FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ANSWERS CALLS FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING UNITS
June 13th, 2017 - 1:41pm
OTTAWA – NDP Critic for Western Economic Diversification, Georgina Jolibois (Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River), welcomes the announcement of federal and provincial investments to support affordable housing in northern Saskatchewan. Both levels of governments have provided a combined investment of $7 million to support housing initiatives in the communities of La Loche, Ile-a-la-Crosse, La Ronge and Pinehouse Lake. This includes 44 affordable rental units and the rejuvenation of eight emergency shelter units.
“I am relieved to see that the government of Canada has heard our calls on the urgent need for affordable housing in northern Saskatchewan. I stood in the House of Commons on multiple occasions to highlight the urgency for more accessible housing for elders, women and their families,” said Jolibois. “I am glad they answered our calls.”
The lack of affordable housing and shelters for women is a significant issue in northern Saskatchewan. Since her election, MP Jolibois has conveyed the concerns of northerners in the House of Commons, particularly the lack affordable housing and access to safe shelters for women and children victims of violence and abuse.
“I know that we have to start somewhere, but this is just drop in the bucket for what is needed to resolve homelessness in northern Saskatchewan. Communities like Hatchet Lake and Sandy Bay are still struggling for shelter,” added Jolibois. “I am hopeful that this is only the first step in many to invest in affordable housing.”
On the issue of housing in Saskatchewan, it has been the province’s policy to sell low-income housing units to help balance its books. The risk of losing subsidized housing in northern Saskatchewan has raised major concerns considering the high rate of homelessness in the region. The high cost of food prices, utilities, lack of transportation and adequate roads compounds issues such as access to essential services thus places northerners at risk and entrenches the poverty and homelessness cycle.
On December 8, 2015, MP Jolibois highlighted the challenges relating to access to women shelters in her riding:
“In northern Saskatchewan, we only have one women’s shelter for 40 000 people. That is one structure for all of northern Saskatchewan that women and children can go to escape violence.”
On October 27, 2016, MP Jolibois raised the issue of overcrowded homes in northern Saskatchewan:
“This brings me to the topic of the shortage of foster homes in my riding. When a child is apprehended, he or she is either placed in a home that is overcrowded, or taken out of his or her community to where a foster home is found. For example, when I visited Hatchet Lake First Nation a few months ago it was shared with me that there was a home that sheltered 21 individuals, including small children. What is more, the foster families' support group in northern Saskatchewan has been continuously asking for support to train and work with foster families until this day.”
On November 30, 2016, MP Jolibois:
“In northern Saskatchewan there are sparse options for access to shelters and limited support for victims and abusers. Individuals end up further entrenched in the cycle of abuse and poverty”
This year, the Conference Board of Canada echoed the reality of lack of access to housing. MP Jolibois conveyed the remarks to the federal government back on February 10, 2017:
“Mr. Speaker, the Conference Board of Canada has released a report confirming the shortfall in infrastructure funding in northern and indigenous communities. The report states that a long list of northern and aboriginal concerns needs to be addressed. We are talking about access to safe water, housing, roads, Internet, cell coverage, and power. When will the Liberals acknowledge these rights and provide the urgently needed services?”