Published by TVO on March 1, 2022  |  Written by Justin Marchand and Ene Underwood

Ask any parent, health-care provider, child-welfare worker, teacher, or employer whether the quality and adequacy of home matters, and they will respond with a resounding yes. This point was starkly reinforced in the 2020 Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls report, which mentioned housing 299 times and identified the lack of it as a contributing cause to violence.

As important as home is to enabling individuals to thrive and our society to prosper, Canada has the fewest homes per population among G7 countries. Ontario is tied with Alberta for last place within Canada.

The report from Ontario’s Housing Affordability Task Force, released earlier this month, shone a spotlight on the critical housing-supply issues facing our province. The report declared that we need to build more homes everywhere, reduce the cost of doing so, and reduce how long it takes to get home-construction projects approved.

Current housing policies disproportionately favour a subset of Ontario’s population: those who already live in established neighbourhoods. Notices for public consultations on proposed developments are sent to residents who already live in the neighbourhood. The status quo is maintained by language in housing policy that favours “preserving neighbourhood character” and by policies regarding shadows, set-backs, parking, and other factors. Local councillors respond to local voters, further advantaging existing residents in determining what gets built.

Who speaks for future generations? Where are the voices of the thousands of predominantly racialized households living in crowded apartments? What about the 85 per cent of Indigenous people who live in rural and urban areas and who are disproportionately homeless and underhoused? Where are the voices of recent immigrants unable to find affordable rentals? What about the young families looking to move beyond their one-bedroom condos? Where’s the democracy in a system that provides people who already have homes with the ability to delay or deny housing to future generations who need homes?

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