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November 14, 2023
Starting from the Spring of 2022 through the Winter of 2023, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO)-led housing and health study examined the effects of housing conditions on the mental, physical, and holistic health of Métis citizens living in Ontario.
Over 4,100 MNO citizens contributed to this project through an online survey. In addition, 36 citizens took part in focus groups where they shared their thoughts, feelings and opinions about housing and health.
Survey results showed that most MNO citizens were satisfied with their housing conditions, with 73% in agreement. Another 15% were neutral about their housing conditions and 11% were dissatisfied. Just over half (54%) of citizens reported their current home needed minor or major repairs.
For holistic health, more MNO citizens (74%) said they felt physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental balance some or none of the time versus all of the time (26%).
When asked about mental health, 66% of citizens said they had excellent, very good or good mental health and 34% had fair or poor mental health. Looking at physical health, 70% of citizens said they had excellent, very good or good physical health, while 30% had fair or poor physical health.
A strong relationship was found between citizens being satisfied with their housing conditions and reporting better mental, physical, and holistic health outcomes. Thus, improving housing conditions for MNO citizens is also likely to improve their mental, physical, and holistic health.
When talking about what a healthy house is during focus groups, it was clear that healthy housing for MNO citizens goes beyond a sound structure and good physical living conditions to include the relationships within the home, the community and relationships with the land and water. As an example, one citizen described a healthy home like this:
“I start with what I define as a healthy home, as one that starts with love. And from the moment you enter it, love is within and it’s a really important value that indicates what home, for me, feels like. That’s how I define it. And the access to recreation and leisure, really for me creates that sense of place. So, recreation and leisure, for me, is being able to access the land – forested land is important. That’s where home is for me. And I’m a river person, similar to many, in that I grew up along with Kitchissippi river in the Ottawa valley, and for me, home is always there where the river is. If I’m beside the river, I’m good, and I know where it is, regardless of where I go in the world.”
This research fills an important gap on housing and health for Métis people. The findings will be applied to current housing programs and services. They can also aid MNO efforts to secure future funding to increase housing and related support options for Métis people.
Such options range across the housing continuum from solving homelessness to supporting homeownership and improving housing quality for citizens.
Maarsi-Miigwetch-Merci-Thank you to the thousands of MNO citizens who shared their housing conditions, state of repair, and self-reported health outcomes in the MNO’s survey. Deep appreciation as well is owed to the 36 citizens who spent hours of their time sharing their thoughts and opinions on housing and health in focus groups. Your contributions to this research are truly invaluable. A special thank you to Senator Rene Gravelle, Senator Gwen Lindsay, and Senator Steve Callaghan for leading the focus groups in a good way.
The Métis Nation of Ontario received funding from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) through the National Housing Strategy. The views expressed are the personal views of the authors and CMHC accepts no responsibility for them.