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Feds need to address affordable housing, infrastructure, City says

Wednesday, February 12, 2014   by: Darren Taylor

While the Conservative government is enthused about its 2014 budget unveiled by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty Tuesday as a major stepping stone towards wiping out Canada’s deficit by next year, and while Opposition parties criticize it for not addressing the needs of Canadians, the City of Sault Ste. Marie’s top staff official has shared some of his own thoughts on the budget.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Joe Fratesi told Wednesday that a clearly-worded, long-term commitment from the federal government is needed in regards to affordable housing for municipalities.

Fratesi said there is wording in the budget concerning the need for affordable housing in Canada, but no clear action plan.

Fratesi said: “Everyone is really concerned, because there is some federal participation and involvement in social housing that over the next short period of time will be disappearing, and if there is no announcement soon that the federal government will renew its commitment to participate in social, affordable housing like it has been for a very long period of time, there is concern it will filter its way down to municipalities to deal with.”

Fratesi referred to a report he has read which states $1.5 billion in social housing will be lost over the next five years as a result of expiring federal investments, which would mean one-third of the country’s social housing units (homes for half a million Canadians) would eventually be lost.

“It’s important there be some commitment made…the money would go from the federal government to the province then down to us.”

“(Without that commitment) the local taxpayer will face the added burden, or else local folks won’t have housing made available to them,” Fratesi said.

“I know the province has been asking the federal government to renew its commitments to expand badly needed affordable, social housing, but there was nothing tangible in the budget in regard to timelines or any firm commitment.”

The 2014 budget states: "The Government will continue to work with provincial and territorial governments, municipalities, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and other stakeholders at the community level to ensure the accessibility and sustainability of housing, including social housing, for those most in need."

That same Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), however, has stated: “(The government’s) renewed budget commitment to work with municipalities on the sustainability of affordable and social housing without timelines or an agreement to an action plan provides no assurances of concrete results to fix Canada's housing crunch.” 

Fratesi also expressed concern over the need for the federal government to address municipal infrastructure needs.

For infrastructure, the Harper government has a $14 billion, 10-year Building Canada Fund, part of a larger $53 billion Building Canada plan, which includes $21.8 billion over 10 years through the Gas Tax Fund and $10.4 billion over 10 years under the incremental GST Rebate for Municipalities.

However, municipal leaders, it seems, will have to wait a while longer to get specific details of how their communities will benefit from that funding.

The budget includes plans to provide Parks Canada with $391 million over the next five years to make improvements to highways, bridges and dams in national parks and historic canals.

Fratesi said: “That $300 million is not a very significant amount Canada-wide, but it’s something…I expect the details of the bigger program will be announced in next year’s budget or in an election platform.”

Fratesi emphasized: “Most of the public infrastructure in Canada is owned by municipalities, so we need not only a one-year announcement, but a long-term infrastructure plan to address infrastructure decay.”

“We need a long-term plan from the federal government so we can do our own long-term planning...we need the 10-year plan, not the one-year plan.”

That information will come in enormously useful, as the City of Sault Ste. Marie is in the process of looking at its asset management plan to determine the lifespan of the infrastructure the City owns, and needs to put in place a plan that manages the repair and renewal of all City infrastructure over the next several years.

As it stands, municipalities will have to wait to find out which projects are eligible for funding before applying for support for infrastructure projects.

The government has stated it is consulting with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to work out details of applying for federal government funding for infrastructure projects, and hoping to launch the program by March 31.

Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
bubba2006 2/12/2014 4:19:35 PM Report

The only thing all levels of government need to concern themselves is HOW social assistance is handed out. I am all for a system that helps those in financial need when they are in legitimate need. I am NOT in favour of a system which allows for ongoing handouts to people who are fully mentally and physically capable to work...any job. There are LOTS of people who are generation after generation "ON" the welfare system. Give me a break! You need a welfare cheque? No problem, but I think you should 1) earn it by doing some kind of community work 2) have it mandatory that your rent money be given to your landlord DIRECT without the ability to withdraw that consent until tenancy has legitimately ended and 3) food stamps so their children get fed.
Christina216 2/12/2014 4:31:45 PM Report

drug testing should be mandatory as well to recieve social assistance. many people on welfare have to do a job search as part of their eligibilty. if those people were actually forced to complete this each month they would have success finding a job.
Gurpy 2/12/2014 5:05:42 PM Report

No tobacco or alcohol products either. Rent, food and transportation only. No sleeping until noon and at least try looking for a job while doing volunteer work.
grunt 2/12/2014 5:16:57 PM Report

maybe you should learn to read, this article is about affordable housing. the cost to rent is outrageous, most places are dumps, landlords don't fix anything. the nicer places are way too expensive for anyone making a middle class wage, including seniors.
Gurpy 2/12/2014 5:17:01 PM Report

