This week City Council approved the City’s first Anti-Racism Strategy, a five-year plan to proactively identify and remove systemic barriers from City policies, programs and services to help realize racial equity.
The strategy provides 28 recommendations and 132 actions to address racial inequity in governance, housing, economic development, health, child and youth development, the workplace and institutional practices. It aims to create programs and services that meet the diverse needs of Ottawa, and to grow an equitable and inclusive workforce. Phase one will start next year and run until 2025, with a focus on building internal capacity and awareness, collecting race-disaggregated data, continuing engagement and relationship building and implementing recommendations and actions from the strategy. Following a mid-term review, phase two will run from 2025 to 2028, incorporating feedback, data and lessons learned from phase one while continuing to implement actions outlined in the plan.
Council approved allocating $60 million in provincial and federal funds to implement phase one of the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care System. The new system will reduce child care fees for eligible families and increase compensation for child care workers. Starting in September and running through December, families with eligible children enrolled in a participating child care centre could start getting fee rebates of up to 25 per cent, retroactive to April 1, 2022. The City is committed to supporting the child care sector and families through the transition to the new Canada-wide system, and building towards, on average, $10-a-day child care by 2025.
Council supported an approach to implementing inclusionary zoning as a means to increase the supply of affordable housing for moderate income households. The approach would enable the City to require that new developments include affordable units at a specified rate. The City will need to strike a balance between keeping development feasible and creating a meaningful number of affordable units. If developers set aside affordable units at the rate proposed, as many as 60 to 90 affordable units could be created annually for rent or sale to moderate income households. After completing studies and engaging in public consultation, staff will bring back a report to Council to introduce inclusionary zoning in 2023.
Council also approved a spending plan of more than $33.7 million to create new affordable housing and stabilize existing projects currently under construction. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted labour and supply chains, and the spending plan aims to help relieve some of the resulting pressure on projects already underway. The planned allocation of the 2022 capital budget will help fund about 300 new, permanent affordable housing units – bringing the total number of units under development across Ottawa to 1,500.