Open letter to Government House Leader re Housing Services Corporation billMay 17, 2016
May 17, 2016
Hon. Yasir Naqvi
Government House Leader
Room 223, Queen’s Park
Toronto ON M7A 1A1
Dear Minister Naqvi,
Ontario has an affordable housing crisis, but for more than a year your government has chosen to delay a bill that would stop millions of dollars of social housing money from being wasted and misused.
Last April the Ontario Legislature unanimously supported my bill the Housing Services Corporation Accountability Act on second reading. If passed, this bill would allow the Auditor General to investigate the Housing Services Corporation (HSC), require salaries to be reported on the sunshine list and would allow Ontario’s social housing providers to purchase natural gas and insurance at the best price rather than being forced to purchase from this monopoly.
Housing providers from across Ontario have reported that they are being overcharged by Housing Services Corporation. Some of these include:
- $6.288 million more paid by Toronto Community Housing than if they had been allowed to purchase with the rest of the city;
- $1.11 million additional paid by City Housing Hamilton for natural gas in a single year;
- Over $42,000 additional paid by Stratford for natural gas and insurance because they were forced to purchase through Housing Services Corporation;
- $30,000 paid by the City of Waterloo over three years just to be allowed to purchase from a cheaper insurance provider;
- $40,000 that County of Hastings could have saved if they had been allowed to purchase gas from another supplier; and
- Approximately $100,000 more that Oxford County pays each year for natural gas and insurance because they are forced to purchase through Housing Services Corporation.
All of this is money that was intended to provide affordable housing and could have gone to help the 168,000 families on the social housing wait list.
Instead those families have been reading media reports on how Housing Services Corporation has spent that money on European travel, alcohol, fancy meals and even a luxury 7 day vacation in South Africa for a board member.
Similar to Ornge Air Ambulance, Housing Services Corporation has also lost money in numerous failed attempts to create for-profit subsidiaries – including a million dollars in a failed solar panel venture and money that was invested in a questionable corporation in Manchester, England whose only address was a lawyer’s office.
In a majority government we know that you determine what bills are called before committee and the Legislature. Since the Housing Services Corporation Accountability Act passed second reading and was referred to the Legislative Committee on Social Policy that committee has met 35 times, but not once have you chosen to move forward this bill and stop the abuse of money intended for social housing.
I ask you to immediately schedule the Housing Services Corporation Accountability Act for committee hearings and, as soon as possible after they are completed, call the bill for third reading.
Ernie Hardeman, MPP Oxford
PC Critic for Municipal Affairs and Housing