Canada, Ontario in deal for affordable housing amid soaring home costs

FILE PHOTO: For sale signs on homes in Toronto

By Saadeq Ahmed

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's government and the province of Ontario struck a C$357 million deal on Tuesday to allocate federal funds to build affordable housing in the country’s most populous province to help alleviate a housing crisis after Ontario provided a revised action plan outlining its goals.

Canada currently faces a housing affordability crisis with a growing population that is outpacing the number of available homes, increasing home prices and rents. Mortgage costs have also risen due to high inflation and interest rates. A C$6 billion Canada Housing Infrastructure Fund was launched by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in April to address the crisis.

Ontario’s revised action plan gave more data and insights on which housing projects benefited from provincial investment, the two governments said in a joint statement on Tuesday. Ottawa had previously said it would withhold funding because the province did not meet its targets on affordable housing.

“Canada and Ontario recognize that our collaboration is imperative to solving the housing crisis,” said Federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser and his provincial counterpart in the statement.

In a 2018 agreement, the federal government pledged to deliver funding if Ontario reached a target of 19,660 new affordable housing units by the end of 2028. However, officials have previously noted the province was greatly behind on their goal, with only 1,184 new units anticipated by the end of 2024-2025.

In March, Fraser expressed concern over this in a letter to the provincial housing minister, noting it is “not realistic” for the province to reach 94% of its target in the next three years.

Things now appear to have been smoothed out as Ontario has produced a revised action plan with various new measures, including establishing provincial supply targets with service managers, directing funding toward new projects, setting annual goals, and implementing better data collection and reporting mechanisms.

(Editing by Aurora Ellis)