Mr. Speaker, the motion that we are debating today is very important for a lot of Canadians, especially young families just starting out and senior citizens. In order to ensure that Canadians know what we are talking about today, I would like to read the motion into the record. It states:
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) keep with Canada’s obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the right to housing under the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; (b) support efforts by Canadian municipalities to combat homelessness; and (c) adopt measures to expand the stock of affordable rental housing, with a view to providing economic benefits to local housing construction businesses.
My colleague has brought a very important motion to the House. I would like to congratulate him for doing that.
A lot of people are living in rental housing. One-third of Canadians are renters. Unfortunately, of the number of housing starts from coast to coast to coast, approximately 10% are for rental housing. This causes a deficiency in the number of rental housing units available. Because of the low number of housing starts, there is a supply and demand deficiency. The fewer the rental units, the higher the costs.
As members know, most people who live in rental housing may be some of the poorer Canadians, perhaps seniors or families just starting out. The number of seniors who will be renting in the future will increase. Why? As a result of the budget bill the Conservative government is bringing forth. As we know, in the budget bill, the age of eligibility for OAS and GIS would increase from 65 to 67.
This would do two things. First, it would make the poorest Canadians even poorer, and they would be poorer for two extra years. In order to avoid being poor for two more years, they might be forced to work longer, and that would put a strain on our workforce. Second, it might cause homelessness. If seniors cannot afford to rent an apartment, where would that leave them? That would leave them in the street. Homelessness is something that we want to discourage and help prevent from coast to coast to coast.
If we do not invest in rental units that people can afford, we are going to decrease the number of people who can rent units and we are going to increase homelessness. So, if the government were to spend money to help build rental units, it would certainly help Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has come up with some statistics that say that there is presently a deficiency of 50,000 jobs in the construction industry, which is responsible for constructing rental units.
Therefore, if we were to start investing in rental units we would create jobs. When we create jobs, it reduces unemployment and creates revenue for the government. I would impress on the government the need to invest in rental housing.
Housing is an important human right. If there is not sufficient rental stock, that right is in jeopardy. The alternative is homelessness.
Investment in housing is also important for economic stimulus. The report of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities that I referred to says that if we invested in more rental housing, we would create jobs. The supply of private rental housing is shrinking. That is obvious because one-third of Canadians are renters, but only 10% of construction is for rental housing.
I see my time is up. I hope that colleagues will support my good friend's motion.