Speaking Notes for

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

Budget 2017 — Building a Strong Middle Class

“Better and More Affordable Housing for our Families”
Toronto, Ontario
April 5, 2017

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Good morning everyone, and thank you for joining us.

I’m here today to talk about why housing matters, and what the federal government is and will be doing to make housing more accessible and more affordable. A special thanks to Mohamed Lachemi, President of Ryerson University, a school with a proud tradition of city building.

I would like to acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, the Métis and Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.

I would also like to gratefully acknowledge the presence of Minister Ballard, Mayor Tory and my wonderful Parliamentary Secretary Adam Vaughan.

My top priority as the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development – and the top priority of Prime Minister Trudeau – is growing the middle class and helping more Canadians join it.

Affordable housing is a cornerstone of this strategy.

A key element in that agenda is making quality housing more affordable, which is why housing is the single largest commitment in Budget 2017. The federal government will invest an additional $11.2 billion over the next 11 years in housing, which follows the additional $2.3 billion committed in last year’s budget.

In last year’s budget, we showed we were serious about housing. In this year’s budget, we commit ourselves over the long term.

This is the most ambitious demonstration of leadership by the federal government in housing in almost 50 years.

We are back. And we are here to stay.

We look forward to using this new federal leadership to support enhanced collaboration with provinces, cities, and the private and social sectors.

Today I’d like to explain what these historic investments will actually mean for Canadians.

Our vision is for every Canadian to have access to housing that meets their needs and is affordable.

Housing is the cornerstone of building sustainable, inclusive communities and a strong Canadian economy where we can all prosper and thrive.

A home is more than just a roof over one’s head.

Home is a safe place where children learn and grow, where families share stories around the dinner table, where parents find the stability to succeed in the job market, and where the elderly live in dignity.

“Home” – if you will permit an economist like me to quote a poet like T.S. Eliot – “Home is where one starts from.”

Unfortunately, for too many Canadians, a safe and decent home is simply not affordable.

For too many Canadians, the only home they can afford has a leaky roof, or a crumbling stairwell, or the stink of mould.

For too many Canadians, the only home they can afford has too little space for too many people.

In the worst cases, and there are far too many of these, unaffordable housing creates impossible choices. Parents ask: should I rent an apartment that is safe, or buy my kids enough healthy food? Women ask: should I stay with my abusive partner, or risk a night alone on the streets? Seniors ask: should I stay in the home where I raised my family and remain comfortable, or pay for my prescriptions?

There are about 1.5 million households in what is called “core housing need.” These people are in homes that are not adequate or unaffordable, or have no home at all.

My job is to fight for these Canadians.

That is why I am so excited that housing is the single largest commitment in Budget 2017.

Our government is developing Canada’s first ever National Housing Strategy.

Last year we held nationwide consultations for this strategy, and I am grateful to all those who joined this conversation.

The final details of the national strategy are still being finalized in talks with our partners, but I’d like to share some of its key components.

I see six headlines from our housing strategy thus far:

First, we are most focused on the most vulnerable. We are creating a $5-billion National Housing Fund, which will prioritize support for vulnerable citizens, including seniors, survivors of domestic violence, persons with disabilities, those dealing with mental health and addiction issues, and veterans. This new Fund will provide significant opportunities for partnership with provinces, territories, and the social and private sectors.

Second, we will support the priorities of the provinces and territories. We are strengthening our partnership with provinces and territories, and we will invest over $3 billion in their priorities.

Third, we are doubling spending to reduce homelessness. When someone is forced to live on the streets, we are all diminished.

Fourth, we will improve housing in the North and for Indigenous Canadians. Northern housing often costs more, and the needs of many Indigenous Canadians remain severe. This is why we will invest hundreds of millions of dollars to improve housing conditions in the North and for Indigenous people on- and off-reserve.

Fifth, we will increase available housing by using federal land. We will help create more affordable and social housing by making more federal lands and buildings available to housing providers at low or no cost.

Finally, and very importantly, we will reinvest the resources that will become available as social housing agreements expire in the coming years. We want to reinvest this money where it is needed most, and we will work with social housing providers and our partners to develop renewed, sustainable, socially responsible and inclusive models of investment.

Now let me conclude by being concrete about what all this federal leadership will mean for Canadians over the next ten years.

As it happens, both examples involve reducing something bad by 500,000, which of course is pretty good.

First, we will cut in half the number of Canadian renters in housing need. That means about 500,000 more families will be able to afford a home that meets their needs.

And, second, every year for the next 10 years, about 50,000 Canadians will be lifted from homelessness or prevented from falling into homelessness. That means 500,000 Canadians will sleep in dignity under a roof, who would otherwise find themselves on the streets.

In sum, the federal government is back in housing in a big way – with ambition, with money and with a desire to collaborate. We understand the value of having a home of one’s own, we recognize the struggles of Canadians to find adequate and affordable housing, and we are determined to deliver results.

Again, thanks to everyone.

See related new release.

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