LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO
Wednesday 26 October 2022 Mercredi 26 octobre 2022
Health Care is Not for Sale Act (Addressing Unfair Fees Charged to Patients), 2022 / Loi de 2022 sur les soins de santé qui ne sont pas à vendre (lutte contre la facturation d’honoraires injustes aux patients)
The House met at 0900.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Good morning. Let us pray.
Orders of the Day
More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022 / Loi de 2022 visant à accélérer la construction de plus de logements
Mr. Clark moved second reading of the following bill:
Bill 23, An Act to amend various statutes, to revoke various regulations and to enact the Supporting Growth and Housing in York and Durham Regions Act, 2022 / Projet de loi 23, Loi modifiant diverses lois, abrogeant divers règlements et édictant la Loi de 2022 visant à soutenir la croissance et la construction de logements dans les régions de York et de Durham.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Would the minister care to lead off the debate?
Hon. Steve Clark: Absolutely, I would. Speaker, it’s a real privilege and a pleasure to rise for the second reading of our government’s proposed More Homes Built Faster Act.
I want to indicate that I’ll be sharing the government’s leadoff time with the Associate Minister of Housing and also the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The three of us will be sharing the debate. The associate minister and the parliamentary assistant will be touching on some very specific details of our plan.
But at the onset, I want to extend the government’s congratulations not just to all the candidates who were successful on Monday for the municipal election but to all candidates who were putting their names forward. I think members of this House appreciate the fact that in Ontario’s 444 municipalities we’ve got some outstanding men and women who were elected on October 24 but also who put their names forward. I think we all in this House agree that the municipal level of government is so very important to be able to work collaboratively with our government. This bill is exactly to go along with that. Congratulations to all those who were successful, but I congratulate everyone who put their name on a ballot on Monday.
Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act: Ontario is a prosperous and a growing province, the best place in the world to call home. However, too many Ontarians are struggling to find a home that’s right for them. This is true, Speaker, for young people eager to start a family in the community of their choosing, for newcomers ready to put down roots and start a family right here in Ontario and for seniors looking to downsize but wanting to stay close to their family and their community. This isn’t just a big-city crisis. The housing supply shortage affects all Ontarians: rural, urban, suburban, north and south, young and old.
The problem is clear: There simply aren’t enough homes being built. The solution is equally clear: We need to build more homes and we need to build them faster. That’s why our government has set a very clear goal. During the election, we were honest, we were open and we were transparent with the people of Ontario. We said our goal over the next 10 years was to build 1.5 million homes. Over the last four years, the government has introduced dozens of new policies to get housing built faster. We’ve come a long way in our four years of government, but we know that more needs to be done. That’s why we worked with our partner ministries across government to take action. Our proposals in Bill 23, if passed, would lay a strong foundation on which we can build the 1.5 million homes Ontarians desperately need.
Ontario is expected to grow by more than two million people over the next 10 years. Over two thirds of this growth is expected to take place in the greater Golden Horseshoe. The need for both near- and long-term solutions to address the housing shortage is why we’re here this morning.
Speaker, before I talk about our proposed legislation, I’d like to take a few moments to reflect on the success of our previous housing supply action plans. Because we are building on what we’ve done over the past few years, we want to send a clear message to Ontarians that we want to continue to do so. This past spring, we looked the people of Ontario in the eye during the election and we said that a re-elected government under the leadership of Premier Ford would have a new housing supply action plan each year over the next four years. And we will continue to develop policies to make it easier to get shovels in the ground faster.
In 2019, our first plan, More Homes, More Choice, took some very important steps in that very first housing supply action plan. We wanted to speed up planning timelines. We wanted to make development costs more predictable, to make it easier to build laneway homes and basement suites and to harmonize provincial and national building codes. Our changes were effective. Last year we had over 100,000 new housing starts in Ontario. That is the highest amount of housing starts since 1987 and it’s well above the average over the past 30 years, which was 67,500 starts.
We knew that we had to do more. We had to put a plan in place that was going to get us closer to that 1.5 million homes. So earlier this year we released our second housing supply action plan, More Homes for Everyone. We went even further to speed up approvals and took steps to gradually refund fees if decisions weren’t made within legislated time frames. We created new tools, like the community infrastructure and housing accelerator, which is designed to give municipalities the opportunity to work in partnership with the province in order to unlock the priority housing, among other things, along with key community infrastructure.
As we build our second plan, we’ve relied on feedback from public and stakeholder consultations as well as the Housing Affordability Task Force. This task force was made up of industry leaders and experts who recommended impactful measures to increase the supply of market housing. The task force report now serves as our long-term housing road map for the future. It informs the work that we do with our municipal and industry partners as we develop policies and create tools that help build more multi-unit housing, more multi-generational housing and gentle density.
And with our commitment to continue to strengthen housing policies, we recently named the chair and the vice-chair of the new Housing Supply Action Plan Implementation Team. The team will support improvements to our annual housing supply action plans. And we will keep up that momentum, especially in these turbulent economic times. That’s why in our new housing supply action plan we are proposing even more steps to get housing built faster across our province. If passed, our proposed changes would help reduce unnecessary burdens and red tape that are delaying construction and driving up the cost of a home even higher. They would also allow for more homes to be built near transit—something that everyone has told us throughout our extensive consultations. We need to encourage municipalities to update their zoning and to help enable more gentle density in residential areas. These changes would also support and protect homebuyers. It would use surplus provincial properties to build more attainable homes.
Speaker, before I begin giving some details on our proposed changes, I’d like to say a few words with my colleagues across the aisle in mind. Many of the members opposite have been very clear that they are concerned about Ontario’s housing supply and that they expect our government to act. I take these members at their word, and I would urge them to recognize that what we are planning and proposing in this action is exactly what they’ve been asking for. The More Homes Built Faster Act contains practical measures that will have a real and a positive impact, making it easier for Ontarians to find the right home for their needs and their budget. I hope that the members opposite will give this proposal the careful consideration it deserves, and I hope that the members opposite will support our sincere efforts to tackle Ontario’s housing crisis.
We have the capacity in our province to allow for more gentle density in areas where it makes sense. Our proposed changes will permit up to three units—that’s up to three units in the main building, or up to two in the main building plus one unit in a smaller building—on most pieces of urban land without needing a bylaw amendment to permit these added units. The example I’ll use is, a property owner could have a main residence with a basement and attic apartment or an apartment in the main residence plus a garden home.
By increasing supply, this change would clearly benefit Ontarians across the province who are looking for an apartment or a home to rent. But it would also benefit existing homeowners, who could use the additional space to help pay off their mortgage or to provide a home for their extended family. The new units would be exempt from development charges and parkland dedication fees, and municipalities couldn’t set minimum unit sizes or require more than one parking space per unit.
To continue to make it easier to build more density, we’re consulting on proposed building code changes—changes such as removing requirements for standpipe systems with four-storey stacked townhomes and matching national building code requirements for four- to six-storey wood buildings. These changes would reduce costs, all while continuing to protect the public.
We know that steps like these need to be taken to keep up with growth. But we simply can’t keep up if the approvals process is holding back housing in communities across the province.
And the costs for delays can be staggering. A study just last month by the Building Industry and Land Development Association reports that costs can increase substantially each month a permit is stuck in the approval process. They found that the development application timelines in the GTA have gotten 40% longer over the past two years, and each month of delay in a typical high-density project amounts to $2,600 to $3,300 in additional construction costs per unit. In fact, Speaker, the Ontario Association of Architects also looked into the cost delays, and they concluded the total cost of site plan review—just those site plan review application delays—could increase it between the range of $300 million and $900 million every year in Ontario.
These costs are staggering, and these are shocking numbers, especially when you take into consideration that currently the time to obtain development approvals on a four-storey apartment building and a 40-storey condominium is virtually the same time. It’s unbelievable. Again, Speaker—I want to repeat that—the time frames for a four-storey apartment building and a 40-storey condominium are virtually the same time frames for approval.
That’s why we’re proposing to remove site plan control requirements from most projects that are under 10 units. This would reduce the stacks of approvals sitting on desks at city halls and speed things up for all housing proposals, all while reducing construction costs. We’ll continue to ensure we protect public safety through building permits and both building and fire code requirements. For larger projects, we’re going to be proposing to speed up approvals by focusing site plan reviews on health and safety issues, issues like safe access to and from a building, rather than architectural or decorative landscape details.
Of course, sometimes we’ll see certain residential developments stall no matter how much we’re able to adjust the approvals process and no matter how much these projects are needed in their communities.
Speaker, we can’t examine the details of how to build housing without looking at the bigger picture. How land is used in Ontario is guided by a number of different provincial policies and plans, some of which are outdated or obsolete. We’re seeking feedback on how to revoke some of them as well as merging A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and the provincial policy statement into a single province-wide planning policy. This would create a much more streamlined land use planning framework and help municipalities approve housing faster.
Working with our municipal partners is key to ensuring the amount of housing available is keeping up with the population growth projections. Municipalities already have growth forecasts that help them plan for what their communities will need, up to the year 2051, through their official plans. But those forecasts assume that there is enough housing to meet the communities’ needs today. That’s simply not the case. So we’re asking 29 of Ontario’s largest municipalities to pledge to help fill that gap over the next 10 years. Again, these pledges are in addition to existing longer-term municipal growth plans and would help kick-start development by outlining a more realistic strategy.
As municipalities pledge to build more housing, we need to ensure that it’s the housing that people can afford. Much attention has been paid to the lack of attainable housing in our province. Ontarians with well-paying jobs, some even with two-income families, are struggling to find a place to live. Our government knows that we need to tackle this problem, Speaker, but we also need more affordable housing. We need it especially around transit and in other high-density areas. That’s why we’re proposing to create ways for missing-middle and low-income Ontarians to enter the housing market. This includes building on surplus government properties and building new transit, and I’m very, very pleased to be working with the Minister of Infrastructure on this plan. We have a number of sites—I go into municipalities all across Ontario; mayors every week tell me about surplus properties that we believe could be used for more attainable housing. So I look forward to that. We’ll also be consulting on how to make inclusionary zoning rules more consistent and using a standardized approach to determining an affordable price or affordable rent.
Speaker, we know the demand for rental housing is also skyrocketing in parts of the province, just as we know that many Ontarians have no choice but to rent since they are shut out of the housing market by high prices and by inadequate supply. That’s why we’ll be consulting on ways to enable rent-to-own arrangements, such as an alternative home financing model, so that we can help more renters realize their dream of home ownership.
When it comes to that dream of buying a first house, our government is determined to stand up for ordinary, hard-working Ontarians. We’ve all heard stories in this House of people putting down a down payment on preconstruction on a condo or a new home but never get to move in because the project was unfairly cancelled or the purchase agreement was terminated years later.
As part of the proposed changes to the New Home Construction Licensing Act, our government is further strengthening consumer protection for new homebuyers. I want to thank the Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery, the Honourable Kaleed Rasheed, for his leadership on this file and the strong message that he has sent about our government’s commitment to stand up for Ontarians.
