Rural and remote communities are essential parts of a prosperous, healthy and vibrant Canada. Representing 30% of the Canadian population, local governments, businesses, and service organizations in these rural and remote settings are serving millions of people, contributing significantly to our GDP, and creating thriving communities across the country. However, reductions in public investments, the effects of climate change, evolving labour and manufacturing markets, housing affordability pressures, and the limited availability of social supports in rural and remote communities have created significant challenges that require renewed federal leadership and innovation.
One significant challenge in rural and remote communities is homelessness. Unfortunately, amongst emerging federal priorities and new investments, rural and remote homelessness continues to receive little focus from major policy and funding mechanisms.
There is clear and growing evidence that homeless and at-risk individuals migrate or are sent to urban centres in search of support services. The result of this migration is greater isolation, detachment from natural supports, exposure to new risk factors, and an overburdening of services in urban centres. Failing to invest in solutions to address rural and remote homelessness is a lost opportunity to make investments in prevention. This lack of attention results in a more traumatic path for individuals affected by homelessness and, in the end, creates a need for more expensive interventions later. It also strips rural and remote communities of future employees, business owners, and citizens.
If we are to collectively deliver on the objectives of the National Housing Strategy and Reaching Home, and build a Canada that works for all Canadians, investments in research and solutions that tackle rural and remote homelessness are essential. To this end, organizations and leaders from across the country have come together with the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness to establish, for the first time, a National Alliance to End Rural and Remote Homelessness.