“Our government is committed to closing the unacceptable housing gap for Indigenous people,” Don Rusnak, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of Indigenous services, told the House during a question period last week.
He was responding to a question by NDP MP Sheri Benson. She had questioned why the federal government did not include an Indigenous housing strategy in its national housing strategy released last November, “despite the fact that,” she noted, “87 per cent of Indigenous peoples in Canada do not live on reserve and face almost 10 times the risk of housing insecurity and homelessness.”
As far as I can tell, it’s closer to 80 per cent of Indigenous people who live off reserve (according to Statistics Canada’s 2016 Census) and I’m still trying to find a source to pin down their risk of housing insecurity. But there’s no doubt there’s a real “housing gap” that desperately needs to be addressed.
Here’s the full exchange as recorded by openparliament.ca:
Rusnak pointed out that this year’s federal budget invests $600 million over three years in First Nations housing. But my understanding is this money is supposed to be for on-reserve homes, as stated here on the federal government’s website. So, does that mean the $600 million over three years is actually for on- and off-reserve populations? If that’s true, it will have to stretch a lot further, and support a lot more people, than I originally thought.
I’ve been looking at on-reserve housing and am trying to follow the money. So this exchange raised a lot of questions for me.[end]
What other questions should I put in my notebook?
As I continue to investigate this issue, share your thoughts and questions on my Discuss page and I’ll add them to my list of head scratchers.