and seniors. The Guelph and Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination has observed a 120% increase in families using the shelters system.

When we combine a worryingly low vacancy rate with job market instability and general concern about the economy, very little choice is left for those at the lower end of the housing market, leaving individuals and families to accept accommodations that are painfully below standard. Not a week goes by without a constituent calling, concerned that they are on a four- to five-year wait list for affordable housing in Guelph. It leaves me feeling helpless that I can offer no solution.

Across the country, an astounding number of citizens either remain homeless or live in inadequate housing. More than 300,000 to 400,000 Canadians move in and out of homelessness, and there are 1.5 million households that lack secure housing. Approximately 3.3 million live in substandard housing, and more than three-quarters of one million families live in overcrowded housing.

Instituting a national housing strategy is more than simply a compassionate consideration. It is also the most effective way for Canadians to be sure their tax dollars, which fund our social programs, are being spent in the most efficient, effective and accountable way. With a nationwide comprehensive strategy, we are all better positioned to make a difference.

I call on all members, on compassionate grounds and in the interest of smart, sound economic policy, to pass this legislation. Let us begin the dialogue that will enable Canada to join its G8 partners and do the right thing for all Canadians.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act
Private Members' Business

February 13th, 2013 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to speak today about Bill C-400, An Act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians.

A disturbing trend has been developing in Toronto and every city in Canada. Young people, parents and especially those living on the margins are all too familiar with it: affordable housing is becoming less and less accessible for many Canadians.

As a Torontonian, I am in a good position to know that a national housing strategy is vital to the future of our city. We have known for a long time that it will require more than goodwill to address the issues of homelessness and the lack of affordable housing. These are fundamental economic problems that are harming our country's economy.

Housing problems put an enormous amount of pressure on our cities, where the drivers of innovation, productivity and growth for the 21st century must be developed.

I was born in Toronto, and with my husband we raised our three sons in that city. I have seen first-hand the impact of rising costs of housing on families in Parkdale—High Park, the riding I represent, and in neighbourhoods across our city. Torontonians know well that our city's waiting list for affordable housing continues to grow. A year ago, that list reached an all-time high, with over 80,000 households on the waiting list. While a small number of those were able to find housing, many are left waiting, and not just for months; some are waiting for years, and some even decades. We simply cannot afford to ignore this problem any longer.

I recently received a letter from a constituent named Theresa, who urged me to support the bill. In her letter, she wrote that the right to housing is a core Canadian value that is centred on dignity, security and equality. She is absolutely right, and I thank Theresa for her concern and for taking the time to write.

Clearly, Canadians in Parkdale—High Park and neighbourhoods across Canada are watching us and they want us to act.

Given that Canada's household debt recently reached a critical level, we must now recognize that guaranteeing Canadians access to safe and affordable housing is not only one of the best ways to combat inequalities, but it is also vital to the health of our national economy.

Many international organizations, including the International Monetary Fund, have warned our government about a steadily growing level of household debt, but our government does not seem to want to listen. The Bank of Canada and the IMF have said that the level of household debt in Canada is too high. It has reached 158%, which is unprecedented.

Household debt is the result of many economic factors, but it is important to recognize that housing constitutes a large part of every Canadian household's budget. Canada has a household debt level of 158%, but we know that mortgages make up 68% of that debt.

Bill C-400, An Act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians, is a call to action. This bill calls on the government to do what it too often forgets to do: take initiative.

We are not asking for a new department, a new commissioner or even a new report. We are simply asking the government to be aware of what families across Canada are experiencing and to take initiative instead of shirking its responsibilities.

Bill C-400 asks the government to partner with provinces, cities, aboriginal communities, and with the private and non-profit housing sectors, to create a national housing strategy.

Why is Canada the only G8 country in the world that has failed to do so? Why is Canada falling so far behind?

We know that inequality is on the rise in Canada and when we look at the tremendous impact that access to secure, affordable housing has on social mobility and opportunity and the general economic vitality of cities like Toronto, it is clear that housing is not only an enormous challenge but also a very promising opportunity for economic leadership. When we see these factors come together, including all-time high levels of household debt, rising housing costs and growing inequality, it is easy to see that this combination will threaten the long-term economic prosperity of our country.

For each dollar spent on housing there is $1.40 increase in GDP. If we are committed to ensuring long-term prosperity for generations to come, then we must get serious about a national housing strategy.

Looking back to the 1990s there is an alarming pattern of neglect of affordable housing. In 1993 the Liberal government cut permanent funding for new affordable housing. By 1996 it had downloaded the responsibility to provinces, leaving Canada virtually alone among the high performing economies of the world without a national social housing program. Then some provinces, like my own province of Ontario, were quite happy to download social housing to the cities with no resources to be able to support it.

It is unfortunate that the Conservative government, like the Liberals, has continued to neglect this key area of social policy. For instance, under the Conservative government, funding for the affordable housing initiative will be reduced from $582 million in 2012 to zero by 2015. By 2016 consolidated federal housing investments will have been cut to $1.8 billion, a cut of 52% in just six years.

These cuts and the absence of a housing strategy affect diverse groups in our community, from young people trying to get a head start to our seniors who hope to retire in peace and security. Each group is impacted by what the government has failed to do, which is to take leadership on affordable housing.

