Effectiveness of Canada’s homelessness strategy unclear: auditor general

By The Canadian Press and Hana Mae Nassar

Canada’s auditor general says the federal government doesn’t know if the initiatives it has taken to reduce the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness is actually working.

In a report released Tuesday, Karen Hogan says without co-ordination, the government is unlikely to achieve its targets.

“Although five years have gone by since the launch of the federal government’s national housing strategy, there is still no organization in the federal government taking the lead on Canada’s target to reduce chronic homelessness by 50 per cent by 2028,” she said.

“Infrastructure Canada and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation really have a big data gap. They aren’t collecting the information to know if those most in need or those that were targeted by projects were actually being housed in certain affordable housing units.”

The report also found that some rentals offered by the CMHC as affordable units were not in fact affordable to low-income households.

Canada’s Homelessness Strategy has been described as one that is “community-based.” Infrastructure Canada explains the program provides funding to urban, Indigenous, rural, and remote communities to address their local needs.

The auditor general provides oversight to the federal government by conducting audits of its operations and financial accounts.

AG report shows Indigenous Services Canada failing First Nations in response to wildfires, floods

When it comes to emergency management in First Nations communities, Hogan say the federal government has not given them the support they need to respond to events like wildfires and floods, despite warning about this almost a decade ago.

The audit of Indigenous Services Canada’s handling of emergency management also found that not much has changed since a 2013 review.

The report says there have been more than 1,300 emergencies in First Nations communities over the past decade, resulting in more than 130,000 people being forced to leave their homes and traditional lands.

Hogan’s analysis adds Indigenous Services is too reactive when it comes to managing emergencies, instead of taking preventive steps to mitigate damages when floods, fires, and landslides strike.

The department is spending three-and-a-half times more money helping First Nations recover from disasters, than it is on helping them prepare.

Hogan notes the federal government hasn’t yet compiled a list of which communities are the least equipped to handle disasters.

Stronger action on cloud cybersecurity needed: AG

On the matter of cybersecurity, Hogan says government departments have not always effectively implemented measures to ensure secure storage of information in the digital cloud.

The auditor general says the report into cybersecurity shows requirements were not always clear for putting information in the cloud — computer servers located in data centres.

“As cyberattacks everywhere are becoming more frequent and sophisticated, gaps in controls increase the risk of security breaches,” Hogan explained, urging the government to take immediate action to strengthen how it prevents, detects, and responds to cyberattacks.

She says it should do this now, while departments are still in the early stages of moving personal information to the cloud.

This action includes shoring up key security controls as well as clarifying shared roles and responsibilities for cybersecurity.

Reports into Arctic waters surveillance, as well as the results of special examinations of Crown corporations, including the CBC, were also released Tuesday.

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