Thank you, Madam Speaker.
From September 23 to 25, 1994, the Advisory Committee on Social Housing met in Taloyoak. The purpose of this three-day meeting was to review the results of the regional and community consultations regarding the rent scale undertaken over the past few months by the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation. Most of the committee's time was spent on the rent scale and the public feedback on the proposed changes. As well, the committee reviewed public housing, home ownership initiatives, design of public housing, contracting policies and practices, and methods for continuing strong communication and consultation with the public.
Finally, the issues of community transfer and the housing program were discussed. At times, there was significant overlap between these topics and the rent scale discussion, highlighting for committee Members the delicate balance between all aspects of the social housing program.
To assist the committee in reviewing the results of the regional and community consultations, members were provided with extensive briefing material. This material described the proposed rent scale, summarized the information and concerns people shared at community meetings, and provided an analysis of those suggestions in a neutral, non-judgmental way.
This detailed information allowed the committee to fully understand the concerns northerners have, how these concerns can be addressed, and at what cost. Detailed information was also provided for the other topics covered.
The Rent Scale
Many issues were raised during the community and regional consultations regarding the proposed rent scale. The committee looked carefully at the results of the consultations, discussing the public input and potential options for addressing the concerns in an effective way.
As a result of the detailed review of the rent scale and the community consultations, the committee made a number of recommendations to the Minister of Housing for changes to the proposed rent scale. The recommendations were as follows:
1. Rent scale should be based on gross household income;
2. Elders'/Seniors' rents should be eliminated;
3. Incomes of family members living with elders/seniors should be assessed for rent;
4. Income from the following groups should be exempted from the social housing rental scale:
- Students' training and employment allowances
- Social assistance recipients
- Workers Compensation Board (WCB) benefits
- Widows' and survivors' pensions
- Income earned traditionally by an independent
operator principally engaged in hunting, fishing or trapping for a livelihood
5. Rent scale should be phased in over four years;
6. Unit condition rent deduction should be based on a graduated scale;
7. Cost-of-living adjustment should be based on MACA's northern cost index;
8. The cost-of-living adjustment should apply to all individuals and families in all communities;
9. The income support review presently under way should be a high priority for completion and adoption;
10. The new rent scale should be implemented fairly and equitably across the NWT;
11. There should be incentives to local housing associations/authorities for energy conservation;
12. There should be additional resources to support implementation of home ownership; and,
13. The rent scale should be implemented April 1, 1995.
The Minister of Housing made a commitment to make every effort to incorporate the suggestions from the committee and community consultations into the rent scale prior to bringing it forward to the House.
Madam Speaker, I would like, at this point, to ask the honourable Member for Natilikmiot, to continue with the terms of reference.