Urgent action is needed to address the growing homelessness crisis, yet the federal government continues to drag their feet on this issue.
Numbers don’t lie. BC only got 0.5% of funds from finalized agreements through the National Housing Co-Investment Fund. Only two applications were finalized. It was absolutely shocking to see the numbers. The truth is, though, we already suspected that BC was not getting the kind of resources that we need to support and address our homelessness crisis.
Alberta and Quebec have been shut out of the fund altogether, while Ontario has received 94% of the nearly $1.5 billion so far.
To learn more about these figures, please read Dan Fumano's recent coverage of this important story in the Vancouver Sun.
August 7, 2020
Ms. Catrina Tapley
Deputy Minister, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
OPEN LETTER RE: APPLYING BIOMETRICS EXEMPTIONS DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Dear Deputy Minister Catrina Tapley,
Following the emergency Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) meeting, I am writing to follow up with the issue of delays for individuals to complete their biometrics due to COVID-19. I raised this question directly to your attention during the June 17, 2020 emergency meeting of the CIMM Committee and have also raised this in writing to the Minister.
My office has received a significant amount of email from Vancouver East constituents and from people across the country whose immigration applications have been impeded because they have been unable to complete their biometrics. Given the ongoing impact of COVID-
19, there simply is no timeline or certainty as to when an individual would be able to have their biometrics completed. While I am appreciative of the fact that IRCC has extended the deadline to give biometrics and that IRCC will not close or refuse any application in progress, however, it remains that those unable to obtain their biometrics are in effect simply stuck in the system. This in turn means that their lives are effectively held in limbo.
Cost-sharing Plan with B.C. Provincial and Municipal Government Urgently Needed to Address Homelessness Crisis
July 29, 2020
The Honourable Ahmed Hussen
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
OPEN LETTER RE: COST-SHARING PLAN WITH B.C. PROVINCIAL AND MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENTS URGENTLY NEEDED TO ADDRESS HOMELESSNESS CRISIS
I am writing urgently with regard to the need for the federal government to commit to working with the non-profits, provincial and municipal governments to address the housing and homelessness crisis, especially in light of a pandemic that has gripped the country and devastated the livelihoods of many Canadians.
The homelessness crisis is not only an affront to human rights, but also poses an enormous national public health risk. This puts the individuals and the communities they live in at risk. Despite the indisputable importance of housing, I am deeply concerned that your government’s National Housing Strategy (NHS) is woefully inadequate.
Based on the response to my order paper question submitted February 4th, 2020, it seems the largest component of the NHS, the National Housing Co-investment Fund (NHCF), has fallen short of expectations. I was shocked to learn that only 23 of 432 of submissions have finalized funding agreements. Even more troubling was the lack of funding outside of Ontario. Among these applications, over 50% of the finalized agreements were from Ontario and over 91% of the $1.47 billion in these agreements went to a single application in the City of Toronto.
July 27, 2020
The Honourable Marco Mendicino, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship
The Honourable Francois-Phillipe Champagne, P.C., M.P.
OPEN LETTER: FOLLOW-UP ON IMMIGRATION MEASURES FOR SIKH AND HINDU COMMUNITIES IN AFGHANISTAN
Minister Mendicino and Minister Champagne,
I am writing to join my voice with the concerns raised by the World Sikh Organization (WSO) regarding religious minorities being persecuted in Afghanistan, specifically Sikhs and Hindus. Their lives are constantly at risk as they are being targeted for attack, abduction and extortion by extremist groups in the region, such as ISIS Khorasan (ISIS-K).
As noted by the WSO, on March 25, 2020, ISIS-K terrorists attacked Gurdwara Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib in Kabul and murdered 25 Sikhs, including four-year-old Tania Kaur. At the funeral for the victims of this attack, a second attack was initiated involving the detonation of an explosive device. Earlier, in July 2018, the senior leadership of the Sikh and Afghan communities was assassinated in a suicide bombing that took 19 lives in Jalalabad. In June 2020, an Afghan Sikh, Nidan Singh Sachdeva, was abducted from a gurdwara and tortured for weeks. That was followed on July 17 by the abduction of 13-year-old Salmeet Kaur who was kidnapped from a Kabul gurdwara where she was living with her blind mother and younger brother. Salmeet’s father was killed in the March attack. ISIS-K has sworn to exterminate all Afghan Sikhs and Hindus if they do not leave Afghanistan.
July 24, 2020
Chrystia Freeland, Chair
Cabinet Committee on the federal response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
The Honourable Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance
OPEN LETTER RE: FEDERAL EMERGENCY FUNDING NEEDED TO SAVE HISTORIC CHINATOWN
Dear Deputy Prime Minister Freeland and Minister Morneau,
I write urgently to request for federal financial support for Vancouver’s Chinatown business merchants that provide both significant economic and cultural value for the historic neighbourhood as many of these businesses are being forced to closure due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Vancouver’s Chinatown, designated as a National Historic Site in Canada in 2010, is currently under threat as many business merchants in this neighbourhood that contribute to its cultural value are experiencing extreme economic hardships as the pandemic has negatively impacted the tourist industry that these businesses in Chinatown rely on. These businesses are ineligible for or have no access to the Canadian Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) because government eligibility criteria require that landlords have no municipal affiliation. The Chinatown Plaza that provides tenancy for 20 small business merchants is an example of such a case. In addition, as you are aware, for employers to qualify for CECRA, they require landlords to submit the application and it has been evidently clear with the small businesses that most landlords are refusing to do so. The inability to qualify and access any of these subsidy programs will force these businesses into closure.
