December 9th, 2021
LETTER: Trudeau's Liberals are failing when it comes to Indigenous housing
Dear Ministers Hajdu & Hussen,
We are writing to you today to urge your government to finally deliver action to end the housing crisis facing Indigenous communities. We were quite disappointed that the Speech from the Throne made no reference to this housing crisis in Indigenous communities, and we hope it’s not a sign of things to come.
Because it is a housing crisis.
We both represent ridings where safe and accessible housing isn’t the norm. Communities where dozens live to a house, and mould is far too common. Leaky ceilings and broken windows and walls. This repeats itself across Indigenous communities from coast to coast to coast and while it certainly represents a continued failure of all governments in our history, your government has now been in place for 6 years and despite all the pretty words, we’re not seeing action.
Let’s look at the facts. Four years after Prime Minister Trudeau promised to deliver an Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy, people are waiting. Indigenous Services Canada estimates an immediate on reserve need of 21,000 homes while another 50,000 require major repairs. Cat Lake First Nation was forced to declare a home.
We know that Covid-19 spread faster in Indigenous communities because of overcrowded and inadequate housing. Tuberculosis, which should be wiped out, is thriving in many communities as a result of the housing crisis. Shamattawa First Nation, Pangnirtung, these aren’t just communities that are struggling but they should be a real reminder of how your government failed and continues to fail. It is unacceptable that people in Nunavut are 26 times more likely to contract TB.
We need a For Indigenous By Indigenous solution instead of the top-down bureaucratic mess your government is offering. We’ve heard from a number of communities how the Rapid Housing Initiative is underfunded and pits communities against each other while making it hardest for those with the greatest need to access the funds. The Rapid Housing Initiative needs more funding and steps must be taken to ensure funding can be distributed more broadly across Canada, and to ensure dedicated supports for smaller housing providers and communities who do not have the resources to compete with large organizations that can dedicated teams of full-time staff on the application process. We need support for all-weather roads so that building materials can ship safely and securely. We need paved roads and billions in additional housing investments for Nunavut.
Let this Parliament be a new opportunity to our reconciliation into action and that includes action on housing.
MP Lori Idlout (Nunavut) – NDP Critic for Indigenous Services
MP Niki Ashton (Churchill—Keewatinook Aski) – NDP Deputy Critic for Indigenous Services