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How can Canada continue to support access to affordable housing and basic services?

over 3 years ago
CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

Stable, affordable housing and basic services are the foundation for healthy living and a building block for success in other areas such as education, the labour market and community engagement. In addition to the nation-wide $2 billion annual investment in affordable housing, the Government of Canada is committed to improving the lives of Indigenous people through the provision of basic services. To address these pressing needs, the Government of Canada will invest $8.4 billion over the next five years to improve community infrastructure, water and wastewater facilities, education and family support, and housing.

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  • Nigel Bart over 3 years ago
    Housing First initiatives like the At Home/Chez Soi program by the MHCC are important. People with mental health issues are most likely to live in unsafe slums as well as being homeless. The issue of mental illness and housing is very important and we need to support this demographic to find safer housing.
  • JAredMcG over 3 years ago
    One of the best ways to improve access to affordable services is to encourage the development of intensified public transit infrastructure. When public transit infrastructure is more accessible, services that are out of reach of someone without access to a car become dramatically easier to access. It is the ease of movement through spaces that allows people easy access to the services that they need. Further, investing and developing far more social housing in the highly accessible central areas of cities is very important. By ensuring that an individual or family never spends more than 30% of their income on housing (for example in a rent-geared-to-income model), it ensures that they have more funds to access other services that they may need. With more social housing, a form of housing that is built with the intent of people living in it, more vibrant and durable cities are the result. Further, a great tactic to encouraging accessibility is building diverse cities with various types of housing directly adjacent to one another. For example, middle income housing built alongside and intermingled with cheaper to rent apartments.
  • JLaPalme over 3 years ago
    In 1996, the Habitat Agenda and plan of action which followed the Habitat II Istanbul conference had many references to the co-operative sector and some very useful references to the co-operative housing sector - particularly paragraphs 40(h), 61(b)(iii) and 82. By comparison, the latest draft of the New Urban Agenda (NUA), has only three references to co-operatives and none to the overall co-operative sector. The first reference is to co-operative business: 56. “We commit to promote an enabling, fair, and responsible business environment, based on the principles of environmental sustainability and inclusive prosperity, promoting investments, innovations, and entrepreneurship. We also commit to address the challenges faced by local business communities, through supporting micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises and co-operatives throughout the value chain, in particular businesses and enterprises in the social and solidarity economy, operating in both the formal and informal economies.” The second reference is to collective tenure: 103. “We will encourage developing policies, tools, mechanisms, and financing models that promote access to a wide range of affordable, sustainable housing options including rental and other tenure options, as well as co-operative solutions such as co-housing, community land trust, and other forms of collective tenure, that would address the evolving needs of persons and communities, in order to improve the supply of housing, especially for low-income groups and to prevent segregation and arbitrary forced evictions and displacements, guaranteeing the provision of dignified and adequate re-allocation. This will include support to incremental housing and self-build schemes, with special attention to slums and informal settlements upgrading programs.” I propose replacing “and other forms of collective tenure” to "as well as other forms of collective tenure including housing co-operatives, co-housing and land trusts." The final reference is in a paragraph regarding financing. The current wording was accepted at the recent Preparatory Committee III meeting in Surabaya, however the term “money lenders” should be deleted and only the words "co-operative and microfinance banks" should remain. Private sector lenders for the most part charge elevated interest rates that drive families into debt and slavery. 136. “We will support the development of appropriate and affordable housing finance products; and encourage the participation of a diverse range of multilateral financial institutions, regional development banks and development finance institutions; co-operation agencies; private sector lenders and investors, co-operative and microfinance banks to invest in affordable and incremental housing in all its forms.” I propose adding “co-operatives” to the lists in paragraphs 46 and 121. It is important for co-operatives to be included in both the Commitments and Implementation sections of the document. Co-operatives fall between the private sector and civil society. 46. “We encourage effective participation and collaboration among all stakeholders, including local governments, the private sector, civil society, co-operatives, women and youth organizations, as well as those representing persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, professionals, academic institutions, trade unions, employers’ organizations, migrant associations, and cultural associations, in ascertaining the opportunities for urban economic development as well as in identifying and addressing existing and emerging challenges.” 121. “We recognize that the implementation of the New Urban Agenda requires an enabling environment and a wide range of means of implementation including access to science, technology, and innovation and enhanced knowledge sharing on mutually agreed terms, capacity development, and mobilization of financial resources, tapping into all available traditional and innovative sources at the global, regional, national, subnational, and local levels as well as enhanced international cooperation and partnerships among Governments at all levels, the private sector, the co-operative sector, civil society and the United Nations System, and other actors, based on the principles of equality, non-discrimination, accountability, respect of human rights, including the right to development, and solidarity, especially with those that are the poorest and most vulnerable.”