The last census found that 42% of young Canadians continue to live with their parents. For many this is due to the high cost of housing or the challenges of finding a job in today's economy. A survey conducted last year found that in my home province of Ontario, the number of seniors on housing waiting lists has risen steadily since 2004, reaching nearly 40,000 households, or one-quarter of all waiting households at the end of 2011.

Recent changes to EI will also have an impact on many Canadians' ability to afford housing, particularly at a time when funding for many housing programs is being phased out. With a loss of EI benefits, more households will be at risk of falling into core housing need.

As finance critic, I recognize that investing in our cities and taking leadership on affordable housing is a smart choice for our national economy. As a Torontonian and the member of Parliament for Parkdale—High Park, I know from personal experience that this is an area of urgent concern to our community. I urge all members of the House to lend their support to Bill C-400, an act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians. This initiative is long overdue.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act
Private Members' Business

February 13th, 2013 / 6:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

Nycole Turmel Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise here today to speak to Bill C-400 and I wish to congratulate my colleague, the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, on all her hard work on this matter.

In 2013, between 150,000 and 300,000 people are living on the streets in Canada, and another 2 million suffer from food insecurity. According to the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, 4 million Canadians, 750,000 of them children, are coping with pressing housing needs. The situation is particularly worrisome in aboriginal communities. I saw this first-hand when I went to visit Attawapiskat. Over-crowding and substandard housing are posing significant sanitary and social risks.

It is hard to create a healthy environment for children to grow up in when eight people are living in a house built for four. In a supposedly rich and developed country like Canada, this situation is pretty dismal. The fact that millions of Canadians—mainly women, children, aboriginal people, seniors and new Canadians—are having a hard time meeting such a basic need as housing is sad and shocking. A home is so much more than a roof and four walls.

Having adequate housing makes it easier to find employment, promotes family integration and helps improve self-esteem.

In the Ottawa-Gatineau region alone, nearly 12,000 families are waiting for social housing. The wait can sometimes be up to eight years. And that does not seem to be improving. With the cost of living going up and wages stagnating, Canadian families are increasingly having a hard time making ends meet and finding adequate housing. When they do manage to find housing, they must sometimes make sacrifices elsewhere, to their food budget, for example.

Every month, 900,000 Canadians use food banks. This is a 31% increase over 2008 levels. I bring up the issue of hunger in Canada because it is closely linked to housing. When someone on a low income has to pay a high rent, there is less money remaining to put food on the table. A single mother earning minimum wage has a hard time finding adequate housing at market prices in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver, for example. Some manage to do so, but they must sometimes choose between paying rent and putting food on the table. Some spend up to 70% of their income on rent, which leave very little to spend on children's clothing or school supplies.

That is one of the reasons why the House must pass this bill. To effectively combat poverty, we must tackle the access to housing problem head-on. It is high time for Canada to implement a national housing strategy, as proposed in the bill from my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot. Canada is currently the only G8 country that does not have a national housing strategy.

It is unacceptable for us to socially and economically abandon millions of Canadians on the side of the road. As the president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities said:

Chronic homelessness and lack of affordable housing are not just social issues; they are core economic issues. They strain the limited resources of municipal governments and undermine the economic well-being of our cities-the engines of national economic growth, competitiveness and productivity.

The federation, which represents 2,000 Canadian cities, has clearly indicated that every dollar invested in housing creates a $1.40 increase in GDP. It is a win-win situation.

This is true from a social and economic viewpoint, but also an international one.

Canada is a signatory to the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and has international obligations with respect to housing.

In a report on housing, the United Nations singled out Canada for its delay in meeting its obligations concerning social housing and fighting homelessness.

A national housing strategy would allow Canada to send a clear message to the UN and all its G8 partners.

We have to do more than just make an investment in order to fulfill our obligations and to deal effectively with the problem of access to housing. We have to make an intelligent investment based on a national strategy that will take into account the specific needs of our communities.

If Bill C-400 is passed, and I hope it will be, the minister responsible for CMHC will have to develop a strategy in co-operation with the provinces, municipal representatives, aboriginal communities, providers of housing and concerned civil society organizations.

We need leadership from the federal government on this issue, but above all we need the government to work together with the stakeholders concerned.

The Conservative government has already shown, in the health file for example, that it is not very open to working with the provinces.

That must change if it wants to find lasting solutions to problems such as access to housing.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act
Private Members' Business

February 13th, 2013 / 6:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise to speak to this particular bill today. I cannot help but make some comments on some of the earlier speeches. There are some within the chamber, generally speaking from the New Democratic side, who take pride as if they were the ones taking the moral high road on housing and a national housing standard. Once again, I think they could be accused of throwing stones in a glass house. I have had opportunities speak in favour of national housing and the important role that Ottawa should play. One of the individuals I have debated the subject with was the former member of Parliament Bill Blaikie from Winnipeg's north end, who said it was more about a provincial than a national standard. I used to be the housing critic for a number of years. One of the difficulties I had was trying to convince the provincial New Democrats to invest in non-profit housing.

One of the issues we have to look at is that there are many different forms of non-profit housing. We could talk about housing co-ops, life-leases, housing for 50-plus seniors, infill housing, residential rehabilitation programs, or shelter allowances, all of which play a critical role in making housing affordable for Canadians and getting them engaged in the issue and feeling good about their homes.

