Mr. Speaker, at the beginning I will highlight the devastating news coming out of London, Ontario, with respect to terrorist action, and express condolences and offer prayers to the family and their friends. I will let my brothers and sisters within the Islamic and Muslim faith know that we do love and care for them. Our prayers are with the community.
I have had the opportunity to listen throughout the day to the discussion we are having, and there are a number of things I want to highlight. One thing a member made reference to is the idea of jurisdiction. Maybe I can deal with that, at least in part.
Ottawa does have a role to play, and we have demonstrated that very clearly. However, it is also important to recognize that this is about more than just the Government of Canada or the respective provincial or territorial governments. We will find that many municipalities are involved in housing. We will find that indigenous communities are heavily involved in housing. It is going to take a team effort to try to resolve this major issue, which exists in virtually all regions of our country.
Since the Prime Minister took office, the government has made housing a priority, going back to 2015. In fact, members might recall that in 2017, we launched the national housing strategy, the first of its kind. I remember standing in the chamber talking about this massive, multi-billion dollar program. I think it was 70 billion dollars' worth of commitments. Never before had we witnessed that kind of a commitment to housing in Canada. We want to leave a mega footprint, recognizing that Ottawa does have a critical role to play.
Many programs have been part of this strategy. The most recent ones that come to my mind are the programs for the rapid housing initiative. It is so nice to see that the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, who has been to my home province of Manitoba on several occasions, is talking about housing and announcing things related to housing. We have a minister for housing who is truly committed, not only in good part through the initiative but in all aspects of the department, to making sure that we are there in a very real and tangible way. That is one thing I love about the rapid housing initiative: It is a program that will make a real difference. It was great to participate with the Municipality of Winnipeg on it. The minister, the mayor of Winnipeg and I, along with others, participated in an announcement in regard to it.
I say all that because I believe it is important that we recognize, as the government has, that while Ottawa plays a role, there are many partners out there that need to equally step up to the table. I know that over the years some partners have been the table more than others. However, let there be no doubt that this government has been at the table from day one.
I made reference to the rapid housing initiative. We could talk about the national co-investment fund and what an opportunity that is, or the rental construction financing initiative. The parliamentary secretary referenced the first-time home buyer initiative, which is helping thousands of Canadians buy their very first home.
There are a number of ways we, as a government, are demonstrating leadership and working with stakeholders, in particular provinces, municipalities and indigenous leaders, to make a tangible difference. As the parliamentary secretary responsible indicates, there is always room for us to do even better, to strive to do better, and we will continue to focus more attention on the issue.
Housing is a passion for a lot of members in the chamber. When I left the Canadian Forces back in 1985, I bought a little house on Logan Avenue in the west end of Winnipeg North and it cost me $23,000. It was a beautiful home that met my needs at the time. One of the first things I did was join the Weston Residents' Association. Weston is a beautiful little community, an older, more established community in Winnipeg. Through my experience of being involved there, I started to get a good understanding of the importance of housing revitalization, housing stock and housing affordability. Through that association, I ultimately became a board member of the Weston Residents Housing Co-op, which is still there today, providing housing to many people who likely would not have had the opportunity.
I am a big fan of co-ops, as is this government and as I know the minister and the parliamentary secretary are. There is a huge difference between a housing co-op and someone renting in an apartment block. Those who live in an apartment block or a rented facility are tenants. Whether people rent a single detached home or an apartment in a high-rise apartment block, they are tenants. In a co-op, people are residents, and there is a significant difference. People in co-ops have something at stake. Not everyone is in a position, and some do not want, to take ownership of a home, but many do. In fact, the majority do. For most Canadians, it will be the single greatest expenditure they will have in their lifetime.
I have heard about the dollar values, the prices of homes and the impact they are having. In the days after I left the military, I went into the Manitoba legislature in 1988, where my first responsibility was deputy whip and housing critic. I met with housing organizations, and there was a demand for non-profit housing units. Even back in 1988, there was a huge demand at the time for everything from revitalization to suburban growth, shelter allowances, just name it. A friend of mine, Doug Martindale, who was the president of one of the housing associations, later went on to become an NDP MLA.
