The federal government announced a $6B housing infrastructure fund this week, $5M of which will be made available to provinces and territories to support their “long-term priorities.” But first, they have to agree to play ball.

The feds laid out a number of prerequisites to the funding on Monday, and at the top of the list was that provinces and territories must get on board with fourplexes by permitting them, as of right, province- or territory-wide.

In addition, provinces and territories interested in the funding will have to implement a three-year freeze on development charges from April 2, adopt forthcoming changes to the National Building Code to support more accessible, affordable, and climate-friendly housing options, and implement measures from the Home Buyers’ Bill of Rights and Renters’ Bill of Rights.

But it seems to be the fourplex matter specifically that has rubbed Ontario Premier Doug Ford the wrong way. When asked about it on Wednesday at an unrelated press conference in Vaughan, Ford said, in no uncertain terms, that he will not be obliging the feds’ request.

“I don't believe in forcing municipalities, I believe in working with municipalities,” he said. “I'm going to leave that up to each municipality to decide because they know better than the province and the federal government.”

Ford later told reporters that “it's not up to the province to dictate where every single building is going to be,” and that he has “all the confidence in the world in the mayors and the councils to put homes where they belong.”

This is not the first time that Ford has rejected the notion of permitting fourplexes province wide. Some two weeks ago, Ford told reporters that the matter is “off the table,” so unsurprisingly, there was no mention of fourplexes in the province’s latest budget, which was unveiled on March 26. “We're going to build homes, single dwelling homes, townhomes. That's what we're going to focus on,” he said at that time.

In speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Ford acknowledged that forgoing fourplexes will jeopardize a big chunk of federal funding for the province, but seemed more or less unfazed. Instead, he underlined that the Province has already committed more than $1.8B to housing-enabling infrastructure, which he said will give municipalities “the tools and give them the support they need to get the homes built.”

Meanwhile, the federal government’s $6B housing infrastructure fund is one of a handful of measures unveiled this week that will be included in the 2024 Budget. That budget will be tabled on April 16, and will include a $1.5B rental protection fund (announced today) and a $15B top-up to the Apartment Construction Loan Program, among more housing support initiatives.