March 30, 2006 11:16 ET

Church Leaders Ask Prime Minister to Move Housing Funds Immediately

Decisive Action Needed To Address Canada's Crisis of Homelessness Attention: Assignment Editor, City Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - March 30, 2006) - Less than two months after the moving van pulled up to 24 Sussex Drive carrying Prime Minister Harper's family belongings to their new home, church leaders are reminding the Prime Minister that thousands of Canadians and their families are waiting for the government to act on its promise to fund $1.6 billion over two years for new affordable housing.

"With that memory of moving day fresh in his mind, the Prime Minister is being challenged to remember all those Canadians who do not have an official residence," says Jim Marshall, The United Church of Canada's program officer for Economic Justice and Social Well-Being.

In a letter sent this week to Prime Minister Harper, the leaders of four Canadian churches - the Right Rev. Peter Short, Moderator of The United Church of Canada; the Most Rev. Andrew Hutchison, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada; the Rev. Raymond Schultz, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; and the Rev. Henry Hess, Canadian Ministries Director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, have called on the government to move immediately to release funds designated for affordable housing.

Marshall explains that in June 2005, Parliament approved a budget that included $1.6 billion dollars over two years for new affordable housing. He says that although this was the single largest commitment of new housing dollars in more than 10 years, these dollars remain unallocated.

He adds that in their letter to the Prime Minister, the church leaders cite the involvement of church members across Canada in caring for the most vulnerable in their communities, through food banks, community suppers, and shelter programs. "Yet they know these acts of charity are not enough, for they do not bring about sustainable justice nor do they fully restore a person's dignity. Without secure, affordable, and long-term housing, 'home' for the people they serve will never be possible."

Marshall says that the church leaders also assure the Prime Minister that once the promised funds are released, church groups and other civil society groups are ready to act to partner with federal, provincial, and territorial governments to develop housing that is "long overdue and desperately needed."
/For further information: Mary-Frances Denis
Communications Officer
The United Church of Canada
416-231-7680 ext. 2016 (office)
416-766-0057 (home)

Contact Information

  • Mary-Frances Denis, Communications Officer, The United Church of Canada
    Primary Phone: 416-231-7680 ext. 2016
    Secondary Phone: 416-766-0057