Our plan would double the maximum administrative penalty to a maximum of $50,000 for unethical builders and vendors of new homes that unfairly cancel projects or purchase agreements. There would be no limit to additional monetary benefit penalties either. It would also enable the Home Construction Regulatory Authority to use the money from these penalties to make payments directly back to those affected consumers. It would also have the authority to impose financial penalties for transgressions that occurred on or after April 14, 2022, when our previous bill, More Homes for Everyone, received royal assent. Unethical developers that engage in these business practices now face the risk of permanently losing their builder’s licence, which is a very, very strict penalty that we can all agree is well deserved and recognized in the province.
Under these proposed changes, unethical builders could now be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars per infraction and, for repeat offenders, we’re also proposing to double the maximum penalty, where individuals could face charges of $100,000 and corporations $500,000. Individuals who are found guilty will also face a sentence of up to two years in prison, and to support these proposed legislative amendments we’re going to consult on regulations relating to administrative monetary penalties as well. We’re sending a very clear message to developers and home builders: They must stick to the deals that they make with Ontarians. Our new proposals will make sure that they do.
As I touched upon earlier, I can’t implement all these proposed measures alone. Increasing housing supply across the province needs everyone on the same side. We need all levels of government working alongside industry partners, not-for-profits. We’re counting on the support of the sector. We want to work together in lockstep to build up near transit, to unlock innovative approaches to design and construction, and to get shovels in the ground faster for all types of housing. I want to, again, reiterate: I’m talking about all types of housing—not just detached homes, but semi-detached, triplexes, fourplexes, family-sized condos and purpose-built rentals. We need housing of every time, of every shape, of every size and of every price range.
Increased housing supply across Ontario does need that all-of-government approach and it needs all the industries to work together. We say we need support of all partners, and I want to emphasize that also includes the federal government. We know too well that CMHC’s own data shows that Ontario has been shortchanged about $480 million under the National Housing Strategy. We’re counting on Ottawa to come to the table and fix this unjustifiable shortfall. We’re counting on all members of this House to finally support our efforts to ensure that Ontarians get their fair share from them.
We’re also looking to our federal counterparts to help with our availability of labour, something that is talked about a lot when we indicate that we want to build 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years. We need all levels of government to work together to make sure we can do everything we can—everybody does their fair share—to provide more attainable housing in our province. Our municipal partners that oversee site plan approvals along with building permits, and the housing construction industry—we really need all the boots on the ground—remain the driving force in getting housing projects through the finish line.
I’ll say it again, Speaker: To make important changes like this, we can’t do it alone. The province can’t do it alone. The proposed changes we are speaking about today would require an all-hands-on-deck approach, because that’s what we all need to deal with the housing crisis. It’s a long-term strategy. It requires a long-term commitment from all the partners.
But, Speaker, our government is building a very strong foundation for action that will increase housing supply in Ontario. While we know not every aspect of this plan will be felt overnight, the proposed changes will make housing more attainable over the long term.
Before I turn it over to the associate minister, I just again want to express to all members of the House that this bill is a comprehensive bill. Everything in this bill is set to increase housing supply and get it done faster. Many of the measures members of the opposition have talked about extensively, and we are hopeful and optimistic that all members of this House will support this bill. We need everyone moving in the same direction. We need a lot of support. So I’m asking, and I’m hopeful, and I’ll be listening with intent to every word that you’re saying.
With that, Speaker, I want to include the associate minister and the parliamentary assistant, so I’ll conclude my remarks and turn it over to Minister Parsa.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Over to the associate minister.
Hon. Michael Parsa: Good morning, Speaker, and thank you very much. I also want to thank the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing for sharing his time with both myself and our parliamentary assistant, Mr. Holland.
I’m very proud to rise for second reading of our government’s proposed More Homes Built Faster Act. I’m proud to speak to a piece of legislation designed to unlock the dream of home ownership for more Ontario families, more than ever before; a piece of legislation that will make it easier to get shovels in the ground and homes built faster.
Speaker, Ontario is facing a housing supply crisis. This isn’t news to anyone. You have heard us speak about it on countless occasions here in this chamber: about how, because of years of inaction on the part of the previous government, Ontario severely lacks the housing supply to meet our growing population; about how, right now, too many Ontarians are chasing too few homes; and how without bold and transformative action and change, we’ll be letting down an entire next generation.
The task ahead of us is to ensure that owning a home is in reach for everyone. That’s our mission, and failure is simply not an option. The message is clear: Our Premier, our government will not rest until we get the homes built to help every single Ontarian achieve the dream they have for themselves, their families and their communities.
More Homes Built Faster is perhaps the boldest change Ontario has seen in the housing sector, and it was developed by carefully listening to our partners. In the weeks leading up to the proposed legislation, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, PA Holland and I travelled across the province to meet with various partners in a series of round table discussions. We spoke with our partners about solutions to the challenges our province is facing in getting homes built. These round tables gave us the chance to hear great ideas from both the public, municipal leaders and housing experts in places like Kitchener-Waterloo, Mississauga, Thunder Bay, Burlington, London, Guelph, York, North Bay and Durham as well.
I heard from young families unable to enter the housing market, seniors on fixed incomes who worry about making their mortgage payments, the builder unable to build due to lengthy delays. I heard from millennials who did everything—who went to school, built their career, contributed to their community—and yet, despite doing everything that was asked, have given up entirely on the dream of ever owning a home. Speaker, that must change, and with More Homes Built Faster, we’re taking real action to ensure that it does.
