Reports / Articles

May 2002

Putting Promises into Action:
A Report on a Decade of Child and Family Poverty in Canada

By Campaign 2000

For the UN Special Session on Children, May 2002



Stable, affordable housing in a child-friendly neighbourhood is essential for healthy child development. Yet, low vacancy rates, rapidly rising rental costs, and reduced social assistance rates have made decent housing unattainable for many lower-income families.

Governments, who once made a key contribution to housing supply, vacated the market and private developers have not filled the gap. Production fell from more than 20,000 units annually in the 1980s to an average of 4,450 units by 1994. Rental vacancy rates in major cities now average 1.6%, far below the 3 % that is considered a healthy rental market.

In 1993 the federal government froze funding for social housing. By 1996, it had transferred responsibility for its existing housing stock to the provinces and territories. Most provincial governments withdrew from building new housing and some downloaded their new responsibility to local governments with no additional resources.

Ottawa has since taken a step back into affordable housing, committing $680 million over four years in 2001. While the provinces and territories have signed a framework agreement with the federal government for the new initiative, the majority have yet to contribute their own funding to make the agreement work. Without cost-sharing by the provinces and territories the effectiveness of the program will be severely reduced. Tackling the housing crisis requires bolder steps. Pent up demand necessitates an aggressive program that will create 20,000-30,000 units annually over the next 10 years and rehabilitate 10,000 affordable units per year. This obligates Ottawa to step up its current $170 million allocation to $1 billion annually over the next five years.

"Adequate housing fosters family integration, contributes to social equity and strengthens the feeling of belonging, security and human solidarity, which are essential to the well-being of children. Accordingly, we will attach a high priority to overcoming the housing shortage and other infrastructure needs." 
-- Plan of Action for "A World Fit for Children", signed by the Canadian government and other heads of state in May 2002.

The full report is available at:

UN Special Session on Children, at

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