Jessica Bell MPP, University–Rosedale

Government of Ontario

Will the budget fix our housing woes?

Published on March 28, 2024

Will Premier Ford’s budget fix the housing crisis?  No.

Ontario's budget for 2024-2025 was released on Tuesday.  The Conservative government is not looking at doing anything meaningful to lower the cost of buying and renting a home.

Here’s what the budget reveals.

  • The budget admits that it has never been more expensive to own a home.  

The average home in Ontario comes with an astonishing monthly mortgage cost of $4,600 a month, assuming 20 percent down with a 25-year amortization.  Young families and newcomers have been completely priced out of home ownership. The government predicts home prices will continue to rise.  

  • Housing starts are going down.

The Conservatives are falling behind on meeting their own goal of building 1.5 million homes by 2031 to address the housing supply shortage.

In a move that was widely criticized, the government lumped long term care home beds into their overall housing count to pump up the numbers to 109,011 in 2023, but even then, they still fall short of their target.

To spur more construction, the government is removing HST on purpose-built rentals and permitting municipalities to lower property tax rates on purpose-built rentals. The government, however, is failing to take on zoning reform to make it faster and easier to build more housing and apartments in towns and cities.   

  • Affordable housing commitments are abysmally low.  

The Conservatives have built just 8% of the affordable homes they said they’d build back in 2018. They’ve built just 1187 homes in six years.   

The government’s progress is so poor the Federal government is threatening to withhold $357M in affordable housing funding unless they resubmit a far better affordable housing action plan by Friday March 29.    

The private sector will not solve housing affordability.  That’s why we want to establish a public agency called Homes Ontario, which will provide low-cost loans, financing, and access to public land to spur the construction of thousands of affordable and non-market homes. Canada used to be in the business of building homes, and it’s time to do that again.

  • There’s more funding in the budget for municipalities to build infrastructure.

These commitments, however, do not fully cover the $1B in funding a year lost because the Conservatives curbed municipalities’ ability to collect fees from developers, but they come close. The Conservatives have a history of holding back funding, so we’ll have to watch them closely to make sure they spend it.   

  • A vacant home tax could be coming to a town near you. 

Toronto, Ottawa, and Hamilton already have a vacant home tax, and this move would permit more municipalities to join in.

Ontarians want us to be bolder than this. I have introduced motions calling on Ontario to introduce a province wide vacant home and speculation tax on people who leave their homes vacant or pay the majority of their taxes outside of the province.  BC’s version of these laws raised $81M in revenue for affordable housing in 2022 alone.   

I want an Ontario where encampments are a thing of the past because people live in permanent housing. Where a young person can move to a big city, find an affordable rental, and pursue a career. Where families can buy a home and raise their children in good neighbourhoods close to where they work and play.

To ensure everyone has a home they can afford to rent or buy, we need decisive action, from strong rent control to zoning reform to building thousands of affordable and non-market homes on public land.  You’re not seeing it from this government. You’ll see it from ours.