Evidence of meeting #8 for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was métis.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Bindu Bonneau  Senior Director, Operations, Métis Urban Housing Corporation of Alberta Inc.
Robert Byers  President and Chief Executive Officer, Namerind Housing Corporation
Damon Johnston  President, Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg
Julia Christensen  Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Northern Governance and Public Policy, Memorial University, As an Individual

7:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Namerind Housing Corporation

7:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Thank you so much. I'm sure that's my time.

7:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Namerind Housing Corporation

Robert Byers

Thank you.

7:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

Thank you, Mrs. Falk and Mr. Byers.

The last person to pose questions to this panel is Mr. Vaughan, for five minutes, please.

7:25 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Thanks very much.

Mr. Byers, when you say 73,000 units of housing, we're looking at three different categories here: urban, rural and northern. Can you break down where you think that should fall among those different categories? Does your report speak to that?

7:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Namerind Housing Corporation

Robert Byers

Yes, I believe it does.

7:25 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Do you know offhand what the breakdown is?

7:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Namerind Housing Corporation

Robert Byers

No, I don't.

7:25 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Okay, I'll review it. I seem to recall seeing it.

When we talk about CMHC programs, one of the challenges is that indigenous housing, especially in urban areas, especially when you're dealing with trauma, often includes things like space for ceremonies, space for communal kitchens, space for healing and traditional medicine and sometimes even sweat lodges on site. Would you recommend that an URN strategy move away from 75% residential and provide a mix that is indigenous-designed but less focused on just residential and more focused on the full suite of services?

7:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Namerind Housing Corporation

Robert Byers

I guess for me, because of the urgent need for housing and to increase those numbers, even though the cultural part is very important, housing is more important. I would sooner invest in housing. I know how we do things, Adam, and we do all our stuff, our spiritual stuff and our cultural stuff, in a space that's away and behind closed doors. Then we work on the project and on including various people.

7:25 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

But in terms of making those spaces eligible as part of a project, you wouldn't be opposed to that.

7:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Namerind Housing Corporation

7:25 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Okay.

In terms of the process, you talk about the need for a compressed approval process but also a culturally aware approval process, which is why it needs to be indigenous-led and indigenous-designed, not just indigenous-managed.

7:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Namerind Housing Corporation

7:25 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

In terms of that compressed process, would you recommend block funding for multiple years so that organizations like yours have a runway to evolve projects, rather than having to land all the money at once?

7:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Namerind Housing Corporation

Robert Byers

Yes, that's what I was talking about, even as a community entity, to have ongoing funding so they can start their project and develop it over the course of the next four years.

7:25 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

If you have a large site, you can do it in phases and know that the phases are all funded and that they work together.

December 1st, 2020 / 7:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Namerind Housing Corporation

7:25 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

In terms of Reaching Home—and thank you for your contribution on the advisory committee as we put together the national housing strategy—I'm just checking to make sure you saw in yesterday's statement that the base funding of $160 million a year for Reaching Home has been added to for next year by an additional $299.3 million.

7:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Namerind Housing Corporation

7:25 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

I hope you know it's there.

7:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Namerind Housing Corporation

7:25 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

I'm curious, as the national housing strategy builds with indigenous communities an URN strategy, whether or not you think the Reaching Home dollars should also flow into that to make it a fully integrated housing system.

7:30 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Namerind Housing Corporation

Robert Byers

I think it would be nice. Actually, the way I would like it is if funding for indigenous organizations was treated the same way the funding is for the community entity, because what happens is that it comes from the federal government to the provincial government and they decide what to do. It's been very little in Saskatchewan.

7:30 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

So direct funding with the federal government is better than going through the provinces.