Purpose This report is to update members on how CHF Canada and regional federations are lobbying levels of government on the end of federal operating agreements issue.
At CHF Canada’s National Business Meeting on June 8, delegates passed a resolution (Resolution 1) to support the creation of quarterly reports.
End of federal operating agreements There has been significant traction on the end of federal operating agreements issue. All levels of government are starting to show leadership on this important issue for 200,000 low-income households (500,000 Canadians) that depend on federal rent support to keep their homes affordable.
For statistics about rent-geared-to-income (RGI) homes, dates when operating agreements end and briefing material on the issue, go to CHF Canada’s new web section titled “Protecting Co-op Affordability” at www.chfcanada.coop/eoa.
Canada’s Mayors At the end of May, Canada’s mayors gathered in Vancouver for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM) annual conference. They issued a media release on May 301 and pressed other levels of government to preserve and renovate existing social housing units. Their media release stated that “$1.7 billion annually in federal housing investments are set to expire with the greatest drop in funding, up to $500 million a year, ending between 2014 and 2019. This will put more than half a million Canadians at risk of losing their homes unless federal, provincial, and territorial governments take action.”
The Globe & Mail covered their release with an article titled “Affordable housing tops the agenda as mayors make plea to Ottawa for help.”2Among the mayors that were quoted, were the Mayor of Vancouver and Chair of FCM’s Big City Mayors Caucus. He commented on the need to take action: “Until now, we’ve been focused on infrastructure. That work culminated in the last federal budget. Our next priority now is housing. It’s a big complex challenge.”
Provinces and Territories On June 25, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Housing met in Toronto to discuss housing issues across the country. Just before their meeting, CHF Canada issued a media release3urging them to work with stakeholder groups, including CHF Canada, to protect housing affordability.
The ministers issued a media release4 pointing to Ottawa to show leadership. Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing stated that: “[T]he time to act is now. A long-term federal funding commitment for housing is critical to address the unmet housing needs of Canadians today and for future generations.”
On July 26, provincial Premiers raised the issue of affordable housing in their communiqué following the Council of the Federation meeting in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.5 They stressed that the federal government should “work with ministers of housing on a long-term federal funding commitment for housing, which would outline a comprehensive and sustainable strategy to effectively meet the country's diverse housing needs for both today and future generations.”
Before their meeting, CHF Canada’s President Anne Davidson sent a letter to the Council of the Federation Secretariat. The letter asked that the federal operating agreements issue be added to the agenda of the Premiers’ meeting.
Media coverage of EOA at the 2013 AGM During our AGM in Calgary, local media outlets covered the event and, most importantly, the issue. Print, television and radio interviews were conducted by the following media outlets: 1) Calgary Herald, CTV News Calgary, CBC News Calgary, CHQR AM 770 News Talk and the Epoch Times. Nicholas Gazzard’s letter to the editor titled “Homes in Jeopardy” was also published in the June 7 edition of the Calgary Herald.
Co-op tours The goal on each co-op tour is to get MPs to commit to supporting our recommendation to protect co-op affordability after federal operating agreements end. The goal is also to get grassroots members to meet with their federal politicians to speak about the need to prevent the loss of existing co-op and non-profit housing in their respective ridings.
Tour on July 5 with the Co-operative Housing Association of Eastern Ontario (CHASEO) for Royal Galipeau, Conservative MP for Ottawa—Orléans, Ontario. Mr. Galipeau visited Ideal Village Co-operative Inc. (a Section 95 co-op with 70 homes and an operating agreement ending on May 1, 2017).
Tour on July 16 with the Central Ontario Co-operative Housing Federation (COCHF) for the Hon. Gary Goodyear, Conservative MP for Cambridge, Ontario and Minister of State (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario). Minister Goodyear visited Preston Heights Housing Co-operative (a Section 95 co-op with 40 homes and an operating agreement ending on August 1, 2021).
