Speech from the Minister Jean-Yves Duclos - launch Reaching Home – Canada’s Homelessness Strategy

Speech

Speech

Toronto, Ontario
June 11, 2018
Check against delivery
Thank you Adam for your wise few words, I am fortunate to have such an outstanding Parliamentary Secretary, and particularly one who has done so much excellent and hard work on housing and homelessness. In particular, he did an outstanding job as Chair of the Advisory Committee on Homelessness, whose work informed the announcement we are making here today.

Mesdames, messieurs,

Hello, everyone.

I’m pleased to be here with you today, as we gather on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.

Thank you to Eva’s for hosting us today and for the important work you are doing in preventing and reducing homelessness in this community.

Concrete actions

You know better than anyone that homelessness is a complex issue, and to reduce it, we need to put words into action.

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to call home […] One person on the streets in Canada is too many.”

As a country Canada, must do everything it can to reduce homelessness, meet the needs of vulnerable populations, and provide every Canadian with a safe, accessible, and affordable place to live.

That’s why, last November, we announced Canada’s first-ever National Housing Strategy, a historic 10-year, $40 billion plan to give more Canadians a place to call home.

That’s why the National Housing Strategy included $2 billion  to tackle homelessness in Canada.

And that’s why, today, it gives me great pleasure to announce Reaching Home— Canada’s Homelessness Strategy. Along with other National Strategy investments, Reaching Home will help us meet our

Along with other National Housing Strategy investments, Reaching Home will help us meet our ambitious goal of reducing homelessness by 50 percent over the next ten years.

We recognize this is a bold target, and that’s why we are making bold changes.

Over the last year, we’ve consulted with communities and local service providers, experts, provinces and territories, Indigenous partners, and perhaps most importantly,  people with lived experience of homelessness from across the country.

Guided by the work of the Advisory Committee on Homelessness, we engaged Canadians from coast to coast on how to improve the homelessness program. We heard throughout the consultation process that the focus on the community-based approach is a strength of the program, but also that communities need more flexibility and tools to better meet the needs of vulnerable populations.

I’m proud to say: We listened!

Reaching Home components

The heart of the broader National Housing Strategy is built around engaging communities to meet local needs. Nowhere is this more important than when it comes to tackling homelessness, which is why Reaching Home will take a “Communities First” approach.

As a starting point, we’ll deliver funding directly to municipalities and local service providers to support the most vulnerable Canadians in accessing and maintaining a safe, stable and affordable home.

We believe communities are best positioned to make these investments. We will stand-up for and behind local government and local providers.

Second, we will give communities more choice. Of course, Housing First has demonstrated tremendous success in reducing homelessness in Canada—and it must continue to be a priority. But we will not shut the door to any innovation in service delivery, or to any vulnerable population-such as youth, families fleeing domestic violence, or those seeking mental health supports. That is why Reaching Home will work with communities to target and deliver specific outcomes, rather than prescribing any one particular model of intervention.

The National Housing Strategy’s target of reducing chronic homelessness 50% will be a major outcome communities must work toward. But communities will also be required to set, monitor, and  achieve other key outcomes, including outcomes demonstrating progress on prevention.

Communities are best placed to know their local needs. That is why we are moving to an outcome-based approach which will provide them with greater flexibility to use funding to achieve better results for their communities.

Solutions that receive funding should and will include activities related to Housing First, a proven best practice that our government is proud to support, but we are providing more flexibility so that they can invest in equally important programs such as preventing homelessness or targeted interventions with groups such as youth, women fleeing violence, ethnic minorities, Indigenous people and Veterans.

As a third step toward a Communities First approach, our Government will expand the geographic reach of our homelessness investments. At present, 61 communities across Canada receive funding to help them tackle homelessness, based on decisions and data from nearly 20 years ago. But if we want to be effective in fighting homelessness, we need to be more responsive to demographic changes.

I’m pleased to report that, under Reaching Home, new communities can apply to be Designated Communities. This process will launch later this year.

As an additional element of the Community First approach, we will help municipalities and local service providers adopt a more systematic data-driven approach to addressing homelessness. We will provide communities with the tools they need to provide coordinated access to services for those experiencing homelessness or those at risk of becoming homelessness. These actions will enable more efficient and more inclusive decision making at the community level, using local real-time data—including by-name lists.

We know that each homeless person has a unique story and different needs. We also know that our programs have to be designed in a way that recognizes the unique challenges faced by indigenous Canadians, youth, seniors, LGBTQ2 Canadians, racialized communities, veterans, and Canadians with disabilities and mental health issues. Our more data-driven approach to homelessness will help ensure that you have the information you need to make the available support work for as many people as possible.

Finally, it is especially important to recognize that during the process that led to the launch of Reaching Home, the Advisory Committee heard that we must address the over-representation of Indigenous Peoples in the homeless population. We must take Reconciliation seriously.

Again, we listened to this important advice.

We know that we cannot reduce homelessness in Canada without a unique approach for Indigenous people.

We understand that homelessness experienced by Indigenous Peoples is unique. We will work with our Indigenous partners to take a holistic approach to homelessness. We will enhance funding to prevent and reduce homelessness among Indigenous people.

In fact, today we are announcing that we will increase funding to tackle indigenous homelessness above and beyond the doubling of program funding we delivered in Budget 2016.

Admittedly, this is not the full story. In the coming weeks and months, there will be more and important details to share. We will be working with communities to outline and co-develop these details. But we know that communities will need time to plan for when change comes into effect next April. And that is why we are proud to have announced our broad vision and plan for Reaching Home.

Acknowledgments and conclusion

Today’s announcement was possible because of the feedback and encouragement received from Canadians throughout the many consultation activities undertaken in 2017 and early 2018.

I would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank all Canadians who participated in these consultations and who helped us build Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy.

I would also like to recognize the Advisory Committee’s recommendations and to thank each of its members for their hard work. I would also like to extend a special thank you to my colleague Adam Vaughan for personally chairing each and every one of the roundtables that took place across our vast country.

Reaching home will help communities more effectively tackle homelessness. This plan will give more Canadians a place to call home.

I’m proud to be part of a Government that is forward-looking and is working in a spirit of collaboration to help empower all Canadians to build better lives for themselves and for their communities.

Reaching Home is a progressive step toward realizing a Canada without homelessness.

Thank you.

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