No political party stands front and centre on this issue. At any given point in time, government has dropped the ball. There is no question that government could be doing a lot more with respect to non-profit housing.

I am very disappointed by the lack of leadership from the Conservative government in dealing with this critical issue for all Canadians. My Liberal colleague stood in support of the bill that is before us, and calling into question the Liberal Party on this issue, I believe, is wrong. Some of the greatest investments in non-profit housing occurred during the 1970s. I would remind the member that when Pierre Elliott Trudeau was the Prime Minister of Canada, he invested in non-profit housing. The Liberal Party of Canada is committed to non-profit housing and building non-profit housing because we recognize that shelter is important for all Canadians. I also look to individuals like Lloyd Axworthy as someone who for years advocated the importance of shelter allowance programs, not only inside the Manitoba legislature but also here in Ottawa.

There needs to be co-operation on the housing file. We need to have provincial governments working with Ottawa to be able to develop housing programs that make sense. If we look at the province of Manitoba, where there are in excess of 19,000 non-profit housing units of a wide spectrum, that would not be possible if it were not for the millions of dollars of investment that come from Ottawa to provide that non-profit housing. It is an annual operational grant that does that.

My concern is when mortgages come due. What will we be doing with that money going forward? We have advocacy groups throughout this country that want to ensure that the moneys that do come available are in fact reinvested in non-profit housing. However, it is more than just throwing hundreds of millions of dollars into blocks A, B, C and D. It is about looking at ways in which we can get the public, the non-profit groups that are out there, to also invest in non-profit housing.

There are many non-profit agencies out there that could assist in playing a strong role. All they are looking for is leadership from Ottawa to say that, yes, we need to have a national strategy and we are prepared to work with the provinces and pool the money together and engage some of these non-profit organizations. In every region of our country, we would find a high level of interest because they, like most, if not all parliamentarians, want to see affordable housing for all Canadians. We want to ensure that there is a basic standard.

When we talk about a national housing strategy, it is about more than building homes. Our housing stock in Canada needs to be maintained. We need to have revitalization programs. We need to work with cities. At the city level, they have the ability to reach into the individual communities through residential rehabilitation programs. These programs would make a difference. Through the private sector, individuals would invest in their homes. It would also create jobs when that type of investment occurred. It would maintain the housing stock.

We used to have a rental program. Through the rental rehabilitation assistance program, landlords had access to pools of money they could invest in rental stock.

Winnipeg is not alone. In many different communities there is a dire need for renovations. We need to start talking about initiatives the government could be taking to provide incentives for them to take place.

We also need to recognize that there are many different good ideas in different provinces. That is the reason the federal government has a role to play. We need to adopt a national housing strategy.

I look forward to the debate, although I suspect that it will be coming to an end relatively quickly. It would be nice to see the bill go to committee for the simple reason that there are many different stakeholders, like me, who have strong opinions on the issue.

They would like to see strong leadership. That leadership needs to come from the Prime Minister. There needs to be a commitment from the Prime Minister that whether one is living in an older community, in a suburb, on a reserve or in a rural community, and no matter what part of the country one lives in, housing and the standard of housing is of critical importance. It is one of the basic needs residents in Canada have. As members of Parliament, there is an obligation for us to ensure that we do the best we can to ensure that housing stocks are not only expanded but are improved.

I would not want any government of any political stripe to forget about the many agencies and non-profit groups that contribute to enabling individual residents to own a home or, in many cases, to afford to rent a place and to improve the quality of the home they reside in.

There are an endless number of individuals right across this country who want to see something happen on this file. That is the reason I would suggest that the government allow the bill to go to committee. If the bill goes to committee, it will afford the opportunity for representation by those who really want to see something develop. Let us see what happens at committee stage. That is why I would suggest that it is in our interest to see the bill pass second reading and go to committee. It is something that is in the best interests of all residents of Canada. I hope that as many members as possible will see the bill ultimately pass so that it can go to that stage.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act
Private Members' Business

February 13th, 2013 / 6:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Ryan Cleary St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, a housing forum was held in my riding of St. John's South—Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador, in September. Before this forum began, a woman in a wheelchair handed the three New Democrat MPs in attendance a sheet of paper. The paper contained just five words: “family, shelter, food, career and health”. The woman asked each of us to take a moment to visualize what each word meant in our lives. Then she asked us to take a pen and eliminate one. The woman said, there is no choice; one has to go. Then she asked us to eliminate a second word and then a third.

They were tough choices. Even hypothetically, the choices were impossible. I eliminated career first, then my own health, and then food. I was left with family and shelter. I remember the exercise leaving me with a feeling of desperation in the pit of my stomach. The woman said the point of the exercise was for MPs to imagine it. Her point was that she is living it. That was a powerful point.

There is a housing crisis. Even in Newfoundland and Labrador, where the economy is booming, there is a housing crisis. This week there are stories in the news back home about two men struggling to make ends meet. They are struggling to meet housing costs in a boom town. Rental costs have gone up by more than 18% in the St. John's area over the past four years, which translates into some people struggling to keep a roof over their heads.

According to the Single Parents Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, rent for a three-bedroom unit four or five years ago was around $650, and now it is up to $1,100 to $1,300 a month. From $650 a month to $1,300 a month in four or five years is an incredible increase. People are having a hard time coping with that. In many cases, they are not coping. Their income is constant; their rent is not constant.

