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How Each Provincial Party Plans to Address the Ontario Housing Crisis

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As the provincial election nears — now just less than a week away — a lack of affordable housing is still top of mind for many Ontarians. As such, all of the major political parties have made housing a key point of their platforms, presenting various plans to address the Ontario housing crisis.

A recent report from the Ontario Real Estate Association found that “73% of Ontarians agree that making housing more affordable should be a priority for the Ontario government, with 84% saying that a party’s ideas on solving the housing affordability crisis could be an important factor when deciding who to vote for on June 2.”

READ: As the Parties Bicker, Ontario Has Already Lost the Housing Battle

Although some plans seem to be unanimous across parties, such as the need to build 1.5M new homes and converting underutilized properties into homes, each party has brought their own perspectives on how to best ensure that housing remains affordable for Ontario residents. From re-introducing rent control to penalizing municipalities for processing development applications slowly, here is what the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, and Green Party are promising when it comes to housing.

Liberals

  • Province-wide rent control: The Liberals have vowed to repeal the current policy introduced by Premiere Doug Ford in 2018 that exempts all rental units first occupied after November 15, 2018 from rent controls.
  • Build 1.5M new homes over the next decade: This would include “truly affordable homes like new social and supportive housing for people who need it,” accomplished in part by redeveloping underutilized strip malls, land held for speculation, and available government properties.
  • Create an Ontario Home Building Corporation: It would finance and build new homes to be sold to first-time homebuyers. Any proceeds would go back into creating more homes.
  • Cut the red tape: Introduce zoning reforms the would allow homes up to three-units and two-storeys to be built as-of-right.
  • Unlock more provincial land: Accomplished by burying electric transmission lines.
  • Introduce a vacant home tax for urban areas: A 2% tax for vacant homes that will be increased on homes owned by non-Canadians.
  • Ban new non-resident owners
  • Introduce “use it or lose it” levies: This would place taxes on developers sitting on serviced land who have approved building permits. Funds generated from this would be used to get more affordable housing built.
  • Regulate home inspectors: And make home inspections a legal right.
  • Ensure buyers are refunded sooner for canceled housing projects: With significantly higher interest rates on lost deposits.

Conservatives

  • Incentivize municipalities to make timelier development and rezoning applications: Through changes to the Planning Act and City of Toronto Act, municipalities would have to refund increasing portions of application fees if decisions are not made within a set number of days.
  • Changes to the Ontario Building Code to get homes built faster: Including allowing 12-storey mass timber buildings, streamlining multi-unit building approvals, and possibly allowing low-rise, multi-unit housing with a single means of egress.
  • Get homes occupied faster: By exploring the possibility of allowing earlier partial occupancy for the lower floors of super-tall skyscrapers while they are still under construction
  • Build 1.5M new homes over the next decade: Accomplished by increasing density in urban and rural areas
  • Reducing the Ontario Land Tribunal and Landlord Tenant Board backlogs: A $19M investment would be used to increase staffing and technology resources.
  • Increased data sharing: Sharing projected population data with municipalities so they can better meet community needs, with a focus on upcycling underutilized government-owned lands.
  • Expanding the Non-Resident Speculation Tax: Upping the tax to 20% and applying it province-wide.
  • Increase fines on unethical behaviour from developers and builders

READ: “We’ve Got a Lot of Work Ahead of Us”: Housing Minister Steve Clark on Ontario’s Supply Challenges

NDP

  • Introduce “real rent control”: Ensuring rent control for all units in Ontario, as well as a guarantee you will pay what the previous tenant paid.
  • End loopholes in Ontario’s rent control: Putting an end to vacancy decontrol, which allows landlords to raise rents beyond annual guidelines when the unit becomes vacant between tenants.
  • Create a new rental assistance program: Expected to help 311,000 households, it would offer assistance to tenants who can’t afford to pay rent on top of their other necessities.
  • Introduce a province-wide speculation and vacancy tax: A 2% tax applied to foreign and domestic speculators who don’t pay taxes in Ontario and own houses they don’t live in.
  • Create a shared equity loan program: To help finance down payments for first-time homebuyers with an income less than $200,000. Repayments on the loan wouldn’t be due until the homeowner sells or moves out.
  • Put an end to exclusionary zoning: Updating zoning rules to enable construction of more affordable missing middle housing such as duplexes, triplexes, and townhomes.
  • Build 1.5M homes over the next 10 years: Including starter homes, purpose-built rentals, affordable homes, and homes with supports.
  • Establish Housing Ontario: The program will finance and built at least 250,000 affordable and non-market rental homes over the next 10 years, operated by public, non-profit, and co-op housing providers.
  • End the backlog of cases at the Landlord and Tenant Board: And restore the right to an in-person hearing before the board.
  • Shifting property taxes onto the very rich: Working with municipalities to shift more of the tax burden onto properties worth more than $2M.

Green Party

  • Build 1.5M homes over the next 10 years: Including 100,000 new affordable rental homes.
  • Create more missing middle housing: By updating the Planning Act and Provincial Policy Statement to allow a minimum of triplex and fourplex construction as-of-right in all residentially zoned areas.
  • End chronic homelessness: By Building 60,000 supportive housing units.
  • Bring back rent control: By regulating rental increases year-to-year and introducing a “clear system” for what kinds of renovations can justify a rent increase.
  • Update the Residential Tenancies Act: Specifically sections focusing on the state of repair to ensure tenants have homes that are safe.
  • Offer housing supports to 311,000 Ontario households: Through a portable housing benefit that will also benefit renters.
  • End the Landlord and Tenant Board case backlog: By increasing funding to hire additional adjudicators.
  • Create a province-wide “Yes in My Backyard” initiative: Working with municipalities to address NIMBYism and change public attitudes against infill missing middle, mid-rise, and community housing developments.
  • Embrace transit-oriented development: Require minimum densities along transit corridors.
  • Discourage sprawl and protect farmlands: By freezing urban growth boundaries and expanding as-of-right zoning within urban boundaries.

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