OTTAWA -- NDP Housing and Urban Affairs Critic Libby Davies is slamming the federal government for using heavy-handed police tactics rather than sound housing policy in dealing with the homelessness crisis in Canada.
"Police raids and court injunctions won't eradicate poverty and homelessness," said Davies. "The Prime Minister and the Government of Canada must take responsibility and make this a priority for government action and financial support."
Davies noted that the eviction of homeless people from "Tent City" in Toronto, and the eviction and arrest of squatters and homeless people from the Woodwards building in East Vancouver, are glaring examples of the crisis of homelessness and the critical lack of social housing in Canadian cities.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities and Housing groups estimate that 200,000 Canadians, including families with children, are living on the streets, in shelters or in substandard housing. Another 833,000 households in Canada are on the brink of homelessness.
The Liberal government abandoned its "Red Book" commitment to a national housing policy shortly after the 1993 election. "As we head back to Parliament we will be able to test the Prime Minister's commitment to cities and social inclusion. We need to see evidence that the government is willing to help homeless Canadians by providing funds for social housing construction, now," said Davies.
New Democrats want housing recognized as a human right and are calling for 1% of federal government expenditures, a two billion dollar investment, to go toward a national housing strategy. The NDP's plan includes immediate provision of temporary emergency housing for the homeless and the subsequent construction of 20,000 to 30,000 units of new social housing and 10,000 units of refurbished housing every year for the foreseeable future.