Provincial and federal governments sign Canada's first housing benefit

Governments of Canada and Ontario join forces and take another step forward to eliminating housing needs

Provincial and federal governments sign Canada's first housing benefit

Today, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), along with the Honourable Steve Clark, Ontario's Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, announced that both governments will provide direct affordability support to Ontarians who are in housing need. The joint investment of $1.4 billion will be the first under the Canada Housing Benefit.

"Our government knows how important it is for the people of Ontario to have housing they can afford. We are working with the federal government to deliver on provincial priorities – including making housing more affordable," said the Honourable Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

The Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit takes a different approach than other initiatives in that the money goes directly to those in need to help them afford their housing costs. In Ontario, the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit will 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. This includes survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking, persons experiencing or at risk of homelessness, Indigenous persons, seniors and people with disabilities.

"We're giving people more flexiblity and more choice," Clark said, adding that they expect that 5,200 households will benefit in the first year.

In 2017, the Federal Government launched the National Housing Strategy (NHS) and in 2018 the Province of Ontario signed the bilateral agreement on housing.

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. Today's announcement demonstrates a shared commitment between Canada and Ontario to prioritize making housing affordable for Ontarians.

"We can only be successful as governments if we find a way to work together," said Bill Morneau, Canada's Minister of Finance. "Ontario may be first, but I think it'll be replicated across the country."

"Through the National Housing Strategy, more middle-class Canadians - and people working hard to join it - will find safe, accessible and affordable homes. The Canada Housing Benefit is a key pillar of the National Housing Strategy that will help families across Canada. Together, we will build strong communities where Canadians can prosper and thrive, now and for the future," said the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

"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 John Tory, Mayor of the City of Toronto. "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."

Increasingly, business people are realizing that this kind of investment is important to allow people that work in the city to actually live in the city, Tory added.

The Government of Canada 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 8 years, starting in spring 2020. The federal government and provinces and territories are working together to co-develop 13 housing benefit programs, one for each jurisdiction, that will respond to local housing affordability challenges.

The Government of Canada is currently rolling out the NHS, a 10-year, $55 billion plan that will create 125,000 new housing units and lift 530,000 families out of housing need, as well as repair and renew more than 300,000 housing units and reduce chronic homelessness by 50%.

Ontario is investing in the community housing system that was neglected for years, investing more than $1 billion in 2019-20 to help sustain, repair and grow community housing in Ontario.