Also, if Ontario Works is paying your heat, lights or water USE YOUR HEAD! Don`t leave lights burning all night or while your away. Don`t open you windows in the winter and skip the 50" flat screen t.v. or the massive swimming pool for the friends in the summer! It`s welfare NOT cash for life!
Gurpy 2/12/2014 5:19:52 PM Report

Mayby you didn`t read the article. It says if the Feds don`t step in subsidies will be lost! Not everyone who is low income desires to live in Housing. Some prefer to pay full rent and tough it out!
Verbatim 2/12/2014 5:22:53 PM Report

@ bubba

I agree i think mandatory work is a viable way to get something back for the money


Maybe we should make mandatory drug tests for all public service employees too. I personally know a lawyer that loves his cocaine...two police officers that use marijuana and a judge that enjoys the company of a postitute every now and then and they get paid handsomely by the government.


maybe we should stop them from having kids too...and owning a car..a tv..and all those other things that make life a little more bareable

Gurpy 2/12/2014 5:29:40 PM Report

You hit the nail on the head with stopping them from having kids! I agree! They are having 3 and 4 or more kids all with different fathers who are not working. Mom doesn`t work so there you have it! Ontario Works becomes financially responsible for these young kids who do nothing but BREED year after year! Then, they complain that they`re not receiving enough funding??? They tell you this with their huge 8 month pregnant belly sticking out! They cannot afford the three that are already at home so, they have more? The system is SCREWED RIGHT UP to allow this year after year by the same ones!
Beej 2/12/2014 5:30:06 PM Report

The government likes to treat the Sault like a mushroom factory, keep it in the dark and feed it more shit.
Verbatim 2/12/2014 5:40:52 PM Report

@ gurpy

Sorry if i didnt make myself clear in my last post....that which you thought was a clear statement was actually sarcasm...I cant beleive people like you really exist....If i remember correctly I read in a post that you have some health issues...maybe we should stop wasting money on a lost case like yourself too after all if you're not willing to get yourself better why should we waste money on you too [insert sarcasm] i mean this is the type of rhetoric that you are trying to get across is it not?
Gurpy 2/12/2014 5:46:33 PM Report

Who says I can get better??? And yes, people like me with COMMON SENSE do exist!
Verbatim 2/12/2014 5:56:11 PM Report

well then move to china..seems your logic follows suit with their logic.......that is all
Lone24 2/12/2014 6:05:00 PM Report

I agree with you GRUNT. People who haven't been in that situation having to find an apartment will always have something to say about it. It is true this city has landlords that are slum lords that are to dam cheap to fix up their places. They charge outrageous prices for rent and get away with having to do any repairs. They should be held accountable for the up keep of their buildings.
Gurpy 2/12/2014 6:07:09 PM Report

Why should the government be responsible for feeding and housing people with no clear judgement whatsoever?It`s wonderful that help is available for those who truly need it! Not the ones milking the system! Between Ontario Works and Housing all you have to do is continue to have baby after baby till you reach menopause and you are set for life! Get knocked up, go to Housing with verification from your doctor and you have a larger unit on the way! Who the hell is going to work when EVERYTHING right on down to adequate housing is HANDED to you simply because you got knocked up and continue to do so? If you cannot support the babies DO NOT HAVE ANYMORE!! Go to the health unit and get some FREE condoms!
Tag33&1/3rd 2/12/2014 6:25:38 PM Report

I definitely agree about drug tests for welfare recipients.
Dictionary 2/12/2014 8:27:55 PM Report

the cost of drug testing welfare recipients has been shown to be far greater than any perceived losses to people scamming the system. it's a nice idea and all, but is not at all cost effective.
grunt 2/13/2014 2:20:47 AM Report

you people are stupid, this has NOTHING to do with social assistance, this is about affordable housing for people who don't make the big bucks that you commenters do, not everyone makes big bucks, we need affordable pricing, gas insurance, every things gone up, cost of living, get off your high horses, think about others!
tcowen 2/13/2014 2:21:49 AM Report

Let's see infrastructure.. oh yea.!!

I remember that. We spent 5 years trying to figure out the definition of 'Shovel Ready' & ended up with a hockey rink that has no ice..

City council took one too many soccer balls to the head, when they should have been reading reports being put in front of them.. instead they all agreed to keep the $500,000 dollars per year and upload social housing back to the Federal Government.

They were all warned way back then that social housing was unsustainable & service providers would run this portfolio into the ground within 5.yrs or less..

This social housing report has been sitting on their desks for almost two years now.. the crisis has been in front of them for ten.

Considering his position with the Innovation Centre & his responsibilities as CAO Joe's a little late to the affordable housing crisis..

We reached and surpassed that phase over 7 years ago.

As far as the 'Mandatory Drug' testing nitwits are concerned.. I'd vote yes in a heartbeat if it also included testing municipal & public servants.

Affordable housing isn't something that snuck up on us like a mid-winter storm.. It's been an elephant sitting quietly at the table for almost a decade.

