Check this page regularly for information on national campaigns and issues.
The Latest Updates - January 2007
January 18th 2007 from Jane Kali (Street Health, PAID project)
Please find below information regarding the new federal funding, Homelessness Partnering Strategy. There has been some misinformation about this funding and many people have expressed that the issue of funding is over now that the money is secure. This is not true and many projects and services in Toronto and across the country are preparing to close.
Please read the information sheet and write to the new minister of HRSDC.
If you have any questions, please contact me. If you are interested in attending meetings and wish to be involved with our planning of next steps, let me know and I will include you on our organizing committee list.
Jane Kali Street Health ID Safe & Access to Health Cards for the Homeless 338 Dundas Street East Toronto, Ontario, M5A 2A1 Phone: (416) 921-8668 x 269 Fax: (416) 921-5233 firstname.lastname@example.org
January 12th from Michael Shapcott:
As you know, homeless people and their advocates won a big victory in December, when the federal government announced that it was extending for two years the funding for the federal homelessness and housing rehabilitation programs. The feds were clearly reluctant, but in the end were forced to make this decision in response to effective political pressure.
However, there are big issues remaining with the roll-out of the homelessness funding, and – in particular – with the transition from the current funding to the new funding. One danger is that administrative issues could force delays in the flow of funding, which would mean that local services might be cancelled. In Toronto, two agencies that provide critical services to their clients have already given layoff notices to staff and are preparing to wind down operations because of continuing uncertainty.
One effective response would be to create an administrative extension of the current homelessness funding – a mechanism that would allow current dollars to be allocated after the end of the fiscal year at the end of March. This would allow agencies to access bridge financing to keep their services operating while the homeless funding moves from current to the new funding arrangements.
Attached, please find some notes from the City of Toronto on this issue, along with contact information. Please add this to your advocacy / policy agendas.
The SCPI Campaign (see details below for past work) was a success. Housing activists confirm that SCPI has been saved (with some reservations). Michael Shapcott, Senior Fellow with the Wellesley Institute and TDRC Steering Committee member provided this report:
December 19, 2006
Wellesley update: Federal homeless dollars renewed, but no new funding to meeting growing national need
Federal homelessness minister Diane Finley announced today that the federal government will renew its homelessness program at $270 million over two years and its low-income housing rehabilitation program at $256 million over two years. Today’s announcement was short on detail, such as how much money local communities can expect under the program.
“The funding renewal is a wonderful Christmas present for homeless people and housing advocates across Canada, but we need to carefully unwrap the package to answer some critical questions,” says Michael Shapcott, Senior Fellow at the Wellesley Institute.
SAME OLD DOLLARS: The minister announced the new funding just 88 days before the two programs were due to expire. Agencies across Canada are starting to wind down services, and advocates had launched a vigorous national campaign to renew funding. Funding has been frozen at $135 million for years, notes Shapcott. Most of that flows to ten major urban areas, where homelessness is on the rise. Some goes to another 50 middle-sized communities. Small communities, remote, rural and northern areas were left out in the past. With today’s announcement, Minister Finley has promised funding for non-urban areas, but with no increase in the dollars, growing numbers of rural homeless will be competing with growing numbers of urban homeless for scarce dollars.
NO WORD ON TIMING: The federal government has changed the name of the program from the Supporting Community Partnerships Initiative to the Homelessness Partnership Strategy, and it has promised to consult with provinces, the private sector and community groups. But there have already been years of consultations and “stakeholder” meetings, notes Shapcott. Current funding is due to expire in 88 days, so the federal government needs to flow the new dollars right away to ensure a seamless transition. Small, community-based agencies that provide vital services don’t have the financial resources to wait for weeks or months of consultations.
HOUSING REHAB: Also today, the federal government renewed the federal low-income housing renovation program called the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program. As with the homeless dollars, the housing rehab money remains frozen at the same level as in previous years. The funding renewal is a welcome response to a national campaign to renew this successful federal initiative.
