Released June 4, 2008
following statement was issued by the Honourable Shawn Skinner,
Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment. It was also read in
the House of Assembly:
Province Makes Demand for Extension of Federal Funding Agreements
I rise today to bring to my Honourable colleagues’ attention, the need for federal engagement in housing and in particular, the need for long-term sustainable federal funding for housing. Of immediate concern is the Federal Government’s cost-shared funding for the Province’s Provincial Home Repair Program, the Affordable Housing Program and the Homelessness Partnering Strategy. These are set to expire in March 2009.
The options for the longer term management and sustainability of the existing social housing stock represent a critical issue for all levels of government. Federal funding for the operation of the existing social housing portfolio in the province is declining each year with no more federal funding for the existing housing stock after 2039.
In February I became the Chair of the Provincial/Territorial Housing Ministers Responsible for Housing and in April of this year, all of the Provincial and Territorial Ministers were invited to meet informally with federal Minister Monte Solberg. As a result of our meeting in Ottawa, there was unanimous agreement among all my Provincial and Territorial colleagues to press Minister Solberg to attend a formal meeting as soon as possible to address these urgent housing issues. To date there has been no response.
Newfoundland and Labrador Housing is the province’s largest landlord with approximately 5,700 non-profit social housing units province-wide. Many of these properties are 25 to 50 years old and house an estimated 14,000 individuals. In addition, Housing serves an annual 2,500 applicants under its Provincial Home Repair Program to assist low-income homeowners. In addition to the approximately $130 million spent by the Provincial Government, over the last four years alone on housing programs, the Government announced two major initiatives in the past year. The first initiative was a $25 million increase over five years for more modernization and improvement to our existing housing stock and a $24 million increase over six years to our Provincial Home Repair Program.
Throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, there continues to be considerable demand for placements within the social housing portfolio, for funding under the Provincial Home Repair Program and for funding for Affordable Housing in communities throughout our province.
I ask all of my colleagues in the House of Assembly to support the Provincial Government in our efforts to urge the Federal Government to agree to meet with the Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Housing as soon as possible. We are calling on the Federal Government to reinstate social housing funding limits to the 1993-94 levels and to extend the existing cost-shared arrangements for the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program, Affordable Housing and Homelessness Partnering Strategy beyond March 31, 2009.