Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
Fourth Interim Report: Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Municipalities, Construction and Building
1st Session, 42nd Parliament
69 Elizabeth II
The Honourable Ted Arnott, MPP
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly
Your Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs has the honour to present its Report and commends it to the House.
Amarjot Sandhu, MPP
Chair of the Committee
Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
1st Session, 42nd Parliament
IAN ARTHUR david piccini
STAN CHO mike schreiner
STEPHEN CRAWFORD Sandy shaw
Mitzie hunter donna skelly
sol mamakwa dave smith
stephen blais laura mae lindo
CATHERINE FIFE KALEED RASHEED
randy hillier john vanthof
jEFF BURCH regularly served as a substitute member of the Committee.
Clerk of the Committee
Clerk pro tem. of the Committee
MONICA COP and MICHAEL VIDONI
Provincial and Federal Funding
Modernization of Municipalities
Financial Impacts on Municipalities
Delivering Essential Services
City of Brampton
Association of Municipalities of Ontario
Town of Tecumseh
Infrastructure and Capital Projects
Increased Expenditures Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic
Cost Reduction Efforts
Rural and Northern Communities
The Construction and Building Industries
Minister’s Zoning Orders and Greenbelt Protection
Construction Activity Slowdown
Supply Chain Issues
Labourers’ International Union of North America
Common Concerns and Recommendations for Recovery
Cement Association of Canada
Leveraging Infrastructure Spending
Taxes, Fees and Charges
Domestic Building Supply Industry
Quinte Home Builders Association
Home Renovation Tax Credit
Addressing the Trades Shortage
Terms of Reference*
Appendix B: Dissenting Opinion of the New Democratic Party Members of the Committee
1. Restoring adequate and sustainable provincial funding for municipal services such as transit, housing and roads, reducing the overreliance on property taxes and user fees for these items.
2. Ensuring that recovery strategies and plans emphasize a just recovery and address the challenges faced by marginalized groups, women and racialized communities, placing an emphasis on equity for all proposed solutions, such as universal childcare and community benefit agreements
3. Investing adequate provincial dollars to build broadband capacity in rural and northern communities
4. Leverage provincial investment to encourage the use of local labour and local supply chains for procurement and local infrastructure projects through the RFP process.
Appendix C: Dissenting Opinion of the Liberal Party Members of the Committee
1. Create an Ontario Emergency Municipal Support Fund which would make available a minimum of $4 billion, cost-shared with the federal government, to provide urgent relief funding to municipalities facing financial hardship.
2. Double the funding provided to municipalities through the Provincial Gas Tax Program so that municipalities have the support needed to continue operating transit systems without fare increases.
3. Expediting provincial infrastructure funding to already approved and viable projects that municipalities have previously budgeted for as a form of important local and regional economic stimulus.
a. Simplify procurement and tendering procedures; and
b. Increase project eligibility and reduce the limitations on eligible costs that add layers of administration to complicated infrastructure projects.
4. Fully compensate Public Health Units for increased expenses related to COVID-19.
5. Create a comprehensive multi-year strategy that addresses the long-term COVID-19 related impact on municipalities and addresses the growing municipal fiscal imbalance.
6. Amend the Payment in Lieu of Taxes formula to include cargo and remove the 5% cap on passenger increases.
7. Provide funding to municipalities for improvements to technology to expedite site plan and building permit approval processes and improve online service delivery.
8. The Government increases funding for the Ontario Broadband and Cellular Action Plan, and redevelops it to ensure that every Ontarian has access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet by 2025.
9. Develop a comprehensive inventory of surplus public lands (provincial, municipal, school board and agency) and work with stakeholders to release these lands to support affordable housing.
10. Increase investments into affordable housing projects, with a special stream supporting indigenous communities.
11. Create a residential rent support program for tenants who will never be able to repay months of accumulated rent.
12. Prioritize measures to address the massive rental housing supply crisis we currently face in the province of Ontario.
13. Inject new housing supply into the market quickly, using time-limited tax incentives.
14. Reduce red tape to bring housing to market faster by streamlining the subdivision control process and other municipal permit issuance.
15. Harmonize the Ontario Building Code with the National Building Code.
16. Create a permanent Home Renovation Tax Credit for environmentally sustainable projects to stimulate job opportunities and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
17. The Province permits apprentices in the skilled trades to work for more than one organization and provides incentives to hire and train new workers from the local area.
18. Increase resources available to the Local Planning and Appeals Tribunal to increase staff, increase the number of board members and ensure the appropriate technology is available to expediently tackle any backlog of appeals that emerges.
As millions of Ontarians work and learn from home during COVID-19 any question about the necessity and importance of broadband internet access must finally be put to bed.
