ONPHA’s Federal Election Analysis
What happened in the election?
After a tight-run race between the leading Liberal and Conservative parties, Canadians sent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau back to 24 Sussex Drive on October 21, 2019, albeit with a weakened mandate: he will likely lean on the NDP to form a governing majority in Parliament. If the Liberals fail to negotiate with either the NDP or Bloc Quebecois, the Conservatives have a chance to form a separate coalition.
The Liberals – despite losing the popular vote and 21 seats – held on to win a minority government. The NDP, projected to perform better, lost 15 seats. The Bloc performed well in Quebec, winning many former NDP ridings. The Conservative popular votes in the Prairies did not turn into critical seat-heavy gains in Quebec or Ontario, while the Green Party – despite an early win in Fredericton – did not perform as well as early polling projected.
A minority government means the ruling party may form formal governing coalitions with other parties to stay in power, but could instead hold loose, informal agreements to pass legislation. The ruling party may face non-confidence votes at any time – like in 2008 – so Liberals must be kind to their allies to stay in power. Regional politics – especially in Quebec and B.C. where the Bloc and NDP fared well – may play a larger role to keep potential Liberal allies happy. Analysts – and Trudeau himself – suggest an informal agreement – not a formal coalition – between the NDP and Liberals is the most likely outcome for at least the next two years.
ONPHA’s Election Activities
During the election, ONPHA promised to work with its federal partners – the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association (CHRA) – and all political parties to ensure housing remained a top priority during the election. We created a plan to highlight key ridings where housing needs were greatest in Ontario and work with candidates eager to learn and act to make housing more affordable.
Throughout the election, ONPHA monitored issues for opportunities and created opportunities for members and the organization to work with candidates. ONPHA also engaged with candidates and the media across Ontario to advocate about the importance housing affordability plays for the province’s economy and its people.
ONPHA garnered significant media coverage throughout the election period through its involvement developing the Canadian Rental Housing Index (CRHI), prompting candidates to take notice. With over 7 million media impressions, the CRHI launch helped ensure housing was a key issue for Ontarians on Election Day.
ONPHA’s election priorities were aligned with asks made by the CHRA. We urged parties to:
- Create and implement distinct urban, rural and northern Indigenous housing strategies to eliminate the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous housing standards and living conditions
- Preserve existing community housing stock
- Expand the Federal Lands Initiative to increase community housing in high-priority areas
- Provide funding and financing opportunities to incentivize the private sector to increase community housing
What was promised during the campaign?
With a likely ad-hoc agreement between the Liberals and NDP on the way, both parties’ housing priorities are critical to understanding what policies may come to fruition.
The Liberals committed to spend $55 billion and build 100,000 affordable housing units over the next 10 years as part of their National Housing Strategy. This includes an additional $15 million annual investment to address veteran homelessness.
The Liberals also promised to develop distinctions-based community infrastructure plans for Indigenous, Inuit and Métis communities over the next decade, though a dollar figure was not attached to the announcement. Liberal MP Adam Vaughan noted at the national housing debate that the party wants to create an Urban Indigenous Housing Authority, create a self-directed fund, and open up the full scope of CMHC programs for Indigenous peoples.
Singh made housing affordability a central tenet of his platform, committing to 500,000 affordable housing units over the next ten years – even commenting on housing priorities in his concession speech. The NDP also promised dedicated “fast-start funds” to streamline applications and expedite project start dates.
The NDP also committed to waiving federal portions of the GST/HST on the construction of new affordable rental units, providing resources to facilitate co-housing and retrofitting all housing stock in Canada by 2050. For Indigenous communities, the NDP committed to implement co-developed First Nations, Métis, and Inuit housing strategies, in line with the Liberal’s distinctions-based housing commitment.
The Conservatives may be consulted on some housing issues: with their plan to make surplus federal real estate available for development to increase housing supply and increase provincial healthcare funding, there may be opportunities for the Liberals and Tories to work together.
What’s next for ONPHA and housing?
All major parties made significant commitments to address housing across the country. With an uncertain alliance between the Liberals and NDP likely in the cards, determining what housing policies will be put in place remains to be seen.
ONPHA will work hard in the coming weeks to closely monitor the situation at Parliament Hill and ensure it works closely with its federal partners and Ontario MPs to keep housing a priority.
The election could mean the National Housing Strategy (NHS) may be strengthened and expanded as governing parties negotiate and try to deliver their commitments to voters. Providers could see greater funding packets from the federal government. The province and service managers might find greater incentives to quickly dispense money to providers as a new government will seek to gain quick political wins to solidify a progressive mandate.
With general progressive policy alignment between the Liberals and NDP, housing providers might see positive funding and possible legislation to cool the housing market and make rentals more affordable.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford promised to work with all federal parties to “make life more affordable.” A statement from the Premier committed he would work with the new government on shared priorities, including “critical infrastructure for the future” including affordable housing.
While the new minority government deliberates over its cabinet and composition shape, ONPHA will monitor and update members as developments are known. Advocacy will remain a key priority for the organization as the new government forms.
From the election, ONPHA will build on its relationships with key MPs, work with our federal partners like the CHRA and provincial counterparts through the Canadian Alliance of Non-Profit Housing Associations (CANPHA) to ensure everyone has a place to call home.
If you have a new MP, or want to stay in touch with decision-makers, introduce yourself to your representative. If you want to reach out and are unsure how to approach a meeting, contact our advocacy team. Stay tuned for more announcements as the government’s housing priorities and policies unfold.