Housing minister Pauline Frost says she hopes to announce details about federal funding for housing soon. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Yukon housing minister promises announcement ‘in the coming days and weeks’

Opposition presses for details as social housing wait list balloons

As the number of names on the waitlist for social and seniors’ housing continues to climb, the Liberals are facing more pressure from the Opposition to do something.

“In July 2016, the wait-list for social and seniors housing was 105. Now the wait-list has skyrocketed to 263. That is almost a 150‑per cent increase in the size of the wait-list. Last year, we asked the minister what she was doing to reduce the wait time, and apparently the answer is nothing,” Yukon Party MLA Geraldine Van Bibber said March 15.

“Can the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation point to one tangible example of something she has done in the last six months to reduce the wait list, and if these actions have reduced the wait list?”

Minister Pauline Frost at first replied by talking about the Whistle Bend continuing care facility and new continuing care beds that have been promised at the Thomson Centre.

She also said the government is working on handing units over to the Ross River Dena Council “that will allow for better occupancy in that community, addressing some of the pressures.”

A spokesperson for the Yukon Housing Corporation confirmed that as of Jan. 31, 2018, there were 166 people waiting for social housing and 97 waiting for seniors housing.

Following question period, Frost told reporters she “absolutely” agrees that there is not enough social housing.

“I don’t think anybody disagrees with that point that we have growing pressure. Growing pressure on the economy, growing pressure on our limited housing stock.”

She said the government is focusing on “partnerships” like the last year’s River Bend affordable housing development that was funded by the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council, Da Daghay Development Corporation and the federal and territorial governments.

Frost said she’s hoping to have announcements “in the coming weeks.”

She said she will be meeting with federal ministers in April to get more information about housing money that has been allocated in this year’s federal budget.

Ottawa’s budget includes language around money for “Northern housing,” she said, but specific details of what the funding program might look like haven’t been released yet.

Frost said there is now language in national strategies that “defines our unique circumstances of the Yukon.” particularly around modern treaties.

Historically, funding has “spoke about ‘on reserve,’ ‘off reserve,’ ‘south of 60,’ and nothing in north of 60,” she said.

“(We’ll be) getting the specific details about how that will play out in the Yukon. We will find that in the coming days and weeks.”

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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