September 30, 2002
Speaking notes for
the Honourable Claudette Bradshaw,
Minister of Labour
and Federal Coordinator on Homelessness
to the Annual Social Services
Halifax, Nova Scotia
September 30, 2002
Thank you for inviting me to your annual conference here in Halifax. As someone who has been involved in the community for many years, I am honoured to be here among friends and colleagues who share my passion to ensure all Canadians can lead their lives to the fullest.
I think that "Building Inclusive Communities" is a great theme for this year's conference because building inclusive communities has been our working reality in seeking solutions to homelessness.
À Moncton, ma ville natale, j'ai passé 32 ans à faire du travail communautaire; alors je comprends les défis auxquels vous êtes confrontés. Mais j'ai toujours cru dans le pouvoir des réseaux et des partenariats locaux pour la réalisation d'objectifs communs. Je crois dans le pouvoir des partenariats pour changer la vie des gens. Ce qui veut dire que n'importe qui parmi nous peut faire partie de la solution.
I went into politics to help bring government back to communities. And this is the foundation upon which the National Homelessness Initiative has been built.
When the Prime Minister asked me to be the Federal Coordinator on Homelessness, I went into communities from coast to coast to gain a sense of what the Government of Canada could do. I wanted to hear from people working in their communities what lessons they had learned.
They told me that local communities are best situated to develop local solutions. They told me they needed support to better coordinate what they were already doing.
I heard that although homelessness is a national challenge, it requires community solutions. That's the idea behind the National Homelessness Initiative.
Communities also told me they needed help to bring together municipal, provincial and federal governments to support local action. They wanted to include ideas, people and organizations from all areas of the community.
With this in mind, I developed the Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative, the cornerstone of the National Homelessness Initiative. The Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative starts with the community coming together and developing a plan to address homelessness. Federal, provincial and municipal governments, private, non-profit, and volunteer organizations all come to the table to try and sort through the problems to find solutions.
The goals of the Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative are to support community solutions to homelessness as well as to build inclusive partnerships between all the agencies, governments and individuals working on the issue locally.
Sixty-one communities have responded to this approach across the country and the Initiative has flourished as a result.
We are seeing powerful results that clearly show that the community-based approach is the right one.
Nous voyons que l'échange d'information s'est intensifié; les compétences sont mises à profit et les ressources, partagées. Ensemble, nous partageons le pouvoir, que donnent les partenariats, de bâtir des collectivités plus ouvertes dans tout le Canada.
The Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative and the plans that have been developed and implemented through the community partnerships are making a difference.
These locally driven initiatives help our families, our friends and our neighbours who are homeless to feel included in society. Let me tell you in concrete terms what this means.
By working in partnership, communities are generating over 6,500 beds in emergency shelters and transitional houses for homeless persons across this country. Working with provincial, municipal, federal and not-for-profit partners, communities have contributed to the renovation or construction of 174 food banks and service depots. In human terms, this means better facilities and more help for those who need it most.
And the work is continuing. We know that the face of homelessness in Canada is changing dramatically, as more young people and families move onto our streets and into our shelters. We know that we must continue to be responsive to the priorities communities decide upon to reach out to those who are homeless or who are at risk of homelessness.
One of my favourite initiatives that demonstrates the powerful results of this approach comes from right here in Halifax. Many of you may remember the Brunswick Street United Church's Camp program, which helped about 300 disadvantaged youth each year. Unfortunately, Camp Brunswick fell into disrepair and was closed in 1998.
Under funding through the National Homelessness Initiative, troubled youth helped to rebuild the rundown camp. Through this project, youth who were at risk of becoming homeless gained courage, confidence and mastered work skills. They learned skills to become contributing members of their community. They benefited and so did the whole community.
Brunswick summer camp is back in full swing, offering programs for more than 250 local children.
Phoenix Youth is another organization here in Halifax dedicated to making sure young people don't fall through the cracks. Through the Initiative, they are continuing to grow and address the evolving needs of youth. The Phoenix Youth Program offers a whole continuum of care. Staff help at-risk youth with housing, to learn life skills and work skills, to beat addictions and to find employment. And last Christmas Eve, they opened a new 20-bed shelter for homeless youth.
This is truly a testament to inclusive communities. Projects such as this have an impact that cannot be measured. They change the course of lives and the effects are far-reaching and long lasting.
Le travail accompli me rend fière des gens comme vous, qui jouent un rôle déterminant dans la vie de nos enfants, de nos jeunes et d'autres citoyens vulnérables.
In every city I visit, I am inspired by the level of commitment and partnership I have seen coming from all players – service providers, the voluntary sector and the municipal, provincial and federal governments.
We in this room have the power to make a personal contribution to build more inclusive communities. Anyone of us can touch the life of a homeless person in a way that shows we care.
I want to thank you, as representatives of municipal and provincial governments across Canada, for the essential part you have played in making this Initiative successful.
The Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative is a model of the powerful results that can be achieved through social inclusion. Community partnerships across Canada are making a difference.
I'm proud of what has been accomplished. Imagine 61 communities with thousands of partners working towards the common goal of eliminating homelessness. The community emphasis of the National Homelessness Initiative has been the key to its success.
Mais ce n'est pas seulement moi qui le dis. C'est aussi ce que disent nos partenaires à l'échelle du pays.
We have held workshops in many communities and we have also asked several of them to provide written feedback on their experiences with the Initiative. I'm glad to say that overall, we're hearing that the Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative is making a difference.
Les collectivités disent que nous avons raison d'insister pour qu'elles mènent la barque et que les gens et les groupes au niveau local profitent de la coopération manifestée dans l'élaboration et la mise en oeuvre des plans.
We heard that federal involvement and support was essential for communities to identify the challenges that they were facing and to develop local strategies to meet those challenges. We heard that flexible community-based solutions are essential if we are going to help people in need.
The successes that we've achieved by working together and ensuring that communities take the lead have been recognized across Canada and internationally. I'm delighted to tell you that the Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative was selected as a Best Practice in the UN-Habitat 2002 Dubai International Awards for Best Practices.
Le travail que nous avons accompli avec nos milliers de partenaires est considéré comme ayant contribué de façon remarquable à améliorer la qualité de vie dans les villes et les collectivités.
As we plan for the future, we are continuing to listen to communities and to work with other federal departments and the provinces and territories to determine our next steps.
Let's continue to work together to create a place where everyone's voice is heard.
Ensemble, nous pouvons faire en sorte que tous les Canadiens et Canadiennes puissent avoir un lieu sûr qu'ils considèrent comme leur chez-soi.
Let's build more inclusive communities right across Canada.
Thank you. Merci.
Canadian Council on Social Development,
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