Federal Election 2019 – Platform Tracker on Youth Homelessness and Right to Housing

CERA’s Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) is a group that is working towards the prevention of youth homelessness in the City of Toronto. We reached out to federal election candidates in Toronto hoping to find out how they plan to act on this issue.

On June 20th of this year, the federal government passed the National Housing Strategy Act which recognized the right to adequate housing; this means a rights-based approach should inform housing policy. We need our government and decision makers to make meaningful commitments to fully implement this approach and ensure that there are affordable housing opportunities available so that no young person in Canada is forced into homelessness by a system that doesn’t work.
YAC asked candidates the following questions:

How will you promote the right to adequate housing for all in Canada and ensure that the National Housing Strategy Act is fully and meaningfully implemented?

How will you prevent youth homelessness in Canada and make sure that vulnerable youth are not left living in unsafe homes without access to resources and supports?

 

What policies will you put in place to stop and prevent the further financialization of housing which has seen investors and speculators dilute the stock of available housing across the country?

 

We will input all the responses on this Platform Tracker, which will stay updated to help others make an informed decision at the polls.

 

If you would like to get involved and support YAC by reaching out to your candidates with these questions, please email us at CERAYouth@equalityrights.org.

Youth Advisory Committee
Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation

 

Our Platform Tracker

Response from NDP Candidate: Michelle Spencer, Scarborough-Guildwood

How will you promote the right to adequate housing for all in Canada and ensure that the National Housing Strategy Act is fully and meaningfully implemented?

Not only will we maintain current investment, we will significantly increase it. Our federal  investment will begin with $5 billion in additional funding in the first year and a half of a New Democrat government. A major part of the long-term solution to the problem is to ensure that more affordable rental units are built across the country. That’s why a New Democrat government will create 500,000 units of quality, affordable housing in the next ten years, with half of that done within five years. This will be achieved with the right mix of effective measures that work in partnership with provinces and municipalities, build capacity for social, community, and affordable housing providers and co-ops, and meet environmental, energy-efficiency goals.

Our federal investment will begin with $5 billion in additional funding in the first year and a half of a New Democrat government. In order to kick-start the construction of co-ops, social and non-profit housing, we will set up dedicated fast-start funds to streamline the application process and help communities get the expertise and assistance they need to get projects off the ground today, not years from now. A New Democrat government will also spur the construction of affordable homes by waiving the federal portion of the GST/HST on the construction of new affordable rental units – a simple change that will help get new units built faster and keep them affordable for the long term. These measures will help address the housing crisis at the source, but we also need to make sure that families who are hurting get help now. Families do not have years to wait when every day is a struggle and a constant worry. That’s why we’ll provide immediate relief for families who struggle to afford rent in otherwise suitable housing, while we bring forward long-term solutions to the housing affordability crisis.  

How will you prevent youth homelessness in Canada and make sure that vulnerable youth are not left living in unsafe homes without access to resources and supports?

We need the courage – and meaningful action – to build a Canada without poverty, where all Canadians can count on quality  public services and community supports to help them lead dignified lives. A core component of our approach is enshrining in law the right to housing and starting work now with a goal of ending homelessness in Canada within a decade. We will develop a National Action Plan to end gender-based violence, backed by funding to ensure that shelter services and other programs are available in all regions of the country, especially areas that have traditionally been underserved.

Our affordable housing strategy will include measures to support Canadians at risk of becoming homeless, take the lead from communities about local needs, and adopt a “housing first” approach. To help people find an affordable home in the long term, we will support the creation of more social housing and other affordable options.

Poor health and poverty are linked and a national pharmacare program will mean that all Canadians can access the prescription medicine they need, regardless of their income, or address. Better access to mental health and addictions support will also form a key part of our approach to tackling poverty, and homelessness.

A New Democrat government will work with the provinces to launch a national basic income pilot project in addition to continuing Ontario’s program, in order to gather data about this approach to tackling income precarity.

What policies will you put in place to stop and prevent the further financialization of housing which has seen investors and speculators dilute the stock of available housing across the country?

