House of Commons Hansard #387 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was inmates.


Carbon PricingAdjournment Proceedings

8 p.m.


Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, the truth of the matter is that his responses do not apply in this case, because the money the Liberals are giving back to Canadians is money they have already taken from Canadians. They are simply giving back a portion of that.

I have yet to see anything that indicates that this type of program, which is supposedly revenue-neutral for Canadians, could possibly be that, because we know what it costs for government to do anything. We are not seeing the costs involved for the administration of this type of program by the government. Almost without fault, things tend to balloon even larger. There are also no comments from the government about the additional GST that is going to be charged to Canadians on top of what they are paying.

What I am responding to here, on behalf of my constituents, is that they are already doing all the things that make a difference for the country and do not require a carbon tax to do that.

Carbon PricingAdjournment Proceedings

8 p.m.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.

Sean Fraser

Mr. Speaker, perhaps this is an opportunity, in the one minute I have, to just state that when we were trying to develop a plan to help fight climate change while having a minimal impact on the Canadian economy, we actually looked at the advice of experts.

The Nobel Prize winner in economics this past year was actually awarded the prize for the development of this kind of plan. It is actually going to put a price on pollution that might make life more expensive for polluters but will make life more affordable for Canadian families. It is going to help protect competitiveness.

I note, in particular, that the member had some questions about the cost of administration. There is not going to be a single penny that comes out of this price. It is actually going to be taken from the province in which the pollution is generated. Folks from Saskatchewan are actually going to receive more money than other provinces, specifically because there is more pollution coming out of those provinces.

The plan is actually quite simple. We are putting a price on pollution and returning that money to businesses and families in the member's province.

HousingAdjournment Proceedings

February 26th, 2019 / 8 p.m.


Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, on October 26, 2018, days after advocates from across Canada visited Ottawa for Housing on the Hill Day, I took the opportunity to highlight some of the struggles facing front-line organizations hoping to access the national housing strategy's co-investment fund.

I asked the hon. minister if he would be willing to get down to work to alleviate the excessive administrative burdens placed on groups with limited resources who are forced to fill out lengthy and onerous applications, with almost 200 questions, to even have a chance at accessing the co-investment fund.

However, that is clearly not the only issue with this fund. This program also has a five-unit minimum, which excludes some smaller viable projects, many of which could be built in smaller towns and rural communities.

The online system for applying to this fund is onerous and difficult to navigate. The help from the government for applicants is lacking. Applicants have cited incidents of government staff being unable to answer basic questions, and even worse, giving out the wrong information. One applicant stated there was a feeling of learning the process alongside the government staff who were administering the program.

Making funding dependent upon the participation of local or provincial governments makes sense, but waiting for guaranteed commitments from those partners often prevents projects from being submitted in a timely manner. We have a crisis and we need housing now.

Last November, at the one-year anniversary of the release of the national housing strategy, Canadians were provided with an update on achievements to date. The announcement seemed to imply a reporting back on the achievements of the national housing strategy, but in fact included all activity on housing since 2016, investments prior to the launch of the national housing strategy.

The actual progress on the initiatives announced in the national housing strategy, to lots of fanfare, speeches, news releases and media headlines, is much more limited. If we are to truly evaluate the success of the first-ever national housing strategy, the government must live up to its rhetoric on transparency and accountability. Canadians and parliamentarians deserve good information that is accurate and presented in a way that would allow us to actually evaluate the strategy. More facts than fanfare would be appreciated.

The government promised real change, but the rollout of the national housing strategy does not seem to be based in reality. Sadly, the government has been very slow to roll out new investment and to implement the programs touted in the strategy. The words are there but the action on the ground to make a difference and truly roll out the dollars is not.

Every year, 235,000 people experience some form of homelessness in Canada, and almost three million Canadians spend more than 30% of their income on housing. In the face of these shocking numbers, the glacial pace of implementation of the national housing initiative is frustrating for many stakeholders, and more significantly, for the many households in deep need and those on the streets and in emergency shelters all across the country.

Did the minister or a representative sit down and listen to those that know, like the non-profit housing providers, and allow the flexibility they asked for? Did the government then make the necessary changes so that all communities could get down to work and address the housing and homelessness crisis in this country? A yes or no answer with details would be greatly appreciated.

HousingAdjournment Proceedings

8:05 p.m.

Spadina—Fort York Ontario


Adam Vaughan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families

Mr. Speaker, the short answer is yes. We sit down with housing providers every day of every week and learn from them what challenges they may encounter in accessing funds through the national housing strategy. The good news is, because of the continual intake process and the continual granting process of this program, as we learn and hear from housing providers from coast to coast to coast, from rural communities, big cities, indigenous communities, remote communities and coastal communities, we are adapting the program to build the system as they build housing.

