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Posted by on May 2021 in Advocacy, All Stories, Sector leadership, Slider, Uncategorized | 0 comments

ONPHA’s advocacy roundup: February-April 2021

From left to right" Queen's Park Legislature; a high-rise apartment building; the Parliament buildings in Ottawa.

The release of the federal and provincial budget and ONPHA’s ongoing collaboration with sector partners to advocate for the needs of community housing providers has made for a busy year thus far. 

While our focus has largely been on advocating for the funding and supports needed by community housing providers and their tenants in order to whether the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to work with stakeholders and sector partners on other key issues to ensure the sustainability and growth of the community housing sector. Read on to see what we’ve been working on over the past few months. 

Budget submissions and analysis 

Federal 

Canada released its 2021 Budget on April 19, focused on jobs, growth, and resilience toward a post-pandemic recovery.  

While ONPHA was glad to see significant housing investments, including an additional $1.5 billion for the Rapid Housing Initiative alongside a historic $30 billion toward national childcare, we were deeply disappointed in the absence of specific commitments or designated investments in urban, rural, and northern Indigenous housing, despite ongoing, long-term advocacy from ONPHA and sector partners. We would also have liked to have seen the adoption of our recommendations for immediate stabilization funding for the community housing sector, and increased, dedicated funding for community housing renewal and growth. 

Download our full analysis of the 2021 federal budget and get a breakdown of our biggest sector ‘wins’ here

Provincial 

Ontario released its 2021 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy on March 24. The budget builds on existing COVID-19 responses, investing in direct supports for health and economic recovery.

Ahead of the Ontario budget’s release, ONPHA partnered with the Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada, Ontario Region, The Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario, and Habitat for Humanity, Ontario Caucus to share a joint letter with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing calling for investment across the housing continuum to maintain occupancies, preserve affordability, and help achieve long-term sustainability.  

ONPHA was pleased to see some much-needed investments in Ontario’s ongoing pandemic response, including targeted supports for communities most impacted by COVID-19, families, and economic recovery efforts for both workers and organizations, but we would have liked to have seen the adoption of our recommendations to make housing a central focus of the 2021 Budget.  

We’ll continue our advocacy work with all levels of government to highlight the critical role that housing can play to stimulate socioeconomic recovery. 

Download our analysis of the 2021 Ontario budget and see the biggest wins for the community housing sector here on the blog

Download our tracker to see housing-related commitments from the 2021 federal and provincial budgets. 

Advocating for Indigenous-led housing solutions 

As part of our pre-budget and other ongoing advocacy initiatives, ONPHA continues to call on all levels of government to support Indigenous-led solutions for urban, rural, and northern Indigenous housing. Earlier this year, ONPHA submitted a brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities emphasizing the need for a distinct urban, rural, and northern Indigenous housing strategy for Canada.  

Building on data from ONPHA’s Urban and Rural Indigenous Housing Plan for Ontario and the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association Indigenous Caucus’ “For Indigenous, By Indigenous” National Housing Strategy, we highlighted the need for government to work in partnership with Indigenous partners to build units, support programming, increase Indigenous control, develop a database, and increase funding to eliminate homelessness. Read the full brief to learn more. 

The development of a community-led Implementation Plan for ONPHA’s Urban and Rural Indigenous Housing Plan for Ontario is among our key strategic priorities for 2021, as we work to address core housing need among urban and rural Indigenous communities with Indigenous partners. 

We are excited to re-engage with Daniel J. Brant & Associates, the team that developed the initial Plan, to develop the Implementation Plan based on engagement with the Indigenous community housing sector. We conducted a sector survey and four regional engagement sessions in March 2021, along with a broad Indigenous Housing Provider Gathering in May 2021, to gather feedback toward the development of the Implementation Plan.  

We’re grateful for the generous financial support provided by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Community Housing Transformation Centre for the development of the Urban and Rural Indigenous Housing Implementation Plan for Ontario. We look forward to providing updates on the Implementation Plan with our full membership. 

Responding to regulatory proposal on income and asset limits 

ONPHA recently turned to our members to help inform our submission to the Province’s consultation on proposed regulatory amendments to required local eligibility rules for income and asset limits for RGI assistance. This is the first in a series of forthcoming consultations to develop regulations set out in the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020. We collected feedback on recommended asset/income exclusions, what flexibility is required, how to manage existing asset/income limits, how to apply changes to prospective and existing tenants, and other considerations. 

Based on member input and research, ONPHA  highlighted the need for flexibility across communities and households to ensure equitable outcomes and avoid adverse impacts (especially on low-income seniors and Special Priority Policy applicants). We also emphasized the need to respect principles of simplification, consistency, and transparency to avoid increased administrative burdens on community housing staff. 

Stay tuned for information on upcoming engagement opportunities for forthcoming regulation development. Read our response

Advocating for bulk community housing utility rates 

Following the recommendation in ONPHA’s provincial pre-budget submission, we recently shared a submission to the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines’ review of Ontario’s long-term energy planning framework calling for a dedicated bulk utility rate for the community housing sector.  

Recognizing the significant, rising utility costs impacting providers’ operating budgets, a bulk sector utility rate would deliver immediate, high impact returns, while helping to safeguard the sector’s sustainability. ONPHA strongly recommends that the Province create a dedicated bulk utility rate for the community housing sector to assist in offsetting the high electricity costs associated with the sector’s aging, often electrically-heated buildings. 

Read the full submission

Next steps 

ONPHA is committed to continue working with our members, sector stakeholders, and partners to advocate for solutions that ensure the long-term sustainability, resiliency, and growth of the community housing sector, including problem-solving for sector solutions through ONPHA’s Solutions Lab.

Stay tuned for upcoming consultation opportunities for additional regulation development under Ontario’s Community Housing Renewal Strategy, as well as further engagement opportunities for Indigenous housing providers toward the development of an Urban and Rural Indigenous Housing Implementation Plan for Ontario. 

Stay up-to-date on recent developments on our website and through our weekly e-Alert newsletter.   

If you have questions or feedback to inform ONPHA’s advocacy, please reach out to us at policy@onpha.org.  

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