SUMMERSIDE – The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is putting pressure on the federal government to ensure the future of affordable housing in Canada for seniors and low-income Canadians.
Bruce MacDougall, president of the Federation of Prince Edward Island Municipalities (FPEIM) said the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has drafted a resolution urging Ottawa to maintain funding for affordable housing following a meeting last November with Members of Parliament.
“When we had our advocacy days on Parliament Hill, this was discussed with all of the MPs that we met with,” MacDougall said. “The FCM has sent it to all of the provincial organizations. The provincial organizations have adopted a resolution and have sent it out to all of their member municipalities to be adopted.”
Senator Cather Callbeck has added her voice to the need for a renewed affordable housing program.
She said over the next few years about $1.7 billion in long-term social housing agreements with the federal government will be expiring across the country, including agreements on Prince Edward Island worth about $12 million a year.
Callbeck said the federal government subsidizes 3,100 households across P.E.I.
“It’s my understanding that with the 3,100 households, we’re talking senior citizens housing and low-income housing, and there is money through the agreement that comes to the province and all of that money goes to help subsidize those rents,” she said. “That’s pretty important.”
Callbeck said those agreements are suppose to start expiring in 2019 so there is a need to get new agreements in place but nothing seems to be happening.
“I can’t find where there has been any movement (on getting a new agreement),” she said. “I’m told that provincial ministers have been asking for discussions with the federal minister because they want to plan for the future and get on with this. So far, their requests have gone unanswered.”
The senator said it also involves co-op housing. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation has agreements with housing co-ops including 13 on P.E.I. that provide 102 subsidized units for low-income Islanders.
Callbeck said these are due to expire between 2018 and 2026, and they are not scheduled to be renewed.
MacDougall said the need for affordable housing continues to rise as the senior population grows.
“Take Summerside alone,” he said. “The average age of a person in Summerside has gone up just in the last year. There are a lot of people moving into new apartments. Those are being filled from people coming from the country. There’s a big issue there and it’s getting worse. Our association, the FPEIM, has adopted the motion and we have forwarded it on to all of our members to be adopted. Summerside city council did it. We’re urging everyone to adopt that resolution.”
The FCM resolution states that “the board endorses the FCM housing campaign and urges the minister of Employment and Social Development to develop a long-term plan for housing that puts core investments on solid ground, increases predictability, protects Canadians from the planned expiry of $1.7 billion in social housing agreements and ensures a healthy stock of affordable rental housing for Canadians.”