Written by: Jaimee Jakobczak
I was pleased to meet and watch Chris Birkett perform for the first time when I volunteered as a sound tech for Toronto’s annual Winterfolk festival this past winter and today I want to share his song Everyone Deserves a Home which, as the title suggests, actively is calling for change within affordable housing here in Ontario, Canada.
It’s not often you meet artists like Chris who are actively championing for important issues like affordable housing, but it is both refreshing and inspiring.
As an artist myself it has always been important to not just play music for the sake of its enjoyment, but to use it as a tool to bring awareness and change to industries that I believe require it; The areas that I tend to focus on personally, like mental health, are driven highly by these very issues.
After Chris’ back-to-back performances at the fest, he had to jet off to receive a rightly deserved community award for his work within the affordable housing space presented by NDP MPP Chris Glover. I didn’t quite get a moment to say so the day we met, but congratulations on your recognition, Chris and thank you for the work you do both on and off the stage.
In addition to Chris’ video for Everyone Deserves a Home (which is good fun to watch), I want to share with you a recent Instagram post which highlights that “Ontario’s waitlist for affordable housing has grown to more than 185,000 families.”
This issue is important for me to highlight for you today because I have spent years commuting in and out of and living in the city of Toronto as well as Vaughan, King City and Barrie, Ontario, noticing the increasing level of homeless persons of all age brackets and learning about the poor state of many services and shelters for these vulnerable people.
Not only that, but as a recently divorced woman in my early 30’s for the first time in my life I have had to come to terms with the very real reality that even with a full-time job, I was unable to afford to live in the city in which I worked every day.
As it turns out, this did not become easier by moving out of Toronto and into the suburbs of Barrie, and I have since found myself back at home in Vaughan, fortunate to have a mother and father with the capacity to house me. This is to say that I am wholly aware that I am not far removed from being part of the same vulnerable community that I am talking about today. I know that this option is not possible for many of my fellow Ontario residents and it has been a crushing blow to face the fact that the government bodies that represent us do not take enough responsibility to ensure we are all adequately housed, choosing instead to focus on new developments that not only disrupt our irreplaceable green spaces like the Greenbelt, but to also price them well out of reach of many of us.
The future I believed my country to be leading as a young girl is not the one I see before myself today.
And so today I would like to join Chris Birkett and call on you to take just a moment of your time to sign this petition where the goal is simple:
- Make renting more affordable, and give renters more security.
- Make it easier to buy a home, and strengthen homebuyers’ protections.
- Take on greedy billionaires, speculators, flippers and bad developers to cool the market.
- Support a For Indigenous, by Indigenous housing strategy.
- Tackle the housing shortage in Northern Ontario.
- Give survivors a safe place to go.
- End homelessness and give more people safe and stable housing options
And while I recognize that this is an Ontario-specific post, if I can leave you with just one last thought – this is not an Ontario-only issue. It’s not even a Canada-only issue. This is a widespread global issue that will continue to spread if not combated. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to take a look at your own neighbourhoods and governments to learn about what the state of your community is and then I implore you to ask yourself how you might be able to help.
For more, check out this interview with Chris and Global News’ Susan Hay.
Follow Chris social media to keep up with his music and work.