Wellesley Institute's 2008 national housing report card shows that feds, most provinces fail to meet their own funding promises

    TORONTO, Feb. 4 /CNW/ - On the eve of the first provincial-territorial
housing ministers' summit in almost two and one-half years, a new report card
from the Wellesley Institute reveals that the federal government and eight of
the thirteen provinces and territories have failed to meet the commitments
they made in November of 2001 to invest an additional $2 billion in affordable
homes. "The numbers underline the urgent need not only for more dollars for
affordable homes," says Michael Shapcott of the Wellesley Institute.
"Politicians need to agree on a durable housing framework to make sure that
the money promised actually gets spent on new affordable homes."
    Provincial and territorial housing ministers are meeting Feb. 6 in
Vancouver, but federal housing minister Monte Solberg is expected to boycott
the summit. This is the first time in almost a decade that the federal
government has refused to participate in a national housing meeting. Canada is
the only major country in the world without a national housing strategy. When
the provincial and territorial ministers last met in 2005 in Nova Scotia, they
released a plan for a new Canadian housing framework. The federal housing
minister joined them and the ministers issued a joint communiqué promising
that they "are accelerating work on a Canadian Housing Framework". No
framework has been released since then. Funding for the three major federal
housing and homelessness programs will expire in fiscal 2008.
    The federal government promised in a 2001 agreement with the provinces
and territories to spend an additional $1 billion for new affordable homes. As
of 2006, it had increased spending by only $234 million. Provincial and
territorial governments promised to match the federal dollars, but by 2007,
provincial / territorial housing spending was down by $210 million. The main
culprit was Ontario, which cut housing spending by $732 million. Nunavut set
the best spending record, increasing funding by 713%. Only Prince Edward
Island, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut met
or exceeded their original commitments. The federal government, Newfoundland
and Labrador, New Brunswick, Québec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, British
Columbia and the Yukon fell short. Other key findings:

    -   Housing inaffordability - a leading cause of evictions and
        homelessness - is growing across Canada. Renting costs outpaced
        renter incomes in six of the ten provinces.
    -   The affordable housing gap has moved into the negative numbers at the
        national level and in five of the ten provinces. The annual gap was
        biggest in Ontario at $1,776.
    -   New home construction reached near-record levels in recent years, but
        there was very little affordable rental and almost no new social

    A full copy of the Wellesley Institute's national housing report card
2008 and detailed data tables will be posted at 9 a.m. Monday at

For further information:

For further information: Michael Shapcott, (416) 972-1010 x231, mobile
(416) 605-8316, michael@wellesleyinstitute.com

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