The Government of Ontario has introduced new legislation that would change the definition of affordable housing, enabling more units to be exempt from development charges.

If the bill, dubbed the Affordable Homes and Good Jobs Act, is passed, the definition would include income as a measure of affordability.

The province said the updated definition would "more closely align" with what appears in the Provincial Policy Statement, which considers a home to be affordable if the purchase price is less than 30% of a low- or moderate-income household’s annual income, or is at least 10% below the average price of a resale home.

Rental units are considered affordable if the cost is at or below the average market rent, or doesn’t exceed 30% of a low- or moderate-income household’s annual income.

Such homes would qualify for discounts and exemptions of development-related charges, which, as the province noted, can raise the cost of a single-family home by more than $100,000 in some Ontario cities.

Under 2022’s More Homes Built Faster Act, affordable housing units will be exempt from development-related charges once a definition is in force, and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing issues a bulletin.

"This proposed legislation will increase the supply of affordable housing across Ontario and make it easier for people to find a home that truly meets their needs and their budgets," Paul Calandra, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said in a release.

The government has begun consultations on the proposed change, which it noted will "recognize the diversity of housing markets across the province."

As well, the province is set to begin consultations on new regulations that would set service standards and prioritize the resolution of certain cases at the Ontario Land Tribunal, including those that would create the most housing.

"We are focused on creating the conditions for growth and construction to take place and making it less expensive to get housing built. Far too many people are struggling with the rising cost of living and with finding housing that meets their family’s needs," said Rob Flack, the Associate Minister of Housing.

"Discounts and exemptions on development-related fees could help lower the cost of building, purchasing, and renting affordable homes across the province, helping to ensure more Ontarians in all parts of the province can find a truly affordable home."

As of August, the average price of a home in the Greater Toronto Area was $1,082,496, while the average monthly rent sat at $2,898.

Affordable Housing