Housing

A row of the Tipi Village at the Saskatchewan National Event

Current Reality

For example, although the $300 million set aside by the federal government in a trust fund for the First Nations Market Housing Fund in 2008 was expected to result in 25,000 new homes in 10 years, the most recent data provided to the committee was that 99 homes had been built by May 2015.

On-Reserve Housing and Infrastructure: Recommendations for Change” a report from the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples released in 2015

Other facts:

  • One in five Indigenous people who live off-reserve are homeless or live in overcrowded, unsafe or inadequate housing.
  • A new Statistics Canada study, commissioned by The National Indigenous Fire Safety Council (NIFSC) Project and funded by Indigenous Services Canada finds that mortality and morbidity related to fire, burns, and carbon monoxide poisoning Indigenous Peoples are:
    • over five times more likely to die in a fire.
    • That number increases to over 10 times for First Nations people living on reserves
    • Inuit are over 17 times more likely to die in a fire than non-Indigenous people
    • Rates among Métis were higher than non-Indigenous estimates (2.1), but these rates were not significantly different.
  • There is no national fire protection code that mandates fire safety standards or enforcement on reserves. All other jurisdictions in Canada including provinces, territories, and other federal jurisdictions (such as military bases, airports, and seaports) have established building and fire codes. The Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada (AFAC), NIFSC’s parent organization, supports the development of a national First Nations Fire Protection Act and is willing to work with First Nations leadership as a technical resource.

Inuit

Throughout their traditional homelands, Inuit face an acute housing crisis which threatens their health and safety. This persistent and growing housing shortage has been characterized as one of the most significant public health emergencies in this country. Severe overcrowding, substandard homes, and a lack of affordable and suitable housing options has left many Inuit families one step away from homelessness; an unsettling reality in one of the harshest climates in the world. In Nunavik alone, over half of Inuit families live in overcrowded housing. In far too many communities, up to 15 people, including young children, live in small and crumbling three bedroom units. The effect of these conditions, on children in particular, is deeply troubling. Overcrowding results in higher levels of domestic violence and abuse, placing children in unacceptably vulnerable situations.

The lack of decent and affordable housing continues to have serious public health repercussions throughout the Inuit territories. Tuberculosis, which is rare in southern Canada, occurs among Inuit at a rate over 250 times higher than for non-Indigenous Canadians. Inuit families are at higher risk for mental health problems, including stress and anxiety. High levels of respiratory infections among Inuit children, such as chronic lung disease after lower respiratory tract infections, are also linked to crowding and poorly ventilated homes.

“We can do better: Housing in Inuit Nunangat”. Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, 2017

First Nations

The substandard and deplorable housing conditions in First Nations are a persistent and growing phenomenon. Current housing programs do not meet the increasing demand of new housing units brought on by the higher than average population growth, overcrowding, and deteriorating units as a result of poor construction and impacts from mold. Between 2010 and 2031, it is estimated that there will be a backlog of 130,000 units, 44% of the existing units will require major repairs and 18% will require replacement.

National First Nations Housing Strategy, October 11, 2016, Ottawa

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