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e-2929 (Social affairs and equality)

E-petition
Initiated by Steven Sutherland from Gatineau, Quebec

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

Whereas:
  • More than 80% of Indigenous peoples live in urban, rural, and northern communities;
  • Indigenous peoples are 11 times more likely to use a homeless shelter;
  • 21% of Indigenous peoples live in some form of subsidized housing;
  • The 2017 National Housing Strategy nor any subsequent policy provided specific funding or policies for urban or rural Indigenous housing;
  • The mandate letter for the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development specifically outlines the need for such a strategy;
  • The Canadian Housing and Renewal Association’s (CHRA) Indigenous Caucus has provided real leadership on this issue; and
  • The strategy outlined in the CHRA Indigenous Caucus “For Indigenous, By Indigenous” urban, rural, and northern Indigenous housing strategy sets forth a vision for such a strategy, and would respond to the Calls to Justice in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Final Report as well as the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
We, the undersigned, supporters of an urban, rural and northern housing strategy in Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Develop a “For Indigenous, By Indigenous” National Housing Centre;
2. Increase the supply of stable, safe, affordable housing by building 73,000 new units of housing for urban, rural and northern Indigenous peoples;
3. Support for tenants’ well-being and long-term success with wraparound Indigenous services;
4. Accelerate action on Indigenous homelessness; and
5. A focus on northern housing.

Response by the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Adam Vaughan

The Government of Canada would like to thank the petitioners for sharing their views on the needs of Indigenous people living in urban, rural and northern areas of Canada. The Government of Canada remains concerned about the prevalence of homelessness and housing insecurity in all communities, including urban, rural, remote, northern and Indigenous communities. It is why the 2020 Speech from the Throne and Budget 2021 included a commitment to entirely end chronic homelessness in Canada, increasing the level of ambition of the National Housing Strategy’s stated goal of a 50% reduction in chronic homelessness by 2027-28. We are also dedicated to supporting the successful implementation of the three distinctions-based housing strategies by First Nations, Inuit and Métis in their communities across the country.

We continue to work with Indigenous partners, governments, and housing providers on an Urban, Rural and Northern Housing strategy. We understand that the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA) is studying this matter and we look forward to reviewing their recommendations on how best to address the housing needs of Indigenous peoples living in urban, rural and northern communities.

The global pandemic has had devastating impacts on lives and livelihoods and exposed fundamental gaps in our society. Challenges that existed before the pandemic remain and others have been exacerbated and this is why, with the support of the Minister of Indigenous Services, the Minister of Northern Affairs and the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, as the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development I’m working to increase access to affordable housing for Indigenous Peoples and northern communities.

Specifically, the ministerial Mandate Letter of December 2019, included a commitment to “support the Minister of Indigenous Services (ISC) to address critical infrastructure needs in Indigenous communities, including the development of a distinctions-based urban Indigenous housing strategy.” The January 2021 Supplementary Mandate Letter further commits to increase access to affordable housing for Indigenous Peoples and northern communities with the support of the Minister of Indigenous Services, the Minister of Northern Affairs and the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations.

One of the key pillars addressing urban, rural and northern Indigenous housing is Canada's National Housing Strategy (NHS), a 10-year, $70+ billion plan that gives more Canadians a place to call home. Building on this, Budget 2021 proposes to invest $2.5 billion, and reallocate $1.3 billion in existing funding to speed up the construction, repair, or support of 35,000 affordable housing units.

Improving Indigenous housing is a priority under the NHS as it is an important step toward reconciliation. Its programs prioritize projects serving the needs of Indigenous peoples and families and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has specialists located across the country working with Indigenous partners, communities and organizations to facilitate access to available funding.

One of the most recent programs under the NHS is the $1B Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) that is supporting the construction of over 4,700 homes (vs. 3,000 initially targeted), of which 1,800 are for Indigenous peoples. This was possible with the support of provincial, territorial and municipal governments as well as Indigenous governing bodies. These projects will help Canadians in severe housing need, and people and populations who are vulnerable, specifically people at risk of or experiencing homelessness, or living in temporary shelters because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the success of the RHI, through Budget 2021, the Government of Canada is proposing an additional $1.5 billion for the program in 2021-22.   

The NHS also includes the $13.2 billion National Housing Co-Investment Fund (NHCF) delivered by CMHC to support new construction or repairs through low-cost loans and contributions. Projects serving Indigenous peoples are prioritized for funding and can include projects across the housing continuum – from shelters for victims fleeing violence to transitional and supportive housing, affordable and community rental housing, as well as affordable homeownership. The NHCF will help build new, repair existing affordable, and community housing across Canada.

