Oct 12th 2005

Ontario Speech from the Throne 2005:

Housing backgrounder

 

WHAT THE McGUINTY GOVERNMENT

PROMISED THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO:

 

Whether you’re watching from the public galleries of the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday afternoon as Lieutenant-Governor James Bartleman reads the Ontario Speech from the Throne, or catching an update in the media, here’s a quick guide to what the governing Liberals have promised on the housing front.

 

The Throne Speech is supposed to set out, in general terms, the legislative agenda of the provincial government during the upcoming session of the Ontario Legislature. Use this housing backgrounder as you listen to the Throne Speech to see how well the government is doing in keeping its housing promises, and meeting the housing needs of the people of Ontario.

 

Key McGuinty housing promises:

 

NEW SUPPLY:

 

Growing Strong Communities: The Ontario Liberal Plan for Clean, Safe Communities That Work (2003) promised: “We will match federal support to create almost 20,000 new housing units for needy Ontario families.”

 

In addition to new affordable homes, the McGuinty Liberals also promised 6,600 new supportive housing units for those with special needs.

 

During its first two years in office, the McGuinty government delivered:

 

The Ontario government makes plenty of housing announcements, then re-announces the same announcements again and again, so it’s hard to cut through the spin and get to the real numbers.

 

The detailed schedules to the latest federal-Ontario affordable housing program (which has been re-announced at least 11 times since 2001) which were released in mid-September of 2005 show that the Ontario government intends to fund 9,560 new “affordable” rental and supportive housing units over four years. That’s only about one-third of the 26,600 units that they promised.

 

The McGuinty government has had a tough time meeting even its reduced targets. Audited financial statements from the province show that in the fiscal year ending in March of 2004 (that included the first half year of the McGuinty government) only 18 new affordable homes were committed under the federal-provincial program in all of Ontario.

 

AFFORDABILITY:

 

Growing Strong Communities: The Ontario Liberal Plan for Clean, Safe Communities That Work (2003) promised: “We will establish a housing allowance for low-income families, as recommended in the Golden Report. It will provide direct, immediate housing relief for 35,000 families.”

 

During its first two years in office, the McGuinty government delivered:

 

Very few new housing allowances (sometimes called rent supplements). The province announced a rent supplement pilot project for Toronto last year for 400 units. At last count, only 40 units were taken up by private landlords.

 

The detailed housing schedules released in September show that the Ontario government intends to fund 100 new housing allowances this year, and a total of 5,000 over the next three years. That’s one-seventh of the number promised.

 

EFFECTIVE TENANT PROTECTION:

 

Growing Strong Communities: The Ontario Liberal Plan for Clean, Safe Communities That Work (2003) promised: “In our first year of government, we will repeal the misnamed Tenant Protection Act and replace it with an effective tenant protection law. Our law will protect tenants by making unfair rent increases illegal.”

 

During its first two years in office, the McGuinty government delivered:

 

Nothing. No new tenant protection or rent regulation laws have been introduced.

 

RENTAL HOUSING PROTECTION:

 

Growing Strong Communities: The Ontario Liberal Plan for Clean, Safe Communities That Work (2003) promised: “We will ensure that municipalities with low vacancy rates have the right to protect existing rental housing from unreasonable demolition or conversion to condominiums.”

 

During its first two years in office, the McGuinty government delivered:

 

Nothing. In fact, Ontario continues to loss more rental housing than is being built.

 

Where’s Home 2005, the annual analysis of Ontario’s rental housing produced by the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada and the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association reports a special data run from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation that shows a net loss of rental housing in the 21 major urban areas across the province. Overall, Ontario lost 16,435 rental units from 1994 to 2004 (a 2.8% loss) at a time when the need for affordable housing remained high throughout Ontario.

 

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE:

 

In early October, the Ontario Ministry of Finance issued a major report titled Toward 2005: Assessing Ontario’s Long-Term Outlook. The province projected that Ontario’s population will grow by 3.1 million over the next 20 years.

 

That’s an average of 155,000 new Ontarians annually. The ministry expects that most of the growth will be from immigration, and most of it will be in the Greater Toronto Area, which means that those new people will need plenty of new homes. Based on an average household of 2.7 people, Ontario will need about 57,000 new homes annually to accommodate the projected population growth.

 

At least one-third of those new homes will need to be in the rental sector (this is a conservative estimate, since the proportion of renter households among new immigrants and in the GTA tends to be higher), which means that Ontario will need at least 18,800 new rental homes annually to keep pace with the population growth estimates from the Ministry of Finance.

 

In 2004, there were 3,607 new rental units started in Ontario. Most of them were in the private sector and not affordable (social) units. That means that the province’s current affordable rental housing crisis and homelessness disaster is set to get much worse in the coming years as the need for new homes far outstrips the new supply (private sector plus the modest number of new units promised by the McGuinty government, minus the units lost to demolition and conversion).

 

* * * * * * *

Michael Shapcott, Research Co-ordinator

One Percent Solution project,

Toronto Disaster Relief Committee

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