ONPHA’s input to the 2014 Ontario Budget
It’s a new year and the Ministry of Finance has launched pre-budget consultations to give Ontarians the opportunity to shape the Province’s 2014 budget. ONPHA’s staff and board of directors have participated in the consultation process in two ways. Board members have attended inperson sessions, delivering our messages directly to Finance Minister Charles Sousa. And, ONPHA staff have communicated directly with the Ministry of Finance to outline our position and budget asks.
The first year of the Housing Opens Doors campaign demonstrated that affordable housing isn’t only a poverty or equity issue, it’s also foundational to a robust and thriving economy. We found supporters in the health, education, community and private sectors and they directly connected housing to the future success of our province. Housing is an investment that enjoys broad and multi-sectoral support and that point is one of our central messages to government.
We also proposed three immediate actions that the Province can take to address the growing demand for affordable housing and keep tenants successfully housed.
Meet and beat the feds’ commitment to IAH
The federal government has pledge to extend the Investment in Affordable Housing (IAH) program, which is the sole source of funding for affordable housing. In 2013, the Province signaled their willingness to collaborate, but time is running out. We’re challenging to Province to commit to the extension of the program and to exceed the federal government’s financial contribution.
Past investments are threatened by disrepair
Ontario’s rental housing system was largely built through long-term government investment. Now, a significant part of that investment is threatened by worsening disrepair and policy and funding neglect by the Province and federal government. Like roads and bridges, affordable housing is a form of infrastructure that meets the needs of communities. We’ve asked the Province to re-open the door to longterm investment in housing by including the sector in the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act.
Support healthy and successful tenancies
Many of Ontario’s most vulnerable citizens live in affordable housing and many need support to stay housed. Most non-profit housing providers don’t have the human and financial resources to provide the type and level of support required. At the same time, we know that when tenants are given the support they need, they use fewer costly health services. We’ve asked the Province to improve tenant outcomes and save health dollars by creating a provincial program to provide support for vulnerable tenants living in affordable housing. It’s a win-win for the Province, members and tenants!
Our pre-budget submissions also alluded to some exciting research that ONPHA will be releasing in the weeks ahead. We asked ourselves how Ontario could solve its most pressing housing challenges and what we’ve come up with policy proposal for tackling the big issues. Stay tuned!