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Results: 1 - 30 of 255
Marie-José Corriveau
View Marie-José Corriveau Profile
Marie-José Corriveau
2020-08-17 16:19
I'm glad you asked me that question. I didn't have time to address it in my presentation, but I wanted to tell you about it. The problem is renovating, improving and modernizing existing low-income housing to which the federal government contributed more than 25 years ago. The federal government has responsibilities to the provinces, to municipalities and, most importantly, to the households in low-income housing. However, those units have often been poorly or inadequately maintained. Preventive maintenance has been neglected for decades. In Quebec, we are facing a significant deficit, to the point that, as we have seen in Toronto in particular, buildings and low-income housing units are boarded up and uninhabitable because of a lack of proper subsidies to keep them in good condition.
Currently, the Fédération des locataires d'habitations à loyer modique du Québec estimates that Quebec needs $420 million a year to refurbish its 71,000 low-income housing units. For its part, the Office municipal d'habitation de Montréal, which owns 12 boarded-up buildings totalling almost 300 low-income housing units, needs $1.2 billion over five years or $150 million per year for 20 years to complete its 2017 replacement, improvement and modernization plan.
Just this week, I spoke to the director of the Office municipal d'habitation de Montréal, which has just received its budget for 2020-2021. This budget will not even allow for the restoration and rental of low-income housing that has become vacant simply because the occupants had to leave for one reason or another. In short, not only are we unable to refurbish and rent out boarded-up housing, but we are not even able to rent out those whose previous occupants just left. It makes no sense.
In our opinion, this is the responsibility of both levels of government, but certainly and first and foremost of the Government of Quebec, which is the main funder. For years, if not decades, it has systematically refused the preventive maintenance plans proposed by groups and municipalities to keep the supply of low-income housing in good condition. As someone who has been working in the field for a long time, I can attest to it. So this is the first urgent priority.
Furthermore, not only is the national housing strategy's funding for retrofitting buildings in good condition clearly insufficient, but we are also outraged that the government is maintaining its game plan to eventually stop funding and subsidizing the rent of the families that will occupy those units. From now on, after a decade or so, the responsibility will fall on neighbours, provinces, municipalities and territories. It makes no sense for the government to offload the responsibility and thereby abandon poor families. That was the second point I wanted to make.
The third point relates to the need for social housing. As I mentioned, in a number of large cities in Quebec, but also in Canada, we are seeing huge increases in the cost of rent. Poor families are no longer able to find decent housing in large cities. Financially, this would require impossible efforts on their part, because their budgets are clearly insufficient.
For its part, the government has chosen to fund what it calls affordable housing. Affordable housing is not affordable for low-income households and households in core housing need. Affordability is relative. What is affordable for you and me is not affordable for a poor family.
To have lower rents, we must stop setting targets based on current prices and instead set targets based on the ability of tenants to pay. To do so, we need to subsidize rents. The only solution is to rebuild and develop the supply of social housing so that we are not constantly starting all over again. Right now, among OECD members, Canada ranks 16th in terms of the proportion of social housing on its territory. This is obscene. We are part of the G7. Abandoning poor households in this way makes no sense. On our end, we believe that the government needs to drastically review its investments in developing new social housing and, above all, to focus its efforts in this sector.
We can't even blame the private market; it's doing its job, it's trying to make a profit. I'm sorry, but when you're out to make a profit, it's not true that—
View Louise Chabot Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mrs. Corriveau, I applaud you and FRAPRU. Thank you for being here and for your testimony.
I am very familiar with your organization in Quebec. The claims you are making today are in line with those you have been making for years.
Please tell me if my figures are accurate. I believe you said that, in July 2020 alone, 350 households were without housing. That would be the highest number since 2003. Also, if the community organizations did a count, it might be higher. If this is accurate, it does confirm that there is a shortage of what we may call social housing. A distinction could be made between community-based housing, low-income housing and affordable housing, but let's say there is a shortage of social housing. This is something you have been working on for years.
Other speakers have talked about the national housing strategy. As you know, an agreement was signed between the federal government and all the provinces except Quebec. For Quebec, the amount over the last three years could be between $1.4 billion and $1.7 billion, which is not insignificant.
In your opinion, if the money had been transferred unconditionally to Quebec, what difference would it have made to the dynamic?
Marie-José Corriveau
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Marie-José Corriveau
2020-08-17 16:33
My hope is that the Government of Quebec would have been more generous in launching new programming for the development of social housing. It already had a first challenge to meet: it had decided to deliver some 15,000 social housing units that had already been in the program for about 10 years, but that had still not been delivered because the Quebec subsidy program had not been adapted to the new economic realities, particularly land prices and construction costs. I therefore dare to hope that, had it received money from the federal government, the Quebec government would have launched a new program.
That said, my main problem at the moment is that the federal government, while claiming that this is an area of provincial and territorial jurisdiction, has developed a series of funds that could be called programs. In so doing, it is taking the role of the provinces in the way they do things and solve problems, instead of giving them the financial resources they need to take action according to their own challenges and to what the communities want.
I think the federal government should do the right thing and be a funder. It should take full responsibility for all the low-income housing that it helped to bring about before 1994, of course. It should not only comply with the agreements, but also ensure that the supply is refurbished. After that, it should proceed with the transfers properly. My hope is that this would allow Quebec in particular to move things along more quickly. It must be said that in Quebec, social housing development has continued, but that is not the case in all the provinces at this time.
Let me come back to what I was saying earlier: we must entirely abandon the idea of entrusting the private sector with developing housing for families in core housing need. It's not true that the private sector will be able to develop the housing for them. It is impossible for them to pay for that kind of housing when their annual income is between $17,000 and $20,000. We have no choice but to look at non-profit housing and subsidized housing. In order to prevent this from being a complete waste of time or an unsustainable measure, it is important to have social housing that is not sold, but that is protected and properly maintained for future generations.
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thanks very much.
Madame Corriveau, would you agree that if the federal government puts new dollars on the table for provinces, the provinces should not be allowed to cut provincial spending limits on housing? As we put money in the front door for the housing system, the Quebec government should be required not to take money out the back door so that it becomes a wash. Would you agree that's a reasonable request by the federal government?
Marie-José Corriveau
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Marie-José Corriveau
2020-08-17 16:50
In terms of reducing their own contributions, yes, I quite agree. If the Government of Canada puts money on the table, it should come with conditions, as it has previously done in the past, after all. When I said that I did not want the federal government to create programs in place of the provinces and territories, that did not mean that I feel it should provide money without requiring some conditions.
The government should do everything in its power to have the right to housing acknowledged. It should also go back to proven strategies, such as developing social housing. In addition, it must make sure that the provinces do not use federal money to replace the budgets that they otherwise should be putting on the table.
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
Exactly, and in terms of new rent supplement programs, for example, the Canada housing benefit, which aims to subsidize rents for the very individuals you talked about, if the federal government has a program that requires cost-matching dollars from the provinces, should the provinces have to match the new program or should they be allowed to say that we're already doing that and, therefore, we don't have to add any of our new dollars?
Should provinces be brought into a stronger housing system with the federal authority, as long as it's provincially designed and delivered? Would you agree with that?
Marie-José Corriveau
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Marie-José Corriveau
2020-08-17 16:52
I am not sure I know what you mean by a stronger system. However, I do know that we have to consider housing allocation programs that the provinces already have and make sure that they are not withholding their cash. Quite the opposite, we need the amounts allocated to surpass the provinces' and territories' current objectives. At the moment, for example, in Quebec—
Marie-José Corriveau
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Marie-José Corriveau
2020-08-17 16:52
No. In fact, those objectives should even be enhanced.
As I understand it, in various areas, the federal government generally requires provinces and territories to fulfill certain conditions when they are allocated money, failing which, penalties can be imposed on other activities.
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
Right. For example, would it be a reasonable request by the federal government that it should be spent on rent supplements and should be new money?
View Annie Koutrakis Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Annie Koutrakis Profile
2020-08-13 15:19
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My question is for Mrs. Al-Waheidi.
Mrs. Al-Waheidi, it has been insinuated by the opposition and reported in the media that WE Charity wasn't able to provide services in both official languages in Quebec. I understand that you have an office in Montreal and that you work with many schools in the province.
Could you tell us about that?
Dalal Al-Waheidi
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Dalal Al-Waheidi
2020-08-13 15:20
WE Charity is a national organization. You are correct. We do have an office and staff in Montreal. We have worked with over 400 schools across the province of Quebec. We have also worked in various provinces with high speaking French communities. We have implemented 11 WE Days, and we engage hundreds and thousands of students as part of this process. We have bilingual activities and partnerships. We have formulated partnerships with school boards, and with other local organizations to help us in the process.
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mrs. Marquez, I'm going to address you first. Excuse me, I'm going to start with Mrs. Al-Waheidi instead. I'm sorry, there are too many witnesses at the same time.
You told us that there were staff and offices in Montreal. How long has that been the case, Mrs. Al-Waheidi? I'm sorry, but I may have mispronounced your name.
Dalal Al-Waheidi
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Dalal Al-Waheidi
2020-08-13 15:26
No. Thank you. You did a really good job at pronouncing my name. I appreciate it.
WE started working in Montreal in 2007—
Dalal Al-Waheidi
View Dalal Al-Waheidi Profile
Dalal Al-Waheidi
2020-08-13 15:26
It was at some time between 2007 and 2008. I don't have the exact date in front of me, but I have the year. I'm happy to provide this information.
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
Mrs. Al-Waheidi, are you aware that your office on Saint-Hubert Street in Montreal is closed as we speak?
Dalal Al-Waheidi
View Dalal Al-Waheidi Profile
Dalal Al-Waheidi
2020-08-13 15:26
As part of our activities, because of the pandemic, at this point all of the staff are working from home.
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
Mrs. Al-Waheidi, your office is closed, the lease has been terminated and Hydro-Québec was going to disconnect the power this week. There hasn't been anybody there for a few months. Did you know that?
Dalal Al-Waheidi
View Dalal Al-Waheidi Profile
Dalal Al-Waheidi
2020-08-13 15:27
Mr. Chair, I'm trying to answer the question. When the pandemic hit, because of the safety of our team we decided to make the decision that they needed to work from home. Like many other charities and many other organizations, we made this decision.
Scott Baker
View Scott Baker Profile
Scott Baker
2020-08-13 15:27
The WE Charity Foundation does not have any employees anywhere in Canada.
Scott Baker
View Scott Baker Profile
Scott Baker
2020-08-13 15:28
We don't have this information readily in front of us at this point. We're happy to take this away and provide that number.
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
In all of Quebec, how many employees work for WE Charity or any related corporation or entity?
Scott Baker
View Scott Baker Profile
Scott Baker
2020-08-13 15:28
What I can share is that throughout our history as an organization we've often had 12 to 15.
As a result of the pandemic, we have had to realize that decrease that includes our offices in Vancouver and Montreal—
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
I'm sorry to interrupt you, Mr. Baker, but we don't have a lot of time. Could you name one Quebec employee who works for WE Charity?
Dalal Al-Waheidi
View Dalal Al-Waheidi Profile
Dalal Al-Waheidi
2020-08-13 15:28
Yes, we can. We have many employees. We've had their presence. The number is...this is full-time employees, but we also hire contractors, so I believe, Mr. Chair, that we've answered the question.
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