It is a pleasure to participate in the debate of Motion 455 introduced by my colleague, the Honourable Member for Edmonton East.
The intention of this motion is clear. It states that one nationally standardized “Point-in-Time” count should be recommended for use in all municipalities in carrying out counts of homeless individuals in their communities.
Motion 455 recommends the development of nationally recognized methods governing how the count should be carried out.
To put it more simply, my colleague has brought forward this motion so that the Government can help provide the tools to improve and standardize the way we count homeless people in Canada.
Currently, various methods are being used in different communities, which can be a problem.
This motion provides the opportunity to improve our programs and better target our resources.
Mr. Speaker, it is a tool for municipalities and communities to gain a better understanding of the homeless population, what situation these people are in, and what challenges they face.
Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS)
Mr. Speaker, given the complexity of homelessness, our government launched in 2007 the Homelessness Partnering Strategy also known as the HPS, with the goal of preventing and reducing homelessness in Canada.
Last year, as part of our Economic Action Plan, we announced an investment of almost $600 million over five years to renew the HPS. HPS funding is delivered to 61 communities, as well as to Aboriginal and rural and remote communities.
One of the great strengths of the HPS is that it encourages cooperation between governments, agencies, local community organizations and the private sector.
The HPS allows each of these communities to determine its own specific needs and develop projects to meet them.
In fact, each community must have an advisory board representing these types of stakeholders, and they set priorities and recommend projects to their communities, and Mr. Speaker, we know that this partnership approach works.
For every dollar we’ve invested, over two dollars has been invested by partners, including other levels of government, community stakeholders, and the private and non-profit sectors. We know that real solutions to homelessness can only be found through partnerships within our communities. ’m proud to report that through the efforts of the HPS and its partners, thousands of homeless individuals have secured stable housing, found jobs, returned to school and become fully participating members of Canadian society.
In Economic Action Plan 2013, we announced the renewal of the HPS using an evidence based approach with measurable and proven results called “Housing First.”
Housing First involves moving homeless individuals into immediate and permanent housing, then offering supports to keep them housed.
Once stable housing is obtained, the focus shifts to addressing more ongoing issues, such as addictions or mental health.
As a result, individuals are able to get their life back on track and become self-sufficient, fully participating members of society.
Evidence shows that Housing First can be effective in reducing chronic homelessness and makes better use of public dollars by reducing pressure on other shelter, health and justice services.
Through the At Home/ Chez Soi project, Canadians now have “made in Canada” evidence that the Housing First approach really works.
Over a 12-month period, Housing First participants spent an average of 73 percent of their time in stable housing, compared to only 30 percent for homeless people in a control group.
Mr. Speaker, I mentioned earlier that one of our main goals is to reduce the number of homeless people in the country, and if possible, eliminate homelessness altogether.
How will we know if the numbers are going down, if we don’t have a baseline to refer to because we are not using an efficient and standardized method of counting?
Point-in-Time (PiT) Count Approach
This is why our government is supportive of this motion to move towards a standard Point-in-Time count approach, also known as a PiT count. standardized approach will facilitate efforts to create a more comprehensive national picture of sheltered and unsheltered homelessness in Canada. Communities will be required to measure the results of efforts to reduce homelessness by conducting PiT counts. This data will help to determine whether homelessness is being effectively reduced at the community level.
The approach described by my colleague from Edmonton East would help to achieve this goal. ndeed, the proposed Point-in-Time count approach will better equip communities to assess the extent of homelessness. Such a method can also establish a baseline level of homelessness in designated HPS communities across Canada.
Communities across Canada will be able to use this method to track, at a given point in time, both the number of people staying in shelters or on the streets. his way they can obtain quantitative data that they can work with to address local needs and better deliver services.
Mr. Speaker, I am asking all my colleagues to consider Motion M-455 and how it will help us direct our money where it can do the most good: helping the most vulnerable people in Canada.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.