Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to respond to the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot. Let me begin by saying that we share her concern for vulnerable Canadians that need support in meeting their housing needs.
I can assure the House that the government will indeed invest in affordable housing, as pledged during the election. We will re-establish the federal government's role in supporting affordable housing so more Canadians can find an affordable place to call home.
Our government is working to not only address the most pressing needs in the short term, we will be taking a more collaborative, whole-of-government approach to improving housing outcomes in the long term.
There is general consensus about the immediate issues facing the social housing sector. We know that some housing providers will face financial difficulties when their long-term operating agreements come to an end, leaving low-income households living in rent-geared-to income units vulnerable. As well, much of the existing social housing stock requires major capital repairs and modifications to meet the changing needs of Canadians, including seniors. Operating agreements differ from one provider to another. Some agreements provide rent subsidies for low-income households. Others provide subsidies to reduce operating costs. Still others provide for preferential rates on mortgage loans.
Some existing arrangements, as they are now, may not be the best answer for some of these projects. We are sensitive to the fact that we may need a range of solutions that address underlying problems and challenges.
Our government is committed to a strategy that will include a 10-year investment in social infrastructure. This strategy will prioritize investments in affordable housing and seniors' housing, and provide funding for communities to help homeless Canadians find stable housing. As well, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development will be working with his colleague, the Minister of Finance, on measures to encourage and support the construction of new affordable housing.
We believe there is a role for all levels of government in the provision of housing. Finding the right approach will be part of the discussions we are having with stakeholders, provinces and territories, municipalities, and others.
As I have already noted, we will begin to deliver the social infrastructure investments we have promised Canadians. We will also continue to provide current federal funding of $238 million per year through the investment in affordable housing program. Provinces and territories match this funding and can use it to pay for capital repairs or rent supplements for social housing projects that may need such assistance.
In addition, the federal government will continue to invest in existing social housing. In 2014, this investment was approximately $1.7 billion in support of some 570,000 households, including 27,750 households in first nations communities.
Providing affordable housing is a priority for our government. Going forward, we will be looking for opportunities to build a stronger, more innovative, and sustainable affordable housing sector that gives Canadians better access to housing and improves their prospects and quality of life.
We will be working with our other partners and stakeholders to develop a strategy that produces meaningful long-term results. I would encourage the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot to support our efforts.