MONTREAL, Nov. 30 /CNW Telbec/ - For the first time since the Conservative Party's arrival in power in January 2006, Federal Minister Diane Finley will participate in the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Housing. The meeting will take place on Friday December the 4th in Gatineau. The day before, the provincial and territorial ministers will meet to discuss the demands they will express to Mme. Finley.
Le Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU), a Quebec-wide coalition of 130 housing rights organizations, wants to remind the ministers of the serious issues of housing and homelessness that afflict the country and will demand major long-term investments by the federal government in social housing. Not only will FRAPRU be present at the conference but will also organize a large demonstration outside. Hundreds of people from all over Quebec will meet at 11:00 A.M. at the Robert Guertin Arena, 125 Carillion Street, in Old Hull, and will then march towards the Place la Chaudière Holiday Inn where the Ministers' Meeting will be taking place.
FRAPRU points out that one of the major issues that will be discussed during the conference will be the future of federal initiatives on affordable housing and home renovation. The FRAPRU will push Minister Finley to announce the government's intention to ensure stable long-term funding for the construction of social housing units across Canada.
François Saillant, FRAPRU coordinator, concedes that Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty did increase federal funding in this sector during the economic action plan he presented in January 2009 to combat the economic crisis. He also states that these investments are clearly insufficient and that they are slated to end in March 2011. 'The Harper Government is fooling itself if it thinks that the crisis will end without a trace in 16 months. People who have lost their jobs won't find them again by magic. Households that were forced to accept unstable or part-time work won't suddenly see their incomes increase. All of this will aggravate the country's housing problems, which, before the crisis, already obliged 697 405 tenant households to spend more than half their income on rent and will not help the 150 000 to 300 000 people without a fixed address.' He adds that all of these people will remain precariously housed; as most of Canada's major urban centres continue to suffer from a severe shortage of rental housing.
The future of existing social housing units also concerns the FRAPRU and promises to be another important subject at the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Meeting. In effect, it is the federal government that finances most of these housing units and this funding permits low-income tenants to house themselves without sacrificing more than 25% of their income on shelter. However, this funding is of a limited duration (35 years in most cases) and has already begun to end for a certain number of apartments. This phenomenon is due to accelerate considerably throughout the next decade. In total, 600 000 social housing units in Canada will be affected, including 123 000 units in Quebec.
'What will happen to the low-cost, co-op, and non-profit housing units which have always been funded by the federal government? Will low-income families and individuals still have a place there without being obliged to spend a disproportionate amount of their income?' asks François Saillant. He urges Minister Finley to make a commitment to maintain the subsidies to low- income tenants, even after the agreements signed by the federal government run out. 'This wouldn't cost the government anything extra. They can maintain the subsidies they have been dispensing for decades or they can choose to plunge households into dire poverty in order to save 1.6 billion dollars a year.'
SOURCE Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU)
For further information: For further information: François Saillant, (514) 522-1010, (514) 919-2843 (mobile phone)