Justin Trudeau has used Ontario Premier Doug Ford's provincial government to criticize Conservative policies during the Canadian election campaign. However, a new claim from the NDP says that Trudeau's own federal policies may have "helped" Ford to cut affordable housing in the province.
The claim is based on information taken from a report released by the Parliamentary Budget Office. According to an NDP news release, Trudeau created a loophole in the National Housing Strategy where provinces do not have to spend additional money after matching federal funds for affordable housing.
A portion of the report confirms this, reading, "Provinces and territories that already spend more than the federal government on housing could reduce funding for housing programs while still meeting the cost-matching requirements and having all outputs of their programs counted towards the positive impacts of the National Housing Strategy."
Because of this, the NDP claim, Ford was able to cut $161 million from affordable housing. The report cites that Ontario's spending on housing was cut from $944 million to $866 million, despite receiving $0.1 billion from the federal government.
The NDP release claims that this allows the Liberal government to say that they have increased investments in affordable housing while never guaranteeing that spending on affordable housing will increase.
The NDP release also cites Ford's cancellation of a surtax on the rich, which allowed the wealthiest people in Ontario to avoid paying $275 million in additional taxes.
"Justin Trudeau likes to talk about how bad Conservatives are, but he’s chosen to let Doug Ford cut services for people and give tax breaks to the rich," NDP leader Jagmeet Singh says in the release. "People can’t afford four more years of Justin Trudeau’s empty promises."
Singh continued, saying he would "fight hard to stop Conservative cuts all the time, not just during an election campaign."
In an email to Narcity, Liberal Party spokesperson Carlene Variyan wrote that Singh's claim is "incorrect and misleading."
"Immediate investments made in Budgets 2016 and 2017, combined with Canada's first-ever National Housing Strategy, will generate more than $71 billion in total investments to give Canadians a safe and affordable place to call home. This is more than three times the amount of spending planned by the Harper Government over the same timeframe."
According to Variyan, the NDP also ignored "investments made in the first two Liberal budgets, a doubling of federal funding to fight homelessness, and hundreds of millions of dollars in support of distinctions-based housing strategies for Indigenous communities." She also mentioned the omission of "full value of low-interest loans for housing construction and required cost-matching from Provinces and Territories."
"Liberals also made the right to housing a human right enshrined in Canadian law," Variyan said, citing Bill C-97. "This was a move commended by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing, who called it a big step forward."
The Canadian federal election is set to take place on October 21. According to the CBC Poll Tracker, the NDP is polling at 13.7 percent as of October 3.