Cardboard boxes shaped like houses on a black backgroundCanada’s largest union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), says there will be no meaningful improvement to housing affordability as long as the Liberal government excludes the expansion of public housing as part of the solution.

CUPE is calling on the federal government to fund new public housing units at a scale required by the national housing affordability crisis.

“If the Liberals’ plan to pour public money into the pockets of private developers to build market housing was working, we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in today,” said CUPE National President Mark Hancock. “Placing blind faith in the market and betting on the generosity of private developers is obviously not working. We need the federal government back in the game, building quality public housing that people can afford.”

Just 5 per cent of the Liberals’ $82 billion National Housing Strategy is allocated to the Community Housing Initiative, and those funds are only for maintaining expiring operating agreements - not new housing.

“Rather than viewing housing as an investment or asset class, governments need to start looking at housing for what it is: a human right, that governments have a responsibility to uphold,” said CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Candace Rennick. “Greed is what got us into this mess. Developers aren’t going to save us from this crisis affecting millions of Canadians.”

CUPE believes the present crisis has been driven by the financialization of housing, and that public housing offers the straightest line to removing investment speculation from the housing market.

The federal government hasn’t made any new long-term investments in public housing since 1994. The new Housing Minister Sean Fraser himself admits it was a mistake for the federal government to withdraw from funding and building public housing. Today, Canada’s public housing stock is just 3.5 per cent - half of the OECD average. Even Scotiabank has called for a doubling of Canada’s public housing stock.

CUPE represents thousands of workers across Canada in the housing sector, including public housing, community housing, seniors housing, and shelters.