Senators Push Feds to Overhaul Funding to Address Inuit Housing Crisis

March 1, 2017 Updated: March 2, 2017

OTTAWA—A Senate committee is warning that an acute Inuit housing crisis will only get worse unless the federal government makes swift changes to how it funds housing in the North.

In a report released March 1, the Senate committee on aboriginal peoples calls on the Liberals to provide funding directly to Inuit groups where appropriate to help build homes for those in need, rather than see the money tied up in red tape by directing it through provinces and territories.

The committee also says the government must free up more money for housing in the North, where construction and living costs are already high, and make the funding stable so local officials can make long-term plans.

The committee didn’t say just how much money is needed to address a growing housing shortage that has led to overcrowding, substandard homes and a lack of affordable and suitable housing options that has put many Inuit families on the verge of homelessness.

The report says that up to 15 people can be crammed into small and crumbling three-bedroom units in many Inuit communities.

Overcrowding has helped lead to higher levels of domestic violence and abuse and health problems that include tuberculosis infection rates 250 times higher than in the non-indigenous population.

The Liberals are expected to release a promised national housing strategy in the coming months aimed at bringing down the cost of home ownership and rental units across the country.

From The Canadian Press