The Ontario NDP unveiled its full election platform on Monday at an event in Toronto's Distillery District, reiterating several housing-related promises previously made by the party.
The platform's housing section largely restated policies put forward in the provincial party's Homes You Can Afford plan, released back in November 2020. Big ticket items included the re-introduction of "real rent control," the creation of a new rental assistance program, a province-wide speculation and vacancy tax, and a shared equity loan program to help finance down payments for first-time homebuyers.
"We're going to tackle the cost of living," Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath told the crowd. "Make sure you don't have to shell out for necessities like prescription drugs and dental care. Go after speculators that are driving up housing costs for everyone else. We're going to build more affordable homes and help folks with their down payments so they can buy their first home. We're going to control skyrocketing rents and protect tenants, and we're going to make sure that people have good jobs that pay the bills."
Horwath vowed to end loopholes in Ontario's rent control regulations, including scrapping vacancy decontrol, meaning landlords could no longer raise rents beyond annual guidelines when the unit becomes vacant between tenants. This, the NDP says, will eliminate financial incentives for landlords to squeeze out tenants and ensure renters are paying what the previous tenant paid.
For those struggling to pay their rent, the NDP proposed the establishment of a portable housing benefit to assist tenants who can't afford to pay rent on top of all of their other necessities. This benefit is expected to help 311,000 households across the province.
The NDP platform also calls for an end to exclusionary zoning in Ontario as a means to increase the supply of affordable housing. According to the NDP, this will be done by "updating zoning rules to enable the construction of more affordable 'missing middle' housing, like duplexes, triplexes and townhomes." The party has also committed to building 69,000 new affordable homes over the next decade, as well as 30,000 new homes with supports.
"We've seen the health homelessness crisis spiral out of control, and we know that market housing simply doesn't meet the needs of the most vulnerable folks in our communities," Horwath said. "People need to stay housed. Folks with mental health challenges, who are struggling with substance use issues, providing supports for them to be able to stay housed is the way that we're going to be able to ensure that they don't end up back on the streets like a revolving door situation. That's the humane thing to do."
To combat the rising unaffordability of homes, the NDP plans to create a shared equity loan program that would provide first-time buyers who have a household income of less than $200,000 with a loan of up to 10% of a home's value. Repayments on the loan wouldn't be due until the homeowner sells or moves out, and the homeowner would have the option to buy back the government's share at any point.
Although $200,000 may seem like a high cut-off, Horwath says that even households with that income are having trouble purchasing a home in the current Ontario market.
"I would say a lot of folks around that household income, or rather, around that personal income level, consider themselves middle class," Horwath said. "Folks around $200,000 are struggling to buy a home these days. Let's face it, you could be earning $150-$200,000 a year and still not be able to keep up with your bills and put aside the money you want to to buy your own home."
The Ontario NDP platform also included a wide array of other campaign promises, including accelerated universal pharmacare, hiring 30,000 nurses, and an income tax freeze for low- and middle-income households. An expanded sick days policy, a $20 minimum wage by 2026, and electoral reform with a "mixed member proportional voting system" are also on the table.
None of Ontario's other parties have said as of yet when they will release their full campaign platforms.