Monday 24 August 1992
Ministry of Housing
Hon Evelyn Gigantes, minister
Murray Wilson, executive director, housing field operations
Anne Beaumont, acting deputy minister
Vic Augustine, director, financial services branch and treasurer, Ontario Housing Corp
Suzanne Herbert, assistant deputy minister, housing operations division and chief executive officer, Ontario Housing Corp
Colleen Parrish, director, legal branch
Robert Glass, executive director, rent review programs
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ESTIMATES
*Chair / Président: Jackson, Cameron (Burlington South/-Sud PC)
*Vice-Chair / Vice-Présidente: Marland, Margaret (Mississauga South/-Sud PC)
Bisson, Giles (Cochrane South/-Sud ND)
*Carr, Gary (Oakville South/-Sud PC)
Eddy, Ron (Brant-Haldimand L)
Ferguson, Will, (Kitchener ND)
Frankford, Robert (Scarborough East/-Est ND)
*Lessard, Wayne (Windsor-Walkerville ND)
O'Connor, Larry (Durham-York ND)
Perruzza, Anthony (Downsview ND)
Ramsay, David (Timiskaming L)
Sorbara, Gregory S. (York Centre L)
Substitutions / Membres remplaçants:
*Caplan, Elinor (Oriole L) for Mr Eddy
*Gigantes, Evelyn, (Ottawa Centre ND) for Mr O'Connor
*Harrington, Margaret H. (Niagara Falls ND) for Mr Bisson
*Mahoney, Steven W. (Mississauga West/-Ouest L) for Mr Sorbara
*Marchese, Rosario (Fort York ND) for Mr Ferguson
*Mathyssen, Irene (Middlesex ND) for Mr Perruzza
*Poole, Dianne (Eglinton L) for Mr Ramsay
*Waters, Daniel (Muskoka-Georgian Bay/Muskoka-Baie-Georgienne ND) for Mr O'Connor
*White, Drummond (Durham Centre ND) for Mr Frankford
*In attendance / présents
Clerk pro tem / Greffier par intérim: Arnott, Douglas
The committee met at 1210 in committee room 1.
MINISTRY OF HOUSING
The Chair (Mr Cameron Jackson): In the absence of a gavel, I would formally open and commence the standing committee on estimates. We have been asked by the Legislature to convene five hours of hearings on the estimates of the Ministry of Housing. We welcome the minister, the Honourable Evelyn Gigantes, and her acting deputy, Ms Anne Beaumont.
As per our standing orders, the minister has up to 30 minutes to make her opening presentation, followed by the official opposition and the third party, each with half an hour, and then summary comments of the minister. We will complete our estimates by 5 o'clock today and we will stack all our votes until that time. Seeing no questions, I hand the meeting over to the minister. Welcome, and please proceed.
Hon Evelyn Gigantes (Minister of Housing): Thank you, Mr Chair. I will try to be as brief as possible, because I think this is a time which really should be available for questions from members. But I would like to begin by a very brief environmental scan, as it were, of what's happening in housing in Ontario.
You've been given a package of what we've called slides, for want of a better word. We decided not to set up the equipment and machinery because it's too time-consuming. I'd like to run through these slides to begin and then make a few short comments.
The first two slides, members will see, relate to people: our population growth rate in Ontario and what's been happening with migration. We are looking at a situation where we expect that migration will continue to be a very large portion of population increase in Ontario over the next few years. Currently, it runs at about 47% of the growth in population.
The next three slides talk about households. On slide 3, we see the average number of persons in households in Ontario, which has been going down consistently. On slide 4, you can see that the absolute number of renter and home owner households has increased steadily over the 30-year period. There are now 3.6 million households in Ontario. There has been an increase in the level of household formation following the baby boom, and there is a trend towards smaller households. The rate of household growth currently is about double the rate of growth for the population as a whole. Slide 5 indicates the rate of household growth in a kind of overview nutshell.
Slide 6 gives you an indication of the amount of space there is physically within the homes of Ontario households. Obviously people are using more space per person than in the past.
On slide 7, we're looking at projected housing requirements. We are at a peak period right now and expect to continue at the high level of housing requirements through the period to the mid-1990s, at which point we expect there will be a dropoff beginning in terms of the growth of demand.
Slide 8 gives us the composition of renter and owner households in Ontario. You will note that single parents in particular tend to be renters and that most of the home owners are what we would call the traditional family, either husband and wife or husband, wife and child. But there are a number of other household groupings which are of increasing importance in Ontario.
Slide 9 tells us the age of householders, and of the household head in particular. There we see what we know about the demographic makeup of the Ontario population, which is that there is a bulge in the middle age range -- you could call it the lower middle age range -- between 25 and 45.
The Chair: We're in that range.
Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, we are; we're in the bulge. As the Chair has pointed out because of his background in being the critic for seniors' affairs, the seniors population is one which is growing.
Slide 10 shows us that about a third of households are rental households. It's actually more than a third; we're talking about 36.2%, to be as precise as we can, of the total 3.6 million houses being rental units.
Slide 11 gives us an overview of what's been happening in housing starts. Of particular interest, we certainly can note the peaks and valleys that go with depressions and booms, and we trace that back for the most recent period of the 1980s. But we can see along the bottom line, which is the heavily shaded portion, that the starts in rental accommodation have been relatively consistent over that period. In fact, because we don't count condominiums which become rental units as rentals, we've been looking at a pretty steady flow of starts of rental housing over the last 10 or 15 years; in fact, since the 1977 period.
Slide 12 gives us an indication of the amount of the rental stock which is made up of socially assisted housing of one form or another. That has gone through peaks and valleys too, and it is currently at a fairly high level, probably as high as it's ever been, as a proportion of the overall rental housing starts.
Slide 13 gives us just a four-city view of what's been happening with rents. We can see that in the larger cities of Toronto and Ottawa, rents have been rising at a more steep rate than in places such as Thunder Bay and London.
Slide 14 gives us an overview of the prices of houses for purchase in those four communities. Here we have seen, in the Toronto area in particular, an enormous peak in 1989, which has been coming down, but the cost of buying resale housing in Toronto is still extremely high compared to other areas.
Slide 15 gives us a percentage of unsubsidized renters. These are people who are in the private rental market who are paying over 30% of their income in rent. That reached a peak at the height of the housing cost situation that we saw in the late 1980s. It is coming down, or has come down to 1990. I don't believe we have figures for 1991 yet; let me doublecheck. No, those are the latest figures we have available from Statscan.
Slide 16 shows us the changes -- some of these can change quite sharply; it looks to the lay reader as if there are peaks and valleys that are quite adjacent to each other in terms of short time spans -- in the per cent of renters who can afford to buy a home. The assumptions on this slide are that the proportion of down payment required would be 10%, that there would be a three-year mortgage and that the gross debt service ratio that the home owner would be taking on would be 32%.
Slide 17 gives us a view of who owns houses with no mortgages. As one might expect, it is the group 65-plus, and in fact the older group from age 45 on, which has the highest percentage of household ownership without mortgage.
I thought those would be of general interest to members of the committee and I'd be pleased to answer questions on that later. 1220
I will take a few more moments and sketch out a few brief thoughts on the work we've been doing in the Ministry of Housing.
The overall goal in our housing policy is to provide housing that supports individual health and community health. We see this as requiring us to make sure we have effective production and management of housing, that there is consumer protection and empowerment, that we are achieving economic renewal and prosperity in our housing policy, that there is a community responsibility for housing.
We feel that in less than two years in office this government has indeed accomplished a lot. We started from a base that was given in government policy and government programs, but we have taken new initiatives which I think are worth noting at this point. There was, as members will recollect, a wide public consultation on the ways government could play an active role in housing. We called that the Housing Policy Framework. The title was disputed, I think with some justice. In the response we will provide to that consultation, we'll try to adjust the title to better fit the exact nature of the consultation.
We also had a consultation on and enactment of new rent control legislation, of which, as minister, I feel very proud. We had a consultation on the appropriate use of government land for housing, which has yet to report publicly. We've had a launching of local planning efforts within public housing communities in Ontario. We've recently appointed a full-time chair to the Ontario Housing Corp, Nancy Smith. We've announced that 20,000 non-profit homes will be built over the next three years under the Jobs Ontario Homes program, and there will be 2,400 jobs associated with that program in this fiscal year. That announcement, of course, came with the last budget for the fiscal year 1992-93.
We have completed commitments for the 10,000 units which were announced in the 1991-92 budget. We have completed commitments for the 30,000 units of Homes Now, P-3000 and P-3600, and we added an additional 1,800 units which were funded in the Homes Now program, because we found that land costs were lower, interest rates were coming down and construction costs were better.
We have completed the commitments for 3,600 units funded through the 1991 federal-provincial housing program. We had successful joint efforts with the building industry to have the federal government budget include the release of RRSP savings for home purchases and to get federal agreement to lower down payment requirements for NHA mortgages to 5%, and those have had an immediate stimulative effect on home purchases in Ontario and across the country.
We've had legislative progress on amendments to update the Building Code Act. At the Ministry of Housing we've had an internal cost-management process that has seen quite a reduction in operating expenses, which I will take just a few minutes to speak about right here.
We've taken a number of steps to reduce the ministry operating expenditures last year and this fiscal year. By reducing staff travel, by reducing use of consultants, purchase of furniture, information, technology and vehicles, we were able to save $5.3 million in other direct operating expenditures in 1991-92.
By slowing staffing activities and reducing actual hiring, we reduced the salary expenditures of the ministry by $3 million to absorb the cost of salary awards in that year, and therefore we didn't have to request additional funding for this purpose. A further salary saving of $2.3 million was also achieved through these measures.
For 1992-93, through similar restraints on staffing, purchasing, travel and so on and redeploying staff and other resources, we're hopeful that we'll be able to accommodate the financial pressures such as the additional cost of rent control transition from our existing allocation.
As another measure, through careful investment and management of the CPP funds borrowed for the Homes Now program, OHC and the ministry were able to provide an additional $25 million in revenue to the Treasurer. The money was earned during the period of the drawdown of funds from CPP and the advance of the mortgages. We have staff from the ministry of finance section here who'd be happy to answer specific questions around our financial cost-management efforts.
I'd like to take just a moment to welcome back one critic from Barcelona -- I hope you had a wonderful time there, Margaret -- and to express my personal thanks in public to both critics from the opposition parties. I think that their hard work and their contribution to public discussion of housing in this province have been recognized widely. I'd also like to thank many members of the Legislature on both sides of the House whose interest in housing policy and housing issues reflects well on their desire to see an Ontario in which we all feel proud that we are healthier as a province because individuals and communities are living in decent, affordable houses.
I'd like to express my thanks to Margaret Harrington, who has acted very capably as parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Housing, who is prepared to answer questions in her areas of special work. I'd like to also express finally my very great thanks to members of the staff of the Ministry of Housing, who have worked longer and harder and in a more dedicated fashion than I think anybody has a right to expect over the last two years, which have been a very active period in the Ministry of Housing.
So with that, Mr Chair, I'd be pleased to try and either answer questions directly or get assistance for members from staff who will answer more capably than I.
The Chair: Thank you, Madam Minister. I would like to now recognize the official opposition and the Housing critic, Ms Poole.
Ms Dianne Poole (Eglinton): Thank you, Mr Chair. I do appreciate the opportunity to put the position of the Liberal caucus on the record, as well as an opportunity to ask the minister some questions about the performance of the Ministry of Housing in addition to some of the plans and the ongoing plans of the Ministry of Housing.
It was about 14 months ago that the NDP released the Housing framework paper, discussion paper, and since then we've heard nothing on that particular subject. Instead, in particularly two areas, rent control and non-profit housing, the government has gone ahead making fairly major steps without having a comprehensive, overall framework. It's going to be quite intriguing to find out and to ask some questions during these estimates hearings about why they're bothering to do a framework after the fact, when in the meantime they are making very significant policy changes. Does it not make sense to have your comprehensive policy and framework in place first? So we have been quite anxiously awaiting the results of that discussion paper, and so far all we've heard is silence.
Unfortunately the NDP government has decided that all the complicated housing issues that Ontario's society faces can be solved with two programs, and those are rent control, to squeeze out private sector rental housing, and non-profit, because the NDP seems to want everybody to live under one government-owned roof.
I would like to point out at this time some of the initiatives taken by the Liberal government during its term, which I think will illustrate that there was a broad range of creative solutions to housing that were instituted. We were not focused only on two areas; we were trying to deal with many problems in many different creative ways.
One of the things we did as a Liberal government was update legislation regarding tenant protection, whether it be in areas such as pet ownership, unnecessary renovations or rent protections, at the same time -- and this is very important -- recognizing that balance that the landlord had to be able to maintain the building.
We also introduced legislation which has been widely heralded as very successful to protect existing rental housing stock from conversion to condominiums.
We developed the land use planning for housing policy statement to guide municipal planning approvals to encourage affordable housing. Again, this is an area in which the ministry has been strangely silent as to enforcement of this policy which was introduced by the Liberal government several years ago.
We, as a government, expanded the convert-to-rent program to encourage the construction of new rental stock out of existing buildings. There were interest-free loans to encourage the construction of private rental stock under the Renterprise program. There were rent supplement allocations for Renterprise and convert-to-rent projects. Again, the rent supplement is an area we plan to go into in some length with the minister.
This is a very important area where we had innovative programs -- that is, rehabilitation assistance for both existing low-rise and high-rise rental stock. In particular the low-rise rental building renewal program was utilized quite extensively, and in fact it is my belief that that is now on the wane instead of on the increase, where I think it should be.
We developed a building industry strategy in conjunction with private sector builders to encourage private construction. And of course we had ongoing federal-provincial non-profit housing funding.
We began the 30,000-unit Homes Now initiative, which the NDP government has been in the throes of completing.
We developed loan guarantee programs to help non-profit organizations secure funding. There was new funding for emergency shelters and the establishment of regional access to permanent housing committees to help deal with homelessness for people who could not access other traditional programs. There were home-sharing programs.
There was a policy put in place which would give women who had been in a violent home situation first priority on Ontario Housing Corp waiting lists. I think those types of programs were very helpful in getting people into affordable housing and into alternative housing situations.
There was support for amendments to bring roomers and boarders under Landlord and Tenant Act protections. In fact, the current minister has continued that direction and has brought forward legislation to provide that type of protection.
Surplus lands were allocated to provincial housing initiatives under the Housing First policy. The Ontario home ownership savings plan was instituted to help first-time home owners buy their homes. This again is an area where the NDP has not continued this initiative and has really neglected the home ownership area.
There were land transfer tax refunds for low-income home buyers, another expansion of a program for home ownership and an expansion of the Ontario home renewal program with a special added emphasis on helping the physically challenged to meet their special housing needs.
We developed new partnerships in housing projects with major partners such as the city of Ottawa's residential and housing cooperative agreement, with the city of Toronto, and with a number of various church groups.
We renewed commitment to the development of Seaton, and again we have heard a resounding silence from the NDP government as to whether Seaton will proceed.
There was the development of innovative housing projects such as StreetCity. Again, that is something that was developed down in the Ataratiri lands that we haven't heard much about. I think it was an excellent and very successful idea.
We initiated new infrastructure planning under the Office for the GTA. We added substantial increases in welfare shelter allowances.
The list goes on and on, but I think the point of the list is that it shows the Liberal government understood the diverse range of housing solutions that are necessary. At the same time, we see that the NDP is insisting on chopping back successful programs like convert-to-rent, low-rise rehabilitation, the Ontario home renewal program for disabled persons and others. While the government can always find money to help out its union friends at de Havilland, at the same time we look at welfare families' shelter allowance increases, which are well below inflation.
The minister will be proudly talking about her budgetary increase throughout these estimates, but the minister knows and the Ministry of Housing knows that not one of the 20,000 new non-profit units in the budget will be built this fiscal year. The minister knows the major increase in her budget is for new subsidies to previously announced and recently completed Homes Now units established by the Liberal government. The NDP's promises of new non-profit housing for tomorrow are a sham to escape dealing with the housing problems of today. Quite frankly, if you're not a co-op or a union, this government is not interested in hearing about your housing problems or your projected solutions.
The NDP has not yet taken any action to reduce the cost of both non-profit and private housing in the approvals process. The NDP has appointed John Sewell on a three-year mission to search out and explore new planning restrictions and to go boldly where no red tape has gone before. At first, building representatives were encouraged by Sewell's comments, but now they are afraid that his job, highlighted as a key environmental initiative in the recent throne speech, is only going to make things worse.
The NDP has also appointed Dale Martin to cut some red tape, but we have no indication as to how successful he has been. There have been no progress reports on his work, at least not to us. However, his jurisdiction is primarily with specific government-related projects that catch the Premier's eye. Private sector housing developments are being put to the back of the line while the NDP's pet projects get priority.
There are two issues in particular that we wish to explore during these estimate hearings. One is the area of the Rent Control Act and what is going to happen there. Bill 121 has now been passed into legislation, so it will be important to see if the backlog is going to disappear, as promised, and if tenants will never again have a care as far as housing in this province is concerned, as promised. It will also be interesting to see what the cost of the new bureaucracy is going to be, how effective the training process will be for that bureaucracy and whether in fact we are not making a far more complex and compounded system instead of the simpler system that was originally proposed. We certainly have questions in that area.
The NDP had promised to deliver a full rent control system, but then it came out with Bill 121, which pleased neither landlords nor tenants. I am not going to reiterate the NDP campaign process. I can't vouch that my colleague Mr Mahoney won't slip it in, but I know you've all heard it too many times, and what they delivered bore no resemblance to their campaign promise.
Unlike the NDP, our caucus spent a lot of time listening to tenants and landlords and trying to correct this very flawed bill. The NDP government should be warned that over the coming months our party will be monitoring the implementation of the Rent Control Act very closely. We do hope the government will be willing to make necessary changes as serious defects in the legislation become evident in practice, as they were to us when we were reviewing the bill. Again, we will be using the estimates to ask some questions about the Rent Control Act.
Another area we wish to explore will be the controversial area of public housing, social housing, co-op housing. As I mentioned, the NDP government announced 20,000 new non-profit housing units over the next three years. What it hasn't told us is that it's cutting back on other programs.
It is very important to understand that the budget's Jobs Ontario Homes program will not produce new construction this fiscal year. It was billed in the budget as doing that, part of the Jobs Ontario Homes program, but it will not build those units this year. It is impossible for it to build those units this year.
We think it is laudable that the NDP is trying to support construction through a recession, but I can tell you that Jobs Ontario Homes will not help now, and now is when the economy desperately needs it.
If the NDP were really interested in supporting the economy now, what it could have done is assist ownership housing, with a more immediate impact on construction instead of the bureaucratic delays of complex non-profit housing approvals.
One of the problems I've had with the way the government has moved in the non-profit area is that it has taken no pause to assess what's happening. They picked up on the Liberal government's 30,000 Homes Now project to complete that, but instead of pausing at the end of that to see how effective the program was, whether there was red tape that could be cut, whether there was needless bureaucracy that delayed the time frames for the non-profit housing, whether there were ways the moneys could be spent more efficiently, instead of having that assessment period -- and it need not have been a prolonged one, but to see if the needs of the people were being met now -- they barrelled right into another 10,000 in last year's budget and now another 20,000 non-profit units promised in this year's budget for the next three years. Yet there has been no assessment, and we are waiting to see some of that red tape cut out of the process.
Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): Don't hold your breath.
Ms Poole: My colleague from Oriole says not to hold my breath. I think that's wise advice. We would have liked to see some of that bureaucracy and red tape cut out. There are so many mechanism checkpoints at the Ministry of Housing where it is duplicating municipal or zoning bylaws where it's taken care of at another level of government, where it is sheer duplication. It is adding astronomically not only to the time for completion but also to the cost of these units. That's the type of thing we wanted reassessed. We wanted that done, and it hasn't happened.
