Hundreds of protesters gathered on Parliament Hill today at an event organized by the Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU) and supported by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP).
The protest comes a few weeks before the liberal government presents its Canadian Housing Strategy, in anticipation that the strategy won’t offer any new commitments beyond those already announced in the last Morneau budget, despite the requests made throughout the consultations carried out by Minister Jean-Yves Duclos.
“For the moment, the 11.2 billion $ planned for the Canadian Housing Strategy are not proportionate to the needs. This funding is scheduled on much too long a period and does not prioritize low-income households,” explained Véronique Laflamme, FRAPRU’s spokesperson.
“To be taken seriously, the Liberals must, in fact, spend the $11.2 billion within the next two years—the time they have left before the next election,” added Yogi Acharya of OCAP. “The money must be directed to fixing and building social housing, restoring federal housing subsidies, and addressing the crisis of homelessness.”
According to official numbers, 989,385 tenant households in Canada have core housing needs, living in a dwelling that is either too small, unsanitary or too expensive. FRAPRU predicts that some 365,000 households living in social housing built before 1994 will join their ranks when the units they rent lose their federal long-term subsidy agreements, while several buildings are also in dire need of major repairs.
According to FRAPRU, the federal withdrawal from the social housing sector is one of the main causes of the current crisis of affordable housing found across the country. “Nearly 25 years without significant investments in social housing has done substantial damage and Ottawa needs to invest massively to start to resolve the issue,” said Laflamme.
FRAPRU also demands that the Canadian Government formally recognize that all Canadians have a fundamental right to decent, safe housing. “On the private market, many low-income households live in senseless insanitary conditions and suffer abusive rent increases. The Federal Government cannot abandon these tenants,” argued Laflamme.
As a reminder, the protesters left behind giant portraits of poorly-housed tenants in front of the offices of the Prime Minister. These tenants testified during the Tour for the Right to Housing that FRAPRU led this fall throughout Quebec.
FRAPRU has promised to react publicly as soon as the Canadian Housing Strategy is revealed on November 22nd (Canadian Housing Day). Various events will be organized in several parts of Canada, following a call to action by OCAP, FRAPRU, and of the Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP) from Vancouver.