Good luck getting any one in Ottawa to listen to that deal now.. Once again taxpayers will be forced to foot the bill & the only one still sitting in their original seat is this elephant & our CAO.
Gurpy 2/13/2014 11:44:08 AM Report

How do you figure that all commenters are living on BIG BUCKS?
I wasn`t aware that social housing had been handed over to the Federal Government. I thought it was still under the Provincial government but run through the municipality. Isn`t that why it`s called "Sault Ste. Marie Housing Corporation?" Just asking.
amshld 2/13/2014 1:55:33 PM Report

Grunt Verbatim:

there is no sense arguing with these people..they have no clue what oppression is and if they lived one day in it they would never survive..the probably would not even be able to walk int the OW building ( if they had to) due to their ego's and pride being so big, they would not be able to get around the corner. guys you are fighting a loosing battle..these people who cut down others and make these ridiculous statments about OW recipients are truly ignorant..They are part of the problem...not the solution...little do they know by sharing their negative attitudes and beliefs on this site creates more oppression..and heaven forbid would they ever have to go there...they are just making themselves feel better by cutting others down...they are rubbing their own ego...I personally believe that all people who works in trades should be drug tested..all people who are employed for the city should be drug tested... all people employed at Essar Steel and SAH should be drug tested... all people who work at Ken Brown and Breton House and detox should be drug tested. We all know that there are several drug addicts on the system but no one want to even try to understand nor do anything about it.
Gurpy 2/13/2014 3:22:50 PM Report

Wow! Slow down! I`ve pointed out a few things that are wrong with social housing and Ontario Works. I`m not against anyone based on their income. I myself am low income.
Housing is great for those who can handle the social problems that come along with affordable rent. Not everyone can! Some have decided to pay full rent along with utilities and tough it out!
Ontario Works and odsp are both well below the poverty level and are not the ideal circumstances to DELIBERATELY get pregnant and raise children under! I`ve had conversations with receipients who had a couple of kids at home all by different fathers with another one on the way and listened to them complain about the amount of funding they were receiving! Yet, there they were! Pregnant ONCE again by yet, another male!
If someone TRULY needs Ontario Works, Housing, odsp, I do not have a problem with it!
I am more than aware of the current rates for rents in this city. I myself am paying full rent plus utilities while on a fixed income! I previously lived in social housing so I know EXACTLY what I`m talking about when I refer to those "milking" the system! I have seen it ALL! Trust me!
I think it`s disgraceful for these young healthy women to be trapped in a life of poverty due to poor choices and a lack of knowledge. They conceive baby after baby. They have very little education and near zero self-esteem. They end up with less than desirable males who hang around long enough to get them pregnant then like the cowards they are, run for the hills! There was a time when if a male got a female pregnant, there was a WEDDING! A time when men were men and assumed their responsibility in life!
So, whoever you are, do NOT go jumping all over me simply because I call them like I see them!
Raising chlldren in poverty should be avoided at all costs! Things do happen. I understand that part of it, but do not plan a pregnancy expecting to provide a good life for yourself and your baby on Ontario Works or living in social housing with some people as neighbours that you would not want your child or yourself around!
shaun6969 2/13/2014 3:24:39 PM Report

For all of you people that no nothing about ontario works they do make you job seach and if you can't find a job they make you go to school sault ste marie has no jobs maybe instead of running your mouths think of that first ontario works is pathetic to live on I would much rather have a job and so would most people on it our parents wernt well off like yours so before you bad mouth people look in the mirror the goverments policy is to keep the rich rich and the poor poor.
Gurpy 2/13/2014 3:33:09 PM Report

You are right. People on it are not liking it and no, there aren`t many jobs in this city. The people administering the funds probably make more money than you or I will ever see.
shaun6969 2/13/2014 3:42:02 PM Report

Exactly .. which doesnt make sence as you were just knocking people who are on the system stating that they should have to do this do that .. get up and find a job .. well it does get frustrating when looking for a job and have no luck .. then you have people like you stating that ontario works recepients need to do more .. yes there is people who do "milk" the system but those of us who dont do not deserve nor need to hear how people abuse it. Rich people abuse the goverment everyday ..
Gurpy 2/13/2014 3:58:07 PM Report

Two sets of people on assistance. Those who are temporary due to circumstance and those who couldn`t give a rats behind. One screws up everyone else pays! Been like that since the begining of time! Lots of work in Alberta. I lived and worked there a few years ago. You have to go where the jobs are.
Gurpy 2/13/2014 4:12:33 PM Report

Just caught one more of your comments from the post. You said your parents were not well off like mine? My parents were in fact very well off because they worked hard, managed their finances wisely and lived right. By that I mean no addictions such as gambling etc. They protected what they had including the family unit! My father was in my opinion a REAL man! He provided for his family and would never have walked out on us! He was not perfect, neither was my mother. They both worked together and made it through 40yrs of marriage before one of them passed on. It`s all about choices and sacrifices. Sometimes just using your head is the answer.
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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