Notes from a housing plan community engagment session in Whatì highlight residents' housing needs. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
Housing ministers from all 13 provinces and territories have called for the federal government to increase its spending on affordable housing.
In a Thursday press release, ministers said provinces and territories are on track to surpass federal investments in affordable housing by 2027, and resources are being strained by the demand.
The call was initiated by Saskatchewan housing minister Gene Makowsky.
“Communities across Canada continue to face elevated home prices, increased rates of homelessness, and challenges related to housing affordability, adequacy, and supply,” Thursday’s statement reads. “Rising costs in the construction industry have also significantly increased the cost to build and repair homes.”
Provinces and territories say they have spent $20.1 billion on housing over the past four years. The federal government currently plans to spend more than $82 billion addressing housing affordability, but housing ministers say this figure doesn’t reflect the burden being placed on provinces and territories.
“While the federal National Housing Strategy has been marketed as an ‘$82+ billion plan,’ this figure includes both loans and cost-matched spending by [provinces and territories], neither of which are true costs to the federal government,” the statement continues.
The ministers say regional housing departments are also responsible for ongoing costs related to operations and maintenance after housing is built.
They say Ottawa should recognize that provinces and territories are better-suited to meeting the needs of their constituents. (n the NWT, some communities have for years made a similar argument on a smaller scale, calling for more localized control of housing.)
“With their understanding of local needs and circumstances, [provincial and territorial] governments are best positioned to identify and allocate funding to areas that will have the greatest impact,” the statement reads.
Provinces and territories say that for funding to be effective, the federal government must be adaptable and attach fewer restrictions and conditions around spending.
“[Ministers] welcome improved collaboration, greater flexibility, and increased funding, which will enable them to respond to this growing need.”
Housing NWT did not immediately respond to a request for comment.