Ontario is taking a bold step in addressing housing needs by introducing a Building Faster Fund, providing up to $1.2 billion over three years to municipalities that meet or exceed their pledged 2031 housing targets. Premier Doug Ford, speaking at the 2023 Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference, emphasized the government's partnership with municipalities to expedite priority projects and enhance essential public services.
Ford announced the extension of strong mayor powers to 21 more municipalities, provided they commit to the province's housing target of 1.5 million homes by 2031. These powers will enable municipalities to reduce bureaucracy and accelerate vital shared priorities such as:
Furthermore, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark, introduced a proposed definition of affordable housing, designed to reflect local incomes and acknowledge the diverse housing markets across the province.
On-Site states that the Ontario government is also planning to appoint regional facilitators in areas including Durham, Halton, Niagara, Simcoe County, Waterloo, and York. These facilitators will recommend governance models to aid Ontario’s fastest-growing municipalities in meeting housing targets. Additionally, a Housing Forum is scheduled for November in Toronto to engage stakeholders in the Housing Supply Action Plan and devise strategies to confront the housing supply crisis.
“Since day one, our government has listened to and worked closely with its municipal partners to build the critical infrastructure our growing communities need to thrive. From building new highways, to public transit, we are getting shovels in the ground on much-needed projects right across the province and supporting our shared goal of a stronger Ontario today and in the future.”
Minister of Transportation | Caroline Mulroney
Public Health Sector Funding and Collaboration
To foster a robust public health sector, provincial annual base funding for public health units will be restored to $47 million, effective January 1, 2024. This will be complemented by a one percent annual funding increase for three years, as well as one-time funding and support for voluntary merging of public health agencies. The aim is to reduce service overlaps and focus resources on improving local access to services.
“Building a stronger public health system, with more convenient and consistent access to public health services, is one more way our government is connecting people in Ontario to health care closer to home. The pandemic showed that we need a stronger public health system and this increased funding will help to create a more connected public health system that will support Ontario communities for years to come.”
Deputy Premier & Minister of Health | Sylvia Jones
Enhancing Emergency Care: Investments in Ambulances and Nurses
Ontario is investing in connecting people to emergency care faster by increasing land ambulance funding to municipalities by six percent, bringing the total investment to over $811 million. An additional $51 million will be invested in the Dedicated Offload Nurses Program over three years. This will cover around 800,000 dedicated hours to support offloading ambulance patients, aiding 30 municipalities in enhancing community-based emergency care.
Housing Supply Action Plan: Helping Homebuyers and Renters
The government's fourth housing supply action plan, "Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants," contains a range of new measures to ease the lives of renters and homebuyers. This plan includes the existing strong mayor powers, now extended to 28 large and fast-growing municipalities committed to housing targets, as well as a $202 million annual investment through the Homelessness Prevention Program and Indigenous Supportive Housing Program.
Conclusion: A Unified Effort to Achieve Housing Goals
These multifaceted measures reflect the Ontario government's commitment to work in conjunction with municipalities to achieve the ambitious goal of building 1.5 million homes by 2031. From introducing the Building Faster Fund to strengthening emergency care, the steps taken during the 2023 AMO conference signify a focused and collaborative effort to enhance public health, infrastructure, and housing availability for the people of Ontario. With around 600 meetings conducted with municipalities and organizations, the province's readiness to discuss key priorities like skilled trades, housing, and transportation infrastructure is evident. Together, these initiatives will undoubtedly create more opportunities and deliver tangible results for Ontarians.
Posted by Judy Lamelza