The stories in the news back home this week are about two men. One is a single father with a young daughter getting by on worker's compensation. The other story is about a single man making minimum wage. These men are having an incredibly hard time getting by because of the rent.

The man on worker's compensation has a total income, including his daughter's baby bonus, which he pointed out, of $1,479 a month. His rent alone is $1,200 a month, so he has $279 a month for everything else. His daughter does not take a lunch to school because there is no money for that, and he pointed that out as well.

The single man making minimum wage heats only one room in his apartment, and he hangs blankets in the doorways to keep in the heat. His rent is going up on March 1 by another $75. Where will that money come from?

Right now that original list of five choices—food, shelter, health, family and career—has a very real face, a desperate face.

During the 2011 federal election, I remember knocking on the homes of seniors in the middle of the afternoon. They would often come to their doors in coats and jackets. They wore coats and jackets inside their homes in the middle of the afternoon because they could not afford to turn on the heat. These are the kinds of decisions that people are being forced to make. Rents are continually increasing, and for people, seniors, on fixed incomes that means something has to suffer. Food suffers. Heat suffers. Medications suffer. People often do not buy the medicine they need because these are the choices they are forced to make.

Labrador City is another boom town in Newfoundland and Labrador. The mining industry, specifically the iron ore industry, is doing very well. The vacancy rate in Labrador West is almost zero. The local college offers a mining course that practically guarantees employment upon completion, but classes are not full because there is no place for students to live.

We heard stories about how women remain in abusive relationships because there is nowhere else to go.

I also visited Fort McMurray, Alberta, in the past year. That is another place that is absolutely booming. The average income is $100,000. The average family income is $180,000 a year. However, the cost of rent is astronomical. A new three bedroom home with a double car garage and an unregistered apartment can go for between $700,000 to $900,000, so we can imagine the cost of rental units. In the meantime, the income threshold for low-income housing is about $80,000 a year.

There is a housing crisis in St. John's. There is a housing crisis in Labrador. There is a housing crisis in Alberta. There is a housing crisis across Canada.

Canada is the only G8 country without a national housing strategy, which is what Bill C-400 is all about. What does it cost? It costs nothing. It costs no money. It simply requires the minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to work in collaboration with the provincial ministers responsible for housing, with representatives of municipalities, with aboriginal communities and with housing providers in the non-profit and private sectors. It requires all of these groups to work together to establish a national housing strategy.

How does that not make sense? That is smart governance.

Between 300,000 and 400,000 Canadians are homeless. They have no place to live. Three million Canadians live in housing insecurity, including 27,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and almost 9,300 in St. John's South—Mount Pearl and St. John's East alone.

The Conservatives have said that their commitment to safe and affordable housing has helped over 775,000 Canadians since 2006. The Conservatives claim that their investment in housing has led to the creation of 46,000 affordable housing units. At the same time, waiting lists across the country for social housing are consistently getting longer and vacancy rates are dropping to record lows everywhere.

Bruce Pearce of the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing and Homelessness Network has described the bill as a life-saving bill. He said that Atlantic Canada would be hardest hit by the absence of a national housing strategy because there are fewer support networks in rural communities. There may be loads of shelters, for example, in downtown Toronto, but not so in places such as downtown Mount Pearl or places like it.

In areas of Canada that are doing well, where the economy is sizzling, the poorest people are suffering because of the increased cost of living, because of increased rents, because of increased everything across the board.

There was another story in the news recently back home of how 30 tenants in a low-income apartment building in St. John's were worried that they would soon be homeless. Their building is to be redeveloped into condominiums and they have until the end of April to move out. It will not be easy for those 30 families to find another place to live. One tenant stated, “Every time they put up the rent, that's less food you have every month, or it's a light bill you can't pay”.

Yvette Walton, the head of Newfoundland and Labrador's Single Parent Association told CBC news this week that rent is rising too quickly on the Northeast Avalon, which is on the extreme east coast of Newfoundland. She said that it was causing huge amounts of stress, especially for single parent families and that the solution is more affordable housing. That is where a national housing strategy would come into play.

Let me bring this back full circle. With respect to family, shelter, career, food, health, which ones can we live without? As MPs we are imagining it, but there are people who are actually living it. Maybe living is not the right word. Existing may be a more fitting term. It is those people who Bill C-400 is designed to help.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act
Private Members' Business

February 13th, 2013 / 7 p.m.
See context

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to speak briefly today to Bill C-400. We hear the passion in the speeches today about why we have to get this bill through, a bill for an affordable housing strategy in our country.

I want to thank my colleague from Newfoundland and Labrador and others who have spoken in the House today on their experiences and perspective about why the bill is so critical. It is critical because we understand that safe, appropriate, affordable housing is a basic human right in our country. If people do not have it, as the hon. member just said, there is not much else they can do in their life. Whether it is work or income, if people do not have safe, affordable, appropriate housing, it is very difficult to get by.

The bill has had a very long history. I first introduced the bill in 1998. I was so hopping mad when I came to Parliament in 1997 because it was the Liberal government in 1995 that cut out our very successful national housing programs. When the member for Winnipeg North got up on his high horse and said that the Liberals had shown leadership and this was a great issue, it was his government that cut our programs. They were good programs and, yes, we could go back to the seventies and the eighties. They were housing programs that municipalities and non-profit societies used. We had excellent co-op housing, not-for-profit housing, seniors housing, special needs housing and what did the Liberals do? Balancing the budget on the backs of poor people, they cut out housing programs. Ever since that historic day, we have suffered because we have not had a national housing program.

