Speaking Notes for
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
Launch of Canada’s National Housing Strategy
Vancouver, British Columbia
November 22, 2017
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Thank you, Kishone, for that kind introduction. I would also like to recognize a few other people in attendance.
The Honourable Selina Robinson, B.C. Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, joins us today.
Selina is also my co-chair of the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Forum of Ministers Responsible for Housing.
Mayor Gregor Robertson has long been a housing advocate, and I’m glad he could join us today.
Gregor, we valued your inputs over the past two years.
It’s always a great pleasure to visit you in your formidable city.
We also have two invaluable members of our Liberal caucus, Dr. Hedy Fry, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre, and John Aldag, MP for Cloverdale—Langley City.
Last but not least, we have Evan Siddall, whose dynamic leadership as CEO of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation ensures our Government is at the forefront of housing innovation.
Thanks to all of you, as well, for being here with us for today’s announcement of the National Housing Strategy.
I am very pleased to be here in Vancouver to unveil the Strategy, because since the beginning of our consultations, I had the opportunity to come and meet with various groups and partners on seven occasions.
“Home” — if you will permit an economist like me to quote a poet like T.S. Eliot — “Home is where one starts from.”
A home is a refuge. A home is a launch pad.
A home is where we can be ourselves and become who we want to be.
Home is a place where children learn and grow, where families share stories around the dinner table and where seniors can live in dignity.
Better housing makes better students, better neighbours, better workers and better citizens.
Today, we’re announcing the future of housing in Canada.
A future where Canadians have a home that meets their needs and they can afford.
Today, we’re making a bold but intuitive statement: That people should be able to live, grow and work in a neighbourhood that meets their needs, with access to public transit to go to work, to child care and education for their kids and to healthcare for their family.
Today, we’re answering “Present!” to everybody else involved in providing a home to our fellow Canadians.
The federal government is back in housing in a big way — with more ambition, more money and a greater desire to collaborate.
As we speak, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in Toronto, making the same announcement I am about to make: the launch of Canada’s first ever National Housing Strategy.
Canada’s first National Housing Strategy is the most ambitious demonstration of federal leadership in housing in half a century. It will ensure we are:
- reducing homelessness by 50 per cent;
- helping 530,000 households to find suitable housing;
- creating four times as many new housing units as built with federal programs over the past decade;
- repairing three times as many existing housing units as repaired with federal programs over the past decade; and
- protecting an additional 385,000 households from losing an affordable place to live.
Our Government’s priority is to help the middle class and those working hard to join it.
The National Housing Strategy is a key element of our plan.
We will start by helping our most vulnerable neighbours.
Across Canada, there are 1.7 million families who live in homes that are unaffordable or don’t meet their needs.
To them, the National Housing Strategy is more than a list of programs and outcomes.
It is a message from all Canadians: “We heard you, we are with you and we’ll help you.”
And we are going to help in several ways.
Right to Housing
First, we want to make clear that housing rights are human rights.
That is why we will enshrine into law the requirement to maintain a National Housing Strategy that targets the needs of the most vulnerable among us and to report on the results it produces.
To make sure this commitment does not remain wishful thinking, we will empower Canadians to keep the government to its word:
- We are establishing a Federal Housing Advocate to allow persons with lived experience of housing need to voice systemic barriers they face.
- We are creating a National Housing Council that promotes evidence-based analysis to support the NHS.
- And we are developing a Community-Based Tenant Initiative to ensure that people in housing need are better represented and able to participate in housing-related decision making.
Canada Housing Benefit
Empowerment is also about giving Canadians necessary tools to face their daily challenges.
Too many Canadians live somewhere with a leaky roof, crumbling stairs or the smell of mould.
In the worst cases, Canadians face impossible choices:
A parent asks: Should I rent an apartment that is safe, or buy my kids enough food?
A woman asks: Should I stay with my abusive partner, or risk a night alone on the streets?
A senior asks: Should I stay in the home where I raised my family, or move out so I can pay for my prescriptions?
We are committed to helping Canadians face those tough choices.
As of 2020, Canadians will be able to receive the Canada Housing Benefit, which will provide Canadian families with an average of $2,500 per year.
We recognize that the various regions across the country have different housing issues.
That’s why the provinces and territories will play a key role in the success of this benefit.
Over the next couple of months, we will be asking them to co-design, jointly fund and deliver, with the support of municipalities and other partners, the Canada Housing Benefit.
National Housing Co-Investment Fund
With the National Housing Strategy, we also acknowledge that we are stronger when we show a united front in addressing housing challenges.
This is why the National Housing Strategy lays the ground for a renewed collaboration among an expanded number of partners; our historic and primary partners, the provinces and territories, but also Indigenous partners, municipalities, the co-operative and not-for-profit sector, as well as the private sector.
Partnership is the cornerstone of the new National Housing Co-Investment Fund that will create up to 60,000 new homes and repair up to 240,000 units of existing affordable and community housing.
We are also expecting to see 7,000 new shelter spaces for victims of violence, 12,000 affordable homes for seniors and more than 2,400 affordable housing units for people with disabilities.
Maintaining a Resilient Community Housing Sector
Additionally, the National Housing Strategy is confirming news that non-profit housing partners have long been waiting for: we are committed to ensuring that Canada’s existing community housing stock remains affordable and in good repair.
Together, the Canada Community Housing Initiative and the Federal Community Housing Initiative will protect 385,000 households from losing an affordable home and will help 50,000 more families through an expansion of community housing.
Our Government genuinely believes that we have no more important relationship than that with Canada’s Indigenous peoples.
We also understand that unique approaches are needed to improve housing outcomes for Indigenous communities, who face the worst housing conditions in Canada.
Our Government is working with Indigenous partners to co-develop federally funded, distinctions-based housing strategies in collaboration with First Nations, the Métis Nation and Inuit communities.
These strategies will be founded in principles of self-determination, reconciliation, respect and cooperation.
Today is the beginning of a new era for housing.
Our goal was a National Housing Strategy built by Canadians, for Canadians.
And today we have delivered precisely that, with a Strategy that all Canadians can be proud of and can support.
A strategy that will bring relief to of some of our most vulnerable populations, including seniors, Indigenous people, survivors of family violence, people with disabilities, young adults, refugees, veterans, members of sexual minorities, and those experiencing homelessness.
I’m excited and energized about what lies ahead, and I look forward to embarking on this important work, in collaboration with all Canadians.
Thank you to everyone.