The need for housing has existed for a long time, and I would challenge any member of the House to tell me when there was a prime minister in the last 50 or 60 years who was more committed than we have been in the last five years on the housing file. Members will be challenged by that, because they will not find another prime minister or government in Canada that has been as committed to housing as the current government is.
I always like to attribute my friend, the parliamentary secretary and member for Spadina—Fort York, as one of the most knowledgeable, able-minded individuals when it comes to non-profit housing and its importance in society. I have heard him speak many times. I know that within the industry here in Manitoba there is a great deal of respect for him because he wears his heart on his shoulder when it comes to advocating for social housing. As much as I might like to think, at times, that I can be pretty passionate about the importance of that particular issue, I may not be quite as knowledgeable as my colleague. However, I can tell members that there are many like me within the government caucus who continue to push the importance of housing. It is not just the Prime Minister or the cabinet, but the caucus, as a whole, wants to see those tangible programs, and we are seeing them.
Before I comment on the most recent budget, I should provide some context. When we think of social housing and affordability, what are the types of things we are really talking about? We are talking about making sure that people have the ability to purchase homes and that people have the ability to stay in their homes. We know that the higher the rate of home ownership in a community, the greater the likelihood of that community being a better place to live. I do not have enough time to expand on that aspect, so I will ask people to take me at face value.
When we take a look at the mix, we have the first-time home buyer program to assist first-time homebuyers. We have housing co-ops, and we are recognizing and looking at ways we can expand those. We have non-profit groups that are out there and co-investments that are prepared to contribute, not only financially, but also their time, energy and other resources in order to make sure we have better housing.
In Manitoba, I believe we have over 20,000 non-profit housing units. It has been a long time since I looked at this number, so please do not quote me on the exact number. I believe it is over 20,000 non-profit housing units now that are subsidized.
We have infill housing programs and ways we can encourage infill housing, such as supporting Habitat for Humanity, which has done more in Winnipeg North than any other government agency has in terms of infill housing. No other government agency has done more for housing than Habitat for Humanity, and my hat is off to that organization for the fabulous work it does in all regions in our country, but especially in Winnipeg North. I have a lot of time for that organization. Without that organization, many people would not have the opportunity to have the new homes they are working toward.
It really matters having a progressive approach on the housing file. I have not seen that from the Conservatives. We are hearing that from many members during the debate who are not Conservative. How is it that this is a Conservative motion, as if the Conservatives really care about the issue of housing? There has really been no indication of that. The Conservative record with Stephen Harper, if we average it out, is about $250 million per year through investments in affordable housing programs.
Meanwhile, we have invested well over $27 billion since coming into office and have committed, as I said, $70 billion.
It is interesting listening to my Bloc friends. One member made reference to it being like health care. One has to understand and appreciate where the Bloc is coming from. Bloc members do not want Ottawa to administer, to assist with or to provide programs. All they want is for Ottawa to provide the cash. They do not recognize the important and vital role Ottawa can play, whether on a national housing strategy or a potential national pharmacare program.
There is so much potential with what Ottawa can do. It can work with municipalities. It does not have to work just with provinces, as we have demonstrated.
With the New Democratic Party, I thought it was interesting when the parliamentary secretary asked a very basic question of one of the speakers about the talk of having 500,000 homes and what the cost would be. NDP members have no idea. The amount of money they committed in an election platform was relatively small, and I am being generous here in my comments, compared to what we committed and spent, yet they still believe that somehow one just waves a wand and, poof, 500,000 homes are going to appear out of nowhere.
We understand the importance of this issue to Canadians. We have a very progressive and active minister and parliamentary secretary on the file, and we will continue to support Canadians in a very real and tangible way on such an important file—