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View Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Profile
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Motion No. 59, which was moved in the House by my Liberal colleague from London West.
I commend my colleague for her idea and her compassion because Motion No. 59 addresses an issue that strikes home with me. We are debating the federal framework on housing for individuals with non-visible disabilities.
As members know, the Bloc Québécois is always prepared to support anything that is fair, noble and good for Quebec. As it happens, Motion No. 59 is actually vitally important. It is a non-binding motion that does not infringe on Quebec's jurisdictions under the agreement between Quebec and Ottawa on the national housing strategy, which allows Quebec to set its own housing priorities.
In Quebec, no one registers with the government or the CMHC to obtain federal support. No one turns to Ottawa for housing assistance. It is also important to understand that Quebec implemented the shelter allowance program in 1997 when the federal finance minister at the time made drastic budget cuts.
That strategy, which is now 25 years old, serves Quebeckers and provides them with essential support. The program has been around for 25 years in Quebec, which was able to improve its own programs because it got compensation from the federal government. By withdrawing from the federal program, Quebec was able to provide better support than anywhere else in Canada.
Once again, it is apparent to me that Quebec is a model for the federal government. Indeed, Quebec always wants to take care of its citizens, and that is evident in many other programs. It is in our nature.
I am speaking in today's debate in hopes that my colleague from London West will express this wish to cabinet and that the Minister of Finance of Canada will understand how essential it is to help people with a non-visible disability. I hope that the budget, which will be tabled in a few days, will reflect our desire to help our constituents. Once again, it must be done in accordance with transfer agreements between Ottawa and Quebec.
I would now like to address everyone who is listening in my riding of Laurentides—Labelle. I am certain that all 337 of my colleagues will identify with some of the stories I am about to tell them. They are unique, but, unfortunately, universal.
I will start the tour of my riding in Saint-Rémi-d'Amherst. A few years ago, Alain was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. He regrettably was forced to retire much earlier than planned in the beautiful cottage that he and his wife had just purchased for their golden years, as they are called.
Alain and his wife had to raid the nest egg they had built up for their retirement to undertake a major remodelling of their home so that Alain could spend as much time there as possible despite his illness. As we know, Parkinson's specifically affects mobility. They needed larger doors, wider hallways and a ramp instead of stairs to get from their car to the front door. They also had to add a room to the main floor so he would no longer have to go upstairs. These renovations cost thousands of dollars.
Fortunately for them, they had the means. They were able to do it, but they had to dip into the savings they had earmarked for a comfortable retirement. This couple should have gotten help as soon as they could, not 10 years after the diagnosis.
My father had ALS. He was lucky enough to be able to rely on his family. This illness swiftly impairs a person's motor control. My father had to sell his house and find housing that would accommodate the limitations caused by his illness.
At the time, which was not so long ago, there was no housing that would meet his needs in Mont-Laurier. My father could no longer find a place to live. The house was too big, too difficult to renovate. He had to wait a year before he could move because there was a building being constructed. He was lucky, but we know that not everyone has the means or the time to wait around. That is a double whammy.
Before I became a member of Parliament, I was the director of the Corporation de développement communautaire des Hautes-Laurentides. Community organizations have been sounding the alarm for years. We know that, we have heard it often enough. The need for housing is pressing for everyone. Imagine for a moment what it is like for people with a non-visible disability. For more than two decades now, the sector has been desperate to be heard, for the government to do something meaningful. Unfortunately, austerity always comes at the expense of the most vulnerable.
Of course the motion comes from a good place. We support it. The government needs to acknowledge and address the real needs on the ground.
Since I have a few minutes left, I want to talk about what is actually happening on the ground. Let us consider the owner of a rental unit. Obviously many people would be lining up to rent the space, because there is a housing shortage. The landlord might be unlikely to rent to someone with a disability, because certain constraints could make the rental unit unsuitable. This leads to a double whammy of prejudice. People with disabilities are twice as vulnerable to prejudice. They are victims of marginalization.
We must take action. In order to support these individuals, we need to help those who are in a position to adapt housing for people with disabilities. We also need to help people who cannot afford what they need and end up having to move, often into rental housing. People with disabilities are more vulnerable and live in more precarious situations, which is why it is important to provide affordable housing adapted to their needs. There is not enough of this kind of housing.
The reality facing those who are vulnerable and too often forgotten is very important to me. According to the Canadian Survey on Disability, it is estimated that 11% of people need ramps, 7% need widened entranceways and hallways, and 6% need lifts like the ones we had at home for my father.
Clearly, this is essential to helping people remain in their homes. However, for these accommodations to occur, people with disabilities and landlords must be provided with substantial assistance to renovate their homes to ensure that this customer base has a housing pool that meets their needs. We would like to see an end to the complacent attitude the government takes towards issues facing people with disabilities, when solutions do exist and should have been presented in a government bill.
View Majid Jowhari Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Majid Jowhari Profile
2023-03-20 11:13 [p.12236]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to stand in the House today to participate in the debate on a very important and crucial private member's motion, Motion No. 59, housing for persons with disabilities.
Far too many Canadians have difficulty finding affordable and suitable housing. In my riding of Richmond Hill, organizations such as Blue Door make a difference every day for people facing housing and affordability challenges. Last month, I joined the Coldest Night of the Year fundraising walk in Richmond Hill, where I truly felt our community's strong warmth and affection in the cost weather outside.
