QUEEN’S PARK — Ontario’s Official Opposition NDP is crying foul over Doug Ford’s sneaky cut to homelessness and housing initiatives in the province, after a misleading government announcement Monday.
The Ford government is claiming a $25 million boost in these areas when it’s actually quietly slashing more than a quarter of a billion dollars. Along with the Indigenous Supportive Housing Program, the newly amalgamated Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative, Home for Good and the Strong Communities Rent Supplement Program have been allocated $494 million in annual funding. That’s $268 million less than the $762 million all these programs were budgeted to receive in 2021-22.
“It’s unconscionable for Doug Ford to cut funding dedicated to helping people find housing, and stay housed, when more Ontarians than ever are living on the streets,” said Rima Berns-McGown, Ontario NDP critic for Poverty and Homelessness. “We are facing an unprecedented homelessness and housing crisis in Ontario after people lost income during the pandemic and the province refused to stop evictions. Ford is not only ignoring that crisis, but making it incalculably worse as people have been literally freezing to death and a disproportionate number of unhoused people receive completely insufficient ODSP payments.”
This isn’t the first time a government in Ontario has attempted to conceal cuts by restructuring homelessness prevention programs. The Liberals did it in 2012 when it folded five homelessness prevention programs into the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative, with less overall funding.
“Just like the Liberals before them, the Conservatives are quietly cutting homelessness and housing initiatives, which will only make the housing affordability crisis worse,” said Jessica Bell, Ontario NDP critic for Housing. “The Conservatives’ track record is defined by cuts to housing programs, skyrocketing home prices, and unaffordable rent.
“Andrea Horwath and the NDP have a plan to tackle homelessness and housing unaffordability. We can fix this by taking steps like building tens of thousands of affordable and supportive homes, barring rent hikes between tenants, and providing direct rent support to households that really need it.”
Ford’s latest budget-slashing piles on to the government’s underspending on its Community and Market Housing program to the tune of $160 million, which was flagged in a recent FAO report revealing that the government failed to spend $5.5 billion in budgeted cash so far this fiscal year. And that’s after planned spending on homelessness prevention programs was reduced by $278 million compared to 2020-21.
- According to the 2021-22 Estimates, the government budgeted $712 million ($620 million operating, $112 million capital) for Homelessness Programs, which include the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative, Home For Good and the Indigenous Supportive Housing Program. The budget for the Strong Communities Rent Supplement Program was $50 million. The total 2021-22 budget for all these programs is $762 million.
- Today’s announcement rolls the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative, Home For Good and the Strong Communities Rent Supplement Program into a single program with a budget of $464 million. The budget for the Indigenous Supportive Housing Program is $30 million. Total funding for all of these programs is $494 million.
- The total funding cut to all of these programs is $268 million, compared to the 2021-22 budget.