It was supposed to be a safe, affordable home for Ontarians with nowhere else to go. But inside, it was horrifying: “It was like a tomb, with the bodies covered in trash and garbage and feces,” says one tenant, who described the condition of the home as “hell on earth.”
Tenant Janice Saindon, who lived in the home for 20 years and had to live in a tiny closet for more than a year, says it’s hard to believe the house had survived only by the grace of divine intervention. “We built a good life, but we’ve been destroyed for lack of money,” she says.
The story of the home is one of the stranger facets of the Ontario Progressive Conservative government’s housing plans. It’s not the only one. As well as the government’s controversial plan to build 30,000 social housing units over a decade across the province, the government’s budget for the next year offers a $4.2 billion bailout of the Royal Bank of Canada, with taxpayers bearing a $2.2-billion share of the cost; and it plans to spend hundreds of millions more on corporate tax cuts.
And yet, the story of one building, in one suburb, has been one of success, albeit one of a kind.
In March, the government unveiled its new housing framework, which proposed to build 29,000 new social housing units across the province, but that announcement seemed to be the only thing to get out the door when the new budget was released on Monday.
It was widely reported that Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government offered to hand the Royal Bank of Canada a huge credit line to help it refinance its $6.6-billion share of an Ontario pension plan that the bank had acquired, with the same bank’s head office in Toronto. But the bank turned the offer down.
The housing framework also proposes $1.7 billion to help more than 60 municipalities and school boards deal with the fallout of the collapse of Enbridge’s Line 9 oil pipeline in July 2014.
The Royal Bank of Canada also refused to approve a $25-million bridge loan to help a bankrupt local hospital in Kingston deal with the backlog of unpaid bills.
The $4.2 billion bailout of the Royal Bank of Canada is part of the government’s proposed package of corporate tax cuts.