The Meadow Lake Tribal Council is asking the federal government to reconsider its funding allocation for on-reserve housing.
Vice-Chief Richard Derocher, who is the former housing and First Nation manager for Flying Dust, told a House of Commons Committee that housing insurance accounts for a majority of program funding, leaving approximately one-third for renovations and new construction.
“Their insurance to insure their homes is about $180,000 a year which leaves you approximately $110,000 to build or renovate,” Derocher explained. “That leaves us with a definite problem. How do you accommodate housing situations in our First Nations, when you’re building with $110,000, remembering we’re in Northwest Saskatchewan, where the cost is about 20 to 30 percent more than in southern Saskatchewan.”
Yet he said the average construction cost for a three-bedroom bungalow was $230,000.
“You can’t even finish off the house with that. How do you also look at your renovation list, our houses are depleting, no money to put them into the way housing should be. So, the Chief and Councils of those communities are very boxed in in housing,” said Derocher.
Overcrowding is an issue for some member Nations of the Meadow Lake Tribal Council. Derocher recounted to Members of Parliament that there is on average nearly eight people per household. He said overcrowding exacerbates mental health conditions of youth, who spend greater amounts of time away from home, leading to either staying with friends or participating in destructive behaviour.
In terms of fixing this problem, Derocher said programs like the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation offers programs to allow for the construction of low-income housing, which would greatly benefit northwest Sask. First Nations. However he stated that growing the local economy would also help First Nations in constructing homes.