NO NATIONAL HOUSING STRATEGY: While today’s announcement will provide some comfort to homeless people, it won’t provide them with any new permanent homes. The federal government still doesn’t have a national housing strategy. Minister Finley pointed to $1.4 billion in federal housing funding authorized by Parliament in June of 2005, but the new Harper government has failed to allocate a single new penny to urgently-needed affordable housing.
SCPI Campaign - WON!!!!
The Supporting Communities Partnerships Initiative (SCPI) funding provides support for many ongoing supportive and capital projects in communities across the country. It is scheduled to end on March 31st 2007. It is critical that this money be renewed and extended for several years.
Please download this petition and get it signed by your friends, family and colleagues. You can give it to your MP or send it back to us and we will ensure it is presented in the House of Commons.
A draft template letter is also available. Please use this to create your own letter and send it to the federal government.
The following background and historical information will assist you in this lobbying effort:
Background paper from Michael Shapcott
A fact sheet is available for further information on the issues
SCPI Extension motion from Toronto City Council in April 2006
Sept 12th events:
A day of action took place across the country on Sept 12th to demand that the funding be continued beyond March.
In Toronto, there was a forum on Sept 12 with about 500 people in attendance. The forum followed the regular monthly homeless vigil at 12noon. For more information download the poster. Also, Councillor Mihevc, who moderated the forum, wrote an open letter to community agencies encouraging their involvement.
August 18th SCPI Update (written by Michael Shapcott):
The communities have won round one in the battle over the federal homelessness funding (Supporting Community Partnerships Initiative), but the war goes on – sorry for the military analogy, but it seems terribly appropriate.
As of yesterday, we had heard from six Ontario communities, plus Yellowknife, which all reported that local Service Canada officials had told them that they should expect cuts of about one-third to their 2006 homelessness funding. This morning, I learned of two more Ontario communities that are reporting that Service Canada has told them to expect cuts, as well. The pattern is clear, and suggests much more than a local snafu.
However, early yesterday evening, homelessness minister Diane Finley issued a statement (see below) promising that all $134.8 million in fiscal 2006 SCPI funding will be fully allocated, and also promising that the $37 million in “leftover” homeless funds from fiscal 2005 will also be fully allocated.
This is a clear win for the 60-plus communities that have effectively used the homelessness funding – and represents a round one victory for the communities!
BUT DON’T STOP NOW!
First of all, we have to closely monitor to make sure that the 2006 money does, in fact, get out AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. We are five months into fiscal 2006, with only seven months remaining before the funds have to be spent. That leaves little time, especially for capital projects (like transitional housing). We have already heard about several prospective transitional housing projects that have had to be dropped because of the funding delays.
Second, and even more importantly, the entire homeless program – and all the funding – will die on March 31, 2007, unless it is renewed by the federal government. Some homeless services, including a number in Toronto, are funded on a calendar – not a fiscal – year, which means that their funding will expire at the end of December of 2006. Agencies will have to start winding down services, and give layoff notices to experienced staff people, in the next five or six weeks – unless the federal government agrees to extend the funding.
The homeless, who rely on these programs, plus the service providers and the municipalities, cannot wait until the next federal budget (expected in February of 2007) for an answer. The federal government has two options:
- the federal cabinet can approve homeless funding (the last one-year extension of SCPI was approved by cabinet); or
- the federal government can use its fall economic statement (expected in October) to announce new homelessness funding.
Housing advocates are asking for new homelessness funding, with a commitment in the early fall of 2006. Advocates are also asking for additional funding. The current funding only reaches slightly more than 60 communities, and even in those areas, many important initiatives have not been funded.
Keep the e-mails and letters flowing to the Prime Minister, Finance Minister and Minister Finley (see contact info in yesterday’s update), plus copy your correspondence to the three opposition party leaders. With a minority Parliament, we can get some momentum by engaging all Members of Parliament in this critical initiative.
