On Nov. 2, YWCA board member Shannon Fountain, YWCA CEO Connie MacDonald and I were pleased to be a part of YWCA Canada’s lobbying efforts in Ottawa. As part of our day “On the Hill,” 122 YWCA participants from across Canada met with MPs, senators, and staff in a series of 54 meetings.
Despite the rainy weather, we managed to find our way around Centre Block and other government buildings to meet with three MPs, one of whom was Blake Richards, MP for Banff-Airdrie, to seek his and the support of all MPs for the National Housing Strategy.
As the only national housing association providing housing for women and girls across the country and a leader in the housing community, YWCA Canada’s message that women and girls need safe, affordable housing and emergency shelter and supportive programs was heard by government.
The national ask by YWCA Canada and other housing advocates that 25 per cent of National Housing Strategy funds flow to projects and services for women, girls, and their families was confirmed in the National Housing Strategy released on Nov. 22, 2017.
YWCA Banff has proposed two such projects: the Courtyard, to be built on the YWCA’s property to provide affordable housing units and in Canmore, Higher Ground – our vision for transitional and shelter accommodation for the Bow Valley.
The National Housing Strategy is intended to meet the housing needs of Canada’s vulnerable populations: seniors, Indigenous peoples, survivors fleeing situations of domestic violence, persons with disabilities, those dealing with mental health and addiction issues and veterans.
Women are the majority of survivors fleeing domestic violence, of seniors, of people with disabilities and of Indigenous people without a roof over their heads.
While it is too early to ascertain the direct effect of the NHS on our local projects, YWCA Banff applauds the commitment of the government to Canada’s first ever National Housing Strategy which has been described by Maya Roy, CEO of YWCA Canada as a game-changer for women and girls in Canada. In her words, “the inclusion of a gender-lens puts a focus on the very real exclusions and barriers faced by women in accessing affordable housing.”
The National Housing Strategy outlines a commitment to addressing housing needs from coast to coast to coast. Locally, the YWCA is committed to developing housing solutions in the Bow Valley in support of vulnerable women, children and families.
We will continue to work with municipal, provincial and federal levels of government and other community partners in this worthy endeavour.
Member, Board of Directors, YWCA Banff