Gerry Rogers Question Period (12.04.2013)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s Centre.

MS ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, we are facing the worst housing crisis in our Province’s history and the victims are growing. The sexual exploitation report that government tried to hide for years told us of young people having to sell their bodies for sex so they could have a place to sleep.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services: What is he concretely going to do to help our vulnerable youth who have nowhere to live and who are begging for help?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O’BRIEN: Mr. Speaker, at various times during this sitting of the House we have recognized the challenges that we have in various parts of the Province, including Labrador, in regard to affordable housing. We have invested in the past, heavily, through Newfoundland and Labrador Housing and various other programs across two or three departments in assisting people with affordable housing challenges.

We are going to continue to do that and work with Newfoundland and Labrador Housing through me, as being the minister responsible, to address the issue. As a matter of fact, it was only this morning, Mr. Speaker, that I met with the Combined Councils of Labrador. The subject that we spoke about the most was affordable housing in Labrador. I have committed to go to Nain next Thursday to meet with the local government and work on that issue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s Centre.

MS ROGERS:These are young people who have nowhere to live, Mr. Speaker. The Child and Youth Advocate’s report, that government could not hide, says youth are not given proper supports for living in the community. Youth agencies are saying the same thing. They are swamped with youth whose lives are at risk, and they cannot keep up with the demands right now.

I ask the minister: What is he going to do?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O’BRIEN: Mr. Speaker, as I just referenced, we are going to continue to address this issue. It is a challenge; it is not unique to Newfoundland and Labrador. It is prevalent right across all jurisdictions in Canada, as well as the United States.

In the meantime, we have invested heavily in youth since we took government in 2003, and will continue to do that. They have my assurance that I, as the minister responsible for housing in Newfoundland and Labrador, will work closely with our youth in our Province to make sure that we can address their issues as best as we possibly can under that program, Mr. Speaker.

Associated Caucus Members: 

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