Maryam Monsef, Member of Parliament for Peterborough—Kawartha, issued the following statement in regards to amendments she put forward today for Bill C-97, the National Housing Strategy Act:
“What makes the National Housing Strategy Act a truly transformational document is that it recognizes the human rights-based approach to housing that underpins the National Housing Strategy, and enshrines it into law.
“Today, our Government has put forward significant amendments to the Act recognizing the right to adequate housing as a fundamental human right. We know that housing is critical not just for the well-being of all Canadians, but also for the development of sustainable, inclusive communities. We’ve also ensured that Canada’s first-ever National Housing Strategy won’t be our last, by requiring that every future federal government develop and maintain a national housing strategy that recognizes the fundamental human right to housing.
“When we were elected in 2015, we pledged to help more Canadians find a place to call home. We promised to prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable people and communities. With the National Housing Strategy, and now with the National Housing Strategy Act, we are fulfilling those promises.
“In Peterborough-Kawartha, housing has been a key priority for me even before I was elected, because I know that providing safe, affordable housing helps lift our neighbours out of poverty while strengthening the middle class and those working hard to join it. Since 2015, 1,432 local families now have a roof over their head and a safe place to call home at night through $7.4 million in federal funding.
“While we have made great gains, I know that more is needed to build additional affordable housing in Peterborough-Kawartha. That’s why my office has been working closely with local housing providers to ensure our community accesses the funds provided by the National Housing Strategy. Since the National Housing Strategy was rolled out, four applications for funding have been submitted by local housing providers and my office is aware of another four proposals that are currently in development. We will continue to work with any local housing providers who are interested in accessing this funding, and I encourage them to reach out to my office directly.
“Today is a historic day for housing in Canada because the amendments we have introduced to the National Housing Strategy Act will further entrench and protect the commitments we’ve already made. These amendments will ensure greater accountability, and they will give vulnerable Canadians a greater voice in housing decisions that affect them.”
- The National Housing Strategy Act also calls for the creation of a Federal Housing Advocate, supported by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Thanks to today’s amendments, we are enhancing the Advocate’s role in identifying and researching systemic housing challenges. The Federal Housing Advocate will be able to consult with vulnerable Canadians, people with lived experience, and experts, to better understand the impact of housing need and homelessness. The Advocate will report to the Minister responsible for housing on these issues, its recommendations will be tabled in Parliament, and the Minister and the Government will be required to respond.
- The National Housing Strategy Act will create a National Housing Council, supported by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which will act as a focal point for housing policy discussions on the National Housing Strategy, and will advise the Minister on how to improve housing outcomes. With today’s amendments, we’re empowering the National Housing Council with even more freedom to support the Federal Housing Advocate, and to report on their findings to the Minister responsible.
- Today’s amendments detail how the Minister and the Government will be required to report back to the House and to Canadians on the recommendations they receive. Simply stating that Canadians have a right to adequate housing means nothing unless there are robust accountability and reporting mechanisms in place, and with these amendments, we are doing precisely that.
- These changes came about as the result of cross-Canada consultations with thousands of people from all walks of life, including in Peterborough-Kawartha at our Housing Summit in 2018. Their stories, their experiences, and their expertise gave us a fuller understanding of the state of housing in Canada today. While our investments have made a significant impact, we still recognize there’s much more to do. It’s thanks to the community of stakeholders, of people with lived experience in housing need and experts, that we’re able to take the historic steps that we are taking today.