View Full Version : Excuse me, Canada, your homelessness is showing

11-18-2014, 01:02 PM
Dear Canada,

This is a little awkward, but I wanted to let you know before it gets any worse: your homelessness is showing.

It used to be that Canada had hardly any homeless people, and a social housing model that was lauded around the world. But now itís been 20 years since federal funding was frozen for housing programs, longer than that since the gradual withdrawal from housing began.

Today, Canada is the only G8 country without a national housing strategy, and it shows: itís estimated that about 300,000 Canadians are homeless, and about 1.7 million Canadians have trouble affording their housing. There are shelters and food banks in pretty much every Canadian city for men, women and children who donít have a place to live or food to eat. Itís been going on for a while, and although our governments try to ignore it, itís become an international embarrassment.

Here in Manitoba, we can see the problem clearly. Housing costs are rising at a much faster pace than incomes: from 2005 to 2012, average rents increased by 33 percent, while the minimum wage rose only by 19.5 percent. Vacancy rates have been hovering around 1 percent for years, making it extremely difficult to find a place to live, even for households who can afford good housing. For the 88,000 Winnipeggers who live below the after tax low-income cut-off, finding good quality, affordable housing is close to impossible.

In Manitoba, about 45,000 households live in core housing need, which means they are spending too much on housing and/or that their housing is too small or in poor condition. This situation is especially grave for renters; about one in four renter households lives in core housing need. The University of Winnipeg has estimated that in Winnipeg alone, ďthere are about 135,000 people at risk of becoming homeless, 7600 Ďhiddení homeless, 1,915 short-term or crisis sheltered people and 350 living on the streetsĒ.

These families and individuals face tough choices in meeting their housing needs.

When people have to decide between paying the rent and paying for food, medicine, or other essentials, they experience more stress. Lack of good quality housing has been linked to poor health and educational outcomes. Ensuring that everyone has good housing can reduce societal costs related to healthcare and the justice system. In the end, making sure that we all have good housing benefits everyone.

Since the early 1990s, when the federal government pulled out of housing, housing has been considered to be the responsibility of the provinces. Over the last few years in Manitoba, the Province has invested significant resources in housing: it is updating and renovating much of its housing stock, and has committed to building 1500 new units of social housing. In addition, as funding agreements between the federal government and non-profit housing providers expire, the Province has stepped in to provide subsidies for the rent-geared to income units to ensure that these units are not lost.

However, there is a limit to how much the Province alone can shoulder. The cost is great and Manitoba, indeed all provinces, need more support from the federal government.

On February 27, 2013, the House of Commons will discuss Bill C-400, a private memberís bill to develop a national strategy to address housing and homelessness in Canada. If Bill C-400 is passed, the Minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) would consult with provincial housing ministers as well as with municipalities, First Nations, housing providers and civil society groups to develop a strategy for housing.

A national strategy to address housing and homelessness would bring stakeholders and the Government of Canada together to develop targets and timelines to address housing issues and eliminate homelessness. It would develop programs to ensure that everyone has access to good quality, affordable housing, including programs for populations that are especially vulnerable such as people with physical or mental disabilities, single-parent families, and older adults.

This strategy would enhance and support the housing programs already in place, and would provide additional resources to eliminate homelessness and precarious housing in Canada. This would make a big difference for the hundreds of thousands of Manitobans who live in poor quality, insecure housingóor who donít have housing at all.

Last year, the House of Commons unanimously passed a motion that stated that ďthe government should keep with Canadaís obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the right to housing under the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural RightsĒ (House of Commons, 2012). Bill C-400 is the next step in fulfilling the right to housing, and ensuring that all Canadians have access to safe, good quality, affordable housing.

Letís hope that the House of Commons will also pass this bill unanimously. Come on, Canada, itís about time we fixed this embarrassing problem.

- See more at: https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/commentary/fast-facts-excuse-me-canada-your-homelessness-or-showing#sthash.FLevZYm1.dpuf

11-18-2014, 01:44 PM

It would appear North America in general could do a better job.

11-18-2014, 02:07 PM

It would appear North America in general could do a better job.

Do you, too, feel that Nazism is the next logical step in all of this?

11-19-2014, 07:54 AM
Do you, too, feel that Nazism is the next logical step in all of this?

No, but I do feel the use of the word Nazism is a poor attempt at sensationalism.

Barry Morris
11-19-2014, 08:06 AM
No, but I do feel the use of the word Nazism is a poor attempt at sensationalism.


The Left Sock
11-19-2014, 08:47 AM
If there are striking parallels between the way the Nazis acted, and the way a particular society or government body is acting, then I see no problem in pointing out the comparison.

After all, the things the Nazis did were not all new, or exclusive to them, in a historical context. They just happened to be especially notorious, in the totality of what they did.

So, to say some government or nation is 'like the Nazis', that's a pretty tall order to fill, and would require someone who makes such a statement to substantiate that claim in an elaborate way. But to give a specific example of some aspect of the Nazi regime, and compare it to a particular aspect of a government or nation, is no foul at all. There is either a reasonable comparison, or there is not.

There is no 'equation' in such a comparison, no logical progression, no predictive indicators. There is a comparable parallel, or there is not. That's as far as it goes.

But, if making a comparison between what the Nazis did, and what your government is doing, gets you all riled up and crying foul, perhaps you should take a closer look at what your government is doing. There might just be more to the story than the knee-jerk moral outrage, that such a comparison was made.

Beating people in the streets, shooting people without just cause, rounding up 90 year old men and arresting them when they are posing no risk of harm to anyone - these are all things the Nazis were notorious for doing. If the same things are happening in your country, then how is it a foul, to draw the comparison?

11-19-2014, 09:31 AM

Yet you didn't feel so on another thread where the inference was thrown around liberally.

Funny, that.

11-23-2014, 12:20 PM
I don't get how we ended up with a shortage of affordable housing. With all the money to be made it's a wonder the rich businessmen aren't building rental properties to cash in on this.

Yes, sarcasm. Tenants rights and unintended consequences are a big reason for the problem.