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National Housing Strategy

There's less than one week to go until the federal government tables its national housing strategy report on November 22, following months of consultations with the provinces and territories, industry experts and everyday Canadians. What will, or should, our national housing strategy look like?
The next several weeks are crucial in Canada's housing market. Ottawa's Let's Talk Housing initiative wrapped up consultations in late October, and is now working toward tabling the results on Nov. 22. But for anyone expecting a full-on housing policy on that date -- best not hold your breath.
Women's homelessness is a significant, yet often hidden, crisis facing this country. Research shows that for every person who is absolutely homeless, there are at least three more who fall into the hidden homelessness category.
According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 12.5 per cent of all Canadian households experience an affordability crisis every day. Let me be clear -- this crisis is not limited to the real estate markets in Toronto and Vancouver. It is endemic and disproportionally affects low income working families, seniors, Indigenous people and recent immigrants. This is a large segment of our population that continually struggles to pay for the necessities of life.
A decade ago when I was considering a future in politics, one of the people I spoke to as I made up my mind was the former Mayor of Toronto David Crombie. He asked me why I wanted to run and my reply was blunt. I want to build housing. So I did.
The evidence is clear. Social factors, like housing, income and wealth, educational background, and race are more powerful determinants of health outcomes than our behaviours, genes, or even the healthcare system itself.
Canada is now fully entrenched in its goal to rescue 25,000 Syrian refugees. And while the timelines may be a bit longer than anticipated, the commitment is real and ongoing. Many issues confront government as they continue down the rescue path but possibly the most urgent is one of housing.
The recent flooding in Toronto has exposed much of the City's unpreparedness for a serious disaster. But what has been left out of the public debate on aging infrastructure, road closures and flooded subways is what happens to those who live on the streets?
A home is not a partisan issue. It is a basic human need, and a fundamental right. Homelessness and inadequate housing is a solvable problem for a rich democracy like Canada. Federal leadership is the only way to have a coordinated strategy across the country that ensures all the necessary stakeholders are at the table.