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

FILE – British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C.

Many retailers and businesses had voiced their frustration with a lack of mask mandate before

Island Health’s acting medical health officer for the central Island says schools are very safe, even after COVID-19 exposure at five schools in Nanaimo-Ladysmith this month. (File photo)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith and Qualicum superintendents ask Island Health about COVID-19 safety at schools

Central Island medical health officer answers questions parents have been asking

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have ruled out fouled play in the death of a woman in Chemainus. (Black Press file photo)
No foul play in death of woman in Chemainus

Police officers make determination after an investigation

Divers gear up at Kin Beach for venture to extract large industrial tires from the waters of Chemainus Bay. (Photo by Kathleen Fenner)
CFB Esquimalt’s Fleet Diving Unit members remove large tires submerged in Chemainus Bay for years

Environmental concerns and deadly hazard for crabs finally alleviated

Numuch Keitlah, left, and Jake Thomas, centre, participate in a Coastal Nations search and rescue exercise off the coast of Vancouver Island in this undated handout photo. The recently operational Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary has more than 50 members from five Indigenous territories who are trained in marine search and rescue. They are on call day and night to respond to emergencies along some of B.C.’s most rugged and remote coastal areas. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Jordan Wilson *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Canada’s first Indigenous-led coast guard auxiliary patrols B.C.’s rugged coast

Auxiliary is part of the feds’ $1.5 billion plan to improve marine safety and protect the environment

An Oceana Canada audit of Canadian fish stocks reveals a growing number with critical populations, calling on Fisheries and Oceans Canada to enact existing commitments. (File photo)
B.C.’s declining fisheries the result of poor DFO management: audit

Oceana Canada calls for follow through on government commitments

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Randy Bell. (File photo)
Former northern B.C. mayoral candidate arrested after allegedly refusing to wear mask

Randy Bell handcuffed and given a warning at Bulkley Valley Credit Union in Smithers

James Corden on the Late Late Show talking about BC Ferries on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. (Screenshot)
‘You’ll see it when you see it’: BC Ferries mask graphic gains James Corden’s attention

Turns out, James Corden fans were just as quick as B.C. social media users to pick up on the dual imagery

Andrew Wilkinson addresses a BC Liberal Forestry Rally in Campbell River on Oct. 17, 2020.
Andrew Wilkinson quits as BC Liberal Leader, party to choose interim replacement

Wilkinson had previously said he would stay in his role till a new leader were to be selected

Most Read