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Blue Door calls on federal government to scale up Construct program

April 19, 2024

Posted on: April 19th, 2024. By: Joseph Quigley,, Original Article.

Budget lacked the funding the Newmarket-area housing charity had advocated for to build a trades workforce and housing, while helping individuals get out of poverty.

York Region’s Blue Door housing charity is praising the new federal budget but says more dollars should flow to help a training and building program.

The charity is calling for the federal government to boost its Construct program and launch it across Canada. The program provides those facing barriers with on-the-job training and wraparound services to transition to the trades, all in hopes of providing the workforce to build needed housing supply.

Blue Door CEO Michael Braithwaite said Construct is a proven program locally, but the organization believes it can do more good if scaled up.

“We got a concept that can work in many parts of the country, and they can make a larger impact,” he said. “The longer we wait for that to be replicated, the less of an impact we’ll have.” 

Construct began in 2020, graduating hundreds who have started their trades careers. It supports vulnerable individuals in poverty and homelessness so that they can be in the program and find a pathway to employment.

The organization is asking for $21.1 million in federal funding for the Construct program. That includes $16.6 million through the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy and $5 million through the Skilled Trades Awareness and Readiness program and Apprenticeship Service.

Braithwaite said that local MPs have supported their efforts, but advocating to the federal government has had its challenges.

“Sometimes, (government departments) tend to play a little bit of a game of political hot potato,” Braithwaite said, adding they hoped the budget announcement could have meant something for them but, “we knew it was a long shot.” 

Blue Door also called for the implementation of the $1.5 billion rental protection fund, prioritizing non-market community housing on public lands getting made available, and ensuring dedicated funding through the affordable housing fund to create supportive housing.

Still, Braithwaite said he is excited by the promise of the federal budget, which aims for 3.87 million new homes by 2031. 

“It’s the largest investment ever by a government in housing and homelessness,” Braithwaite said. “It holds great promise.”

“We’ll build more housing and help make life cost less. We will drive our economy toward growth that lifts everyone up. That is fairness for every generation,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland said in a news release.

Still, Braithwaite said it is hoped that the funding can flow more quickly. 

“We really hope that a lot of these announcements come to fruition sooner rather than later. Timing is everything,” he said, adding he was also disappointed there was not more around investing in Indigenous housing supports. 

Blue Door plans to delve deep into the federal budget and its impacts next week for its On The Way Home podcast.

Programs like Construct are needed, Braithwaite said, and the call to the federal government is a way to help address the ongoing housing crisis.

A bigger Construct program “will reduce poverty, lift people out of poverty and help them access the housing that’s there,” he said. “Solutions that will help us get ourselves out of the crisis.”