ontario housing news

People are seriously hating Doug Ford's new plan to make homes 'affordable' in Ontario

The Ford government's newly-unveiled plan to tackle skyrocketing Ontario home prices leaves much to be desired, according to critics, many who argue that it's going to take a lot more than "cutting red tape" to fix what has become an urgent affordability crisis.

Premier Doug Ford and co. introduced a set of proposed regulatory changes today that they say would, if passed, "support a plan 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."

Called the "More Homes for Everyone Act," the legislation is said to have been based at least in part on feedback from the province's own Housing Affordability Task Force, which in February made 55 different recommendations aimed at bolstering housing supply and stopping the runaway rise of home prices provincewide.

"The report is what you would expect if you brought together a group of bankers, developers and home builders and asked them to solve the housing crisis," wrote Brian Doucet, Canada Research Chair in Urban Change and Social Inclusion, of the task force report when it was released.

"The emphasis is on how to increase the supply of market-rate housing, while largely ignoring other issues central to making housing more affordable."

The act tabled today seems to follow suit, putting a great deal of onus on municipal governments to lighten up on rules that slow down the construction of homes.

And yet, the Ford government's newly-unveiled act also flat out ignores some suggestions, like those about mandating increased density in cagey "yellow belt" areas.

That's not to say more laws won't be proposed in the future; the province says that this first phase outlines only "the next suite of concrete actions the province is taking to address Ontario's housing crisis," noting that the task force recommendations were meant to deliver both near-term and long-term solutions.

As written, the legislation proposed today would include boosting the tax rate for foreign buyers up to 20 per cent provincewide, working with individual municipalities to "enhance measures that will crack down on land speculation," strengthening consumer protections for home buyers and supporting municipalities in speeding up approvals for new builds.

Ford's political opponents were quick to fire back with criticisms of the plan, which comes to light only a few months ahead of June 2022's provincial election.

NDP and Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath argues that "Doug Ford's bill does nothing to make homes more affordable," going as far as to say it "doesn't even do the bare minimum its own task force recommended."

"Young people are unable to move out because they can't afford to rent a home, let alone buy one. People are moving away from the community they know and love because they can't afford it," said Horwath in a statement on Wednesday.

"We are in a housing crisis, and it's clear that Doug Ford is more interested in his buddies cashing in than in helping families find a home they can afford."

Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca released a statement of his own, arguing that Ford's plan will only continue to drive housing prices skyward.

"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 on Wednesday.

"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."

The Liberals criticize the PC government's plan for failing to address rent control, zoning reform, taxes on developers, help for first-time home buyers and real investments in affordable housing.

It's not only politicos weighing in on the matter, however. Industry experts and everyday Ontarians who've been unable to crack into the market and are thus forced to continue renting have a lot to say about Ford's new plan.

"No idea why government thinks increasing non-resident speculation tax to 20% is going to help housing issues? I've never dealt with a single client that paid it," tweeted Toronto mortgage broker Lee Welbanks. "I'd like to know exactly how many foreign buyers bought homes in Ontario this year-any stats?"

The province's Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing stated on Wednesday that the new plan will help make more Ontarians realize the dream of home ownership by eradicating speculative behavior in the market and hastening long, drawn-out approval processes.

"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," said Min. Steve Clark.

"However, there is no silver bullet to addressing the housing crisis. It requires a long-term strategy with long-term commitment and coordination at all levels of government. We are committed to introducing an update to Ontario's Housing Supply Action Plan every year over four years in partnership with municipalities and sector associations and deliver long-term solutions for all Ontarians."

Lead photo by

Premier of Ontario Photography

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