  • JLaPalme over 3 years ago
    The global housing deficit is a chronic multi-generational problem and represents a huge challenge for global actors in housing. There remains an enormous gap, in both the developed and the developing world, between the need for decent, affordable housing and its availability. Simply delivering more market housing can help on the supply side, but not where there is no effective demand for market-priced housing from those whose housing need is the most urgent. To meet this need, a values-based rather than a price-based solution is required. Housing co-operatives can play a valuable role in the delivery of housing solutions. Co-operatives create wealth for the many members of co-operatives who engage in co-operative businesses as service users, producers, independent business owners, consumers, and workers…” It is this defining feature that separates co-operative forms of housing from traditional market owner-occupier or investor-owned housing and creates the potential for community housing that is operated by and for the resident members and not for the purpose of profit, personal or corporate.
  • jacksonnicole over 3 years ago
    Affordable housing needs to be addressed by considering both the factors of built form (how do we ensure we have enough units, that they are well designed, appropriately maintained) and the users (who lives there, for how long, how is community created). From a policy-making perspective, we thus need to consider both capital investments and operating dollars (for the "housing" side of "affordable housing") - but also how directly intertwined the issues of the (in)adequacy of social assistance are tied into this issue (the "affordable" in "affordable housing"). Mixed use/mixed rent structures, the use of mincome, the separation of financial housing support from other financial support (i.e. housing vouchers) should all be considered.
  • mgifford over 3 years ago
    Well, the Coop sector did a pretty good job of filling that gap at one point. It fell out of favour with politicians at some point, but still is serving the needs of many urban Canadians. Would be nice if there were new coops being started again with government support.
  • Jayx1ca over 3 years ago
    Affordable housing in Toronto could be achieved by removing the green belt and zoning laws. When there is more access to land, the land cost becomes cheaper and more affordable to obtain. Not everyone wants to live in tiny condos.
  • Franklin Thomas over 3 years ago
    IT IS TIME FOR CANADA TO BUILD A NEW WORLD EXPOSITION TOTALLY SUSTAINABLE CITY !! Transforming our Human Habitat into a livable, workable, and sustainable, Urban Ecology is the greatest challenge facing Mankind today; and the Inevitable Evolution and Destiny of the Global Science of Urban Man. It is time for Canada to demonstrate to the World its ingenuity and leadership as it enters into a New Age of Urban Ecological Sustainability!! We propose that the Government of Canada present an URBAN DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM as defined in the NATIONAL PLANS OF ACTION at the HABITAT II - Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements; and that it initiate a World Exposition and Demonstration Project, such as, for example, our BOREALIS CITY Program: BOREALIS will become a permanent World Centre dedicated to the Advancement of Humankind by first demonstrating a community/village in balance with Nature. Guided by the philosophy that totally sustainable and advanced technological development can occur with a near zero negative impact on our natural ecology. These technologies now exist around the Earth - they just need to be brought together in one place and integrated: IMAGINE the economic benefits such a project would bring to Canada! Considering that Tourism will be the largest Industry on Earth, think of the millions of people who would pilgrimage to view its workings, to license its many discoveries and Patents, and to enroll in its courses. We could invite nations to finance and build their own unique Community Clusters, drawing some of the finest minds in the world to Canada. Think of the sustainable jobs that it will create. Think of the Interest and Excitement! Think of its Advertising Potential! An ideal location would be west of Edmonton towards the Super Natural Banff/Jasper National Parks? Imagine the Future - a Future that we are all uniquely empowered to pioneer: BOREALIS could not be a "pill" for all our planet's ills; but instead, an example of what we are trying to eventually achieve. It will be a beacon light, showing the World humankind's future New Millennium. It will be an effort worthy of Canadians and the Human Race; and make us a world leader in the Science of Humankind. Pioneers in Urban-Ecological Sustainability: The Peace Environmental Research Centre Foundation:
  • Chris Drouillard over 3 years ago
    Trinity Post and Panel Inc. This Canadian company has developed a new patented construction system that can be utilized across Canada. This construction system exceeds building codes, is energy star rated, Class 1 fire rating and resists mold. The homes constructed using this new building technology are appraised to have a useful life of 100 years. The cost is standardized and equivalent to traditional stick framed homes. This technology will improve the minimum standards of housing, improves equity, improves safety, improves energy efficiencies. 100% Canadian owned, using 100% Canadian products in the manufacturing process. Eco-Friendly and Sustainable
