Address by Minister Duclos on Social infrastructure investments that support middle class

Social Infrastructure Investment

Toronto, Ontario
November 9, 2016

Check against delivery

Good morning, everyone and thank you Marco. Thank you for graciously hosting us today in Lawrence Heights. It’s my pleasure to be here to talk about the future of Canadian communities. I would also like to recognize that we are on the traditional territory of Mississaugas of the Credit Nation.

Communities are at the heart of our country.

They require help to maintain, improve and expand the things that make Canada’s towns and cities great places to live—reliable public transit, cultural and recreational infrastructure, treatment plants to keep water safe, affordable housing for people at all stages of life, child care and early learning services for their children, and opportunities for all to participate economically and socially in the lives of these communities.

For communities to succeed, funding for infrastructure has to be substantive, predictable and sustainable. That’s why in the 2016 budget, the Canadian Government made an unprecedented investment of $3.4 billion in social infrastructure to be delivered over the next two years.

Investing in communities, and the social infrastructure needed to support them, is a key pillar of our plan to grow the middle class and all those families working hard to join it.

The foundation of any community is having a secure and affordable place to live.

For some Canadians, this is a constant struggle. Indeed, homelessness has become a pressing issue in many communities across Canada.

This is why one of my priorities as Minister has been to reduce homelessness.

Budget 2016 provided the first reinvestment since 1999 in the Homelessness Partnering Strategy, a 50 percent increase representing an additional $112 million over two years for Canadian communities.  

This significant increase will give more communities the support and flexibility they need to help prevent and reduce homelessness and test new and innovative approaches—particularly among specific homeless populations such as Indigenous people, youth, women fleeing violence and veterans.

The good news is that the majority of the additional funding has already been allocated to communities directly.

Communities are now in a position to top-up existing projects, to fund waitlisted projects or to run calls for proposals.

That means more hope for Canadians and communities struggling with homelessness.

I’m also pleased to highlight that as part of that new funding, more than $12 million is being invested towards the Innovative Solutions to Homelessness stream.

The calls for proposals are open until November 14th.

This exciting initiative will encourage and support a wide range of organizations and stakeholders to explore innovative approaches to prevent and fight homelessness.

Homelessness is one part of the housing ecosystem, with strong ties to housing affordability.

Budget 2016 also announced $2.3 billion over the next two years to address the most immediate and pressing housing affordability challenges in the short-term.

I’m pleased to say that agreements have been signed with nearly all provinces and territories to deliver the new housing investments under the Investment in Affordable Housing framework.

In addition, we also recently launched a five-year $200-million Affordable Rental Housing Innovation Fund.

Through that Innovation Fund, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will offer support to innovative projects to build a more inclusive society, including for models and innovative building techniques that spur the rental housing sector.

The Innovation Fund is expected to help create up to 4,000 new affordable units over five years, reducing the number of Canadians living in housing need as well as the reliance on long-term government subsidies.

Work is also continuing on the design of a proposed Affordable Rental Housing Financing Initiative, which will provide up to $2.5 billion in low-cost loans over five years to municipalities and housing developers during the earliest and riskiest phase of development.

Our government has also committed to developing a National Housing Strategy for Canada—the first such strategy in four decades.

From the outset, we have taken an inclusive approach to developing the National Housing Strategy by engaging and collaborating with the provinces and territories, who are our primary partners in developing the National Housing Strategy.

We have consulted widely because housing is such an important component of our government’s overall approach to strengthening the middle class, promoting inclusive growth for Canadians and helping to lift more people out of poverty.

On November 22nd, National Housing Day, I will host a Facebook live event to share what we heard during the National Housing Strategy consultations. I will also outline next steps toward establishing a shared vision for housing in Canada.

Housing is certainly a key aspect of any healthy community. And so too is child care. We want to see children get the best possible start in life. And we want to give them the support they need to reach their full potential.

Our pledge to create an Early Learning and Child Care Framework will help us reach this goal. The 2016 Budget reinforces the Government of Canada’s commitment to support early learning and child care and the economic and social security of families by proposing to invest $500 million in 2017–18 to support the establishment of an Early Learning and Child Care Framework.

Of this amount, $100 million would be for Indigenous child care and early learning on reserve. Budget 2016 also announced $30 million in 2016–17 to undertake urgent repairs and renovations of the facilities used by the Aboriginal Head Start On Reserve Program and the First Nations and Inuit Child Care Initiative.

Our government is working closely with provinces and territories on an Early Learning and Child Care Framework as a first step towards delivering affordable, quality, flexible and inclusive child care. Plans are also underway to engage Indigenous communities and parents to identify the best means to delivering high‑quality early learning and child care as part of a dedicated Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework.

Funding for provinces and territories will follow the development of the Framework on Early Learning and Child Care. Because child care needs vary from family to family, and because provinces and territories have responded to those needs in different ways, the Framework and the associated funding will be flexible to respect the circumstances and meet the needs of Canadian families, wherever they live.

Our government will continue to work closely with provincial and territorial governments in the coming months on the development of a framework to enable children to receive the best possible start in life and have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

To ensure that Canada’s communities continue to be great places to call home, the Canadian Government proposes a further investment in social infrastructure through the upcoming 2017 budget. In that regard, and as my colleague, the Honourable Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance, announced last week, we will be investing $21.9 billion in social infrastructure over the next 11 years.

This historic investment in our families, our communities, and in our future will deliver more safe, adequate and affordable housing and will make it easier for families to access the affordable, quality and flexible child care they need for their children and for parents to participate in the labour market.

It will help build our economy and grow our middle class. It will lift more Canadian families out of poverty and will help give all Canadians a real and fair chance to succeed.

Thank you again for the opportunity of being with you this morning.

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