It’s no secret that municipalities are playing catch-up when it comes to creating enough housing to meet the needs of our province’s growing population, and the solution is clear: More densification is needed where populations are growing quickly. Nearly 80% of the population growth through 2031 is concentrated in Ontario’s large municipalities, 25 of which are in the greater Golden Horseshoe region. We’re asking 29 of the largest and fastest-growing municipalities for their partnership in creating more attainable housing, and Madam Speaker, we’re holding them accountable to do so.
The fact is clear: We need to work together to reach our goal of building 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years. As a result, from now until at least 2032, we’ll give clear housing targets to municipalities, and we will ask them to pledge to fill the gap over the next 10 years in line with our target and based on the needs of their communities and their capacity to grow. These pledges are in addition to existing long-term municipal land use plans that are already in place.
The idea behind the pledge is to have the municipalities demonstrate the strategies that they may use to prioritize and accelerate housing in their communities. We would ask municipalities to submit their pledges to the province by March 1, 2023.
We’re also looking to our federal counterparts for their fair share of funding to help bring these housing pledges to fruition by helping municipalities to access funds available for housing-related infrastructure. This includes building proper water and sewage systems, roads, and transit for areas with increased density.
Speaker, increasing density doesn’t always mean building large towers that stretch to the sky. We’re also focusing on more gentle density in residential neighbourhoods. Proposed changes to the Planning Act would fast-track building up to three units on most lots already zoned as residential. This would apply to communities across the province.
So what does this mean? A family who owns a detached home could create a basement apartment and a garden suite without having to undergo time-consuming and costly planning approvals. This could be for a parent-in-law or a millennial trying to get a head start to save for their down payment. Most units could be added without major changes to the exterior of existing homes and therefore not require rezoning. Units could be added quickly, as the projects would be modest in scale, and in some cases, the only added municipal fees would be the cost of a building permit.
If passed, we could see units being built and occupied within 12 months. We estimate that allowing more as-of-right housing changes would create up to 50,000 new units over the next 10 years. While that might seem like a drop in the bucket, make no mistake, Madam Speaker, every little bit helps, especially when it is adding affordable units as we move to address the province’s housing crisis.
I should note that any changes to a home’s structure beyond what the municipality currently permits would still require planning approvals, and new units would need to meet Ontario’s building code requirements as well.
Our proposed changes would also ensure municipalities do not impose development charges, parkland dedication fees, or cash-in-lieu requirements for the creation of these types of new units.
Speaker, while gentle density works in some cases, there are other times when bringing more housing, jobs, retail and public amenities within close distance to transit is beneficial to a community. The province’s Transit-Oriented Communities Program will help build more housing to address soaring housing prices and provide more options to all Ontarians. This program is part of the province’s plan to build new, complete and mixed-use communities near and around public transit. We’re proposing to unlock new municipal funding tools so that municipalities can collect the fees and charges needed to participate in the transit-oriented community projects.
With more housing being built closer to transit, more people can get to and from their jobs, schools and back home much faster and be with their families. Speaker, living close to work saves money. It allows spending time, as I said, with more families, neighbours and loved ones, and it makes life easier for everyone.
Speaker, we are proud to be working with municipalities to deliver these transit-oriented community projects. It stands to reason that creating housing near transit stations delivers a myriad of benefits. We are increasing ridership, reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, and stimulating economic growth.
These projects create much-needed local services and convenience, and increase job opportunities to improve residents’ quality of life. It means housing closer to where we work, play and shop. It means less time in traffic, less time commuting and more time with our loved ones. But to get there, we need to remove barriers to building more homes.
One way to do that is through updating tools like inclusionary zoning. Inclusionary zoning requires home builders to include affordable housing options in new developments. That means there would be both market-rate and affordable units in a single development, such as condominiums for example.
There’s been a lot of attention to the need for attainable housing and how people with good jobs and even two incomes in their families can’t find a place to live. But we also need more affordable housing, especially around transit corridors and in other high-density areas. So we’re consulting on how to make inclusionary zoning rules more consistent and predictable in areas where this tool can be used. We’re also proposing a maximum 25-year affordability period, as well as a 5% cap on the number of affordable units, along with a standardized approach to determining affordable prices and rents.
Speaker, we’ve been clear that we want to put attainable home ownership and rental within reach for more Ontario families, and we want to give them the opportunity to live closer to where they work so that they can spend more time with one another.
Many of the proposed changes that we have been speaking to today would reduce financial burdens and streamline processes for the building sector, all while putting housing within reach for more Ontarians. In short, they would help to incentivize our partners in the construction industry to invest in building more homes.
We need these types of changes because we know there are times when deciding how and when to get shovels in the ground on new homes can be delayed and even stalled. That’s because in some areas with upper- and lower-tier municipalities, both levels of government have responsibilities for development planning and approvals.
That’s why we’re also proposing changes to the Planning Act that, if passed, would further reduce red tape and help to make it easier for municipalities to make planning decisions. This would limit the amount of input that upper-tier municipalities like Peel region have when lower-tier municipalities like Caledon are making decisions around how their housing supply is planned. This would also give the public more influence over decisions and help clarify responsibilities.
Speaker, another way we’re proposing to streamline development approval timelines would be to eliminate unnecessary steps in the approvals process. Currently, municipalities must hold a public meeting for every draft plan of subdivision. Making this meeting optional would get shovels in the ground faster while the public could continue to provide input at the official plan and zoning bylaw stages.
We’re also proposing to streamline the land lease approval process to encourage more development and increase the number of land lease community homes. Land leases are where the house is owned and the land that it sits on is rented. This arrangement can be a more attainable housing option for many people, particularly in rural parts of the province.
With this new plan, we would also explore ways to enable an alternative home financing model, namely rent-to-own arrangements, as alluded to by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing earlier. To do this, we would launch broad consultations and seek input and advice from experts, industry, renters and landlords.
