Get going on housing

TheStar.com – Opinion/Editorial
Published On Mon Feb 08 2010

A thousand people took the time to attend meetings across Ontario so their ideas could be taken into account during the development of a long-promised affordable housing strategy for the province. They were speaking to the housing minister of the day, Jim Watson, and to his parliamentary assistant, York West MPP Mario Sergio. But now that Watson has stepped down from his post to run for mayor in Ottawa and Sergio has been shuffled to another ministry, are we back to square one?

The new minister responsible for housing, Jim Bradley, assures us that Ontario’s housing strategy will not be delayed and we can expect to see it in late spring. Let’s hope so.

There are 130,000 households on a waiting list for the chance to live in homes where they can afford to pay the rent without skipping meals. Ontario is so short of affordable housing that Toronto families in need wait an average of six years to be accommodated, while for those in Peel the wait is an astonishing 21 years.

But while the need is certainly there, the sense of urgency in the halls of government is not. Given that the latest promise to produce a housing strategy was made in the 2007 provincial election, the Liberal government at Queen’s Park is already well behind schedule.

The Liberals have introduced two important measures that will help lift some families out of poverty, including a plan to reduce child poverty by 25 per cent and full-day kindergarten. But the lack of sufficient affordable housing will undermine both those efforts. How can children do well in school if they are routinely evicted from their homes? How can a parent train for better jobs if they’re already working at two just to keep a roof over their heads?

It is now up to Bradley to deliver a bold housing strategy that supports other anti-poverty measures and ensures more Ontarians have a decent, affordable place to call home.

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