Yesterday NDP MP Marie-Claude Morin re-introduced the former Bill C-304, An Act to secure adequate accessible and affordable housing for Canadians. Newly enumerated as Bill C-400, this piece of legislation brings back the call for a national housing strategy that not only deals with unaffordability, but requires secure housing for all Canadians with respect to our right to housing as stated in international covenants.
Between 150,000 – 300,000 people are homeless in Canada, and up to another 900,000 are part of the ‘hidden homeless’ (poor living conditions, overcrowded housing) according to a 2010 report by the Wellesley Institute titled Precarious Housing in Canada. This doesn’t account for the 3.1 million who are in core housing need (paying more than 30% of their income on shelter). To live in inadequate housing is to be unstable, be more likely to get sick, or feel cash strapped because you have to choose between food and rent. It is unacceptable that millions of Canadians are struggling with such housing issues.
Canada Without Poverty applauds the re-introduction of Bill C-400 and supports its passing in the House of Commons. We encourage all Members of Parliament to read the Bill, visit houses that are inadequate and speak to families that are struggling. This way MPs will come face to face with what it feels like to be housing insecure.
Canada remains the only G8 country without a national housing strategy (our former strategy was removed in 1993). In a country that promotes respect for human rights and that has the wealth to assist all Canadians, we believe that a housing strategy is well within federal responsibility and feasibility.
A housing strategy is a key component of a poverty elimination plan. This is the first step that the government should take to ensure all Canadians have a life of dignity.