For Immediate Release
17 October, 2023
NL NDP Leader, Jim Dinn (St. John’s Centre), will introduce a notice of motion today in the House of Assembly calling for an Emergency Debate about the housing crisis in Newfoundland and Labrador. In a year, rental costs in the province increased by 8.4%, the second highest increase in the country only second to Nova Scotia. For two weeks, homeless people have built a tent city pleading with the province to act. A copy of the notice of motion is included as an addendum to this news release.
“People across our province have lost hope that they will ever be able to access a safe and affordable place to call home,” said Dinn. “The Liberal government has been promising a comprehensive housing plan since 2015, and failed. Their inaction to address and ignorance of the crisis has lead to tents being put up on the lawns of the Confederation Building, students are deferring their studies until they can find an affordable housing option, seniors and families are facing exorbitant rent increases, and minimum wage workers are working multiple jobs to pay rent.”
“That’s why today we are introducing a notice of motion calling for an emergency debate to declare a housing crisis in Newfoundland and Labrador and demand government act accordingly to the magnitude of the crisis in housing people are facing.
“This time last year I called on government to house people before winter – they refused to commit,” said Dinn. “Now, we’re in the same situation and there’s been nothing significant announced that’s going to address the housing shortfall outlined by the Canada Housing Mortgage Corporation.
“This government needs to acknowledge the crisis they’ve created in housing. Anything else is an insult to the dignity of the people sleeping outside in tents and living in shelters.”
For further information, contact Eddy St. Coeur, Director of Communications, NDP Caucus at 729-2137 (o), or email@example.com
Notice of Motion
October 17th, 2023
The member for St. John’s Centre to move –
Speaker, I rise pursuant to Standing Order 36 to ask leave to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgent public importance.
I move that the Orders of the Day not be called, but that the business of the House be adjourned so that members can declare a housing emergency, a crisis for which the people of this province cannot wait a day longer for their elected members to debate.
Speaker, this housing crisis is not a recent phenomenon, even though the Liberal government likes to lay much of the blame for it on the after effects of the COVID pandemic. Repeated announcements over their past eight years in power certainly undermine that argument.
I provide just a few examples. The need for a provincial housing strategy was identified in the Liberal Red Book during the election campaign in 2015, in which they first came to power.
In 2017, the Throne Speech identified safe, stable, and affordable housing as fundamental to the social and economic well-being of individuals, families and communities. It further stated that their government was committed to the development of a comprehensive provincial housing plan paying particular attention to the housing needs and supports for the most vulnerable and those with distinct needs.
But nothing really changed. Instead, we’ve seen the wait list for NLHC housing balloon under this government. Just from June 2021 to March of this year, the waitlist grew by 57 percent! We’ve seen chronic homelessness explode. In the capital city alone, End Homelessness St. John’s reported a nearly 80 per cent increase in those facing chronic homelessness between July of 2022 and July of this year.
Yet this is not a St. John’s issue, a Labrador issue, or a Bonavista issue. Sadly, we hear stories from every corner of this province about people not being able to afford shelter, of skyrocketing rents, of people forced into shelters, or sleeping rough.
I lay out this information because although this matter is urgent, it has not received the attention it deserves from us, the elected representatives of this province. Nor do I see any further opportunity to debate this matter coming up in the legislation we expect to see in this sitting. We cannot wait a day longer to debate this crisis, and for government to come up with effective solutions.
Winter is coming. Yesterday, Labrador West had its first snowfall. I remind you that we have a tent city across the street from Confederation Building. The driving rain, the wind, and the cold made conditions intolerable. The people living there were facing hypothermia. They cannot wait.
I assure you that across this province, there are many more either living outdoors in the rough, or given the housing crisis, at grave risk of being forced to do so. The only difference between those at the tent city and the others at dire risk is that the residents of the tent city made sure to be seen. They cannot wait.
Seniors, those on low or fixed incomes, and many other groups are being squeezed by the lack of housing and its rising cost. Many of them face steep rent increases they cannot afford, or the threat of a renoviction, in which the landlord will make alterations to the unit and then charge rents that the previous tenants and so many of those in a similar situation won’t be able to afford. They are wondering how they’re going to pay for rent this winter. Many of them will be forced to make very painful choices: rent, or heating? Rent or food? Rent or medications? They cannot wait.
Speaker, we are facing a human catastrophe, and I fear that without action, many people are going to face enormous suffering this winter, the likes of which we have not seen in living memory. We cannot wait a day longer to have this debate, while people suffer through no fault of their own. This House must take this opportunity to discuss and propose effective solutions for the constituents we serve.