NDP MP calling for national plan to end homelessness

A Saskatchewan MP says it's time the for a national plan to end homelessness in Canada.

Saskatchewan MP Sheri Benson says it's time for the federal government to develop a national strategy

NDP MP Sheri Benson has introduced a motion to create a national committee on homelessness. (CBC)

A Saskatchewan MP says it's time for a national plan to end homelessness in Canada. 

Sheri Benson, the NDP member of Parliament for Saskatoon West, has introduced a motion to create a national committee on homelessness.

The committee's job would be to develop Canada's first-ever national plan to end homelessness. 

"There was a time 30 years ago where we didn't have homelessness at the level we have now, and homelessness looked very different," Benson said Friday.

"We had successive federal governments pull out of their role and we've seen a rise."

Justin Trudeau's Liberals recently announced a national housing strategy worth an estimated $40 billion. Benson applauds that move, but says a national plan to end homelessness should be part of the national housing discussion. 

'I think it's possible'

"I think it's possible to end homelessness. I think with the government coming back in with the national housing strategy, it's possible to prevent homelessness," she said. 

Benson worked as the CEO of the United Way in Saskatoon before becoming an MP and she says the issue of homelessness was one of the driving forces that prompted her to run.

She says the federal government can learn from — and provide much-needed assistance to — cities and provinces which have already developed their own plans.

She says it may seem like a lofty goal, but cities across Canada have already seen success with local strategies. 

"Often when you start to talk about it, it starts to feel big. And I hear people say there are lots players. But if we look back over the last 10 years, we had communities step up and say, 'We want to end homelessness in Medicine Hat, in Edmonton, Calgary, in Saskatoon.' They brought people together and they started to work on a plan," she said. 

Benson's motion is up for debate next week in Ottawa. 

If approved, it would create a special committee on homelessness. That committee would develop a national plan. 

Benson said the committee would listen to local homelessness organizations, Indigenous groups and other experts to develop the national strategy.