It was supposed to be a safe, affordable home for Ontarians with nowhere else to go. But inside, it was horrifying.
For a decade, Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government turned one of the country’s most sought-after housing projects, an 18-storey, $1 billion mixed-use building in northwest Toronto, into a homeless shelter for the destitute.
The building has been condemned, and now a federal judge has ordered Doug Ford to compensate some of the residents for their losses.
“The residents of a building are entitled to compensation for the injuries sustained as a result of the government’s deliberate and unjustified actions against them for their shelter and other programs,” Justice Rosalie Abella wrote. “The defendants must be ordered to pay to the former residents compensation in a reasonable sum.”
With just six months remaining in the legislative session, the case could give Doug Ford’s Tories new ammunition to attack the Liberal government over the ongoing homelessness crisis, a growing problem that the Tories have long derided as a crisis created by Stephen Harper.
And it could also give Doug Ford’s Tories the opening they have long been seeking to attack a Conservative government that they say is in denial about the growing homelessness crisis.
This legal battle is part of a complex dispute between the province and the federal government.
The federal government agreed to waive rent-control requirements for the tenants living in the building, known as Poynings House, in August 2017. That money came from Ottawa’s $15-billion federal housing program.
But that provision was set to expire in about a month, on Sept. 30, 2018. The government used that time to set up an emergency financial assistance program for the residents of the building, known as Housing and Urban Development Canada (HUD-C).
The program was supposed to provide temporary emergency shelter and a $5,000 emergency assistance credit to the tenants of Poynings House.
It also provided for monthly rent supplements and allowed the tenants to move to one of the six “housing choice” units within the building, which was designed and built by the provincial government to help people like them.
The program was intended to run until spring of 2018, but the