The provincial election campaign officially kicked off May 4, though the parties having been making promises for weeks now. Here are the main tenets of each party’s platform that relate to making housing more affordable for Ontarians.
To address housing supply, the Conservatives would build 1.5 million new homes over the next decade and work with municipalities on developing a data standard for planning and development applications to help reduce approval timelines.
The party would also explore vacant home taxes. This would be on top of the increase to the Non‐Resident Speculation Tax (NRST) rate, to 20% from 15%, that the Conservatives introduced on March 30. The tax applies to homes purchased anywhere in Ontario by foreign nationals, foreign corporations or taxable trustees. The party also expanded the tax beyond the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region to apply province-wide and closed loopholes to fight tax avoidance.
Just like the Conservative party, the Liberals promise to build 1.5 million new homes over the next 10 years to meet the demand for homeownership. In order to fulfill this promise, the party says it will unlock more provincial land by burying electric transmissions lines and redeveloping underutilized strip malls and offices.
To further combat the shortage of housing supply, the Liberals would also introduce new taxes on vacant homes in urban areas and developers sitting on land.
The Liberals would reinstate rent control across the province, putting an end to the two-tiered rental market and providing much-needed stability to renters. In fall 2018, the reigning Conservative government scrapped rent control for new rental units created and occupied after Nov. 15 after that year.
The NDP would establish a new public agency to build 250,000 homes that are operated by public, non-profit and cooperative agencies. This is in addition to updating zoning rules to enable the construction of more ‘missing middle’ housing like duplexes, triplexes and townhomes.
The party also promises to introduce an annual vacancy tax on residential property that would apply to all speculators who own houses they don’t live in. Modelled off British Columbia’s tax, the rate would be 2% of the assessed value and phased in over two years. The NDP would maintain the NRST at 20%.
Like the Liberals, the NDP would bring back rent control, eliminating the financial incentive for landlords to squeeze out tenants to raise the rent. It would also ensure that new tenants pay what the last tenant paid by scrapping vacancy decontrol.
The Green party promises to build 100,000 new rental homes over the next decade. To raise money for affordable housing, it would work with municipalities to implement a province-wide vacant homes tax, introduce an anti-flipping tax to reduce quick turnaround sales by speculators and increase the land transfer tax on all single-family homes valued over $3 million across the province.
Similar to the Liberals and NDP, the Greens would reinstate rent controls on all units to regulate rental increases year-to-year and protect tenants from being priced out of their homes. They would also strengthen rules and penalties for ‘renovictions’ — evictions used under the guise of renovations but really for the purpose of massive rent increases — and bad faith evictions to keep apartments affordable.