Ontario’s Green Party is promising to tackle housing affordability by implementing a 20 per cent tax on domestic buyers who own multiple properties as part of the provincial election platform it’s rolling out Wednesday morning.
“There are so many young people in this province who are wondering if they’ll ever be able to even afford to own a home someday,” said Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner.
“Meanwhile, we’re seeing an escalation in the number of individuals, and especially corporations that are buying up multiple single family homes.”
The cost of housing in the province is one of the most pressing the Ontario government is facing. The average home price has skyrocketed 44 per cent in two years. In the Greater Toronto Area, the average home price has shot up nearly 28 per cent year-over-year, reaching $1.3 million in February.
To make housing more affordable, the Greens are promising to implement an equivalent to the foreign buyers’ tax, or the Non-Resident-Speculation Tax, if they’re elected June 2 — except it will apply to domestic buyers.
Individual or corporate buyers who own two or more homes or condo units will have to play 20 per cent for the third home purchased. That will increase with each additional property.
“We have to create a disincentive in the marketplace for people who are engaging in speculation so we can put first-time home buyers on a level playing field,” said Schreiner.
According to recent figures from Statistics Canada, people who own multiple properties accounted for 31 per cent of Ontario’s housing stock in 2019 and 2020, which contributed to “increased competition in already tight real estate markets, making it more difficult for prospective homeowners to purchase a home.”
The most vulnerable
Nemoy Lewis, an assistant professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Toronto Metropolitan University, said the plan will help some people, but not everyone.
“[This plan is] helpful. But it’s only focused on young professionals and young families,” said Lewis.
“How are they going to address the most vulnerable segments of our population that need the assistance now?”
The Greens also announced another part of their housing strategy to build 60,000 permanent supportive homes with mental health and addictions services over the next 10 years if elected.
They promised to fund 50 per cent of shelter and community housing costs while municipalities continue to maintain management control.
Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government unveiled the first phase of its plan in late March to tackle the soaring cost of housing, which focuses on speeding up municipal approvals of projects and boosted the foreign homebuyers tax to 20 per cent.
On Monday, the NDP released its platform Monday, which includes a plan to build 100,000 social housing units and 60,000 supportive housing units. It also committed to introducing a speculation and vacancy tax as part of a broader plan to make housing more affordable in the province, as well as a promise to reintroduce rent control for apartments.
The Ontario Liberal Party said it believes in increasing housing supply and protecting renters but has not yet released a plan.
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