A man walks past an affordable housing complex, being constructed in Charlottetown’s Hillsborough Park area, on Saturday, February 29, 2020. Seven provinces have signed on to a federal rent assistance program created as part of the national housing strategy, three more than the Liberals have announced, newly released documents show. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

A man walks past an affordable housing complex, being constructed in Charlottetown’s Hillsborough Park area, on Saturday, February 29, 2020. Seven provinces have signed on to a federal rent assistance program created as part of the national housing strategy, three more than the Liberals have announced, newly released documents show. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

More provinces sign up for rent benefit as Liberals set up promised housing council

Indigenous housing providers are pushing for the government to finally unveil a plan

Seven provinces have signed on to a federal rent assistance program created as part of the national housing strategy, newly released documents show.

So far, the Liberals have only announced deals with four provinces to deliver the Canada Housing Benefit to vulnerable renters, such as low-income families, Indigenous people, veterans and newcomers.

Money is already flowing to Ontario, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and British Columbia but documents tabled in the House of Commons last week show three more unnamed provinces have signed up for cash.

The jointly funded federal-provincial housing benefit is tied to an individual, rather than a subsidized unit that someone could lose when they move to a different dwelling.

The government says the dollar amounts and the names of the three added provinces will eventually be revealed in official announcements that have been delayed because of the pandemic.

Sunday is National Housing Day. It also marks three years since the Liberals unveiled the decade-long housing strategy.

The Liberals have added more programs to the strategy over time, including a $1-billion, short-term initiative to help cities and housing providers buy properties and turn them quickly into affordable housing units.

Municipalities have said they plan to spend the money quickly to force the case for the government to top up the fund.

Similarly, Indigenous housing providers are pushing for the government to finally unveil a plan for First Nations, Métis and Inuit living in urban areas.

A House of Commons committee is studying the issue and should deliver a report by the end of the year, which could lay the foundation for a program to be unveiled in a 2021 spring budget.

“The federal government needs to implement a distinct housing strategy for Indigenous Peoples in urban and rural settings, and that Canadians are in favour of Indigenous Peoples themselves designing and overseeing such a strategy,” said Robert Byers, chair of the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association’s Indigenous caucus, and CEO of Namerind Housing in Regina.

“It is time for the federal government to follow through and announce such a policy as soon as possible.”

The Liberals are marking the anniversary of the housing strategy to unveil the members of a key body designed to help the government meet the plan’s targets.

The national housing council will work in tandem with a federal advocate that will help root out systemic issues in the housing system. The government also announced Sunday it was launching a formal process to finally fill the role.

Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen said in a statement that the council and advocate will help the government recognize the right to adequate housing, calling it a “remarkable step forward for housing” in the country.

Tim Richter, who will co-chair the housing council, said the group will provide a way for people who have experienced homelessness or lived in need of housing a way to participate in policy that impacts them and identify systemic gaps.

He pointed to higher COVID-19 rates in low-income and racialized communities that also live in substandard housing as an example.

The pandemic has exposed many of the issues facing the housing system, leaving too many Canadians at risk of COVID-19 for no other reason than they have poor housing, Richter said.

“The council, I think, can not only provide that policy support and give voice to those people who are experiencing housing need and homelessness in the country, but also light a fire under governments to move much more urgently to address Canada’s housing crisis,” said Richter, president of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

HousingLiberalsRentals

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Overlooking Ucluelet’s Main Street shopping district, Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce executive director Laurie Filgiano cozies up with ‘Snowy’, the beloved decorating contest trophy. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet’s Midnight Madness shopping spree gets a stiff shot of madness this weekend

“As a community, I think we will come out of this stronger.”

Josie Osborne was sworn into the Legislature virtually on Nov. 24. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Josie Osborne named minister of municipal affairs

The position was previously held by Selina Robinson, who is the province’s new finance minister

A sign at the entrance to Ty-Histanis asks visitors to stay out of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Westerly file photo)
Leaders from Tofino-Ucluelet region urge tourists to stay away for two weeks

The West Coast is pausing its winter tourist season temporarily due to rising COVID-19 numbers

This large Spruce was one of several trees that came crashing down around CARE’s animal shelter during Nov. 17’s windstorm. (CARE Network photo)
Funding and fosters needed after storm destroys fencing at Tofino-Ucluelet animal shelter

The damage forced an evacuation of the facility, which was sheltering five animals at the time.

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Most Read