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Ontario responds to Council housing affordability recommendation

Nov 17, 2016 6:36 PM

The Government of Ontario took steps consistent with a Consumers Council of Canada recommendation that it should review property tax levels applied to purpose-built apartment buildings as one way to addressing housing affordability, just as the November 22, 2016, National Housing Day approached.

The measure was announced in province's Fall 2016 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, which included a range of other consumer interest actions promoted by the Council, including movement on social housing, electricity price relief, reforming the Payday Loans Act, restricting certain door-to-door sales, and regulating home inspection, 

The federal government plans to mark National Housing Day by releasing the results of its consultation towards development of a national housing strategy. The Council has now publicly released Towards a National Housing Strategy, it’s representation to that consultation. Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development (with responsibility for the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, is planning a Facebook Live Video on November 22, 11 a.m. EST, to tell what the federal government learned from the consultation.

The Ontario government reported it is “taking action by freezing the property tax on apartment buildings while reviewing how the high property tax burden on these buildings affects rental market affordability. The average municipal property tax burden on apartment buildings is more than double that for other residential properties such as condominiums.”

The Council’s Consumer Perspective Panel Report Residential Intensification: The Impact on Consumers, 2016, recommended examining property tax levels for apartment buildings.

The Council notes the government’s steps to remove tax relief previously given to some foreign investors and shift it to local home buyers competing to buy homes in southern Ontario’s heated real estate market. The move could nudge some foreign investors to focus on multi-residential housing organized as much-needed rental apartment buildings. It is yet to be seen whether this step will be effective in helping to develop new housing choices in the province.




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