Finding an affordable place to call home is falling out of reach for most Canadians. The supply of housing isn’t keeping up with the demand. And for people with disabilities, the situation is even more dire. The severe shortage of accessible housing is getting worse.
An estimated one in 10 Canadians live with some form of disability. A disability can happen to anyone at any time. And with the aging population, we know this number is growing. Yet there is no clear data on the accessible housing stock in Canada. The last time the Federal Government did a survey, it was 2017. This leaves the majority of those with disabilities struggling to find a safe and accessible place to live.
The federal government is investing $82 billion dollars to build more homes in Canada. The Ontario government is investing more than $5.75 billion dollars into housing. And yet, with almost 100 billion dollars invested, there is no guarantee of accessible housing.
At Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, we see clients – some only in their 20s – forced into long-term care, hospitals or homelessness. Some people are even opting for medical assistance in dying (MAiD), because of the lack of access to accessible housing. Others are living in unsafe conditions; without the tools they require to live with basic dignity.
The problem lies in the lack of a coordinated plan for accessible housing development. All levels of government, non-governmental agencies, and private development interests must work together to fix this crisis. Without a clear vision and strategy, it’s impossible to know the progress we’re making towards accessible housing.
That’s why Spinal Cord Injury Ontario is partnering with like-minded organizations to come together and to build a sustainable long-term strategy. We need a plan that sets targets, shares urgency and guides the investment of funds. We need regulations on universal design. Regulations ensuring ALL new housing is accessible. We need dedicated funding for accessible housing, from all levels of government. And most of all, we need everyone on the same page. Otherwise, this crisis will impact us all, and by then, it will be too late.