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House of Commons Hansard #117 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was affordable.

Topics

HousingPrivate Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

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.

HousingPrivate Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Shefford has five minutes for his right of reply.

HousingPrivate Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Réjean Genest NDP Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have another opportunity to speak to my Motion M-331 about rental housing.

I listened very closely to everything my colleagues said in the context of this debate. I would like to thank them. I would also like to thank everyone who plans to support this motion.

I would like to begin by responding to arguments that some members raised during the first hour of debate on my motion. Specifically, I would like to respond the the Conservatives' oft-repeated argument that we, the members of the New Democratic Party, voted against measures to help Canadians obtain housing and to fight homelessness. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The NDP is not opposed to policies that subsidize and increase the availability of social housing. That has been our stance for decades.

Take for example Bill C-38, the budget implementation bill that we are now debating and that several Quebec media outlets have described as “mammoth”. I want to make it clear that we cannot vote for this omnibus bill because it contains a hodgepodge of separate bills that have nothing to do with one another. This bill is like a garage sale or a flea market.

Conservative members can say whatever they want in the House, but if the government chose to split the omnibus bill, then the NDP, as a social-democratic party, would support any social measures designed to improve quality of life for people across the country. We would also be prepared to share our opinions and suggestions about measures that raise questions or concerns.

Any discussion about housing has to be placed in context. We have to talk not only about rental housing, as we are doing now, but also about a range of measures, such as subsidies for social housing, programs to deal with homelessness, partnerships with the non-profit sector to provide more good-quality housing, and measures to improve low-income individuals' access to capital.

It is clear that this Conservative government, rather than pursuing these comprehensive measures, has opted to do away with crucial homelessness programs and is refusing to implement amendments to the bill, proposed by the NDP, that would establish national housing standards. This, along with the government's ongoing abdication of its responsibilities—to the point that these responsibilities have now to a large extent fallen on the shoulders of the municipalities—has eroded the very notion of safe, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for all Canadians.

The situation is only getting worse. In the past, low income earners had the option of investing in a mobile home, but today, even that option is rarely a possibility. Unfortunately, with the federal government's ongoing cuts to the funding of housing, the trend in many municipalities across the country has been to replace mobile home parks with condominiums and other high cost housing. This is happening in Granby with the Tropicana campground, which has nothing to do with orange juice.

With Motion M-331, my colleagues and I from the New Democratic Party are trying to draw attention to an extremely important problem, which is growing throughout the country.

The United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognizes access to housing as a human right. The government can and must do more to ensure that all Canadians have access to safe, adequate, accessible and affordable housing. We encourage all members to support this motion.

HousingPrivate Members' Business

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

It being 2:30 p.m., the time provided for debate has expired.

The vote is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

HousingPrivate Members' Business

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

HousingPrivate Members' Business

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

HousingPrivate Members' Business

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

HousingPrivate Members' Business

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.

HousingPrivate Members' Business

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

HousingPrivate Members' Business

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, May 9, 2012, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until Monday at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2:32 p.m.)