Press Release, September 24, 2015
Stand Up for Public Housing, a new citizen's group represented by two former Ontario Ministers of Housing, today launched a grassroots campaign aimed at making funding for public housing a key issue in the October 19 federal election.
The group will ask candidates for all parties running in the Greater Toronto Area to support expanding Ottawa's definition of public infrastructure eligible for federal funding to include the renewal of existing public housing stock, and will ask Toronto candidates to support Ottawa paying a one-third share of the $2.6 billion cost of urgently-needed capital repairs to the city's 60,000 aging public housing units.
"In communities across the GTA, across Ontario and across Canada, too many individuals and families who live in public housing are struggling to cope with living environments that fall below the standard they deserve," said Alvin Curling, a Liberal who served as Ontario Minister of Housing from 1985-87. "Regardless of income, social status, background, race or age, every Canadian deserves to live in a home that is healthy, safe and well-maintained.
"Toronto faces the prospect of 7,500 public housing units being shuttered over the next eight years as they become unfit for human habitation, and another 4,000 will reach critical condition," said Dennis Timbrell, a Conservative who served as Ontario Minister of Housing in 1985. "Stand Up for Public Housing believes the responsibility to avert this crisis must be shared by all levels of government, not borne single-handedly by the municipal property taxpayers of this city."
Stand Up released the results of a poll of 20,000 Toronto residents that shows three-quarters believe public housing costs can no longer be supported only by local property taxes: 75 percent agree the federal government should change the rules to allow the use of federal infrastructure funds to renew public housing, and 78 percent agree the federal and provincial governments should share the cost of renewing existing public housing stock.
The Stand Up team, including public housing residents, will share the survey findings with candidates and determine their positions on the two funding issues. Stand Up will release the candidate positions publicly before voting day, and conduct a get-out-the-vote campaign among public housing residents in the GTA and in Toronto, urging them to consider where the candidates stand on public housing renewal when they vote.