WNHHN welcomes ambitious Budget 2024, calls for urgency to meet gender-based targets

April 16, 2024

Our take on the 2024 federal budget announced today—the potential and possibilities.


By Khulud Baig and Stefania Seccia 

The Women’s National Housing and Homelessness Network welcomes an ambitious budget from the Government of Canada, with hopes that the announcements made will be further structured and implemented through engagement, consultation, and input from women and gender-diverse lived experts, community advocates, and voices from the non-market housing sector.  

Budget 2024’s Canada Housing Plan bears promise and prospect for women and gender-diverse people experiencing housing insecurity, with a strong caveat that the implementation includes sharp gender-based and human-rights focused implementation, monitoring, and tracking mechanisms. Today, Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland proclaimed a “housing revolution,” then later identified federal daycare investments allowing women to return to the workforce as “feminist social policy.” Even so, feminist social policy must go beyond alleviating gender-based family roles and expand into housing security for women and gender-diverse people—pulling up the most vulnerable of these populations from being at-risk of or already experiencing homelessness. 

WNHHN’s Budget 2024 Analysis: 

The Affordable Housing Fund and the Rapid Housing Stream: Over the past couple of years, our Network’s lived experts and advocates have voiced the need for a renewal of the Rapid Housing Initiative, which proved to be critical funding for housing development during the pandemic. The renewal of the Rapid Housing Stream under the Affordable Housing Fund brings much needed attention and investment to address gaps that deeply impacts women and gender-diverse people experiencing housing insecurity. Within the $1B investment in the Affordable Housing Fund, we advocate for the Rapid Housing Stream to represent at least half of that investment. Moreover, we call for 40% of the stream be allocated to projects led by and serving women and gender-diverse people primarily.  

Public Lands for Home Plan: Unlocking the potential of building affordable housing on public lands brings a much-needed emphasis on developing affordable housing across urban and rural regions across Canada, urgently. As these plans are implemented, it is critical that these lands are reserved for non-market housing development, with a focus on reaching affordability targets that serve those in most need. Echoing our previous Call to Action under the Intersectional Feminist Housing Agenda, public lands allocated to affordable housing must substantially contribute to the targets identified in the Social Housing and Human Rights Campaign, developing 50,000 rent-geared-to-income social and community housing units annually, over a decade.  

Urban, Rural and Norther Indigenous Strategy: As the $4.3B funding launches in 2024 for the Urban, Rural and Northern Strategy, Budget 2024 represents a missed opportunity to commit additional funding to the URN Strategy to match calls from Indigenous communities and the housing sector across Canada. As these funds are rolled out, the federal government and its delivery partner must ensure an intersectional gendered lens is applied, and that these funds are equitably allocated to housing services led by Indigenous women and gender-diverse people. 

These funds should also allocate critical resources for capacity-building programs for Indigenous housing providers that are focused on women and gender-diverse people, with specific focus on providers in the North.  

Rental Protection Fund: The launch of a new $1.5B Rental Protection Fund offers a promising direction in maintaining long-term affordability in existing housing stock. We advocate that loans and contributions prioritize investments in women- and gender-diverse people- led community housing providers, with a particular focus on housing providers serving Indigenous, Black, racialized, immigrant, and refugee families.  

Apartment Construction Loan Program: One of the biggest investments in housing construction under Budget 2024 continues to be under the Apartment Construction Loan Program. This $15B investment hopes to add 30,000 rental units to urban and rural communities across Canada. Investments made previously through the ACLP (previously known as Rental Construction Financing Initiative) have been known to do little to address the affordability crises for those in greatest need. We fear that this investment continues to follow a supply-side solution logic that does little when it comes to adding affordable units to the housing market. Resolving the housing crisis in our communities calls for affordability to be at the front and centre of all investments in housing. 

Setting Affordability Targets that Serve those Most in Need: Setting affordability targets as new housing is developed through a range of federal investments coming under Budget 2024 is critical. Research shows that 19% of all single mother-led households are in core housing need and are one of two groups most likely to be in core housing need. This group is also surviving on very low or low incomes. Many of these households are only able to pay a maximum of $1,050 in rent a month. This is vastly insufficient in almost any Canadian community, given data showing that as of August 2023, the average single room rent across Canada was $1,450. Similarly, the average one-bedroom rent for Canada’s six largest cities ranged from $1,197 in Edmonton to $3,013 in Vancouver. 

Canada Disability Benefit: The announcement of the Canada Disability Benefit comes after years of advocacy from the disability community. We are disappointed that calls for a $1000/month benefit were met with a $200/month benefit announcement. Our research shows that over 75% of women and gender-diverse people experiencing housing insecurity report some form of disability. We fear that a benefit this small would not be able to lift women and gender-diverse people experiencing disability out of housing insecurity or homelessness.  

Tenant Protection Fund: We strongly applaud investments in tenant protections, recognizing that these investments can play a critical role in creating access to justice for women and gender-diverse tenants, who are disproportionately impacted by discrimination based on their gender, race and experiences with income insecurity and disabilities. We strongly advocate that the Fund makes specific allocations towards women- and gender-diverse people serving legal services and organizations.  

Canadian Renters’ Bill of Rights: Security of Tenure for women and gender-diverse people continues to be one of the primary reasons why women and gender-diverse people lose their housing. The Bill of Rights presents an important opportunity to create a pathway towards stronger security of tenure for women and gender-diverse people, including women and gender-diverse people residing in transitional and second stage housing who are currently not entitled to any tenancy rights.  

Reaching Home and Investments to Address Encampments and Unsheltered Homelessness: Investments towards accelerating community level investments in homelessness, including specific funding (matched by provinces) to address unsheltered homelessness and encampments are critical and timely measures. As funding gets rolled out, it is critical that funding makes specific targets to address homelessness among women and gender-diverse people, particularly Indigenous women and gender-diverse people, whose experiences are often hidden and invisible. It is critical that investments create pathways out of hidden homelessness, unsheltered homelessness and encampments that are dignified and respect autonomy and agency of those most in need. The tent community action plans mentioned in Canada’s Housing Plan must include lived experts and right to housing advocates at the table to ensure its foundation is set by human rights and reconciliation, which is outlined in our Feminist Housing Agenda and recently echoed by the Federal Housing Advocate. 

Apprenticeship and Skills Trade Awareness and Readiness Programs: Skilled trades continue to be an area of high barrier for women and gender-diverse people to enter and thrive in. With new investments in skills trades workers, we advocate for the programs to particularly focus on barriers faced by women and gender-diverse people in accessing and maintaining skilled trade as viable careers.