Mr. Speaker, a few weeks back I asked a question of the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development regarding homelessness and affordable housing in Canada.
Report after report in community after community across Canada has called on the federal government to deal with the affordable housing and homelessness crisis in Canada.
Just since I became the NDP's housing critic last fall, the stack of reports issued on that topic is almost a foot high. It includes reports from northern Canada, from Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories, from most major cities, from many non-governmental organizations and also from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing. All recognize that the housing situation in Canada is in serious crisis. Some call it a national shame and all recognize, I should probably say demand, that the federal government must be involved in the solution.
The only commitment from the Conservative government in the last budget was for five pilot projects on homelessness that might be related to mental illness and the work of the new Mental Health Commission. I do not deny for a second that there is value in these projects, but the reality is that more pilot projects and studies will not solve the crisis of homelessness or of the availability of affordable housing in Canada.
The government and the minister talk about having spent more money on housing than any other government. That claim is only possible because the NDP leveraged a commitment of $1.6 billion from the last Liberal government. New Democrats got the Liberals to abandon yet another huge tax cut to big profitable corporations, big polluters and the wealthy and instead to invest in housing, post-secondary education, public transit, the environment and international aid.
We will remember the Liberals then lost the election and the Conservatives put that money into their housing trust. They in fact got to appropriate the money that the NDP fought for.
The Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, in his answer to my question, contended that the NDP had voted against the $1.4 billion on housing. He is absolutely wrong in that claim. Members of the NDP are the ones who fought for and obtained that funding for Canadians who need homes, an education, who want to see action on the environment and meet our foreign aid commitments. We are the ones who fought for more money to fight homelessness and to build affordable housing in Canada.
The increase in spending on housing that the government claims cannot be attributed to action on the part of the Conservative government. It has taken no significant initiative of its own in this regard.
We need a national housing program that actually builds homes in Canada and for Canadians. The NDP is committed to a 10 year national housing program to build 200,000 new affordable and social housing units, to renovate 100,000 existing units and to provide 40,000 new rent subsidies. We would reinstate the co-op housing program which has been hugely successful and is recognized around the world for building communities of people of mixed incomes, very successful communities that have been a huge boon to many cities and towns across Canada.
New Democrats would also introduce a housing bill of rights based on the private member's bill from the member for London—Fanshawe, originated by the member for Vancouver East, that would enshrine the right to housing in law according to the obligations that Canada has made in international agreements that have been signed and to legislate the process for developing and implementing a national housing program.
Those are some of the steps that New Democrats--