Ontario signs on to housing help from the federal Liberal government


OTTAWA — The federal government has signed the first of what it hopes will be 13 funding agreements for a new rent supplement for low-income households.

The announcement today on the $1.4-billion joint funding deal with Ontario will help the province roll out the Canada Housing Benefit next spring.

The benefit will go to families who are already on, or eligible to join, wait lists for social housing units, as well as those already living in community housing.

The Trudeau Liberals plan to sign similar deals with each province and territory, tailored to each jurisdiction’s needs, which is one reason why negotiations on the deals have taken as long as they have.

The portable housing benefit is budgeted to cost $4 billion over 10 years, but the plan requires provinces and territories to pick up half the costs.

Federal spending plans peg the average subsidy at $3,000 a year, but Parliament’s spending watchdog has warned the amount falls short of helping the most financially stretched households, and could create pressure to increase rents in subsidized housing.