Monday, June 4, 2007

Oliva Chow's Address to the House of Commons

Below is an exerpt from Olivia Chow's address to the house of commons today, June 4, 2007.
She mentions the housing action in the fourth paragraph, see bolded passages

Ms. Olivia Chow (Trinity-Spadina, NDP) : Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is
national hunger awareness day. This budget could have done a lot to deal
with child poverty, yet there is hardly any investment in it to reduce
poverty. In just over 15 years, there had been a 99.3% growth in food
bank use by hungry Canadians, yet we have the means to provide all
Canadian adults and children with a fair share of food if we have the
political will to do so.

The face of hunger will surprise all of us because it is the face of
children. We need to recognize the reality and the depth of hunger that
Canadian families face every day. Forty-one per cent of them are
children and 13.4% are people who have full time jobs, and 53% of
households visiting food banks are families with children. Many of them
of course are working several jobs, yet still cannot pay the rent and
feed their kids. This is according to the hunger count of 2006.

In March 2006, more than 753,000 individuals in Canada used the food
banks because they were hungry. We know that there are many hungry
people across Canada in our neighbourhoods and our communities, and that
we all need to take action to make sure that all Canadians have their
fair share of food and no one is going hungry.

To reduce the root causes of hunger in Canada, we absolutely have to
invest in affordable housing and child care, and increase the minimum
wage to at least $10 an hour.I want to speak a bit about building
affordable housing.

Yesterday, hundreds of women in my riding in Toronto and their allies
walked through the streets of Toronto and went to a building in the
riding at 4 Howard Street. It is one of the hundreds of buildings in
Toronto that has been allowed to sit empty and deteriorate until they
either fall down or must be torn down.

These women are saying that we need to build affordable housing because
some women are victims of domestic abuse, and their kids are stuck in
shelters, in unsafe housing. They have to move every two or three
months, sometimes even sooner because they cannot find affordable
housing. They do not go to the same schools. Their kids cannot form any
kind of friendships because they do not have permanent housing.Some even
go back to their abusive relationships because they have no place to
live and they are desperate. Homeless women face violence every day on
the streets, whether they are in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal or
Halifax, in big cities or in small towns and communities.

These women yesterday said that we have to push the Canadian government
to establish a decent, affordable housing strategy and that there needs
to be extra money in the federal budget to build affordable housing.

We know that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has a budget
surplus of at least $5 billion in its reserve funds, and that while this
money is sitting in the reserve funds, there are hundreds and hundreds
of Canadians who are homeless and have no place to live, so in this
budget it is really a complete missed opportunity.

There are also people who live in affordable housing now but their
buildings are falling apart. Just in Toronto alone, the Toronto
Community Housing Corporation said that it is in need of at least $300
million to maintain these buildings, because they are falling apart. The
elevators do not work. Many of these building are heated by electric
heat, and a lot of the tenants end up paying a lot of money in heat or
hydro electricity, with very little money left for buying food and
paying for transportation. There is a huge backlog of maintenance and
yet there is no money to support the existing affordable housing in this

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