Less than 1 per cent of a $1.9-billion federal fund for social housing has actually been spent – more than a year after it was announced by the Harper government in the midst of the 2008 election campaign.
Another $1.5-billion of social-housing money allotted in February's budget is also only trickling out the door, according to newly released government data.
The figures suggest Canadians who are hardest hit by the recession won't benefit from the flood of stimulus cash until the economy is well on its way to recovery.
. . .
On Sept. 17, 2008, in an unusual use of government business during an election campaign, then-human resources minister Monte Solberg announced the $1.9-billion housing fund with then-environment minister John Baird in Mr. Baird's Ottawa riding. The ministers said it was a government announcement and not an election pledge.
It was later confirmed in the February, 2009, budget, along with three other new funds for social housing.
But as of Sept. 30, 2009, only 0.4 per cent of the $1.9-billion announced for housing and homelessness programs for low-income Canadians had actually been spent.
Gee, what a surprise.
Every day the flacks in the mainstream media tell us that recovery is just around the corner. In the US, for millions of Americans, there'll be no recovery, ever. One out of 10 Americans have lost their homes; one in four homeowners are "underwater" - they owe more than their homes are worth. These are not people who made bad decisions about bad mortgages. They're ordinary people who lost their jobs, or got ill, or both (the two go hand-in-hand) and couldn't keep up their payments.
I was heartened and impressed by the way Canadians expected - demanded - that their government do more to help unemployed people. We understand that that is what government is for. We understand that having a large segment of society struggling in poverty, or teetering on the brink of survival, hurts us all. We understand that sitting back and saying, "I got mine," is both inhumane and short-sighted. Even on a purely selfish level, we understand that our society is stronger when people are prospering - or at least getting by.
So what's being done? Squat.
I dream of a day when the Liberal Party gets its act together and capitalizes on the ever-growing list of Conservative transparent lies, arrogant obfuscation and barely-disguised indifference. At this point, I can't imagine what a vigorous Liberal Party would look like. I'll never vote for them, yet I dream of them forming a government.
Here we are at the end of 2009, and I'm still dreaming.