At December 31, 2020, NHS investments (excluding RHI) of $380.3M have been made to support more than 3,900 units for Indigenous and Northern households across Canada. For existing community housing under the responsibility of the federal government through CMHC, the $500 million Federal Community Housing Initiative (FCHI) helps to protect affordability for low-income households, including Indigenous peoples, served by housing providers with expiring operating agreements. 

For existing community housing with operating agreements under the responsibility of the provincial and territorial governments, the Canada Community Housing Initiative (CCHI) provides predictable, long-term funding to Provinces and Territories (PTs) through $4.3 billion in federal funding. This funding is cost-matched by PTs and will protect, regenerate and expand community housing through ongoing supports to housing providers that deliver subsidized housing to low-income Canadians, including housing units under the former Urban Native Housing program.

In addition to NHS investments, the Government is providing $1.5B to support a First Nation-led housing Strategy, an Inuit-led Housing Strategy, and the Métis Nation’s housing strategy as follows:

  • $600 million over three years to support First Nation housing as part of a 10-year Housing Strategy that is being co-developed and implemented with First Nations serving First Nations on and off-reserves;
  • $400 million over 10 years to support an Inuit-led housing plan in Nunavik, Nunatsiavut and Inuvialuit. This is in addition to the $240 million over 10 years announced in Budget 2017 to support housing in Nunavut delivered through bilateral agreements with CMHC; and
  • $500 million over 10 years to support the Métis Nation’s housing strategy.

The Government of Canada is also making an impact through Reaching Home, a community-based program aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness across Canada. This program provides funding to urban, Indigenous, rural and remote communities to help them address their local homelessness needs. A total of $413 million is dedicated to address Indigenous homelessness in urban centres over the next nine years. This is an increase of almost 70 percent in dedicated Indigenous funding over current levels. Specifically, this funding will provide:

  • $261 million through an Indigenous Homelessness stream over a nine year period to maintain the community-based approach and to continue to address local priorities; and
  • $152 million, over nine years on priorities determined in collaboration with Indigenous partners, to be phased in over three years.

Budget 2021 proposes to provide an additional $567 million over two years, beginning in 2022-23, to Employment and Social Development Canada for Reaching Home. This would maintain the 2021-22 funding levels announced in the Fall Economic Statement in response to the pressures of COVID-19.

Beyond this dedicated funding, Indigenous-led organizations can also access funding through Reaching Home’s other funding streams, and Indigenous peoples are eligible for services and supports under all funding streams.

Furthermore, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has invested over $400 million under Reaching Home to support the homeless-serving sector’s response to COVID-19 as well as efforts in preventing inflows into homelessness, including over $56 million specifically targeted to Indigenous homelessness. These additional investments are also helping communities implement housing solutions that are more permanent in nature, and providing them with the flexibility to direct funds toward local priority areas as part of their response to the pandemic.

In November 2020, the Fall Economic Statement announced an additional $299.4 million for Reaching Home for 2021–22. These funds will enable homelessness service providers across the country, including Indigenous service providers, to maintain and expand emergency health and safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, provide them the flexibility to deliver permanent housing solutions for those experiencing homelessness, as well as prevent further inflows into homelessness.

In May 2020, the Government of Canada announced the Shelter Initiative for Indigenous Women and Children. CMHC will provide $44.8 million over five years for the construction of 12 new emergency shelters, including ten in First Nations communities and 2 in the territories. In addition, Indigenous Services Canada will invest $40.8 million in new operational funding for these shelters over five years and $10.2 million annually in ongoing operational funding thereafter. 

Additionally, the 2020 Fall Economic Statement announced, as a response under the title National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, $724.1 million to launch a comprehensive Violence Prevention Strategy to expand access to a continuum of culturally relevant supports for Indigenous women, children and LGBTQ and two-spirit people facing gender-based violence. This strategy will support new shelters and transition housing for First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples across the country, including on reserve, and in the North and in urban areas.

As we move forward, we are committed to ensuring indigenous peoples in urban, rural and northern communities get the housing they need.

Open for signature
October 22, 2020, at 4:41 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
December 21, 2020, at 4:41 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Jenny Kwan (Vancouver East)
March 25, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00734)
Government response tabled
May 10, 2021
Photo - Jenny Kwan
Vancouver East
New Democratic Party Caucus
British Columbia
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