National Housing Strategy targets the specific needs of women and girls

"Lack of availability of safe and affordable housing is a major barrier for women fleeing violence." — Lise Martin, Executive Director of Women's Shelters Canada

Ottawa (27 Nov. 2017) — On November 22, 2017, in observance of National Housing Day, the federal government released details of its National Housing Strategy. Up until now Canada was the only G8 country that did not have a national strategy for housing. The need for action is demonstrated in the fact that on any given night there are 35,000 people homeless and it is estimated that 3 million Canadian households are precariously housed. 

The government has made a $40 billion commitment to social and affordable housing over the next 10 years. Some of the money is to be matched by the provinces and territories. The strategy includes the creation of 100,000 new housing units, the extension of housing subsidies that were to expire, and deeming housing as a human right.  

25% of investment targeted to needs of women and girls

The strategy also makes a commitment that at least 25 per cent of investments will support projects that specifically address the needs of women and girls. This includes approximately $120 million over 10 years for women’s shelters. Women’s Shelters Canada (WSC) is welcoming this commitment. 

In a statement released this week, Lise Martin, Executive Director of Women’s Shelters Canada, stated, “Lack of availability of safe and affordable housing is a major barrier for women fleeing violence. The programs included in the strategy have the potential to make a significant difference in the lives of these women. Success will largely depend on ensuring that an intersectional feminist approach trickles down to the local levels where much of the delivery will occur.”

Housing benefit to be portable

A new, portable housing benefit will be implemented in 2020. The fact that the benefit is portable will, in theory, allow recipients to choose where they live.  For women escaping violence this can be crucial.

According to Jan Reimer, co-chair of the board for WSC, “Our data shows that a significant percentage of women fleeing violence move to another province. To respond to the needs of these women, the portability of the benefit must include the capacity to take it across provinces as well as provide options to women who are unable to access social housing within their province. Given the urgent needs of abused women leaving violence, we urge the government to begin the implementation of the portable benefit in the next fiscal year.”

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE