Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you for having us as part of the committee business so that we can highlight the importance of housing during the current crisis. I'll start by introducing our organization. The Association des groupes de ressources techniques du Québec is made up of 25 technical resource groups, or GRTs, that serve the entire province of Quebec. These GRTs are social economy enterprises that, for over 40 years, have helped create more than 85,000 housing units in the form of co-operatives or housing non-profit organizations. These units account for over half of Quebec's social housing stock.
The GRTs also support many community real estate projects, including community centres and early childhood centres. GRTs have played a key role in the development of housing projects for over 40 years. We're involved in all stages of a housing project, including the identification of needs, project support, the implementation strategy, financing, site supervision, group training, and real estate and financial management. The GRTs act as catalysts to carry out housing projects that meet the various needs of the most vulnerable people throughout Quebec.
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us one thing, it's the importance of staying home to prevent the spread of the virus. People across the country have stayed home. However, we must remember that too many people don't have a home, and that too many families have homes that are unsafe, too expensive or simply not suited to their condition or reality. We've seen the significant movement to help food banks, because more and more people can no longer afford to eat. However, we've forgotten that the reason is probably that these people need to spend far too much of their income on housing.
Giving families proper and affordable housing means ensuring that they're better fed, better clothed, healthier, less vulnerable and therefore protected from a future pandemic. What we saw during the pandemic and what studies will show is that community housing can help us respond quickly to a crisis such as the current one.
Community housing projects are owned collectively and run democratically. This makes them small communities where people know each other very well and help each other. This empowers all residents to take responsibility for their well-being and increases their desire and ability to take action. This is good for protection against a virus, but it's also good for all the little things that come up in daily life.
The latest census counted 1.7 million households in Canada, including 306,000 in Quebec, in core housing need. That's shameful. It's easy to predict that the current crisis will significantly increase these needs. However, a massive investment in community housing is an excellent way to prepare for the next pandemic. You must be wondering why this investment hasn't already been made. The fascinating thing about this situation is that for you, the elected members in the House of Commons, it wouldn't be acceptable for your constituents to not have access to an education system or a school. It wouldn't be acceptable for the people in your constituency to not have access to health care. So why is it acceptable that almost 13% of the country's population has trouble meeting such a basic and essential need as housing?
I have good news for you. As part of the economic and crisis recovery process, investments in community housing also benefit the economy. Every dollar invested in Quebec in the development of community housing generates $2.3 in economic activity. We're asking you to use community and social housing as a way out of the crisis. We aren't the only ones. About 20 organizations outside the community housing sector are also asking for this, including chambers of commerce, real estate developers, foundations, the Chantier de l'économie sociale and municipal organizations, to name but a few. They all believe in community housing not only for its economic recovery aspect, but also for its benefits.
The discussions on the pandemic are giving us the opportunity to review our habits. We must do so by carrying out more compassionate, greener and more sustainable projects. We're also making it clear that support for the basic needs of vulnerable people mustn't be subject to markets and profits.
The health and safety of the most vulnerable people shouldn't be an industry, but a government obligation.
The models used by co-operatives and housing NPOs are striking examples of how we can do things differently, while still focusing on the well-being of residents. From this perspective, the government must increase its partnerships with the social economy. It's a way of doing more and doing better, for the greater good. There are many examples. I encourage you to discover these examples across the country.
Quebec has its own housing ecosystem. It involves 40 years of partnerships and complementary relationships between co-operatives, housing NPOs, municipal housing offices, cities, municipalities, the health care system, community groups and crown corporations. It also reflects the success of the AccèsLogis Québec program, which was jointly built by the Société d'habitation du Québec and housing organizations. Lastly, the success of collective ownership ensures the long-term affordability of housing. Your role is to support and consolidate it.
How can you do so? We want to emphasize the importance of the federal government's resumption of funding for housing. After a 20-year absence, the establishment of the national housing strategy was well received.
First, the whole principle of the government's contribution in terms of taking leadership and investing to address a major issue was well received. In addition, we appreciated it because we could then develop a strategy with long-term perspectives and planning processes. Developing housing and engaging communities, especially the most vulnerable communities, takes time.
In recent weeks, pressure has been mounting for the signature of a housing agreement between the federal government and Quebec, the last province waiting for money from the housing strategy. A number of people seem to be hoping that the solution lies in that money. I want to tell you that we don't understand why this money wasn't distributed a long time ago. When a house is burning, we don't wonder where the water comes from or who owns the house. We just quickly put out the fire.
Second, although this money is needed and expected, the amount is far from sufficient. The needs are so significant that we need a major initiative, a massive investment, and leadership from all of you, from the political world. The communities will welcome the investments in their basic needs. Across the country, housing is becoming increasingly important and turning into a critical issue. Cities and municipalities have systematically included it in their priorities in recent years.
We hope that you'll take into account our message so that, the next time we speak at a committee meeting, we can report on our successes rather than on missed opportunities.
Thank you for your attention.