This Month in Provincial Politics -April 2017

The Ontario Government will return to the Legislature next Monday. It will be a busy time of year – budget time. Ontario Budget 2017 is set to be released next Thursday, April 27 with Finance Minister Charles Sousa claiming that the government is still on track to balancing the deficit by 2018. Meanwhile, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has kept true to her promise by introducing new rent control legislation today, that if passed will make housing more affordable and offer protection for homebuyers and renters.

Here are the top five things you need to know:

  1. Ontario Budget 2017 will be released Thursday, April 27 (CHG will provide full coverage)
  2. Province introduced Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan (CHG’s breakdown is below)
  3. Canada’s New Free Trade Agreement announced (Click here for details)
  4. Recent polling has Premier Wynne and the Ontario Liberals in third place behind PCs and NDP
  5. Federal Marijuana Legislation released: Ontario will decide price, distribution and point of sale – many details to come

If you require more information on any of these issues, our team of consultants is available to provide further detail.

Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan

Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan includes a set of 16 comprehensive measures to make housing more affordable while bringing stability to the real estate market and protecting homeowners and renters. The Province will introduce legislation, that if passed will enact all of the following measures:

Speculation Tax

  • 15 per cent Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST) on non-Canadian citizens, non-permanent residents and non-Canadian corporations buying residential properties containing one to six units in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH)

Rent Controls

  • Expanding rent control to all private rental units in Ontario, including those built after 1991. This will ensure increases in rental costs can only rise at the rate posted in the annual provincial rent increase guideline.
  • Strengthening the Residential Tenancies Act to further protect tenants and ensure predictability for landlords.

Increasing Housing Supply

  • Establishing a program to leverage the value of surplus provincial land assets across the province to develop a mix of market housing and new, permanent, sustainable and affordable housing supply.
  • Empowering the City of Toronto, and potentially other interested municipalities, to introduce a vacant homes property tax to encourage property owners to sell unoccupied units or rent them out, to address concerns about residential units potentially being left vacant by speculators.
  • Ensuring that property tax for new multi-residential apartment buildings is charged at a similar rate as other residential properties.
  • Introducing a targeted $125-million, five-year program to further encourage the construction of new rental apartment buildings by rebating a portion of development charges. Working with municipalities, the government would target projects in those communities that are most in need of new purpose-built rental housing.
  • Providing municipalities with the flexibility to use property tax tools to help unlock development opportunities.

Further Real Estate Measures

  • Understanding and tackling practices that may be contributing to tax avoidance and excessive speculation in the housing market such as “paper flipping,”
  • Working with the real estate profession and consumers to review the rules real estate agents are required to follow to ensure that consumers are fairly represented in real estate transactions
  • Establishing a housing advisory group to advise on state of the housing market and discuss the impact of the measures in the Fair Housing Plan
  • Educating consumers on their rights, particularly on the issue of one real estate professional representing more than one party in a real estate transaction.
  • Partnering with CRA to explore more comprehensive reporting requirements so that correct federal and provincial taxes, including income and sales taxes, are paid on purchases and sales
  • Making elevators in Ontario buildings more reliable by establishing timelines for elevator repair in consultation with the sector and the Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA)

Ontario Investments

  • $5.4 million towards 15 innovative health technologies via grants from the new Health Technologies Fund (HTF)
  • 700,000 to help launch Code for Canada, a not-for-profit organization that will develop digital solutions for government services
  • $12 million towards 41 projects from Ontario’s Youth Opportunities Fund
  • $35.5 million towards 114 non-profit organizations to expand and improve their programs and services through the Ontario Trillium Foundation
  • $60 million through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) to improve roads, bridges and water systems across Province
  • $14 million towards 67 Pre-Apprenticeship training programs
  • $15 million through the Ontario Music Fund Program to provide 190 grants
  • $190 million over three years towards Career Kick-Start Strategy by creating 40,000 new work-related learning opportunities

Other Highlights

  • Justice Michael H. Tulloch’s final report on improving transparency and accountability in police oversight released
  • Ontario passed Legislation to increase consumer protection for home inspections, day-to-day sales and payday loans
  • Province expanding access to naloxone, a life-saving drug that can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose as part of the Strategy to Prevent Opioid Addiction and Overdose
  • Ontario launched Global Climate Change Challenge called Solutions 2030

Upcoming Events

CHG has compiled a list of key political events that you might be interested in. To see a list of all the events, click here. If you have an event you’d like to advertise in our next issue, please contact us at toronto@capitalhill.ca.