The bill in the last Parliament was almost passed, but the election happened and the bill was died. Here we are again. However, we are determined and committed to keep this issue alive and not give up on the fact that we need a national housing strategy. It is a responsibility of the federal government to work with the provinces, territories, first nations, municipalities and other housing providers to bring about such a strategy. The bill is all about that.

I have heard all the arguments from the other side that government is doing it. The fact is the government had some money for about two years as part of the recession economic plan. However, since then, it has not put any money into an affordable housing plan.

I recently dealt with a group in my riding that was trying to get some money under the homelessness strategy, which does still exist. This was a church group which had its own money, land and needed some support from the federal government, but it was turned down. Why? The group was told that its development was affordable housing and therefore it could not be supported because it was not homelessness.

What kind of crazy system is this? Yes, we need to provide shelters. In metro Vancouver we have a dire situation of growing homelessness, particularly among the aboriginal community, people who cannot find shelter. However, we also need a longer term program. We cannot have people living in and out of shelters. Shelters have become permanent housing for people. That is no solution whether it is in Toronto, Vancouver or Mount Pearl, wherever it is.

I want to congratulate my colleague, the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, for bringing forward the bill again. The New Democrats are here today to say that we will fight tooth and nail to get the bill through. There is tremendous support in the community. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities, major organizations, over 60 organizations have supported the bill, not because they like us, because they know this has to be done. This is about a fundamental issue in our country of people who are suffering simply because they do not have access to safe, appropriate and affordable housing. We will keep this going and ensure that the bill gets through.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act
Private Members' Business

February 13th, 2013 / 7:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have put a lot of thought into what I will say about this bill before the House makes a decision at second reading.

I could recap my colleagues' arguments that added to the discussion and enriched debate. I could repeat the troubling statistics that reflect the serious shortage of affordable housing. I could quote from the scathing UN special rapporteur's report, which ranks Canada quite low. I could remind the House that we are the only G8 country that does not have a national housing strategy. Or perhaps I could talk about the co-operatives that are worried about the end of federal government operating agreements and the impact that will have on their low-income renters.

However, I feel it is more important that the House hear about the many measures being taken by civil society organizations to demonstrate the importance of a national housing strategy.

Dignity for All, which works to eliminate poverty in Canada, launched a widespread movement in support of Bill C-400. The organization dedicated part of its website to the movement and launched a massive letter campaign. As we speak, representatives from this organization are trying to rally more people and elected officials around this cause.

The National Union of Public and General Employees, and its Women 4 Change initiative, also supports the bill. On its website, it encourages its 300,000 members to sign the petition in support of this bill and to write to their MPs to urge them to back the bill.

All kinds of organizations have done the same thing. The academic community is speaking out. Groups such as the Canadian Federation of University Women and the École de services publics at Université de Saint-Boniface have done their part, as have many religious organizations throughout Canada including the United Church of Canada, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Catholic Women's League, Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice, the Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada, and the Canadian Religious Conference. All these organizations have taken steps to raise awareness and convince the House to pass Bill C-400.

In a last-ditch effort, the Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain, or FRAPRU, published open letters in a number of Quebec's daily newspapers. One of these letters was addressed to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, my colleague from Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean. The letter explains the following to the minister:

This strategy would achieve much more than the federal government's ad hoc and clearly inadequate interventions of the past 20 years in the areas of housing and homelessness.

I think this is rather compelling. I do not need to remind the House that Canada is supposed to have its universal periodic review with the UN Human Rights Council in the spring. I am anxious for that to happen. Canada will have to report to member countries of the United Nations human resources committee on its accomplishments in the area of housing. We will be following this.

Many organizations, including the Social Rights Advocacy Centre, have already indicated in their submission regarding this periodic review that Canada needs to create a national housing strategy.

Lastly, my office received a number of letters of support and several hundred pages of petitions from various organizations and individuals across Canada in support of Bill C-400.

I could not possibly thank everyone, since I have only a few minutes, but I wish to commend the following: Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario; AFEAS; CHRA; the Confédération québécoise des coopératives d'habitation; the Canadian Mental Health Association; the National Aboriginal Housing Association; the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which represents over 2,000 municipalities; as well as all previously mentioned organizations.

I even have a letter from the Province of Manitoba in support of Bill C-400. I ask the House: what more do we need to pass this legislation?

We must remember this.

Safe and affordable housing is not a privilege, it is a fundamental right.

Secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing is a right. It is not a privilege. It is a fundamental right and it is also a determinant of health.

I encourage my colleagues to vote in favour of Bill C-400—although I do not know the exact date of the vote—in order to ensure that all Canadians have access to decent housing.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act
Private Members' Business

October 17th, 2012 / 6:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

moved that Bill C-400, An Act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to be here today to debate Bill C-400, which would establish a national housing strategy. This bill would require the minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to work with the provinces and territories, aboriginal communities, municipalities, non-profit and private-sector housing providers, and civil society organizations.

