August 2017
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 municipal governments contribute more than the federal and provincial governments.

This responsibility is becoming increasingly challenging for municipalities: the demand for social housing is rising to record levels, housing is aging, and maintenance costs are increasing. As well, Ontario’s population is aging and has more complex health needs. This means there is an 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. There is a $1.5 billion  backlog to address the minimum current capital repair alone.2
The current funding and delivery system for housing is not sustainable. Municipal property taxes cannot cover the costs needed for 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 2017 Budgets are welcome, appreciated and needed.

AMO is also pleased the Province has updated the Long Term Affordable Housing Strategy. The strategy renewal strengthens our efforts to provide safe, secure, suitable and adequate affordable housing options—ranging from social and rental housing to home ownership. AMO is working 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.

As well, the provincial government has established a housing advisory group to address the rising costs of housing for both owners and renters. Through this group, AMO is providing advice on the implementation of the government’s Fair Housing Plan in a way that will work best for the differing housing markets across Ontario’s regions in urban, rural and northern areas.

Additionally, the federal government has completed much-anticipated consultations on the development of a National Housing Strategy. It is expected to be released later this year. 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 is advocating to both levels of government to ensure the municipal voice is heard, given their unique responsibility in Ontario.

The housing crisis is beyond the scope of any one government to address on its own. Aligning and bringing together the efforts between federal, provincial and municipal governments is needed.

AMO looks forward to this new setting, where the federal government is increasing its involvement, the provincial government is working toward modernization and sustainability, and municipalities continue to manage and work to address their communities’ needs.

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