PEI

Where is P.E.I.'s plan for housing crisis, Opposition asks

P.E.I. needs time to catch up with its rapidly growing population, Premier Dennis King said in response to accusations in the legislature that his government has no plan for the province's housing crisis.

 ‘You take offence? Imagine how Islanders take offence. Women and children have no shelter’ 

Opposition Leader Peter Bevan-Baker is looking for a sense of urgency from the government on housing. (Province of P.E.I.)

P.E.I. needs time to catch up with its rapidly growing population, Premier Dennis King said in response to accusations in the legislature that his government has no plan for the province's housing crisis.

P.E.I. has the lowest vacancy rate in the country, and is also the fastest growing province.

"There is no coordinated responsibility or any sense of urgency in this government on housing," Bevan-Baker said in the P.E.I. Legislature on Thursday.

"If you don't have any executive with responsibility after over 18 months in government. When will you finally admit that you don't really have any plan to address the housing crisis at all."

Premier Dennis King says his government has made record investments in housing. (Province of P.E.I.)

The province spent much of the past 15 years growing the Island's population without ensuring the necessary infrastructure, like housing, was in place to support that increase in population, King responded. He said his government has invested "hundreds of millions of dollars" in housing in the 18 months since they were elected, and continues to work at "break-neck" speed.

"One of the things that we have done in 18 months here is make record investments in housing, record investments, following up on the provincial government previous, who made record investments. Not because it's political, because we have to do it," said King. 

Officials with Social Development and Housing say more than affordable 100 units have been open or are about to open in the province.

But 750 Islanders are still on the housing registry, still waiting for a home. About half of them are seniors. 

No shelter for women with children

Opposition Green MLA Karla Bernard  raised the issue of the lack of shelter space for women with children.

Bernard called on the province to prioritize women and children who have no place to call home.

"On P.E.I., women living with homelessness have two options when in need of shelter," said Bernard.

Green MLA Karla Bernard wanted to know where homeless women with children are supposed to go. (Province of P.E.I.)

Bernard said for women seeking a bed there is one option in Charlottetown and one on Lennox Island.

"If you are a woman with a child, there is no shelter unless, of course, you live with domestic abuse and then you have Anderson House," she said.

"When will you convince your government to prioritize women and provide appropriate resources for them and their children who have no place to call home?"

Natalie Jameson, minister responsible for the status of women, said she was insulted by the suggestion she wasn't working hard enough to represent women's interests. (Province of P.E.I.)

Natalie Jameson, the minister responsible for the status of women responded,

"I actually take great insult to that because I am a strong advocate for women. I ensure that women's needs are always addressed here in cabinet and that's something that I really pride myself on," she said.

"You take offence?" Bernard shot back.

"Imagine how Islanders take offence. Women and children have no shelter. What are you doing about it, minister?"

Capital budget may have answers

In a crisis situation the Chief Mary Bernard shelter on Lennox Island will take women and children and those needing housing can now call 211 for assistance, the province says.

The premier said the solution to the housing crisis is to build more housing.

News on that front may come Friday.

Finance Minister Darlene Compton will deliver the capital budget Friday morning.

Both the premier and Social Development and Housing Minister Ernie Hudson hinted there will be more money to address the housing crisis in P.E.I. in that capital budget

More from CBC P.E.I.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wayne Thibodeau

Prince Edward Island

Wayne Thibodeau is a reporter/editor with CBC Prince Edward Island. He has worked in TV, digital and print for more than two decades. In addition to his role as a multi-platform journalist for CBC News, Wayne can be heard reading the news coast-to-coast-to-coast on The World This Hour, co-hosting Island Morning and reporting daily for CBC News: Compass, the top rated supper hour show on the Island. You can reach Wayne at Wayne.Thibodeau@cbc.ca

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