Ontario’s Green Party has released its platform in advance of the province’s June 2 election.
Not surprisingly, given the province's dramatic real estate market, housing affordability is front and centre.
Most notably, the Green Party promises to implement a new tax on domestic buyers who own multiple properties. The party said it would introduce the Non-Resident-Speculation-Tax (NRST), an equivalent to the foreign buyers’ tax that will apply to domestic homebuyers. The tax will only apply to new purchases of homes for domestic individual or corporate buyers who already own two or more homes or condominium units. It would start at 20% for the third home purchased and would increase with each additional property.
New figures from Statistics Canada reveal that multiple-property owners account for 31% of Ontario's housing stock.
“Ontario Greens understand how hard it is for families to afford a home in the communities they love and we have real solutions to help,” Ontario Greens Leader Mike Schreiner said at an announcement in downtown Toronto as part of his Stop the Sprawl Tour. “Deep-pocketed speculators are buying up properties in unprecedented numbers. This is ramping up the already sky-high price of housing. In fact, nearly a third of Ontario’s housing wealth is held by individuals and corporations who own multiple properties.”
Aerial view of suburb (Stoney Creek) located in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada)
Schreiner didn’t shy away from taking aim at Premier Doug Ford.
“It’s time to level the playing field and pull back the red carpet that Doug Ford rolled out for wealthy speculators so first-time home buyers can have a chance,” said Schreiner. For example, almost 30% of homes purchased in Toronto in the first eight months of 2021 were by people who already owned at least one other property -- more than first-time homebuyers or people moving from one home into another.
“Young professionals and young families are getting priced out of the market as Ford lets speculation run out of control,” Schreiner said. “It’s forcing people to move further and further away from the communities they work in, leading to longer and more expensive commutes and more climate-polluting urban sprawl.”
This tax is part of a suite of measures proposed by the Ontario Greens to reduce speculative demand in the housing market which also includes a vacant homes tax.
“A whole generation of young people are giving up hope of ever owning a home,” Schreiner said. “Ontario Greens have solutions to address this crisis and we will provide the leadership needed to take on wealthy speculators.” In February, the average price of a home in Ontario increased 26% year over year to over $1M, though prices have cooled in the months since.
The Green Party also said it would build 60,000 permanent supportive homes with wrap-around mental health, addiction, and other services over the next ten years. Furthermore, it promises to create 100,000 social housing units and reintroduce rent control for apartments.