NORTHERN ONTARIO—The National Housing Strategy announced by the federal government earlier this month is very welcome news, says an official with the Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board (MSDSB) and the Northern Ontario Service Deliverers Association (NOSDA).
“It is very good news that the federal government is back in the housing game,” stated Fern Dominelli, CAO of MSDSB and NOSDA CAO lead. “It means additional housing units will be created and the renovation of many existing units.” He pointed out the announcement made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is for a 10-year $40 billion national housing strategy.
“We are excited by the fact that the government of Canada has returned to the business of funding social housing and has developed a long-term plan for its implementation,” said NOSDA chair Iain Angus. “We are also pleased that the federal government has decided to work through the provinces rather than spending a large share of the allocation on a new bureaucracy rather than investing the funds directly in housing and tenants.
NOSDA welcomes the decision to create an additional 100,000 (housing) units across Canada and to fund the renovation of 300,000 existing units. “Not only do we have unmet demand across Northern Ontario for new units, but our existing housing stock has aged, and we can easily utilize a share of these new funds to ensure that units that currently exist remain in place for many decades to come,” said Mr. Dominelli. “NOSDA would be more than pleased to assist the Ontario and Canadian governments in designing a program that meets the needs of Northern Ontario communities.”
While NOSDA welcomes the introduction of a portable housing benefit, it expressed its frustration that it would not be introduced until 2020. “Low income families across the North are struggling today to keep a roof over their head and a portable housing benefit that would reduce the need for them to divert food dollars to rent would result in a significantly improved life,” said Mr. Angus. “We would encourage the government of Canada to accelerate the negotiations with the province and find the funds to accelerate the start date of the program.”