July 24, 2020
The Honourable Patty Hadju, Minister of Health
The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety
OPEN LETTER RE: SAFE SUPPLY AND DECRIMINALIZATION TO STOP OVERDOSE DEATHS
We write you today out of grave concern for the lives of people in our communities.
As you may know, the BC Coroner reported that 175 British Columbians lost their lives to poisoning by accidental overdose from toxic illicit drugs in June 2020. This is more than any previous month on record and follows a similar record-setting death rate in May. Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe reported that toxicology testing data also suggests an increase in the number of cases with extreme fentanyl concentrations since April of this year. This lends weight to anecdotal reports from front-line workers and peers who have reported that, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, disruptions in illicit drug supply seem to have resulted in ever more products being sold that contain toxic levels of fentanyl, carfentanil and benzodiazepines.
Overdose prevention workers and peers now routinely issue alerts about severely toxic drugs circulating. People are dying, not just in our community, but across this country. It must stop.
June 24, 2020
The Honourable Bill Blair
Minister of Public Safety
The Honourable Navdeep Bains
Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
OPEN LETTER RE: CANADIAN ANTI-FRAUD CENTRE CONTACT HOURS AND AVAILABILITY
I write to you in order to bring forward once again concerns about the operating capacity of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. I was recently contacted by a constituent who suffered the theft of all of her family’s belongings, her personal financial information and some identifying information, when her U-Haul rental van was stolen in the midst of a move earlier this year. She advised that while trying to find appropriate resources to assist her in addressing fraudulent activity that she later found on her credit report, she attempted to contact the Anti-Fraud Centre, only to find that it is not accepting any telephone calls due to the ongoing pandemic.
This is very disturbing given fraudulent telephone calls purporting to be from government sources and seeking to obtain personal information continue to circulate and to target vulnerable Canadians. I have previously raised this as a concern to the Minister of National Revenue as well as to former Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, in 2018 and again in 2019, but this activity continues undeterred.
June 18, 2020
Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Chair, Cabinet Committee on the federal response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
Hon. Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance
Hon. Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion
OPEN LETTER RE: CONTINUED SUPPORT FOR NEW MOTHERS, NEW PARENTS & INFANTS IN COVID-19
We write you today in order to raise our constituents’ growing concerns about how they will continue supporting their families through this pandemic and into the post-pandemic period, and in particular the circumstances faced by new mothers and parents of young infants.
We have previously raised concerns in letters to you, in Committee and in technical briefings about the financial difficulty faced by new parents who have fallen through the gaps between both EI maternity/parental leave and the CERB. We are still hearing from new parents about the many reasons that they struggle to meet their basic needs in this pandemic:Read more
Support for Migrant Workers on Farms under Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program and Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program
June 17, 2020
The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada 1341 Baseline Road Ottawa, ON K1A 0C5
The Honourable Marco Mendicino
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada 365 Laurier Avenue West Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1
OPEN LETTER RE: SUPPORT FOR MIGRANT WORKERS ON FARMS UNDER CANADA'S TEMPORARY FOREIGN WORKER PROGRAM AND SEASONAL AGRICULTURE WORKER PROGRAM
Dear Minister Bibeau and Minister Mendicino,
We write to you today following the tragic death of two migrant workers from Mexico in recent weeks in relation to COVID-19 outbreaks on farms in southern Ontario, and with more than 280 additional confirmed cases in the region. As the NDP Critics for Agriculture and Agri-Food and for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, we have deep concerns for the plight of migrant workers on farms under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program and Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program.
Earlier this week, on June 8th, the Migrant Workers Alliance published a damning report entitled Unheeded Warnings: COVID-19 & Migrant Workers in Canada. This report compiles data from phone calls with 180 migrant workers calling on behalf of 1,162 workers between March 15 and May 15, 2020. The results are alarming. As not all migrant workers may have access to a phone or are in possession of the Migrant Workers Alliance phone number, the report is by no means an exhaustive analysis of the conditions other agricultural migrant workers may be exposed to under the current realities of COVID-19.
June 12, 2020
The Hon. Chrystia Freeland
Deputy Prime Minister
Chair, Cabinet Committee on the federal response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
The Hon. Catherine McKenna
Minister of Infrastructure & Communities
The Hon. Bill Morneau Minister of Finance
The Hon. Mary Ng
Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade
OPEN LETTER RE: EMERGENCY COVID-19 FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO SAVE THE PACIFIC NATIONAL EXHIBITION (PNE)
I write to you today as a matter of some urgency, as the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE), a 110-year old cultural institution in my riding, grapples with its very survival due to the revenue losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
BC Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has already said that large scale festivals & gatherings such as the PNE are "not going to happen" this year. If the PNE is to survive the pandemic, access to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) is essential.
While the PNE is owned by the City of Vancouver, it is a not-for-profit organization that operates at arms-length, with an independent Board of Directors, and is financially independent from the City of Vancouver, filing taxes as a 149(1)d.5 non-profit. It is not funded by civic, provincial or federal funds. The PNE reinvests its positive surplus revenue generated by activities on site back into the organization. In addition, it is very engaged with the local community and provides sponsorship to countless community activities.