Western Ontario wardens want to work with Ontario to solve the housing crisis
March 16, 2023 5:15am
The Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (WOWC) is adding their voice to the call for the province to work collaboratively with municipalities on efforts to increase the supply of housing, and to tackle the growing homelessness crisis in Ontario.
The issue is a top priority for the 15 members of the WOWC and the 300 communities they represent across rural southwestern Ontario. The caucus wants the province to know solutions are required particularly in small communities. Rural areas face a lack of access to affordable housing as well as adequate community health services, contributing major barriers to reducing poverty and homelessness.
“The WOWC has expressed its desire to collaborate directly with the provincial government on these important matters, and we have presented a series of recommendations based on significant research conducted with regional stakeholders over the past year,” explained WOWC Chair Glen McNeil. “These include permanent, predictable funding for mental health and addictions; increased consultation with rural and small urban municipalities regarding housing legislation; and measures to address and better prepare for future workforce gaps.”
McNeil pointed out Bill 23 limits municipal access to infrastructure financing, so the municipal sector wants to know how the province will offset the $1-billion a year cost to property taxpayers. The wardens also want Ontario to commit to reversing legislative measures that create unintended consequences.
“As homelessness continues to rise, municipalities – particularly small and rural ones – need more support from upper levels of government to solve this important issue. The WOWC is adamant that its research and its recommendations will serve as a model for the entire province, and we plan to continue our advocacy over the coming months to ensure that rural and small urban western Ontario receives the support and recognition it deserves,” stated Chair McNeil.
In adopting a resolution to support the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO)’s campaign, the WOWC is joining its municipal partners in calling on the Government of Ontario to heed AMO’s recommendations to end homelessness, by:
• Increasing the supply of deeply affordable housing through a variety of approaches from
rent subsidies to property acquisitions;
• Increasing financial assistance to individuals and families and fulfilling the government’s
promise to transform its social assistance system; and
• Investing in health services, community-based mental health services, supportive
housing, and addictions services.
AMO is a non-profit organization representing almost all of Ontario’s 444 municipal governments, and recently presented its top priorities for the 2023 provincial budget to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.