Ontario says housing bill will increase stock, end unfair speculating

Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark announces the introduction of the More Homes for Everyone Act at Queens Park, Toronto, March 30, 2022. Image courtesy Ontario Parliament.

The Ford government says Ontario home seekers will have an easier time finding a home, under a bill introduced at Queens Park Wednesday afternoon.

Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark, along with Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy and Government and Consumer Services Minister Ross Romano, announced the introduction of the More Homes for Everyone Act.

If passed, the government says the bill will help protect homebuyers from unfair lending practices, crack down on speculators who buy up properties and rent them out at unreasonably high rates, and fast-track the process of developing new properties.

“Through consultations with the public, we heard that speculative behaviour in the market and long, drawn-out approval processes are making it too difficult for Ontarians to realize the dream of homeownership,” said Clark. “Our government’s plan proposes smart, targeted measures to protect consumers, and make the process work better and faster, help more Ontarians find the home that’s right for them and their families.”

Among the highlights of the Act are an increase in the non-resident speculation tax rate to 20 percent, and a plan to work with municipalities on guidelines to control land speculation. The bill would also double fines and toughen licence suspensions for lenders and builders who engage in predatory practices, and create a tool to fast-track housing plans for municipalities.

The Ontario Home Builders Association (OHBA) applauds the legislation.

“This plan charts a path forward which will help create the right environment to accelerate the delivery of new housing for Ontarians at all stages of life,” said OHBA President Bob Schickedanz.

The bill, though, does not include many of the recommendations that were created by Ontario’s affordable housing task force last month. A report by the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) pointed out that the task force did not include any representation from municipalities.

“AMO encourages the provincial government to find ways to address the housing crisis in Ontario in a way that requires all three orders of government and private, non-profit, and co-operative housing sectors to work collectively to improve affordability, diversify the housing mix, and increase supply,” read the AMO report.

Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath of the NDP criticized the bill for not including many of the task force recommendations.

“Doug Ford’s bill does nothing to make homes more affordable,” said Horwath. “It doesn’t build starter homes or ‘missing middle’ homes like duplexes and townhomes. The bill does nothing to take on speculation. It doesn’t help renters or buyers.”

Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said Wednesday that the bill does not do enough, and people are still not going to be able to afford a home.

“This is Doug Ford’s fourth Conservative housing plan since he was elected with a promise to fix the housing mess. He’s only made the problem worse,” said Del Duca, adding that the plan does little to address affordable housing, provide help for first-time buyers, or introduce some form of rent control.