The other side of it is that the NDP has announced this program to try to get construction this year, but the real problem is that the NDP's anti-business policies are restricting new construction. Nobody wants to build private rental units under the NDP's Bill 121, for instance. The landlords do not trust this government; the development industry does not trust this government; the business sector does not trust this government, and investment is no longer flowing. It is a very sad fact that unfortunately has had major ramifications not only for our housing sector but also for the economy.
The NDP is continuing to study additional capital gains and real estate taxes, even in the face of the Fair Tax Commission's recommendations against measures at this time. That was the business sector talking on the Fair Tax Commission's task force.
The NDP seems to believe that the way to kickstart the economy is to put more people on the government payroll through non-profit housing construction or other capital spending, but I think that's naïve. Government can create, can play an important role, but it has to understand that it does not need to provide the jobs. What they need to do is create a favourable business climate and a favourable investment climate so that the private sector provides the jobs, and that is what we are missing.
One final point; at the end, I will give a list of areas we would like to explore with the minister, but that is with regard to the Ataratiri situation. I guess the minister learned at first hand how red tape can delay a once viable initiative. But if one of the big holdups was the soil contamination, that soil contamination still exists in the middle of a major city and has to be dealt with. Regarding the cost to do it, are you not just mortgaging the future? Are you just not saying, "Put it off to the future," where it's going to cost even more?
It's interesting to see that the NDP is continuing with its plans to build non-profit housing on the Toronto Islands even though it faces the same kind of flood restrictions as Ataratiri. Again, that's an issue we'll deal with more fully in our questions.
Just to let the minister know, our questions will relate to rent control, the public housing that I mentioned, basement apartments, home ownership, Ontario Housing Corp, disentanglement, the status of special projects, Bill 112 and rent-geared-to-income. That's a fairly comprehensive list. Any that we do not have an opportunity for in the limited time we will certainly give to the ministry in writing at the end of the session.
I believe I have about 13 minutes left, Mr Chair, so perhaps I could allow my colleague Mr Mahoney to make a few comments.
The Chair: Are you sure 13 minutes are enough, Mr Mahoney?
Mr Steven W. Mahoney (Mississauga West): No, it's not.
The Chair: Give it a try.
Mr Mahoney: Thanks, Mr Chairman. Minister, recent announcements in my community have led people to change the reference to Housing Now to Housing Not, with a little bit of concern about the fact that there seems to be very selective use of allocations going to certain parts of the province. Indeed, areas where we have the largest increases in the waiting list are being ignored. I make that in part a question because I'd like your response, but really a comment and an expression of frustration on behalf of Peel Non-Profit Housing Corp, for starters, and the many other good non-profit organizations that are attempting to get rolling in Peel.
Perhaps it's an appropriate time, since today is the opening of the AMO conference, to ask you to respond to the concerns the municipalities have expressed, certainly to me and I'm sure to many members, about the government's attitude with regard to planning procedures and the intensification difficulties of basement apartments, the lack of ability of municipalities to effectively enforce their bylaws and to have any authority.
I know you may want to address some comments with regard to rights of entry and that type of thing, but this is a very real problem the municipalities are facing and will be a major part of the discussion at AMO today and tomorrow -- also, the tax implications of numerous families and children from numerous families using the educational infrastructure and other facilities. I say that and tell you, Minister, that I personally am a supporter of a good program for basement apartments and some form of intensification.
But I think that clearly your government has failed to sit down and address -- in fact when I asked you a question in the Legislature about the involvement of the municipalities, your answer was that they had been tremendously involved, only to receive a letter from Helen Cooper asking you who it was you were speaking to, because she said that they were not involved in those discussions. As the head of AMO, she's quite concerned about the lack of consultation in the area of intensification. It has a broad scope in the sense that it impacts on service levels and the quality of life in communities. I think they have very real concerns that there are solutions to. There are many examples of large families in one household: young people still at home with many vehicles, this issue of being related or unrelated -- the problem is not just strictly in the area of unrelated people living under one roof; it's the people who come in and divide houses up into numerous flats. You find single moms living with their children in units that simply have curtains separating them and sharing bathroom facilities and kitchen facilities with numerous people in these illegal rooming houses. I don't see any attempt to give the municipalities the proper authority to deal with these and to simply get rid of them within our community.
I'd also like you to tell us at some point whether or not you've been monitoring some of the attempts you appear to have made to improve things. I refer to Dale Martin particularly, recognizing that perhaps he hasn't been in the saddle all that long. Here's a person who should know the OMB and the municipal processes inside out. Have you any indication that he's making any headway? Are municipalities finding any assistance from Mr Martin, or is the private sector indeed finding any assistance? Given the fact that Mr Martin was one whose raison d'être used to be to stop the processing of development applications through manipulation and use of the OMB, have you seen any improvement in flowing out housing units?
One of the comments I get pretty regularly, Minister, is that people are glad that you say you are carrying on with the Liberal initiative, Homes Now, that my critic and you have both referred to, but they're not seeing the housing units coming out the bottom end.
Years ago we had a chart when I was on council -- Mrs Marland will remember -- in Mississauga where we showed the flow of units going in at the top and coming out, and there was a spot in the middle that was called the slough of despair where all of these units seemed to just block up and not flow out the bottom.
It seems to me from what I'm hearing from people, both in the private sector and the public sector, that in providing housing, while you're announcing 20,000 units here and you're announcing certain programs, people are not seeing those units come out of the ground.
You will recognize that there has long been a stated housing crisis. I think someone pulled out newspaper articles that had headlines dated in the late 1960s, middle 1960s, proclaiming a great housing crisis and it had to do with affordable housing or the lack of it. I'm not trying to suggest that you should all of a sudden come along and resolve all the problems that have been involved in the housing industry for many, many years, but there seems to be a cork blocking the flow within your ministry. The nice words and the discussions and the analysis and the meetings by John Sewell and others are all well and good, but it's not relieving the lack of flow of subsidy units coming out at the bottom end.
Frankly, perhaps unlike some of my colleagues in the third party who I'm sure will speak, I'm still a supporter of non-profit housing and co-op, and I believe that involving members of the community in that kind of project is extremely important.
Having said that, it is expensive. No one can deny that subsidizing a mortgage over a period of 25 years in an amortization period is very expensive, but it's worthwhile, it builds good-quality atmosphere for families and children and seniors, and I think it's a program I hope this government will get a little more serious about implementing and getting those units out to the corporations that indeed can put them in the ground.
The public corporations -- your own Ottawa corporation and mine in Peel are a couple -- are well known for delivering good-quality products. I can't speak for the Ottawa community, but I can tell you in Peel people are upset; they feel they're being ignored.
As well, you made reference to and took some credit for the announcement that brought forward the use of RSPs. I wonder if, even though that was a federal initiative, you've had an opportunity to monitor the impact of that and if you can quantify that for us, and I would ask you about not just the RSPs but the reduced down payment requirement.
In these slides you went through, Minister, you simply gave us the information that is there in the hard copy. I'd like to know if there's been some analysis and some attempt to see, are we moving more people into home ownership? One of your slides referred to the number of people who are able to afford to own a home but presumably don't.
Is there any sense of confidence in the housing market, and not just in the GTA but anywhere around the province, that is seeing a transfer of tenure from rental to ownership? Indeed, we see builders announcing and promoting first-time buyers again in a big way with the low interest rates. But I get a sense in the communities that I've been in this summer that none of it is triggering anything. I hope that's wrong. Maybe you or your officials can give us the impact of that.
I think Mrs Caplan has some questions, so I'll try to leave some time, but the other comment is that we're seeing some real gerrymandering around lot levies these days. I believe the city of Etobicoke recently eliminated and issued rebates on lot levies. The city of Mississauga has recently dealt with a report that sees substantial reduction in the area of lot levies. There's always been an argument by the development industry that says if you reduce or eliminate lot levies, you will stimulate construction. While it may be early, I wonder whether your ministry or your officials have looked at the impact on infrastructure: the ability to provide the playgrounds, the community centres, the arenas, the schools, all of that. If we're going to start eliminating those lot levies, do you, Minister, have any concerns about the impact on the infrastructure, the impact on the taxpayer? Somebody has to pay for those facilities. Or are we simply going to wipe out those facilities and build houses in a vacuum?
I would add, by the way, that increasing or decreasing lot levies is much akin to bonusing in the municipal setting. Are we going to now start seeing the issue of municipalities competing based on lot levy, infrastructure cost, that kind of thing? Is your government is going to deal with this?
I would suggest to you, as I said, that for the next two days at the convention centre in the Royal York, the people at AMO are going to be discussing greatly the impact on their ability to govern at the local level. I think your ministry should have a major role and a major comment, along with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, with regard to many of these issues.
Mr Chair, if there's some time left, I could give it to my colleague the member for Oriole.
The Chair: About four and a half minutes. Mrs Caplan, please proceed.
Mrs Caplan: I'm pleased to have the opportunity to sit in on the Ministry of Housing estimates today. In my own community, about 48% of my constituents are tenants and have a very strong interest in how the new rent review process the minister has referred to under Bill 121 is actually going to evolve. Many of them are concerned about the lack of ability to appeal, and I've heard from many of them that they were very disappointed with a 4.9% increase at a time when inflation is running at less than 2%. I'm not going to dwell on that at this time.
I would like to place on the record some questions that I would like the minister to answer during the course of the estimates.
I've had some questions from my own municipality about the concern around lack of consultation on the policy of intensification. I would join my colleague the member for Mississauga West; I've always been supportive of appropriate planning for intensification that would allow the use of basements, properly. However, as a former municipal representative, an alderman in the city of North York for six and a half years, I'm also aware of the planning concerns that come along with a broad intensification policy.
I would ask the minister if she could expand, first, on what consultations were had with which municipalities, particularly the umbrella organization of AMO, and second, the concerns as to how the municipalities will implement the policy, taking into account neighbourhood concerns around parking problems and those kinds of issues which may result from a broad intensification policy.
One of the concerns I always had as a municipal councillor was that you couldn't have a made-at-Queen's-Park policy that was going to work across every municipality, so I'm concerned about the implementation of the intensification policy that will allow municipalities to be responsive to the concerns of the people in each of the municipalities, and particularly in North York.
The situation in North York is that we have parts of the city where I would say there are a number of basement apartments operating illegally at present which are not causing a problem at all. We have other parts of the city where there is great concern that mandated intensification would cause enormous problems in those parts of the city. We used to say that what was right for ward 8, for example, was not necessarily right for ward 13 or for ward 6. I would ask the minister if she took those concerns into account in the development of the policy.
The second question: Again, I am a supporter of the provincial government's responsibility to supply social housing for those in need through non-profit programs and co-op programs, but I'm interested in what the ministry's guidelines are for both capital and operating costs on both non-profit and co-op.
I'd like to know what your guidelines are for capital costs per unit and what the subsidy is from the province, what the operating cost per unit guideline is, and whether you have any estimates, given your commitment to numbers of units, of what the operating cost implications are going to be for the provincial taxpayer over the next 10 years. Certainly the treasury would have had to do those kinds of analyses before allowing the program to go forward. I think it's important for us, during estimates, to explore what the implications are likely to be in the future for potential tax increases to support this kind of housing program.
Mr Chairman, how much more time do I have?
The Chair: About 12 seconds.
Mrs Caplan: In that case, I'd like to thank you very much for the opportunity to pose my questions. I hope, during the debate and discussion, that I will be able to make a further contribution.
The Chair: Thank you. Briefly, Ms Poole.
Ms Poole: I just have two items of business involving Mrs Marland before we go to her speech. The first is to congratulate her on her son Robert's gold medal in rowing in Barcelona. Congratulations, Margaret: a gold medal.
Second, a few people, like the minister and Mrs Harrington, Mr Mahoney, Mrs Marland and myself, were on the rent control committee hearings --
The Chair: I knew there was a link somewhere.
Ms Poole: There is. Mrs Marland coined the term "rent wizard." Well, recently I got a card from Avis car rental called the Avis wizard card. I have put Margaret Marland's name on it because I think she truly deserves this.
The Chair: Mrs Marland, if you can get hold of yourself, you have the next half-hour. We're in your hands. Did you want to circulate your wizard card?
Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): I appreciate the critic for the official opposition giving me this card. I hope it means that because it's registered in your name, you pay the bills and I use it.
Mrs Caplan: Don't count on it.
Mrs Marland: I certainly do appreciate the generous and kind comments on Robert's gold medal. It's an experience I wish every parent could have, because it represents seven years of work and commitment to a goal. For all of those young people who represented Canada in the Olympics, with or without medals at the end, they are all Olympians and they are all young people of whom our country is tremendously proud.
I'm going to read my opening statement to the minister, and I hope it won't be more than my allotted time. I also have my questions written, so if I don't get through all the questions in our short five hours this afternoon, Madam Minister, I'll submit them to you so that you may respond in writing. I think we did this the last time too.
There's one thing I would like to ask right off the top before I get into my statement. We have a number of people present in the public gallery this afternoon who represent a very large area of our province, from Toronto, London, Windsor and so forth, particularly Bonnie Hawlik and Mary Lynn Metras. They are here representing a provincial association of ratepayers and home owners' associations, and with them are Bill Lloyd, David Flett, Tena Gough, Peter de Auer, and also Patrick Gough, the son of Tena.
The one thing that is a tremendous concern for these people and shared by all the municipalities in the province, Madam Minister, that you might be prepared to answer as an initial question, is the deadline of August 31 for response to the legislation. I know you have heard from AMO that it is looking at requesting an extension. There is a resolution here from the city of Windsor asking that the deadline for submissions be extended to December 31, 1992.
Quoting from an AMO document: "AMO supports the intensification of existing privately held housing as one of the most cost-effective ways to meet intensification goals. However, as stated in its response to the draft housing policy statement, AMO believes that decisions on housing intensification policies should be the responsibility of the municipalities." AMO has therefore recommended a housing intensification policy which requires that municipalities designate areas within their own official plans where each form of residential intensification will be permitted.
Madam Minister, that is a very important question for all municipalities in the province, combined with the extension of the time to respond, from August 31 possibly till the end of the year. It is such significant legislation that I think it's a fair request in order for the municipal elected officials to represent those people who elect them directly on this important housing question. Also, this group apparently has been trying to meet with you, Madam Minister, for over a year. They're wondering if you might agree to that meeting, and I'm asking you on their behalf if you would agree to meet with them. So you may like to answer that after my statement.
It has been less than 11 months since the standing committee on estimates reviewed last year's estimates of the Ministry of Housing. Many of the issues I raised at that time are still a problem for people who need and provide housing in Ontario. For instance, this NDP government continues to increase Ontario's stock of non-profit housing, even though figures provided in response to my estimates questions last fall show that provincial subsidies for non-profit housing will amount to $1 billion a year by 1995.
The minister also refuses to implement a shelter allowance program as an alternative to non-profit housing, despite a recent study showing that for a cost of $410 million a year, a shelter allowance program could assist all of Ontario's working poor who spend more than 25% of their gross income on housing. Why is the minister ignoring policy options that could house more needy people at less cost to the taxpayers of Ontario?
Another persistent and troubling issue is this socialist government's attempt to shut out the private sector from the provision of affordable housing. The NDP government's rent control Bills 4 and 121 have forced many owners of rental units into financial ruin, resulting in a loss of privately owned rental housing stock. If this government has its way, these privately owned units will be converted to non-profit housing which is heavily subsidized by Ontario's beleaguered taxpayers.
Nor has this government done anything to help the thousands of Ontarians whose dream of home ownership remains simply that, a dream. The government has rejected the Greater Toronto Homebuilders' Association's proposal for an incentive and assistance program for new home buyers which could have helped some people realize their dream. The Greater Toronto Homebuilders' proposal would also put many unemployed Ontarians back to work by giving a much-needed boost to the home construction industry and the home furnishings retail sector.
The only 1992 budgetary measure aimed at the housing industry was the Jobs Ontario Capital fund. However, this fund provides 20,000 new non-profit homes which will require huge subsidies by Ontario's taxpayers for 35 years. It does nothing to help people become home owners. When will this government realize that the province, or more accurately the taxpayers, cannot afford to operate and fund all of Ontario's affordable rental housing? When will it realize that most people's dream is to own their own home, not to live in non-profit housing?
Some other issues I raised last year stemmed from the residential intensification measures in Land Use Planning for Housing: Policy Statement. These issues remain a pressing concern, as two months ago the Minister of Housing released the Apartments in Houses consultation paper. This paper contains draft legislation and regulations to permit one apartment in all detached, semi-detached and row dwellings, as of right. As I will discuss later, municipalities, school boards, ratepayers and the home construction industry have revealed many flaws in these draft measures and the ministry's consultation process.
I will now explain in more detail my concerns in each of the major areas I have mentioned, non-profit housing, the role of the private sector, home ownership and apartments in houses. Later I will ask questions about some other issues, including recent government appointments in the housing field, housing for people with special needs, the rent review process, funding for advocacy, capital repairs to the province's public housing portfolio and the regulation of mobile home parks.
It is clear from the estimates that the Ministry of Housing is focusing on the expansion of its non-profit housing programs. The ministry's operating account will increase this year by 21.1%, or $162.1 million. We see that under Housing field operations activity, grants in support of non-profit housing operations will increase by a whopping 37%, or $164.7 million. There you have it, the major reason for the increase in the operating account.
Looking further, the figures are astounding: Expenditure on the Homes Now program is up by 107%, or $97.3 million. Expenditure on the Project 3600 program is up by 104%, or $16.4 million. The Jobs Ontario Homes fund announced in the budget adds $416,000 to this year's cost of provincial non-profit housing programs. Overall, spending on provincial non-profit housing programs has increased by 80%, or $115 million, compared to last year.
Yet how many more people have we been able to put in affordable housing for that price? According to the projections provided by the ministry last October during the review of the estimates, the stock of non-profit units should have increased by 25,753 units in the last year, for a total of 94,060 non-profit units. However, there are about 250,000 renter households in Ontario that spend more than 25% of their gross income on rent and need to find affordable housing.
I would like to receive an updated version of the chart provided to me last year which shows the costs and number of people housed for each of Ontario's non-profit housing programs, from fiscal 1991-92 to maturity. As well, I would like to receive additional information for each program showing the province's yearly, cumulative and total costs for the 35-year amortization period.
The minister will recall that on June 9, 1992, the Progressive Conservative caucus used our opposition day to debate a motion by our leader, Mike Harris, concerning provincial housing policies. Among other things, our motion called on the government to re-examine its involvement in non-profit housing because of the government's large financial commitments in that area.
For some reason the minister chose to question our figure of $1 billion for this government's commitment to non-profit housing, despite the fact that her own officials provided that figure, which is the mature annual cost of the 115,000 non-profit units which have been promised as of last year's estimates.
She also questioned our figure of the $2,000-a-month subsidies, even though we had raised several such cases in the House. The most recent one was announced by her ministry in a news release dated April 30. The project in question consists of 11 bachelor apartments with monthly subsidies of almost $2,000 per unit. As I pointed out to the minister during our opposition day debate, the average rent for a bachelor apartment in Toronto is $490 per month. Why then are we subsidizing bachelor apartments in a non-profit complex at four times that amount?
All it takes is common sense and a little arithmetic to figure out that we could help a lot more needy people by subsidizing the difference between the rent they can afford and the market rent. That's what shelter subsidies are all about. That's why Ontario's Progressive Conservative caucus advocated such a system in our opposition day motion.
During our opposition day debate, the minister made a big deal of the $2.5 billion a year the province spends to subsidize the housing costs of social assistance recipients, but she knows that is not what our motion was about. We were talking about the 250,000 working poor who spend more than one quarter of their gross income on housing, who are not eligible for shelter subsidies, who live in substandard or inadequate shelter and who are on long waiting lists for non-profit housing. To provide them with shelter subsidies would cost $410 million a year according to the Fair Rental Policy Organization of Ontario. That's a far cry from what it would cost to accommodate them in non-profit housing.
