TORONTO: Provincial plans to speed up the Ontario Child Benefit and increase affordable housing investments mean that low-income Ontarians will have more money in their pockets and better homes. The announcement by the Ontario government earlier today – in advance of next week’s provincial budget – means that eligible low-income families will get an additional $500 annually through the Ontario Child Benefit, and almost 55,000 households will get new or renovated homes from a combined federal-provincial investment of $1.2 billion over the next two years. Not only will 55,000 households get new or renovated homes, but there will be a multi-billion-dollar boost to the provincial economy, including thousands of good quality jobs in the construction and related sectors, at a time when stimulus is urgently needed.
“Recent research funded by the Wellesley Institute, including our ground-breaking work on income and health, shows that even a modest increase in income leads to fewer illnesses and significant health benefits,” says Michael Shapcott, senior policy fellow at the Wellesley Institute. “The new housing investment is a substantial down payment to meet the needs of the one-in-four Ontario households who are precariously housed or homeless. The new investments will also breathe life into the consultations for a new provincial housing plan, expected to start in the next two or three months. The OCB and housing dollars are a good start, but the province must keep ramping up its investments to ease the devastating burden of housing insecurity and poverty.”
In its pre-budget recommendations, the Wellesley Institute, along with many other organizations, called on the province to match federal affordable housing dollars – and Ontario has made that commitment. Today’s announcement addresses two critical Wellesley Institute pillars of accountability: Help people who are suffering the most in the current recession, and build a stronger and healthier economy.
“Ontario’s critical social infrastructure – the vital web of community-based agencies that deliver health, social and other services – is facing a double-bind,” says Shapcott. “These services were already suffering even before the recession hit, and now they are facing ballooning needs and a fraying patchwork of funding and support. The Ontario government needs to restore its plans for a $30 million social innovation fund, which was put on hold as a cost-saving measure last fall. Thousands of community-based groups will be looking for solid support for the province’s social infrastructure in next week’s provincial budget.”
For information: Michael Shapcott, 416-605-8316