Whether or not Ontario will receive $353M from the Government of Canada that would go towards affordable housing is now contingent upon whether the Province submits a revised 2022-2025 action plan that the federal government finds satisfactory.

The demand was made by federal Minister of Housing, Infrastructure, and Communities Sean Fraser in a letter to provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Paul Calandra dated March 21, with a demand that a revised plan be submitted by Friday, March 22.

It's unclear if the Province met that deadline.

"Should Ontario fail to provide a revised plan demonstrating how it intends to meet its housing targets under the agreement, the Province will not receive $353 million dollars intended for affordable housing from the federal government," Fraser wrote in the letter. "Now is not the time for half measures on housing policy."

Fraser also points out that an additional 1.48 million homes are needed in Ontario in order to restore affordability and that 12.1% of households in Ontario are currently living in core housing need — housing that is defined as unsuitable, inadequate, or unaffordable.

In 2018, the Government of Canada and Province of Ontario signed a 10-year bilateral housing agreement that would deliver over $5.8B in cost-shared investments to Ontario. As part of that agreement, Ontario committed to increasing the amount of affordable housing units in the province by 19,660. The Province would also set annual targets through three-year action plans and also report on progress made towards the annual target and nine-year target.

"Speaking frankly, the proposed [2022-2025] Action Plan is a disappointment," Fraser wrote. "It shows almost no progress toward reaching the affordable housing expansion target, and proposed to achieve only 1,184 units of the 19,660 required by the end of the 2024-2025. This leaves 94% of the target to be achieved during the last 3 years of the agreement, which is not realistic."

Not mincing any words, Fraser said that "Ontario is lagging desperately behind all other provinces and territories."

Recently, Premier Doug Ford also said he was ruling out allowing municipalities to build fourplexes, which prompted several tweets from Fraser last week.

"Ontario had an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to build more homes and take the housing crisis seriously," Fraser said in a tweet on March 21. "Instead, they chose red tape and the status quo. I sincerely hope the Ford government changes course on this decision."

The next day, Fraser sent out a tweet that seemed directly aimed at Ontario, without naming Ontario. The tweet included three images of fourplexes and said "Warning: the following images of fourplexes may frighten some politicians."

The threat by Fraser is also not the first time he has has tried to leverage federal funding to get local governments to make significant changes as it relates to housing. In September, Fraser sent a letter to Mayor of Calgary Jyoti Gondek saying that Calgary's Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF) application would not be approved unless the City ends exclusionary zoning.

Calgary ultimately approved the change, but after the followthrough was stalled earlier this month, Fraser said that "If Calgary, or any other city, does not meet the conditions they have agreed to, we will withhold funding under the [Housing Accelerator Fund] agreement."

Previously, Fraser was also in the centre of standoff with the Metro Vancouver Regional District (MVRD) in British Columbia over their proposed increases to development cost charges. Fraser pulled two planned HAF announcements and did not approve HAF applications for any other Metro Vancouver municipality for several months. He would ultimately approve the HAF agreements for the suspended municipalities, however, despite the MVRD pushing through the proposed increases.

All eyes will now be on Ontario and whether it has submitted a revised action plan, whether that plan is satisfactory, and whether or not Fraser will follow through on the threat to withhold funding if it's not.