Ontario’s social housing wait list of 185,000 households (about 481,000 people), representing about 3.4% of the province’s total population, is one of the largest in Canada relative to the population size of other provinces. Shelters have become overrun, and people in need are being turned away. Retirees, who rely on fixed incomes, are hit hard when unexpected expenses come up – a medical emergency, a rise in rent – or can have their finances thrown into chaos by scams, fraud or taken advantage of by family or friends. These and many other reasons have led to a rise in seniors’ homelessness.
CARP: If elected, what will you do to combat seniors’ homelessness?
NDP: For over two decades, after funding cuts and downloads by successive PC and Liberal provincial governments, Ontario’s affordable housing has been in a state of crisis. Since the Liberals took power in 2003, Ontario’s wait-list for affordable housing has grown by 36% to 185,000 families. Astonishingly, there are now more families waiting for affordable housing than living in affordable housing.
Seniors now account for 32% of the waiting lists, up 10 per cent from a decade ago. Seniors must now wait an average of 4.4 years, an increase of over 75% in just four years.
The Ontario NDP recognizes that the market alone will not, and cannot, create enough affordable housing for everyone who needs it. An NDP government will step up with increased public investments in new affordable housing, based on annual targets, working with partners that include the municipal, co-op and not-for-profit sectors.
At the same time, we must save the affordable housing we already have. Thousands of affordable Ontario homes are at risk of being lost to disrepair, but the current government has repeatedly refused to provide provincial funding to repair municipal social housing. An Ontario NDP government will ensure these homes are saved by committing to fund at least one-third of the costs of social housing capital repairs, in partnership with the federal and municipal governments.
PC: First and foremost, current government has made life in Ontario more expensive. The Liberal’s have raised taxes, increased fees, and tripled hydro bills. All of these costs hit seniors the hardest since most seniors are retired and live on a fixed income. We will make life more affordable for seniors by bringing down hydro rates and cutting taxes. We will take action to increase the supply of housing to make bring down the costs of rent and housing.
Liberal: The Ontario Liberal Party believes that every one of us deserves the security of knowing we’ll have a safe place to lay our heads. That’s why we are committed to reaching our goal of ending chronic homelessness by 2025.
To support this goal, we have taken a proactive approach in the prevention of homelessness in Ontario with the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative, a 100% provincially funded program.
The vision of the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative is to provide an integrated, people-centered and outcome-focused Housing First approach to prevent, reduce and end homelessness in communities all across Ontario. The focus of this program is to provide flexible support Service Managers in the development of proactive programs for individuals to obtain and retain housing.
Our investments mean that fewer low income families and seniors are at risk of falling into homelessness.
To help more Ontarians experiencing homelessness and achieve our goal of ending chronic homelessness by 2025, we have increased CHPI funding by $15 million this year, for a total investment of $308.7 million. We can already see the benefits of this investment; In 2016-17, CHPI helped around 32,300 households experiencing homelessness to obtain housing and approximately 125,500 households at-risk of homelessness to remain in their homes.
Last March we also announced the Home For Good (HFG) program, a homelessness-focused program which will invest up to $200 million in supportive housing and services to help up to 6,000 families and individuals over three years.
Home for Good focuses on helping people in four priority areas find stable housing, including youth, Indigenous people, the chronically homeless, and those transitioning from provincial institutions, such as jails and hospitals.
Ontario is also leading the way as the first jurisdiction in Canada to require homeless counts in our cities and towns. These enumerations will measure the scope of homelessness so we can take targeted steps to bring Ontario’s most vulnerable residents home for good.
Green: We need to provide stability and security for seniors in Ontario and ensure that they can find a comfortable and affordable place to live.
We support improving Ontario’s inclusionary zoning legislation to ensure the permanent creation of rental and deeply affordable units. We support the mandate that developers include at least one new unit of affordable housing for every five new houses or condos that they build. This will dramatically increase the number of affordable units available for seniors.
We also support a “housing first” approach to develop dedicated supportive housing for seniors in need who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. We are committed to working closely with the federal government to ensure that funding for the specific needs of seniors is included within their National Housing Strategy. Investing additional resources to improve the availability of assisted living and transitional living for seniors is also a priority for our party.
Want to learn more about what the Ontario parties have to say about issues affecting older Canadians?