August 2016
Backgrounder

A strong housing sector in Ontario is vital.  Affordable housing contributes to the economic and social well-being of Ontario’s communities and the Province as a whole.  Ontario is the only province in Canada where housing is a municipal responsibility and Ontario municipalities contribute more than the federal and provincial governments.

This responsibility is becoming increasingly challenging for municipalities, as social housing demand rises to record levels, housing stock ages and maintenance costs increase.  As well, Ontario’s aging population has more complex health needs, with increasing demand for specialized residential care. Consider that in Ontario:
  • More than 171,000 households are on wait-lists for affordable housing. 1
  • Most affordable housing units are between 18 and 50 years old.  The sector’s minimum financial contribution to address the current capital repair backlog is estimated at $1.5 billion.2
The current funding and delivery system for housing is not sustainable.  The municipal property tax base cannot cover the costs of capital repairs, operations, administration and the development of much-needed new housing.  For this reason, federal and provincial investments in housing and homelessness prevention in their respective 2016 Budgets are welcome, appreciated and needed.

AMO is pleased that the Province has updated the Long Term Affordable Housing Strategy. The strategy renewal is an opportunity to strengthen our efforts to provide safe, secure, suitable and adequate affordable housing options – ranging from social and rental housing to home ownership. Social housing modernization and long-term sustainability of the sector are top of mind.  AMO will work with the government to advise on the implementation of the strategy and are pleased to see the government moving quickly on several commitments through Bill 204 – the Promoting Affordable Housing Act.

Additionally, the federal government has begun much-anticipated consultations on the development of a National Housing Strategy.  The strategy will be an important guide for future housing investment from the federal Social Infrastructure Fund and beyond.  While the federal government is working with the Provinces and territories to develop the strategy, AMO needs a seat at the national roundtable discussions, given municipalities’ unique responsibility in Ontario.  We need to see a shift from Canada being the only G8 country without a national housing strategy, to Canada being a leader among the G8 nations in the housing sector.

AMO looks forward to this new setting, where the federal government is increasing its involvement in housing while the provincial government works towards modernization and sustainability. Alignment and combined effort between federal, provincial and municipal governments is needed as housing is beyond the scope of any one government to address on its own.

1. Source: Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association. 2016 Waiting Lists Survey Report.
2. Source: Housing Services Corporation. Social and Affordable Housing Primer.