Feds need to step up with plan to end homelessness

Kelowna, like other cities across Canada, has what it takes to end homelessness, but the federal government needs to step up to make it happen, says one of the leading authorities on the problem.

Kelowna, like other cities across Canada, has what it takes to end homelessness, but the federal government needs to step up to make it happen, says one of the leading authorities on the problem.

“Without a national housing plan, you in Kelowna can’t do what you need to end homelessness,” said Michael Shapcott, affordable housing and social innovation director at the Toronto-based Wellesley Institute, a non-profit research organization.

Shapcott was the keynote speaker at the UBC Okanagan leg of the B.C. Affordable Housing Research and Action roundtable.

“There needs to be capital funding for the brick and mortar. (A national housing plan) would be a reference guide organizations pull off the shelf,” Shapcott said.

He compared the Gross Domestic Product to the population, highlighting that doing so ranks this nation the seventh most wealthy on the global stage.

Conversely, it’s the only country in the OECD (Organizaton for Economic Co-operation and Development) that’s failed to come up with a national housing plan.

“We have a patchwork system that’s not meeting the needs of Canadians,” he said.

Shapcott pointed out that even the U..S has a plan to stop homelessness in the next decade, and their problem is, proportionately, more daunting.

As is, estimates show that anywhere from 150,000 to 300,000 Canadians are homeless, but the more telling figure, says Shapcott, is that 3.1 million Canadians live in unaffordable housing.

It’s a national weakness that’s ultimately costing taxpayers a lot of money, he said, pointing to the fact that even the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has lamented the price to business.

Access to affordable housing shapes the social, economic and political life of a society and when its lacking, it impacts the health of a nation.

By his estimates, Canada could save billions in health care dollars if investments were made in addressing affordable housing.

While it may seem like an overly daunting task to get the federal government to pour money into programs they’ve been cutting since the 1990s, Shapcott said support for private members bill C-304, which calls for a national housing strategy, could be the impetus needed to get the government going.

“They say it’s not a national issue, it’s a local issue,” he said.

“But in fact this is a problem for the federal government. (Getting adequate housing for Canadians) is not just a problem, it’s their legal responsibility.”


Just Posted

Column: Make it a green Christmas

Instead of purchasing a cuddly stuffie this year, put your money towards helping the real thing.

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

Kelowna city councillor suggests bringing back photo radar

Gail Given says it could help generate traffic fine revenue for the city—and make roads safer

‘Game changer” research deal between three B.C. Interior universities

UBCO, TRU, UNBC say deal will help innovation, research, aid students and increase quality of life

What’s happening

Find out about the events happening in your community this weekend

Interior Health holding immunization clinic in Vernon Saturday

IH issues list of Okanagan meningococcal immunization clinics

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Annual Christmas meal held as Kelowna Gospel Mission

The meal will be held tomorrow from 12 to 6 p.m.

Michaels: Big Brother has become a big letdown

“You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide, but privacy should still have some appeal.”

One convicted, two cleared in 2014 deaths of men in B.C.’s Cariboo

Andrew Jongbloets convicted of manslaughter in deaths of Matthew Hennigar, 23 and Kalvin Andy, 22

Accused Shuswap drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

AHUS patient Shantee Anaquod is home for Christmas

Less than a month after receiving first dose of $750K drug, 23 year old healthy enough to go home

Most Read