The Ontario Legislature should amend Bill 140 – draft legislation to ensure all Ontarians are adequately housed – to make sure that municipalities can create locally-appropriate inclusionary housing plans, and the bill should also be amended to require the provincial housing minister to develop a real housing plan for Ontario, with real targets, timelines and funding mechanisms. Those are the key recommendations in a submission that the Wellesley Institute’s Michael Shapcott gave to the Ontario Standing Committee on Justice Policy today as it reviewed the bill.
Fully 630,000 Ontario households are officially in “core housing need” as defined by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Almost 142,000 households are on affordable housing waiting lists. The affordable housing needs of Ontarians are complex and diverse, and poor housing is a critical factor in driving poor individual health and poor population health. Ontario has the highest housing costs, the lowest per capita investment in housing and has made the biggest download of housing responsibilities to municipalities of any Canadian province.
For most of the past two decades, Ontario’s housing policy has been dictated by federal politicians. When the national government cuts and downloads housing (as it did in 1993 and 1996 respectively), the Ontario government follows suit (in 1995 and 1998). When the federal government makes one-time, short-term housing investments (in 2001, 2006 and 2009), the Ontario government cost-shares (although sometimes taking a year or more to catch up). In recent years, Ontario has taken important steps in affordable housing programs and funding, but “none of these initaitives is sufficient to meet the housing needs of Ontarians, and all of them together do not add up to a comprehensive, long-term affordable housing plan for the province” – notes the WI submission.
The Wellesley Institute supports a recommendations for amendments to the draft legislation by a number of our housing partners. In our submission, we identified two critical priorities:
- first, amend Bill 140 to amend the Planning Act to ensure municipalities have the power to enact locally appropriate inclusionary housing policies.
- second, amend Bill 140 to require the provincial government to create a comprehensive, ‘made-in-Ontario’ affordable housing plan to meet the housing needs and respect the housing rights of Ontarians.