Pallister's Housing Plan Solid

Article excerpt

By the Selinger government's own admission, welfare housing allowances do not cover the cost of basic rent in the Winnipeg market. But that same government has not raised the housing allowances to those on social assistance for more than a decade. On Monday, Conservative Leader Brian Pallister said if elected, he would, by hundreds of dollars.

Mr. Pallister joined the call of various community groups who have tried, unsuccessfully, to get the provincial government to reinstate a formula used last in the early 1990s that geared housing allowances to rise or fall as market conditions dictate. The Tory leader said housing allowances should be 75 per cent of the median rent rates.

That would mean, according to data collected by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., that in Winnipeg, a single parent with one child would see an immediate bump of almost $300 -- and perhaps as much as $400 -- to the housing rate. The policy would cost an additional $19 million in expenditures on housing each year.

The cost of inadequate and poor housing is well-established, on health, family stress and the ability of children to settle and engage in school work. The failure to succeed in school, further, is directly connected to eventual involvement in crime, addictions and unemployment -- people who are most likely to be on social assistance. Debate rages about the extent to which the state (taxpayers) should be supporting the unemployed, but most reservations evaporate when the impact on children is thrown into the mix.

And it is to this point, precisely, that the policy announcement from the Conservative corner makes its argument in spades. But the vast majority on social assistance are people with disabilities and single parents, those least likely to be in the workforce and equally deserving of decent housing. …