Eradicating Homelessness

Before I became the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country, I was a city councillor for nine years. The issue of homelessness was one of those challenges that kept me awake at night.

I‘ve spoken to the homeless on the streets and at drop in centers such as the Friendship Centre and the Gospel Mission. From their stories I know that our homeless need work and shelter, and for many of them, professional medical attention to help them overcome addiction and mental illness.

In a community with such abundance, homelessness continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing our community. I know that there is no silver bullet to fix all homelessness but I am convinced that where there is a will there is a way.

The will was certainly evident last month at a luncheon I attended hosted by the Poverty and Homelessness Action Team. Many people came together including keynote speaker Judy Graves, Mayor Sharon Shepherd and representation from the office of MLA Al Horning. My hat goes off to the hard work and passion that Ian Graham and his team bring to this organization which was formed in May of 2006 through the amalgamation of the Kelowna Homelessness Steering Committee and the Kelowna Poverty Task Force.

The will is also evident here in Ottawa. In September, the Conservative government hosted a roundtable with homeless activists to determine the most effective ways to work with the provinces and community organizations to address homelessness.

As well, the federal government has made significant funding commitments. $134.8 million is been spent to extend the National Homelessness Initiative until March 31, 2007 and, through Budget 2006, $1.4 billion has been committed in new funding for the creation of affordable housing. 

This is in addition to the $2 billion the government will spend this year through Canada Mortgage and Housing for the creation and maintenance of affordable housing which benefits some 630,000 low income households across the country including 72,500 social housing units in BC.

Through the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development the government also supports over 5,000 on-reserve and over 2,600 off-reserve aboriginal housing units.

All of these initiatives are carried out in partnership with the Province of British Columbia which administers the homelessness initiative and affordable housing programs. The province in turn works with our cities and municipalities and local organizations who deliver these necessary services.

Homelessness is about as grassroots an issue as it gets and the most effective strategies for its eradication will come from the grassroots as well. As the luncheon, the roundtable, the perseverance of local organizations, and the funding commitments from all levels of government show, the way comes from our willingness to work together to put long term solutions in place.

The onus is on all of us to make sure homelessness remains a priority. We’ll all sleep better knowing that we live in a community that is willing to work together until we achieve our goal of shelter for everyone.

More MP Report articles

About the Author

The Honourable Ron Cannan was first elected as Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country in January, 2006. He was subsequently elected in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. He is a member of the Conservative Caucus.

On September 13th, 2012 Ron was summoned to be a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and will provide advice to the Government as a member of the Priorities and Planning Sub-Committee on Government Administration.

Ron successfully uses his experience and knowledge as a long-time Kelowna City Councillor and regional government representative to be an effective and enthusiastic champion for his riding and his constituents.

His greatest satisfaction comes from helping local organizations and citizens obtain the support they require from Ottawa. 

He is also dedicated to doing what it takes to ensure that the growing and vibrant communities in his riding continue to thrive and prosper.

He is proud of the partnership and cooperation between federal, provincial and municipal governments which have resulted in significant infrastructure projects including upgrades to Highway 97, expansion of the Kelowna International Airport, a new horticulture strategy for fruit growers, obtaining a full service passport office for Kelowna and addressing critical economic issues such as labour skills shortages.

He works closely with the local Chambers of Commerce and once a year arranges meetings for the Chamber with Cabinet Ministers and senior policy staff in Ottawa to move forward important local issues such as crime prevention and labour skills shortages.

He is also an ardent champion for important community initiatives including homelessness, mental health, women’s resources, and support of arts and culture.

On Parliament Hill, Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade since 2006 supporting initiatives which will broaden the economic opportunities for local businesses and businesses Canada-wide.

In previous parliamentary sessions Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee for Government Operations and Estimates, Veteran’s Affairs, Human Resources and Social Development, the Scrutiny of Regulations Committee, and the Standing Committee for Fisheries and Oceans.

Ron is also involved in a variety of inter-parliamentary organizations: he is Vice Chair of the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group, and a member of the Canada-Taiwan Friendship group.

As Chair of the Conservative Wine Caucus, Ron works with his colleagues across the country to promote the wine regions of Canada.  Ron tabled Motion 218(formerly Motion 601) which supports direct to consumer purchasing of Canadian wine. His motion became Bill C-311, sponsored by MP Dan Albas, seconded by Ron, which was passed into law on June 28th, 2012.

Prior to entering politics, Ron developed a diverse business background as a small business owner and had several years experience in marketing and sales management working with corporations including Coca-Cola, Costco and Corus Entertainment.

Very active in his community, Ron has been a Director for both the Central Okanagan Regional District and the Central Okanagan Hospital Board. Ron also served on the Okanagan University College Access to Training Advisory Board, the Glenmore Elementary School Parents Advisory Council, and the Kelowna Christian School Fund Raising Committee. He was co-founder of the Okanagan Volunteer Festival. Currently Ron is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Kelowna and, along with his wife Cindy, was the honorary Chair of the 2012 Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Ball.

Ron lives a family-oriented and active lifestyle with his wife Cindy. He is the proud father of three daughters and grandfather to three grandsons. His hobbies include music and sports.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories