OTTAWA, May 15, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - 27 226 people have signed a petition demanding the federal government immediately commits to maintain the long term financing of 600,000 social housing units in Canada, 127,000 of which are in Quebec. The information was revealed by the Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU), a Québec umbrella organization dedicated to the right to housing, during a press conference today on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. FRAPRU specified that 24 464 of the signatures come from Quebec and 2,762 others were collected in Winnipeg, Manitoba, by the group Right to Housing.
Three opposition MPs joined FRAPRU for the press conference : Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet, New Democratic Party MP for Hochelaga and Official Opposition Housing Critic, Justin Trudeau, Liberal Party of Canada MP for Papineau and Maria Mourani, Bloc Québécois MP for Ahunstic. The three MPs will officially present the petition in the House of Commons.
600,000 social housing units at stake
FRAPRU states that nearly all the social housing units built before 1994 were financed on the basis of long term financing agreements with the federal government. Under the terms of these agreements, Ottawa has dedicated funds, for decades, to subsidize low income tenants so that they pay a rent calculated according to their income.
However, these subsidies have started to end. For the moment, only a minority of housing units and tenants concerned have been affected, but this number will increase considerably in the coming years. The coordinator of FRAPRU, François Saillant, is concerned with the situation : «In 2012, 597,800 social housing units received federal subsidies. That is 26,000 housing units less than four years ago. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) forecasts that this number will fall to 525,000 in 2016. That is 73,000 less than today and 99,000 less than 2008. In many cases, it is the low income tenants who will suffer as more will find themselves paying rents two or three times higher than that which they currently pay».
He adds that the Treasury Board estimates savings of $21.7 million in 2012-2013 from the end of the long term subsidies for the existing social housing units. At the end of this process, toward 2030, these savings will amount to $1.7 billion per year, which is 85% of the total current federal budget for housing. This is scandalous according to François Saillant : «How can Stephen Harper's conservative government think of saving money on the backs of low income tenants and their right to housing, while at the same time relentlessly pursuing the purchase and long term maintenance of 65 F-35 fighter jets at a cost of $25 to $30 billion despite widespread opposition to the purchase ?»
Funding for the renovation of housing units
The petition presented today to the House of Commons also demands that the federal government allocates sufficient budgets to ensure the renovation, improvement and modernization of all social housing units (public, cooperative and not-for-profit housing).
According to FRAPRU the federal government currently grants budgets to the provinces and territories that are clearly insufficient for the upkeep of their public and other social housing units, despite that these units are several decades old and often in poor condition. In the case of cooperatives and not-for-profits that are also aging, Ottawa has only provided subsidies for renovations during the two years of Canada's Economic Action Plan, but not one cent has been available since April 1 2011.
FRAPRU intends to continue its pressure. A large national demonstration is planned for Sunday, May 27th in Montréal.
For further information:
François Saillant (514) 919-2843