Advocates call for change in housing fund after data shows skew to Ontario

Ontario projects received roughly $1.39 billion out of $1.46 billion awarded since program began

VANCOUVER — A federal government fund providing financing for affordable housing projects needs to be rebuilt because it doesn’t do enough to help provinces outside of Ontario, advocates say.

The National Housing Co-Investment Fund, administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., provides a mix of loans and forgivable debt to those building affordable housing and multi-use projects.

Data obtained by federal NDP housing critic Jenny Kwan shows nearly 74 per cent of the financing for loans and grants has gone to Ontario projects from its inception in May 2018 to June 2020.

“The application process has been exceedingly slow and complicated, and it also means, and continues to mean, that little of the money is flowing out the door in an expeditious way to the community in need,” Kwan said in an interview.

“The investment fund is still heavily skewed in its funding to Ontario. Ontario is the only province that’s really getting finalized agreements in large amounts and the rest of the country is still lagging far behind.”

Ontario projects received roughly $1.39 billion out of $1.46 billion awarded since the program began, most of it going towards repairs for Toronto Community Housing.

B.C. has received $9 million in finalized funding, or about 0.55 per cent of the $1.46 billion handed out so far, Kwan said.

Ahmed Hussen, the minister of families, children and social development, was not available for an interview, but department spokeswoman Jessica Eritou said the government has made the largest housing investment in Canadian history for rental and community housing.

“We have made important progress, but we know how urgent the needs are, particularly in B.C. It is why we are absolutely committed to working with CMHC to get funds out the door faster,” she said in a statement.

Eritou said the numbers released by Kwan don’t provide enough context on the state of housing funding.

“The information failed to tell the story of the dozens of B.C. applications under the National Housing Co-Investment Fund being assessed, along with additional applications under other (National Housing Strategy) programs with applications nearing completion, or with loan agreements or memorandums of understanding in place,” she said.

The national housing strategy is a 10-year, $55 billion plan launched by the federal government in 2017, focusing on housing for Indigenous and vulnerable people and those in northern communities. It aims to cut chronic homelessness by 50 per cent and help build 125,000 new homes.

B.C. has received $2.5 billion in funding under the National Housing Strategy as of June 2020, Eritou said.

That funding is equivalent to just over a quarter of the strategy’s total available funds to date, she said.

More than $190 million has been committed to B.C. through the housing investment fund to repair or build 2,420 units of housing as of that date as well, Eritou added.

Jill Atkey, the CEO of the B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association, said it’s time for the government’s approach to funding housing to change.

“I think the investment being made here in B.C. is still pretty inadequate to make a dent in the demand for affordable housing,” she said in an interview. “We continue to want to see this program restructured so we can deploy those investments much more quickly and forcefully here in B.C.”

Atkey described the application process as “off-putting” to many in the non-profit housing sector, with more than 200 questions on the application and a long wait time for approval.

Veronique Laflamme, a spokeswoman for the Quebec housing advocacy group Popular Action Front in Urban Redevelopment, said the investment fund is not enough to help affordable housing projects.

Laflamme says her main concern with the fund is that it’s not a long-term solution.

“It’s not a vision. It’s not a plan to be sure that we’ll have more adequate housing in Canada to answer our core housing needs. It’s not a good tool to meet the goals of the so-called national housing strategy,” she said.

Kwan agrees, and said she would like to see more support offered to Canada Mortgage and Housing to work through the applications it receives.

She said she would also like to see the federal government work more closely with all levels of governments and non-government agencies to offer more financial support for housing projects.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

robbery
UPDATE: Shooting suspect arrested by Wetaskiwin/Camrose RCMP

Rimbey RCMP had responded to a complaint of an armed robbery at the Bluffton City General Store

Quality Inn & Suites in Rimbey. Photo Submitted
Rimbey hotel gets new lease on life

The Quality Inn & Suites in Rimbey is now open and taking bookings

Leanne Evans, Rimbey Neighbourhood Place Program Coordinator, accepts a donation of $5,000 from Kevin Maxwell manager of Field Support for Telus. (Photo Submitted)
Rimbey Neighbourhood Place making big changes behind the scenes

Rimbey Neighbourhood Place recently recieved a $5,000 donation from Telus

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday March 20, 2020. nbsp;Alberta is reporting it's highest daily number of COVID-19 cases, with 364 new infections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta confirmed 323 COVID-19 cases Tuesday

Central zone active cases at 145

Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, receive flu shot. Photo via Government of Alberta
COVID-19: One more death in central zone

Ponoka County on province’s watchlist

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.	Kenney is isolating at home after one of his ministers tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta premier isolating after minister tests positive for COVID-19

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is isolating at home

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Alberta's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday, July 6, 2020. Advisers are reportedly recommending Alberta's kindergarten to Grade 4 arts and social studies curriculum remove all references to residential schools because it's "too sad" for young children. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Advisers suggest Alberta students not learn about residential schools before Grade 4

Documents suggest children younger than Grade 4 are too emotionally vulnerable to learn about residential schools

File photo
RCMP’s response to online discussions about anti-racism demonstrations

Ponoka RCMP Staff Sgt.’s comments misattributed online

Shaelynn Decock and her dog Taco, who has been missing since Aug. 26. Photo Submitted
Sylvan Lake woman looking for closure for her stolen dog

Shaelynn Decock says it has been two months since she last saw her dog Taco

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau and his family decide against trick-or-treating this year due to COVID

Adhering to local health authorities, Trudeau urges Canadians to do their part in following those guidelines

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday February 4, 2020 in Ottawa. The Alberta government is welcoming news that Ottawa has approved an expansion of the Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. gathering system in Alberta — while condemning federal delays that it says cost this summer’s construction season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Alberta welcomes federal approval of gas pipeline expansion while criticizing delay

The project is expected to create up to 2,920 direct jobs during construction, the federal release said

Most Read