According to the World Bank, 82% of Canadians live in urban areas. The vast majority of our planned expenditures will occur in urban areas and are designed to eliminate homelessness within a decade, increase housing affordability, and ensure that everyone has a safe place to call home.  We will put in place a Foreign Buyer’s tax on the sale of homes to individuals who aren’t Canadian citizens or permanent residents. New Democrats will also fight money laundering, which fuels organized crime and drives up housing prices. We will work with the provinces to create a public beneficial ownership registry to increase transparency about who owns properties, and require reporting of suspicious transactions in order to help find and stop money laundering.

Response from NDP Candidate Yafet Tewelde, York South Weston

How will you promote the right to adequate housing for all in Canada and ensure that the National Housing Strategy Act is fully and meaningfully implemented?

New Democrats believe housing to be a fundamental right for all Canadians and that everyone deserves to have a safe and secure place to call home.  That’s the reason why we’re focused on addressing core issues like the the housing crisis, the rise in precarious work, gender wage-gap, and skyrocketing costs of childcare. We know that housing is about investing in a better future for working people and that solutions are needed now. We need to do more for the 1.7 million households spending more than 30% of their income on housing. That’s why we’re committed to making significant investments in affordable housing – kick-starting the development of half a million affordable housing units over the next decade – including 250,000 within the next five years, removing the federal portion of the GST/HST on the construction of new affordable rental units and helping with closing costs by doubling the Home Buyer’s Tax Credit. Ensuring that everyone has a safe place to call home and access to quality social programs will help strengthen our economy, our quality of life, and our communities. We’ve outlined our commitments to building a more just Canada in our 2019 platform, A New Deal for People: New Democrats’ Commitments to You.

How will you prevent youth homelessness in Canada and make sure that vulnerable youth are not left living in unsafe homes without access to resources and supports?

As I mentioned in my first answer, New Democrats believe that housing is a fundamental human right for everyone, including youth. We would make bold investments in housing and youth services to ensure that no young person ends up living on the streets. Our New Deal for Young People includes lifting the student debt burden, a rental benefit of up to $5,000/year and 500,000 new units of affordable housing, decent work and fair treatment, lowering cell and internet bills and standing up for the most marginalized youth.

What policies will you put in place to stop and prevent the further financialization of housing which has seen investors and speculators dilute the stock of available housing across the country?

New Democrats’ commitments are all about making sure powerful corporations and the ultra-rich are paying their fair share – starting by ending speculation and money laundering in the housing market. To help put an end to speculation that’s fuelling high housing prices, we’ll put in place a Foreign Buyer’s taxon the sale of homes to individuals who aren’t Canadian citizens or permanent residents. New Democrats will also fight money laundering, which fuels organized crime and drives up housing prices. We will work with the provinces to create a public beneficial ownership registry to increase transparency about who owns properties, and require reporting of suspicious transactions in order to help find and stop money laundering.”

Response from Liberal MP and Candidate Jean Lip, Scarborough Agincourt

How will you promote the right to adequate housing for all in Canada and ensure that the National Housing Strategy Act is fully and meaningfully implemented?

In Budget 2019, the Liberal government made new, long-term investments in the National Housing Strategy to build 100,000 new units of affordable housing, and help cut chronic homelessness in half. Since Budget 2016, almost $2 billion in new federal funding has been invested in housing across Canada by the Liberal government and over 303,500 units have been built or repaired, giving Canadians greater access to affordable housing. These incremental investments have already provided more stable housing to 9,000 Canadians who were homeless or at serious risk of homelessness.

