Some Encouraging Investments, But Ontario Has a Long Way to Go

Posted March 29, 2018

Wynne’s Liberals announced their 2018 Budget yesterday, presenting some promising investments for low-income Canadians, although ACORN members note that there is still a long way to go.

Our members applaud the proposed $2.2billion investment to offer free, licensed child care for children aged two and a half until they start kindergarten. Thousands of families across the province will benefit from this much needed boost to child care funding. A recent ACORN report found that 61% of respondents cited high fees as a barrier to accessing licensed child care. ACORN members see this as a step in the right direction, and just another example of how organizing works! However, we urge the government to go further and expand the program to provide child care for children aged 0 - 2.5 years

We are disappointed the government still has not addressed skyrocketing rents by closing the vacancy de-control loophole. This incentive encourages landlords not to do repairs, so that long-standing tenants leave the building, allowing landlords to drastically raise rents. We were pleased to see an increased investment for social housing repairs and retrofits, up to $547million over five years, which will provide a much-needed boost to social housing. We also welcome the province’s plan to cost-match the Federal-Provincial/Territorial Housing Partnership and the Canada Housing Benefit under the National Housing Strategy.

Offering a three per cent annual increase to social assistance rates over the next three years provides a modest boost for recipients. ACORN members feel that the province could have went further, but we were happy to see that the Budget took steps to address social assistance clawbacks by increasing the earnings exemption to $6,000 per year.

We also welcome the province’s commitment to implementing a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) framework and look forward to finding out more in the coming months. ACORN members call for all new developments to include a legally-binding CBA that includes: living wages for all worker during and after construction; local hiring from the low-to-moderate income community, including job training; local decision-making powers for community to decide what types of businesses are put in post development; and deeply affordable housing for local residents.

Overall, Budget 2018 offers some encouraging investments for low and moderate income Ontarians. However, with over 15% of the province in core housing need, there is still a long way to go if the province truly wants to “make life in Ontario more affordable”.