Coordinating these efforts is the key to success. Today is International Anti-Poverty Day, which makes this bill even more significant. I would like to sincerely thank the members for Halifax, London—Fanshawe and Vancouver East for working so hard and so diligently on the housing file. Another big thank you goes to the official opposition housing critic, the member for Hochelaga, for her support and co-operation over the past few months.

We have worked hard since this bill was introduced in February. We have met with dozens of stakeholders, participated in forums and got the support of a number of organizations across Canada. These organizations include YWCA Canada, the Réseau québécois des OSBL d'habitation, the Wellesley Institute and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which represents more than 2,000 cities. Like the NDP, these organizations believe that Bill C-400 can solve a lot of problems. It is no accident that I am sponsoring this bill. As elected members of Parliament, we are fortunate to be able to introduce bills that can improve Canadians' quality of life. I am a former community worker, so housing and homelessness are particularly important to me. I would like to acknowledge my former colleagues, the members of the Corporation de développement communautaire des Maskoutains and the Table de concertation solidarité itinérance maskoutaine. We always dreamt of having a bill like this, as did Jack Layton.

Whether as a Toronto city councillor, or president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, or even when he was here in the House of Commons, Jack Layton always worked to make sure every Canadian had a roof over their head. I am introducing Bill C-400 in order to carry on Jack's work and the work of every housing and homelessness organization. Every Canadian should have access to safe, adequate, accessible and affordable housing. Jack Layton said:

When all Canadians can say “I have suitable housing in my community,” then our work will be done.

That is so true that even the Conservatives agree. On September 14, the hon. member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot said this about housing:

Our government is committed to supporting Canadian families and communities, but it takes the efforts of many and partnerships at all levels to get real results.

Working together and coordinating efforts are precisely what Bill C-400 proposes. But the government prefers to abandon Canadians rather than listen to the official opposition. That is the problem with this government. It hits us with rhetoric, but a reality check makes it clear that the situation is out of control. Canada is the laughingstock of the UN when it comes to housing, as the 2009 UN report on decent housing indicates. The special rapporteur said that Canada is lagging in its social housing obligations and in its fight against homelessness. He also criticized the government's failure to address this growing crisis. The rapporteur also expressed concern over the many cuts to funding and housing programs. The 2009 UN universal periodic review addressed these critical concerns in its final recommendations for Canada. Our record is poor.

Believe it or not, Canada used to be a world leader in terms of its housing record. But the cuts to housing programs in the early 1990s have prevented Canada from meeting its international obligations. The situation has been getting worse ever since.

What did the government do in response to this damning UN report? It promised to work more effectively with the provinces and territories.

The government made this promise to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Unfortunately, this commitment never amounted to anything. More empty words. The last departmental report published by the CMHC indicates that the federal government does not plan to keep its commitments. In 2013, Canada will undergo its second universal periodic review by the UN Human Rights Council. At that time, the government will have to report to civil society organizations and member countries of the United Nations human resources committee on its accomplishments in the area of housing. The way things are going, we are probably not going to do any better than the first time.

Nevertheless, the NDP is offering the government the solution on a silver platter. The national housing strategy set out in Bill C-400 would respond to most of the UN's concerns. The federal government's efforts must be coordinated with those of the provinces and territories, as well as those of the private sector and organizations on the ground. The solution is simple: we must stop improvising.

I am hardly the first person to say it. In 2004, the hon. member for Vancouver East introduced Bill C-509 for the first time. This bill was a declaration of housing rights that would have protected the right to affordable, accessible and adequate housing. In 2006, this same bill was again introduced by the hon. member for London—Fanshawe.

Not willing to give up, in 2009, the hon. member for Vancouver East once again introduced an amended version of the bill.

With the support of the other opposition parties, the bill went to committee, where a clause was added that would have allowed Quebec to opt out of the legislation with full financial compensation. Unfortunately, the bill died on the Order Paper when the election was called in the spring of 2012. The bill had the support of all the opposition parties and even the support of one Conservative member. Canada was close to having its own national housing strategy. This time, I hope that the government will agree to adopt this strategy.

The situation is completely out of control. The economic crisis gave rise to a housing crisis that is affecting the entire country, not just big cities such as Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

Household debt has reached a critical point. Many international organizations are warning the government, but it does not seem to be listening. In 2008, the global economic downturn resulted in higher property prices. Those who were able to buy a home ended up with a mortgage that they could not afford to pay.

The Bank of Canada and the International Monetary Fund have warned Canada that the country's household debt is far too high, at 158%. That is unprecedented. Mortgages account for 68% of that debt. Those who cannot afford a mortgage are forced to turn to the rental market, which can no longer keep up with the demand. Vacancy rates in Canada have reached record lows. Once again, this is not exclusive to large urban centres. In 2010, the CMHC found vacancy rates under 2% in 10 Canadian cities: 0.9% in Winnipeg, 1% in the Quebec City region, 1.4% in St. John's and 1.8% here in Ottawa. There is a serious lack of rental housing in those cities.

Changing global economic conditions are reflected in the changing housing needs in Canada. These conditions have created a void in the construction and housing sectors. There is a housing shortage, and low-income families have very few housing options. Where are the solutions? This federal government certainly is not offering any. At the end of the day, on the one hand, we have renters who are inadequately housed and are paying too much, and on the other hand, we have fewer and fewer home owners with increasing debt levels.

