Ontario and federal government sign Canada's first low-income housing benefit

Dec 19 2019, 7:42 am

The Canadian government has announced a new joint investment with the Province of Ontario that will benefit low-income households.

Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), along with Steve Clark, Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said the investment of $1.4 billion will be the first of its kind under the Canada Housing Benefit.

According to the CMHC, the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit builds on the Canada-Ontario Bilateral Agreement under the National Housing Strategy which will provide more than $5.75 billion to protect, renew, and expand social and community housing, and support Ontario’s priorities related to housing repair, construction, and affordability.

“Through the National Housing Strategy, more middle-class Canadians — and people working hard to join it — will find safe, accessible, and affordable homes,” said Hussen in a statement. “The Canada Housing Benefit is a key pillar of the National Housing Strategy that will help families across Canada.”

The new Housing Benefit will provide funding directly to households to help them afford their housing costs, stated the CMHC.

It will also prioritize households in need that are on, or eligible to be on, a social housing waiting list and households in financial need living in community housing.

The CMHC said this includes survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking, persons experiencing or at risk of homelessness, Indigenous persons, seniors, and people with disabilities.

“Today’s announcement is another great example of how governments are working together to help our residents. Making sure people have access to affordable housing is a top priority for me as mayor and that requires the cooperation and support of other levels of government,” said Mayor John Tory. “The City of Toronto has continuously advocated on behalf of our residents for increased investments in housing and the Canada Housing Benefit to the provincial and federal governments. This agreement helps respond to that request and will help more families have access to housing that is safe, secure, and affordable.”

Toronto city councillor and housing advocate Ana Bailão said the benefit gives more people choice in where they live.

“It’s an alternative to rent-geared-to-income assistance, giving money directly to low-income households to help them pay their rent,” she said.

The Government of Canada said it will invest $2 billion in the Canada Housing Benefit across the country, “which will be cost-matched by provinces and territories for a total $4 -billion investment over eight years, starting in Spring 2020.”

Additionally, the federal government and provinces and territories are working to co-develop 13 housing benefit programs, one for each jurisdiction, that will respond to local housing affordability challenges.

“Our government knows how important it is for the people of Ontario to have housing they can afford,” said Clark. “We are working with the federal government to deliver on provincial priorities — including making housing more affordable.

“The best results come from working together and that includes with all levels of government.”