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This article was published 11/6/2019 (399 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The provincial and federal governments appear to have set aside their differences on housing priorities, signing onto a 10-year deal worth more than $450 million.
Tuesday's announcement came to bear about four months after public squabbling between the two levels about delays doling out federal cash.
Adam Vaughan, parliamentary secretary for Minister of Families Jean-Yves Duclos, and Heather Stefanson, the province's minister of families, signed a bilateral agreement to match housing funding dollars for Manitoba over the next decade. The money will flow immediately.
During a national CBC radio call-in show in February, Vaughan critiqued Premier Brian Pallister's government for allegedly "refusing to take federal dollars," due to a "clash of ideologies" over budgets and debt.
Vaughan insisted his previous comments were also intended to call-out Ottawa for lack of urgency on the file.
"Look, I'm a housing advocate as much as I'm a parliamentary secretary for housing, and I have great impatience," he said Tuesday.
"When we finally get federal dollars after 25 years of not having federal dollars and having provinces carry the ball by themselves — when we put money on the table, you won't find a stronger voice than mine trying to get it spent and get projects like this underway."
Stefanson didn't want to get into specifics about what caused the bilateral agreement to languish for months. She emphasized Manitoba's "unique situation" with housing relative to other provinces and territories, highlighting the rent-assist program and the large public housing stock as factors in decision making.
"It was important that we worked with the federal government to ensure that we got it right. So sometimes, it takes a little bit longer, but today's really the culmination of great work and cooperative support between the federal and provincial governments," the provincial minister said.
The province has not yet revealed its housing strategy, which advocates have been waiting on for years. In October 2016, the Manitoba government solicited public feedback on housing priorities.
"It’s really important for the provincial government to get their housing strategy out in front of the public as soon as possible. That way, they can align these funds with their own priorities and with those of the national housing strategy. I think that’s been one of the missing links," said Jino Distasio, a University of Winnipeg geography professor and former director of the Institute of Urban Studies.
Stefanson wouldn't provide an exact timeline for the strategy's rollout, but said it will be released "in the next short while."
Meanwhile, Vaughan noted how often the child welfare system comes up during his conversations about Manitoba housing needs. He underlined how children aging out of government care shouldn't wind up on the streets.
"They need to land in homes after they age out of care. In no province is that situation more acute than here in Manitoba," he said.
"We're looking for progress on that as a country because if you don't get progress... then the missing and murdered Indigenous women commission that just reported is going to be futile. If we had a stronger housing policy in this country over the last 50 years, let alone 25, let alone the last 100 years, those numbers wouldn't be so astonishing and so depressing."
The bilateral funding deal for housing was signed on the last day before Manitoba's self-imposed blackout period starts Wednesday.
The provincial government is expected to cut off communications for about 90 days before an election, likely to be set for Sept. 10.
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