'We are unified in taking action to address housing needs' - Provincial and Territorial Ministers

    VANCOUVER, Feb. 6 /CNW/ - Provincial and territorial ministers
responsible for housing are taking action and engaging the federal government
to address the country's critical housing issues. Ministers stress the urgency
of responding quickly to support the four million Canadians in need.
    During the provincial/territorial forum of Ministers responsible for
Housing, the ministers reaffirmed the principles adopted in White Point, Nova
Scotia in 2005 that define an effective federal/provincial/territorial
partnership to meet the housing needs of Canadians. At that time, provincial
and territorial ministers agreed upon a set of shared guiding principles for
current and future housing initiatives that defined roles, responsibilities,
and funding mechanisms.
    "Access to appropriate housing forms the foundation of strong
communities, strong provinces and territories," said British Columbia's
Minister Responsible for Housing Rich Coleman. "Each province and territory
faces distinct challenges but we also have achieved remarkable successes.
Together we look forward to working closely with the federal government to
ensure the housing needs of Canadians are met - now and in the future."
    Ministers were disappointed the federal minister was not present at the
forum; however, while at the meeting, ministers received a commitment to meet
with the federal minister in Ottawa within 60 days. At that meeting, Provinces
and Territories expect to establish a federal/provincial/territorial
partnership based upon White Point principles, including adequate sustainable
funding. The White Point principles can be found online at
    Provincial and territorial ministers are seeking an immediate commitment
in the upcoming federal budget to increase the level of funding for housing
programs, including those set to expire in March 2009.
    During the forum, Ministers also discussed housing issues facing First
Nations, Metis and Inuit people; changes to the tax system to promote rental
housing; how best to support Canada's existing stock of social housing; and
the need for partnerships with local governments, non-profit groups and the
private sector.
    Today's meeting marks the end of Minister Coleman's term as chair of the
provincial/ territorial housing forum. Newfoundland and Labrador Minister
responsible for Housing Shawn Skinner now assumes the role. As the chair,
Minister Skinner also becomes the provincial/territorial co-chair of future
federal/provincial/territorial meetings of ministers responsible for housing.

For further information:

For further information: Sophia Proctor, Public Affairs Officer,
Province of British Columbia, (250) 387-4592

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