Affordability challenges are particularly difficult for people with disabilities. They struggle to find accessible and affordable supportive housing solutions that meet their individual needs.
Our government recognizes that the housing needs of people with disabilities are especially urgent. We understand that being part of the community and living as independently as possible are among the most important values and goals shared by people with disabilities and their families. Having a safe and affordable place to call home is a cornerstone of independence, not just for them but for everyone in our society.
The national housing strategy was designed to address the needs of vulnerable populations, including people with disabilities, visible or invisible. It is the largest and most ambitious federal housing program in Canadian history. This 10-year plan to give more Canadians a place to call home is now backed by more than $82 billion in investments.
The national housing strategy puts people first and recognizes that housing is essential to the inherent dignity and well-being of the person and to building sustainable and inclusive communities. The strategy considers human rights-based principles of accountability, participation, non-discrimination and inclusion.
Its goal is to ensure that more Canadians across the country can access housing that meets their needs and that they can afford. Since launching the national housing strategy, we have helped create, maintain or repair more than 36,000 units of accessible housing across Canada.
This private member's motion seeks to further support the government in upholding a federal framework to improve access to adaptable, affordable housing for individuals with non-visible disabilities, such as mental health, with four objectives: first, prioritizing the creation and repair of accessible housing through NHS programs; second, assuring that vulnerable populations, especially disabled individuals, have access to inclusive, affordable and adequate housing; third, requiring a national housing council specialist on visible and non-visible disability to advice ministers on disability housing policy; and fourth, amending section 4 of the National Housing Strategy Act to recognize disability-related housing impediments.
In the spirit of this private member's motion, the government will continue its work on reducing barriers and increasing access to affordable housing for people with disabilities and a better understanding of how to best support their needs.
One of the ways we are addressing the particular needs of individuals with disabilities, especially invisible disabilities, is by requiring projects funded through the NHS programs to meet minimum accessibility requirements.
For example, a cornerstone program of the strategy, the $13.7-billion national housing co-investment fund, focuses on developing accessible, socially inclusive housing.
Every project supported through this fund must ensure that at least 20% of housing units meet accessibility standards and that common areas are barrier-free or that the entire project has full universal design. Projects that go above and beyond these minimum requirements are naturally prioritized for funding. I am pleased to say that we are already seeing success.
In Cambridge, Ontario alone, our government is investing nearly $15 million under the co-investment fund to create 55 new mixed-income homes that will provide support for individuals with mental illness and physical disabilities.
The new residential building that will also support the regional indigenous people will feature affordable units along with visiting support services. Accessibility is central to the design of the building, which will include units with universal design, fully accessible units and common areas with many accessibility features. The project broke ground in the spring of 2021 and is expected to be completed in the spring of 2023.
There are numerous other examples like this from coast to coast to coast, made possible by the national housing strategy. Our government believes in giving everyone a chance to succeed. That is why we are extremely pleased to support this wonderful project and many others.
Another important way in which our government is currently addressing the housing needs for those most vulnerable is through the National Housing Strategy Act. The act, which came into force in 2019, states that “housing is essential to the inherent dignity and well-being of the person and to building sustainable and inclusive communities as well as a strong national economy in which the people of Canada can prosper and thrive”.
The act requires that the national housing strategy focus on improving housing outcomes for those in greatest need, which includes persons with disabilities. It sets out that the housing policy of the Government of Canada is, among other things, to “recognize that the right to adequate housing is a fundamental human right affirmed in international law” and to “further the progressive realization of the right to adequate housing as recognized in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”. The National Housing Strategy Act also created the National Housing Council, an advisory body established to promote participation and inclusion in the development of housing policy.
Ministerial appointees to the council were selected through a public call for applications encouraging a broad cross-section of experts. The council’s members include participants and leaders from the not-for-profit sector, the private sector and academia. The council also includes individuals representing people with lived expertise in housing need or homelessness, as well as members of vulnerable populations. Getting advice from the National Housing Council is one of the many ways we understand and consider the diverse needs of vulnerable populations when developing housing policy and as we continue to deliver our national housing strategy.
Individuals with disabilities, visible or non-visible, deserve to live with dignity. They deserve to be full participants in our society. Housing is a major factor in making this possible. Through the projects I have described and many others, we are providing accessible, safe and affordable homes to a great number of individuals with disabilities. In doing so, we are strengthening whole communities across Canada.
I want to close by applauding the member for London West for her leadership and advocacy on this file. Providing safe, adequate and affordable places to live, to call home, for people who need them most is a top priority for this government. We are investing in the development of more inclusive and accessible communities through programs under the national housing strategy to prioritize projects that include accessibility features. This is why I urge everyone in the House to support Motion No. 59 to ensure that every Canadian, regardless of their disabilities, has access to the barrier-free housing they need.
View Scott Aitchison Profile
View Scott Aitchison Profile
2023-03-20 11:23 [p.12237]
Madam Speaker, it is always an honour to rise in the House on behalf of the people of Parry Sound—Muskoka to talk about the issues that matter to them. Obviously, the affordability of life is a key issue in Parry Sound—Muskoka. Trying to find a home is a big issue. Housing is probably the number one issue in Parry Sound—Muskoka. It is not just the big cities of Toronto and Vancouver where the tent cities are growing; it is in small cities and small rural communities as well. People cannot find homes to live in.
