Mr. Speaker, I am delighted and grateful to be able to speak to the motion moved by the hon. member for Saskatoon West, whom I would like to acknowledge.
It is always a pleasure, an honour and a responsibility to inform the House of important and decisive measures that our government has taken and will continue to take to provide more Canadians with a safe, affordable home.
In the past couple of weeks alone, Canadians have been able to see the impact of these actions first-hand.
We have seen new affordable housing projects break ground in Chilliwack, Winnipeg, Hamilton and Montreal. We have seen a tiny home community in Whitehorse giving at-risk individuals much-needed housing and more. It is also providing the support services they need to live independently.
In Calgary, we saw new transitional housing being created that will provide a safe haven for some 100 women who otherwise would be experiencing domestic abuse, poverty and homelessness. We have seen work on a new development in Porters Lake, Nova Scotia. This will be a place where seniors can age in place with services that allow them to live independently for longer, and happily.
Last week, I also had the opportunity to meet Claudette. She was very proud to show the Minister of Official Languages and me her new home, which is one of 78 units in the Première Porte complex located in the riding of Ahuntsic-Cartierville in Montreal. This complex provides newcomers with housing and services to help them fully participate, as best they can, in life in their new community.
We also attended the launch of a new Habitat for Humanity project which will let families in Prince Albert realize their dream of owning a home. I enthusiastically lent my rudimentary manual skills to a Habitat for Humanity build last year. This activity allowed me to see first-hand the deep sense of pride and joy of the families and the entire community.
In each of these cases, people benefit from a place to live. However, it is much more than just bricks and mortar. It gives people dignity, a new chance to feel a sense of belonging.
Last week, we also announced a 10-year housing partnership agreement with Premier MacLauchlan in Prince Edward Island. This agreement comes with a joint $15-million investment in affordable housing for the province. This is just one of several agreements made with our provincial and territorial partners over the past few months, with more to come.
Each one of these announcements is a direct result of the focus that our government has placed on housing from day one of our mandate. From day one, we have understood that housing matters, and we are delivering, literally from coast to coast to coast.
As our Prime Minister said, all Canadians deserve a safe and affordable place to call home, a place where they feel safe, where they can have confidence in their future and focus on themselves, their families and their communities. To build a strong middle class and an inclusive society, we must have quality, affordable housing.
Canadians know, and too many of them first-hand, what years of federal neglect on housing have brought. We see the challenges faced by some 1.7 million Canadians who live in houses that need repairs, are overcrowded, or are unaffordable. We see how these challenges affect some 25,000 Canadians who each year experience chronic homelessness. We also see how failure to address needs at one end of the housing continuum affects people all along it.
That is why one of our first priorities was to get the Government of Canada back into housing. We acted decisively, and since 2016, we have invested more than $5.7 billion to make housing more affordable across Canada. It is already having an important impact, helping nearly a million families since 2016 to gain access to a safe and affordable place to call home.
We specified that these investments were but the first step. As we are implementing these significant investments, we are also developing the very first national housing strategy, a 10-year, $40-billion-plus plan that will help more Canadians find a safe and affordable place to call home.
My colleague from Saskatoon West is calling for the creation of 500,000 new housing units. She should know that the national housing strategy would fill the housing needs of more than 530,000 Canadians and cut homelessness by half. Our plan may be ambitious, but it is realistic. It was developed based on amazing consultations with people in the industry, Canadians, and housing experts.
I want to name just a few: the National Housing Collaborative, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, the Réseau québécois des OSBL d'habitation, Canada Without Poverty and YWCA Canada.
These are just a very small number of the wonderful stakeholders that have helped us build this historic, first-ever national housing strategy.
Our plan does indeed respond to the real need for new affordable housing. To get us there, the plan includes major initiatives to repair and increase the housing stock, including a $13.2-billion national housing co-investment fund.
To maximize the results of our investments even more, we are making up to $200 million worth of federal land available to community housing providers at a discount or at no cost.
Many housing units are in need of urgent repairs or renovations after years of neglect by the federal government, among other factors. Much of Canada's affordable housing stock is aging and has suffered from many years of underfunding. Families are living in overcrowded housing and in unsafe conditions, but the national housing co-investment fund will provide funding to renovate and repair up to 240,000 housing units and create 60,000 new units.
We opted for a co-investment fund because we know that a top-down approach does not work. We wanted to invite the provinces and territories, community housing providers, municipalities, the private sector, and indigenous governments and organizations to work with us to find lasting solutions tailored to the needs of their communities.
The co-investment fund advances housing priorities that matter to all Canadians by prioritizing projects that go above and beyond mandatory requirements for affordability, energy efficiency and accessibility. It focuses on people, communities and partnerships and includes specific targets to protect and support survivors of violence, seniors and people living with development disabilities, among many others.
Our major partners in housing are provincial and territorial governments. For me, an important accomplishment in our national housing strategy was reaching a historic housing partnership framework agreement with them, the first in more than a quarter of a century.
This framework includes $7.7 billion in funding that will be cost-matched and invested in programs that will meet the unique needs of Canadians, whether they live in a remote community in Nunavut, an urban centre in British Columbia, a small town in Prince Edward Island or any point in between. These partnerships will unlock further initiatives, such as the Canada housing benefit, a direct benefit that will give at least 300,000 households an average of $2,500 per year to help meet their housing costs.
Our agreements with the provinces and territories will also help keep some 330,000 community-run housing units affordable for 330,000 families. This is another critical measure that will give low-income Canadians the means to pay rent in the housing they already occupy.
The affordability of federally-run community housing will be maintained through the national housing strategy, as we are extending subsidies for some 55,000 additional households.
Last summer we also launched a new homelessness strategy, a $2.2-billion plan to cut homelessness by at least half. The reaching home strategy will provide more funding, tools, and flexibility to a greater number of communities to fight homelessness in their own way. One of my colleagues will talk about that strategy a little later today.
Together, this work represents a very important achievement for our government. I am proud of how we have been able to collaborate with Canadians and many stakeholders to launch programs that will make a lasting difference.
Of course, there is much more work to do. As mentioned previously, we are working hard with provincial and territorial partners to sign all bilateral agreements by April 2019.
I am also working closely with the Minister of Indigenous Services, indigenous leaders and organizations to develop the first-ever distinct first nations, Métis and Inuit housing strategies. These strategies will meet the unique needs of each group and will be anchored in the principles of reconciliation and self-determination. One of my colleagues will also speak to that progress in more detail later today.
We have also launched major research initiatives to fill the data gaps that exist around housing. I look forward to seeing the resulting research and to learning how we can continue to make progress on creating better housing for Canadians.
Finally, we are currently drafting legislation to protect the human rights-based approach to housing that is the moral and philosophical foundation of the national housing strategy. This will bring us much closer to the progressive realization of the right to housing in Canada, as called for in the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This bill will ensure that affordable housing remains a priority for all future Canadian governments and will benefit all Canadians for generations to come.
I have said it before and I will say it again: The Government of Canada is back in housing, as a leader and as a partner.
Canadians are on board with our new approach. Reena, a foundation that promotes dignity and inclusion, praised the national housing strategy, saying that the federal government is to be applauded for recognizing the importance for all citizens to have a home and for implementing a plan that will improve the quality of thousands of people's lives, and calling on provincial and municipal leaders to align behind this effort and create local solutions to serve communities across the country.
I second that call.
I urge members on the other side to join us. Working together, we can deliver an inclusive national housing strategy that will launch a new era in housing in this country, improve the lives of Canadians, and strengthen our communities and the economy for years to come.