We’re also working on a new attainable housing program that would combine a variety of tools to create homes that Ontarians can afford to buy. We would take parcels of surplus provincial properties in different communities in Ontario and put them back to create more housing options that meet the people’s needs and budgets. And if needed, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing could consider making minister’s zoning orders on these parcels of provincial land to speed up construction even more.
We could also use ownership models such as land lease or rent-to-own and reduce development charges to cut costs. This would help create a series of mixed-income communities that would help a variety of Ontarians, with a variety of budgets.
Speaker, our government is committed to helping Ontarians across the housing spectrum, which is why our new plan complements the community housing regulatory framework that we established earlier this year when we released our previous housing supply action plan, More Homes for Everyone.
And while we’re proposing ways to make it easier to build a mix of home ownership and rental housing, we also recognize that the community housing sector faces its own set of unique challenges. That’s why we invested nearly $4.4 billion over the past three years through the Community Housing Renewal Strategy, homelessness programs, and response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to grow and enhance community and supportive housing as well as to address homelessness for vulnerable Ontarians.
When people have the housing they need, they have better health, better education experiences and certainly better employment outcomes as well.
And when housing is affordable—as well as in areas near transit, schools, workplaces and amenities—individuals have the opportunity to manage their lives and build a foundation for their families.
There are many ways we can help low-income households, including those who require some form of assistance through the community housing system.
The rising cost of living has a significant impact on low-income households who might have to choose between putting food on the table and paying rent.
For example, between 1991 and 2016, the number of Ontario households needing assistance increased from 12% of total households to approximately 15%.
Finding affordable housing can be especially challenging for those who are working at minimum wage jobs, struggling to find employment or on social assistance. To help ease the burden, we are continuing our work with the community housing sector, including municipal partners and housing providers, to preserve the existing stock of community housing and to modernize the system for those who depend on it. Put simply, we’re working to help vulnerable Ontarians get back on their feet.
Another goal in addressing our housing crisis and improving affordability is to ensure older purpose-built rentals are replaced quickly. If a mid-sized rental apartment—six units or more—is demolished, municipalities may limit what’s built on that site. For example, they may specify the size and number of the replacement units in the new building. And while the goal of a municipality’s bylaw may be to preserve affordable rents and protect tenants, it may be preventing renewal and, as such, limiting the supply of rental units and leading to deteriorating housing stock.
With our plan, we would launch consultations to hear solutions on how to promote the building of more, desperately needed, rental units while continuing to protect the people who rent them.
Speaker, Ontario is in need of bold action to get more shovels in the ground, faster, on all types of housing.
The proposed initiatives I talked about today are designed to create a broader mix of housing and fill in the housing gaps we need in communities right across our province, because we need to help more Ontarians find a home that meets their needs.
This spring we made a promise to the millennial dreaming of owning a home, the family that’s looking to plant their roots, the senior looking to retire in dignity, and the newcomer in search of a more prosperous future that we would not let them down. We promised them that if they’re willing to work hard, if they’re willing to do their part and earn their keep, we would unlock the dream of home ownership; we would say yes to getting more homes built.
We live in the greatest province in the best country in the world, but it cannot be at its best until everyone has a place to come home to. And with the More Homes Built Faster Act, we’re taking bold action to ensure that goal becomes a reality.
I will now hand it over to my colleague the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, who will share more details on this proposed legislation.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Over to the parliamentary assistant of housing.
Mr. Kevin Holland: I would like to thank both the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Associate Minister of Housing for sharing their time with me today. It’s my pleasure to rise for the second reading of our government’s proposed More Homes Built Faster Act. I will echo the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing in saying that Ontario is the best place to call home, yet finding the right home is still challenging. That is why we are dedicated to getting 1.5 million homes built over the next 10 years. I’m honoured to be able to speak to the details of how we plan to reach that goal.
Our new housing supply action plan is a strong foundation, which we’re building on in partnership with eight other ministries, along with municipalities and industry experts. Our goal is to introduce almost 50 new changes to legislation and regulations that will speed up housing creation in Ontario. We know that if we reduce delays and get the cost of building homes down, we can lower the price of a home for the average buyer, because delays in building housing drive up costs.
Delays are contributing to the housing supply shortage even as we try diligently to make up the time we lost when the pandemic first hit. Throughout the province, we need to significantly increase the speed of new home building in order to meet demand and lower costs for Ontarians. Study after study has found that development approvals and appropriate zoning are often delayed or hindered because of opposition from some members of local municipalities. Some projects are even abandoned altogether. Even if the project finally gets the go-ahead, a lot of damage has already been done. Our new plan addresses the barriers that cause housing delays. These barriers include land access in urban areas due to complex land use policies, on top of lengthy planning approvals for new housing. Coupled with high development charges, these issues are the driving causes of rising costs in creating delays in building supply.
Just last month, the Building Industry and Land Development Association, or BILD, found municipal approval times in the greater Toronto area are among the worst of major municipalities in the country. Think about this: Our current requirements for approvals can add, on average, from 27% to 51% more time on a new build, based on a 2020 study. When it comes to costs, BILD also found development charge rates for a two-bedroom apartment unit exceeded $70,000 in five of our province’s most populous municipalities. This drives up costs for builders, for renters and for homeowners alike, and it’s why we are proposing to look at ways we can update and streamline how and when these types of charges are required in order to help build more housing faster.