  • MIA almost 4 years ago
    It is important to identify the different types of people within Canada that require affordable housing; this can include low income individuals or families, those with mental or physical disabilities or impairments, and Canada’s Indigenous community. When looking at providing affordable housing, it is critical to consider location, surrounding communities (both physical environment and population) and quality of construction and materials. Perhaps the government can reevaluate the current methods of construction of affordable housing, and the physical designs and materials used. If housing is built to a higher standard, it will last longer and offer a greater overall quality of life. Good design can save both time and money in the long run, and it can have a tangible impact on how life is lived. Another option could be a consideration of mortgage and interest rates, along with subsidy programs that extend beyond those with disabilities. Programs should be easy to access and require minimized effort and wait time; ultimately reducing stress and frustration.
  • kmullin almost 4 years ago
    Understanding affordability as a combination of many factors rather than a simple calculation of housing cost relative to income is fundamental to providing Canadians with affordable housing options. For example the housing and transportation index developed by the Center for Neighborhood Technology ( in the United States provides data community connectivity as well as affordability to prevent projects which would only provide a false sense of affordability. This could also be built on, providing data on availability, accessibility and quality of preschool, primary, secondary and post secondary in the area.
  • sharongregson almost 4 years ago
    In 2016 it is vital to remember that the vast majority of mothers in Canada are in the paid workforce and our children need access to quality affordable child care services. Infrastructure investment has to include child care capital in getting quality spaces built, with operating funds from provincial/federal governments. Child care availability and cost is as much of a crisis as housing for Canadians with young children. BC has a $10aDay Plan which could be a perfect example of how governments and community work together to build and deliver needed public services.
  • Marika Morris almost 4 years ago
    There has been an affordable housing crisis in Canada, particularly certain cities, for a number of decades now. The private sector cannot and will not invest in affordable housing because that is not their business - their business is to make money. It is a better and quicker return on investment to construct expensive condos or upscale housing developments for sale. The answer is not to provide incentives for the private sector, as this would be taxpayers' money split into housing plus profits, rather than invested completely in housing. The answer is to provide up front investment to not-for-profit housing developers who are committed to providing safe, affordable, mixed-income rental units and who re-invest the income from rents into repairs, maintenance and the construction of new housing. A good model for this type of housing is the Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation (CCOC). There are other specialized not-for-profit housing providers, such as Salus, which has supportive housing for people living with mental health issues, and cooperatives, which provide a community for residents. The Government of Canada could also help in the use and acquisition of land for such housing, such as Crown lands. Housing First ( is a proven strategy: House people with addictions, mental health issues and/or financial difficulties so that they have the stability to move forward and seek treatment, find employment, continue education or whatever they need to do to make a better life. Being on the streets or in shelters increases people's vulnerability to violence and poor health. The cost of affordable housing for all is less than the cost of the repeated emergency room visits, policing and the "secure" housing of jails. Stable housing for families also means fewer moves between schools and better school performance. In this, the Government of Canada needs to learn from some western European models in which homelessness and insecure housing are greatly reduced. Housing is a basic need, and many of the rights we have in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, such as security of the person, cannot be guaranteed without it.
  • aflynn almost 4 years ago
    The Federation of Canadian Municipalities recently developed a forward-looking plan for urban housing and homelessness, available here: This plan was developed in partnership with municipal leaders across the country. The University of Toronto also wrote a helpful think piece on the subject of affordable housing - Fundamentally, after many years of neglect, social housing, affordable housing and homelessness are in desperate need of federal attention. The support outlined in the federal budget is an excellent first step, however dedicated attention to affordable housing within cities is needed, in particular the legal tools that may enable private sector construction and new housing forms.