Federal Minister Touts New Social Housing Dollars

The federal government is getting back behind the wheel after taking a backseat for 20 years on the issue of social housing.

The Minister for Families, Children and Social Development was in Windsor today pitching his government's new federal budget.

Jean-Yves Duclos says the $11.2-billion in funding over 10 years for social housing is a significant investment to address the need that's out there in Canada. He says the government hasn't been as active as it should be on the file, but says that changes with the new federal budget.

In Windsor there is a waitlist of over 3,000 families and individuals looking to get into affordable housing. The minister says the problem is widespread.

"Across Canada there are currently about a million Canadians who live in housing conditions that are either not suitable or not affordable," says Duclos. "With the investment we announced yesterday, about a third of these Canadians would be taken out of these unaffordable or unsuitable living conditions. That would be true in this area as well."

Commissioner of Community Development and Health Services with the City of Windsor, Jelena Payne, attended the roundtable meeting today hosted by the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.

She was looking for details from the minister on how the money is going to be dished out.

"I was very happy to hear there's going to be some relationships and agreements definitely between the federal and municipal government and that it will be more of a hybrid approach moving forward," says Payne. "Some of the funding will flow through the provincial government, which we're used to now, and others will come directly to the municipalities."


Minister for Families, Children and Social Development, Jean-Yves Duclos, visits Windsor to pitch the federal governments budget on March 23, 2017. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

However, Payne thinks it may be some time before Windsor sees any of the money promised in the budget.

"We were told there's definitely going to be announcements and there's definitely going to be program development over the next several months to a year and then the funds will start to roll out after that," says Payne.

Duclos says the committment by the federal government in the latest budget looks to correct a previous absence of federal leadership.

"The federal government over the last 20 years has taken a backseat role in assisting the housing conditions of Canadians — that's changing since yesterday."

Duclos says the issue of social housing has been brought up time and time again by municipalities.

"Housing conditions are sometimes putting severe strains on families — for physical safety, mental health, the ability to find a job, to do well in the community, to send children to school," says Duclos.

The minister also touted the federal government's strategic innovation fund targeted at key sectors across the country, including advanced manufacturing and agri-food industries important to Windsor-Essex.