Kootenay-Columbia Member of Parliament Wayne Stetski rose in the House of Commons recently to speak about the many housing issues in his riding.
“Speaking with my constituents in Kootenay Columbia, it’s clear that we have serious problems with housing in our communities that must be addressed immediately,” Stetski said. “It is unacceptable that we have people living on the streets or in their cars. The best way to help people out of poverty is for them to have a place to call home.”
The speech was in response to an NDP motion that called on the government to invest in housing now.
Stetski also talked about the issues faced by small businesses in his riding, which he heard about during his small business roundtable meetings.
“The challenge for these businesses is finding staff, both permanent and during the high seasons. Kootenay Columbia is one of the most desirable places to live in Canada, but students and families looking for work are finding that they have no affordable place to live. One of the issues is that what used to be affordable rental housing is now being let on a nightly or weekly basis through Air BnB, but the real problem is lack of available housing in general. This limits the ability of our small businesses to expand and thrive.”
The solutions, Stetski said, are based in treating housing as a human right.
“In a country with weather as extreme as Canada’s, the idea that housing is a human right should not be a question. No one can survive our -40 winters with shelter, nor should they have to,” he said.
He also called on the government to address the issue of seniors concerned about losing their family homes, telling a number of stories about constituents facing that situation.
“Seniors, who have worked all their lives and were looking forward to their retirement, are now finding that they can no longer afford to live in their homes,” Stetski said. “OAS and GIS together offer only a maximum of $17,856 per year, well below the poverty level in Canada.”
“There are few things as elemental as the need for shelter, and as policy makers we are failing to address this most basic and urgent need,” Stetski said.