December 6, 2012
Former New Brunswick Deputy Minister James Hughes discusses policy solutions for homelessness in Canada.
New Mowat Research On Homelessness Recommends Devolution From Federal Government to Provinces, Implementation of “Housing First” Approach
December 6, 2013
Toronto – The federal government should devolve its homelessness programing to the provinces, according to a new study released from the Mowat Centre at the University of Toronto. Provinces would then be in a better position to fully implement a “Housing First” approach, which would produce better results for Canada’s homeless population.
The study, Homelessness: Closing the Gap Between Capacity and Performance, documents that despite new federal and provincial investments and some innovative programming over the past decade, the number of homeless Canadians continues to rise. The study argues that the federal and provincial governments need to clarify their roles.
According to James Hughes, the study’s author and a former executive director at a homeless shelter and a former provincial deputy minister, the federal government should negotiate bilateral agreements with provinces because they are better placed to deal with the underlying causes of homelessness.
“We need to focus on the social causes of homelessness, and it is provinces that have the policy and program levers to do this,” says Hughes.
The paper recommends a continued role for the federal government in funding social housing programs. It also recommends changing provincial funding practices to incent the creation of permanent housing solutions rather than the provision of temporary beds in shelters.
Mowat Director Matthew Mendelsohn notes that provinces are changing their incentive structures and delivery models in many policy areas, including programs for the homeless.
“Governments need to align policy objectives with the incentives built into program design. Our collective efforts should be focused on long-term housing solutions.”