More than education, climate change and transportation, affordable housing is the most important thing weighing on the minds of Ontario residents heading into June's provincial election.
According to the poll that was released by Abacus and commissioned and released by the Vote4Housing campaign on Tuesday, May 10, 79 per cent of Ontarians think there are more Ontarians than ever who can’t afford a home of any kind.
Vote4Housing campaign numbers already show a “stark situation for vulnerable” Ontario residents wth 735,000 households in need of housing assistance; 200,000 households on waitlists for affordable housing; and monthly rent up 50 per cent over the past decade.
Sixty-seven per cent of Ontario residents say there is currently not enough housing for lower-income Ontarians, and 62 per cent believe that investments in building new subsidized housing can help end homelessness and stimulate the province’s economic recovery.
In fact, about three in four (74 per cent) of those polled said investing in affordable housing is more important or as important as investing in healthcare, with an event greater proportions of those polled (84 per cent and higher) prioritizing affordable housing the same amount or more than transportation, climate change and education.
However, 45 per cent of Ontarians are either neutral or unsure on whether the current government’s approach to affordable housing is the right one while 31 per cent approve and 24 per cent disapprove.
Lastly, more than half of those polled are more likely to vote for a candidate that prioritizes affordable housing.
“Ontarians believe that making investments in building and supporting deeply affordable housing can benefit everyone and contribute to our economic recovery. More importantly, voters say they are going to the polls this June with the issue of affordable housing on their minds,” said Marlene Coffey, CEO of the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association (ONPHA), which partnered with the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada (CHF Canada) to develop the poll on behalf of the Vote4Housing campaign.
“We stand with the clear majority of Ontarians who believe that government investment in deeply affordable housing must immediately be put at the top of the Province’s priority list,” said Tim Ross, Executive Director of CHF Canada. “Now is the time to build 99,000 new affordable homes, protect existing affordable homes, and provide assistance for vulnerable Ontarians like Indigenous peoples, seniors, lone-parent families, newcomers to Canada and others” Ross added.
Abacus polled 1,500 Ontario residents in English using an online recruitment model between April 14 and 19 and done on behalf of the Vote4Housing campaign.
On May 6, both Ontario’s NDP and Progressive Conservatives promised to build 1.5 million homes in 10 years.
For the NDP, those homes would be a mix of starter homes, purpose-built rentals and affordable housing units.
On May 9, the Liberals released their housing platform which include a pledge to bring back rent control for all homes in Ontario, which the Ford government ended when it was elected.
The Liberals also promise to build 1.5 million new, affordable homes as the cost of housing boards due to lack of supply.
In November 2019, Somerset ward councillor Catherine McKenney pushed for Ottawa to declare a state of emergency to tackle homelessness in Ottawa.
It wasn’t until January 2020 when city council unanimously voted to declare a housing and homelessness emergency.