Thank you, Chair.
I would like to thank all the witnesses for coming today and for all the work you're doing.
I wanted to make a quick note. Mr. Ross, I completely agree with you regarding community bonds. I see this definitely in a rural riding. Having other people in the community, even in a non-housing way, is so important for the health of people, including their mental health.
Mr. Byers, I also wanted to make a comment to you. I was a social worker previously, so one thing that actually led me into politics was having an influence on the macro, being able to dismantle some of that red tape, because I have been on the phone with social services, whether it was Alberta or Saskatchewan, and had them saying, “It's not my issue.” It gets very frustrating at the end of the day.
I would like to direct my first question to Jeff Morrison, with the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association. I know in your open letter to Minister Hussen on May 13 you made the point that affordable housing should be a key component of a post-pandemic economic response. In that letter you mentioned simplifying and expanding existing programs, like the federal lands initiative. This is a federal program that can certainly be utilized to help tackle affordable housing.
During the election we put forward a proposal to make surplus federal real estate available for affordable housing, to reinvigorate the federal lands initiative and to reward municipalities that cut red tape for home building. I'm wondering, in your view, what role the federal lands initiative could play in responding to housing needs. How could this program be reformed or reinvested in to better respond to the current housing needs?