The Governments of Canada and Prince Edward Island recently announced an additional combined investment of some $15 million over five years, to help more individuals and families access affordable housing.
This funding will be delivered through an extension to the Investment in Affordable Housing (IAH) agreement. Under provincially designed programs, the new agreement will help Islanders in need of housing, including seniors, persons with disabilities, victims of family violence and families. Initiatives can include new construction, renovation and rent supplements.
While on the surface the investment seems to be a substantial one, it averages out to $3 million a year.
Bruce MacDougall, president of the Federation of Prince Edward Island Municipalities (FPEIM), welcomed the news, but said more money through a long-term funding plan is necessary.
MacDougall raises a valid point. Provincial governments across Canada need the fiscal stability with predictable funding levels to make long-range plans to meet the needs identified in the program.
People are living longer and the senior population is the fastest growing segment in society today. With more people reaching senior status, the demand on programs such as affordable housing will continue to increase. With the increase in demand comes the necessity to meet that demand financially.
Keeping seniors in their own homes has been a goal of government for years. Seniors typically live healthier, happier lives from their own homes and are more likely to become involved within the community. As well, homes are made safer and more energy efficient.
But to meet these needs, takes planning.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is suggesting a long-term funding formula similar to the Build Canada Fund, where provinces know in advance how much funding they will receive and can better budget for the long-term.
The Investment in Affordable Housing is just that – an investment. Seniors, persons with disabilities, victims of family violence and families are not the only beneficiaries. Everyone benefits because this segment of society can become more productive and strengthen the community.
The five-year-$15 million extension is a good start but a long-term program with predictable funding levels should be the federal government’s next step.