Mr. Speaker, homelessness has an economic and social impact on every community in Canada. The Government of Canada is committed to helping those who are in need and believes that one homeless Canadian is one too many. Everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to call home.
The Government of Canada’s homelessness programs have undergone various reforms and renewals over the years. In recognition of the fact that indigenous people are overrepresented in homeless populations, the programs have provided Indigenous-specific funding. The government’s current program, the homelessness partnering strategy, or HPS, is a community-based approach that aims to prevent and reduce homelessness in Canada. It includes an aboriginal homelessness funding stream.
Reaching Home, the redesigned HPS, was launched on April 1, 2019. The purpose of Reaching Home is to support Canadian communities in their efforts to prevent and reduce homelessness by mobilizing partners at the federal, provincial/territorial and community levels, as well as the private and voluntary sectors, to address barriers to well-being faced by those who are homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness. The program is part of Canada’s first-ever national housing strategy, which is a 10-year, $40-billion plan to lift hundreds of thousands of Canadians out of housing need. The development of Reaching Home was informed by research and broad public consultations, engagement with first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and organizations, and advice from the advisory committee on homelessness, which included indigenous representation.
The engagement and advice that informed Reaching Home identified that more funding and a greater understanding of indigenous homelessness was needed. In large part due to the engagement with indigenous peoples, Reaching Home includes increased funding to be directed toward indigenous homelessness supports, and expanded flexibility for first nations, Inuit and Métis-led initiatives.
Reaching Home is providing more than $1.6 billion in funding over the next nine years for services and supports for all Canadians, including indigenous peoples, who are at risk of or are experiencing homelessness. In addition to that, a total of $413 million is dedicated for addressing indigenous homelessness. The indigenous-specific funding will provide $261 million through an indigenous homelessness stream over a nine-year period to maintain the community-based approach and continue to address local priorities, and $152 million over nine years that will be invested on priorities determined in collaboration with first nations, Inuit and Métis partners, to be phased in over three years.
Reaching Home is not--with some exceptions in Quebec--a proposal or application-driven program; funding agreements are negotiated between the department and service providers. The eligibility criteria--terms and conditions, and directives are outlined in detail within the program authorities. Reaching Home supports community-based approaches by providing funding directly to municipalities and local service providers, while providing communities more flexibility to design appropriate responses to local challenges. This includes greater flexibility for culturally appropriate responses to help meet the unique needs of first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Funding through the indigenous homelessness stream will continue to flow to Indigenous service providers, and the additional investments for identifying and establishing priorities to help meet the needs of first nations, Inuit and Métis will be determined in collaboration with indigenous partners.
In terms of outcomes, Reaching Home aims to prevent and reduce homelessness across Canada. It supports the goals of the national housing strategy, in particular to support the most vulnerable Canadians in maintaining safe, stable and affordable housing and to reduce chronic homelessness nationally by 50% by 2027–2028. It also supports the goals of “Opportunity for All – Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy”.
To evaluate the effectiveness of its programs, including Reaching Home, the government will be tracking the rate of homelessness along with other socio-economic indicators. The poverty reduction strategy is developing a dashboard of indicators to track progress on the many aspects of poverty, ranging from different measures of low income to the number of Canadians in housing need. Indicators that reflect first nations, Inuit, and Métis concepts of poverty and well-being are being co-developed with indigenous partners for inclusion on the dashboard. The publicly available online dashboard will allow all Canadians to monitor progress, and it will be regularly updated as new information becomes available. Reaching Home is participating in and supports the development of the poverty reduction strategy dashboard.
The Government of Canada is committed to achieving reconciliation with indigenous peoples through a renewed relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. Reaching Home includes increased and targeted funding to help address the unique needs of first nations, Inuit, and Métis, and provisions so that the priorities and approaches will be determined in collaboration with indigenous partners. Under Reaching Home, the government is demonstrating its commitment to ensuring that first nations, Inuit and Métis people across Canada have a safe and affordable place to call home, where they can enjoy a bright future for themselves and their families.
Members should note that as part of the national housing strategy, the Government of Canada announced a total investment of $2.2 billion for homelessness over 10 years, building on budget 2016 funding of $111.8 million over two years. By 2021–22, this will double annual investments compared to 2015–16.