MLA Report (16 June 2008)
Tackling the Housing Problem
One consequence of the economic prosperity we are currently enjoying in Saskatchewan is issues regarding housing. In short, there is not enough of it due to increasing population pressure. This has translated into increasing real estate prices. While this is welcome news for existing homeowners, it is much more difficult for non-homeowners to move into the housing market. Additionally, the demand for housing has put upward pressure on rental prices.
Our new provincial government has recognized these problems and moved quickly to identify current barriers and to come up with solutions. In March, Social Services Minister Donna Harpauer struck a Task Force on Housing Affordability to learn more about the housing challenge and talk to people in communities throughout the province. The report delivered by the Task Force earlier this month provided 36 recommendations to address the housing affordability challenge. Last week, I met with my cabinet colleagues in Saskatoon to discuss the government’s priorities in the coming months. At the top of the priority list is the affordable housing shortage.
Premier Brad Wall said the government is considering quick action on a number of the Task Force’s recommendations, including:
- Increasing the shelter allowance for social assistance recipients and indexing the allowance to the cost of living;
- Increasing the Rental Housing Supplement and index it to the cost of living;
- Increasing the income threshold for seniors, to make it easier for them to qualify for social housing; and
- Removing of the PST charged on building materials used to build affordable housing.
The premier has also instructed all government MLAs to canvass constituents this summer to ask for input. In these times of unprecedented prosperity, we are faced with a number of choices of how we can ensure that this prosperity is shared with all Saskatchewan residents. We need to carefully consider options such as debt relief, tax reductions, or increased spending on infrastructure, services or programs.
I would appreciate hearing from you on this matter and invite your feedback on the future direction for our province. Please call my office at 975-0284 or e-mail me.
Past MLA Reports