ONPHA’s rapid response: 2022 Ontario Budget
Stay tuned for our in-depth analysis in the coming days.
On April 28, the provincial government released the 2022 Ontario Budget: Ontario’s Plan to Build, ahead of the June 2 election. Keep reading for the initial highlights impacting our sector.
Promoting housing development and stabilizing community
ONPHA is pleased to see a renewed focus in the budget on support for affordable housing development as community funding to facilitate post-pandemic recovery, including:
- Measures in the New Homes for Everyone Plan to promote housing supply, including a new Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator and tools to streamline development approvals, modernize municipal services and discourage land speculation (e.g. through a vacant homes tax);
- $19.2M over three years to reduce backlogs at the Ontario Land Tribunal and the Landlord and Tenant Board;
- Investments in municipalities through an additional $632M in new joint federal and provincial funding to municipalities for public transit and housing and homelessness supports through the Safe Restart agreements (building on the existing $4B investment in 2020 that included $1.2B for the Social Services Relief Fund); and
- Reiterating commitments to the transition of community housing providers reaching the end of mortgage and/or operating agreement through the new regulatory framework under the Community Housing Renewal Strategy.
Making life more affordable for Ontarians
Additionally, the Province introduced the following critical measures to increase affordability for low-income Ontarians:
- Continued $4B investment in broadband to ensure every community has high-speed internet access by the end of 2025;
- Multiple investments in programs and supports for workers, including $1B in annual funding for employment and training programs, a temporary Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit, $5M in one-time funding for the Better Jobs Ontario program to expand training and supports for laid-off and unemployed workers most impacted by COVID-19, gig workers, newcomers and self-employed workers (for a total investment of $200 over the last 3 years);
- Increasing the minimum wage by $0.50 to $15.50 per hour and expanding guaranteeing access to the minimum wage for digital platform workers, bartenders and servers;
- Reducing transportation costs, including the elimination of double fares for local transit on GO Transit services and increased PRESTO discounts for postsecondary students;
- $320M in additional funding to expand eligibility for the Low-Income Individuals and Families Tax (LIFT) credit to reduce or eliminate personal income tax for low and moderate-income workers;
- Reducing child care costs through the recent agreement with the federal government that secured $13.B for early learning and childcare in order to achieve $10-a-day childcare by September 2025;
- $5.5 M through the Ontario Community Support Program for meals, medicines and essential items to low-income seniors and people with disabilities;
- A one-year extension of the tuition freeze for post-secondary students at publicly-funded colleges and universities; and
- A new Ontario Seniors Care at Home Tax Credit to help low and moderate-income senior families with eligible home care medical expenses.
Investing in care
A number of healthcare announcements in Budget 2022’s “Plan to Stay Open” would affect tenants as well as providers of community and supportive housing:
- $2.8B over the next 4 years for permanent wage enhancements to personal support workers (PSWs) and direct support workers (DSWs);
- Ongoing supply chain measures to secure access to personal protective equipment (PPE);
- $1B in recently announced funding to expanded home and community care services and supports over the next three years; and
- Additional $204M for mental health and addiction supports, including for supportive housing, building a total investment of $3.8B over 10 years through the Roadmap to Wellness.
ONPHA’s key advocacy recommendations
Overall, ONPHA is glad to see numerous measures announced in the provincial budget that respond to many of our key advocacy recommendations, including:
- Strengthening supply-side strategies through the More Homes for Everyone plan to prioritize and invest in community housing renewal and development;
- Investments in a client-centred approach to supportive housing and home care services;
- Stabilizing and supporting households in need; and
- Supporting homelessness responses through investments in emergency support through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Room for improvement in Budget 2022
Key investments in deeply affordable housing development
While the emphasis on new housing supply and the sustainability of the community housing sector is a positive, the 2022 budget lacks the targeted funds for community housing development and renewal instrumental in creating deep affordability. Solving the housing crisis will also require critical investments in Indigenous-led urban and rural Indigenous housing solutions, along with a client-centred, integrated supportive housing strategy for Ontario.
Sustaining the sector for the long-term
We applaud new investment for municipalities but we would like to see deeper and sustained commitments to ending and preventing homelessness (e.g. through the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative) in addition to COVID-19 recovery response and ensuring adequate funding to municipalities to ensure a sustainable community housing system in the new regulatory framework.
The Province has an important role to continue playing as a regulator, enabler, and funder for the community housing system, which must include ongoing coordination across all related systems (e.g., health, homelessness, social assistance, justice, etc.) and alignment of existing policy instruments (e.g., 10-year Housing and Homelessness Plans) with asset management practices (e.g., capital planning requirements over the course of a building’s life cycle of 30 – 40 years) to maintain and grow the community housing sector over the long-term.
We call on the provincial government to promote collaboration between all housing sector partners by ensuring that the community housing is engaged in initiatives to address Ontario’s housing affordability crisis (e.g. through the Housing Affordability Task Force).
Supporting equitable post-pandemic recovery
We are equally glad to see investments in stabilizing households in need, however we did not see the housing benefits that are urgently needed to provide rent relief and for low-income tenants who have suffered disproportionately from the economic impacts of COVID-19. This assistance (e.g. enhancements to the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit) would stabilize not only high-risk and marginalized households but also provide important support for the long-term sustainability of community housing landlords, who cannot absorb ongoing rental arrears among other escalation costs over the long term.
Our ongoing commitment
ONPHA will continue to advocate for the community housing sector and work with government in strengthening funding commitments to build, support and protect deeply affordable community solutions that support Ontario’s socioeconomic recovery and open more doors through housing.
For more on our action plan, check out our Vote4Housing campaign.