A few weeks ago, I spoke to a business owner in Huntsville who had just hired a new welder. He was excited about this, but that welder quit a few weeks later because he simply could not find a place to live in Huntsville within his budget. It is a story I hear over and over again. People are making the right choices. They get a good education, work hard and pay their bills, yet because of the housing crisis, they struggle to put a roof over their heads in the places they want to be and need to be. Yes, in case there is any question, it is a crisis.
Motion No. 59 recognizes the need for special consideration for some of the most vulnerable in our society, individuals with non-visible disabilities. It calls on the government to work with stakeholders to improve access. Conservatives support this, and we do so happily, but with some cause for hesitation because we have watched the government's record for eight years, particularly when it comes to housing. The housing situation, after eight years under the government, is now worse than ever. House prices have doubled and rent has doubled. After eight years of the government and the promise of a transformational national housing strategy, the housing situation in Canada has never been worse.
The CEO of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Romy Bowers, had this to say at the Affordable Housing Summit hosted by Scotiabank:
Things are at a crisis point for the middle class, but also particularly for vulnerable Canadians. Inflation is still not under control, the Bank of Canada is increasing interest rates and many economists are forecasting a modest recession for the first half of 2023.
Many households, especially first-time buyers, are taking on debt that is excessive. That’s a real concern, especially during an economic downturn because when people are highly leveraged, it creates a lot of instability in the economy, but also pain for households.
I do not know why the Minister of Housing will not acknowledge what his officials seem to acknowledge, that there is a crisis. They even acknowledge that inflation is still out of control and interest rates continue to rise. Of course, this has real-life consequences for Canadians. High interest rates, made worse by Liberal inflationary borrowing, mean that too many Canadians are paying higher mortgages but not paying down any of the debt. Many Canadians going to renew their mortgages this summer or fall may find out they cannot afford their houses anymore.
That is not how it is supposed to work. That is not the sunny ways that Canadians were promised. That is not a transformational housing policy. Canadians were promised that, if they work hard, go to school, get an education and pay their bills, they will get ahead, but that is not what is happening. Too many Canadians cannot afford to get into homes.
Now we have a government that has announced a housing accelerator fund. The Minister of Housing seems to have figured out that it is a supply issue. He said, in fact, “We recognize that the key to increasing housing affordability is to boost the supply of homes available to Canadians.” That is great after eight years. For eight years now, the government has been subsidizing demand with $500 rent subsidy cheques and a savings account that actually, for first-time homebuyers, make things more expensive. All of this borrowing drives historic inflation and historic interest rates, which puts homes further and further away for Canadians.
The accelerator fund is supposed to create 100,000 new units for the cool price tag of $4 billion. Let us put that into context. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation says that Canada needs 5.8 million new housing units by 2030 to make homes affordable again. If we spread 100,000 units across this entire country, it is a very tiny drop in what I see as an ocean-sized bucket, so forgive me if I find this program just a little insulting. How can we expect the government to get this right when it has had eight years and has not gotten it right yet?
When NIMBY local councillors here in Ottawa blocked 80 new units from being built, the minister did not lift a finger. He does not want to take on the NIMBYs and he does not want to challenge municipalities. He does not want to hold them accountable either. He may think touring the country and announcing a few dozen units here and a few dozen units there is solving the problem, but Canadians know the truth. It is not.
Now we are to trust the new transformational housing plan, but of course the Liberals' first one made things worse, and they are already failing Canadians who have disabilities when it comes to housing.
I will give an example from Parry Sound—Muskoka. Community Living South Muskoka supports over 400 individuals and their families living with developmental disabilities in the south end of Muskoka. It dreamed of building a housing complex to support families, to support these folks, with wraparound supports. It was going to put a roof over their heads and help them live healthy, active and engaged lives in the community.
It had a beautiful piece of property and had the drawings done. It had the municipality on board, and the zoning was done. It had the District of Muskoka's support and even had private support. Then it got to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the endless applications, the delays and the red tape. It gave up. It quit and sold the land. It had a dream of helping Canadians living in south Muskoka with development disabilities, and the bureaucracy crushed it because the organization just could not get through the quagmire of bureaucracy.
Covenant House Vancouver built a beautiful new building. It received $12 million from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. It raised a lot of money privately. It had the support of the local municipality, private donations and even a celebrity endorsement from Ryan Reynolds. Of course, it cost it $1 million in consulting fees to get $12 million from the CMHC. Imagine that, for an organization like Covenant House Vancouver, with all those resources, a prime ministerial endorsement and a celebrity endorsement, it still cost it $1 million. There is no hope for small community organizations like Community Living.
Health care workers are living in tents. Students are living in homeless shelters. It costs $2,500 a month to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto. Government delays, permits and red tape add over $600,000 to every single residential housing unit in the city of Vancouver. We have the lowest number of homes in the G7. Nine out of 10 young people who do not own a home in this country believe they never will.
In 2022, on average, three people suffering from homelessness died every week in the city of Toronto. We have a housing minister who is unwilling to call this what it is, a crisis.
Conservatives understand what is going on. We understand it is a crisis. We do not accept the status quo, because it is a failure. We do not accept the NIMBY city councillors who reject more housing. We do not accept young people being locked out of home ownership.
