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‘We don’t track data as well as we should,’ Ontario housing minister says

Ontario’s housing minister says poor data tracking is making it harder for the Ford government to keep on top of how many new units have been built as it targets 1.5 million new homes by 2031.

Housing Minister Paul Calandra told a committee at the Ontario legislature Thursday afternoon his team had encountered issues with the data it keeps during an affordable-housing spat with the federal government.

During the spring, Ottawa and Queen’s Park traded accusations over how Ontario had spent money allocated to it under a bilateral agreement called the National Housing Strategy.

The federal government claimed the province had failed to build almost any affordable housing units with the money and threatened to withhold funding for a plan it said wasn’t up to scratch. For its part, the Ford government said it had made huge strides, focusing particularly on renovating older affordable units.

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Calandra told MPPs Thursday that a lack of clear data made that intergovernmental dispute more complicated. The feud ended with Ontario keeping the money it had been promised.


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“One of the challenges we were having is we don’t really track as well as we should the number of homes that we’re building,” the housing minister said.

“There was this disagreement specific to that for instance on how many affordable units we had built through the National Housing Strategy… We started at one number and then the number increased, (then) the number increased (again). It really highlighted for us that we’ve got to do a better job of tracking that data.”

Calandra said his federal counterpart, Minister Sean Fraser, had raised the same concerns about how data is compiled and tracked.

“How do we accumulate this data? And I agree with the federal government… on this one, we’ve got to a do a better job of collecting data and presenting that data,” he said.

The Ford government is targeting 1.5 million new homes by 2031 across Ontario to tackle the housing crisis. It has set individual targets for the province’s major towns and cities, offering financial rewards to the municipalities that hit their goals.

During the questioning, Ontario NDP MPP and housing critic Jessica Bell asked Calandra how many affordable housing units had been built in Ontario and if he would commit to tracking the statistics.

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Calandra said he had heard concerns from municipalities in Ontario about how housing starts are measured, among other data issues, and said he was open to working on a solution to the data issue.

“As we’ve heard through some of the criticism of the (Building Faster Fund) funding and how (the Canadian Mortage and Housing Corporation) tracks shovels in the ground, I think we also need to do a better job of how we accumulate that data from our municipal partners,” he said.

“We don’t have a tool right now that allows me to go in and say, ‘This is what you’re actually doing.’ And I think our municipal partners would like that as well.”

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