Parties offer housing promises to appeal to the North

NDP pledges $5,000 to renting families, Conservative says Nunavut has been ignored, Liberal points to party’s track record

A view of housing in Iqaluit. Housing is set to be one of the dominant issues in Nunavut this federal election. (Photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

By David Lochead

One of the first issues to get traction in the federal election is one relevant to Nunavut: housing.

Last weekend NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh announced his party would give up to $5,000 a year to Canadian families that rent their homes. Other core parts of his housing plan include building 500,000 affordable homes in 10 years and a 20 per cent tax on the sale of homes to foreign buyers.

Singh also said his party would close loopholes and tax wealthy corporations, such as Amazon.

Lori Idlout, the NDP’s candidate for Nunavut, said that providing a $5,000 subsidy for renting families won’t by itself address the territory’s housing crisis. But she said her party has other proposals that would also help.

Specifically, Idlout said mold in housing is a significant issue in Nunavut and that her party is committed to removing it.

“The NDP want to address the [mold issue] right away,” Idlout said.

Laura MacKenzie, the Nunavut candidate for the Conservative party, said more funding needs to become available for housing in Nunavut, as at least 3,000 units are needed.

“Nunavut has been totally ignored,” MacKenzie said about federal funding available for Nunavut.

“That has to change.”

An issue both Idlout and MacKenzie highlight is housing for the elderly. Idlout and MacKenzie both say that elders should be able to live and connect with family in Nunavut instead of being separated because of a lack of long-term care facilities in the territory.

“It’s like residential school again,” MacKenzie said of elderly Nunavummiut having to live away from their families to receive care in southern Canada.

Liberal candidate Pat Angnakak said the $20 billion committed to social infrastructure by the Liberal government in the recent federal budget is a good example of how her party is committed to housing.

But Angnakak said careful planning is also required to help address Nunavut’s housing shortage. For example, Angnakak said that bringing people into a community to build homes means needing to house those workers, and that in turn can put pressure on a small community.

“How many people going into a community at the same time [to build houses] is something that we need to be taking into consideration,” Angnakak said.

Nunavut’s housing crisis received national attention after the territory’s former NDP MP, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, published a housing report last year that highlighted the dire conditions some residents lived in. Poor insulation, mold and overcrowding were some of several findings in the report.

“I could see she had great influence in the current commitments,” Idlout said of Qaqqaq.

Last year the Nunavut Housing Corporation released a report stating that over half of Nunavummiut live in social housing. Of those in social housing that are over the age of 19, the NHC said 80 per cent makes less $23,000 a year.

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(19) Comments:

  1. Posted by S on

    In many ways this is a meaningless article about meaningkess commitments about meaningless statistics.

    What does it mean that 80% of adults in social (free) housing make less than $28,000 per year?
    That two adults have combined (non-taxable perhaps) incone of $56,000; while paying no rent and possibly a child or two? Is that a decent enough gig, decent enough that neither works other than domestically?

    Does a family that rents and earns $150,000 qualify? Is the nanny state a good outcome for the society we built?

  2. Posted by No Damn Plan (NDP) on

    LOL at the $5000 cheques per family. That does absolutely nothing to help with housing. Remember what happened last time the govt gave free money (CERB anybody)? Let’s not try to relive that disaster.

    • Posted by Sam on

      I am voting NDP for sure 5000.00 dollars for rent, I pay 60.00 month and am on social assistance, thanks ndp

    • Posted by Renter on

      How , could , i forget Cerb payments, my neigbours were drunk for months.

  3. Posted by Stupido on

    $5,000 a month rent for anyone on social assistance will only reduce their welfare by that exact amount. In other words, the biggest recipient will be the Government of Nunavut.

    $5,000 a month rent if you are in staff housing will either provide the well paid bureaucrat – most of whom are non-Inuit and senior management level – an additional subsidy or the landlord will jack up the rent by the subsidy amount. Either scenario is grossly unfair and unjust.

    There are a tiny number of people who aren’t in social housing and not in staff housing. If there was a way to target them then maybe this makes sense except for the real possibility the landlords jacks up the rent to get the subsidies for themselves.

    So, its a stupid idea and almost certainly the wrong policy approach for Nunavut.

