Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

February 18, 2009 13:43 ET

Federal Government Takes Action to Help Improve On-Reserve Housing in B.C.

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 18, 2009) - The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians today announced further progress on improving housing conditions on reserve in British Columbia.

"Our government recognizes that better housing conditions can lead to stronger, healthier and more sustainable First Nation communities," said Minister Strahl. "Last spring we signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Province of B.C. and the First Nations Leadership Council on housing, and today we are announcing that we are building on that progress with strong support through Canada's Economic Action Plan."

In Canada's Economic Action Plan, the Government of Canada has committed $400 million over the next two years to support on-reserve housing. The funds are dedicated to new social housing projects, remediation of existing social housing stock and to complementary housing activities. Approximately $50 million of this commitment will be made available to First Nations in British Columbia to address on reserve housing issues in that province.

"Improving housing conditions for First Nations is a priority for all levels of government and I want to thank Minister Strahl and the Government of Canada for this initiative," said Premier Gordon Campbell. "By working in partnership, we can improve housing for First Nations people in British Columbia, and at the same time create construction jobs that help to support families and communities."

Last spring's MOU committed to exploring innovative approaches to improve housing and infrastructure for First Nations, individuals and families, and set out an initial framework for the collaborative development of complementary on- and off-reserve housing strategies. It also acknowledged the importance of working in partnership to overcome barriers and to address the housing gap between First Nations people and other British Columbians.

"We are moving beyond jurisdictional concerns to address this urgent issue," said B.C. Regional Chief Shawn Atleo. "Our people know too well the dire situations that are our communities are facing, and we can no longer ignore the housing crisis. It is time to come together, in partnership with governments, to develop a joint-process according to the priorities laid out in the MOU to create solutions that dramatically improve the housing and infrastructure for First Nations."

Today's announcement is the latest in a series of commitments made by the federal government to improve housing conditions in First Nations communities. In Budget 2007, the Government invested $300 million in the First Nations Market Housing Fund, which encourages market-based housing on reserve and could create 25,000 new housing units over the next decade. These commitments are in addition to the federal government's annual investment of approximately $270 million for on-reserve housing needs and INAC's investment of approximately $118 million annually for First Nations on reserve in the form of shelter allowance payments under the Income Assistance Program.

The Government of Canada, through INAC and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, delivers housing programs for First Nations living on reserve while the province supports First Nation housing off reserve.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Honourable Chuck Strahl
    Minister's Office
    Nina Chiarelli
    819-997-0002
    or
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
    Media Relations
    819-953-1160