The results speak for themselves. The members of the party opposite often say that no money is coming until after the election. The reality is that we have already spent more than $5.7 billion, most of that new money, on the housing system. It was a down payment to get us moving toward the national housing strategy. Now that we are in the midst of the national housing strategy, there is more than $40 billion forecast over the next 10 years to build housing. The result is that it now exceeds 15,000, since we were given the updated numbers. However, 15,000 new units have been approved or are under construction and close to 150,000 units have been repaired.

The member from British Columbia who said that repairs do not matter is just fundamentally wrong. In the city that I represent, when we took office, we were losing housing faster than we were building it because repair dollars were not being invested. Repair dollars are as essential to the housing system as construction dollars are. In fact, I was in Burnaby just last week, where we announced a total rebuild of a co-op housing program that took the old plumbing out, replaced it with new plumbing, cleaned it of black mould and then replastered the insides of buildings and made them more airtight and therefore more energy efficient. That was one of the co-investment projects that was funded in British Columbia.

We are committed to a number of things. We are committed to building. We are committed to repairing. We are also committed to subsidizing housing. One of the things that the party opposite fails to understand, and its promise shows this when it makes numbers that are global in nature in the same way that Doug Ford in Ontario delivers slogans about housing, is that when the members just say they are going to build a lot of housing, if they are not also simultaneously talking about repairing it, and at the same time subsidizing it and at the same time providing subsidies for housing, they are not actually building a housing system. They are just building housing. If they just build housing and they do not subsidize it into affordability and do not support the people inside it to make sure they can be self-sufficient and they do not program maintenance and operating dollars into the program, they build housing but they do not support people living in housing.

Therefore, our program has been very progressively and properly funded to do all of those things: to support dollars for construction, to support dollars for repair, to support dollars for subsidies and to support dollars for the support of people. The new dollars are flowing as we speak.

I was in Burnaby to announce co-op programs. There were four of them. I was not in Barrie because the weather did not let me, but Barrie, Ontario, has been granted money. There are three projects in Woodstock. We just announced a project in Toronto last week. There are three programs that we announced in Saskatchewan just a month ago. More is being announced day by day. The system is growing.

The party opposite is right to focus on this as a critical issue for Canada. Good housing programs do not just house people who need the supports. They also create economies in the communities where these projects are presented and they also create platforms for the success of other government interventions around child poverty, veterans, making sure we fight climate change, and making sure that immigrants and refugees are settled properly in this country.

The national housing strategy is real. It is housing real people with real dollars now. The successes are just as real. We listen and change the program to make sure that everybody who applies gets help.

HousingAdjournment Proceedings

8:10 p.m.


Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is really not for Canadians nor for the opposition to pat the government on the back for what I feel are half-measures. A government committed to a rights-based approach would not have as its goal a 50% reduction in chronic shelter users. This goals falls well short of what Canadians expected from the current Liberal government.

The national housing strategy must be more than announcements about previous investments. It must deliver the results and the promises made to Canadians by the current government. The government must move up federal funding, and next month's budget is an opportunity to show Canadians the government is serious about the housing crisis.

A safe, affordable place to call home is a fundamental human right. Therefore, I add this to my comments today. When will our laws reflect what was promised, and protect vulnerable Canadians? When will the current Liberal government match its talk with action and the dollars needed to truly launch a national housing strategy of consequence?

HousingAdjournment Proceedings

8:10 p.m.


Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Mr. Speaker, the right to housing moves forward, and I can assure the member opposite we will have legislation before this House rises.

However, as the member calls for us to match talk with action, I would ask her why she ran for a party that did not even match the talk it talked. The party opposite promised to spend an extra $10 million a year on homelessness across the country, and in its new housing policy it does not even mention the word “homeless”. In fact, it offers tax breaks to millionaires in Vancouver as opposed to helping people on the street.

Additionally, when the party opposite talks about spending dollars, its platform, the platform on which she sought a seat in this House, promised zero dollars for new housing in the second, third and fourth year of an NDP government if it had won the last election. The only thing worse than moving slowly on housing would be for it to match its promise, its rhetoric and its commitment to housing.

This government has not only delivered new dollars, more dollars than the NDP promised, but we have delivered them to real people in real housing need right now as we speak. I am proud of that.

HousingAdjournment Proceedings

8:10 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 8:13 p.m.)