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

OTTAWA — 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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools Board of Trustees selected the name St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School to be built in the north end of Red Deer. (Photo Courtesy of  Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools)
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools raises about $8,720 for Terry Fox Foundation

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools raised about $8,720 for the Terry Fox… Continue reading

A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Alberta declines Ontario’s request to send health-care workers

Alberta is “not in a position” to send health-care workers out of… Continue reading

The Red Deer Rebels allowed four straight goals from the Medicine Hat Tigers Friday night on the road. (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers hand Red Deer Rebels 10th straight loss

Tigers 4 Rebels 2 Through 17 games in the shortened WHL season,… Continue reading

Meghan Huizing has been selected by Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools as a finalist for the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) 2021 Edwin Parr Award. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Regional Catholic Schools)
Red Deer Catholic names finalist for Edwin Parr Award

Meghan Huizing from St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in Blackfalds has… Continue reading

GrammaLink-Africa members are participating in the Stride to Turn the Tide campaign until June 30. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer group walking to raise money for African grandmothers

A group of central Albertans will be walking every day until the… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

A person walks past a COVID-19 mural designed by artist Emily May Rose on a rainy day during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, April 12, 2021. Employment lawyers say flouting COVID-19 public health orders when off the job or coming into work while knowingly sick could warrant discipline in the workplace. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Risky pandemic behaviour off the clock could mean workplace discipline: lawyers

CALGARY — Employment lawyers say flouting COVID-19 public health orders when off… Continue reading

Vials containing Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for COVID-19 are seen at the San Marino State Hospital, in San Marino, Friday, April 9, 2021.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Antonio Calanni
China, Russia using their COVID-19 vaccines to gain political influence

OTTAWA — China and Russia have been using their locally produced COVID-19… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Tuesday, March 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau announces donation to Duke of Edinburgh’s award ahead of funeral

Canada will donate $200,000 to the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award as… Continue reading

Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry (Science) Will Amos responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. The Liberal MP who inadvertently flashed his parliamentary colleagues says the fact that a screenshot of him in the nude was leaked to the media sends a troubling message about the corrosive state of politics in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
Canada’s naked MP speaks out: leaked photo sends message ‘anything goes’ in politics

OTTAWA — The Liberal MP who inadvertently flashed his parliamentary colleagues says… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $10 million jackpot… Continue reading

Opinion
Opinion: Canada’s self-esteem needs Trump

Well, it was fun while it lasted. For four years, with Donald… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: Shenanigans on the links

It must be something about my Scottish heritage but I seem to… Continue reading

Muskrats can occupy any wetland that is shallow enough to permit the growth of their aquatic food.
Pearman: Muskrats numbers rebounding in central Alberta

I have spent many pleasant hours muskrat watching. Time spent in the… Continue reading

Most Read