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Housing shortage threat to Canada economy PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 27 January 2008

Agence France-Presse . Vancouver

Homelessness and a housing shortage pose major threats to Canada's economy, a national coalition of cities said Wednesday, setting out a 10-year plan to provide affordable homes. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities issued a national action plan urging federal and provincial governments to adopt policies to support middle-class housing and finance houses for the poor and homeless.

'These are not just social issues; they are core economic issues,' said the plan, released amid turmoil in world stock markets, triggered by the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the United States. The federation called for a five-step, 10-year program to eliminate 'chronic homelessness' and urged the federal government to continue financing housing programs due to expire this spring.

'Problems of homelessness and housing affordability ... will undermine the economic well-being of Canadian cities, which are widely acknowledged as the engines of national economic growth, competitiveness and productivity,' it said. 'Too many Canadians are forced to choose between food and rent, clothes for the kids or making the mortgage payment,' Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan told reporters.

The federation, a coalition of 1,600 towns and cities, released the plan in a plush city center hotel, where people slumped on sidewalks and in doorways under heaps of blankets can be seen day and night. Canada's titular head of state, governor general Michaelle Jean was invited to the meeting to raise public awareness of the issue, after earlier touring Vancouver's downtown eastside, the country's poorest neighbourhood and an open drug and sex market.

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