rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Don't prorogue -- federal political leaders need to take immediate action on affordable housing

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

January 3, 2010

Open Letter to Prime Minister Harper, Mr. Ignatieff, Mr. Layton, Mr. Duceppe:

As the leaders of the four parties represented in Parliament, I am writing to you to ask for immediate action to re-establish a national housing program in Canada in the spring session.  Bill C-304 is a great beginning and all of the parties in Parliament should support this bill.

There is a crisis of housing affordability in Canada that the federal government has an important role to play.  There are somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000 homeless Canadians.  Unfortunately, the federal government does not even take appropriate statistics to track these figures.

In BC, a homeless person dies every 12 days.  There are somewhere between 10,500 and 15,000 homeless people in the province.  In Metro Vancouver, there are close to 3,000 homeless people and 32% are of aboriginal descent when they only make up 2% of the population.  Almost half the renters in Vancouver pay more than 30% of their total household income on shelter costs.  The lack of urgency from the federal government is totally unacceptable.

My friends who work in the health sector are frustrated that their attempts to provide healthcare for people is stymied by the fact that many people do not have access to safe, secure, affordable housing.

For the past seven days, I have gone without solid food as part of a hunger strike that is now over one year old.  Over 70 people participated last year – from homeless people to health professionals to lawyers to students to journalists to faith leaders.  Everyone believes the federal government needs to take action and once again become a world leader in developing safe, secure, affordable housing.

We are going to continue our hunger strike through the 2010 Olympics and eventually end it on the steps of Parliament Hill in June 2010.  75 years ago, unemployed residents of Vancouver boarded trains in the height of the Great Depression and tried to go to Ottawa to push for ‘work and wages’ before many of them were turned back in Regina.  In the same spirit as those trekkers from 1935, we are now trying to put the re-establishment of a funded National Housing Program back on the federal agenda.  

Our delegation is formally asking for a meeting with each of you any time between Friday, June 11th and Wednesday, June 16th, 2010.

I hope that you take the time to watch this video:



Am Johal
2010 Homelessness Hunger Strike Relay

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.