QUEEN’S PARK — Ontario NDP Housing critic Jessica Bell is calling on Doug Ford to create an urgent and concrete plan to address the homelessness crisis in Toronto.
“Everyone deserves a safe and decent place to live. People who are experiencing homelessness, advocates and frontline workers have long been sounding the alarm that Toronto’s shelter system is in deep crisis,” Bell said. “The cost of housing is skyrocketing, shelters are at capacity, emergency shelters established during COVID-19 have closed, and the number of unhoused people who are dying in our city – deaths that are tragic and preventable – has been rising for years.”
Despite adding 1,600 beds in 2021, Toronto’s shelter system is at capacity, with City of Toronto data from September 2022 showing that about 170 people seeking shelter went unaccommodated.
“This year the Ford government cut $85 million from Homelessness Programs compared to what it spent last year,” Bell said. “In addition, Ford refused to double the rates of social assistance, and he continues to strip protections from renters and establish policies that will reduce the province’s supply of affordable housing.”
“Addressing the city’s homelessness crisis will take a strong commitment from all levels of government. We desperately need the Ford government to come to the table and take urgent action. Ford must declare Toronto’s homelessness crisis an emergency, provide funding to expand shelter capacity and commit to building deeply affordable and supportive housing."
Ford must eliminate his cuts to rent control and scrap his plan to allow the province to override rental replacement bylaws – a scheme that will make it easier for developers to toss tenants out and turn affordable, purpose-built rentals into luxury condos.
The NDP has been calling for the government to finance and build at least 250,000 affordable and non-market rental homes over the next decade, to be operated by public, non-profit and co-op housing providers in mixed-income communities.
Diana Chan McNally, homelessness advocate:
“Since Doug Ford took office in 2018, homelessness across the province has skyrocketed, with communities of every size in Ontario bearing witness to encampments and a lack of shelter and affordable housing. The Conservative government has continually made it harder for people to find and stay in housing they can afford, not just because of a lack of housing supply but due to the erosion of tenant protections, and a refusal to raise the minimum wage and the rates of ODSP and OW to levels Ontarians can survive on.”