Contact information for the opposition party leaders:
Hon. Bill Graham, Leader - Liberal Party of Canada - Telephone: (613) 992-5234 Fax: (613) 996-9607 Graham.B@parl.gc.ca
Hon. Jack Layton, Leader - New Democratic Party of Canada - Telephone: (613) 995-7224 Fax: (613) 995-4565 Layton.J@parl.gc.ca
Hon. Gilles Duceppe, Leader - Bloc Quebecois - Telephone: (613) 992-6779 Fax: (613) 954-2121 Duceppe.G@parl.gc.ca
August 17th SCPI Statement from Diane Finley
AUGUST 17, 2006 - 18:14 ET
Statement by the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development
OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Aug. 17, 2006) - In light of some recent misinformation in the media concerning the availability of funds for the Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative (SCPI) under the National Homelessness Initiative (NHI), I'd like to set the record straight and state the Government of Canada's commitment.
There have been absolutely no cuts to funding for this program. The full amount of funding of $134.8 million for the fiscal year 2006-07 has been allocated across the country. There have been no reductions and there will be no reductions to this funding.
This Government will continue working with communities to address homelessness across Canada. I agree very much with people like Phil Brown in the City of Toronto, and others, who have said this is a program which generates real results on the ground for people in need. That is why Canada's new government chose to proceed with a one-year extension of the program, in the amount of $ 134.8 million, for 2006-07.
Further to the full 2006-07 allocation, I understand that there may be additional needs over and above the $134.8 million committed for this year. I am pleased to confirm that this government is making the $37 million from 2005-06 available for programming this year.
August 17th SCPI Update
(written by Michael Shapcott): Seven communities (six in Ontario and Yellowknife) are all reporting large cuts to 2006 federal homelessness funding. The biggest cuts are reported in Toronto, which is losing $5.89 million – or one-third of its total 2006 allocation.
That’s bad news now – but the worse news to come is that the entire federal homelessness program is due to die by March of 2007 (with some agencies being forced to start winding up services and lay off staff in the fall of 2006).
Please send letters and e-mails to:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper - email@example.com Fax: (613) 941-6900
Danielle Shaw, Policy Advisor, PMO - firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: (613) 957-5559
Finance Minister James Flaherty - email@example.com Fax: (613) 995-5176
Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Diane Finley - Finley.D@parl.gc.ca Fax: (819) 994-0448
Plus you can copy to all cabinet ministers. Find a full list at: http://webinfo.parl.gc.ca/MembersOfParliament/MainCabinetCompleteList.aspx?TimePeriod=Current&Language=E
Members of Parliament are listed at: http://webinfo.parl.gc.ca/MembersOfParliament/MainMPsCompleteList.aspx?TimePeriod=Current&Language=E
August 15th SCPI Update
(written by Michael Shapcott)
Phil Brown, the City of Toronto’s Manager of Shelter, Housing and Support, has confirmed massive funding cuts to the federal homelessness program (Supporting Community Partnerships Initiative). He says that Toronto was promised $17.29 million in 2006 SCPI funding, but that the feds now say that city will only receive $11.4 million – that a cut of $5.8 million (or more than one-third) from the originally-promised amount. Federal officials, in turn, say that they have handed out all the federal funds – plus some leftover money from last year.
SCPI cuts are also being reported in London, and we have heard of possible cuts in Windsor, Ottawa and Winnipeg.
Past National work:
$1.6 Billion campaign
The Liberal-NDP budget bill included $1.6 billion for housing. It was unclear whether this money would be maintained in the Conservatives' new budget. After lobbying and much community pressure, $1.4 billion was promised in the Conservative budget.
Letter to Minister Diane Finlay
Take action on the $1.6 billion promised for housing (from the National Coalition on Housing and Homelessness).
Economic Case for investment in affordable housing.