What the N.W.T. federal election candidates say they'll do about housing

NDP N.W.T. candidate Kelvin Kotchilea says his party would create and fund an Indigenous-led housing strategy within 100 days of taking office. The NDP is not the only party with that idea.

NDP promise Indigenous-led housing strategy

Kelvin Kotchilea is the NDP's candidate in the Northwest Territories. He says the NDP will fully fund an Indigenous-led housing strategy if elected on Sept. 20. (Submitted by Kelvin Kotchilea)

Kelvin Kotchilea, the NDP candidate for the Northwest Territories, is promising an Indigenous-led housing strategy if the NDP is elected on Sept. 20.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday morning, Kotchilea said a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work for many areas of the country and territory, and promised to reach out to communities in the Northwest Territories to understand the reality of their own housing issues.

"You have to invest in people, and investing in people (means) looking at the social impacts that affect us all," he said.

That investment could include training so community members can tackle their own housing projects. Having more qualified people along with a plan to build a certain amount of units in each community could be a proactive way to address high costs and scarce materials, he added.

"A lot of people maybe don't want to leave their communities; there's a lot of people that maybe don't have the courses necessary to get into post-secondary. So there has to be a push at a community level when it comes to capacity-building."

The NDP also said it wants to restore long-term Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation funding, fund "northern-based" housing designs and increase the stock of public housing.

No dollar value is attached to the Northwest Territories-specific plan, but the NDP has pledged $14 billion country-wide to build affordable homes and $4 billion for Indigenous infrastructure, including housing.

What about the other candidates?

Shortly after Kotchilea's announcement, Liberal Party candidate Michael McLeod issued a press release promising a three-part housing plan, should his party be re-elected.

The plan includes building, repairing or preserving 1.4 million homes in four years and creating a housing strategy for rural, urban and Northern Indigenous communities. That strategy would have an initial funding allocation of $300 million.

When asked by CBC about his party's plan to address housing, McLeod pointed to what he calls "record levels" of investment by the Liberals in Northwest Territories housing since 2015.

"We're going to see a very busy construction season come next spring, and we're going to see houses in pretty much every community being built, renovated or upgraded," he said.

McLeod said the Liberals also provided $100 million in funding to Indigenous governments so they could play a role in repairing and upgrading homes for their members.

Media inquiries sent to Conservative Party candidate Lea Mollison, Green Party candidate Roland Laufer and independent candidate Jane Groenewegen went unanswered.

However, the Conservative platform includes a Canada-wide pledge to build one million homes in the next three years and to enact a "for Indigenous, by Indigenous" housing strategy. The party has also promised a Housing First approach to homelessness, which prioritizes permanent housing for people without homes.

The Green Party has promised to declare housing affordability and homelessness a national emergency and appoint a federal housing advocate. It also wants to develop urban, rural and Northern Indigenous housing strategies.

In a Sept. 13 Facebook post, Groenewegen said she wants to see communities encouraged to take advantage of money that is already available for housing projects. She also wants to see continued funding for social housing.