MPs need to back housing bill

TheStar.com – Opinion/Letters – Re: Our MPs get back to work, Editorial Sept. 20
Published On Wed Sep 22 2010.

Murray MacAdam, Social Justice & Advocacy Consultant, Anglican Diocese of Toronto

In an otherwise good editorial, there was a glaring omission from the list of “serious business” for returning MPs to work on, namely support for Vancouver MP Libby Davies’ private member’s Bill C-304, which would ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians through establishment of a National Housing Strategy.

Homelessness and lack of housing security hurt us all as Canadians. Safe and adequate housing is linked to better health, community stability, and reduced crime, whereas lack of affordable housing exacerbates poverty, isolation and ill-health, and denies people the stability they need to be able to contribute to society. Further, according to recent studies, homelessness costs Canadian taxpayers an estimated $6 billion per year for emergency shelters, social services, criminal justice and other costs.

As an Anglican, I am painfully aware of the effects of homelessness and home insecurity on the people who use our “Out of the Cold” programs and food banks because they can’t afford both to pay rent and buy groceries. The Anglican Church and other faith groups do our utmost to provide both emergency and long-term shelter as well as other supports to people living in with housing insecurity, but we cannot do it alone.

The scope of the problem demands a response from all levels of government.

Senators Art Eggleton and Hugh Segal’s 2010 report on poverty and homelessness, titled “In From the Margins,” calls for a National Housing Strategy. The report outlines the fact that money is being spent on symptoms rather than systems. The senators’ report shows that a co-ordinated effort would not cost more but would more effectively address the needs of people who are homeless or pitifully underhoused — people spending most of their disability cheque on basement rooms with no windows, for example.

That’s why a broad and growing array of organizations and individuals across Canada are enthusiastically backing Bill C-304. Now is the time for Canadians to urge our MPs, of all parties, to support this bill when it comes up for third and final reading, which could occur very soon.

Murray MacAdam, Social Justice & Advocacy Consultant, Anglican Diocese of Toronto

< http://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters/article/864451–mps-need-to-back-housing-bill >

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