Our housing crisis: join in November 5

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House and town plans on lawn (digital composite)

Homelessness, unaffordable housing for young families, seniors and all is an urgent concern, a political demand across Canada.

The Thatcher years brought austerity and less government investment in housing to Canada. Prime Ministers Mulroney and Chretien promoted balanced budgets, not social investment. Martin began the transfer of untargeted grants to provinces. The provinces found other areas to spend their money, using the theory that market forces would regulate housing. Municipalities, supposedly partners in housing, were without tools to make housing a priority.

According to the UN, adequate housing is a full right of citizens. In 2017, the UN rapporteur on housing, Canada’s Leilani Farha, denounced the commodification of housing and its
capture by “banks, insurance funds, pension funds, hedge funds, venture capitalists and other intermediaries”. Farha reported that Canada, a top-ten performing economy, had 235,000 homeless people and 1.34 million households with core housing needs.

If housing is a right, this right seems undermined in the Outaouais, where housing has been a central issue since the 1960s. Gatineau’s, cost of housing jumped by 61% (2000 to 2019, before Covid) while inflation (CPI) rose by 41.7%. Here, immigrants, seniors, Aboriginals, women, and racialized people are the first to suffer.

Lack of adequate housing jeopardizes all other rights — health, education, safety, work, food, privacy, dignity and even life. Last August, Logement’occupe called an emergency summit for concrete and quick action.

November 5, the Pontiac NDP is holding a public round table on the right to housing in the Pontiac, Gatineau and surrounding MRCs. This roundtable will be at the University of Outaouais with housing activists, plus citizens, to propose short, medium and long-term solutions to the crisis. Everyone is welcome.

Carl Hager
C.A. Bachand