Along the banks of Guelph’s Speed River near the Boathouse on Tuesday morning, Guelph MPP and Green Party leader Mike Schreiner announced his party’s intention to build 60,000 permanent supportive housing units in Ontario with wrap-around support. Schreiner said that the housing and mental health crises are inexorably linked and he challenged Premier Doug Ford to steal his idea for Thursday’s budget.
“Let’s be clear: Ontario is facing a housing crisis and a mental health crisis. It’s getting harder and harder for people to find an affordable place to call home, forcing far too many of our neighbours onto the streets and into encampments,” Schreiner said in a campaign-style event. “It’s leading to increased stress on our shelter systems. rising levels of anxiety, depression, substance use, addiction and drug poisoning, which are all tragically on the rise.”
Schreiner noted Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) figures say that between 25 and 50 per cent of people experiencing homelessness are suffering from a mental health issue. He also noted a statistic that says for every $10 spent on preventive care measures like supportive housing, there are about $21 in savings in other areas like the healthcare and justice systems.
“As Dr. [Andrew] Boozary from the University Health Network has said, we need more doctors writing prescriptions for housing, and the Ontario Greens are here to ensure that we have the financial resources in place to deliver that housing, because everyone in our community, and in our province, deserves an affordable place to call home,” Schreiner said.
Schreiner also explained that he thinks housing is a human right, which is why along with the 60,000 units of supportive housing, Schreiner wants to build 100,000 “deeply affordable” homes of various types and buildforms that will improve the overall quality of life for thousands of Ontarians.
“We will create the zoning changes we need in our communities to build gentle density and ‘missing middle’ housing in a way that protects our farmland, stops urban sprawl, and creates more housing choices for people in our community,” Schreiner explained.
“I also want to be clear that in addition to working with the private sector on zoning changes, and in addition to driving speculation out of the market, we need government to step up to the table and deliver deeply affordable housing,” he added. “In the mid 1990s, both the Provincial and Federal governments got out of funding housing, and the housing crisis has been getting steadily worse ever since then and it’s reached a breaking point now.”
Schreiner also made a direct challenge to the current Provincial government under Ford.
“I want to close with a direct message to Premier Ford: On Thursday, your government will deliver a budget, and if you are truly serious about addressing the housing crisis and the mental health crisis that we’re facing in this province, your budget will deliver the funding that the Ontario Greens have committed to and build 60,000 permanent supportive housing spaces in communities across this province.”
The provincial budget will be delivered at 4 pm on Thursday , and the election is expected to be called for June 2 sometime next week.