Canada has no national housing strategy.
And our MP, Tony Clement, wants to keep it that way.
Last week Clement was the spokesperson for the Conservative government as yet another private members bill bit the dust. It seems a complete waste of time and money to even discuss private members bills in the current majority – if it’s not Conservative, it’s getting killed on the floor.
Bill C400, the Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing for Canadians Act takes over from a previous bill which passed first and second reading before Parliament recessed in 2011. It was a good idea then, but now two years later it gets flushed without ceremony.
Antipoverty groups around the country supported the enactment, which would have started the dialogue needed to establish a national housing strategy. For 20 years we did have a national housing plan, but in the 1990s programs were dismantled and downloaded to the provinces. And the provinces have launched a number of initiatives but without the funding to fully address the issue.
The UN says we have a problem. They gave Canada a failing grade in 2009 in terms of people’s right to housing and we’re up for a review this year. Critics say that without a national housing plan we’re bound to fail again.
In a display of partisan politics, Clement called the bill a reckless NDP idea that would plunge the country into financial insolvency. Same threat, different day. Any time the government wants us to do the good-little-citizens-are-seen-but-not-heard routine, they pull out the same old stick. We need them to do the thinking for us all – without their prudence we’re headed for disaster.
And it’s a matter best dealt with at the provincial level, according to Clement. He seems to like nothing more than to throw up his hands and blame the provinces, particularly Liberal Ontario, for failing to meet their mandate.
Giving us a primer on Canadian government structure he points out that we’re the only G8 country that has strong provinces with constitutional responsibilities: education, health care and social housing to name a few.
The timing is interesting. On page 3, Rick Williams laments the future for the ever-growing number of seniors in Muskoka. Among the many costly problems an aging population will face, adequate, affordable housing is at the top of the list.
And also on page 3, we hear about International Woman’s Day coming up on Friday. Women and their children, living in poverty, is another segment in need of that same secure and accessible housing.
But these aren’t problems the feds are ready to face; that buck’s been passed to the provinces and a national strategy is no longer up for discussion.