Conservatives reject the status quo. We embrace a pro-housing agenda, and we will deliver housing for all Canadians by leveraging federal funding to cities and holding them accountable to get the job done. We will incentivize the private sector by removing roadblocks that delay construction. We will push to densify our communities with the infrastructure dollars to support making that happen.
The Conservative plan provides the incentive and the accountability for municipalities to get the job done. We will withhold federal cheques to municipalities that give in to the NIMBYs and we will provide housing bonuses for cities that are committed and dedicated to streamlining approvals and boosting home building.
Conservatives say, “Yes, in my backyard.” Conservatives say yes to building more homes faster. Conservatives say, “We will bring it home.”
View Sylvie Bérubé Profile
Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois supports Motion No. 59 regarding a federal framework on housing for individuals with non-visible disabilities.
This motion does not encroach on Quebec's areas of jurisdiction. Under the Canada-Quebec housing agreement, Ottawa gives Quebec the leeway to determine its housing priorities.
This motion highlights the situation faced by many people with non-visible disabilities that affect their quality of life. In particular, it shines a light on access to adapted and affordable housing. I want to point out that the Bloc Québécois recognizes that people living with visible and non-visible disabilities constitute a vulnerable population.
The federal government refused to accept an asymmetrical agreement with Quebec that takes into account the fact that we already have our our own social housing programs and, as a result, it took two years to conclude the Canada-Quebec housing agreement. This unacceptable delay, which can only be explained by a reluctance to recognize that Quebec society operates somewhat differently, has caused a backlog that is difficult to clear, given the ballooning construction costs and labour shortages.
Even though no one in Quebec looks to Ottawa for housing support, the fact remains that the years that Quebec has spent waiting for the federal government to transfer national housing strategy funds with no strings attached have had an impact on the availability of housing in Quebec. That has also affected people with visible and non-visible disabilities.
Before we move forward with this motion, it is important to define what is meant by a non-visible disability. A non-visible disability is one that cannot easily be seen, one that might not be noticed if the person does not talk about it. Still, the disorder can have a serious impact on the person's quality of life. The concept of a non-visible disability is complex and applies to many disabilities, including sensory, mental or cognitive disabilities. This term is widely used in all sorts of contexts as an excuse to not see or understand.
The problems involved vary greatly. They are not comparable to each other and the term non-visible disability applies to a wide range of realities. This is not about a non-visible disability; it is about non-visible disabilities. An estimated 80% of reported disabilities are non-visible. For example, a non-visible disability may be impaired vision or hearing, a mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, dyslexia or dyspraxia, or a chronic illness.
Recognition is the major obstacle facing people living with such disabilities. The absence of visible physical manifestations, such as a wheelchair for example, elicits far less sympathy. This non-recognition of their disability by their community may affect their mental health. The lack of understanding or indulgence by the people around them may cause mental anguish in people with a non-visible disability.
It is also important to talk about the purpose of the national housing strategy, which is to ensure the success of the Canadian housing sector by providing affordable housing to more people. The goal is to ensure that everyone has access to affordable housing that meets their needs. To that end, the strategy will prioritize support for the most vulnerable, including people with an invisible disability.
The national housing strategy seeks to pave the way for innovative research, data collection and housing demonstration projects. It seeks to fill knowledge gaps, bring forward the best ideas and shape future housing policy in Canada. It also seeks to provide the federal government with new opportunities for innovation through partnerships with community housing, co-operatives, the private sector and research groups.
Let us come back to Motion No. 59. In the preamble, the government is encouraged to continue working in consultation with various stakeholders who are co-operating with the federal government on housing to uphold a federal framework to improve access to adaptable affordable housing for individuals with non-visible disabilities.
The Bloc Québécois supports this position because, as I stated earlier, we recognize that people with disabilities are a vulnerable population.
The recommendation made in paragaph (a) makes a lot of sense because these groups face specific challenges to accessing housing as they often require specific accommodations.
Paragaph (b) of the motion implies the possibility of government inaction on this fundamental point. By including the recognition of the additional barriers to housing faced by persons with disabilities, the government would further legitimize the claims of this segment of the population. At the same time, it would facilitate the integration of inclusion measures in housing given that greater inclusion of people with disabilities in housing requires planning for significant investments.
The Bloc Québécois supports paragaph (c) because housing for persons with disabilities requires specific features that are vitally important to the quality of life of the vulnerable populations concerned. Furthermore, this proposal does not infringe on Quebec's jurisdiction.
However, the second part of paragaph (d) is poorly worded. It calls for special attention to be paid to persons with disabilities that have mobility issues or another disability. This paragaph is contradictory because we cannot ensure the equitable treatment of all groups if we focus on one group in particular. Although the second part of this paragaph focuses on persons with a disability, ideally the wording would be revised.
In my riding, people living with disabilities can count on the hard work and generosity of several organizations. I will not have enough time to talk about all of them, but I would like to highlight the great work being done by an organization called Ressource pour personnes handicapées Abitibi-Témiscamingue—Nord-du-Québec.
It is doing a terrific job of maintaining the gains that have been made in terms of support for people with disabilities and ensuring that they fully benefit from the financial resources available to them. It works with people with all types of disabilities, listening closely and offering helpful tools when people with disabilities are looking for a solution to a problem. Organizations like this one are an important part of the network of groups and associations working with people with disabilities.
