The Provincial government announced yesterday that it will be investing up to $657 million in repairs and retrofits for social housing apartments across Ontario over the next five years. With funds coming from the Province's carbon market, the investments are focused on energy efficient upgrades and retrofits in apartments in order to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save municipalities and organizations energy expenditures. Announced by Peter Milczyn, Minister of Housing and the Minister responsible for poverty reduction, this investment is part of the provincial government's Climate Change Action Plan.

Ontario pledges roughly $300 million in repairs for TCHC (200 Wellesley Street EOntario pledges roughly $300 million in repairs for TCHC (200 Wellesley Street East), image by Marcus Mitanis

The repairs and retrofits will include, among other things, the improvement or replacement of heating systems, insulation within units, and the replacement of windows in order to reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. According to the official press release, this is part of the province's "ongoing efforts to support the transition of homes and businesses to a low-carbon future, while providing the jobs and skills that will allow individuals to thrive in a sustainable economy."

Roughly $657 million in Funds will come from Ontario's Carbon Market Roughly $657 million in Funds will come from Ontario's Carbon Market (585 King St E), image by Marcus Mitanis

Of the $657 million in funds over the next five years (subject to change with carbon market proceeds), approximately half of the funds will be dedicated to the City of Toronto. A rough timeline by the province outlines these contributions: "$43 million in 2016-17, almost $120 million in 2017-18, and up to $180 million between 2018-19 and 2020-21."

Repairs and Retrofits will focus on reducing long term energy costs Repairs and Retrofits will focus on reducing long term energy costs (501 Adelaide East), image by Flickr Contributor Lori Whelan

Repairs and retrofits from the first phase of funds are already underway within TCHC buildings. The announcement has been met with appreciation from Mayor Tory who has stated that he believes that the announcement is a strong indication that the provincial government is stepping forward on Toronto's housing issues, especially for the most vulnerable residents. By law, these investments are necessary as well, as proceeds from the Province's "carbon market must be invested into programs that help households and businesses reduce greenhouse has emissions and save money on energy costs."

Mayor Tory made a point of stressing the importance of cooperation between all levels of government, quoted in a CBC article as saying that "this is money that the City did not have before to put towards housing, and specifically towards the repair and upgrading of Toronto Community Housing." While the funding will help with repairs for existing social housing buildings, it does not add funds for new social housing to ease Toronto's affordable housing shortage. Tory was quoted in the Toronto Star saying that there are no guarantees that the new funding measures will prevent the closure of existing units. “My determination is that we end up with as close to zero units closed as possible, and with any that we do close be closed because they’re in such a state of repair they can’t be repaired," continuing that he “just can’t be comfortable at all with the notion of closing units down at a time when there’s a drastic shortage of affordable housing in general. It’s premature to say whether those 400 (affordable housing units) fit in the category but that’s the objective.”