What is not make clear in this equation? The only thing that is crystal clear is that this government has lost all control. It is time to adopt a national housing strategy. I know I am repeating myself, but there is nothing else to add. We need to act now. Other G8 countries realized this a long time ago. This government likes to compare itself to other G8 countries, and so it must know that those countries have known for quite some time that adequate housing guarantees long-term, sustainable economic growth.

In Belgium, for example, housing is under regional jurisdiction. Social housing represents 7% of the national rental housing stock, and every region has a regional social housing corporation. Social housing units are allocated based on a combination of income ceilings, household size and urgency of need. Monthly rents depend on tenants' incomes.

In addition, the right to housing is guaranteed by the constitution. Article 23 provides that every person is entitled to dignity, which includes the right to decent housing. These policies have resulted in a vacancy rate of 7.8%

Austria's housing policy focuses on two essential factors: government financial assistance and a competent and diligent limited-profit sector.

The government has established essential financing mechanisms and legislation to regulate security of tenure and rents. As a result of a long-standing government commitment, one in six Austrians lives in an apartment built or managed by a limited-profit housing association.

In the United Kingdom, the Minister of Communities and Local Governments works together with local authorities to manage housing in the country. The government has just adopted the Affordable Homes Programme 2011-2015, and that program is backed by a £4.5 billion investment to increase the supply of social housing in the country. It includes a special component for seniors and persons at risk. The result is that social housing serves more than four million households.

Investing in housing pays dividends. Safe, adequate, accessible and affordable housing means Canadians who are well housed, more fit for work and in better financial health.

However, unlike the major industrial countries, Canada has not yet understood this.

Given the federal government's withdrawal from this sector, many Canadian municipalities have decided to adopt action plans, often with very few resources.

In Saskatoon, the city encourages the construction of rental properties by offering a $5,000 subsidy for every rental unit built, in addition to a progressive tax credit over five years.

In 2010, Quebec City adopted regulations to slow the conversion of rental apartments to condos. As a result, a rental property must be vacant for 10 years before it can be transformed into a condo property.

In 2010, in my riding, the Saint-Hyacinthe city council invested $2 million in social housing. That is a lot for a city of about 50,000 people.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act
Private Members' Business

October 17th, 2012 / 7:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would appreciate it if my colleagues would keep the noise down and take their conversations into the lobby.

The City of Surrey has established a policy prohibiting the conversion or demolition of rental units, unless the vacancy rate for the entire city is under 4%. The city has also adopted a plan to provide housing for the homeless. We are talking about 150 emergency beds, 500 housing units for people in transition and 5,000 social housing units for the homeless, families and single people.

In 2009, the City of Regina adopted a housing policy that includes tax incentives for small densification projects, tax write-offs for rental units and $10,000 in subsidies for affordable housing. The most critical housing shortage in the country is in Regina, where the vacancy rate is currently 0.6%. With significant problems such as these, housing has become a major election issue. Why is it that housing is such an issue in Regina and the federal government barely talks about it?

On Monday evening, my office organized a non-partisan round table on housing. All members were invited. We invited the government a number of times. National groups and housing experts from as far away as Regina and Toronto flew here to attend the round table. However, only one Conservative walked over to the La Promenade building. I would like to thank my colleague from Mississauga—Streetsville for attending.

He finally had the opportunity to hear that Canada needs a national housing strategy.

Therefore, today, I am asking if the government is committed to supporting Bill C-400 right now so that every Canadian family can have decent housing.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act
Private Members' Business

October 17th, 2012 / 7:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, is my colleague aware that due to the economic action plan, the Government of Canada has helped create 605,000 new housing units across the country? I have seen first-hand the positive impact of that economic action plan based on creating affordable social housing in my own riding. I also made an announcement in the riding of the member from Halifax. People who needed housing received housing. That is taking action during a difficult economic crisis.

When the member across the way talks about what countries in Europe are doing, if she looked at the economic performance of the countries in Europe that she talked about compared to the economic performance of Canada during this economic crisis, she would see that Canada is on the right track.

Like many Canadians across the country, one of the strongest answers to any social housing problem is good, well-paying jobs and this government, through the economic action plan, has created 820,000 net new jobs, 90% of those are full-time jobs.

My colleague failed to mention one other thing in her speech. How does she pretend to pay for this national housing program? Could it be that she will use money from a $20 billion carbon tax to help fund this national housing strategy those members talk about?

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act
Private Members' Business

October 17th, 2012 / 7:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives will not leave the carbon tax alone. They talk about it every chance they get.

My colleague asked a number of questions. All I can say is that in a country with somewhere between 150,000 and 300,000 homeless people, in which millions of families have pressing housing needs, the Conservatives have nothing to brag about. They would do well to follow the lead of other countries that are providing their citizens with safe, accessible, adequate and affordable housing. That is all I have to say.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act
Private Members' Business

October 17th, 2012 / 7:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate my colleague on her speech. The Liberals will definitely vote in favour of this bill, but there is a big problem: I am sure the Conservatives will not support it. It is a good plan, but it will never come to fruition.

I would remind my hon. colleague that in 2004-05, the Liberals had a great plan for affordable housing and we were about to implement it. However, the NDP voted against it, and then the election was called. The only way we could have had an affordable housing program is if the NDP had supported the government in 2005. If it had done so, we would have had such a program five years later. Does my colleague agree?

