TORONTO – NDP Housing critic Jessica Bell (University–Rosedale) introduced a motion this week to create a Greater Golden Horseshoe Region-wide speculation and vacant home affordability tax as part of the NDP's platform to improve housing affordability.
"Skyrocketing housing prices have made the dream of home ownership out of reach for many Ontarians, particularly young people and newcomers," Bell said.
The motion would set a speculation tax at two per cent of a home's property value on owners who pay most of their taxes outside Ontario, and a vacant home tax set at two per cent of a home's property for investor-owned properties left unoccupied six months of the year or more. Revenue from these taxes would go towards building affordable housing in the region, including deeply affordable housing.
"Doug Ford has helped speculators and large developers rake in record profits while renters and first-time home buyers have been left behind," Bell said. Ontarians earning Ontario incomes and paying local taxes can't compete with wealthy outsiders who do not pay local taxes when they bid on a home."
Bell discussed the motion at a virtual press conference joined by Toronto resident Jaco Joubert, whose independent research into condo vacancy in downtown Toronto shows an average vacancy rate of 5.6 per cent, with some buildings exceeding 13 per cent.
"I'm tired of having my friends leave Toronto and Ontario because they can no longer afford to live in the place they were born," Joubert said. "Speculation has become the driving force of Canadian real estate. It's my hope that this motion be the first of many to help improve affordable housing in Ontario."
The speculation and vacant home tax are expected to raise at least $88 million annually, to be directed to affordable housing programs. Bell stressed that a speculation tax on investors and developers would make it easier for people who actually live and work in Ontario to find a home they can afford, while a vacancy tax would motivate investors to rent out or sell their property, increasing housing supply and ensuring more Ontarians can find an affordable home.
Exemptions from the taxes would include natural disaster, separation and death and public interest entities like charities and daycares.
The motion is part of Andrea Horwath and the Ontario NDP's Housing platform to improve housing affordability for regular Ontarians.
Following NDP commitments, Bell's motion would direct tax revenue to building affordable housing