Jessica Bell MPP, University–Rosedale

Government of Ontario

Here’s my take on the Conservatives new affordable housing bill, and why I think it falls short on addressing housing affordability

Published on December 4, 2023

This November, the Conservatives proposed a new definition of affordable housing that developers must meet to qualify for a developer fee exemption for that home. We just completed amendments today, and the bill will be heading for a final vote next week.

The government says this change will incentivize developers to build more affordable housing and help address our province’s housing crisis. Is it going to work? I doubt it. 

In hearings last week, the Ontario Home Builders Association told MPPs that developers won’t be rushing to build these affordable homes because they won’t make enough profit, especially with rising interest rates and construction costs. The math simply doesn’t work, even with the hefty development fee exemption.  

At the very same hearings, municipal leaders, including Marianne Meed Ward the Chair of the Big City Mayors Caucus and Sean Meagher from Ontario for All told MPPs the rent for these affordable homes will be priced too high to benefit most people. The Conservatives have pegged the affordable rental price at 100% of average market rent, or what a renter household at the 60% percentile in that area can afford. In plain speak, these homes will be affordable for households earning about $68,000 a year, give or take. These homes are not for low- and moderate-income households, and they’re certainly not for the thousands of people who have languishing on a waitlist for social housing.

We are calling for inclusionary zoning to be implemented so developers are mandated to pay their fair share, and get a density bonus by doing so, as well as government investment in building affordable housing on public land.