- Stephen Lecce, MPP
Ontario Introduces Next Steps to Support Housing Supply Growth
TORONTO ― Today, the Ontario government introduced the Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act as it continues to take a responsible, targeted approach to deliver on its plan to build 1.5 million homes by 2031, while laying a strong foundation to make life easier and more affordable for people across the province.
If passed, the proposed changes would further strengthen homebuyer protections, support tenants and streamline the rules around land-use planning.
“Our government has made real progress in tackling Ontario’s housing supply crisis, with current housing starts remaining above historic averages”, said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Like the rest of North America, Ontario is experiencing challenging headwinds that are slowing down new home construction, including inflation, soaring interest rates and labour shortages. Despite these challenges, our government will continue to take action to ensure Ontario is ready to build more homes as market conditions improve.”
The Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Plan includes:
A $6.5 million investment to appoint an additional 40 adjudicators and hire five staff to improve service standards and continue to reduce active applications and decision timeframes at the Landlord and Tenant Board. This increase more than doubles of the number of full-time adjudicators at the Landlord Tenant Board.
Further strengthening protections against evictions due to renovations, demolitions and conversions, as well as those for landlord’s own use, as well as clarify tenants’ rights to install air conditioners.
Expanding deposit insurance for First Home Savings Accounts to Ontario at credit unions, and exploring a cooling-off or cancellation period on purchases of newly built freehold homes, as well as mandatory legal review of purchase agreements for all new home purchases.
Freezing 74 different provincial fees at the 2023-2024 level. This includes fees that directly or indirectly increase the cost of housing.
Speeding up government approval processes by updating the Provincial Policy Statement, 2020 and integrating it with A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe to create a single, provincewide, housing-focused land use planning policy document.
“Our government has been steadfastly focused on Ontario’s housing supply crisis since the moment we first took office,” said Nina Tangri, Associate Minister of Housing. “We have introduced policies that are helping to get more homes built across Ontario, but we know more needs to be done. Today’s announcement is the next step in our plan to ensure that Ontario’s housing supply continues to grow over the long term, so more Ontarians can find a home they can actually afford.”
Ontario is undertaking a 60-day consultation on the proposed new Provincial Planning Statement until June 5, 2023. This new provincewide planning policy document would provide municipalities with more flexibility, reduce duplication, create more homes in urban and rural communities, support local economies and create jobs while continuing to protect the environment (including existing Greenbelt protections), and public safety. It would also require coordination between municipalities and school boards to consider school and childcare needs earlier in the planning process, so that families moving to new housing can expect that local schools will be available for their children.
The government continues to work with municipal partners to ensure that cities, towns and rural communities grow with a mix of ownership and rental housing that meets the needs of people across the province.
Despite significant external economic pressures, Ontario is seeing strong progress resulting from its housing plans. The first plan, More Homes, More Choice, was released in 2019. In the spring of 2022, More Homes for Everyone was released. More Homes Built Faster was released in fall of 2022.
In 2022, Ontario saw the second highest number of housing starts since 1988, with just over 96,000 new homes. This is 30 per cent higher than the annual average for the past 20 years. Ontario also broke ground on nearly 15,000 new purpose-built rentals, the highest number on record.
Ontario will continue to call on the federal government to defer the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) on all new large scale purpose-built rental housing projects to tackle the ongoing housing affordability crisis. Ontario would support this measure, as it would help spur the construction of more rental housing units while helping to create jobs, encourage economic development and support growth.
The province’s Housing Supply Action Plan Implementation Team, made up of municipal leaders and industry experts, will evaluate progress and provide advice on tackling Ontario’s housing supply crisis.
The province is continuing the process of launching third-party audits of select municipalities to get a factual understanding of their finances, including their reserve funds and development charge administration, as part of its commitment to ensure there should be no funding shortfall for housing enabling infrastructure as a result of the More Homes Built Faster Act, provided municipalities achieve and exceed their housing pledge levels and growth targets.
Ontario is looking at modular construction and other innovative options to reduce the cost of building attainable housing and speed up the creation of housing. As part of this work, we will engage with the housing sector, municipalities and Indigenous communities to consider different opportunities to build housing – using modular and other technologies – in communities across the province.
In 2022, Ontario started its consultation on a housing-focused policy review of the Provincial Policy Statement and A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, as well as on municipal rental replacement by-laws and how to build more housing while continuing to protect tenants. These consultations for the More Homes Built Faster Plan informed the development of the Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Plan.