Since announcing the Strategy, the new National Housing Co-Investment Fund has been launched, and is expected to help build 60,000 new units and repair or renew 240,000 existing units of affordable and community housing through contributions and low cost loans. Seven provinces and territories have now signed bilateral agreements under the multilateral Housing Partnership Framework, which will see more than $7.7 billion in new federal funding flow to provinces and territories over the next decade to support the stock of community housing and address regional priorities. In Budget 2019, the Liberal Government also proposed to introduce new legislation which will require the federal government to maintain a National Housing Strategy that prioritizes the housing needs of the most vulnerable, and will require regular reporting to Parliament on progress toward the Strategy’s goals and outcomes. This is an important measure because it will ensure that future governments are held accountable on this file.Launched in May 2018, the National Housing Co-Investment Fund provides a mix of contributions and low-cost loans for the construction and repair of a range of affordable housing projects, including community housing, supportive and transitional housing, and shelters for survivors of domestic violence. To make federal investments go further, projects must also leverage support from other levels of government.Starting in 2020, a new, $4 billion Canada Housing Benefit will provide financial relief directly to those in core housing need and, over time, is expected to support 300,000 households. It is currently being co-developed with provinces and territories to ensure that the benefit is tailored to the diverse realities and needs across the country.

How will you prevent youth homelessness in Canada and make sure that vulnerable youth are not left living in unsafe homes without access to resources and supports?

Our Homelessness Partnering Strategy will prevent and reduce homelessness by providing direct support and funding to designated communities. Over the next year, important measures will be introduced to deliver on the Government’s National Housing Strategy commitments. Reaching Home, a new $2.2 billion program to prevent and reduce homelessness, was recently launched by the Liberal government—with the goal to reduce chronic homelessness by 50 per cent. Reaching Home is a community-based program aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness across Canada. This program provides funding to urban, Indigenous, rural and remote communities to help them address their local homelessness needs.

What policies will you put in place to stop and prevent the further financialization of housing which has seen investors and speculators dilute the stock of available housing across the country?

To limit the housing speculation that can drive up home prices, the Liberal platform includes a commitment to put in place a consistent national tax on vacant residential properties owned by non-Canadians who don’t live in Canada. We will work with interested provinces, territories and communities to establish a national approach to beneficial ownership so that law enforcement and tax authorities have the tools necessary to crack down on financial crime in the real estate sector, while respecting Canadian privacy rights.

Response from Liberal MP and Candidate Adam Vaughan, Spadina Fort York

How will you promote the right to adequate housing for all in Canada and ensure that the National Housing Strategy Act is fully and meaningfully implemented?

Having played a role in drafting the Legislation to enshrine a Right to Housing in law, the first order of business is to appoint the Housing Advocate and the Advisory Panel which will include sector experts and people with lived experience. Second, we must start to fill the gaps in supportive housing and, most critically, work with Indigenous communities to design and deliver Urban Indigenous Housing Program.

How will you prevent youth homelessness in Canada and make sure that vulnerable youth are not left living in unsafe homes without access to resources and supports?

A lot of different factors can force young people into homelessness. One of the main drivers is homophobia and a distinct lack of housing supports for LGBTQ2S young people. We need to program in an intentional way to support young people and in particular serve marginalized populations with supportive housing that meets distinct needs of specific populations

What policies will you put in place to stop and prevent the further financialization of housing which has seen investors and speculators dilute the stock of available housing across the country? 

The National Housing Strategy has been designed to support tenants buying their buildings and owning them instead of private landlords. We also need to limit foriegn capital’s access to the domestic resale market and this election we committed to address the impact of foreign speculation by putting in place a consistent national speculation and vacancy tax for non-resident, non-Canadians. We also need to work with other orders of Government to curtail the relatively new practice of short term rentals, like AirBnb.

Response from NDP Candidate Bruce Griffin, Don Valley North

The NDP has two plans to assist with the housing crisis across Canada. We plan to start building 500,000 affordable homes next year. We plan to offer up to $5,000 in financial assistance to people who are struggling to pay their rent and may be having to choose between paying rent and putting food on the table.

As a general rule, the NDP believes that getting to the root of the problem is much wiser and cost-effective than trying to clean up the mess after a crisis has been allowed to develop. We are very concerned about young people and all Canadians who are struggling in this economy and we will work out national strategies to fight poverty and give Indigenous Peoples safe and healthy living environments all across Canada.

I hope you vote for the party that cares about working Canadians and not one of the two parties that are more concerned about keeping their wealthy donors and their corporations happy.

October 9, 2019

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