Critics say the Ford govt’s plan to fix Ontario’s housing crisis is weak

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The Ford government has revealed its plan to fix Ontario’s housing crisis but critics say it won’t change anything.

The province introduced legislation which plans to crack down on speculators who are driving up the cost of housing, protect homebuyers from predatory development practices, and create more housing options for homeowners and renters by accelerating development timelines to get more homes built faster. However Opposition leaders feel ‘The More Homes for Everyone Act’ simply doesn’t go far enough.

What’s in the plan?

  • Increasing the non-resident speculation tax rate to 20 per cent and closing loopholes to fight tax avoidance, effective March 30, 2022. The tax applies to homes purchased anywhere in Ontario by foreign nationals, foreign corporations or taxable trustees.
  • Working with municipalities to identify and enhance measures that will crack down on land speculation.
  • Strengthening consumer protections for purchasers of new homes by doubling fines and extending building license suspensions to address unethical conduct by developers, while ensuring penalties for cancelled projects are aligned with the impact on homebuyers. The government is also proposing to enable Tarion to extend warranties on unfinished items in a new home.
  • Supporting municipalities with resources, tools and standards to provide timely review and adjudication processes by both extending legislated timelines for decisions while focusing the decision-making process.
  • Creating a new tool specifically designed to accelerate planning processes for municipalities by expediting approvals for housing and community infrastructure, like hospitals and community centres. The tool could not be used in the Greenbelt.
  • Investing more than $19 million to help the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) and the Landlord and Tenant Board to reduce their backlogs. This funding will enable the tribunals to appoint new adjudicators and also allow the OLT to expand their digital offerings to further enhance efficiency and provide more e-services.
  • Conducting consultation on the concept of a multi-generational community, which will begin the process of implementing “missing middle” housing policies that will work to implement gentle density and multi-generational homes on the ground across different types of municipalities.
  • Making it easier to build more community housing by making better use of provincially-owned lands for non-profit housing providers.

“Our government is cracking down on bad actors and defending future homeowners from unethical and egregious practices, ensuring developers looking to make a quick buck will think twice before trying to take advantage of hard-working Ontarians,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Government and Consumer Services.

But Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says, “Doug Ford’s bill does nothing to make homes more affordable. 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. It doesn’t even do the bare minimum its own task force recommended.”

The Ford government’s only plan is to build big highways to big houses that no one can afford, according to Horwath.

Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca feels Ford has made the problem worse.

“Under Doug Ford’s four Conservative housing plans, the average Ontario home price has skyrocketed by nearly $500,000, surpassing the $1 million mark for the first time in Ontario’s history. Median rent costs have gone up over 11 per cent in a year after Ford cut rent control,” says Del Duca.

The latest Ford Conservative plan has no help for first-time home buyers, no investments in affordable housing, no rent control, no zoning reform and no taxes on developers sitting on land, he points out.

Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner agrees.

“There’s cracks all over this bill’s foundation” and “the government offered up a poorly built, amateur plan that’s a bare bones construction of what’s needed to address the raging housing affordability crisis”, according to Shreiner .

Like Horwath and Del Duca, he too feels that Ford’s housing plan doesn’t go nearly far enough.

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