Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski is pushing the federal government to address housing and homelessness issues in the region in support of a federal NDP motion that called for funding.
“Speaking with my constituents in Kootenay Columbia, it’s clear that we have serious problems with housing in our communities that must be addressed immediately,” Stetski said, during a speech in the House of Commons. “It is unacceptable that we have people living on the streets or in their cars. The best way to help people out of poverty is for them to have a place to call home.”
The Kootenay Columbia MP also brought forward issues raised by small businesses during regional roundtable meetings.
“The challenge for these businesses is finding staff, both permanent and during the high seasons. Kootenay Columbia is one of the most desirable places to live in Canada, but students and families looking for work are finding that they have no affordable place to live,” Stetski continued. “One of the issues is that what used to be affordable rental housing is now being let on a nightly or weekly basis through Air BnB, but the real problem is lack of available housing in general. This limits the ability of our small businesses to expand and thrive.”
Treating housing issues as a human right will help identify solutions, Stetski added.
“In a country with weather as extreme as Canada’s, the idea that housing is a human right should not be a question. No one can survive our -40 winters without shelter, nor should they have to,” he said.
Stetski said he’s also heard feedback from seniors concered about losing their family homes because of underfunding to Old Age Security [OAS] and Guaranteed Income Supplement [GIS].
“Seniors, who have worked all their lives and were looking forward to their retirement, are now finding that they can no longer afford to live in their homes,” Stetski said. “OAS and GIS together offer only a maximum of $17,856 per year, well below the poverty level in Canada.”
“There are few things as elemental as the need for shelter, and as policy makers we are failing to address this most basic and urgent need,” Stetski said.