As the Ontario government’s province-wide consultations for a comprehensive provincial housing plan open the first of three sessions in Toronto this evening, here are three housing facts to consider:
Highest housing costs: Ontario has the highest housing costs of any province (median household shelter costs of $10,878, according to Statistics Canada). One in every three Toronto households spends 30% or more of their income on housing – the worst record among metropolitan areas across Canada. High housing costs for low, moderate and middle-income households means less money for other necessities such as food, medicine, energy, childcare, transportation, clothing, education… High housing costs are the single biggest reason why more than one million people were forced to line-up at Toronto’s food banks last year (Source: Daily Bread Food Bank).
Lowest provincial investment: Ontario has the worst record among all the provinces in terms of affordable housing investments. In the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009, Ontario spent $64 per capita on affordable housing, about half the provincial average of $115 per person (source: Wellesley Institute calculation based on Statistics Canada Government Revenue and Expenditures database). At the head of the provincial pack are Saskatchewan ($214 per capita – almost three and one-half times greater than Ontario), Nova Scotia ($175) and Alberta ($154). On March 12, 2009, the Alberta government announced a $3.2 billion, 10-year housing plan. Ontario’s housing plan is not expected until late 2010 or 2011.
Biggest municipal downloading: Ontario, more than any other Canadian province, downloaded the cost of affordable housing to local government. In the most recent fiscal year, the provincial government invested $829 million in affordable housing – only two-thirds of the $1.3 billion invested by municipalities (source: Statistics Canada Government Revenue and Expenditures database). Cash-strapped Ontario municipalities have limited revenues sources (mostly property taxes, grants from senior governments and fees), which means that there’s little ability on the part of municipal governments to grow housing investments to meet the growing housing needs across the province.