QUEEN’S PARK –Today, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris, and Oxford MPP and PC Critic for Municipal Affairs and Housing Ernie Hardeman asked the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing about $30,000 intended for affordable housing that has been diverted to a scandal plagued agency.
“With a stroke of a pen the Minister could have ensured this money went to help people in need instead of being used by the Housing Services Corporation to fund trips to across the globe,” said Harris. “Something is wrong when every year the Region of Waterloo is giving thousands of dollars to a government agency just to be allowed the privilege to purchase insurance from a lower cost provider.”
Over the last three years, Waterloo Region Housing has spent close to $30,000 to opt out of purchasing insurance through the Housing Services Corporation, and instead buy the same insurance from a cheaper provider. This year alone they saved over $26,000 by choosing another provider over Housing Services Corporation.
“Families in Waterloo region are waiting 3 to 5 years for social housing, but instead of this money going to help them Waterloo Region was forced by the government to give it to Housing Services Corporation, a government agency that thinks a plane ticket to Europe is an acceptable use of housing money,” said Hardeman.
Housing Services Corporation has been in the news for expensing multiple trips to Europe, a luxury South African vacation, alcohol, $300 flannel shirts, and lavish meals which have included $8 waters. They have also had a number of other questionable expenses, including over $1 million given to a solar panel company which was written off in the same year, and money invested in a company in Manchester, England that never actually operated.
The Housing Services Act, 2011 requires all affordable housing providers to purchase natural gas and insurance through HSC, which funds its operations by charging housing providers above cost for these purchases. Housing providers can only opt out if the Minister gives consent or, in the case of insurance they pay HSC an opt-out fee equal to 2.5% of the premium.
“Last year approximately 100 social housing providers paid to opt out of Housing Services Corporation’s insurance,” said Hardeman. “All of this money was intended to help people in need, but instead went to fund a rogue organization because the Minister wouldn’t agree to let them opt out.”