Letter to Hon. Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion

March 11, 2022

The Honourable Ahmed Hussen
Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion
180 Kent Street
Suite 1100
Ottawa, Ontario  K1P 0B6

Dear Minister Hussen:

I am writing to you today to highlight concerns Bruce Power has over the growing housing affordability problem in rural communities across Canada and, in particular, the region we work in Grey, Bruce and Huron counties. We know your government previously indicated the establishment of an affordable housing fund for rural and Indigenous communities, which we welcome and believe there is an opportunity to accelerate this program. While we as a private-sector organization are creating positive economic activity and tax revenues, the re-investment of some of these proceeds in critical areas such as this is important to these rural and Indigenous communities. 

While we recognize housing affordability is a challenge in urban centres, it is also an increasingly urgent issue for rural communities including Grey, Bruce and Huron counties as well due to inflationary pressures and an increasing migration of people from urban centres to our area prompted by the digital work transition that began during the pandemic. 

Situated on the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON), Bruce Power is a significant source of jobs and economic activity in our region and a key driver of clean energy growth and generation that will play a significant role in helping Canada meet its Net Zero climate objectives by 2050. Directly and indirectly supporting more than 22,000 jobs, we generate $9 to $11 billion in economic activity annually. Our Life-Extension Program, which began in 2016 and will run through 2033, will alone create 5,000 jobs. Recently, we launched a $3 billion “Powering Ontario Forward” initiative to spur post-pandemic economic recovery over 18 months, and have committed to becoming a Net Zero operation by 2027 as we work to increase the clean energy output from our site to 7,000 megawatts in the coming years. 

As well, Bruce Power Net Zero (BPNZ) Inc. is focused on unlocking the potential of other complementary technologies to nuclear including storage, renewables, hydrogen, and electrified transportation to achieve a Net Zero future. BPNZ also operates Huron Wind, a nine Megawatt wind farm located in Tiverton, the first commercial wind farm in Ontario. BPNZ is currently accepting expressions of interest ideas for potential projects, including those with Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, and government partnerships that will significantly reduce GHG emissions. BPNZ has outlined four strategic priorities for the current wave of its program including storage (pumped or battery), hydrogen, zero-emission vehicle infrastructure, and hydro, solar or wind.

Bruce Power cares deeply about the communities it serves and all of those in our communities who work for other sectors and employers. Since the onset of the pandemic, Bruce Power has provided more than three million pieces of personal protective equipment to frontline workers, businesses, Indigenous communities and schools — the largest announced donation from a private-sector business in Canada.  The company also spent more than $1 million on public education efforts, community protection, shop local initiatives, activities and organizations that promote mental and physical health, lending a helping hand to those in need.

By working together with Ontario’s health units, Bruce Power helped keep residents safe and healthy through the important vaccination stage of the pandemic. We were able to provide full support to three vaccination hubs in Grey/Bruce, as well as the Peel and Lambton regions, while providing additional logistical and financial support to Hockey Hubs in the regions of Waterloo, Norfolk, Hamilton and Halton.

We believe we have a positive role to play in helping to identify and address issues and problems faced by the communities we serve, and rural housing affordability is an area we believe the federal government can and should act upon. 

As noted, we are pleased that Budget 2021 proposed to provide an additional $2.5 billion over seven years to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and advanced and reallocated $1.3 billion, on a cash basis, of previously announced funding in support of affordable housing. As well, a recent report from the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) noted that since 2019, funding allocated to address housing affordability over the term of Canada’s National Housing Strategy has increased by $672 million each year (23%) to an average of $3.7 billion, while funding for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s programs to address housing affordability has increased by $540 million per year (19%) to $3.3 billion per year. Funding for Employment and Social Development Canada’s programs to address homelessness has also increased by $132 million per year (59%) to $357 million. I note that your ministerial mandate letter states that it is your responsibility to, “with Indigenous partners, co-develop an Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy, a stand-alone companion to the National Housing Strategy, supported by dedicated investments.”   

Given the government’s clear direction to increase funding to address this issue, we ask that your government accelerate these policy and financial commitments to address rural housing affordability by partnering with our region to accelerate these investments beginning in Budget 2022 to our local communities in Bruce, Grey, and Huron counties in both the immediate and longer term.    

I would be pleased to discuss this with you or your staff further at your earliest convenience. Thank you for your attention to this important matter facing the communities with Bruce, Grey and Huron counties.

Sincerely,

John Peevers

Director, Community, Media Relations & Economic Development

Bruce Power

CC:

Mike Rencheck, Bruce Power President and CEO

MPP Lisa Thompson, Huron-Bruce

MPP Bill Walker, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound

MP Ben Lobb, Huron-Bruce

MP Alex Ruff, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound

Town of Saugeen Shores Council

Municipality of Kincardine Council

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