Has the Ministry of Housing done any studies since last fall on extending shelter subsidies to needy people who are not social assistance recipients? If so, I would request copies of the reports and an extensive summary of the ministry's analysis and conclusions.
While we are on the topic of non-profit housing, I would like to talk about cooperative non-profit housing. The minister will recall that during the third reading debate on Bill 166, the Co-operative Corporations Statute Law Amendment Act, 1992, I put on the record many of my views and concerns about cooperative housing. My most serious concern is that cooperative housing does not help the people who are most in need.
Since 1986 both municipal and private non-profit housing corporations have been required to allocate 40% of their units to households requiring a deep subsidy, 40% to shallow-subsidy households and 20% to those who can afford market rents. Cooperatives, on the other hand, provide just 25% of their units to deep-subsidy families and another 15% to either deep-subsidy or shallow-subsidy households, yet this government has demonstrated a preference for allocating non-profit dollars to cooperative projects.
When the minister announced the allocation of 6,500 non-profit units on June 15 of this year, more than 3,000 went to cooperative corporations. The region of Peel, in which my riding is located, received just 469 units, or 7% of that allocation, compared to Metro Toronto's 58%. This was not a fair share for Peel, which has one third of Metro's population and has grown six times faster than Metro in the last five years.
The Peel Non-Profit Housing Corp, one of this country's most respected providers of public housing, did not receive a single unit in the allocation, even though there are 83 needy households on the waiting list of the Peel Non-Profit Housing Corp. As well, Peel Non-Profit Housing Corp had the zoning in place to start building 500 homes immediately.
Both Maja Prentice, president of Peel Non-Profit Housing Corp, and Roger Maloney, Peel's commissioner of housing, questioned the ministry's decision to allocate the bulk of the allocation to the cooperative sector. Not only is the province spending more than we can afford on non-profit housing, but by funding housing cooperatives in which only 40% of those units go to needy families, it is subsidizing the housing costs of middle-income Ontarians who can afford market rent.
Minister, I'd like to receive a breakdown by dollars and units for all your government's non-profit housing allocations, showing how many went to municipal non-profit housing corporations, how many went to private non-profit corporations and how many went to cooperative non-profit corporations.
Before moving on, I should clarify that my party is not advocating a return to Ontario Housing Corp projects where a concentration of poverty has resulted in tragic social problems. We all know that mixed-income neighbourhoods are much healthier places to raise a family than public housing projects. However, we cannot afford to house all our low- to moderate-income families in non-profit housing. Establishing a shelter subsidy program for the working poor would give them the dignity of adequate housing in a building and neighbourhood of their choice.
I spent a lot of time discussing non-profit housing because it is the item that is primarily responsible for the large increase in the Housing ministry's budget. Now I will move on to my concerns about the government's treatment of private sector providers of rental housing.
My files provide a good indicator of the difficulties facing rental property owners. A recent addition is from Highmark Properties, Ontario's largest rental property manager. On June 1, Highmark launched a legal action against the government of Ontario for compensation and damages totalling $20 million. Highmark charges that by enacting Bill 4, the NDP government effectively confiscated Highmark's seven apartment buildings illegally. Bill 4 retroactively cancelled rent increases that had already been approved by the government and were to take effect or be phased in over a period of years after October 1, 1990.
Highmark maintains that the government has, by design, sought to depress the price of privately owned apartments, thereby enabling the provincial government to pave the way for buildings to be purchased at fire sale prices and converted to non-profit housing. Allan Every, one of the principals of Highmark, has pointed out that the Premier is on the record before the 1990 elections as stating that his party wants to reduce private ownership of rental housing as much as possible and replace it with a non-profit model of tenure.
Mr Rae said of private rental housing, in an interview which appeared in a tenant advocacy publication: "You make it less profitable for people to own it. I would bring in a very rigid, tough system of rent review. Simple. Eliminate the exceptions and loopholes. There will be a huge squawk from the speculative community, and you say to them, `If you're unhappy, we'll buy you out.'" End of quote of the then leader of the NDP, Bob Rae, the now Premier of the province.
Allan Every and his partners have lost millions, their entire investment in Highmark's portfolio of seven buildings, as a result of Bill 4. As Mr Every said, this amounts to the expropriation of his property. He maintains that the government did not follow proper legal procedures, because it did not pay for what it took. As he wrote in an article that appeared in the Financial Post on June 18, 1992, "The government should not, through its control of the legislative process, be able to reduce values artificially and then take over the property at fire sale prices."
I know the minister will choose not to comment on a case that is before the courts, but I want to put on the record an example of what her government's laws have done to rental property owners.
My next item of concern is this socialist government's failure to recognize the wisdom of home ownership or to help people realize their dream of being home owners. In order to provide a balance of housing options for Ontarians, the ministry should not concentrate solely on providing public and non-profit housing. This government has not done enough to encourage home ownership in this province.
Last year, during our review of the estimates, the minister said that now people can make a choice: "They can rent money from a bank or trust company and they can call themselves home owners; or other people will decide, in preference, to rent a house if they have the money, even though they might own it and pay to the bank." The minister fails to recognize that buying a home allows people to gain equity, which, along with pension plans, RRSPs and other investments, helps ensure that in our old age, we do not have to rely on social assistance and become a burden to future generations of taxpayers.
Does the minister really want to discourage financial security through home ownership? Does she want to encourage dependency on government assistance? Are there any studies currently being considered within the Ministry of Housing for the encouragement of home ownership? If so, I'd like to receive copies of it.
The city of Windsor has implemented an impressive home ownership program which involves the leasing of municipal land for a period of 10 years at the sum of $1 per year to those who qualify. In order to qualify for this program, new home owners must receive CMHC approval and a CMHC mortgage for the construction of a new home on a site to be purchased from the municipality. The home owner then only has the debt of actual construction to contend with for the first 10 years of the mortgage. After the 10-year period has expired, the leased municipal land is to be purchased by the home owner. This is the type of initiative which the provincial government should be pursuing in order to encourage home ownership. Has the minister considered the possibility of implementing such a program on a province-wide basis? If not, would she consider doing so? Such a program would be of little cost to the government to implement, as the province could use government land which has been set aside for the construction of non-profit housing.
Looking at another home ownership incentive program, just this spring the Greater Toronto Home Builders' Association presented to the government and to you, Minister, a proposal to encourage the construction of new homes. However, your government turned down its proposal.
Both the Greater Toronto Home Builders' Association and the Ontario Home Builders' Association have found that the federal government's home buyers' plan has not given potential home buyers the confidence to make this significant investment. The federal plan allows home buyers to withdraw up to $20,000 tax-free from RRSPs as a down payment on the purchase of a home. The withdrawal must be repaid over 15 years.
The Greater Toronto Home Builders' Association proposed a provincial program which it believes would yield better results. It suggested that for the remainder of 1992, the Ontario government rebate 3% of the provincial taxes a purchaser pays when buying a new home, to the maximum of $7,500. This rebate would increase the confidence of new home purchasers because they would not drain their bank accounts when buying a home. The program would not have required a capital outlay. While there would have been forgone sales tax revenues from the rebate, the home builders' association maintained that these would be offset by enhanced revenues from other sources, such as personal and corporate income taxes, land transfer taxes and payroll taxes. There would also have been substantial sales tax receipts on appliances and other purchases by new home buyers and from the higher levels of economic activity generated by the multiplier effect of new housing on the rest of the economy. The Greater Toronto Home Builders' Association estimates that such a program would result in the construction of 10,000 to 20,000 units and the creation of 25,000 person-years of employment this year.
I realize that the evaluation of the home builders' association proposal was primarily the responsibility of treasury officials, but can the minister tell us why the proposal was turned down? In this year's budget, the Treasurer stated that housing would lead Ontario's economic recovery, yet it appears not to be doing so. Why then would the government reject a proposal which could have boosted housing starts? As well, could the minister provide us with any information she has on the number of housing starts which have occurred as a result of the federal government's RRSP withdrawal program?
The next subject I want to discuss is the government's draft legislation to permit one apartment, as a right, in all detached, semi-detached and row houses. The basic premises of the proposal -- the need for more affordable housing, the need to curb urban sprawl and a plan that will not be a burden on the provincial treasury -- are laudable. However, there are many problems with the proposal.
While AMO has supported residential intensification as an option for use at the discretion of the municipalities, AMO believes that the municipalities wishing to encourage intensification should revise their official plans and zoning bylaws to facilitate conversion to the degree and in such areas as they consider appropriate. By robbing municipalities of their zoning powers and pre-empting their official plans, the province is ignoring years of long-range planning by the democratically elected municipal governments. As the minister knows, the municipalities are very unhappy about losing their control over neighbourhood planning through zoning and other bylaws.
Municipalities, school boards and their ratepayers have raised many other legitimate concerns. First -- and I brought up this issue in the estimates committee last year -- municipalities and school boards have no way to ensure that they receive additional tax revenues for the extra occupants of accessory apartments. Under the Assessment Act, a dwelling with an accessory unit may generate the same tax assessment as a dwelling with a finished and unrented basement. Unless the unit increases the market value of the property by more than $5,000, which is not always the case, the assessed value of the building does not increase. Property taxpayers end up subsidizing municipal and educational services for residents of many accessory apartments. The Assessment Act must be amended to allow municipalities and school boards to receive additional tax revenue for these units.
There will also be strains on the infrastructure of many municipalities. Some municipalities' sewer and water mains simply cannot accommodate the extra demands of accessory apartments. As well, there are concerns about traffic congestion and parking, especially if basement apartments are allowed in semi-detached, narrow-lot detached and row houses.
Another issue is property standards. Accessory apartments can result in more income properties and the absentee landlord syndrome, which often results in run-down properties. The draft legislation does not limit accessory apartments to owner-occupied homes.
Then there is the problem of right of entry for inspection of conversions to ensure that they meet fire and safety standards. The government is proposing to amend the Planning Act to allow municipal officials to obtain search warrants without specifying the evidence to be seized. However, is it right to give a municipal official greater search powers than the police?
While I'm on the subject of policing, the Peel Regional Police have stated that rapid housing intensification and the region's hidden population are severely straining policing services. Unless municipalities can collect extra tax revenues for accessory apartments, police services will be further strained by residential intensification.
Mississauga city council has discussed the Apartments in Houses consultation paper in both its planning and development committee and, just last Wednesday, in a meeting of the full council. The ministers of Housing and Municipal Affairs will soon receive letters from the city containing a resolution which objects to the requirement for accessory apartments in detached dwellings with lot frontages of less than 40 feet, and in all semi-detached homes, town houses and garages. As well, the city objects to the accessory apartment proposal unless the following conditions are met:
1. The Municipal Act is amended to permit licensing of accessory apartments by municipalities.
2. The Landlord and Tenant Act is amended to include a requirement that all rental premises, including accessory apartments, comply with all statutes, regulations and municipal bylaws.
3. The Development Charges Act is amended to permit municipalities to impose a development charge on all accessory apartments.
4. The Assessment Act is amended to assess accessory apartments proportionate to the increased floor space, similar to duplexes.
5. All municipalities are permitted to strengthen property standards bylaws through private municipal legislation.
6. The fire code is amended to specifically address accessory apartments, including a requirement of a sprinkler system.
7. All existing and future accessory units are required to comply with the Ontario Building Code.
8. All accessory units are included in the calculation of the maximum density provisions of the zoning bylaw.
9. The Planning Act is amended to shorten the process related to property standards bylaws.
10. At least one onsite parking space is required per accessory unit.
11. The proposed definition of "residential structure" is amended so that accessory apartments are not permitted in dwellings which have a home occupation or other non-residential use.
12. The proposed definition of "existing unit" is amended such that it does not refer to when the unit is occupied.
13. An enforceable definition of "single housekeeping unit" is provided to differentiate a rooming house from other dwellings.
14. External modifications do not preclude the existing zoning bylaw.
15. Legislative changes are implemented to facilitate power of entry by municipal staff.
While some of these conditions are addressed in the consultation paper, most are not. I would appreciate receiving the minister's response to the concerns of the city of Mississauga.
The Ontario Home Builders' Association has also identified concerns which are not taken into account in the consultation paper. For example, will expensive building code changes be required to facilitate basement apartments? What about subdivision servicing? Will municipalities increase their persons-per-unit count, resulting in higher development charges?
Obviously this draft legislation is very weak and should either be substantially amended or withdrawn from consideration.
Many parties have complained that the minister released the consultation paper just before the summer, when most people take their vacations. With a deadline of August 31 for responding to the paper, many parties will be unable to do so. This is simply not acceptable. The minister should heed AMO's recommendation and extend the deadline by six months to provide an opportunity for municipalities and other interested parties to review the government's paper fully.
I will leave the remainder of my questions for later this afternoon. Those which I cannot put on the record during our five hours of review I will submit to the Minister of Housing for a written response.
The Chair: Now we will give the minister up to half an hour to provide her initial response, and at that time we will then order up our business in terms of how we wish to proceed with questioning and timing. Mrs Caplan has a question.
Mrs Caplan: A very short one. After listening to Mrs Marland's presentation, is the minister sorry she said all those nice things about her at the beginning?
Hon Ms Gigantes: Not in the least.
Mrs Caplan: I didn't think so.
Hon Ms Gigantes: I will begin by noting that we have provided, for as many members as we had indication would be involved in this discussion, riding profiles that give an indication of the number of units of Ontario Housing Corp housing and non-profit, either co-op, private non-profit or municipal non-profit; the indication of which programs these units that exist have been developed under, and also which allocations have been made under current programs and where building has started. We haven't been able to provide it for all the people who are involved in this committee, because we didn't have timely enough indication of who would actually be sitting.
The Chair: Well, the Chair was sitting. If we could get the Halton one, I'd be much interested. I want to commend the minister, because it's information we've not seen before by estimates.
Mrs Marland: It's very helpful.
Hon Ms Gigantes: We have Burlington South.
The Chair: It's a helpful initiative. Which members have not received a copy and are anxious to do so?
Hon Ms Gigantes: We'll be very glad to provide the information; indeed for any member of the Legislature who has that particular interest.
The Chair: Let the record note that the Chair has just been provided his copy by the deputy, so thank you. Oriole riding, you would like the Metro stats. Mrs Caplan, we'll get them for you. Mr Carr would have a copy of the Halton ones as well, I suspect. Very good. Mrs Marland, on this point?
Mrs Marland: I want to commend the minister and her staff. It is a very helpful first-time initiative. I've seen it, and it's excellent to receive it. I also want to remind the minister that if she would answer the question about whether she'd meet with these people that are here that would like to leave, she might make a commitment to meet with them some time.
The Chair: If you're suggesting that these guests you read into the record may be leaving soon, then the minister is so advised. But the minister took copious notes for each of the presentations and would like to respond in order and in turn, I suspect. The minister has been advised. Please proceed, Minister.
Hon Ms Gigantes: I will take the information Mrs Marland has given me about the request for a meeting under consideration. I have no idea what arrangements have been attempted or made through my office, and I will try to follow up on that.
Very briefly, there are obviously a number of items which have been raised here. I doubt I can comment in adequate detail to satisfy all members of the committee, but I'll attempt to briefly hit some of the points which I've tried to note as we've gone along.
The framework consultation, which I mentioned in my introductory remarks, is now in the process of analysis. I expect that within a matter of weeks we will have a response which we will be moving forward through cabinet and we will be moving forward for public consideration.
Ms Poole expressed the concern about how there hadn't been a pause in the pace of allocations for non-profit housing while we evaluated the program, the many programs in fact that have been operating since 1986. I think that's a good point, and in fact it was one of the key reasons for having the consultation which we undertook, which was a very extensive consultation and involved a lot of people, a lot of organizations and a lot of very good responses. We found it very helpful.
We have made a commitment that we will not be allocating under a new 20,000-unit program of Jobs Ontario until we have developed a policy which will reflect the responses that we've had during that consultation. That means we've got to burn the midnight oil. Ministry staff have been working extremely hard to pull together the total response package and sit down and organize our plans for the new policy that will guide us through the next three years of allocations with the Jobs Ontario program.
To go back for a moment to the question of the policy framework, when your colleague talks about units not coming out the other end of the Ministry of Housing allocations process and a cork blocking the flow, in a sense you're asking for two different things and you might want to sit down and sort it out. On the one hand, I'm being told, "You should get evaluation and new policy in place," and on the other hand, "You're getting stopped up and the allocations flows are not coming."
On the allocations flow, I want to indicate, as I have previously in the Legislature, that units under construction this year will amount to 28,683 units. That will be generating 48,187 full-time job equivalents. There is only so much a system can carry without increasing the bureaucracy in order to carry allocations and programs. I think it is fair to say that we have stretched the resources within the ministry to the utmost over the last two years to make sure that allocations were flowing, commitments were getting made and construction was beginning.
Land use planning was another point that the Liberal critic, Ms Poole, raised as a concern. In the area of land use planning, we will be very much looking forward to the recommendations of the Sewell commission. In the meantime, we have a housing policy statement of some duration in this province initiated by the previous government, dating from 1989. It gives a very clear indication to municipalities what the requirements for land use planning for housing purposes are.
In that context, when we get to the question of apartments in houses, it certainly has been the case that both individual municipalities and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario have been involved with this government, either as it was headed by the Liberals or in the last two years by the NDP, over the question of what official plans should say on the question of apartments in houses.
It has been a requirement under the housing policy statement since 1989 -- and that housing policy statement, as you know, was developed in full consultation with municipalities across this province and AMO -- that official plans of municipalities reflect the "as of right" zoning for apartments in houses. That requirement of the housing policy statement has not been met. Official plans of municipalities in Ontario are not meeting that requirement.
It is because of that and because of that experience over three years that we have decided we have to take new initiatives to further the objective of making sure that we are providing a type of housing in Ontario that will be helpful both to home owners and to renters. It's for that purpose that we have decided to take a legislative initiative.
As you know, the document which has been circulating since June is a draft piece of legislation. It is very specific. The comments that can be made on that draft piece of legislation are comments which can be very much to the point. I certainly would have to be persuaded that there was need to extend the deadline for discussion of that draft.
I very much hope that the comments we are receiving will be comments which will allow us to determine quickly whether there needs to be revision to that proposed legislation. The thought that three years after the housing policy statement, having circulated a draft piece of legislation to put into effect one of the elements of that housing policy statement, we should now have to delay discussion further for another six months is quite extraordinary.
Mayor Cooper may feel that the conversations in which she and I have engaged around the subject of apartments in houses don't reflect a fully extended consultation, but certainly she will have to acknowledge that AMO as an organization and indeed municipalities across this province have been fully advised and consulted with in a period that goes back over several years now on not just this particular government's interest in this question but indeed the previous government's interest in this question, as reflected in the housing policy statement.
The suggestion by members of the Liberal Party that there hasn't been adequate consultation, and in fact the underlining of that position by the critic for the Conservative Party, is to me just really without base.
If I could move to the question of rent supplement, I will suggest to members of the committee that in the debate we did have around the Conservative motion of non-confidence in the housing policy of the government, we did have quite an extensive discussion of rent supplement and the part it plays in Ontario's housing policy.
Mrs Marland suggests I have totally ignored the point which the Conservative caucus was attempting to make about rent supplement programs, which is that the rent supplement programs of which she speaks are addressed not to people who are receiving social assistance, but to people who are not receiving social assistance who are members -- I think the phrase she used was "of the working poor."
Her figures for the number of people renting in the private market who have to pay over 25% of their income for rent in fact are lower then the figures I gave as we began this discussion, which indicate that over 30% of people renting in the private market have to pay more than 30% of their income in rent. I certainly can't object in the least to her concern about people who are in that position. That is, of course, one of the reasons why we have insisted on a new rent control regime in Ontario.
But to get back to the questions of rent supplement, the point I made during that debate in the Legislature was that we have various kinds of rent supplement in effect in Ontario. By far the largest portion is $2.5 billion, which is paid mainly in the private market by people who are on social assistance and who receive assistance to be able to pay their rents. That has been a program which we have increased.
