Recovery for All: A Six Point Plan to End Homelessness in Canada
In a recent survey, 72% of Canadians believe urgent action must be taken to end homelessness. The pandemic only amplified the vulnerabilities of the homeless and those who are precariously housed.
We have an opportunity to build back better. We cannot go back to normal where over 235,000 different Canadians every year are homeless; 1.7 million households live in substandard or unaffordable housing; people are faced with life threatening risk for no other reason than a lack of a place to call home and the long history of moving homeless campers from one site to another.
The federal government's current target to reduce absolute homelessness by 50% within 10 years is unacceptable and there is a lack of clear accountable targets to monitor progress.
Based on data I’ve obtained from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, I was shocked to learn that as of January 2020, only 0.5% ($7.3 million) of the money coming from agreements that were finalized under the National Housing Co-Investment Fund has gone to applications in B.C., despite bring the province with the 2nd highest number of applications for this program. Journalist Dan Fumano did an excellent article on my findings in the Vancouver Sun, which you can access through my website (www.jennykwanndp.ca/in_the_community) to learn more about this issue.
It is projected that an investment of $52B over 10 years would result in savings of $18B from the estimated $70B in cost as a result of homelessness. The plan put forth in Recovery for All would directly create at least 300,000 jobs and stimulate another 3 million jobs elsewhere in the economy.
The Recovery for All Plan calls on the government to:
- Meaningfully implement the right to housing and resolve inequities and systemic/structural breakdowns that contribute to homelessness and housing need;
- Expand investment in the community-based homelessness response;
- Commit to the construction of 370,000 new social housing units with rental support for low-income Canadians;
- Stop the loss of affordable rental housing to financialization by limiting purchases of distressed housing by large capital funds and supporting
non-profit and public sector acquisition;
- Put in place a national guaranteed minimum income; and
- Implement an Indigenous led urban, rural and Northern Indigenous housing strategy.
When a rich corporation asks for help, Justin Trudeau is ready to do everything, but when Canadians need help, they are told to wait.
Canadians deserve a government that’s on their side, a government who will stand up to the wealthy and well-connected and put their interests first. They want someone who works to make their lives better -- not someone who works hard to secure backroom deals for their friends. Yet when it comes to real action on the housing crisis, medication coverage for all or protecting workers, people are being told to wait for help while corporate insiders are given a direct line to the Prime Minister.
We knew the halls of power were rigged for wealthy and corporate insiders. What the scandal over SNC-Lavalin has revealed in detail is just how far the Liberal government has gone to put the interests of the corporate elite over Canadians.
The Liberal government keeps telling us how important an independent justice system is, but it all goes out of the window when it’s their friends in trouble – like SNC Lavalin. Over the course of four month, the former attorney general sustained ongoing organized pressure from the Prime Minister and his office, the Privy Council Office and the Office of the Minister of Finance to politically interfere by granting a deferred prosecution agreement to SNC.
The Attorney General cannot be pressured by the Prime Minister. It is entirely inappropriate. How many times did the former Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould, have to say no before Trudeau and his team listened? She repeatedly said no. They repeatedly ignored her and were consistent in their attempts to improperly pressure her to change her mind for their well-connected friends.
How can the Prime Minister of this country not know what’s happening in his own office’s interactions with his cabinet?
The Prime Minister’s reaction has shown a clear lack of leadership and transparency to Canadians.He continued to blame others and discredited the credible testimony from the former Attorney-General without any proof. His entire reaction was based on ‘’I didn’t know’’, yet somehow without knowing, he knows that nothing was inappropriate.
The only job Prime Minster Trudeau is worried about is his own.
The Liberals have claimed that the issue is about jobs in Québec, but don’t have any evidence to prove this. We will always stand up for jobs, but Mr. Trudeau has proven time and again that he does not. This was about his re-election.
The real erosion of trust is not happening inside the Prime Minister's office, but with Canadians.
The only way to get to the bottom of this for Canadians is through an independent public inquiry. The Prime Minister owes Canadians that much.
