Housing Loan Distribution Could Cause Strife

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 12:16



A vice-chief with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations says the federal government’s stimulus package could drive wedges between bands in the province.


It wasn’t that long ago Ottawa unrolled its economic action plan to prop up the slumping economy.


The federal government has set aside $400-million over two years to support on-reserve housing.


FSIN vice-chief Delbert Wapass says the move is a step in the right direction, but it still falls short of what is required.


For instance, he notes Saskatchewan only qualifies for just over $60-million of that amount, and much of it is loan money that will be handed out by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.


The remaining amount is to be spent by Indian Affairs.


However, Wapass says due to the lack of dollars and eligibility requirements, only 37 bands will qualify for $21.3-million in housing money.


He says it’s moves like this that can cause rifts among First Nations.


“The nature of the funding, being loan-based, also discriminates against those First Nations who can not access a ministerial loan guarantee, and this entrenches the divide between First Nations who are ‘have’ and those who are ‘have-not’,” Wapass says.


Wapass says even if the entire $400-million was spent on Saskatchewan bands, it would still only cover about 53 per cent of what’s needed.


He estimates 6,000 new units are required to address the housing shortage.