This government has raised the levels of support for rent supplement as received by social assistance recipients over the last two years in significant ways. There will be a total of 10% in the fiscal year 1990-91. In 1991-92, we were dealing with two and two -- 2% in the first six months of the fiscal year and 2% in the second six months of the fiscal year, if I have my figures straight. So there has been a significant increase in that program.
In addition to that -- I made this point also and I hope that Mrs Marland will hear me this time -- we are currently spending at a level of almost $80 million in other rent supplement programs. She may consider that insignificant but I do not, nor do I easily accept the figures which she has put forward to us, suggested by the Fair Rental Policy Organization, about either the immediate cost or the long-term benefits of increasing the amount of that particular kind of rent supplement programming.
I think perhaps we will need to come back to low-rise rehab. It may be that members of the committee will want to address that further, but certainly we have not been inactive in low-rise rehab. This is in response to the concern raised by Ms Poole. Just one area which I can mention has been the Rupert Hotel Coalition efforts which we have provided funding for.
The Ontario home ownership savings plan continues. This is a major government program. It was initiated under the previous government in 1987. It has provided a large number of people in Ontario with a tax shelter for savings for private home purchase. The current level of that: In 1991 Revenue reports that $21,833 million had been processed through the OHOSP program, and the forecast in 1992 is $31 million. The program was a sunsetted one due to end in 1993, so it will be up for review then, but certainly it is not an inconsequential program of support for people buying homes for the first time in the private sector.
North Pickering lands and the associated question of proposals for a Seaton community continue to be the focus of government work, and I hope that will produce results which we will be able to discuss within the foreseeable future; I'm thinking a couple of months, three months.
Rent control: Bob Glass is here from the ministry and can answer in great detail, and I think very interestingly, our plans for the implementation of rent control.
Jobs Ontario, our housing initiative out of this budget: Ms Poole suggested it would not build units this year. It may not complete units this year, but it will certainly start building units this year.
The Fair Tax Commission had a work group on taxation of real estate gains. It could not, as Ms Poole suggests, reject the notion of taxation of real estate gains, but there was not unanimity on the committee. There were different reports from different groups on that work group, and the Treasurer is considering the results of that work.
Soil contamination does continue to exist in Ataratiri. This was a point raised by Ms Poole. We are concerned about this, obviously, as a government. The extreme care that would have to be taken if we contemplated early residential development is somewhat lessened when there is no immediate plan for residential development there, though I have concerns about the soil contamination in and of itself, and so does this government. So it's not something we are forgetting.
Both Mr Mahoney and Ms Marland raised the question of Peel allocations. I'd be glad to provide some further information on the question of what has been happening under the Homes Now program and recent announcements of allocations and how Peel region has been affected.
I think the concerns that have been raised around this matter have to do with the fact that the announcements for what I have always fondly called the P-10,000 program -- that wonderful, exciting title that came out of the 1991-92 budget -- came in a bloc; I made them in a bloc this spring for 6,500 units. That was the announcement of the completion of allocations under the P-10,000 program. The fact that none of those went to the Peel Non-Profit Housing Corp program raised some concern, which is certainly understandable. The same was true not just in Peel but in other areas.
The question of the overemphasis Ms Marland felt on co-ops in that final round of announcement had to do with an assessment of not just the last 10,000 unit allocations but also the Homes Now program before it and whether in fact enough attention and enough support had been provided to co-op proposals around this province. It was an attempt, and it was a deliberate attempt, to provide the co-op sector with a sense of support and a future in terms of building. We made a very pronounced effort in this last round of allocations of 6,500 units to make sure that co-ops were getting allocations. I think that has been a fair decision. It did mean there were groups left out, like Peel Non-Profit and certainly City Living in Ottawa and other groups around the province that have tended to receive allocations each time there is an allocation announcement, which probably felt a bit of surprise about this.
Within the Peel region, I'd like to run down some figures. Under P-10,000 and Homes Now the Peel region has received a total of 2,528 units, and that represents 6.3% of the total provincial allocation. It perhaps does not represent quite the level of population within the region of Peel, and that certainly would have changed over the period when the Homes Now program and the P-10,000 program were going through the allocation process. There is no guarantee, nor do I think there should be, that a specific population body will receive an allocation which exactly represents the proportion of the Ontario population that is involved within that municipality or region or whatever. The allocations have been based in the past and will in the future, in some form, be based on need. We certainly know there is need in Peel, but indeed there is need in a great many areas of this province. We have worked very well with the officials and communities in Peel region over the last several years, and I think overall we feel that what has been allocated and what has been developed in the Peel region meet, as best our resources allow, the needs that have been felt in Peel. Certainly there's been no attempt to emphasize one area over another, except in the question of justified need.
I will say that as we've gone through the housing policy framework consultation and looked over the experience of the last few years, we do think we can better refine the way we assess need; how we relate that, for example, to questions such as what the vacancy rate in rental units is in a given area, how quickly that's likely to change and so on. When we've gone through two recessions over the last decade and seen quite wide fluctuations occur in vacancy rates within a relatively short time, we know we can't simply assume that once the vacancy rate gets up to a certain level, people within that area are going to be able to find apartment units which are affordable for meeting the needs of the people in that area. There is not a simple relationship, and we, as we reframe the policy framework on which we will be operating the program under Jobs Ontario for the next three years, will attempt to reflect some of the things we are learning. This is a fascinating area for discussion, and I'd be glad to continue, to the best of my ability, and bring in expert assistance from the ministry, if members wish.
A couple of members have raised the question of whether we have an assessment at this stage of Dale Martin's work. I'll have to plead, not ignorance, but certainly that I don't feel I have as good an understanding of the work he's doing and whether it's possible to assess the results as the minister for whom he is working, and that is the Minister of Municipal Affairs. To my own knowledge from my own community, he has been very active and I know he has been working on various projects around the province. In the main, I think it's fair to say that he has not undertaken projects that are mainly residential, and certainly within the Ministry of Housing I think there's been a long-standing commitment to provide some resources that help move projects forward. It could be more successful and it certainly has been the intention of the Minister of Municipal Affairs in his announcement in April to try and improve the processes that developers, including non-profit developers, are facing in this province. So we hope that combined with Dale Martin's efforts, the Minister of Municipal Affairs' efforts and the Sewell commission's efforts, we're going to see some positive changes over the next several months.
Reference was made by Mr Mahoney to finding what the results of the RRSP 5% change in the federal budget have been. As I recollect, the predictions for that change were that 10,000 units would be purchased which otherwise would not have been purchased. The last indications I saw, which go back a few weeks, would indicate that even in the short run that estimate was an underestimate by about a factor of three. In other words, across Canada the indications were that purchases of about 30,000 units were involving the RRSPs.
Mr Mahoney: What about Ontario?
Hon Ms Gigantes: Ontario has about its proportionate share, about 40% of that.
The number of renters who can buy is a subject which of course relates to the proposal which the Greater Toronto Homebuilders' Association brought forward shortly before the budget. They asked us to consider the 3% forgiveness in provincial sales tax. They estimated that about 10,000 units of new housing would be sold as a result, that those sales would in effect be cost-neutral to the government because of the generation of fees and transfer tax and so on and so forth. We took a very serious look at this. In fact, we did not just ship it over to Treasury and say, "What do you think?" We consulted with their own consultant, I believe it's Clayton Research Associates, which had done the work for their proposal.
We set up focus group testing in three centres across the province to attempt to find out among people who had recently come to new home sales offices and who were clearly thinking about new home purchases what it was that was going to make them change their minds. The reading we got we've shared with the Toronto home builders and would be glad to share it with members of the committee; it's quite interesting, an interesting analysis of the state of mind of potential new home purchasers and in fact home purchasers per se, because some of these people were also thinking about resale homes as opposed to new homes. In any case, what we found was that a benefit of about $7,000 would probably make a difference in Metro and about $4,000 would probably make a difference outside Metro.
The overall cost was estimated at about $120 million netted out. For that we would probably get 10,000 new units, but we would obviously be paying for a lot more because a lot of people would be buying whether or not. We have a base of purchasing going on, and in order to get the marginal increase we would have to be paying $120 million. So it's an expensive program, or it looked to be an expensive program for what it would produce for the economy and for, for example, the home builders and home purchasers.
We were able to test this out, not scientifically but certainly in terms of the broad range of our conclusions, by taking a look at a recent program in the province of Quebec. Once we had taken a look at our own prognostications, we went to Quebec and took a look at a similar program which has been in operation there since I believe the beginning of the year, and it seemed to be producing roughly those figures.
So all in all, given what we were being told by people in the focus groups -- namely, that there was still some anticipation that interest rates which, though they seem low compared to the absolute level of interest rates of, say, two years ago or three years ago, are still in a real sense very high interest rates -- there's still some anticipation by potential home purchasers that interest rates may yet come down. People indicated -- the focus groups were going on I guess in June -- that they would be watching to see what had happened by the fall.
Our determination out of all that information and analysis was that it probably would be precipitate for the government to undertake a program of this nature at this particular point in time. We'll be looking at the state of the market and what people's choices are in the market over the fall period and see whether it's something we need to re-examine. But we have taken that proposal very seriously, and in fact I was personally very grateful that the home builders' association had brought it forward, because it did inspire us, or kick us, to do some work which I think probably is useful on a number of fronts. I think it will be helpful to them as an association and it certainly will be helpful to members of this Legislature who are concerned about housing policy, and I'd be pleased to make sure that members of the committee get copies of it.
Ms Caplan raised the question of whether we had guidelines for capital and operating costs per unit. Yes, those are reflected in the maximum unit prices, which are used as a cutoff point, if you will, for proposals which are being considered by the regional housing offices when we do an allocations call. The costs that get generated are not on a straight line. There is a variation in costs, but the latest cost figures that we have available -- I just have to put my hands on them. I know I have the paper here somewhere and I want to be as accurate as possible, and I will try to put my hands on that during our break, Mr Chair, and provide an indication of what we could call "average."
Obviously there are some developments which run into one kind of difficulty or another and where costs may be above the average. On the whole, considering that these programs have been built up with one layer on another in a relatively quick, not to say rushed, form over the last several years, I think there's been a generally decent job of controlling costs. We think we can do even better and we will be trying to build elements reflecting on a lot of what has been suggested to us in the housing policy framework and also our own understanding of what we can do that will improve cost-effectiveness. Because of our own program reviews of the non-profit area we feel that we can do an even more effective job of cost containment or cost management in the 20,000-unit program coming through the Jobs Ontario fund.
I'm over, I think, Mr Chair, to -- I'm running out of time, obviously.
The Chair: You've got 10 minutes saved from your opening statement, which we've stacked, so you've got a few more minutes. Take your time.
Hon Ms Gigantes: What I've done is tended to move back and forward, and I'm just trying to check and make sure that I'm adequately trying to at least mention points which have been raised.
Mrs Marland raised some very general concerns that she has tried to document with statements made by a non-Premier and make them somehow the theme for the operations of housing policy under the government in which he is the Premier.
Let me assure her that there is no program attempting to drive private owners out of rental housing. There's none. In fact, if you take a look over the last two years of program allocations that have been made -- for example as we did quick starts and finished up the Homes Now program and then went through the P-10,000 program -- there have been mighty few acquisitions.
It has been a criticism by some of the housing activists in Ontario that the government programs have not given enough support in the area of acquisitions where one can, in some instances, get pretty good prices for non-profit units, but we haven't found that many proposals that really were supportable in terms of the maximum unit prices that we have.
When owners of private rental housing decide they want to sell, we haven't found any who are offering fire sale prices, to my knowledge, and I certainly haven't seen them in my own community. I haven't heard flashes from around the province indicating that there are fire sales going on.
Au contraire. When we have had proposals from groups of tenants who say: "We could run this building better and this landlord is very uninterested. We'd like to try and form a co-op here," and they go and talk to the landlord, they're not getting told low prices, not at all. The view of landlords seems to be that if the government's involved, it's top price that gets demanded. So let me reassure Mrs Marland: There is no such project, and if there were, it wouldn't be working, for the reasons I've described.
Have we tried to encourage home ownership? We haven't really tried to make people into renters or home owners. What we have tried to do is continue some programs of the past, which have provided a range of assistance, either in assisted housing or in assistance for purchase of housing -- as I mentioned through the OHOSP program. We've tried to provide people with choices to the maximum of our resources, and in ways that we think are most cost-effective.
The question of leasing of land is a very interesting one. We've been doing some policy development work in the area. It's not complete yet. It's not an area in which we are just ignoring possibilities, so I'd like Mrs Marland to know that.
I'll stop there for the moment.
The Chair: At this point the committee will determine how it wishes to proceed with the remaining time, which is about three and a half hours.
Hon Ms Gigantes: Two and a half.
The Chair: Two and a half hours, thank you. I trust the minister has someplace to be after 5. Two and a half hours remaining. I'm in the committee's hands if there are any suggestions on how you wish to process. Failing that, the Chair will rule.
Ms Poole: Sometimes, Mr Chair, it's worthwhile to have each caucus have, say, a 20-minute block and rotate, which enables a number of members from one caucus to ask questions on any topic. The only difficulty, I guess, arises, for instance, if we had some questions about rent control, then the poor man sits down -- sorry, I didn't mean to call you a poor man, Mr Glass -- but then two caucuses later they ask him more -- he's back and forth -- but other than that, I think the system seems to work well that way.
The Chair: He may be willing to tell you just how much we're paying him after all.
Mrs Caplan: It might be interesting to know how many members are here from the Ministry of Housing.
Hon Ms Gigantes: I have a list here which would indicate -- 15 people would be here. We did very much appreciate the pre-indication, as it were, of your areas of interest.
Mrs Marland: We were very cooperative, weren't we?
Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, indeed, you were, because it helped us decide who should be in attendance. I should mention that Nancy Smith, the newly appointed full-time chair of Ontario Housing Corp, is here too. She has come more to observe, I think, than to expect to be questioned as she is relatively new in her position, though working, as usual, very had.
Mrs Marland: I have a question to Miss Smith, so I'm glad she is here.
Hon Ms Gigantes: Okay. You will ask me about Miss Smith.
Mrs Marland: Yes.
Ms Poole: Could Miss Smith just stand up so we could recognize her?
The Chair: Welcome, Ms Smith. Okay, Mrs Marland, briefly. Did you have a further comment?
Mrs Marland: I concur. I think the 20-minute rotation works well.
The Chair: Okay. Then perhaps we can take a five-minute break at this point. We will reconvene at 25 minutes after.
The committee recessed at 1421.
The Chair: I'd like to call to order the standing committee on estimates. We have two and a half hours remaining, and as per agreement, we will begin the rotation of questions with Ms Poole. Please proceed.
Ms Poole: Perhaps first, before I get into the first round of questioning, I could make a few comments about the Minister of Housing's response. She gave us the welcome news that they are having an evaluation and review prior to proceeding with the 20,000 announced in the budget. That is certainly welcome news.
I don't find Mr Mahoney's comments regarding the blockage of units coming out and my remarks about needing to review and reassess the program to be at all at odds; in fact, I find them quite complementary comments. For instance, I pointed out that there are blockages in the system, through bureaucracy and red tape and duplication, which could be eliminated, and of course part of the evaluation process would be to propose ways in which they could be eliminated. This is part of the reason there is a blockage at the other end of meeting the needs that Mr Mahoney referred to.
The minister did say they plan to start construction this fiscal year of some of the 20,000. What do we have left in this fiscal year, eight months or something like that? I find it hard to believe that any number of the 20,000 would actually be under construction this year, given the time frames that it takes to go through not only the municipal approvals but the Ministry of Housing approvals. Even a fast-track program to get those under construction this year I find to be virtually impossible. So one thing the minister could respond to is to give us an idea of how many of those 20,000 units it is anticipated will be under construction as part of the Jobs Ontario program this year.
Hon Ms Gigantes: I don't have the exact number in front of me. I could confirm that with Murray Wilson, but I think we had talked about having allocations for 400 this late fall, if I recollect properly.
The Chair: Mr Wilson, please come to the microphone and identify yourself by your position within the ministry. You're no stranger to the committee. Welcome back.
Mr Murray Wilson: Thank you. Murray Wilson, executive director, housing field operations, Ministry of Housing. I'm sorry, I wasn't in the room when the point was being made. May I just hear it?
Ms Poole: The minister had raised earlier that some of the 20,000 units announced in the budget would actually be under construction this year, and I asked for the estimate of how many of those 20,000 units would be under construction this year.
The Chair: Commence construction, is that what you mean?
Ms Poole: Commence construction.
Mr Wilson: I'm going to take the minister at her word: She once said that if I have different information I should give that information. Unless certain specific things were to happen very quickly, there will be no units under construction out of Jobs Ontario Homes this year. By "this year" do you mean December 31, 1992?
The Chair: I think Ms Poole was referring to the fiscal year, which would end March 31, 1993.
Mr Wilson: There's a possibility by March 31, but I don't know. It depends, as the minister is well aware. A proposal call for the new program is scheduled somewhere between November and January, and it depends on how efficiently we do our job between now and then. If we were to get a proposal call made in November, then it's conceivable we could have proposals in and selected and construction commenced relatively quickly. Certainly there's a possibility they would commence before March 31, 1993, but if the proposal call was later than that, then it would be highly unlikely that we would get projects started before March 31, 1993.
Ms Poole: Thank you, Mr Wilson. That has confirmed my doubts about whether the Jobs Ontario Homes project would actually generate construction jobs in the fiscal year we are in right now. Knowing the length of time it takes to go through the approval process, unless there is some serious streamlining and fast-tracking, I think we're really going to see the 20,000 project get under way in the next fiscal year as far as actually providing construction jobs is concerned. I find that information quite helpful.
Just a couple of other comments regarding the minister's remarks. I was very pleased to see that this review is going to be finalized before proceeding with the 20,000, but I guess my question is that we haven't really heard about the time frames for the Housing Policy Framework consultation. I'm assuming that when the minister talked about the large consultation that's taken place she was referring to the housing framework. Publicly it is in limbo as far as we can understand, in that we've heard nothing but silence. We really don't know where the housing framework discussion paper has gone, what conclusions the ministry may have raised and when we can expect to see some sort of formalized document to let the public and the users of the system know the direction of the government. I think it would be very helpful if the minister could give us a time frame for when we may expect to see this.
Hon Ms Gigantes: I'm going to ask Anne Beaumont, who is the acting deputy, to comment on that. She has been working very directly on it.
Ms Anne Beaumont: What we're planning to do to follow up on the consultation work that was done on Framework, and on the research work that's been done in the ministry since then, is to release a document we're calling Consultation Counts. We anticipate that will go out within the next few weeks to those who commented on the document: to municipalities, to the providers of non-profit housing etc. This will reflect the decisions the government has made, based on that framework consultation.
We're also now about to begin the program design for the new 20,000-unit program. In order to do that, work will go on with representatives of the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association and the Co-operative Housing Association of Ontario, the two non-profit housing groups, to design the new program based on principles that have been developed, coming out of the framework document and the consultation.
Ms Poole: Before you go on, could I just ask one question about that? Will those two groups be the only ones that will be involved in the design?
Ms Beaumont: What we were anticipating was two things: In the specific program design of the new program and the very technical details around the new program, we would involve those two groups, but we're also proposing to establish a housing advisory committee made up of a range of groups: those two, as well as groups such as AMO, the Ontario Home Builders' Association, United Tenants of Ontario, the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation, the advocacy centre etc. We're anticipating that they would work with the ministry on the medium- and long-term issues around our housing programs: looking at how we work to make them more community-based, principles that should underlie geographic allocation, how to address need-and-demand issues etc.
What I was going to go on to say, if I may, is that in the program review we did of the non-profit programs this year, we looked again at ways in which we can streamline the programs. Those recommendations fit very closely with the kind of advice we got in the consultation on the framework. Coming out of those two exercises, as we go to design the new program, what you'll see is very much a streamlined approach, a clearer indication of the accountability of the ministry and the housing providers. That should lead to a smoother and faster development of housing.
