For the health of all Ontarians, the provincial government needs to maintain critical investments in affordable housing. That is the key message delivered by the Wellesley Institute in our written submission to the Ontario Legislature’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs during its hearings on the provincial budget. The Wellesley Institute’s submission focuses on eroding provincial affordable housing investments, and the inequitable impact of this policy decision on the housing and health of low, moderate and middle-income Ontarians. The Wellesley Institute also added its support to critical revenue measures necessary to ensure a healthy and fair provincial budget, including the decision to freeze further reductions in taxes on profitable corporations and a return to a more equitable and fair tax rate for the highest income residents of Ontario. The three key recommendations include:
1. The Ontario government should reverse the long-term erosion of affordable housing investments by committing to maintain housing funding at the 2010 level and gradually increasing funding over time to meet the housing needs of all of Ontario.
2. The Ontario government should restore two critically important programs for people who rely on Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program, the Community Start-up and Maintenance Benefit and the Home Repairs Benefit. The Community Start-up and Maintenance Benefit is important because it is targeted to assist people on social assistance, who are among the most vulnerable in Ontario. It provides people with the direct assistance they need to retain their housing and prevent homelessness. It can help them pay their rent or utility arrears, or help them move to safer or more secure housing. It is a mandatory benefit – people that are denied are able to appeal the decision. This oversight ensures a measure of fairness for Ontarians with low-income and protects them from arbitrary decisions. The Home Repairs Benefit helps people on assistance pay for things like emergency plumbing repairs, patching a leaky roof, or repairing damage from fire or floods. This cut will disproportionately affect people on ODSP, as well as people in rural, northern and First Nation communities.
3. To ensure adequate revenues to fund critical housing and related initiatives, we support the plan to stop further reductions to the tax rate for profitable corporations, and we also support measures to increase fairness by restoring more equitable tax levels for the highest-income earners in the province.
Full submission posted here.