There are three main charges levied on new residential developments by municipalities. They are development charges, which fund infrastructure like water and roads; parkland dedication fees, which can be either money or land, and are used to create parks; and community benefit charges, which help build libraries and community centres. Our proposed changes, if passed, would revise the way these charges are implemented to help spur much-needed development. Affordable housing units as well as inclusionary zoning units would not be required to pay development charges, parkland dedication fees and community benefit charges. Where a charge is not levied on a per-unit basis, the maximum charge would be lowered to reflect both the affordable and inclusionary zoning units. Likewise, select attainable housing projects would see some relief from these three charges. Non-profit housing developments would also be relieved from paying development charges and parkland dedication fees. With our proposed changes, development charges for rental construction would be discounted for home builders, with deeper discounts for family-sized units.
We’re also working to reduce the administrative burden on municipalities by extending the deadline for reviewing development charge bylaws from every five years to every 10 years. If and when new development charge bylaws are passed, the charges would be phased in over five years, making increases more manageable for home builders.
Speaker, I also mentioned parkland dedication requirements. In our plan, we’re proposing to reduce maximum parkland dedication requirements for higher density developments by 50% and putting a tiered maximum parkland rate of 15% of the land or its value for sites greater than five hectares. For sites that are five hectares or less, the maximum parkland rate would be 10%. This would help reduce costs to build new condos and apartment buildings.
Changes like this would make it easier for builders to predict the cost of fees, which would, of course, encourage the start of construction. We would make changes to freeze parkland rates earlier in the development process, at the time of the site plan or zoning application, instead of at the time the building permit is issued, which is later in the development process. Parkland dedication requirements would not be imposed on existing units and parcels of land.
Together, these changes to charges would help incentivize the development of a mix of rentals, mid-rise buildings, single and semi-detached homes, duplexes and triplexes for everyone.
We are also proposing to amend the Planning Act by adjusting how community benefits charges are applied. I mentioned that we would ensure that affordable housing units would not be subject to community benefits charges. In addition, when someone builds infill development or units on a parcel of land with existing development on it, the community benefits charge would be based on just the new units rather than the entire parcel of land.
Speaker, municipal fees and charges ought to be collected to build infrastructure, not earn interest. We’re proposing to require municipalities to use or allocate at least 60% of their development charge reserves for services like water, waste water and roads each year. Similarly, the same requirement would be put in place for parkland reserves, because we need municipalities to build the infrastructure and parks that our growing communities need now.
As we propose to help reduce costs for new developments, we need to look at the other challenges that builders often face. When people are unable to resolve their differences on community planning issues or have disputes with their municipal council that can’t be settled, the Ontario Land Tribunal provides a forum to resolve these disputes. So we’re moving to ensure the OLT can recruit more adjudicators and staff to resolve disputes faster. We want to speed up decision-making at the OLT and help increase housing supply by proposing changes that would prioritize the cases that create the most housing, establish service standards and clarify the Ontario Land Tribunal’s powers to dismiss appeals due to unreasonable delay or failure to comply with a tribunal order.
We would also place a limit on appeals from individuals and community groups, for instance, that would further hinder the progress of official plan amendments and zoning bylaw amendments. This would help reduce the tribunal’s backlog and speed up approvals.
This requires well-thought-out policies. As the minister talked about, one of our main priorities is looking at how we are planning for growth. A recent study by Re/Max Canada found that our housing inventory is depleted in part thanks to our rapidly growing population. Our housing stock has already fallen behind, and it’s not on track to keep pace with population growth. That means we need to take action now to keep up. We have to ensure that our province has the necessary amount of housing required to meet the needs of Ontarians and all newcomers. One of our top priorities is making sure that we have these supports in place.
That’s why we’re taking another look at the growth plan for the greater Golden Horseshoe and its policies, to make sure that unnecessary red tape around building homes is eliminated. We have to look again and be nimble enough in our approach to make sure that our plan for growth isn’t inadvertently hindering our ability to build more homes.
We’re undertaking a housing-focused review of A Place to Grow and the provincial policy statement, which will result in a new outcome-based, province-wide policy instrument for municipalities in Ontario.
To elaborate on what the minister touched on earlier, these changes would include a review of six main themes.
The first would be residential land supply. We would update policies relating to boundary expansions, rural housing and converting employment areas to areas suitable for housing.
The second would be attainable housing supply. We would develop a strong mix of housing in areas where urban growth is occurring.
The third theme of this review would be growth management. By working to forecast population and employment, and enlarge fast-growing municipalities, we can ensure we have enough housing stock.
The fourth theme of our review of this plan includes protecting environmental and natural resources, looking at agricultural policies and maintaining our province’s natural heritage.
For the fifth theme, we would look at the current supply and capacity of community infrastructure, including how to integrate urban schools into our communities.
Finally, our last theme would be a streamlined planning framework, one that ensures our reviews of these policies are focused on positive impact and are flexible enough to keep up with quickly changing demands, as I described. In all, increasing the supply of attainable housing would put housing in reach for more people across Ontario.
We know that change is challenging, but we must take action, no matter how challenging it is. Our plan would help to create more consistency, which should reduce the disputes that often arise in municipal council meetings over land use planning issues. The proposals would, if passed, ensure that cities, towns and rural communities grow with a mix of ownership and rental housing types that meet the needs of all Ontarians.
It is because of this demand for a variety of housing that we are proposing to remove site plan control requirements for projects with fewer than 10 units. Let me elaborate. Site plan control is a planning tool that a municipality usually uses to evaluate things like walkways, parking areas, landscaping or exterior design on land where development is proposed. Site plan control works in tandem with provincial policy statements, official plans, zoning bylaws, community planning permit systems and building permits. Removing site plan controls for projects with less than 10 units would reduce the number of approvals in the pipeline, speeding things up for these housing proposals, and would ensure that essential building permits, as well as the building code and fire code requirements, will continue to protect public safety.