Ms Poole: Is it possible to give us an idea of the directions in which the government intends to move, as outlined in the Consultation Counts document?
Hon Ms Gigantes: Because we have not reached a final decision on all the matters that are covered in Consultation Counts, I would prefer to leave that. It will be a matter of a few short weeks and we will have the document ready for your consideration.
Ms Poole: Perhaps you could answer this one question, which is fairly specific: Will the Consultation Counts document outline some of the steps that will be taken to streamline the system?
Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, it will.
Ms Poole: So that information would be available?
Hon Ms Gigantes: That's right.
Ms Poole: Is Consultation Counts the government's finalized policy? This isn't just a document going out to consultation groups to let them know what direction you're going in? This is the document?
Hon Ms Gigantes: This is a document that will describe the principles on which we will be renewing and reviewing our policy. So for the next 20,000 units of non-profit generation, we will have new policies in place.
Ms Poole: By the way, before I forget, the minister mentioned the brief from the home builders' association concerning home ownership, renovations, that type of thing. I'd be most appreciative if we could get a copy of that.
Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, indeed. We'll make sure members of the committee get that. I think it is of general interest and the home builders themselves have found it very interesting.
Ms Beaumont: If I could for one minute add to what the minister was saying, you're referring to the actual brief from them. They had asked us that the brief they submitted be confidential.
Hon Ms Gigantes: That's right.
Ms Beaumont: What we can provide to you is what we've provided back to them, which is a report that was done on the focus groups and an indication of our analysis of their proposal.
Hon Ms Gigantes: I'm sorry, I didn't listen carefully enough to what you were asking there.
Ms Poole: Is there any executive summary of the brief that the home builders' association would permit to be released?
Hon Ms Gigantes: We can ask them.
Ms Beaumont: That's included. There is a summary of that in our analysis of the proposal where we look at that and some other options.
Ms Poole: Thank you. I'll look forward to receiving that. I'd like to go on to the issue of accessory apartments, because that certainly is one of the most contentious issues at this time.
Madam Minister, earlier the question was asked, "Would you meet with the group?" It was a group of representatives from various communities that do have concerns about the way in which the draft legislation is formulated, concerns about the time line for the consultation process and this type of thing. It represents a number of ratepayers' groups throughout the province, plus members from some of the councils. I wonder if the minister could commit whether she would be willing to meet with them to hear some of the concerns that are being expressed throughout the province.
Hon Ms Gigantes: They, like other groups, certainly have been invited to participate in the consultation on the draft legislation. I'm reluctant to get into a situation where each group around the province, whether it be a municipality or a ratepayers' group or whatever, expects to have a sitdown discussion with me as minister.
If there is a widespread indication that a couple more weeks of time for people and organizations to submit briefs would make everybody feel a lot more comfortable about the consultation process, then I'd certainly be willing to consider that, but my concern is that we do have a commitment now that we will proceed legislatively this fall. The legislative proposal which has been circulated is very specific, which means we're not asking people to get into a lot of abstract consideration; we're asking them to take a look at a draft bill. Their advice on this will be welcomed. I'm looking forward to reviewing the submissions that are being made, but I'm certainly not prepared at this stage to consider a lengthy delay in this process.
As I've pointed out before, the notion that we should have "as of right" zoning for apartments in houses is more than a flighty idea of this government. This is a long-standing proposal. It is enshrined as a requirement in the housing policy statement. It is because voluntary compliance by municipalities has not been forthcoming that we have decided we have to take a further step.
I think you had a pretty clear indication in the enunciation given us by Ms Marland of the list as long as your arm of municipal requirements before they felt they would want to get into "as of right" zoning for apartments in houses of the reluctance there has been -- I'll be quite frank -- on the part of municipalities to undertake what we feel is a modern obligation.
We think it is an up-to-date provision in planning that should have been in place some time ago in this province, and while there have been legitimate questions raised -- and I'm sure as I review the responses we've had I'll discover more than I'm now aware of, and all those responses will be taken very seriously -- we intend to go ahead with this measure and requests for delay are not going to get much sympathy from me.
We're going to deal with this issue. I'm very hopeful that we'll deal with it legislatively this fall, and I don't want anybody out there around the province to think anything else is going to happen.
Ms Poole: Minister, I find your attitude quite disturbing on this. First of all, the draft legislation was released late June just before the summer, which is a time when many people find their organization cannot meet because there are too many people away at too many parts of the summer. The deadline was August 31 and what many of the groups and councils are requesting is an extension of that deadline till the end of the year so that public meetings can be held and so there can be a valid consultation.
It's not a matter of delaying it, but when I hear you talk about dealing with the legislation this fall, it seems to me to imply that your mind is made up and that no matter what valid concerns there are or what possible amendments are necessary to the legislation to deal with things that have not been dealt with such as the impact of density, traffic, parking, services, the need for services, the fact that AMO's position, which you imply there has been consultation on, is quite different than what you're proposing, all these things to me, if you're not going to bother wanting to look at the legislation in view of them and try to rectify some of these things, are a waste of time.
It's all meaningless if you've already decided the direction in which you're going to go and you want the legislation processed this fall. I would think an extension of that deadline is a very reasonable request and it may ameliorate some of the concerns that people in the municipalities have about the legislation. It would give you certainly an opportunity to get information out, and right now that information just isn't out there because it came out at the beginning of the summer. I really think in all fairness that you should consider an extension.
I personally am quite in favour of a variety of means of intensification but I see some real problems with proceeding the way you have with a blanket universal policy for the entire province which does not recognize the different needs in various communities and which basically will impose what is seen as a Toronto solution on all of Ontario. I would urge you to think about extending it and giving an opportunity to really make sure that when this legislation is passed it is effective and fair.
I know that I've run out of time, Mr Chair, but we would like to pursue this in the next round.
The Chair: The minister will think about that, and I'd like to recognize Ms Marland, please.
Mrs Marland: I obviously am concerned about this same matter, just picking up where Ms Poole finished, because I raised this matter in my opening statements and I also asked the minister the question about whether she would meet with this group. I guess I'm a little disappointed in her answer because --
Hon Ms Gigantes: I'm so sorry, Mr Chair, could I ask Ms Marland to repeat that? She asked the minister what? I'm afraid I lost it.
Mrs Marland: Before I started my opening statement this afternoon, I did ask if you would be willing to meet with this group which has been trying to get a meeting with you for over a year. Now from your answer to Ms Poole asking the same question on behalf of the same group that I had already asked, I'm not very encouraged because you're saying you want to get this -- I'm paraphrasing you -- put to bed so you can get on with the legislation in the fall.
The point is that you're the government, you're the party which broadcasts to the world that you want to hear from everybody and that you're a consultative government and so forth. We see all the time reinforcement of the opposite of that, and I think this is a perfect example. Here we get a discussion paper out in June with a deadline for responses two months later, which is over the summer, and I think, as has already been said, that's not realistic consultation.
Most municipal councils meet once in July and once in August and for those of us with municipal backgrounds, we know there's a reason for that. You're asking those municipal councils, who are publicly elected in their level of government to serve their people, the same way we are, to respond to what is a very serious housing initiative by your government.
Albeit some of this was in the housing policy statement of the Liberals -- and I recognize that, Minister; I don't lay all the blame at your feet. I've forgotten in what year it was announced.
Hon Ms Gigantes: It was 1989, three years ago.
Mrs Marland: It was in the housing policy statement of the Liberal government.
Mr Mahoney: She has trouble saying it.
Mrs Marland: I'm saying that for Mr Mahoney's benefit because he always loves the way I say "Liberal."
Anyway, the point is, I agree, it's been out there for discussion more than that. It was a policy statement by Chaviva Ho_ek as the Minister of Housing at that time that this is what municipalities would do in terms of intensification and this is how they would do it.
I hear what you're saying, that the voluntary compliance hasn't been forthcoming, but we are in a different level of debate here now. Now we have the government saying, "We are going to legislate the municipalities to do this, to make this provision as of right," so that anyone, as of right, regardless of the millions of dollars that municipalities may have spent in planning their municipalities in terms of land use planning and in preparing their official plans for their municipalities, can do so.
We might as well do away with the entire planning departments in our municipalities, in my opinion, because of this kind of dictate from any level of government. In this case we're talking about the provincial level. I would be saying the same thing if it were the federal government coming through with some land use direction to a local municipality.
First of all, you don't have the staff, albeit you have 15 or 18 staff here today. There is not the money in the provincial treasury to hire the kind of staff that would be needed to do the kind of investigative study at the local municipal level to know where intensification should take place. That structure already exists in local municipalities and in regional municipalities through their planning departments.
The fact that the taxpayers of the province have already paid for municipalities to have planning departments decide what the future development of those municipalities should be has worked very well. It's worked at a very big dollar cost. The local taxpayers who have spent millions of dollars staffing planning departments in municipalities have paid it willingly because, as a result, especially in large municipalities, we have for the most part very sophisticated planning departments that decide what is the best land use in their municipality relative to existing development and planning for new development.
When the government comes along and says, "As of right, Mr Joe Citizen can do A, B or C" -- in this case we're talking about an accessory apartment; we're talking about a granny flat in the back garden. The ludicrous part, and I think this is the most ludicrous part of this whole direction, is that we're talking about limiting the use. I don't have the wording right in front of me, but there is a reference to limiting the use for 10 years.
I don't know whose brainwave in the Ministry of Housing it was to come up with this limiting the use for 10 years to start with. What kind of structure that would be demolished in 10 years' time could meet the Ontario Building Code and be a safe structure? There are two things. Either the structure will meet the building code and be very safe and therefore it would have to be very substantial to last for 10 years -- in any case, that's just an aside question: how the structure would actually be built and how it could be removed in 10 years' time.
It blows my mind to think that little sidebar restriction is on this subject of accessory apartments as granny flats outside of the existing building. A basement apartment is a different thing. You wouldn't be removing it as an exterior accessory building on the lot the way you would a granny flat.
I don't want to misquote you, Minister, but you said you might consider extending the response time a couple of more weeks, but you plan to proceed legislatively in the fall. I think that's what you said.
If this has been coming for so long as a policy and now it's going to be legislation, I don't think it's fair to ask those municipalities to respond, even with an extension of a couple of weeks. If it's been coming so long, I don't see why you aren't willing to have the benefit of what it is those municipalities might want to tell you.
Yes, they might want to say to you, "We've spent millions of dollars on planning our municipalities through our planning departments." They might want to say, "We have land use planning and subsequent land use zoning in our municipalities that we don't want you to interrupt." That might be part of the debate, but they might also come up with some constructive suggestions for you.
If you want to do this intensification through accessory apartments, either granny flats external to a building or additions within a building through a basement conversion or a main floor conversion -- we don't always have to talk about basements -- I would hope you would be progressive enough, through your staff, to think that another three or four months, being realistic -- you're not able to meet your own building commitment in terms of your own housing program, to hear Mr Wilson's response, in the next four, five or six months. That's fair enough; we understand what's going on there and we understand what the restrictions are on the ministry because of the economic situation. But in making such a tremendous change in a policy you're going to mandate to those municipalities, I think you should be willing to listen to them. Two months over the summer is totally unrealistic.
They're saying, "Let us go out in our municipalities." They may find people who think it's a great idea in some parts of their municipalities, and then it would work for your direction and the policy you want and it work for the municipality. But let them be a partner with you in this decision and let them be part of finding the solution, if indeed intensification is a realistic solution. You might still be willing to give municipalities the scope of deciding where their intensification is going to go in terms of their own municipalities, because as I said a few minutes ago, you don't have the staff that can go into those municipalities and make the analysis that exists today in those municipalities; they know today where intensification could work.
You've just funded studies. You just spent $70,000 in the city of Mississauga -- maybe $90,000; I'm not sure of the figure -- funding its intensification study. Are you going to turn around and say, "We spent that money and we don't agree with the study," which was done by an independent planning company? Walker Wright Young, I think, did the study for Mississauga.
On the one hand you're saying: "This is what we want and we're not going to wait any longer. We'll listen for two months over the summer." Or are you going to say: "We realize two months is unrealistic. We will listen for another four or six months. We will listen to those independent planning consultants that we've paid for," who don't have any political party stripe, by the way. You must have given the money to the municipalities to hire these planning consultants because you didn't have the staff to do it, and fair enough.
Those planning consultants went to every municipality and looked at what potential intensification sites there were, and there are some. Speaking of my own municipality in Mississauga, there are some. But could you not continue what you started by giving the municipalities the money to hire consultants to look at it? Can you not continue that rapport you developed by saying, "We want you to do the study. Here's the money. What did you find out? Now let's decide together what the next step is," rather than coming down with this heavy hammer that as of right, Susan Jones or John Smith can go into the municipality and ask for a building permit because they want to put a granny flat on their property or a conversion in their house to produce that additional residential unit?
What's the point in your having funded a study of where intensification could take place if you're now saying to Joe Citizen in Ontario, "As of right, you can do it wherever you want"? It's a total conflict that's flipped around here this spring, as I see it. We're asking you, very seriously, to consider this extension and consider listening to the people you represent just as responsibly as we do, as do the municipal officials.
I'm sure you'd like a question.
Mr Mahoney: "Don't you agree?"
Mrs Marland: Thank you, Mr Mahoney. It's not hard to tell that Mr Mahoney and I were on municipal council together in Mississauga; the familiarity and all that stuff. We help each other, because we both admit we need help.
I'm not going to ask you any of the questions that were in my opening statement. Do I need to, or can I just assume you will be able to respond to the questions in my opening statement?
Hon Ms Gigantes: I did attempt to respond to some of the points Mrs Marland raised as concerns. Others, where I think some further background information was being supplied to her, I will certainly undertake to ask ministry staff to provide extra information. Is it at this point that you would like me to respond, or what will happen now?
The Chair: Mrs Marland is asking that, for those questions you were unable to cover in your address, you either respond to them during the course of the deliberations or ensure that staff get those written responses to the clerk, who will distribute them to the committee members.
Hon Ms Gigantes: Certainly I'll ask ministry staff to take a look and see what extra information beyond what I've said might be helpful to Mrs Marland. If she feels we're not getting to the heart of concerns she's raised, I'm sure she'll feel free to indicate that and we'll do our best to respond..
Mrs Marland: That's fair.
The Chair: Mrs Marland, you have four minutes left.
Mrs Marland: Okay, a couple of quick, very easy questions. As you mentioned, and I'm going to reconfirm, Nancy Smith of Ottawa was appointed the first full-time chair of the Ontario Housing Corp. I think it's interesting that not only is Ms Smith from the minister's riding, but she also ran as the NDP candidate for mayor in Ottawa.
Hon Ms Gigantes: No, she's not from my riding.
Mrs Marland: All right. I'll correct that. Did she run as an NDP candidate for mayor in Ottawa?
Hon Ms Gigantes: No. She ran as a candidate for mayor of Ottawa on her own.
Mrs Marland: Is she a member of the NDP?
Hon Ms Gigantes: Not to my knowledge.
Mrs Marland: Okay. Can you, Minister, tell us why you feel that the chair of the Ontario Housing Corp should become a full-time position? What additional duties will Ms Smith have, compared to her predecessor? Why was she selected for the job, and what is the usual process for hiring for such a position? Who decided it would be a full-time position? Did you decide? What criteria were used in the selection process? What will her salary range be? Will she have any additional perks with the position? Will she relocate from Ottawa, and if so, will she be given a relocation and housing allowance?
Hon Ms Gigantes: I might begin by indicating to Mrs Marland that Ms Smith's appointment was reviewed by the standing committee on government agencies. She may find material in the transcript of that session that will be of interest to her.
The appointment of a full-time chair was indeed my decision, as, in the end, many such decisions will necessarily be. It was important in my view that we have a full-time chair at Ontario Housing Corp for a number of purposes, but most generally because I feel that over the last many years -- in fact, as far back as the time when I first came to this Legislature as an elected representative -- the situation and the future of the Ontario Housing Corp and Ontario Housing Corp communities across this province really had suffered from neglect. While part-time chairs have worked very hard in the past to try to focus the energies that really need to be directed to a very large portfolio, which is a very important source of assisted housing for residents of Ontario, I think it has proven difficult to do that job and to sort out the lines of development that need to be undertaken for the renewal of the communities across this province. In some cases, that will involve physical renewal. Certainly in almost all cases, it's time we took a very serious look at how well those communities are working as communities.
I'm sure that other members of this committee will share my feeling, over a long period of time, that people who live in Ontario Housing Corp communities have felt left out of the larger community in which they live. They have not felt that their particular communities were an important contribution to the overall community in which they lived. They did not have a sense of pride and a sense of what they could accomplish by working together. They did not have a sense that there was provincial concern that they be able to prosper and to live in communities where life was adequate and where a community sense was strong.
For all those reasons, I felt it was very important that we have somebody who has a deep commitment to trying to change that very long-standing nexus into which the Ontario Housing Corp communities have fallen, to persistently and with a great sense of advocacy bringing forward the concerns of people who are living in Ontario Housing Corp communities and the people who work in those communities, both as board members and as employees.
Mrs Marland: What about the salary range?
Hon Ms Gigantes: The salary range runs between $75,000 and $111,000.
The Chair: The second fiscal question was about the allocation for housing and moving. That would complete this session, and then we can move on.
Hon Ms Gigantes: Ms Smith will not be moving to Toronto, and in fact worked with our financial officials to work out a plan which would provide compensation for travel and for living expenses when she is here in Toronto that will in the end cost less than if she had been in a position where she was selling her Ottawa home and relocating in Toronto. For details of that, Arnie, would you be willing to -- is it Arnie or Vic? Vic Augustine can speak most directly about the arrangements that have been made.
Mrs Marland: You said living allowance and travel allowance would be less cost for the taxpayers or for Ms Smith?
The Chair: We'll have the presentation and then, with the committee's indulgence, we'll pursue that. Please identify yourself, and welcome.
Mr Vic Augustine: Vic Augustine, the director of finance for the Ministry of Housing, also the treasurer of Ontario Housing Corp.
Ms Smith gets living expenses and travel to and from her home, in accordance with Management Board guidelines. That is instead of relocation expenses, which we find would be substantially more than what she receives now in terms of living allowance, which is rental for an apartment and travel back and forth by train to Ottawa twice a week.
Mrs Marland: But the living allowance and travel allowance is based on a one-year comparison.
Mr Augustine: That's right.
Mrs Marland: We're talking about a one-time relocation cost here, and her appointment is what, three years?
Mr Augustine: Two years.
Mrs Marland: Two or three?
Mr Augustine: My understanding is two years.
Mrs Marland: So based on a comparison of what it would cost for two years, it's less, are you saying?
Mr Augustine: Yes, significantly less. Our calculation is that for one year, relocation costs, based on the value of her home right now in Ottawa -- if she sold the house right away, we would have approximately $41,000 for one year, a one-time cost. If it wasn't sold, if it sold within 90 to 180 days, we'd have an additional $25,000 cost. That is significantly much more expensive than renting a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto and paying train fare to Ottawa a couple of times a week or once a week.
Mrs Marland: Minister --
The Chair: If this can be very brief, Mrs Marland -- it's only because the deputant is before us. What I might do is, by extension, if there are any other committee members who would wish to raise a question on this point, the Chair will do that. Is there anybody else interested in another question to the deputant? If not, very briefly, Mrs Marland, then I'd like to move the discussion to the next caucus.
Mrs Marland: I think the only other obvious question is, where are the major staff of Ontario Housing Corp? Are they in Ottawa or are they in Toronto? What is the most convenient location for that head?
Hon Ms Gigantes: They are in Toronto, Ms Marland. Ms Smith will certainly have prolonged work contact with them here in Toronto. She has already.
Mrs Marland: So there is a cost to selecting somebody from Ottawa. That's the point.
