Across this country, we have an affordable housing crisis.

People are living in tents. People are “couch-surfing”. Home ownership is all but a dream for many.

Imagine what our communities would look like if an additional half a million units of affordable housing were built across this country.

The reality is that families, individuals, single parents and seniors alike are unable to obtain safe, secure, and affordable housing. This is a very real struggle for so many in Vancouver East and across the country. This national problem is of crisis proportions and is steadily worsening. For example, 2018 statistics for the City of Vancouver showed the highest number of people living homeless since the first regional homeless count in 2005. Indigenous peoples face even larger barriers to securing safe affordable housing, and accounted for 40% of the homeless people living in the region, despite being only 2.2% of the overall population. These numbers are unacceptable, because each number represents people in our community who are in crisis.

Our current housing crisis started in 1993, when the Federal Liberals cancelled the National Affordable Housing Program.

As a result, this country lost out on half a million units of affordable housing that would otherwise have been built.

The impact is real and significant.  I have met school children who tell me that they are worry about their housing situation.  Women who were fleeing domestic violence are left with no choice but to return to the abuser because she cannot secure housing.  Families had their children apprehended for no other reason other than the fact that they could not meet their housing needs.  The homeless population are becoming more desperate.  In one instance, I learned that a fight broke out because people were fighting for awning space in an attempt to stay dry as heavy rain poured down. It is high time for government to deliver what so many across the country have called for – a National Affordable Housing program.

Housing is a human right
Speech delivered on January 31, 2019 in favour of the NDP Motion to take immediate action on Canada’s Housing Crisis.

City TV: Concerns raised about rising cost of rentals for low-income earners: Vancouver MP

A Vancouver NDP MP is sounding the alarm when it comes to rent-geared-to-income housing units, saying incoming changes by the federal government will lead to a severe shortage within the affordable housing market in this country.

Vancouver East MP Jenny Kwan says she’s learned that as of March 31, 2028, Ottawa will be cutting subsidy funding to non-profits that operate buildings that include units for those on a fixed income. Once those suites are vacated, she says the price of those units will be bumped to market rates.

For example, a rental suite that’s going for $650 right now could be increased to $1,800 or more.

Kwan adds these changes are happening right now at some buildings in Metro Vancouver as non-profits try to bank money to prepare for their funding to be slashed in the future.

 

Open Letter: Loss of Thousands Rent Geared to Income Subsided Units

Recently non-profits have been advised an Amending Agreement for some of those projects would come into effect on June 29, 2024, whereby Rent-Geared-Income (RGI) units will need to revert to market rent as soon as turnover of the existing tenant occurs as the subsidies for those units will not be renewed beyond 2028. It further stipulates that this conversion will be permanent. What this means is that Canada will permanently lose thousands of RGI units for low-income residents. This is in addition to the loss of 370,000 affordable units under the Liberal government’s watch and another 800,000 units under the Conservative’s watch.

 

This poses a significant risk to thousands of Canadians, especially Indigenous communities which are already overrepresented in homelessness and housing need. The non-market housing sector plays a crucial role in communities across Canada, offering not just shelter but stability, security, and a sense of community for its residents. Canada is already faced with a housing crisis. It is widely recognized that for every affordable housing unit built, 11 will be lost. Without the continuation of these subsidies, homelessness will be further exacerbated.

 

CIMM#92: Closed Work Permits, Temporary Foreign Workers and Committee Business

I want to thank the special rapporteur for joining us today at committee. I also very much appreciate your coming to Canada and looking into this issue.

As many of the witnesses have said to us, the issue around the immigration system as it's set up, with the closed work permit approach, is that it actually sets these workers up for exploitation. From that perspective.... It's not to say, as the Conservatives would suggest, that you were alleging that all employers abuse workers. I don't believe you said that at any point in time; rather, I think the issue is about the immigration system that Canada has.

Instead of having this closed work permit situation, what would you say is the remedy to address the exploitation that many of the migrant workers you spoke with directly experienced?

 

Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, United Nations, As an Individual
Tomoya Obokata

My recommendation is, certainly, to modify the closed nature of the program. If the workers are able to choose their employers at their own will, that reduces the instances of abuse and exploitation.

More importantly, whether it's closed or not, employers have to comply with the relevant legal obligations. I accept that a large number of employers already do. It's those others who do not who require further attention from the provincial and federal governments to see whether they can take appropriate law enforcement actions against those who breach labour standards legislation.

 

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

With respect to exploitation, one of the issues that migrant workers are faced with is that they don't have full status here in Canada; they have only temporary status. One issue that has been identified is the closed work permit. The other issue is in terms of having rights. Being able to have their rights protected also means that they have to have status here in Canada.

How would you suggest the policy side of things should be amended to ensure that these migrant workers have their rights protected?

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