For larger projects, we are proposing to speed up approvals by streamlining site plan reviews to focus on health and safety issues, such as safe access to and from the site, rather than focus on the unnecessary regulation of architectural or aesthetic landscaping design details.
Our new housing supply action plan has, as I’ve described, thoughtful solutions and innovative ways that will help us to quickly approve new builds, and it will allow us to quickly make changes to the charges and delays incurred by builders and consumers to keep up and get ahead.
Speaker, as you can see, we’re leading innovations that will create more housing in Ontario and will make it easier for our partners in municipalities to keep up with demand. These proposed approaches to breaking down barriers, streamlining processes and cutting costs would, if passed, further our goal of making housing more attainable for all Ontarians. With our proposed changes, we would help renters cross over and become homeowners, and we would increase the number of homes available to all people, because everyone in Ontario should be able to find a home that is right for them.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Questions? The member from University–Rosedale.
Ms. Jessica Bell: Thank you very much, and congratulations. It’s good to see you in the chair.
My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, about Bill 23, this new bill. One measure that I’m particularly concerned about is the proposal to do away with protection for tenants who live in purpose-built buildings, who might find that their purpose-built rental will be converted to a condo and they will have no right to return to their unit at the same rent that they’re currently living at. Can you commit to ensuring that renters can return to their original unit once construction is complete?
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Response? The Minister of Housing.
Hon. Steve Clark: Thanks, Speaker. It’s great to see you in the chair this morning.
I first want to thank the member for University–Rosedale for her endorsement yesterday. I watched her on CP24, and I was very pleased that she was quoted as saying that it does seem like this bill is good for building new homes. I appreciate your comments on television.
This is a consultation, so I’m not going to predetermine the outcome of the consultation. We want to make sure we hear from renters and builders about the replacement bylaws that some municipalities have. While the goal of the municipalities bylaw may be to make sure that affordable rents are preserved and remain, it may also prevent renewal, so we want to have that conversation with stakeholders. Because if a mid-size rental building that’s six units or more is demolished, municipalities can limit what’s built on the site. For example, they might decide to specify the size or the number of replacement units.
We want to have a conversation around those rental replacement bylaws, and I have said that after debate I would be pleased to hear the member opposite’s comments as we move forward in the consultation. Thank you for the question.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): The member from Brantford–Brant.
Mr. Will Bouma: Thank you, Speaker. It’s good to see you in the chair. My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. It’s good to see him. I’m very excited about this. It’s time that we move forward on this.
One of the biggest struggles that we face and that I faced also when I was on county council a few years before coming here was just NIMBYism. There is a consensus that we need to get housing built by all sides of the House here; however, often the attitude is that people don’t want it in their backyards.
I was wondering if I could ask, through you, Madam Speaker, how the More Homes Built Faster Act would reduce NIMBYism and the tendency for local councillors to block or downscale new housing developments. Because obviously politics is always local. It happens on the ground. I was wondering if the minister could help us understand how this will get rid of some of that NIMBYism.
Hon. Steve Clark: Speaker, through you to the member: It was great—you hosted me in Brantford for a great affordable housing sod-turning. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product. I want to thank you for your advocacy.
The member opposite is right: Municipal councils play a crucial role in ensuring there are measures in place to establish not just more housing opportunities but also the reporting that goes along with it.
The member is absolutely right: NIMBYism, the “not in my backyard” mentality, is really holding us back. In fact, I think we’ve even gone past that. We’ve gone past NIMBYism. I think we’re now in BANANAism. BANANAism is “build absolutely nothing anywhere near anyone.” The rules that we’re proposing for the Ontario Land Tribunal—we’ve all heard complaints as part of the housing supply action plan about how long it takes to go through the OLT. We believe there’s a very big role for the tribunal. We believe that there’s a very big role for an impartial advocacy piece with the OLT. But as well, more pressure needs to be put on local councils to make those right decisions and to be able to justify those decisions. I think the issue around BANANAism needs to be fixed. It needs to be fixed now.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): The member from London West.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: My question is to the minister. Yesterday, there was new data released from rentals.ca showing that London’s average rents increased 33% over the last year. That’s faster than any other city in Canada. We had previously seen data from Statistics Canada showing that London is Ontario’s fastest-growing city. When you combine those population pressures with this rapid increase in rent and not enough supply, renters are really, really struggling.
Speaker, my question is around the elimination of rental replacement requirements in this legislation. We saw planners say that this will make it open season on low-income apartment buildings. What is this minister doing to ensure that tenants in London and across Ontario have access to the affordable rental housing that they need?
Hon. Steve Clark: It appears that, after the government has put in many of the measures that the opposition has asked for and has called for, the only thing they appear to be against this morning is a consultation on rent replacement bylaws. It’s very interesting that all of the measures we put in—including the incentives to build more rental housing. I would think that a member representing London, which desperately needs rental accommodation, would be supporting the fact that we are allowing the municipalities to provide deep discounts for family-sized rentals: up to 25% discounts on development charges, on parkland dedications, community benefits charges. We need to get the baseline cost dealt with so we can get more rental accommodation built in communities across Ontario—and, as well, the fact that we’re including as-of-right density, three units per home, to allow more rental accommodations, whether it be a granny suite or a laneway home.
It’s interesting that the first two questions are against the consultation.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): The member from Newmarket–Aurora.
Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: One of the most common things that I hear from concerned constituents—and as early as just this past Monday I had four constituents in my office talking about this specifically: Their children won’t be able to afford a home of their own.
