Housing should be a universal right? It shouldn’t be an expensive commodity that leaves many people who can’t afford it suffering on the street.
Canada’s federal government has launched a campaign called ‘Let’s Talk Housing’ to engage Canadians in a dialogue about the state of affordable housing in the country. The goal of the campaign is to begin the process of creating a National Housing Strategy.
Canada is the only developed country in the world that does not currently have a National Housing Strategy. To add salt to the wound, it is estimated there are currently 226,000 homeless people in Canada and over three million living in poverty. People who do have a place to call their own spend a substantial amount of their income on their housing, leaving them strained to afford other essential needs.
The campaign reaches out to Canadians in three ways; a survey, sharing your ideas, and submitting a written statement. The survey lacks detail, but does emphasize the core principles that the federal government intends to include in the National Housing Strategy. The strategy focuses on housing as environmentally sustainable, fiscally responsible, community-centered, and inclusive, among other things.
Across the country, there are affordable housing shortages. In Ontario, there are 171, 360 households (individuals or families) waiting for housing, with an average wait time of four years, according to a report by the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association. A substantial portion of the Ontario waitlist is based in Toronto, with 93,515 in need of affordable homes. Montreal is next in line, with a waitlist sitting at 24,639 people, a result of a lack of adequate budgeting being put into housing since 2009. Vancouver’s and Ottawa’s housing waitlist both have about 9,500 on it and they are continually growing. The high need for affordable housing in the coastal city is due to the astronomical housing and rental costs, leaving many without anywhere to live. With a much smaller population, Alberta still has a long waitlist with 10,000 waiting for housing in both Calgary and Edmonton, according to the CHRA. This list continues to grow due to the declining economy and the Fort McMurray wildfires, destroying many homes.
The announcement of the National Housing Strategy has been met with criticism because of the associated costs of providing housing for everyone who needs it. The current federal budget can simply not withstand the costs associated with the housing crisis and the federal government has quite the challenge ahead. From housing costs skyrocketing in major urban centres to a severe lack of social housing nation-wide, it is difficult to know where to even start on the housing agenda. Needless to say, Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos will have to perform miracles to get the housing agenda moving after the results of the campaign are published.
The ‘Let’s Talk Housing’ campaign closes on October 21 and the results will be released on National Housing Day on November 22. There will also be several housing roundtables throughout the month of September and keep updated on twitter through #letstalkhousing.
What is your opinion of the housing crisis in Canada? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.