Hon Ms Gigantes: There is a cost to selecting somebody from anywhere except the Toronto area. In this case, both in terms of the quality of the candidate and in terms of the fact that it's probably useful to have somebody who comes from an area outside the Toronto area, I think both really reinforce this particular choice, to say nothing of Ms Smith's personal qualities and her work background and proven capabilities.
Vic, you might be able to tell us. I'm not certain whether this discussion was part of the discussion that went on in the appointments committee.
Mr Augustine: For this particular appointment?
Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes.
Mr Augustine: Yes, it did.
Hon Ms Gigantes: That's right.
The Chair: A short supplementary for Mr Mahoney, and then I'd like to recognize Ms Mathyssen.
Mr Mahoney: I just wonder, in light of the comments about the travel to and from Ms Smith's home in Ottawa, would there be a requirement, Minister, for some travel in this position to be all over the province at various times?
Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, there is.
Mr Mahoney: So she would have sometimes work to do in Ottawa, sometimes work to do in Windsor, sometimes work to do in Thunder Bay?
Hon Ms Gigantes: That's right.
Mr Mahoney: So perhaps location of one's residence in this is not as critical as it might appear?
Hon Ms Gigantes: Let me tell you, as a person who represents a riding which is some distance from the city of Toronto, that when you are, as it were, isolated in that strange island called Toronto, it becomes a great office. I suspect that the amount of work that gets done by, for example, elected members who are from out of town, just because they've got nothing better to do than work, is probably higher than for people who are commuting, especially given the length of time it takes you to travel around Toronto.
Mr Mahoney: In fairness, we're not talking about an elected member.
Hon Ms Gigantes: No, I understand that.
Mr Mahoney: I just want to understand. The role of this person would be to be with Ontario Housing staff in other parts of the province on a regular basis.
Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, and she already has travel plans, let me assure you.
Mrs Irene Mathyssen (Middlesex): I would like to thank the minister. I've got three questions basically: one of them is general, and two of them relate more specifically to my riding of Middlesex. The first one has to do with some correspondence that I received today, and I wanted to ask you about this. It's from Inclusive Neighbourhoods Campaign. They have written a letter in support of you, the draft legislation for creating apartments and granny flats in houses and for this Bob Rae socialist government.
Hon Ms Gigantes: They surely didn't put it that way.
Mrs Mathyssen: They include a list of 96 supporters that include such questionable organizations as St Margaret's Anglican Church and the Children's Aid Society of the Regional Municipality of Halton. They are circulating a petition in support of the legislation, and I wondered if you knew of this group. Are you familiar with the petition, and if you are, can you evaluate the degree of support or the extent of support that is out there in the community? I didn't know this group, and I wondered if you could enlighten me.
Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes. I can't say I can give you a complete description of the group, but it is a coalition of people concerned with housing policy in this province, who have for a number of years considered the question of "as of right" zoning for apartments in housing to be an important policy issue in Ontario. You mentioned that there were various organizations and municipalities and so on which have expressed support for the proposal, and that is true.
It doesn't make an awful lot of sense, but I was going to suggest that we could give you a preliminary indication of some of the positive responses that we've had. But we will have an overall assessment of the responses and the particular proposals that come out of the consultation. I guess that's time enough. Certainly editorially there has been support for the initiative, and there are various groups and individuals across the province who have spoken quite forcibly in favour of the change in policy.
Mrs Mathyssen: So it is fairly broadly based and there's no significance to it being printed on pink paper or anything like that.
My second and third question have to do with issues within the riding of Middlesex. The second one is in connection with a complex that I think you are familiar with, the Cheyenne Apartments. That housing is, to say the least, inadequate. It certainly doesn't meet the needs of the people who are living there.
I was listening to what Mrs Marland said about rental supplements and how they can be helpful to people who find themselves living in substandard or inadequate housing. I wonder if you could speculate whether or not rental supplements would be helpful to the people living in this particular area. Is that a realistic alternative or is that at all helpful to these people in this development?
Hon Ms Gigantes: I can't say I know every detail of the living situation at Cheyenne Apartments, though I did visit some time over the last six months -- I think it was probably about four months ago -- and found the living conditions of people there, many of whom are newcomers to Canada, to be really extremely difficult. I felt particularly badly about the living situation for the children in that development.
I don't think the prime difficulty that families are facing there is the level of rents. The level of rents is relatively low. It is the living conditions in the apartment buildings which has proven to be such a trial for people there. As you're well aware, there has been a group active in the London community to try to see if an alternative can be developed on that site. The discussions we've had at the Ministry of Housing, and we've spent a fair amount of time on it, would indicate there are some difficulties with some elements of what has been considered by the community group, namely because the current owners are not willing to sell the land at a price that would allow for alternative development through our non-profit housing programs within the maximum unit prices we have used as guidelines in those programs.
This again goes back to the question that has been raised by Ms Marland about whether this government has some devious plot to try to drive private owners of rental property out of private ownership. What we found in this instance, as in many others when there is any suggestion that there may be a different type of development on an existing piece of land which currently has rental properties on it, is that the prices that get discussed by the owners are just way out of range for our housing programs.
That has been the essence of our difficulty in trying to meet the requests that have come from the community in London to try to deal with the living situation in Cheyenne Apartments, and I'm sure it's not the only rental development where people are living in very inadequate conditions. I must say personally, among the properties that I've seen in Ontario, and I've seen a fair number which are less than pleasant, that has got to be one of the most unhappy that I've seen.
Mrs Mathyssen: My third question has to do with affordable housing, cooperative non-profit housing for seniors. I have a group of seniors in the rural part of my riding and I regard them at this point in time as very vulnerable inasmuch as it looks as if in very short order they may find themselves in housing that they can no longer afford. I have really grave concerns about that. There has been one project that I'm aware of in the town of Strathroy. That was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and it was geared towards senior citizens, providing the elderly with alternative affordable housing.
I wondered how much response there has been by groups to developing affordable cooperative non-profit housing for seniors, because of their very special needs in terms of affordability and access and also in light of the fact that they are definitely growing in number. Of course it's years before you and I will be among them, but we do have that to look forward to, and their numbers are increasing.
Hon Ms Gigantes: The questions you raise are questions that really go to the heart of the considerations that we have in mind as we think about what happens, for example, with the 20,000 units that will be developed under the Homes Ontario program. Have I got the right name? Jobs Ontario. I never get the titles right. If it's called P-10,000, I can remember it.
If I could just step back for a moment, about half the assisted housing in Ontario, whether it be OHC housing or other public housing or non-profit housing, is so-called senior citizens' housing. Indeed, if one looks at the overall waiting list across Ontario, senior citizens as a group have had their needs better met than any other group which is in need of assisted housing. A higher proportion of senior citizens who need assisted housing are getting it, compared for example to the proportion of families that need assisted housing and get it.
That is not to say that in some areas the needs of senior citizens are not higher than others. I can give you as an example small towns and rural areas where there has been an exodus of younger people seeking jobs in other places and the remaining population is fairly elderly and not very well off.
There's a real need to try to balance the design of our program. While in the large, macro sense across the province we know that seniors, as a group, are getting better served or have been better served than other groups, I think it's still important for us to remember that there are areas, particularly outside large urban centres, where the needs of senior citizens are very high. So I think your point is a good one.
It's also quite difficult, very often, to affordably meet those needs. If we're developing where, for example, there aren't services, the costs of looking after sewage can be very high, so there's a double kind of problem there. We don't often find a demand, for example, for a large development for senior citizens, and that means we don't get economies of scale. It also means for example that the fixed cost of septic treatment of a good, adequate, modern standard is very high.
These are things we're wrestling with as we try and redesign the housing program.
Mrs Mathyssen: Plus the need to balance the virtue of allowing seniors who have lived all their lives in a rural community to stay close to that which is familiar and close to family.
Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, but it's a difficult question indeed.
The Acting Chair (Mr Gary Carr): Mr Lessard. I think she offered to put you first.
Mr Wayne Lessard (Windsor-Walkerville): There had been some mention, earlier on in the discussions, about the work of Dale Martin at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. I just want to indicate one example I had dealing with Municipal Affairs recently, as a result of a developer of single-family homes in the Windsor area who was seeking some routine approval at the ministry. When working indirectly with Mr Martin I found that approval was able to be speeded up so that it was available within a couple of weeks. That's been my experience since Mr Martin's come on board.
Hon Ms Gigantes: But you do live in Windsor.
Mr Lessard: My next question has to do with Windsor, and it's about one of the slides you went through. It says the percentage of renters who can afford to buy a home, on page 16 of the package you prepared. It indicates that there is a great number of renters in Windsor -- over 50% of them, by the most recent statistics -- who could afford to buy a home but don't, I guess. If you compare that to figures for the Toronto area, for example, it's almost double. I was trying to think of what explanation there might be for that.
Hon Ms Gigantes: Again, what I could do is just remind you of the assumptions that are made in this analysis. It assumes that the level of down payment is 10%, it assumes a three-year mortgage, and it assumes a gross debt service ratio of 32%. I think essentially the difference is the cost of housing, which is lower in Windsor than in Toronto, as indicated in the other slide.
I think you will also find, if you have a look at the report on the focus group discussions that were held around the Greater Toronto Home Builders' Association proposal, that the things that determine people's readiness to purchase are a mix of things which may be different in one community compared to another, depending on local conditions -- for example, house prices.
I also read, from the comments that came out of the focus groups -- I wasn't at them, but I certainly have a personal kind of feel that people's views of what they're looking for in housing may be changing in ways that will bring us to a new configuration of the housing market. There seems to me to be some indication, which I had previously suspected, that people will rent in order to be able to stay in a given location.
There also seems to be an indication, certainly both from market results over probably the last six months to a year and from the discussion that went on in the focus groups, that people are looking for housing which is perhaps less grandiose than seemed to be the model a while back. I think that people are starting to think about starter homes that are pretty well stripped-down models. Certainly we've had an indication from Montreal, where there has been development of over 1,000 units of very small starter homes, really stripped-down models, that people will buy and they'll buy those fast. Perhaps when we're looking to future developments in new homes we'll be looking at a different kind of market from the one that's prevailed over the last 10 to 20 years. So all those things come into play. God only knows, but I think you will find the report on the focus groups interesting.
Mr Lessard: Thank you.
Ms Margaret H. Harrington (Niagara Falls): I'll let Mr Marchese ask the question now, if you'd like.
Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Thank you, Margaret. I have two things that I wanted to talk about. One of them has to do with the Planning Together document. One specific area that really interests me has to do with the part that talks about gaining greater control of how their lives are being run in the housing development. I have concerns about that, because I think that if we don't do that carefully, it could fail. There is a long process of change that we need to engage in, not only the administrators who have behaved or acted in a certain way for a long, long time, but also in terms of the people who live there, particularly when they've been used to a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. Changing that around to a greater feeling of usefulness and control will take some time.
Part of what concerns me as well is the literacy problem that is probably in those housing developments, so we have to deal with that. That's a process of change as well that could take a great deal of time.
Unless we put in the resources, unless we put in the adequate training that is involved, unless we actually work with people on a day-to-day basis, that initiative, which I think is a fundamental thing that can bring about change, could result in negative consequences. I am wondering, from your point of view or even the acting deputy's, what thoughts have gone into how we deal with these problems in terms of putting structures into place, training into place, resources, implementation of all of that and an assessment of how all of that is going. Do we have a sense of how you might deal with that?
Hon Ms Gigantes: Two things. I think if Sue Herbert, who is our ADM of operations, joined this discussion it would be helpful, and Margaret Harrington, who is the parliamentary assistant, has been following the initial steps in this whole project. It's one which I find absolutely fascinating, and I'm very hopeful about it, but I think they could probably add more right now than I could usefully.
The Acting Chair: If I could, you're almost out of time and I hate to have you called up here -- keep it brief, but if you could get right to the point, thanks.
Ms Suzanne Herbert: All right. I'll see what I can do. I'm Suzanne Herbert. I'm the ADM of housing operations and I'm also the CEO of the Ontario Housing Corp.
All of the issues you've raised are real issues. There's no doubt about it. Through the process of developing the plan we had tenants actively involved in the actual development of the document itself and the process. We've provided some facilitation money that will be available to local housing authorities that they can draw upon. As well, there's a tenant grant program and a quality customer service program that provides some funds.
I think the question of process and the importance of moving this at the right time frame and in the right way will be different across each local housing authority, because they have different experience in this area. Some housing authorities have moved to tenant input and tenant control without this initiative and what we're doing is simply supporting them to move further. In other areas it will be a rather new and unique process and they're going to take much longer. There is a process of monitoring at the regional housing office level as well in the tenants' support branch, so we're going to be providing as much hands-on support to the local housing authorities as we can.
Hon Ms Gigantes: Margaret, I think --
Mr Marchese: Can I --
The Chair: Very briefly, because our time has expired for this caucus.
Mr Marchese: I'll pick it up after.
The Chair: Well, if it's a very brief question, of course.
Ms Harrington: I wanted to briefly comment, because it is such an important thing and I think Mr Marchese has raised the essence of the very difficulty and the challenge and the hugeness of what we are about to attempt with his concerns regarding any failure.
We have taken a long while and a sensitivity to the process of developing the document. It is written in a very straightforward and clear way, trying to get the tenants involved. That is very, very important. You have hit upon a very fundamental thing. This is difficult to do. It has to be done properly. I have been involved in my local riding in meeting with the staff of the housing authority. It is so important all across the province for staff to be committed and to want to participate in change and have it viewed as a good thing for their own jobs as well as for the tenants.
This is a start of the process. It's going to be difficult, Mr Marchese, and I hope that everyone, including the opposition members, across this province will be looking forward to it and be sensitive to the process. I think the opposition will even agree that there's no sense keeping Ontario Housing the way it has been. I think everything is evolving and changing, and I think you as well as we want a better process in the future. I hope you'll agree.
The Chair: Thank you.
Mr Mahoney: I'd like to go back briefly to the comments by the minister with regard to the intensification issue.
Ms Poole: Mr Chair, on a point of order: We have, I think, just over one hour and 15 minutes left.
The Chair: Correct.
Ms Poole: Should we perhaps divide up 25 minutes for each caucus and that would finish; we can take the votes.
The Chair: It is the custom for the Chair to watch the clock, and I'm watching it.
Ms Poole: I know. It's just to have the timing in a block, rather than tack it on to the end.
The Chair: I will interrupt in the final round to ensure that there is equity. Please proceed.
Mrs Marland: It's a good suggestion, though.
Hon Ms Gigantes: It's a good start. Can I ask a question? I'm not sure I've understood exactly how you wish us to go.
The Chair: We've completed one 20-minute round with some fine-tuning. We're going to have another round just shy of 20 minutes.
Hon Ms Gigantes: That wasn't my question.
The Chair: It was a point of order from Mrs Poole, and I'm giving her final clarification. Then I'll ask the minister what it is she wants to raise with me.
Mr Mahoney: Why don't you do that before we divide the time?
The Chair: Because it's the responsibility of the Chair to ensure that the minister be given a final summary comment and that we give sufficient time to the Chair to conduct the six votes required by the standing orders. If you want to take a lot of time discussing the clock, I am in your hands, but it's the custom for regular members of this committee to ensure that the Chair works out an equitable schedule once you told me you wanted to do time allocation.
Minister, you had a question.
Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes. I had a question of you, Mr Chair, whether I'm expected to respond as people raise questions. Following the second-round comments by Ms Poole and Ms Marland, I did not attempt to respond immediately and then I started to wonder about the protocol.
The Chair: There is no real protocol. When the questioner raises a question and pauses, I guess it's implicit that he or she is wanting a response at the time. If you take too long with your response, they generally indicate to the Chair that they think the response is a little too lengthy. If they wish to stack their questions, they'll indicate that generally.
Mr Mahoney, please proceed.
Mr Mahoney: I have some questions which I'd like you to respond to as I go.
Your comments with regard to intensification cause me real, serious concern -- when you said that you've made a decision to go ahead with this and you wouldn't want anybody in the province to be under any illusions. I'm paraphrasing what you said because I don't have Hansard.
Hon Ms Gigantes: You are paraphrasing.
Mr Mahoney: In essence, that's what I interpreted you to say, and you're simply plowing ahead with this thing. It is very much reminiscent of Bills 4, 121 and the current Bill 40, where the government has simply decided to go ahead, and supposedly is having consultation.
That's what concerns AMO and the municipalities. That's why you have such an all-encompassing document from the city of Mississauga council that Mrs Marland entered into the record earlier, because they are putting out every concern they can possibly think of in this area, rather than sitting down and perhaps eliminating some that may not be as contentious as they appear to be once you get into the depth of the issue. With respect, I think the attitude that you're going to go ahead with this regardless of what anybody has to say about it is what really concerns people.
Hon Ms Gigantes: What I wanted to make clear was that we intend to proceed with an amendment to the Planning Act on the question of apartments in houses. I certainly did not indicate that we're not interested in listening to people's comments on the draft legislation and any proposals they have for improving it; that's the purpose of the consultation. But the direction is clear.
Mr Mahoney: And you are clear on that: The direction is clear that you're going ahead with this. I'm a lot concerned. The reaction from you to the list Mrs Marland read was something to the effect, somewhat facetiously, that it's a good thing they're in support of it. It just so happens that a number of them on that council are in support of some form of intensification but they have a number of very serious questions that are put forward.
Hon Ms Gigantes: We're not dealing here with the general question of intensification.
Mr Mahoney: No, I want to get into specifics.
Hon Ms Gigantes: We're talking here about the question of amending the Planning Act to permit "as of right" zoning for apartments in houses. The question of intensification is a larger one. I don't wish you to suggest that I am plowing ahead with intensification as a generalized policy without consultation or discussion or any of that. In fact, that is one of the items a royal commission is now taking across the province as a question of consultation.
Mr Mahoney: Minister, let me deal specifically with one of the amendments to the Planning Act that you've put forward in your document, that is, the issue of dealing with related and unrelated people. I personally do not think that's a Planning Act issue; I think it's a human rights issue. It's nobody's darned business whether or not you're related to the people you happen to share a home with.
Hon Ms Gigantes: That's why we want to make clear that the Planning Act does not permit that kind of distinction.
Mr Mahoney: I suggest to you that it's not a planning issue, that there is legislation that prohibits discriminatory bylaws from being passed by a municipality to discriminate on the basis of familial relationship. It's one of the areas that I think should not be part of the planning process because it's simply going to --
Hon Ms Gigantes: We are making it clear that it should not be.
Mr Mahoney: Who is?
Hon Ms Gigantes: That's what the amendment would accomplish.
Mr Mahoney: By putting an amendment in the act, you're making it clear that they can't do it. I'm trying to suggest to you that you do it through non-discriminatory legislation which is already in place, and indeed was put in place by our government, that prohibits discriminatory bylaws from being passed on that basis.
Hon Ms Gigantes: Can I suggest that leaves the onus on the resident to go through a long and perhaps difficult process to claim human rights. What we're suggesting here is that by taking a definitive step and declaring that the Planning Act does not permit this kind of thing, we can save people out there all that concern, because it means that administratively Municipal Affairs will be able to say, "This is without the Planning Act."
Mr Mahoney: I don't want to take my short eight or nine minutes on that one point, but perhaps I could just leave this thought with you: If a municipality is prohibited from passing a discriminatory bylaw on that basis of related-unrelated, then it would not be left up to an individual. It would be against the law for the municipality to discriminate on that basis, and therefore the province could simply deal with that and that bylaw would have no force in effect, rather than be as part of the Planning Act.
Hon Ms Gigantes: We obviously could discuss this one at great length.
Mr Mahoney: We have done that.
Let me go to such issues as power of entry, the search warrant, concerns I have about what type of evidence can be seized. The term is used, "based on reasonable grounds." You may be more reasonable or less reasonable than I on any given issue. That concerns me a great deal.
