South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings has slammed the Liberal government's Budget 2021 for its lack of teeth when it comes to addressing a countrywide housing crisis, sharing stories directly from Penticton on the House floor.
At the May 25 parliament meeting regarding the Budget Implementation Act, Cannings stood up to make his feelings clear that despite having its positive attributes, its housing plan is not one of them.
"The big issues in my riding are housing, housing and housing," Cannings said.
"The average cost of a single-family home in Penticton, my hometown, is over $800,000. That is the average. Many families, especially young families, are forced to rent, but in many communities across the riding rentals are very expensive or simply not available. There was an ad recently offering a single room with a shared bathroom and no access to a kitchen for $1,000 a month."
Cannings then referenced the plight of the Holmbergs, a local Penticton family who recently made the news over their desperate search for a rental. They had lost their rental suite when the landlord decided to hop into the hot housing market and sell, then found themselves priced out and desperate, forced to start a GoFundMe to ask the community for help to purchase an old RV.
"It gets worse the lower one's income is. People on income assistance or disability pensions are eligible for subsidized housing because the income we provide them is far too low to live on: It is about $1,000 per month for
everything," Cannings said.
"As of last week, there are officially no subsidized rental units available in Penticton, so if a house someone rents goes up for sale, that individual is literally homeless. They are unhoused and on the street."
Those who rent in the many old motels in Penticton are also in a precarious state.
"Two were sold recently and the residents evicted. Three more have just been sold and the concern is that they too will be unavailable to low-income residents. A hundred more people will likely be unhoused in Penticton," Cannings said, further noting Penticton is just an example, and this is happening all over the country.
The Liberal Budget 2021 supports, through an additional $2.5 billion over seven years to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and a reallocation and advancement of $1.3 billion in previously announced funding to the National Housing Co-Investment Fund and Rental Construction Financing Initiative, 35,660 units of housing, either new or repaired.
Cannings, a New Democrat, believes his party would have had a better plan.
"This is a crisis ... The NDP would create 500,000 affordable housing units across the country in 10 years to catch up with the backlog that has been building up over the last 30 years, since Liberal and Conservative governments gave up on federal housing programs," Cannings said.
"Instead, what we get in this budget are relatively small investments that will not make a dent in the housing crisis, not in the short term and not in the long term."
Discussion of the Budget Implementation Act continues in the House of Commons.