I would like to talk about my friend Rémy Mailloux, who has been the organization's executive director since 1997. He has drive and confidence as well as cerebral palsy. At the age of 19, he started working as an administrator for the regional cerebral palsy association. He has an irresistible smile and an unwavering commitment to helping people with disabilities. He advocates on their behalf so that they can have a decent future, a better one. They need support from governments.
I would also like to highlight the work of the Club des handicapés de Val‑d'Or, which offers educational and social activities that promote skill development, self-esteem and social integration for people living with disabilities.
The Centre d'intégration physique de l'envol is another organization doing great work with people living with disabilities. It is, first and foremost, a living environment that gives people with disabilities a chance to integrate into society, but it is also an open door to the community, preventing them from becoming isolated. This centre gives people with disabilities a place to develop their abilities, their independence, their adaptability, and their communication and social skills, and it helps them feel they are full-fledged members of society.
There is also Vie autonome Abitibi‑Témiscamingue, an organization that does extraordinary work by promoting and facilitating the progressive empowerment of people with disabilities in developing and managing personal and community resources.
Lastly, I want to thank everyone at Groupe soleil de Malartic. This non-profit organization helps people with mental health issues reintegrate into society and improve their quality of life, by providing services such as medical transportation, food aid, trust management and a wide range of activities.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2023-03-20 11:42 [p.12240]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Motion No. 59 regarding a federal framework on housing for individuals with non-visible disabilities. I would like to thank the member for London West for putting forward this motion, which speaks to a very important issue.
The motion states that the government should work with stakeholders in upholding a federal framework to improve access to adaptable, affordable housing for individuals with non-visible disabilities. In doing so, it calls for consideration of the presence of an expert on persons with visible and non-visible disabilities on the National Housing Council, recognizing in the National Housing Strategy Act the barriers to housing faced by people with disabilities, prioritizing the creation of accessible units, and ensuring that the right to adequate housing is applied equitably.
New Democrats fully support a human rights-based approach to housing. This means that every single person in Canada must have access to safe, affordable and adequate housing as a fundamental and basic human right, yet far too many Canadians, especially those with a disability, are being left behind. An estimated 235,000 Canadians will experience homelessness this year, of whom 45% are living with a physical or mental disability. There is no doubt that the housing crisis disproportionately impacts Canadians living with a disability, many of whom are low-income and living in poverty on fixed incomes. This is not a new issue, but inflationary pressures and the financialization of housing are only making matters worse.
A 2017 submission from disability rights organizations to the UN special rapporteur on the right to housing outlined the many challenges and additional systemic barriers facing persons with disabilities in realizing their right to housing in Canada. The submission states that people with disabilities “are disproportionately homeless, living in poverty, subject to drastically restricted housing choices, subject to housing discrimination and likely to live in substandard housing. This is especially the case for Indigenous persons with disabilities.”
The submission also outlines that people experiencing serious mental illness and substance use disorder, or those with psychosocial disabilities, in addition to those with physical disabilities, face serious housing disparities. There is simply a lack of suitable supportive housing: “Only 19% of people with disabilities living in low-income households report receiving all of the support they need with everyday activities.” People with disabilities also experience discriminatory practices by landlords, including evictions and “failure to accommodate disability-related needs.”
This is unacceptable. Nobody in Canada should be denied the right to housing. However, successive governments have allowed corporate landlords to treat housing like a stock market instead of a basic human right.
According to the National Housing Strategy Act, which was passed in 2019, “the right to adequate housing is a fundamental human right affirmed in international law”. Under article 19 of the international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Canada has an obligation to adopt a human rights-based approach to housing. Despite these legal obligations, Canada is failing to ensure that people living with disabilities have adequate, accessible and affordable housing.
Five years have passed since the creation of the national housing strategy, and the results, so far, are deeply concerning. The recent Auditor General report revealed that the government does not even know whether housing units developed for people with disabilities under the national housing strategy were actually occupied by this population. The government is spending billions of dollars, yet it cannot even tell us if the units it is building are helping people and providing housing for persons with disabilities.
To make matters worse, the government is now excluding many people with disabilities from receiving the one-time $500 top-up to the Canada housing benefit, something the NDP fought for for people. At the last minute, the government added criteria to say that individuals on programs like disability assistance, where their rent is paid directly to the landlord by the assistance program, are not eligible. This is wrong. Instead of helping people with disabilities to afford rent, the government is punishing them.
To return to the topic of this specific motion, I will be putting forth some amendments to address what I see as some gaps. I am glad to see that the motion calls on the government to prioritize the creation and repair of accessible units through the national housing strategy programs. This is long overdue. New Democrats fully support the creation of accessible units.
In fact, the National Right to Housing Network is calling on the government to ensure all government-funded housing units are fully accessible and universally designed for persons with disabilities. Right now, in B.C. alone, thousands are on wait-lists with BC Housing to find accessible homes.
While it is essential that the national housing strategy recognizes the barriers to housing faced by persons with disabilities, as this motion calls for, it is not enough to just recognize barriers. The government must go beyond symbolic recognition and take real action to address systemic poverty and to adequately address the housing needs of people with disabilities.
These barriers have long been recognized by people living with disabilities and community advocates, those who understand and live this reality. In undertaking the work of ensuring people with disabilities have access to the housing, the government must engage with communities with lived experience. They are the true experts. They have the answers and understand what is needed to finally address this crisis.
To that end, I hope, with the support of the government, that the motion be amended as follows: in paragraph (a), by replacing the words “consider the presence of” with “include”, adding the words “with lived experience” after the words “an expert”, deleting the words “and that the expert”, inserting the word “to” after the words “National Housing Council” and replacing the word “provides” with “provide”; in paragraph (b), by replacing the words “consider amending” with “amend”; and adding paragraph (e), “ensure that the Government of Canada live up to its obligation under Article 19 of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to ensure equal rights and inclusion for persons with disabilities by adopting a human rights-based approach to housing in light of the fact that 45% of homeless Canadians have a disability”.
I hope that the government members would in fact support this amendment. I do not think the approach should be to say that we are asking the government to consider this, rather to say that action needs to be taken—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
I must interrupt the hon. member. Once the amendment is proposed, the hon. member must stop.
It is my duty to inform hon. members that pursuant to Standing Order 93(3), no amendment may be proposed to a private member's motion or the motion for second reading of a private member's bill unless the sponsor of the item indicates his or her consent.
Since the sponsor is not present to give her consent, the amendment cannot be moved at this time.
Resuming debate, the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2023-03-20 11:51 [p.12242]
Madam Speaker, let me start by recognizing that the member for London West has brought forward to the House a very important issue. Over the last number of years, we have seen the government take a very proactive approach in dealing with housing-related matters. Today, the member for London West, through this motion, has highlighted a critically important aspect to housing and the role that government needs to play: Having and improving access to adaptable, affordable housing is absolutely critical.
The manner in which the motion was brought forward heightens the importance of the issue and allows for additional debate. It is a great way to advocate for a community that really needs to get more recognition. It is quite surprising that we do not already have an expert with some understanding of visible and non-visible disabilities sitting on the National Housing Council. I respect the fact that the member for London West is advocating for that. I think it is long overdue, and I hope it takes place. I am not sure about all the individuals who were engaged and involved with the member in the drafting of the motion she brought forward, but I want to recognize that they have indeed brought forward an issue that is very important, no matter what area of the nation we are talking about.
At the very beginning, the motion talks about the importance of working with others. It is only with this government that, over the last number of years, we have seen the development of a national housing strategy, and we have seen the investment of hundreds of millions going into billions of dollars in non-profit housing. We have been a very proactive government in ensuring that the federal government has a role to play in housing. That is why I was somewhat surprised when the Conservative members stood in this place virtually being critical of the federal government, when the Conservative Party has given no support to non-profit housing. There are many Conservatives who believe the federal government has no role to play in regard to national housing.
We have been working diligently with the different governments, levels of government, indigenous governments and many different stakeholders to ensure that Canada is able to meet the types of housing needs that are going to be there. At least the national government is playing a strong leadership role.
We have seen budgetary measures that have incorporated historic amounts of money going into support for the creation of housing, for renovations to housing and for the greening of the housing industry. The government has worked with municipalities, provinces and indigenous nations to try to get the type of housing developed and renovated that is necessary.
In the province of Manitoba alone, there are tens of thousands of non-profit housing units. Non-profit housing takes into consideration many different things, such as housing co-ops. We have a government, in recent years, that has taken a very keen interest in the promotion and development of housing co-ops, something of which I have been a long-time advocate. Every year, millions of dollars are put toward ongoing operational costs to support the thousands of homes and low-income people in the province of Manitoba alone.
When we reflect on the resolution that we have before us today, it heightens the importance of people with non-visible physical and mental disabilities. We do need to put more of an emphasis on that. Ottawa does have a role to play, whether it is through the National Housing Council, the debates we have here in the House or the discussions that take place between the Minister of Housing and the provincial counterparts, to advocate and to ensure that we continue to support those initiatives at the community level.
For those who want to to be critical of this government, I would suggest they look at previous federal governments in Canada and tell me of one that has invested more in housing and has been there in a very real and tangible way, whether it is legislatively or from a budget perspective. They will find that there has not been a government that has been as progressive and as aggressive on the housing file as this in the last 40 or 50 years.
I will conclude on that thought and applaud the member for London West for bringing forward what I think is a motion that all members should be supporting.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
The hon. member for London West has the floor for her right of reply.
View Arielle Kayabaga Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arielle Kayabaga Profile
2023-03-20 11:57 [p.12242]
Madam Speaker, I just want to start by thanking my hon. colleagues who have spoken in support of the motion. We have not only heard from the House, but we have also heard from community members and have spent a year working on the motion. I appreciate the fact that everybody sees its importance.
I have had the honour and privilege of engaging many stakeholders serving members within the disability community. These stakeholders aim to address the different barriers and challenges facing many Canadians who live with disabilities, visible and non-visible, as they try to live their daily lives in Canada. Housing remains one of the most pressing ones.
Young women like Yvonne from London West who live with non-visible disabilities have a higher chance of being discriminated against when trying to access housing. When they do get the housing they are looking for, it does not always meet the accessibility needs they are experiencing.
Kate is a senior living in Toronto in a condo with her husband. She mentioned to me how hard it has been for her and her husband to find an accessible unit that adequately responds to her needs so that she can avoid falls, ambulance calls and hospitalizations.
We simply need to do better by Kate and her husband. In order to do that, we must have a concerted effort from every single level of government, whether municipal, provincial or federal. I hope we can accomplish this through the motion: I hope that, by adopting this motion, we can respond to the needs of Kate and Yvonne.
