Ontario votes: Making affordable housing an election priority
With the provincial election set for June 12, ONPHA is encouraging members to help us remind candidates and communities of the importance of affordable housing in building strong communities. Our campaign, “Affordable Housing. For Ontario” delivers the message that a government commitment to affordable housing is a smart investment in people, the economy, and the future of our province.
Election issues – where’s housing?
Jobs and the economy have emerged as the dominant campaign themes, with housing relegated to the backburner. The Liberal Party of Ontario is the sole party to offer anything on the housing front and this is by virtue of their 2014 budget on which they are now campaigning. While the Liberals’ platform promises a recommitment to the Investment in Affordable Housing Program and increased funding for the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative, the party and the press have devoted more attention to other budget measures, such as pension reform and transportation infrastructure.
The Ontario NDP platform fails to mention housing at all, and marks a shift towards more populist policies, such as reducing auto insurance and cutting taxes for small businesses. The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario’s “Million Jobs Plan” is also silent on affordable housing, but proposes cutting 100,000 public sector jobs and reducing government spending in all areas except health care – reductions that could see the province stepping even further back from their commitments to affordable housing.
ONPHA’s key asks
With the three main parties failing to fully address the importance of affordable housing for Ontarians, ONPHA is committed to ensuring that election candidates place affordable, non-profit housing at the top of their agendas. We’re demanding that the next Ontario government deliver on two key policy asks: partner with us to house Ontarians, and help us to help others.
These important goals include a commitment to repairing and retrofitting existing social housing, reducing red tape and barriers for non-profit housing
providers, including non-profit housing in Ontario’s future infrastructure plans, and increasing supports for residents in non-profit housing while creating a dedicated fund to increase the supply of supportive housing.
In the days before the election, we’re calling on our members to use their knowledge and expertise to deliver our message to election candidates. Our website’s campaign portal (http://onpha.on.ca/election2014) details a number of ways that you can tell candidates and your community about the importance of affordable housing and the challenges faced by the sector. For example, members can meet with candidates and host tours of housing sites, write a letter or email, or promote the campaign through social media. We’ve also provided templates, infographics, and sample online posts to help you spread the word. Candidates of all parties respond to the priorities of their constituencies, so it’s up to you to ensure that your representative is fully aware that a commitment to affordable housing is a commitment to Ontario’s future.
Our advocacy doesn’t end with the election. ONPHA encourages our members to follow up with their local elected official after June 12. By presenting yourself as a valuable resource to the new government and providing information and advice on housing issues, you can help ensure that affordable housing remains a top priority.