September 22, 2022
Honorable Judith G. Seidman: Welcome, minister. Yesterday we learned from Statistics Canada that in 2021 over 17% of Indigenous people lived in crowded housing that was considered not suitable for the number of people who lived there. Furthermore, one in six lived in a dwelling that was in need of major repairs.
I think you would agree that these numbers are very concerning. It is a well-known fact that poor housing is connected to major health issues, mental health problems and higher rates of suicide, besides the violence that you spoke of earlier.
I understand that Budget 2022 proposes to provide $4.3 billion over seven years towards improving and expanding Indigenous housing in Canada.
Minister, what can you say to reassure Indigenous families that your government will deliver on its commitments and begin to alleviate the housing crisis in Indigenous communities?
Hon. Marc Miller, P.C., M.P., Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
Thank you, senator. I would add tuberculosis, consistent with the prior discussion.
We have made a number of investments since 2015 in Indigenous communities — $400 million specifically in Nunavut — in housing.
We know it’s not enough. Budget 2021 had several billion dollars in infrastructure, which included, in some cases, housing, as well as the Rapid Housing Initiative that has been put forward successfully throughout the pandemic.
When I spoke to communities that were going through a COVID outbreak, sometimes their number one discussion point with me wasn’t COVID. It was actually housing. It’s prevalent everywhere.
It is not entirely measured. We don’t know exactly what the funding deficit is. We have a sense of it. There is a lot of work that Minister Hajdu is putting into it, actually quantifying it, going on the principle that you cannot mend what you cannot measure.
What it will require, simply — and with difficulty as well knowing budget cycles — is consistent investments into housing properly targeted into Indigenous communities and administered in the right way, which is in the spirit of self-determination. In the last budget, there was approximately $800 million that went specifically into Inuit Nunangat for the next few years. We know that will not be enough to close the gap, but it will make a significant dent in the housing shortage that exists across Indigenous communities.
Obviously, it is uneven. Not every community is the same, but it is one where we will have to be relentless. Any government that purports to run this country needs to be relentless in pursuing this.