I have this fear that, while I want to give the municipality some basis on which to deal with multiple occupancy -- and your document refers to the number two throughout the document. I frankly don't think two units in a single home are a grave, serious problem as long as other aspects are covered. The problem is multiple occupancy. I want the municipalities to have some basis on which to deal with these violations through zoning and through the Planning Act, but I'm quite concerned about basement apartment cops, so to speak, and the rights of individuals and the privacy of their home; the rather loose terminology that's used here in relationship to seizure. I don't know if you've given that any thought.
Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes indeed. We had a lot of discussion around this very item. In fact, I'd very much appreciate it if Colleen Parrish, who is our chief of legal services and who worked on this item, were to join the discussion.
The Chair: She's well known to many committee members. Welcome, Ms Parrish.
Ms Colleen Parrish: Colleen Parrish, director of legal services.
Hon Ms Gigantes: She can tell you that we had very intense discussions around this one.
Ms Parrish: As you know, the Charter of Rights and good law in Ontario places very high protection on the right of the individual of privacy. Where there is a reason for the state, if I can put it in that broad sense, whether it's a provincial inspector, municipal inspector or indeed the police, to enter a dwelling unit in Ontario, it has to meet very high standards.
They have to go before a judicial officer and ask for a search warrant. In order to get a search warrant, you have to meet certain tests, and those tests include that you have reasonable and probable grounds to believe that there is (a) an offence and (b) evidence in the dwelling unit related to that offence. You have to show those two things. You have to go forward and say, "I have reasonable and probable grounds to believe that there are health and safety violations, and I have reasonable and probable grounds to believe that I have to enter that dwelling unit to get that evidence."
In many cases where you have a situation where the tenants are not fearful that they will lose their right to live there -- that is, where they believe there's going to be an inspection for health and safety and not for zoning -- they usually just consent because they want these bad conditions to be fixed up. So by allowing "as of right" zoning, people cease to fear the entry of legitimate municipal inspectors, so you find that in most cases you will have consent. You will probably have relatively few cases where there is a search warrant, but if you do, you have to meet these tests and the tests are fairly stringent, with good reason, because there is a right of privacy.
On the other hand, you take away one of the biggest bugbears municipalities have had in getting search warrants. The problem has been in the past that municipalities have had to specify to a JP before they could get a search warrant that they were going to seize something. In most cases, if you're looking at horrible conditions -- no safety this or that, vermin, bugs, inadequate lighting, inadequate egress -- there's nothing to seize. You can't seize a lack of fire equipment. So they couldn't get these search warrants. They couldn't get a search warrant because they had nothing to seize; what they wanted to do is look at conditions, and this draft legislation fixes that problem.
Mr Mahoney: I appreciate the answer, Colleen; as usual, very thorough. I hope we are not entering into a situation where we're going to create a boondoggle for lawyers to be arguing on the issue of reasonable grounds. I have 15 items on that issue alone I'd love to spend some time on, but I'll pass to my colleagues. But I would ask you to take a very hard look at the city of Mississauga's request to provide it with the power to license rooming houses, to get a handle on that problem through a municipal licence. I advised them to do that when we were in government, when it was very contentious. They refused but seem to be much more interested now.
Hon Ms Gigantes: I'll tell you, I think municipal control over substandard accessory apartments, as they used to be known, apartments in houses, is going to be very much strengthened by the proposed legislation, and I think that should be a great source of comfort to the municipalities.
Ms Poole: I think we'll move to the Rent Control Act now. There are a couple of questions I specifically would like the minister to answer and then we have a few for Mr Glass which are more technical and specific about the legislation.
Minister, the first question I'd like to ask you involves a decision of the rent review office regarding Zanana Akande's illegal charging of rents in apartments she owns. Is this not against NDP policy, which for many years has been to protect the rights of tenants? Is this not personally very embarrassing for you, to have one of your colleagues found guilty of gouging tenants?
Hon Ms Gigantes: Obviously, no one of us would like to have any one of our colleagues in this difficulty. I don't wish to comment on what has happened in this particular case. The process is still in train, as far as I understand it. The one thing I do feel assured about is the fact that it has been a careful and a fair and equitable process.
Ms Poole: Minister, you say that as far as you're aware the process is still going on. My understanding from public comments made by Ms Akande is that she intends to appeal the decision. I wonder if this has perhaps created a dilemma for you, because under your legislation, Bill 121, you as minister have abolished the appeals board, the rent hearings board, and that is the board Ms Akande is actually using to appeal that particular decision. Have you had any change of heart, having one of your colleagues find the board to be extremely useful and planning to use it to clear her name? Do you now have second thoughts that perhaps the appeal board should be reinstated and you're going to take a second look at it?
Hon Ms Gigantes: It's our intention to proceed with 121 as it has been passed by the Legislature, and that will mean that the appeal board will be wound down as soon as those cases which are covered under previous legislation are dealt with.
Ms Poole: I guess I find it very ironic that a board that is in the process of being abolished by the NDP, and in fact has been abolished by Bill 121, is being utilized by a former NDP cabinet minister who definitely sees the value in it. Under Bill 121 one of the problems with that legislation is that if there is an error in fact, if there's an error in law, people have to go through a very expensive court process for remedy, and if it's an error in law, they do not have an appeal board to hear their case.
Hon Ms Gigantes: Mr Chair, I don't think that's quite a fair assessment of the process under Bill 121, but I will point out to Ms Poole through you, if I may, that the case she's referring to is one which arose under previous legislation, so obviously the various facets of that legislation will be in play and useful to parties in that case.
Ms Poole: I submit to you, Madam Minister, that the appeals board would have been very useful not only under the predecessor legislation but under Bill 121, and that to me it seems quite unfair that your colleague Ms Akande is able to make use of the appeals board and yet that will be denied to all other tenants through the new legislation.
I think we'll leave that particular one. I think before we go to Mr Glass, Elinor had a question.
Mrs Caplan: Yes, thank you. In my opening comments I mentioned your 4.9% increase, and I've had a number of comments from tenants in my riding. As I mentioned, Minister, 48% of my constituents are tenants. Several have called me and said that they're feeling quite betrayed and very cynical because in the summer of 1990, the now Premier, Bob Rae, and his candidate, Lennox Farrell of Oriole, promised that the rent control increase would equal inflation.
I'm asking you what I should say to them when they tell me that they're feeling betrayed, because while inflation is less than 2%, the tenant increase for 1992 is 4.9%. They're feeling cynical, as I said, they're feeling betrayed, they feel Bob Rae and Lennox Farrell lied to them, and I'd like you to tell me what I should say to them.
Hon Ms Gigantes: I can't tell you what to say to them. Certainly you could explain, if you wished, that after consultation it became the intent of this government to develop a control on rents that reflected not merely CPI increases but the actual costs of running and operating rental accommodation in this province. Those have been higher, particularly those elements that relate to energy costs and tax costs, on a three-year rolling average, which is the formula which is being continued, than CPI increases have been.
The result of that is that we have a guideline. Once we take an inflationary reflection of the three-year rolling average as the cost of running rental accommodation and add in the 2% for maintenance and capital expenditures that's built into the guideline, we have a guideline which is higher than the rate of inflation.
If you have difficulty explaining that to them, you might wish to refer them to the Ministry of Housing and we'll give it another try.
Mrs Caplan: Several have told me that they have attempted to contact you and the Premier -- Bob Rae, now Premier of Ontario -- to tell both you and the Premier of their feelings of betrayal and have not been satisfied with the response because the response has been so different from your election promise.
Again I would ask you, when they say to me, "How can we believe anything that the Minister of Housing and Bob Rae have to say?" what am I supposed to say to them?
Hon Ms Gigantes: Again, I can't tell you what to say.
Ms Poole: Mr Chair, I think we'll go on to Mr Glass because time is getting very short.
The Chair: You've got a minute and a half.
Ms Poole: Can you talk quickly? During the rent control hearings, we talked about the cost of administration of the new Rent Control Act. At that time you gave us some figures saying it would be administratively more expensive in the beginning but that you hoped to taper off. Do you have new figures for the cost of administration?
Mr Robert Glass: I think the figures I would present would be essentially the same figures. We would estimate that the cost of rent control this year will be $38,545,000. That will consist of $33,976,000 of ongoing costs and $4,568,000 for the one-time implementation costs associated principally with advertising, new publications, translation services, training and new systems work.
Ms Poole: You mentioned the cost of advertising. Do you have a figure available for that cost?
Mr Glass: It would be about $1,715,000.
Ms Poole: And what about the training of the staff? What would the cost be for that?
Mr Glass: Approximately $250,000.
Ms Poole: So you're spending five times as much on advertising as on training?
Mr Glass: I think the public education communications component is equally critical, because we find that a well-educated public saves us a lot of time and a lot of effort later down the road.
Ms Poole: My math was bad, I think -- seven times. I'm quite concerned about the training and whether it will be adequate, particularly without the appeals board. What training process will be in place?
Mr Glass: We actually began training in June. It is a series of modules that involve everything from clerical processes through to the new systems work through to the act and regulations and new policies and procedures. The courses involve really all our staff at the former rent review services group, the Residential Rental Standards Board and the Rent Review Hearings Board, and they're repeated several times. They run from half-day to two-day courses and they'll continue on from the month of June through to, I think, about October 1 and they're all-inclusive.
Ms Poole: If I could just ask one more brief question, because I think my time has run out: You mentioned that there was a startup cost for the administration. Excluding that one-time startup cost, what will be the difference in administrative costs projected for the first year of the RCA system as opposed to the last year?
Mr Glass: I believe the difference is about $500,000, but I'm not absolutely certain. I'd have to compare this year's and last year's budget estimates.
Ms Poole: So you're targeting half a million more in administration?
Mr Glass: Yes.
Ms Poole: And that excludes the startup cost?
Mr Glass: Yes.
The Chair: Thank you. Please don't leave, Mr Glass. Mrs Marland, did you have some questions for Mr Glass?
Mrs Marland: No, Mr Chairman. I went through all that in the hearings and I'm already totally frustrated by that unnecessary legislation anyway.
I'm going to table with the minister, as I said at the outcome this afternoon, a number of questions; in fact I think it's 15 questions. I will look forward to receiving a reply in writing to the ones I haven't asked, as the minister has committed to.
I also want to recognize the fact that the member for Oakville South, the other member on this committee, has some very valuable questions to ask the minister, so I'm not going to take the balance of the time. I'm going to share it.
Minister, we've had a lot of discussion this afternoon revolving around the fact that there simply isn't the money to do all the things that need to be done for the people of the province in terms of trying to resolve the question of housing. Certainly our caucus has come up with some very concrete alternatives that we wish your government would look at seriously. We've talked about that a lot in the past year, you and I, and it seems you have a mindset in opposition to shelter subsidy.
It's a very difficult subject for me to understand from your perspective, because while you say you don't want to subsidize -- I mean, when I've said the solution is to gradually phase out rent controls while you protect those people who need protection from rents which they cannot afford, and we've said direct shelter subsidy payments are the way to do that, you've also said from time to time: "Well, you know, we don't want to use government money to subsidize the private sector. We can't support private sector development by using government money in terms of giving a shelter allowance, which in turn pays a rent to a property owner who is in a business."
You and your caucus members always talk about the business of owning property as though it's sort of a dirty word, yet the irony is you mentioned another $80 million this afternoon that goes in a shelter allowance or a rent subsidy, outside the non-profit and cooperative programs. The fact is that the Ministry of Community and Social Services has no trouble giving government money, therefore taxpayers' money, to pay rents for people who are eligible under our social assistance requirements. So on the one hand we're saying, "We can't subsidize the private sector in terms of property ownership," but in fact that's what we're doing, and we're doing it because it needs to be done.
We agree with it. We agree with the fact that people who are eligible for social assistance who need their rent paid out of Comsoc should get it paid out of Comsoc, because they need that help. But it's the same treasury, it's the same pot that this money's coming out of. So they're rather conflicting statements.
While we're talking about the shortage of money in the province and the need to have money to resolve this problem, something was brought to my attention, and I thought you might like an opportunity to confirm or correct this, because if it's not true, I will go back to the source who brought it to my attention.
Apparently it's alleged that on May 21 of this year, 1992, about 60 rent registry staff spent a day being briefed on the upcoming passage of Bill 121 at the luxurious Old Mill restaurant in Etobicoke. It was alleged that they had a roast beef and seafood buffet for lunch costing $18.95 per person, which rose to $24 each when taxes and gratuity were included.
I think we need to know: Were there additional costs for the room rental, breakfast and staff claims for travel to and from the Old Mill? Is it true that on May 21, rooms sat vacant in the Macdonald Block, where the rent registry staff meeting could have taken place at very low cost? What are your ministry guidelines for meal costs and travel claims for such meetings?
If none of that is true, I think the public needs to know it, and certainly I need to know it to get back to the people who said, "How is it that we've got this terrible situation in the province and yet we have potentially a very bad example of ministry staff spending a lot of money that didn't need to be spent?"
Hon Ms Gigantes: Mr Chair, in response quickly to that, you will recall that you raised the question of a working lunch, I believe it was, with me some months ago. In fact that led me to make inquiries at the ministry, which did raise questions in my mind. The specific details of the events and the costs involved I don't have at hand at this stage, but certainly staff was reminded of the need for exercising great discretion about spending on such questions.
I think if there are further details that are required, either Arnie Temple might have information available now or we could respond in writing. But I do think the questions you generated at that stage were useful and they have, in turn, generated a much clearer definition of what is adequate financial constraint in terms of such events.
Mrs Marland: Minister, does somebody have the answer today about the cost of this lunch, and did it take place? Was it at the Old Mill, did it cost $24 and how many people were there?
Mr Glass: Perhaps I can fill in some details, Minister. The registry staff are my responsibility. There was a lunch at the Old Mill restaurant. It was held at the Old Mill restaurant after we attempted to get boardrooms at the Macdonald Block. When there were none available, there were tenders for various locations that are used frequently. The Old Mill is used from time to time by government officials; not specifically Ministry of Housing.
Mrs Marland: Twenty-four dollars for lunch?
Mr Temple: The correct figure is not $24. I believe the correct figure is $18, but I'd have to review that. It's been several months.
There was a mistake made. The training day was planned for one specific day and then it was changed to another day. The staff did not check back to see if boardrooms were available, so they went ahead at the Old Mill. They've been properly chastised for doing that, because there were boardrooms available and it would have been somewhat cheaper.
In terms of lunch, I would ask people to bear in mind that it's principally staff members, who do have the right to a lunch or overtime in lieu of lunch.
Mrs Marland: Did they also claim travel expenses to and from the Old Mill when they could have been at the Macdonald Block?
Mr Glass: There might have been some nominal charges for that; one would hope subway tokens.
Mrs Marland: The information I had was $18.95 per person, but by the time you add the taxes and the gratuity, that's how it got up to $24.
Mr Glass: My understanding is that it would not be $24.
The Chair: It certainly didn't include the bar bill, as I understand. You're doing well there, Bob. It didn't include the bar bill, so keep going.
Mrs Marland: So you're saying that we have a choice of spending $24 on lunch for staff who meet over lunchtime, or pay them overtime.
Mr Glass: No, the lunch charge was not $24, but there is a choice of paying overtime or paying for lunch. To have released people at the Old Mill would have been rather awkward.
Mrs Marland: But what is overtime? If you work through your lunch, is overtime time and a half on your salary?
Mr Glass: Yes.
Mrs Marland: Is that right?
Mr Glass: Not my salary.
Mrs Marland: No, but do your staff work exact hours like 8:30 to 12:30 and an hour for lunch? What hours do they work and what constitutes overtime?
Mr Glass: Certain specific staff would. It depends on the particular schedule they're in. It's either a 36.25-hour workweek or a 40-hour workweek, depending on the schedule they're in.
Mrs Marland: Do they clock in for these hours?
Mr Glass: They would sign attendance registries.
Mrs Marland: All the people who attended this luncheon would have been eligible for overtime if you hadn't bought their lunch?
Mr Glass: The majority of staff would be union members in a schedule that would be appropriate for overtime, yes.
Mrs Marland: Union members? What do you mean?
Mr Glass: Union staff who would be appropriate for overtime.
Mrs Marland: I see. It's a very interesting answer. Can I look forward to the actual costs and travel claims for that meeting?
Mr Glass: Absolutely.
Mrs Marland: Thank you. I'd like to give the rest of the time to Mr Carr.
The Chair: Mr Carr, you have about six minutes.
Mr Gary Carr (Oakville South): I'll be very brief. I wanted to thank all the staff who came here today for their answers. I'm going to stay away from the broad questions.
I was looking through the estimates and saw that we had gone from spending $550 million to about $930 million in two years, but I want to get specific. Last night I was going through some of the briefing books from the auditor. On page 181 it talks about some of the inadequate income verification. I'll read you a copy of it.
It says, "While rents were properly calculated based on tenants' reported income, we found income verification to be inadequate and inconsistent." Basically what the auditor said is we don't look at people's incomes to see if they're reporting them accurately.
Could you tell us, as a result of what happened with the auditor's report, what changes you've made and if you could be fairly specific, Minister, what is being done now to ensure that they're getting the right figures?
Hon Ms Gigantes: Murray Wilson can speak to this, Mr Chair. In my understanding, if I've got that right, some of the question related to the private management of some buildings. Have I got that right, Murray?
Mr Wilson: It could well involve some privately owned buildings where there are rent supplement tenants involved, but I think if the --
Mr Carr: You're familiar with the auditor's report?
Mr Wilson: Yes, I am, but there are two auditor's reports: one the Provincial Auditor's report of OHC, the other of non-profit and cooperative housing. I don't really know which one you've identified.
Mr Carr: This one here, the OHC one.
Mr Wilson: The OHC one, then it could be tenant incomes, especially with people on rent supplement in privately owned buildings. That's number one. Number two, in local housing authorities the directives and procedures are well laid down for housing authority staff, and to the best of our ability, in terms of checking with housing authorities as to how frequently they're carrying out their income verifications, that is done.
In the privately owned buildings where there are tenants who are taken from housing authority waiting lists and housed on a rent supplement basis, those tenant incomes are also done by housing authorities. In some cases, subsidies that are paid through the Ontario Housing Corp to non-profit and cooperative housing groups, there are tenants who are housed under rent supplement arrangements, and in those instances it is the responsibility of the housing company, the private non-profit, the municipal non-profit or cooperative housing company, to conduct those income verifications.
Mr Carr: Because the auditor said in here that, except for the self-employed, staff don't obtain tax returns and it says the Ontario Housing Corp staff were frustrated that there was no way they could determine whether tenants have reported all sources of income. What I'm getting at is, and I know the relationship there, have we put anything in place, have we worked to ensure that in fact there is income verification? That's the question, and I appreciate all the technicalities. What specifically have we done to ensure that's being done or can we do anything about it?
Mr Wilson: In terms of the income verifications, first of all, there are good procedures and policies. I recall one time working out in the garden being called in to answer a telephone with a Globe and Mail reporter on the other end of the line asking me about a particular instance that happened down in southwestern Ontario, where apparently one of our housing managers, maybe overzealously -- I would certainly put it in that category -- had charged an imputed rate of return on a pre-paid funeral expense.
So in terms of the way in which incomes are divulged and exposed, it seems to me that there's a lot of ways in which you can try and get the information but in the final analysis it is up to the honesty of the individual in dealing with those. But housing authority staff have, in my opinion, very clear directions and procedures to follow with respect to income -- first of all getting the information, and secondly calculating income.
Mr Carr: What this is saying, and again it isn't me and maybe if I could refer it to the minister, the problem is -- I appreciate you answering the question -- basically, if people want to cheat they can. Regardless of how much we're spending, everybody wants to ensure it goes to the most needy. Basically what we're saying, and the auditor's been very clear about it, is, if you lie, you're never going to get caught.
Maybe I'll ask this of the minister: Knowing that the auditor in 1991 identified that, is there anything you will be doing to ensure that these procedures are indeed being followed? They aren't now, and what I'm hearing now, forgive me, is that there still is nothing in place to ensure that if somebody comes in and says, "My income is this," we ensure that's exactly what it is.
