Co-operative HousingPublished on 3 June 2014 Hansard and Statements by Senator Catherine Callbeck (retired)
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck:
Honourable senators, this week, the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada is holding its Co-operative Management Conference here in Ottawa, offering workshops and opportunities for discussion for managers and staff of housing co-ops.
One item certainly on the minds of attendees is the expiry of federal rent-geared-to-income assistance. Approximately 200,000 households benefit from this assistance through operating agreements with co-ops and other non-profit and public housing providers. In my home province of Prince Edward Island, the federal government subsidizes 3,100 households across the province, including 13 housing co-ops that provide 102 subsidized units for low-income Islanders.
These providers are now facing a substantial loss of funding with the expiry of long-term housing agreements. Between now and 2030, hundreds and hundreds of co-op housing agreements will expire, as will long-term agreements with provinces and territories.
When this federal funding ends, many Canadians across the country will no longer be able to afford to live in their present homes. The property manager of one of Prince Edward Island’s co-operatives told the media earlier this year that its estimated rents will at least double for many of their residents if the agreements are allowed to lapse. Many seniors, single-parent families and people with disabilities are worried about how they will pay the rent once these agreements expire.
To bring awareness to this serious problem, the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada has launched a national campaign called You Hold the Key – Fix the Co-op Housing Crunch. Tomorrow at 12:30, concerned individuals will be gathering here on Parliament Hill for a rally on the front lawn.
As part of its campaign, CFC Canada is asking governments at all levels to work together to find a solution addressing the end of these federal funding agreements. It is also calling on the federal government to reinvest the savings from expiring co-operative subsidies in new long-term, cost-shared supplement programs that could be delivered by the provinces and territories.
Honourable senators, half a million more Canadians may soon find themselves without affordable housing. This is simply not acceptable in a country such as ours. There’s no doubt that we need a real discussion with all levels of government to discuss the future of social housing in this country, and I once again urge the federal government to work with its partners to find a solution to this problem.