Mr. Speaker, according to the 2016 census, released a few weeks ago, Canada's indigenous population has grown 42.5% since 2006, or four times faster than the non-indigenous population, making it the fastest growing population in Canada.
We already knew that there was an immense need for housing among indigenous peoples, but the 2016 census confirms that the housing conditions for these populations are still unacceptable.
One in five indigenous persons, or nearly 325,000 people, lived in a housing unit in need of major repair in 2016. By way of comparison, that number is roughly four times greater than that for the non-indigenous population. Despite a very slight decline in the need for repairs, it is clear that a lot of work remains to be done.
In Inuit Nunangat, the traditional territory where 73% of Canada's Inuit live, one in three people live in a housing unit in need of major repair. The situation is especially unacceptable because the climate the Inuit live in requires special housing conditions.
With regard to first nations, 44% of existing housing units on reserve require major repairs, which is more than in 2011. For first nations members living off reserve, 14% live in housing that requires major repairs, compared to only 6% for the non-indigenous population. That is more than double.
Things are not much better when it comes to overcrowding. The 2016 census showed that over 18% of indigenous people live in homes that are too small for the size of their household according to the national occupancy standard established by CMHC.
By way of comparison, 8% of the non-indigenous population lived in similar conditions. Nearly one-quarter of first nations members and two out of five Inuit live in overcrowded housing conditions.
We need look no further to see that the government, which is responsible for indigenous housing, needs to do a lot more to ensure that first nations, Inuit, and Métis people are no longer second-class citizens. The figures speak for themselves.
However, it is not like I learned anything new from the minister today. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada knew all about this reality by early 2016—although I should point out that being aware of a reality is one thing, and doing something about it is another.
In early 2016, in response to a question on the Order Paper from my colleague from Timmins—James Bay, the department acknowledged that, and I quote:
...the housing shortage on reserve is expected to rise to approximately 115,000 units by 2031.
That was before we got the real figures on the increase in the indigenous population. On the issue of overcrowded housing, the department acknowledged that, and again I quote:
...20,000 units need to be built on reserve in order to reduce the average number of persons by household to four people per home...and 81,000 houses are needed to reduce it to the 2.5 Canadian average.
In answer to a question I asked on October 30, the Minister of Indigenous Services had this to say:
I am pleased to report to the House that today 8,800 units have already been either built or are in the process of being built and renovated.
Really? In other words, the department knows just how many houses need to be built or renovated, but it tells me it is only working on 8,800 new or existing housing units. That is not what I would call very ambitious, and it clearly shows that the government has no plan.
The NDP has been calling for a targeted strategy to be put in place in partnership with indigenous peoples to address urgent housing needs.
However, the national housing strategy announced last week did nothing to address the specific problems that indigenous persons face. Why?