Hon Ms Gigantes: I don't know quite what you have in mind.
The Chair: First of all, there was the auditor's response. You were given a response to the auditor to the question, and that might be an area to start building on. What did you promise the auditor and has that happened? That might be helpful.
Mr Carr: There was a response that was put in there, of course.
The Chair: While Mr Wilson's checking that, as a former chair of a housing authority I recall that none of my constituents lied about their income; they just left an awful lot unsaid.
Mr Carr: The whole problem with the whole thing is that we've identified and the public is now aware that basically we don't do any checks, not even any random checks. I guess the big concern I've got with the whole issue is that the auditor identifies major problems of where there are abuses, spends a great deal of time to see and go through. From an auditor's report I can understand where some of these problems would arise, but when an auditor reports them and we still, months and months later, don't have any answers to it, one wonders why the auditor does this, if we can't get an answer.
If we want to talk about $24 being wasted, on a per-person basis the amount we could be potentially abusing through this is a tremendous amount. As a result of what the auditor did, what did you commit to the auditor to do? Do you remember?
Mr Wilson: Specifically, in writing to the auditor, we said the OHC will reissue instructions to the LHAs emphasizing the importance of complying with income verification policy. The policies and procedures are quite detailed and are quite complete in terms of how they go about determining what the individual's income is and what those assets are and what the imputed rate of return is to be charged on those assets in order to calculate total income. In this particular case, what we have done is that we've indicated to the auditor that we are going to --
Mr Carr: And there's now a follow-up? Now that that's been done, whatever date that was done, are you confident that this particular problem has been rectified? If so, maybe you can give us what the follow-up was. What has happened as a result?
Mr Wilson: There's what is called a business meeting between the housing manager and the field staff, a member of our staff operating out of our regional offices. In those business meetings, issues that are raised, such as this, and particularly any directives that go out to housing authorities, are reviewed with the housing manager to determine on an individual basis whether he or she has complied with that direction, and if not, why not, and what is he going to do about it? I can't give you verbatim each one of the 56 responses, but I can assure you that has been gone into with the housing manager and the housing manager is responsible for following up on that.
The Chair: Mr Carr, your last question.
Mr Carr: On the same page -- and I'll get into another area, and what I maybe could do is table some of the questions and write the minister on them -- there were some other concerns. It's entitled "Inconsistent Treatment of Higher Income Tenants." It says, "In cases where 25% of the tenant's income reported was higher...we noted that some LHAs followed the strict `rent geared to income' policy while others did not." The bottom line in that, and I think this is very important for the minister to hear, what the auditor said, is that, "This inconsistent treatment produced inequities and may deprive more needy tenants of affordable housing." Could you be specific, and again it might be somebody different, with regard to what the auditor said about that? Is there anything you've done to ensure that has been corrected?
Hon Ms Gigantes: No, because there hasn't been a policy decision that it should be consistent. That's certainly something we will consider as we move forward in terms of the policy work within OHC, but there has been no determination that there must be consistency. The auditor has raised it as a question and we will think about whether we want to try and have one policy across the board.
Mr Carr: Mr Chair, just on a point of order: If I did send some of these questions, because unfortunately we did run out of time, would it be possible to get some --
Hon Ms Gigantes: That will be just fine. Yes, we would be glad to try and answer them.
Ms Harrington: I have three questions. I'll give you all three and you can do whatever you wish with them. First of all, in my riding, and I'm sure this is reflected across the province, people who are developing non-profit housing certainly have come to me, even before I was elected, about the process. I know we're addressing that through the framework, and it is a very important initiative we're taking. My question is, how do you see the process working in terms of cutting the red tape? I don't expect you to have all the answers yet, but just so we can take back to our ridings how we hope the process will be improved and in what ways.
Secondly, the question of mobile homes is an important one across the province. Are you willing to make a commitment that this is going to be a viable option in the future for housing in Ontario? Obviously, with zoning bylaws and restrictions and changes and environmental concerns, people in mobile home parks are facing lots of questions and lots of difficulties in the future.
Thirdly, Ms Poole raised -- I don't see too many of the Liberals --
Ms Poole: I'm listening to every word.
Ms Harrington: Good. She raised the question about the necessity of a diverse range of answers to the problems of housing across Ontario. Instead of just one or two directions, a complete picture is obviously going to include a broad range of answers and initiatives. Coming to my mind, of course, is working with the private market sector, the non-profit and the co-op sectors, the land use initiatives, the intensification initiatives and of course, to give credit to the previous government -- and Ms Poole is still here -- its access to permanent housing to address the actual people who are homeless. I would ask you if you could give us your vision, briefly, I guess, as to the various parts that are needed to address housing needs for all of the people of Ontario.
Hon Ms Gigantes: I'll try to brief in the answer. The allocations process is one that Ms Harrington focused on first and asked what kinds of changes we might make that would streamline the process. I think one of the things which has been most difficult for community-based groups, including municipal non-profit organizations, when it comes to trying to work with the housing programs we've had over the past few years has been to understand what the criteria are and get early enough indication about the likelihood of a particular proposal being one which will be looked on with favour.
Certainly I have found in just a year, going through discussions with community-based groups around the allocations process, that there's a lot of feeling of frustration simply because they feel they don't understand enough about what it is that the regional offices are being asked to look for. We have made a commitment to the third sector that in the redesigned housing programs which will carry forward the 20,000 units under Jobs Ontario Homes we will be striving to have clarity in the whole process.
The deputy uses the word "transparent." We want it to be transparent, we want it to be understandable. I think that will go a long way to making people feel happier, knowing what the ground rules are and how the choices around allocations are going to be made and knowing them beforehand and getting current information as the process goes along.
We'll also be looking, once housing is up and operating, to having a much more streamlined management system so that third-sector housing providers will not have to account for every line in a budgetary item. There will be firm rules about accountability, but they will be much less fussy, detailed and overbearing than the kinds of rules we have used in the past.
Our model in this has been a traditional kind of framework that has been used, starting with federal programming. I think we've adopted that model without really taking into account now that many of the housing providers are large, that they are experienced and that they are just as capable of producing effective management and controlling budget difficulties as any oversight by the province is going to ensure. We think it'll be a benefit on both sides of that partnership.
On mobile homes, there's still work to be done. I had very much hoped that by this stage we would have policy announced, but it is a focus, my personal interest, and I hope that over the next few months we'll be able to move forward with policies that will provide better protection for people who have been living in land-leased communities, because they certainly have suffered a great deal in the existing framework.
The Landlord and Tenant Act and the new rent control legislation will apply. They will ease some of the difficulties for them. They certainly won't solve all their difficulties, particularly in situations where, either for environmental reasons or because of development pressures, there is the threat of closure of land-leased communities and there is no alternative for the people who own homes in those communities. We are working on that and I hope it won't be long before we have some major moves to bring forward.
One other item was the diversity of policy. It's quite true that there's no one policy or two policies that are going to address all the needs of what is a very complex housing market and a very complex set of housing needs in Ontario. I think the focus, what we consider most important, is becoming clear now. We certainly have had no hesitation in saying that rent control and the development of assisted housing in the non-profit sector and non-assisted housing in the non-profit sector are key. We think that helping to protect consumers on the question of affordability in rents, and providing an ongoing and increasing supply of housing that is affordable to people through third-sector housing, are two key elements of our policy, but certainly they are not the complete range of policies that we think are important to contribute to an overall framework.
We are working within the ministry to develop what we're calling a strategic plan for ministry work and we should be able to report that out within the not-too-distant future. That will give people, I think, a much clearer sense of how we want to frame our approach overall.
Mr Drummond White (Durham Centre): I have actually a couple of areas of interest.
The Chair: You have three minutes in order to cover them all.
Mr White: I won't be able to get through them both, but I could start off with some of the information I see on your slides: the changing nature of families in Ontario and consequently the changing need for housing stock of different types. We have an increased number of elderly people in our community, and of course single-parent families. So the traditional unit, the detached home with five bathrooms, becomes increasingly ridiculous.
Hon Ms Gigantes: Five bathrooms?
Mr White: In my area I know people who can't afford to raise children, but they can somehow manage to have a two-car garage and five bathrooms for the two of them and their family.
Regardless, the issue really is the diversity, the change in family style. Certainly many people are looking to have accessory apartments and they're very disappointed that it's taking so long for legislation to come through. People are losing their homes as a result because of the tough economic times. They're disappointed about the time it takes to do those things. Is your ministry engaged in looking at how we, as a government, and how your ministry can intercede to reflect the changing dynamics in family life?
Hon Ms Gigantes: In fact, we do have ongoing discussions with the people active in the private market and certainly with those who are involved with the third sector, with non-profit housing, about precisely the questions you are raising: What is the nature of the market? What is effective demand? Where is demand ineffective in that there's a need but people can't afford what they need, and how do we address that? Also, the changing views of people about what type of housing is appropriate for them; as I said earlier, I do believe we are going through a kind of shift in the view of a large portion of the population about where it is they want to live, whether they're keen on becoming a new home owner or they're happier with a small place downtown that they may rent. All these changes in views of lifestyle and the changing nature of the family, and who has the money and what they want to do with it, all these are fascinating areas of both speculation and study by many of the actors in the housing market.
Certainly the Ministry of Housing tries both to track what people are sensing about the market and also to encourage those changes in our own structures and policies that will help support what we think will be beneficial in the longer run. One area, for example, is the area of intensification. It's certainly not something that was discovered when this government came to office. It had been part of the earlier housing policy statement consultation and information of the previous government.
It's becoming more and more obvious to more and more people, I think, that if we're going to have livable cities and if we're going to have livable communities within those cities, we're going to have to think anew about how we provide services, whether we need the intensity of services that we used to, because we can find ways to save water use and save on infrastructure that we didn't take advantage of before.
There are a lot of these elements that I think are coming together in people's minds about what the communities of the future are going to be like, which are probably going to be -- and this is my guess -- quite different from what we've seen as new developments over the last 10 to 20 years.
Mr White: They've come together in people's minds. Surely that's happened some time ago. There's been tremendous roadblocks to the kind of housing that's appropriate for the 1990s as opposed to the 1960s. I wonder if you can comment about what those roadblocks might be.
Hon Ms Gigantes: While it may never have been appropriate, I think we're certainly discovering that there are drawbacks to suburban sprawl, greenfield development, dependence on the car, all these kinds of patterns that took hold very firmly.
There is an increased interest, there's a professional interest, there's a commercial interest, there's a planning interest, and I think there's an interest on the part of people in using techniques that make more effective use of urban land and provide for the comforts that can come with good planning of more intense use of urban land.
The Chair: And on that note, Mr White, we'll hold those thoughts perhaps for when we have an opportunity to do the estimates of the GTA. We're in summary position now, and if I might offer to Ms Poole three or four minutes for any closing comments and/or final questions, then I'll offer the same to Ms Marland and the minister. Please proceed.
Ms Poole: Because of the time limits today, there is a significant number of questions we did not actually get to, so we will be filing these with the ministry and asking for a written response. One of the areas we really did not have time to go into at any great length was the area of non-profit housing. There was a number of questions we had about that; we touched on it briefly when we talked about a review of the program.
There are other questions, particularly dealing with capital, for instance, where the ministry's capital budget has decreased from $133 million to $86 million this fiscal year. At a time when it's almost desperate to have capital work done on our housing stock, questions like that did seem to me to leap out, begging for an answer.
We had also hoped to have an opportunity to talk to the minister about the Provincial Auditor's report, specifically that the Provincial Auditor found that there were a number of non-profit projects which are not complying with the funding condition that requires 50% of deep-need placements to come from a local housing authority's waiting list. We had wanted to talk about that, because that was last November's auditor's report, to see whether there had been improvements in that particular system. So we do have some questions there.
One of the things that has disturbed me is to see a number of programs which are actually being funded less this year than last year. Where on earth I put them I don't know, but they're in here somewhere. One of them has been the low-rise rehabilitation program, which I think is an excellent program. It was established by the previous Liberal government and has been continued by the NDP, but the funding for the 1992-93 budget is $2.3 million in funding for low-rise rental rehabilitation; that's down from $28 million last year, which is just an astronomical decrease, again at a time when our housing stock desperately needs it.
The other one is the rooming house rehabilitation program, which is down from $5 million in 1991-92 to $3 million in this coming year. I think that is separate and apart from the initiatives of the Rupert Hotel Coalition. I had one other number in that regard: Last year, $5 million was allocated in the budget of the rooming house program; of that, only $500,000 was spent. When you don't spend $4.5 million in a particular program in a year, I'm wondering what the commitment is. This year, it's going to be $3 million, but is that money actually going to be spent?
The convert-to-rent program, again down significantly: $11.8 million to $3.5 million. Those are all the types of questions, and many more, that we will be tabling with the minister.
Mrs Marland: One of the areas I would flag now at the end of our time is the area that we interpret as being a $4-million loss to the Ontario home renewal program for disabled persons. As the advocate and the spokesperson for disabled persons for our caucus, I'm very concerned about it. This was not a newly created anti-recession program but rather a program which had existed since 1987, and I give credit to the former government because it was extremely successful.
Mrs Caplan: Would you say that again? Louder.
Mrs Marland: The program provided loans of up to $15,000 to home owners to make housing modifications that increase accessibility for disabled occupants. Minister, we need to know why you've taken $4 million away from housing for disabled persons. Why are you trying to hide the fact that you are cancelling a long-standing program with language that suggests it was a short-term anti-recession program? Why not tell the truth that you provided additional temporary assistance under the anti-recession program but are going ahead with your plans to cancel the Ontario home renewal program for disabled persons? That's a very significant question that's important.
One other thing I'd like to flag: How many outstanding appeals were there when the former Rent Review Hearings Board member, Rosalyn Hazelle, resigned from the board and became vice-chair of the Social Assistance Review Board? We'd like an itemized report of the outstanding appeals for Ms Hazelle at the time of her departure, including appeal number, address of the building, the date when the appeal was filed, the time that has elapsed since filing, the hearing's history and the section number of the act under which the appeal was filed. The reason that I ask is that I have received a number of complaints regarding a number of outstanding orders affecting thousands of tenants when Ms Hazelle left the RRHB.
It was interesting when I thought I heard the critic for the official opposition refer to Ataratiri this afternoon as being a worthwhile project. We have divergent opinions on that. I would like to receive a detailed breakdown of all expenses incurred by the government of Ontario with respect to the now-defunct Ataratiri housing project in Toronto. Please identify the amounts year by year, item by item and in total.
Apart from the question of the condition of the soil and the land, I have to tell you, when the former government announced Ataratiri, which was then called the St Lawrence Square project, the same day it was announced, I identified in the House the fact that it was a contaminated area. Obviously, for once I was proven right.
Thank you, Mr Chairman. I too would like to thank the Ministry of Housing staff for their, as usual, direct, capable answers to us. I know it's not easy coming in here, not being fully sure what it is we're going to ask. I want to mention Mr Glass particularly, because I think he was probably prepared but put on the spot by my question about the luncheon at the Old Mill, and I appreciate his direct answer to that. We're glad to have had the five hours, Minister, with your cooperation and the cooperation of your staff.
The Chair: I think, Mr Glass, we'll go to the Old Mill and investigate it personally one afternoon. Anyway, Madam Minister, your closing summary or remarks.
Mrs Marland: Take me.
The Chair: Take Mrs Marland with you, please.
Hon Ms Gigantes: Let her pay.
The Chair: I'm going to end up getting the bill anyway.
Hon Ms Gigantes: Mr Chair, I'd like to thank all members too. I will try to touch very briefly on some points which I think have been left hanging loose.
Just to begin, I should point out to Mrs Marland that I made an announcement last Friday that OHRP-D would be continued, with $15 million funding over the next two years.
Mrs Marland: Oh, did you?
Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, and that has come through the Jobs Ontario Capital fund. It will meet the backlog of requests that are on the list over a two-year period.
Mrs Marland: Last Friday meaning three days ago?
Hon Ms Gigantes: That's correct.
Mrs Marland: I haven't had my couriered news release yet.
Hon Ms Gigantes: That's right, but you should feel confident that this program will continue. It's a job creator and it's certainly welcome in the community. I'm well aware of that.
To come back for a very brief moment to the question of apartments in houses, obviously we'll have continuing discussion on this item. I very much appreciate the comments that have been made, but I want again to reinforce my position that we will proceed with this. I want to remind members of this committee that there has been provincially funded consideration and community discussion of this item in community after community around Ontario, particularly in the last two years, as municipalities, particularly the major municipalities, undertook revision of their official plans to incorporate the principles of the housing policy statement. I know of debates in many communities, including my own, on this very item.
The public has been heard. Municipalities have been heard and have expressed themselves, on the whole, through inaction. We have to come to a decision about whether to drop that as a major part of our housing policy in Ontario because it's been totally ineffectual within that housing policy statement -- nobody's followed it -- or to proceed with it. The decision is that we proceed. The consultation is to make sure that we proceed informed by comments from all interested parties on how to make good legislation on this item. The studies have been done, and they were done in connection with official plan amendments.
Garden suites are a very different question. Mrs Marland should understand that what we have tried to do is not to provide that garden suites will be ripped out of people's backyards after 10 years, but to provide comfort to municipalities so that the agreements they enter into with private home owners who establish garden suites are ones they can see an end to. Otherwise, they will feel pressure to prevent the establishment of garden suites in neighbourhoods.
Mrs Marland: How would you see an end to them?
Hon Ms Gigantes: The terms of agreements can go as long as 10 years and they are renewable, but that gives municipalities some sense that they are not open-ended constructs which will be sitting in the neighbourhood for ever, and we thought of that generating neighbourhood opposition. We have done pilot projects on this policy initiative, as you know, and that is not to have them torn out but to provide comfort to municipalities.
It has been mentioned by both Conservative contributors to this discussion that funding for the assistance of non-profit housing is at the level of $1 billion. It is not. It was not when the opposition Conservative Party had its opposition day on the subject of housing policy; it will not be $1 billion until 1994 or 1995.
I looked up the OHOSP figures, as I promised I would. Since 1988 -- I think I had previously referred to 1987 -- 85,000 homes in Ontario have been purchased using OHOSPs, and there have been 180,000 plans put in place. In other words, 180,000 individuals have registered OHOSPs.
The pace of allocations is something I did not address earlier when we were dealing with the question of allocations in the non-profit housing program. We've gone through a pattern over many years now in which we get great clumps of allocations. A minister will end up announcing 3,500 at once and 6,500 at another point, and everybody gets confused about what's happening.
The Chair: Pending elections have a way of doing that to governments.
Hon Ms Gigantes: No, there's no pending election over the last year. The difficulty is that you set your own targets and goals for a program and, in order to know whether you're meeting them, you like to do a bunch of allocations all at once. But we're hoping we're going to be able to develop the sophistication in our allocations process so that we will be able to make allocations announcements at a more regular pace -- that we won't have to wait six months between announcements, that in fact we will be getting the stream of development coming in a more even flow across the province. Those are all the things that we dream up in the Ministry of Housing.
Mrs Caplan: Can I expect the question I asked earlier, regarding not just the MUPs for capital but the average ongoing over a period of 10 years?
The Chair: Yes. You can expect that question, but not now.
We have completed the five hours allocated to us by the Legislature to review the estimates of the Ministry of Housing. Having completed those, I am now prepared to proceed to call the votes, if everyone is ready.
Votes 2101 to 2106, inclusive, agreed to.
The Chair: Shall the estimates of the Ministry of Housing for fiscal year 1992-93 be reported to the House? That is carried.
I'd like to thank the minister and the deputy and the staff and legislative staff for completing these estimates in record time in the middle of our summer break. This committee stands adjourned until 10 am tomorrow, at which point we will commence the estimates of the Ministry of Transportation.
The committee adjourned at 1708.