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act
Private Members' Business

October 17th, 2012 / 7:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and for refreshing Canadians' memories. When the NDP votes against a bill, it is because the bill does not meet the needs of all Canadians. That is why the NDP voted against this bill. Then we had the 2005 elections.

The only objective of this bill is to suggest some tools to the government. In view of the attitude of my colleagues opposite, I see that the government does not intend to support it. That is really too bad, because we are providing it with a useful solution on a silver platter. We are prepared to work with the government to implement such a strategy. My party will not abandon the fight for housing, and neither will I.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act
Private Members' Business

October 17th, 2012 / 7:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Brad Butt Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on second reading of Bill C-400, an act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians.

The choice this evening is quite simple. We could support this private member's bill, which would host the conference, encourage a few more studies and essays on the topic and allow for more speeches to be made. Or members can support the unprecedented levels of funding our government has provided to social housing across Canada. More talk or more action? I know which one I support.

The sponsor of the bill tells us that it is meant to improve the access for Canadians to safe affordable housing. Regrettably this approach could have the opposite effect. By not recognizing that social housing is largely a provincial lead and moving away from the local delivery of social housing programming, this approach could lead to less effective and more costly social housing.

Having said that, hon. members should know that rather than imposing a one-size-fits-all solution, this government is pursuing and will continue to pursue a proven and effective multi-pronged approach that engages many stakeholders and facilitates access to housing across a continuum of housing needs. Rather than launching another round of meetings, discussion papers and conferences, as is proposed in the bill, we have opted for taking tangible action to address housing issues.

Our government has invested heavily in a broad range of housing and homelessness programs and activities over the past number of years. In fact, our government is already investing more on affordable and supportive housing than any other government in Canadian history.

Through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the government contributes to Canada's strong housing finance system by ensuring that mortgage financing is available for all types of housing in all parts of Canada.

Thanks in part to CMHC's mortgage loan insurance and securitization guarantee programs, 80% of Canadians are able to meet their housing needs in the marketplace, without direct support from government.

At the same time, we recognize that the government cannot turn its back on those whose needs are not met by the marketplace, including low-income families, people with disabilities, first nation households living on reserve, the homeless and others in need. That is why we are working with provinces and territories, municipalities, national aboriginal organizations, the private sector and not-for-profit groups to deliver a full range of housing support and assistance, from providing emergency shelter for those at greatest risk to assisted housing for low-income households.

Regardless of what form federal assistance takes, our government believes that local housing challenges require local solutions. We believe that the people closest to those requiring assistance are best positioned to develop and deliver effective lasting solutions. Unlike this bill, our government's approach recognizes the constitutional jurisdiction of the provinces and territories in this area of assisted housing, as well as the need to work with a variety of different partners in order to deliver results.

When Canada's economic action plan was announced, we immediately sought the engagement and support of the provinces and territories to deliver housing-related stimulus funds to the economy. Working through CMHC, in record time, we negotiated amendments to existing housing agreements to ensure that the bulk of federal investments in social housing could be delivered quickly and effectively by provinces and territories. The results speak for themselves.

Through our economic action plan, we have created 46,000 new affordable housing units and renovated 104,000 more. Every year the government is providing support for over 605,000 individuals and families with subsidized housing.

Since 2006, over 8,900 new rental units have been committed under the on-reserve non-profit housing program. In addition, under Canada's economic action plan, over 10,800 new units were created on and off reserve. These projects not only improved living conditions for tens of thousands of Canadians, they also put people to work quickly and stimulated local economies.

All of this was made possible because our government recognized the provinces and territories were in the best position to deliver housing-related stimulus funding quickly where it was needed most and where it would have the greatest impact. This philosophy is also reflected in the investment in affordable housing 2011-2014 framework that the government jointly announced with provinces and territories in July of 2011.

Under this framework, provincial and territorial governments are cost matching the federal investment for a combined total of $1.4 billion over three years toward reducing the number of Canadians in housing need. The new framework recognizes that Canadians have diverse housing needs and that a range of solutions from existing programs to new approaches is needed. To that end, provinces and territories are responsible for designing and delivering affordable housing programs that address specific housing needs and priorities in their jurisdictions.

Through bilateral arrangements negotiated with our government, most provinces and territories have opted for a new approach. In 11 out of 13 jurisdictions, federal housing investments are now provided under a single funding envelope and provinces and territories have the flexibility to invest in a range of programs and initiatives to reduce the number of households in need. As hon. members can appreciate, this is the opposite of the one-size-fits-all approach that could result from Bill C-400.

CMHC also works closely with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and first nations leadership as well as housing organizations to deliver federal funding to address housing needs on reserve, including supports for new construction and the renovation of existing homes on reserve.

These are all important initiatives carried out in partnership with a range of housing stakeholders. They are key components of the multi-pronged approach I mentioned at the outset.

Since 2006, our government has invested some $13.1 billion in housing and homelessness programs. Working with our partners, assistance has been provided to about 755,000 Canadian households, including low-income families, seniors, persons with disabilities and first nations people.

Our government believes that actions are more important than talk and our focus is about delivering results, not holding more conferences. I urge all members to reflect on this and to vote in support of our government's strong record of action on housing and vote against this bill.