ONPHA welcomes new Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
From left to right: ONPHA Board President Keith Hambly, Minister Ted McMeekin, and ONPHA’s Executive Director Sharad Kerur
On July 30, ONPHA’s President and Executive Director welcomed The Honourable Ted McMeekin, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, to the nonprofit housing sector. In their meeting, they talked about deepening the Ministry’s relationship with housing providers and the non-profit sector, as well as the need for greater investment, especially for supportive and transitional housing providers.
Prior to the election, Minister McMeekin was the Minister of Community and Social Services where, among other accomplishments, he led the charge to reduce wait times for developmental services in the province. A social worker by training, he led many community-based organizations in the Hamilton area before becoming a city councillor in that city, the Mayor of Flamborough, and eventually, a Minister of Provincial Parliament.
Minister McMeekin began the meeting by describing his commitment to social justice and poverty reduction and highlighted a special interest in social housing. He described his interest in building a deep and constructive relationship with the sector and desire to bring diverse housing stakeholders
together to meet the challenges facing the sector. Keith and Sharad described ONPHA’s members, the work that they do and the important role they play in communities.
The conversation then turned to the issues that ONPHA members are facing and the need to ensure the sustainability of the non-profit housing sector. In detail, Keith and Sharad described the:
- Growing capital repair shortfall, which is threatening the viability of members’ oldest stock and contributing to the premature deterioration of newer units;
- Need to extend transitional housing providers’ exemption from the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), giving them time to work with clients at the clients’ pace and support their transition to permanent housing;
- Importance of making non-profit housing eligible for future municipal infrastructure funding by explicitly including it in bills like Bill 6, Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, 2014, which is before the legislature;
- Necessity of restoring cost factor increases to the budgets of housing providers funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services, reversing the stagnation that’s taken place since 1999 and enabling them to meet rising costs;
- Urgency of working with the federal government and other stakeholders to ensure the sustainability of Aboriginal housing providers. The majority of Aboriginal housing providers will be significantly impacted by the expiry of their operating agreements with the federal government because they depend on subsidies to operate their 100 per cent rent-geared-toincome portfolios.
These issues resonated with the Minister, who committed to looking into each of them further. He told us that some work was already underway with respect to lengthening the exemption for transitional housing providers from the RTA. The Minister also agreed to attend the opening plenary of the upcoming ONPHA conference, after which he will meet with member delegations to broaden his understanding of the sector.