Tour on August 6 with Peel/Halton Co-operative Housing Federation (PHCHF) for Terence Young, Conservative MP for Oakville, Ontario. Mr. Young visited Trafalgar Housing Co-operative Inc. (a Section 95 co-op with 87 homes and an operating agreement ending on May 1, 2017).
Tour on August 19 with COCHF for Harold Albrecht, Conservative MP for Kitchener—Conestoga, Ontario. Mr. Albrecht toured Country Hill Housing Co-operative (an ILM co-op with 55 homes and an operating agreement ending on February 1, 2024).
Tour on September 10 with COCHF for Stephen Woodworth, Conservative MP for Kitchener Centre, Ontario. Mr. Woodworth toured Bread and Roses Co-operative Homes Inc. (an ILM co-op with 66 homes an operating agreement ending on September 1, 2025).
We appreciate the strong and dedicated support shown by member co-ops and regional federations in arranging and hosting these tours.
To keep track of co-op tours, go to www.chfcanada.coop/eoa and click on “Meetings,Media and More.” The link to the list of meetings is found at the bottom of the page.
By-election in Toronto Centre Earlier this summer, the Hon. Bob Rae announced that he would leave the House of Commons. The former Interim Liberal Leader an MP for Toronto Centre, Ontario’s last day in office was on July 31, 2013. The Prime Minister has until the end of January 2014 to set a date for the by-election in the urban riding, where there are 37 housing co-ops with 5,047 homes.
CHF Canada and CHFT will work with co-op members during the upcoming by-election campaign to raise the sector’s key issues.
House of Commons Finance Committee pre-budget consultations We submitted our pre-budget submission on July 31 to the federal Standing Committee on Finance (FINA). In Budget 2014, or through separate joint initiatives with other levels of government, the federal government can continue to move forward by implementing the first two recommendations to protect housing affordability:
Expand the social programs component of the Canada Social Transfer (CST), when it is renewed in 2014, to permit the provinces and territories to fund programs to replace expiring federal funding commitments to low-income public, non-profit and co-operative housing providers.
Ensure that provincial and territorial governments remain accountable for the new cost-shared funds provided through the Investment in Affordable Housing Initiative (IAH), which was announced in Budget 2013, by expanding the Affordable Housing Framework beyond 2014 (after the existing 2011-14 Framework ends) until 2019. With the goal of reducing housing need, federal transfers through the IAH must lead to increased investments in rental housing, including the development of new homes within existing co-op and non-profit housing.
We created and distributed a brochure for MPs to supplement the formal budget process.
New Minister Responsible for CMHC On July 15, Prime Minister Stephen Harper shuffled his Cabinet and appointed Jason Kenney as the new Minister of Employment and Social Development, and Minister Responsible for CMHC. On July 18, Anne Davidson sent a letter to congratulate the new Minister.
For any questions about this report, contact: David Granovsky
1 Press release: “Mayors of Canada’s biggest cities calling on government partners to address growing housing crisis,” May 30, 2013. Online, available on http://www.fcm.ca/home/media/news-releases/2013/mayors-of-canadas-biggest-cities-calling-on-government-partners-to-address-growing-housing-crisis.htm.
2 “Affordable housing tops the agenda as mayors make plea to Ottawa for help,” Globe & Mail, May 30, 2013. Online, available on http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/affordable-housing-tops-the-agenda-as-mayorsmakeplea-to-ottawa-for-help/article12281579/.
3 Press Release. “CHF Canada Urges Provincial and Territorial Governments to Work with Stakeholder Groups to Protect Housing Affordability.” Online, available on http://www.chfcanada.coop/eng/pages2007/news_2013_05.asp.
4 “Press Release. Provincial and Territorial Housing Ministers Responsible for Housing Call for Sustainable Federal Funding Partnership.” June 25, 2013. Online, available on http://www.scics.gc.ca/english/Conferences.asp?a=viewdocument&id=1977.
5 Press Release: “Canada’s Premiers are committed to a fair and inclusive society.” July 26, 2013. Online, available from http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1203615/canada-s-premiers-are-committed-to-a-fair-and-inclusive-society.