Madam Speaker, I am pleased to respond to Motion No. 331, proposed by the hon. member for Shefford. Our government supports this motion because the actions of our government have addressed and continue to address the content of the motion.
As a government, we have made unprecedented investments in helping Canadians find the housing they need. We have invested significantly in programs that offer a way out for those who want to break free from the cycle of homelessness and poverty. We have established and empowered local communities, both rural and urban, to set the priorities for combatting homelessness in their communities.
Let me give the House a concrete example of what our government is doing to assist people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Just a few months ago, in December 2011, we celebrated the opening of the Aboriginal Mother Centre in Vancouver. This facility will help aboriginal women and children who are in need to access housing and support services. Over $370,000 in funding was used for the project by the Lu’ma Native Housing Society. The funds helped renovate and refurbish a building to provide transitional housing, meal services and a daycare centre. This funding was provided through the federal homelessness partnering strategy.
As my hon. colleagues may know, the homelessness partnering strategy, HPS, was launched in April 2007. It is a unique program aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness by providing direct support and funding to communities across Canada. At the community level, our government has partnered with leaders in the social services sector to set local priorities for combatting homelessness. These local priorities are then used to set the criteria for funding in that community through this program. This approach has been a cornerstone of the federal government's response to homelessness, and a key ingredient of its success.
The causes of poverty and homelessness are complex and differ from one community to another. We believe that communities play a critical role in addressing the problem, as they are the best place to identify and address their own local needs. This approach ensures that federal funding will go to where it is most effective. For these reasons, the homelessness partnering strategy encourages people and organizations with an interest in homelessness to work together to determine their local priorities. This is why the homelessness partnering strategy has strong support from communities, who appreciate the flexibility it offers as well as its recognition that they are key partners in the fight against homelessness.
Since the HPS was launched, a total of 2,900 projects have been approved, with funding totalling over $637 million. To date, HPS investments have enabled communities across Canada to create more than 5,000 new beds in emergency, transitional and supportive housing facilities. In addition, since the HPS was started, more than 35,000 individuals have been placed in more stable housing.
Of course, people who are homeless or at risk need more than just a place to live. They often require a variety of services to help them overcome certain challenges and to start a new life. This is another feature of HPS. For example, as part of the support services it funds, a total of 9,500 people have started a part-time or full-time education or training program.
Let me remind the hon. members that in September of 2008, our government committed to investing more than $1.9 billion over five years in housing and homelessness. As part of this commitment, we have renewed the HPS at the current funding level of $134.8 million per year until March 2014. This funding will ensure that we can continue to assist people who are homeless or at risk, including low income Canadians, seniors, people with disabilities, recent immigrants and aboriginal people in need of support. We are working with provinces, municipalities and charitable organizations to develop ways to improve the effectiveness of federal investments in the area of housing and homelessness.
Over the years, our government has also made significant investments in affordable and supportive housing. Canada's economic action plan built on these investments with an additional one-time allocation of more than $2 billion over two years in new and existing social housing, and by making available loans of up to $2 billion over two years for housing related infrastructure projects.
These investments helped complete over 14,000 housing projects. There were over 1,300 projects to renovate existing social housing and over 400 projects were funded to help people with disabilities. In the north, over 200 social housing projects, including many multiple units, were funded.
Sadly, every investment our government has made to help the most vulnerable Canadians was opposed by the official opposition, and often with the support of the third party.
I would like to conclude by paying tribute to our community partners. All across the country there are dedicated people, both professionals and volunteers, who are working with us to get their fellow citizens off the street and into a stable home. By providing essential services, they are enabling vulnerable individuals to achieve self-sufficiency and full participation in society. The fact is, we are making a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of vulnerable Canadians.
We are pleased to support this motion today. Our government has given unprecedented support for housing and homelessness over the past years, and will continue to do so.