Ontario Premier Doug Ford kicked off a new legislative session today, re-introducing his government’s provincial budget, now titled Construction Plan (Budget Measures) Act, 2022 — in the Speech from the Throne.
It is widely expected that the re-tabled budget – the largest in the province’s history – will be virtually the same as when it was announced on April 28, with a strong focus on transportation infrastructure and health care, and little new developments in the housing file. This budget was introduced, but not passed into legislation, before the spring provincial elections, essentially replacing the PC’s electoral platform.
“I am happy to reintroduce the Building Plan (Budget Measures) Act, 2022 bill today so that our government can continue to Ontario building plan, supporting better jobs for workers while building more highways, housing and hospitals across the province,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance. “As costs rise, our plan also includes measures to help families, including new direct payments to parents to help their children catch up and increased Ontario Disability Support Program payments.
READ: Reaction to Ontario’s budget range, from frustration to housing relief
A debate and vote on this latest version of the provincial budget will begin after Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell reads the Speech from the Throne at Queen’s Park. Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, is also set to introduce new legislation tomorrow, “to provide municipalities with additional tools to build more homes faster.”
While much of his speech focused on the urgent need to address staffing shortages in the pandemic-ravaged province’s health care system, as well as infrastructure and transportation development in the Ring of Fire, Ontario’s failure to produce adequate housing supply to keep pace with population growth was a key point.
“Now, like much of Canada, Ontario faces a housing crisis that is keeping young families from dreaming of home ownership,” reads Dowdeswell. “With more housing starts in 2021 than in over 30 years, your government’s policies are aimed at getting more homes built faster, with the ultimate goal of building 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years. years. Although this is good news, there is still a lot to do. As the province continues to grow and Ontario welcomes more and more newcomers seeking economic opportunity, the crisis will only get worse. That is, without bold action.
She added that the province will continue to work with municipalities to “break through the impasses” that currently hinder the creation of housing, including a strong mayoral system in Toronto and Ottawa.
“Strong mayoral systems will help municipal leaders work more effectively with the province, with faster development times, standardized processes, and overcome local barriers to increasing housing supply,” she reads. .
“For urban populations, these new powers will be particularly relevant as the province works with its municipal partners to expand the footprint of transit-oriented communities, so more people can live, work and play near the city. public transport.
The government is also considering partnering with municipalities to take advantage of surplus provincial land and add new incentives for home construction that “reduce costs for potential buyers and put homeownership within reach.” more families.
Dowdeswell also pointed to the skyrocketing inflation rate, which hit a 40-year high in its last reading, prompting an interest rate hike from the Bank of Canada. She said while there is no consensus on when it will drop to “normal” levels, the hit to household finances cannot be overlooked.
“People are now paying more for everyday goods like groceries and gas, which puts increased pressure on household budgets, especially for low-income families,” she read. .
“Companies of all sizes are struggling to find the skilled women and men they need to grow, or the parts they need to take more orders. Amid this scarcity, the rising cost of labor and supplies can in turn increase the cost of goods sold to consumers.
The government also released the First quarter 2022-23 financials today, which provides up-to-date information on how Ontario’s economic and fiscal outlook has evolved since Budget 2022 for the 2022-23 financial year. Due to higher-than-expected tax revenue, the government forecasts a deficit of $18.8 billion in 2022-2023, an improvement of $1.1 billion compared to the outlook presented in the Budget 2022.
“We have a prudent and flexible plan that builds on our track record of responsible fiscal management, while making the investments that will reduce travel times, support frontline health care and help create good jobs,” said said Minister Bethlenfalvy. “During this time of economic uncertainty, our government is supporting Ontario workers and families by putting more money back in their pockets.
According to Bethlengalvy, employment in the province reached 192,400 jobs in July, 2.6% above the pre-pandemic level of February 2020. In addition, Ontario’s GDP increased by 1.1% in first quarter of the year, outperforming the fourth quarter of 2019 by 1.3%. Gains in household spending, business investment and exports boosted growth.
A look at the previous budget
The $198.6 billion budget, in its April version, did not include any new housing initiatives, instead reiterating a number of measures – such as the province’s mandate to build 1.5 million dollars over the next decade – which were introduced in the early spring.
These included spending $19.2 million to address the backlog of the Landlord and Tenant Board and Ontario Lands Tribunal, as well as $3 billion (previously allocated between 2020 and 2022) in support of community housing and the homeless, such as the $1.2 billion social program. Services Relief Fund.
The previously incumbent Ford government also implemented an expanded 20% non-resident speculation tax for foreign property buyers for the entire province, and rescinded rebates specific to international students and foreign nationals. working in Ontario. They also declared their commitment to creating a plan to implement the recommendations set out in the report compiled by the Housing Affordability Task Force (HATF).
The More Homes for Everyone Act received Royal Assent on April 18, which proposed a number of changes to existing housing legislation, including the Planning Act and the City of Toronto Act, such as the imposition of new deadlines for municipalities to approve development and zoning.
The Act also announced new changes to the Ontario Building Code, allowing massive 12-storey wood-frame construction and streamlining multi-unit building approvals.