PETITION TO THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA
- SNC-Lavalin (Inc) executives have faced numerous prosecutions and convictions for bribery, fraud and money laundering;
- SNC-Lavalin recently lobbied federal government officials heavily for a deferred prosecution (or "remediation") agreement regarding a multi-million dollar criminal case against the company;
- The Prime Minister removed Jody Wilson-Raybould as Attorney General on January 14th;
- Wilson-Raybould resigned as Minister of Veterans Affairs amidst allegations that the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) had pressured her to assist SNC-Lavalin in avoiding criminal prosecution;
- The Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary, Gerald Butts, subsequently also resigned on February 19th;
- Despite the fact that constitutionally an Attorney General is the legal representative of the people of Canada, Wilson-Raybould remained subject to full solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidentiality until OIC 2019-0105 was issued on February 25th;
- On February 27th Wilson-Raybould testified to the House Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights that for approximately four months she had been subjected to "political interference" by various government officials; and
- Canadians are entitled to substantive public disclosure concerning the legal and ethical significance of these events and allegations.
Can’t afford your medication? Universal public pharmacare saves money and lives.
Canadians are paying more for prescription drugs than citizens of other OECD countries, with one in eight Canadians between 55 and 64 saying they cannot afford their medication. Nearly 2 million Canadians couldn’t afford to fill their prescriptions in the last year. And for many people that means more trips to the doctor or the hospital – hurting their health, and costing more in the long run. No one should have to choose between paying for their medicine, or paying for their or their families’ other basic needs.
It’s the smart thing and the right thing to do.
Canada’s public health care system is a point of national pride and, arguably, the envy of the world. It is also something New Democrats have long championed and supported. We are proud to be the founder of and tireless advocate for Medicare.
It was always the vision of Tommy Douglas, the father of Medicare, that our public health care system should include universal , comprehensive, public Pharmacare.
We have been talking about this since the 1960s and study after study shows that not only will it save lives, it will save money. A Parliamentary Budget Officer study concluded that, in 2016, Canada would have collectively saved $4 billion on prescription medication if we can universal medication coverage – and some estimates suggest that we could realize even larger savings.
Interim Report on the Implementation of National Pharmacare
On March 6, my colleague Don Davies, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Kingsway made the following statement about the interim report from the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare:
“It’s disappointing to see that the Liberals have missed an important opportunity to commit to real change in national drug coverage. Today’s report leaves the door open to a private, U.S.-style patchwork system of coverage, and it fails to recommend the system that delivers the best results for patients: a public, single-payer delivery model.
One thing that today’s report does make clear is the degree to which the current system is failing Canadians. Too many families are facing impossible choices when it comes to the prescription drugs they need – choosing between rent and an epi-pen their child needs, between saving for retirement or getting medication to manage a chronic illness.
We know that a universal, public pharmacare program will keep people healthy, save Canadians, employers and the public system money, and build on the best traditions of Medicare – where no one is left behind.
Let’s be clear: a patchwork, fill-the-gaps approach favoured by Finance Minister Morneau may help Liberal friends like big pharmaceutical and insurance corporations, but it won’t deliver efficient prescription drug coverage for every Canadian.
New Democrats will keep fighting for a universal, comprehensive, public pharmacare program that delivers the help Canadians across the country urgently need.”
The time for universal, comprehensive and public pharmacare system is NOW.
I echo what my colleague's statement about the Interim Report. We’re the only country in the world that has a universal health-care system… that doesn’t also include some form of coverage for medication. Universal, comprehensive health-care coverage for all Canadians is an investment that we need to make a top priority, and the time to do that is now.
I will continue to champion this common-sense and overdue healthcare advancement.
I will also continue speaking up—both inside and outside the House of Commons—to urge investment across the spectrum of healthcare, including home and community care, mental health care, and palliative care.
In the meantime, please sign MP Don Davies' petition to support a pharmacare plan that leaves no one behind.