In a pivotal development, Ontario has rejected the pleas of numerous cities seeking expanded access to housing infrastructure funds, a move that could impact the nationwide effort to address the housing crisis. Despite the potential economic windfall outlined in a Deloitte Canada report commissioned by the Canadian Housing Renewal Association, which advocates for 371,600 new community housing units by 2030, Ontario remains resistant to broadening the allocation of resources.
The Deloitte report emphasizes the substantial economic benefits tied to enhanced community housing initiatives. Projections indicate that meeting the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average stock of seven percent by 2030 could inject a staggering $179 billion into the Canadian economy. This economic boost stems from the creation of additional housing units, seen as crucial in attracting skilled labor to underserved regions, fostering improved well-being for community residents, and mitigating rent-related challenges to enhance human capital.
Margaret Pfoh, President of the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association and CEO of the Aboriginal Housing Management Association, underscored the importance of investing in social and affordable housing programs, citing research that demonstrates a more than sevenfold return on investment. Pfoh emphasized the moral and legal imperatives, stating, “Providing people with dignified homes is not only morally imperative, it’s the law. Human rights include the right to housing because housing is the foundation of everything and without it, the fabric of our society starts to disintegrate.”
The report’s policy recommendations encompass increased financial commitments to community housing projects, establishing a dedicated pipeline for these initiatives, allocating funds specifically for off-reserve Indigenous communities, fostering collaboration among stakeholders and all levels of government, and advocating for supply chain solutions. Matthew Stewart, Director of Financial Analysis at Deloitte Canada, highlighted the significance of community housing availability in addressing Canada's productivity growth challenges, emphasizing its impact on raising the standard of living for Canadians.
This decision by Ontario comes at a time when the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation's report from the previous year underscores the urgency of adding 3.5 million homes to planned projects to achieve affordability. The tension between the economic potential outlined in the Deloitte report and the reluctance of Ontario to expand funding access raises questions about the coordination and commitment needed to tackle the pressing housing crisis across the nation. As stakeholders grapple with these challenges, the debate over housing policy in Ontario reverberates in the broader context of Canada's struggle to balance economic growth with the essential need for accessible and affordable housing.