Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The new programs have expanded eligibility criteria so that people at both ends of the income scale can now get into a program. However, the new programs will require repayment from all clients. The amount of repayment is based on the client's income. If income is low, repayment is low. If the client can afford to pay more, his repayment is higher.
I want to emphasize one very important point: even with repayment, all clients will still be eligible for some level of subsidization.
The amount of the subsidy will vary with the client's ability to repay, but there will still be a subsidy for every client. It is only fair to expect people to pay back part of the cost of the house they are going to own, especially since the repayment is
geared to income.
Another very important argument for the introduction of repayment is the fact that C.M.H.C. has served notice that it is not prepared to continue cost sharing home ownership programs with us, unless we gear the program to those most in need, and collect repayment in accordance with clients' ability to pay. Loss of C.M.H.C. funding would reduce the number of units we could deliver. Maintaining the status quo is not an option.
Another benefit of home ownership is the positive impact it has on local economies. In many communities the introduction of home ownership units is creating a private housing market for the first time. The new home ownership programs actively promote and encourage private sector development, by providing more ways for people to become home owners. This is good for communities because private home ownership creates a demand for local services such as plumbing and mechanical services and other trades, and for the materials that are needed to operate and maintain a home. Over time, with the efforts the corporation is making to foster private sector development through its rental programs, I am confident that we will see the growth of small businesses in communities to meet the needs of private home owners and the corporation alike.
The access portfolio will offer a number of home ownership programs, including:
The owner build program is designed for clients who want to help build their units. By contributing sweat equity, clients can reduce their repayment obligation.
The lease to purchase program is designed for clients who are unable to help build their units. The unit is leased for a minimum of two years to give the client the opportunity to experience home ownership on a trial basis. Over the two year period the client assumes the costs and maintenance responsibilities of home ownership. After the two year period the client may purchase the unit. Repayment will depend on the client's income.
The maintenance program and subsidy are available to both owner build and lease to purchase clients. Annual checks of the units will be completed by the N.W.T. Housing Corporation, with the client. The client will be counselled on essential maintenance tasks and how to get them done. Low income clients will be eligible to apply for a maintenance subsidy which will take the form of a rebate for actual approved maintenance costs incurred.
The option of the sale of housing packages is designed to make the complete housing packages available to residents of all highway communities. Clients will be able to buy a proven, completed Arctic housing package from the N.W.T. Housing Corporation. Eligible clients may apply for the corporation's interim financing program to help pay for that package.
With regard to mortgage lending programs, in the past, people living in smaller communities have had difficulty getting conventional mortgage financing from chartered banks. We are working with the banks to have the corporation act as a go between for the clients and the banks to expand access to bank financing in smaller communities. The government may have to provide mortgage guarantees to the banks to make this work. If we are unable to conclude the negotiation with the banks successfully, the corporation will establish a revolving fund to provide mortgage loans as a lender of last resort. To be eligible the clients must have enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan but be unable to obtain one from a bank or from C.M.H.C.
Alternative housing programs provide basic houses for households that are not eligible or do not have access to public housing in their community. It is for low income seniors who prefer a more traditional lifestyle.
In addition to the new home ownership program, the N.W.T. Housing Corporation will continue to offer its Interim Financing Program, Emergency Repair Program, Senior Citizens' Home Repair Program and Home Improvement Program. Other housing program options are also being investigated.
I strongly encourage all people interested in finding out more about home ownership to attend the information sessions on the new programs that will be held in all N.W.T. communities over the next two months.
We expect to cost share the new home ownership programs with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to the greatest extent possible under our reduced funds and levels. Members will recall my earlier announcement about the severe federal funding cuts. We will reduce C.M.H.C.'s contribution to new social housing construction in the N.W.T. by 59 per cent over the next two years.
Our efforts to have this funding restored are ongoing. I travelled to Ottawa last week to meet with the Honourable Elmer MacKay, the Minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. I briefed Mr. MacKay on the changes our government plans to make in our housing programs in the 1993-94 delivery year, including the new home ownership programs announced earlier today. I told the Minister that this government has done everything we agreed to do to clean up its programs, and that we expect C.M.H.C. to maintain its commitment to address the housing needs in the N.W.T. in partnership with us.
Mr. MacKay remains sympathetic to our situation in the N.W.T. and understands the severity of our housing problems. He has not closed the door on the funding reinstatement issue. In addition, negotiations with C.M.H.C. are continued on cost sharing for the new home ownership programs. I will continue to keep this House and the public informed of developments of these negotiations as they occur.
While we are on the federal funding issue, I would like to acknowledge, with appreciation, the assistance given to us in our lobbying efforts by the Chairman of the Ordinary Members' Committee. I would also like to thank our federal Members of Parliament, Ethel Blondin-Andrew and Jack Anawak, as well as the leaders of the N.W.T. aboriginal organizations who have also written letters to the federal Minister and the Prime Minister on our behalf.
The new home ownership programs are timely, not only because they respond to a wider range of housing needs but because they are a more cost effective way of meeting those needs. The new programs are an essential part of the corporation's strategy to cope with the federal funding reductions.
Other changes to the program have also been made in order to maximize the number of households and public housing units that can be delivered in 1993-94. For example, we have improved our building design. Simpler layouts and mechanical systems will make construction and maintenance easier and less costly. These design changes will apply to the public housing program and home ownership programs.
The new home ownership programs, combined with the changes I have just described, have been designed to enable the Housing Corporation to do better with less.
It is no longer possible to deliver the program the way we did in the past for the simple reason we cannot afford it. It is also important to understand that if we do not make these changes, the number of houses we are able to deliver will be substantially reduced and fewer families will be helped. The results of the 1992 housing needs survey indicated 3,584 households in need across the N.W.T., an increase of 14 per cent over the past two years. We must do everything possible to deliver as many houses as we can with our limited resources.
The next year will be a challenging one, but I am confident that with the new programs announced today and with the program changes we have made, we will be able to continue to deliver new houses to those who need them the most. I ask for the continued support of all communities and all the Members of this House as we work together to do our best to meet the housing needs of the people of the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.