With the municipal elections just around the corner, non-profits across the Region have worked together to get input from candidates on key issues.
We asked every candidate running for local or Regional council to make a pledge to tackle key issues affecting housing, poverty and equity. Their commitments are below, along with the full text of the pledge commitments. Read on to see what your local candidates think about these issues.
For details on the issues, please feel free to review the background document at the end of this page. For information on the pledge and the non-profits leaders supporting it, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Recognize that housing is a fundamental human right and ensure that adequate resources are dedicated to progressively advance the right to housing for all residents.
Continuously increase the supply of affordable rental housing using policy, municipal lands, and increasing investment to promote the construction of safe, purpose built, affordable and deeply affordable rental housing, for all individuals including vulnerable persons which include those that require supportive housing and those with disabilities.
Support the development of an inclusionary zoning bylaw in our local community to ensure that new developments include a percentage of affordable homes.
Support a vacant homes tax to ensure that residential buildings are used for housing.
Support the Region’s call for each municipality to contribute 2 acres of land for affordable housing.
Preserve the existing affordable housing through advocacy, eviction-prevention policies, rental housing protection by-laws, municipal funding, and taking a firm stand against vacancy decontrol.
Prevent, reduce and end homelessness by expanding the Region’s eviction-prevention programs, rent supports, systematic employment of a “by-name list”, housing stabilization supports, mental health programs and services, and promoting collaborative engagement with local homelessness sector service providers.
Support decent and sustainable lives for low-income residents by using our municipality’s place at the current provincial/municipal welfare modernization tables to advocate for adequate funding for municipal services to support low-income residents, and sustainable rates for Ontario Works and ODSP recipients.
Advocate for adequate funding for services in our municipalities and region, and apply those funds to services that equitably serve marginalized communities.
This municipal election, we are calling on all candidates to recognize the most pressing issues that residents of York Region are facing, by signing the Municipal Election Candidate Pledge. The pledge consists of eleven individual commitments that focus on housing and homelessness. We hope all candidates will support all of the issues raised in the pledge, candidates are invited to support as many, or as few, as they choose. This backgrounder outlines the underlying concerns behind the various elements of that pledge.
Home is at the centre of human rights. Without adequate, accessible and affordable housing, with appropriate supports, our other human rights such as equality, liberty, dignity, privacy, freedom of expression, and even life are threatened. All levels of government have the obligation and ability to respect, protect and fulfill the right to adequate housing. The Government of Canada passed the National Housing Act stating that all levels of government within Canada are required to recognize housing as a fundamental human right. Since then, municipalities have started to follow suit by publicly committing to housing as a human right. While it is understood that ensuring that every resident has access to adequate housing is not an easy task, all governments must commit to the progressive realization of a right to housing to the maximum of its available resources and by all appropriate means.
In York Region, the availability of affordable housing, with appropriate supports, where needed, has become a pressing issue. While the region and municipalities have made some strides to address affordable housing, including recognizing the housing situation as a Crisis in February 2021, the problem has worsened. While there is an important role for the federal and provincial governments, the municipal partners are also critical and should commit to action both jointly and independently. That means working at the municipal level, to develop new affordable homes using municipal policy tools and municipal resources, including:
Municipalities can also help preserving affordable homes that already exist. Thousands of affordable homes are lost every year in Canada. Many are lost when tenants get evicted, and the rent control is lifted, and the rents rise beyond affordability. Other rental units are converted to condos, where no rental housing protection polices are in place. It’s cheaper to keep rents affordable and people in their homes than to build new affordable units (for some background look here).
York Region is experiencing a homelessness and affordable housing crisis. Covid illustrated that people who were homeless or on verge of losing housing were more vulnerable than the rest of the population. Still, shelter and housing policies that existed pre-Covid have not changed and homelessness and housing precarity are increasing. Coordinated steps are needed to address this crisis. Programs like rent supports, that help keep people from losing their homes area good preventative measure. Supports for people in distress, like mental health and evictions prevention programs, that help stabilize tenancies, are also valuable. Once people are homeless, coordinating supports through better data tracking, “by name” lists, and expanding collaboration with homeless service providers, can manage the crisis (information on these approaches can be found here).
Low social assistance rates are a key factor in preventing people living on low incomes from getting and sustaining adequate housing. The Government of Ontario has initiated a “modernization” of social assistance, which includes a number of changes to Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). Under the new plan :
How all that will work is still evolving. The province is meeting with municipalities jointly at Provincial-Municipal Social Assistance and Employment Committee tables to work out critical details. Some concerns people have about those table include:
Municipal leaders have a voice in that process. Will you use yours to address the issues affecting vulnerable residents in our Region?