Building affordable homes in Yellowknife
Thank you very much, Michael. It’s always great to be with you here in the NWT, it was especially great being with you yesterday in Hay River, Enterprise and K’atl’odeeche First Nation. It’s amazing how many people you know and how strong and connected an advocate and representative you are for the people in the Northwest Territories. We’re lucky to have such a strong and dedicated member of the team being such a strong voice for the North in Ottawa, so thank you for all the work you do, my friend.
Premier Cochrane, always such a pleasure to be with you as well. Thank you for your leadership through some very challenging times. We’ve worked together in a very, very strong way on a huge range of issues, and I thank you for all your extraordinary service. Minister Chinna, great to see you as well, thank you, thank you so much for joining us.
Rebecca, Mayor Alty, thank you. Thank you for your leadership during the challenging times we’ve gone through, but in the challenging few years. It has been a very difficult few years, from pandemics to evacuations and fires and floods and different challenges. We know it’s been really important for people to pull together, and having leadership that is focused on pulling people together and solving big challenges is what it’s all about. And I’m very happy to be here with you for this big announcement on housing in Yellowknife. But before I do, I do want to say a few words about the situation in the Middle East.
First, I wish to offer my condolences to the loved ones of the Canadians who lost their lives in the terrorist attack by Hamas last weekend. My thoughts and the thoughts of all Canadians are with you.
We continue to be in contact with the families of the three Canadians who were reported missing, we’re providing support and we’re also in close contact with the local authorities. The safety and security of Canadians at home and abroad is always our top priority. The situation on the ground is volatile. We’re actively helping our citizens and permanent residents come back to Canada. I can confirm that a first Canadian Armed Forces flight has departed Tel Aviv with approximately 130 passengers and has landed safely in Athens. As we speak, a second plane has already landed in Tel Aviv and will be bringing people to Athens in a few hours. And we’re working on additional options for those who cannot reach the airport in Tel Aviv.
To provide assistance and logistical support, we’re also deploying members of our Standing Rapid Deployment team to the region. This is a unit of specialized officials who are specifically trained to help during times of emergencies or crisis. Canadians who wish to leave or who need assistance can contact our embassy in Tel Aviv, our offices in Ramallah, or of course, our offices in Ottawa. We’re working around the clock to support you; we’ll continue to follow the situation as it evolves and continue our efforts with international partners.
The violence we’ve seen and the information we’re learning are absolutely horrible. Canada unequivocally condemns Hamas’s terrorist attacks against Israel, and we stand with the Israeli people.
Canada supports Israel’s right to defend itself in accordance with international law. Hamas is a terrorist organization, and it does not represent the Palestinian people or the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people, and it does not represent Arabs or Muslims. Israeli and Palestinian civilians deserve to live in peace, in security, in dignity, and with their human rights respected. Canada will be providing an initial $10 million in humanitarian assistance to address urgent needs in Israel and in the Gaza Strip, and Minister Hussen will have more details soon.
As events abroad unfold, I want to take a moment to reassure the Jewish and Muslim communities here in Canada who are feeling especially vulnerable. I want you to know that we continue our efforts to keep our places of worship and communities safe, and our government is in regular contact with the leadership of the RCMP, and your local MPs are closely liaising with law enforcement. We must always stand united as Canadians. This is something that is core to Canada. We take care of each other, even in the most difficult of times, and we support each other always.
Turning to this announcement…
I am very happy to be here in Yellowknife. Throughout the country, we see an urgent need for more housing, but the needs and the solutions vary from region to region. The North faces specific challenges. For example, the climate is different, access to materials is limited and, of course, there is a significant labour shortage.
Here in Yellowknife, the cost of rent has been going up, vacancy rates are very low, and the people who are, of course, hardest hit by this lack of supply are vulnerable people, including seniors, Indigenous peoples and those experiencing homelessness. Housing is a complex issue, and we have to tackle it from different angles. During the pandemic, we launched the Rapid Housing Initiative specifically to address the urgent needs of vulnerable people. We’re now in the third round of funding for this successful initiative with which we are expected to build a total of over 15,500 homes nationally. Here in Yellowknife today, we can announce that we’ll build 50 new, affordable homes for the people who need it the most with federal funding under the Rapid Housing Initiative. The government of the Northwest Territories is also a financial partner, and the city of Yellowknife provided the land. Work on the construction site is already underway.
We know that when people have a safe and affordable place to call home, it improves lives, it promotes stability, it helps improve physical and mental health, it helps people find jobs, and it strengthens our communities.
The promise of Canada is that every generation can reach even higher than those who came before. Well, we’re working hard to secure that promise, and it starts by making sure everyone has a safe and affordable place to call home. Canada is the best country in the world, let’s keep making it even better.