ONPHA’s analysis of the 2020 Ontario Budget: Top five takeaways for community housing
Ontario released its 2020 Budget on November 5, which remains focused on emergency COVID-19 responses. ONPHA is disappointed that housing was not a focus and few new initiatives for community housing were announced. However, the Province committed to releasing the 2021 Budget by March 31 and ONPHA will continue advocating for housing to be central to economic recovery planning.
Read on for a summary of ONPHA’s full analysis of the 2020 Budget, including the top five takeaways for community housing and opportunities for next steps.
1. Support for social services and municipalities
The Province restated previous commitments for social services and municipalities, such as $4 billion for municipalities through the Safe Restart Agreement, including $510 million for the Social Services Relief Fund (SSRF) for emergency shelters, expanded rent support and long-term housing. New social services funding includes $30 million over two years for enhanced infection prevention and control (IPAC) measures.
Yet, SSRF funding has not been sufficient to address increasing sector costs, with some providers not receiving any funding (as service managers have directed most funding toward emergency shelters and homelessness supports). Plus, IPAC funding will likely not be broadly accessible.
In preparation for 2021 Budget engagement opportunities, ONPHA continues to advocate for immediate stabilization funding for community housing providers.
2. Support for mental health and addictions, seniors and people with disabilities
The Province reiterated its 10-year, $3.8 billion mental health and addictions investment, including $26.75 million already committed to emergency responses, plus $176 million to increase service access and $19.25 million for post-secondary mental health supports this year. Funding will also be available for short-term emergency rent supplements and supports for Indigenous communities. ONPHA will be following up to determine program details.
New supports for seniors and people with disabilities include:
- $2 million over two years for new Inclusive Community Grants Program to fund community supports for seniors and people with disabilities, including accessible housing
- A new Community Paramedicine for Long-Term Care pilot program to help seniors age in place using a community-based healthcare model
- An additional $5 million for the Ontario Community Support Program to provide seniors and people with disabilities with meals, medicines and other essentials, totaling $16 million over two years
ONPHA supports alternative options for seniors and people requiring supports to remain in their homes, but supports must be sustainable, accessible and culturally-relevant.
3. Supports for individuals and families
The Budget provides minimal support for individuals and families, especially marginalized and racialized communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
Notable commitments include:
- An additional round of one-time Support for Learners payments to provide families with $200/child up to 12 years old ($250/child and youth with special needs up to 21 years old) to assist with added COVID-19-related costs, such as technology for online learning
- $70 million over three years in the Special Services at Home program for families caring for children with development and/or physical disabilities
- $2.5 million for a new Victim Support Grant to improve supports for survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking
- $1.8 billion over two years through the Support for People and Jobs Fund to respond to emerging needs, including up to $10 million in grants for Indigenous-owned businesses
ONPHA continues to advocate for targeted arrears management and/or rent relief.
4. Increased broadband and cellular infrastructure
The Province restated its announcement of an additional $680 million over the next four years to increase broadband and cellular access, including $150 million for the Improving Connectivity for Ontario program.
Understanding internet is an essential service, we continue to call for sustainable supports to ensure connectivity across the province, plus investment in community housing as critical social infrastructure.
5. Supports for healthcare and long-term care
Key commitments include $6 billion in flexible funding over two years, plus the previously announced $2.8 billion for the Fall Preparedness Plan for Health, Long-Term Care and Education, and new long-term care standards over the next four years to increase average daily directly care.
We continue to call for ongoing, sustainable funding for other congregate care settings (e.g., supportive housing providers, emergency shelters, etc.) to continue safely housing communities.
ONPHA will be preparing for upcoming 2021 Budget consultations and continue advocating for:
- Immediate stabilization funding for community housing providers
- An arrears management and/or rental relief for unemployed and low-earning tenants
- Protection of existing community housing
- Investment in community housing growth
- Incentives to develop purpose-built rentals and affordable home ownership
If you have any questions about the Budget or want to share feedback to inform ONPHA’s advocacy, contact firstname.lastname@example.org