    • Posted by Dude Town on

      Actually, the NDP are saying $5000/ per year. Per month that would be $416.66

  4. Posted by Consistency on

    Well housing IS the issue that needs to be dealt with now. but $5K for renting families, that wont help Nunavut at all, who rents in Nunavut (the GN) the GN is really the only one that rents from Northview for staff housing and for public housing. those in staff housing already get something subsidized even though we dont know how much that is. and those in public housing are also very heavily subsidized. so will the GN get $5K for every unit that is managed by them? how much would that be worth? would $5K per unit even get ride of all the mold? I doubt it.

  5. Posted by Inuk guy on

    Nunavut received more money for Public Housing Construction under the Conservatives than it did under the Liberals!

    Agree with other posts about the 5k rental money. This program will do nothing when there are no houses to rent.

  6. Posted by eileen izzard on

    which party will put housing first?
    a secure affordable appropriate housing situation makes every other opportunity
    There is not enough housing in any part of canada, right now.
    We can’t employ people the skillsor trades, where they are, needed, because we cant house them.
    money is not the issue, except that demand dictates supply.
    you dont have slums if people can afford homes and the necessities of life.
    the federal government needs to stop international investment until the forces
    in Canada have proven themselves worthy of handouts, subsidies, etc.
    where are the programs to encourage cooperative projects, in all areas of canada.
    Starting where it is a matter of life and death, harshest weather and population density.

  7. Posted by Uphere on

    Other issue is how nunavut housing corp. Charges 1000.00 and upwards for houses that r broken down and 15 to 25 year old buildings

    • Posted by What Subsidy? on

      Over $1600 for a 2-bedroom “subsidized” staff unit in a building that’s 40 years old and hasn’t even been updated in, oh… 40 years. Unreal.

  8. Posted by Mildred Pierce on

    Crumbs. The housing crisis in Nunavut requires a huge input of money, time, and strategic planning. These penny-ante solutions are symbolic at best. And before you ask, no, I don’t have the answers. How do you build affordable housing in a territory where the cost of labour and material is so high, and where more than half of the population relies on the Government to provide housing? I don’t think you can. Maybe modular housing? But how would that help families in Nunavut, which are much larger than their southern counterparts? It is a conundrum.

  9. Posted by Free Money on

    I am often an NDP supporter, at least compared to the other parties when it comes to their ideologies. However, I worry that they may lack in their ability to efficiently act upon those ideologies, and this is a perfect example. I 100% do not agree with dishing out $5,000 per year to people renting. This actually provides an incentive to move away from homeownership, which should be the ultimate goal.
    The other thing that makes it confusing is what others have already mentioned. If you’re in staff housing and paying a subsidized rate, do you get the $5k or does the employer? If you’re in social housing, do you get the $5k or does the GN? If the employer/GN are the ones getting the money for staff/social housing, this $5,000/year benefit to renters will not even benefit very many individuals in Nunavut, and certainly very few outside of Iqaluit.

    • Posted by No Moniker on

      The NDP occupies special niche in the sphere of ideas where its policies are rarely if ever tested in the real world. It has always been a home to idealists and a magnet for positions that exaggerate reality, at best offering sufficient grandiosity to inspire the ongoing support of young dreamers and idealists who seldom burdened themselves with particulars and nuance.

      In the real world and outside the insular space where their ideas bounce with little friction these might seem unrefined, even absurd, or at their very best, just poorly thought out. This is a good example, a sweeping solution that looks more like bribery than a practical policy designed to solve a nearly intractable problem.

  10. Posted by Ian on

    900,000.00 that’s what it costs the gn to build a 3-4 bedroom hse in Nunavut plus 25,000.00 a year to maintain.the private sector is slowly being driven out of the housing market because they charge too much.the housing Corp board cannot deal with this issue no one can homeownership is a dream that has faded away for many middle class Inuit and have to depend on public housing and pay 1500-1750 month in public housing , no hope so quit your job and live for 60.00 month and go on social assistance.this is total socialism and will never change. Only the elites here will be able to be able to buy a home.

  11. Posted by Norman Gordon on

    Why are the current leaders doing
    anything now and you want me to vote for your party.

  12. Posted by Meaningless promises on

    Sorry to say but they have been promising housing for years and years and still little to nothing has been done about it. And has been promised by every party who has been in parliament so why is this any different now? How do we know that they will keep their promises and that haven’t

  13. Posted by Change the strategy on

    When 80% or more houses are for social housing, we have a problem. It is time people be told there is no right to housing. Inuit were not promised free housing. There is no free housing in the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement.
    It is time to tell people they can either work and get government housing, not work and be homeless, or opt for a plane ticket to Ottawa.

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