Availability of Rentals for Critical Staff

Ministers' Statements and Speeches

(March 7, 2013) - Mr. Speaker, a lack of affordable, adequate, and suitable housing creates challenges in recruiting staff for the GNWT, Aboriginal governments and for community governments. Staff need homes to live in if they are going to continue delivering the programs and services the people of the NWT rely on their governments for.

Currently, the NWT Housing Corporation has about 90 market rentals in communities and has provided support to communities and other organizations for another 40 units. The NWT Housing Corporation is taking steps that will expand this stock and help to address this issue.

We are standardizing the rents in our units using the same community zone system as is used for the public housing rent scale. In the past, rents were based on individual unit costs and could vary significantly.  The new rates are fairer and will give potential staff more certainty about their housing costs.  As an example, a two bedroom unit in       Fort Liard will be rented for $1,250 per month with the tenant paying for electricity and municipal services.

The NWT Housing Corporation is also working closely with stakeholders within the education and health sectors, areas of particular concern, to improve the availability of information on NWT Housing Corporation rentals.

Mr. Speaker, we are also re-launching the Housing for Staff Program. This program allows the NWT Housing Corporation to partner with community organizations and developers to expand the availability of rental units in smaller NWT communities. The program was in place during the 16th Assembly, but we have made changes to increase its effectiveness, including increasing the subsidy provided to developers in the northern part of the territory to reflect higher construction costs. We are also changing the requirement that developers only rent to GNWT staff to receive the subsidy to allow for rentals to Aboriginal and community government staff as well as GNWT staff. These organizations face similar recruitment challenges as the GNWT and this step will help address that, while expanding the pool of potential tenants for developers.

Mr. Speaker, we share Members concern about vacant homeownership units. We will immediately make these units available for rental in cases where there haven’t been eligible clients apply for our homeownership support program. This will use our stock more efficiently and make more units available to staff that deliver critical services. This approach will not impact our homeownership programs, but will allow us to get the most out of our housing stock.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, there are communities where the lack of available housing for staff that deliver critical services is particularly severe. The NWT Housing Corporation is consulting with stakeholders and reviewing each community’s stock of rental units and we will invest to develop more units where they are most needed and no private developer is willing to invest.

Mr. Speaker, these actions will be a significant contribution to addressing the problem of availability of housing for staff that deliver critical services. The steps I have outlined will improve our ability to work with potential staff on housing options and is expected to expand the market rental stock supported by the NWT Housing Corporation by about 50%.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.