These are just two stories that I can share here, but the 13% of Canadians who live with visible and non-visible disabilities have many more stories that they can share with the House. Additionally, we have found that individuals living with disabilities experience a lot of poverty. Over 30% of adults with disabilities live in rental housing, and almost 45% of that group now live on low incomes, compared with 25% of Canadians without disabilities.
The national housing strategy is one of the greatest tools that our government has used to create and support the well-being of Canadians by providing affordable housing. Going a step forward to build affordable and accessible housing would not only transform the well-being of Canadians but also keep this country's leadership in serving Canadians.
I think that we all believe, in the House, that everybody deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. As a government, we believe that. We have spent seven years in government working towards that.
Last week, the Prime Minister launched the housing accelerator fund, helping to create 100,000 homes across the country and remove barriers to building more homes. My motion aims to remove the barriers and achieve accessibility for inclusive housing for all those living with non-visible disabilities.
Through the national housing strategy, we will create, maintain and repair more than 36,000 units of accessible housing across the country. I think we can continue to do more, and we will do more.
Safe, affordable and accessible housing is the bedrock of livable cities. We have to do this.
I want to thank the people of London West for allowing me to do this amazing work. I am also thankful to the amazing people who have worked with me on this motion for the past year. I want to start by thanking stakeholders from across the country. Just to name a few, there are Inclusion Canada, the Canadian Association for Community Living, the Accessible Housing Network and LiveWorkPlay, as well as individuals like Kate from Toronto and Yvonne from my riding of London West who have shared their voices with me to make sure that we pass this motion.
I also want to thank my colleagues and other members of government, like the member for Kanata—Carleton.
I am thankful to Erika, Stephane, Molly, Bay, Elie, Jerica, Chris and Kevin for supporting me and making sure that the language of this motion could come to the House. Lastly, I want to thank every single person who has advised me on this motion, seconded the motion and spoken to make sure that the members of their communities who live with non-visible disabilities are represented through the motion.
All Canadians deserve a safe and affordable place to call home, including those with visible and non-visible disabilities.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
The question is on the motion.
If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes that the motion be carried or carried on division or wishes to request a recorded division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.
The hon. member for London West.
View Arielle Kayabaga Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arielle Kayabaga Profile
2023-03-20 12:04 [p.12243]
Madam Speaker, I would like to request a recorded division.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 23, 2022, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, March 22, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.
View Michael Cooper Profile
View Michael Cooper Profile
2023-03-20 12:10 [p.12243]
That, given the many reports of foreign interference in Canada’s democratic processes by, or on behalf of, the communist regime in Beijing, the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics be empowered and instructed to study all aspects of foreign interference in relation to the 2019 and 2021 general elections, including preparations for those elections, and, to assist the committee with this study,
(a) Katie Telford, Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, be ordered to appear before the committee as a witness, for three hours on her own, under oath or solemn affirmation, at a date and time, no later than Friday, April 14, 2023, to be fixed by the Chair of the Committee;
(b) the following individuals be invited to appear as witnesses before the committee on dates and times to be fixed by the Chair of the Committee, but no later than Friday, May 19, 2023,
(i) the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, to appear on her own for two hours,
(ii) the President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness, to appear on his own for two hours,
(iii) the Minister of Public Safety, to appear on his own for two hours,
(iv) Morris Rosenberg, author of the assessment of the Critical Election Incident Public Protocol for the 2021 general election, to appear on his own for two hours,
(v) Janice Charette, Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, to appear on her own for two hours,
(vi) a panel consisting of the 2019 and 2021 national campaign directors for each recognized party in the House,
(vii) a panel consisting of the security-cleared party representatives to the Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections during the 2019 and 2021 general elections,
(viii) a panel consisting of the Hon. Ian Shugart, Greta Bossenmaier, Nathalie Drouin, Gina Wilson and Marta Morgan, members of the Critical Election Incident Public Protocol Panel during the 2019 general election,
(ix) James Judd, author of the assessment of the Critical Election Incident Public Protocol for the 2019 general election, to appear on his own,
(x) a panel consisting of David Morrison, François Daigle, Rob Stewart and Marta Morgan, members of the Critical Election Incident Public Protocol Panel during the 2021 general election,
(xi) David Vigneault, Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, to appear on his own for two hours,
(xii) John McCall MacBain former Chair of the Board of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation,
(xiii) Élise Comtois, former Executive Director of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation,
(xiv) the Hon. John McCallum, former Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, to appear on his own for one hour,
(xv) Jennifer May, Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, to appear on her own for one hour;
(c) for the purposes of this study, it be an instruction to the committee that,
(i) it hold at least one additional meeting, for a duration of three hours, during each House sitting week concerning this study,
(ii) it hold at least one meeting during the adjournment period beginning Friday, March 31, 2023, if necessary, for the purposes of paragraph (a),
(iii) any proceedings before the committee in relation to any motion concerning non-compliance with paragraph (a) of this order shall, if not previously disposed of, be interrupted upon the earlier of the completion of four hours of consideration or one sitting week after the motion was first moved and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the motion shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment;
(d) for the purposes of this study, the committee shall, notwithstanding paragraph (p) of the special order adopted on Thursday, June 23, 2022, have the first priority for the use of House resources for committee meetings; and
(e) the evidence and documentation adduced by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs during the current session in relation to its study of foreign election interference shall be deemed to have been laid upon the table and referred to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.