The committee heard repeatedly about the need to address the ongoing gap in equitable broadband access across Ontario.
Don Eady, Mayor of the town of Renfrew, articulated the importance of ensuring broadband access is available to everyone. The lack of access for rural Ontarians cannot be ignored and COVID-19 has demonstrated that Ontarians in all communities rely on digital access. Residents need broadband to work, to learn and connect to community and government services.
“The future of commerce, work, medicine, education and services have changed, and, in some instances, permanently. Broadband has become the electricity of the 21st century.”
Kevin Kahoot, Mayor of Ear Falls, discussed that broadband in the area is so poor in the region that schools may have a difficult time providing sufficient online resources to students. Jamie McGarvey, Chair of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, echoed the importance of broadband connectivity and discussed recommended looking at 2 gig broadband service to support online learning and working from home.
Ontario can take a leadership role and ensure that all residents have access to fast, reliable and affordable broadband access within the next five years.
Construction & Building Sector
Appendix D: Dissenting Opinion of the Green Party Member of the Committee
There is no question that municipalities have shouldered a large burden during the Covid-19 pandemic. From shoring up much needed social services, addressing the impacts of the pandemic on homelessness and addictions, to ensuring transit systems continue to operate safely. All while facing significant revenue losses and employee layoffs.
These past six months have not been easy on municipalities.
The Committee heard from municipalities large and small right across the province who all said the same thing. They need financial help and they need it to be fast and flexible.
We heard from the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, who suggested that he was urging the Federal Government to provide emergency funding for municipalities. It is the Green Party of Ontario’s position that the provincial government must also provide adequate financial assistance to municipalities.
The Committee also heard from a variety of stakeholders in the housing and construction sectors who were affected by COVID-19. Ontario was facing a housing affordability crisis before the pandemic, and COVID-19 has highlighted how essential it is to ensure that everyone in Ontario has an affordable place to call home. The Green Party of Ontario is committed to working with all parties and stakeholders to develop a comprehensive housing affordability strategy for Ontario.
The Green Party of Ontario puts forward the following recommendations to provide additional and more flexible support to our municipalities, building and construction industries:
1. Increase funding to municipalities for public transit through increased revenue from the Provincial Gas Tax Program;
2. Negotiate a cost share agreement with the federal government to provide Ontario municipalities with $10 billion in flexible emergency financial assistance;
3. Provide a provincial grant to cover fifty percent of operating funding for municipal transit systems in order to avoid fare increases;
4. Work with municipalities on ways to provide them with additional revenue tools to reduce the burden on the property tax base;
5. Work with the federal and municipal governments to develop cost share agreements that temporarily reduce the traditional municipal contribution to infrastructure projects to help municipalities proceed with infrastructure projects at a time when the pandemic has reduced municipal revenue;
6. Declare broadband an essential service available to all Ontarians and increase provincial funding for broadband services;
7. Invest in maintaining existing infrastructure in a state of good repair and consider life cycle costs when making infrastructure investments;
8. Partner with non-profit and co-op housing providers and community organizations to increase the supply of affordable and supportive housing while maintaining existing affordable housing units in a state of good repair;
9. Work with housing providers on a rent assistance program for tenants unable to afford rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
10. In addition to supporting the development of domestic supply chains for building materials, support local labour agreements through the RFP process;
11. Support retraining programs for entry into the trades with a focus on encouraging and supporting women and people of colour in the trades;
12. Work with municipalities to unlock capital for building projects by accepting surety bonds instead of letters of credit;
13. In addition to a home renovation tax credit focused on energy performance, accessibility and public health for homeowners, the government should implement a program to support retrofits for businesses and public buildings to improve energy performance, accessibility and public health measures.
Recognizing the severe financial impact this pandemic has also had on the provincial government’s budget, the Green Party of Ontario urges the government to provide smart, flexible and responsible financial investments to municipalities as well as the construction and building industries, so that our communities can rebound in not only a sustainable, but a greener and more caring way.
Together we can build back an even better Ontario.
 City of Toronto written submission
 LUMCO written submission
 FAO: Expenditure Monitor 2019-20: Q4
 Region of Peel testimony
 Region of Peel testimony
 Municipality of Sioux Lookout testimony
 City of Mississauga testimony
 Municipal Finance Officer's Association testimony
 Gibson, Victoria, More than 6,000 Ontario tenants could face eviction for nonpayment of rent during COVID-19, new figures show, Toronto Star. July 25, 2020.
 City of Timmins testimony
 The Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada testimony
 The Federation of Rental Housing Providers of Ontario testimony
 Town of Renfrew, written submission
 Ontario Home Builders’ Association testimony