Alternative Federal Budget (Canada), 156 pp

Alternative Federal Budget – Feb 2018, 156 pp
from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
For more than two decades, the Alternative Federal Budget has provided a blueprint for sustainable and equitable growth in Canada. When successive federal governments advocated austerity, we demanded new stimulative investment in social and economic infrastructure. When they said the private sector should deliver public goods, we recognized that some priorities — like expanded health care, housing, and child care — could only be properly addressed by the government. Where governments of all stripes have spent billions subsidizing fossil fuel production and export, the Alternative Budget pointed out it would be far more productive, and more beneficial in the long term, to fund a just transition to a zero-carbon future.

Where the mainstream media obsessed about the deficit, we urged governments to focus on the more important debt-to-GDP ratio and the multiplier effect that public investment would have on the economy…

From Housing Market to Human Right – A View from Metro Vancouver, Marc Lee, May 2018


In other countries, public or non-market housing has long been part of the solution. Across OECD countries, Canada’s social housing rate of 4% is much less than comparable
advanced countries like the Netherlands (34%), Austria (26%), Denmark (22%), France (19%) or the UK (18%).
In Singapore, some 82% of residents live in 900,000 apartments built by the city state’s Housing Development Board. IIn the city of Vienna, Austria, almost half of the total housing stock is social housing, and the city acts as a developer.

Canada can also look to its own history of building dedicated affordable housing in the postwar years. The federal government was central in putting funds on the table for provincial partnerships, often with a 2/3 federal, 1/3 provincial split. Another key player was non-profit community groups, such as church groups and cooperatives, who came together to apply for funds, incorporating land and other equity from fundraising as part of their applications.

Consequently, between the early 1970s and the early 1990s, BC used to bring on stream approximately 2,000 units of new social or coop housing each year. This legacy of social and cooperative housing is more than 50,000 units in Metro Vancouver. Planned federal commitments in the NHS to build dedicated new affordable housing are limited. While efforts to preserve existing social housing through renewal of their operating agreements is notable and most welcome, a dedicated multi-decade pipeline of new affordable housing construction is needed. The headline commitment of 100,000 units sounds large, but it is nationwide, over a period of ten years, and assumes provincial contributions.

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