View Chris Warkentin Profile
Madam Speaker, on a point of order, pursuant to Standing Order 43(2)(a), I would like to inform the House that the remaining Conservative caucus speaking slots will be divided into two parts.
View Michael Cooper Profile
View Michael Cooper Profile
2023-03-20 12:10 [p.12244]
Madam Speaker, I rise to speak to our Conservative motion that, among other things, calls on the Prime Minister's chief of staff, Katie Telford, to testify about Beijing's election interference in 2019 and 2021. After all, Katie Telford, as the Prime Minister's chief of staff, is a critical witness for getting to the heart of this scandal. What does the Prime Minister know, when did he learn about it and what did he do or fail to do about Beijing's election interference?
While this motion is a test for the government, it is also a test for the NDP, because on three occasions at the procedure and House affairs committee, the NDP blocked Katie Telford from appearing before the committee. NDP members have a choice. They can continue to do the bidding of this corrupt Liberal government, propping up this corrupt Prime Minister, or they can work with us to protect the sanctity of the ballot box and the integrity of our elections by working to get the answers that Canadians deserve about Beijing's election interference in not one but two federal elections. We will soon find out what choice they make.
The key question that must be asked is this: What does the Prime Minister have to hide?
Since November, when reports of Beijing's interference in the 2019 and 2021 elections came to light, the Prime Minister has refused to come clean about what he knows. For two weeks, the Prime Minister was silent. Then the Prime Minister broke his silence in an effort to sow confusion and avoid accountability. The Prime Minister used carefully chosen words to say that he was not briefed about candidates receiving money from China. How convenient that is, because no one was ever saying that candidates received money from China. It is not as if Beijing writes cheques and hands them out to candidates. It is an absurdity.
What is at issue is a campaign of interference by Beijing in two federal elections, and on that issue, the Prime Minister has refused to answer the most basic of questions. He has refused to say how many times he was briefed. He has even refused to acknowledge that he had been briefed, even though it is now well established that the Prime Minister has been frequently briefed about Beijing's election interference. Indeed, the Prime Minister's own national security adviser, when she testified at the procedure and House affairs committee, acknowledged that the Prime Minister had been briefed frequently.
In a desperate attempt to change the channel, the Prime Minister has engaged in pathetic attacks, even going so far as to outrageously claim that those who want to get to the bottom of Beijing's interference, those who dare to hold the Prime Minister to account for Beijing's attack on our democracy, are undermining democracy. It is Beijing interfering in two federal elections that is undermining democracy, and it is a Prime Minister who has turned a blind eye to interference who is undermining democracy.
The Prime Minister has shut down calls for an independent public inquiry. He has ordered Liberal MPs at the procedure and House affairs committee to use every trick in the book to impede the work of the committee to get to the bottom of Beijing's interference. That includes blocking the production of relevant documents and shielding key PMO officials and former and current ministers. This is now culminating in a shameful filibuster that has gone on for four days and nearly 24 hours to shield the Prime Minister's chief of staff from having to come to committee.
Taken together, the actions of the Prime Minister are not the actions of a transparent prime minister. They are not the actions of a prime minister who is concerned about Beijing's election interference. They are the actions of a prime minister who has something to hide. They are the actions of a prime minister who has engaged in a cover-up.
Beijing's interference in the 2019 and 2021 elections is not speculative; it is well documented. Even in the limited disclosure given to the procedure and House affairs committee, that interference is evident. For example, a February 21, 2020, daily intelligence brief prepared by the PCO observed that Beijing orchestrated “subtle but effective interference networks” in the 2019 election. It said, “subtle but effective interference networks”, and the Prime Minister received that PCO briefing according to his national security adviser.
During the 2021 election, a September 13, 2021, open data analysis of the rapid response mechanism of Global Affairs Canada observed an online disinformation campaign on the online social media sites of those affiliated with the Beijing regime. It targeted the Conservative Party generally and targeted individual Conservative candidates, including the now defeated Conservative member of Parliament Kenny Chiu. That open data analysis further observed that this disinformation campaign had “grown in considerable scale”.
Then there are the reports from The Globe and Mail and Global News based upon their review of CSIS documents and other security and intelligence documents that reveal a campaign of interference by Beijing. It begs the question: In the face of that interference, what did the Prime Minister do about it? It appears that he did nothing. After all, no arrests have been made, no diplomats have been expelled and the Prime Minister kept Canadians in the dark. Canadians would still be kept in the dark but for whistle-blowers and the work of Global News and The Globe and Mail.
CSIS advised the Prime Minister that, in response to foreign interference, the policy of the government should be one of transparency and sunlight and that such interference should be made known to the public. However, the Prime Minister has done the opposite of this. He kept Canadians in the dark, and now he is trying to bury the truth with a smokescreen, including a so-called special rapporteur, whom he appoints and who reports to him. He turns out to be a family friend and is a member of the Beijing-funded Trudeau Foundation, someone who is hardly independent. It is a secret committee with secret evidence and secret conclusions redacted by the PMO. It is hardly transparency and sunlight.
We put forward this motion because Canadians deserve transparency and sunlight. It is time to end Liberal obstruction. It is time to end the Liberal cover-up. It is time to get answers, and that starts with hearing from the Prime Minister's chief of staff. If the Prime Minister really has nothing to hide, he would support transparency and sunlight. He would support this motion.
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