When I rose to ask the Prime Minister about the failures of his national housing strategy, including the glaring absence of a housing strategy that is led by Indigenous peoples, for rural, urban and northern Indigenous peoples, I received the usual meaningless talking points. This happened despite the fact that the Liberals pledged in 2017 with the introduction of the national housing strategy to address the housing crisis for Inuit, Métis and First Nations people.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development even committed on the public record that the Liberals are committed to a separate national urban indigenous housing strategy by and for urban Indigenous people. However, years later there is still no action.
Aboriginal people in Canada are 10 times more likely than non-Aboriginal people to become homeless. When I pointed out that in Vancouver 40% of the homeless population are Indigenous peoples, the Prime Minister was so busy patting himself on the back with self-congratulatory rhetoric that I do not even think he realizes how severe the housing crisis is and how grossly disproportionate it is in affecting urban, rural and northern Indigenous communities.
Across the country, Indigenous people are experiencing the highest levels of poverty, with a shocking 25% of Indigenous people living in poverty, despite making up only 5% of Canada's population. High poverty rates for Indigenous peoples are part of the continued legacy of colonization. Ignoring the housing crisis they are facing will only result in having these numbers increase and further perpetuating the impact of colonization.
With a staggering 87% of Indigenous households not living on reserve lands, we need to have an affordable housing strategy to address the needs of Indigenous people living in the rural, urban and northern parts of Canada. It is a matter of urgency requiring immediate action that is consistent with international human rights law.
This strategic approach must be founded upon culturally-based practice and action, led by Indigenous peoples for Indigenous peoples. No more kicking the can down the road.
Canadians need to see the allocation of the necessary funds to support the national housing strategy in Budget 2020 and action for a urban, rural and northern Indigenous housing strategy led by and for indigenous peoples. The government promised to do better, Canadians expected better and the government must do better.
"There is a specific kind of hypocrisy when government over-promises but continues to under-deliver, which serves nothing more than to damage an already fraught relationship. In the emerging political momentum on tackling the Indigenous housing crisis and homelessness, urban and rural Indigenous stakeholders cannot be an afterthought in the process." That is a direct quote from Marc Maracle, Gignul Non-Profit Housing Corporation representative.
...The fact remains the government ignored and did not even see the need of addressing urban, rural and northern indigenous communities' homelessness crisis. It is now talking about it but that talk has gone on for many years. It is now time to act.
The NDP is always ready to see action become reality. We will be at the table at every turn, pushing the government until indigenous communities in urban, rural and northern communities are housed.