On Tuesday March 9 I asked in Question Period about the government's plan to house those who are homelessness. In essence the problem is this -for years NDP and Conservative governments in Manitoba have talked about ending homelessness, but have failed to implement a plan which will house all those who are homeless. This type of plan - which provides only a proportion of the housing needed - is a plan which continues to perpetuate homelessness. Recently, the government brought forward a plan which forsees housing for only 250 of the 1500 or more people who are experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg. In Rochelle Squires answer below, she talks of having created 713 new affordable housing units. She does not talk about the many units which have been sold off. As of today, the 250 housing units in the government's recent press release are the only ones to be created which will directly address those who are homeless. Furthermore, the large number of homeless people who were in bus shelters this winter speaks loudly to the inability of the province to achieve housing rapidly for so many who are experiencing homelessness. Our report on homelessness, provides an alternative group of measures to ensure those experiencing homelessness are housed rapidly as they are in Medicine Hat. During the research to prepare our report I met a gentleman experiencing homelessness and living in a bus shelter who had previously visited Medicine Hat. He said "In Medicine Hat, they don't even let you be homeless." He described how he was put in a motel as soon as he was found to be homeless and was then provided help with a variety of resources so he would not need to be homeless and could turn his life around. Our report "All the way Home" can be found by clicking on this link. Our plan envisages the sort of wrap around supports that the Minister mentions, but would enable rapid housing instead of those who are experiencing homelessness instead of continuing the present approach which perpetuates homelessness in Winnipeg.
Homelessness in Winnipeg
Request for Housing Plan
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, the best estimate we have of the number of people experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg is 1,500. This is from a street census in 2018. It's widely suspected this is an underestimate.
If the minister is only planning to help 250 of these 1,500 people get housed, the minister's plan is to perpetuate homelessness, with 1,250 people continuing to have to live in shelters, including bus shelters.
Why is the minister planning to perpetuate homelessness in Winnipeg instead of planning to house all of the 1,500 people experiencing homelessness, and thus to end homelessness, as places like Medicine Hat have done?
Hon. Rochelle Squires (Minister of Families): I'm pleased to take an opportunity to provide some correct information, and I'd also like to table some information that shows that our government has created 713 new affordable housing units since we formed government.
We are also working towards supporting our–those who are homeless or who are precariously housed by also providing wraparound supports.
We know that just throwing the keys at someone isn't just the solution. We also have to provide services so that they can have supports for mental health, for addictions, for education opportunities and other opportunities that they can achieve their full life. That is what our government is doing, is providing housing as well as wraparound supports for all those who need it.
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