About 20 per cent of Ontario renters live in social housing. This doesn’t include the 168,000 Ontario households on the social housing waiting list. The Province’s social housing stock, created back in the 1970s and 80s, is typified by minimal insulation, poor windows and inefficient heating systems. The Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association estimates the capital needed to retrofit existing social and affordable housing stock at more than $2.6 billion, just for repairs alone (1).
The recent federal budget included $325 million for a Green Investment Fund that will help tackle climate change. $92 million from this fund will be used to improve energy efficiency in buildings across Ontario, starting with social housing.
$92 million versus $2.6 billion? It’s a drop in the bucket… a leaky bucket.
In a press release, Ted McMeekin, Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing said the $92 million funding will result in “needed upgrades to older, energy inefficient homes to reduce energy costs and better serve tenants, while helping Ontario meet the climate challenges of today and tomorrow.” Really? Helping meet our climate challenge? This won’t even fix the taps, let alone help solve climate change.
And how did the County of Wellington fare? On April 15, Liz Sandals announced in press conference that Guelph would get $115,200 of the $92 million (2). Nobody in the room, including reporters and the Mayor, stopped to wonder if, by mistake, Liz had dropped a zero or two. Not only is 115 grand a slap to the County’s face, Liz continued on to say that this funding would be used to address a host of climate change remediation measures. The money is apparently earmarked for retrofit of 53 social housing units, which calculates to $2,170 per unit. Sorry Liz, but you don’t get a “host of climate change remediation measures” for two thousand bucks. You get a BandAid. This is not serious funding and it takes some nerve to label it social funding let alone greenhouse gas reduction.
The Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association has joined housing organizations across Canada in calling on the federal government to invest $1.5 billion annually over the next five years to build 100,000 new affordable homes. Now we’re talking. Let’s make those homes Passive House or Net-Zero Energy as is now standard in Europe and the US, and we’ll truly be able to call it a Green Investment.