Housing prices have soared across Ontario. Today the Ford government unveils its plans to fix things

Premier Doug Ford’s government will unveil the first phase of its plan on Wednesday to deal with the skyrocketing cost of buying a home in Ontario, CBC News has learned.

The government will introduce legislation that targets delays in planning approvals, which are slowing home construction and driving up prices, said a senior provincial official with knowledge of the legislation.

The bill “lays the groundwork” for what the official described as the government’s long-term strategy to address the root causes of Ontario’s housing problem.

While high housing prices are nothing new to the Greater Toronto Area, the cost of buying a home just about anywhere in Ontario is also skyrocketing.

In 2021, the average home sale price in the province was 44 per cent higher than two years earlier, according to The figures of the Canadian Real Estate Association.

The bill is due to be tabled on Wednesday by Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark.

A senior government official said new legislation coming Wednesday would target delays in planning approvals that are slowing home construction and driving up prices. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

“The bill is really about making the planning process more efficient, smoother and faster,” the official said. The legislation also includes measures that make it easier to build affordable housing and preserve Ontario’s existing affordable housing stock, the official added.

The measures come after a provincially appointed task force on housing affordability urged the government to set a target of 1.5 million new homes to be built over the next decade. This target is double the current rate of new construction.

To get more homes built faster, the task force recommended that the province impose sweeping changes on cities. Proposals include increasing density in single-family neighborhoods, reducing the time spent on public consultations on housing projects and imposing deadlines for housing approvals.

Ford blamed high property prices in part on city councils moving too slowly to approve property developments. At a January summit with the mayors of Ontario’s 30 largest cities, he announced a $45 million fund to streamline approvals.

The task force’s report was not well received by many mayors and councils, especially in suburban GTA towns.

This could influence the Ford government’s willingness to move forward with the recommendations, as seats in the 905 region are expected to be key battlegrounds in the upcoming provincial election and could ultimately influence the outcome.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Ford government announced that it was increasing Ontario’s speculation tax on non-resident homebuyers to 20% and expanding the tax’s coverage across the province. Since its inception in 2017, the foreign buyers tax was 15% and applied only in the densely populated Greater Golden Horseshoe region. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The official said the bill reflects a balance between the task force’s recommendations and feedback the government has received from municipalities and the public.

Municipal councils “have been candid about the need to be involved in policy design and development in the task force report”, the official said, adding that the government recognizes that it needs to work with municipalities to shake things up.

It is far from certain that the measures coming from the government on Wednesday will have a short-term impact on the purchase price of a house in Ontario.

The task force’s recommendations focused almost entirely on increasing the supply of housing over the next few years.

Some real estate analysts and opposition parties are calling on the government to address the demand factors driving up prices. Recent sales figures show that 25% of home purchases in Ontario are made by investors who own more than one property.

In 2021, the average sale price of homes in Ontario was 44 per cent higher than two years earlier, according to statistics from the Canadian Real Estate Association. (Patrick Morell/CBC)

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Ford government announced it was increasing Ontario’s foreign buyers’ tax on residential real estate to 20% and expanding its coverage to apply nationwide. of the province.

Ontario’s “non-resident speculation tax” was introduced in 2017 by the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne at a time when house prices were rising sharply. This had a significant impact, pushing prices down in 2018.

The tax rate was 15% on home purchases by non-resident buyers in the GTA and a swath of southern Ontario stretching from Peterborough to Barrie, Waterloo and the Niagara Peninsula.

The new 20% rate and its province-wide application take effect immediately.

The opposition New Democrat and Green parties are proposing additional speculation taxes as well as a vacancy tax to try to curb demand from investors who don’t live in the homes they buy.

“This government has had four years and they finally found out there was a housing crisis,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said at a housing press conference last week in Stratford.

Horwath dismissed the task force’s recommendations as “about one side of the coin” for their focus on market housing supply.