We know that we’re adding more supply, which is the key to bringing down costs. This will help first-time buyers as well as seniors looking to downsize. My question is, besides working to build more homes, what else does this plan do for the first-time homebuyer?
Hon. Steve Clark: I want to thank you for that question—very, very important. You are absolutely right. We have young families, young couples who want to create a family, who want to have a home that’s close to school or close to work. We have new Ontarians who want to come to our province for that better life, who want a home that plants their family in our province, and we’ve got seniors who want to downsize but can’t find a home in their market that keeps them where they want to live, close to family and friends.
The challenge that we’ve got is that we obviously want to increase density, especially around major transit areas. People in your riding want to be able to have a home that’s close to transit so they can get to work and get home fast and easy. We also have a number of people who want to remain in their home, but they need something to help pay their mortgage. That’s why we’ve decided, not just in urban Ontario but across Ontario, to allow three units as of right—either three units in the home or two in the home and then an ancillary building like a laneway home.
There are a lot of things that are in there. As well, the baseline cost to deal with affordable and attainable housing to be able to get those costs brought down—
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Time.
The member from London–Fanshawe.
Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: I’m particularly interested in schedule 8, where there are four new subsections. They’re very powerful, actually, these new sections that the government has put in:
“(4.4) The minister may appoint a chair of the board of directors from among the members of the board.” That’s the minister appointing them.
“(8) The administrator shall report to the minister as the minister requires....
“(9) The minister may issue directions to the administrator with regard to any matter within the administrator’s jurisdiction, and the administrator shall carry them out.” Shall carry them out, not “may”—“shall.”
So the “minister’s direction,” and then it says here that—
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Time.
Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: I’m sorry about that. I had a really good question for the minister. I’ll maybe ask it next time.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Response?
Hon. Steve Clark: Thank you, Speaker. Through you to the honourable member, I want to highlight the fact that every one of these 50 initiatives in this bill, every single one of them, is done to essentially do two things: to build more housing and to build it faster—
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Thank you, minister.
Ms. Jessica Bell: I’m proud to rise to speak to Bill 23, the government’s new housing bill. This government’s bill is big, very big. It’s sweeping. And it was introduced yesterday at 3 p.m., which means that we are still digesting the changes, going through the schedules, consulting with planners, municipalities, housing experts, renters and the building sector to determine what this bill means, how it will affect our province and how it will affect the housing sector.
A few things come to mind just off the top. One is that this bill gives the province far greater control over development and planning. The minister has much greater authority to change heritage, to give fines to consumers, to change municipal laws that hurt developer profits. That’s our initial take.
The other measure that advocates have raised very quickly with us is the decision to get rid of cities’ right—the rental housing replacement program. The reason why I just want to dwell on this for my first few minutes is because this measure ensures that a renter, if they need to move because a building is being demolished, has the right to return once the new building is complete at approximately the same rent that they were paying before.
The reason why this is important is because, in Ontario today, we have thousands and thousands of purpose-built rentals that were built in the 1960s and 1970s. These are typically buildings that have far more affordable rents than the kind of unit you’re going to get if you move into a new condo downtown; you might be paying closer to $1,100 to $1,600 for a one- to two-bedroom apartment.
In my riding, many of the people who live in these buildings are older. They are rent-controlled. They have lived there for many years, and the beauty of a purpose-built rental is that it provides a tenant with more certainty that they’re going to be able to stay there year in and year out. That’s very different if you move into a rental property that’s part of a single-family home. Maybe it’s being bought by an investor who wants to flip the property within a year to five years. It does mean that if you live in a semi-detached or a single-family home, it’s far more likely that you could be evicted because the landlord wants to move in or sell it or the property has a new homeowner.
Those people who live in purpose-built rentals deserve protections, and they deserve to keep the protections they’ve got. Getting rid of the requirement—that any renter that is evicted is then potentially not allowed to move back into the new development means that every renter who lives in a purpose-built rental, every renter who is living under rent control, every renter who has more affordable rent could be in a situation where they could face eviction because their corporate landlord or a potential investor could see these properties as an opportunity to convert into luxury condos and force these tenants out. That’s where our affordable units are in the city, so I’m very concerned to see that measure in there.
We are already hearing from housing stakeholders who have raised this issue, and the reason why I’m focusing on this to such a great extent is because if we are going to build new homes, which we absolutely need to do, we also need to keep the affordable homes that we have.
I’ll give you an example of an individual, Carolyn Whitzman. She is an expert on housing supply, including meeting new housing supply. One of her biggest concerns is the decision to get rid of section 11, and this is what they say: “This would have a disastrous impact on net affordable housing. Canadians lost 15 homes renting at $750 or less for every one new affordable home created at that price point between 2011 and 2016. Most of this net loss was due to demolition and renovation of residential rental properties.”
What that means is that this rental housing protection bylaw that exists in some municipalities, including the city of Toronto, is the main reason why many of these—
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Thank you. It’s time for members’ statements.
Second reading debate deemed adjourned.
Community family barbecue and corn roast in Newmarket–Aurora
Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: On October 16, I was pleased to hold my very first annual community family barbecue and corn roast. The rain held off and it was a great success. As a new MPP, I was thrilled to host more than 500 of my constituents outside at the Riverwalk Commons in downtown Newmarket. There was live entertainment by the great George St. Kitts, delicious food, face-painting for the kiddies, a photo booth for fun family pictures and some great giveaways.
I must thank my dear friend Teresa Kruze for managing the entire event. With her master event-planning skills at the helm, the residents of Newmarket–Aurora had a fun time for the entire family. Thank you to all the volunteers, including my husband, Ivan, and my son, Robert, as well as my entire constituency staff, along with another 15 volunteers who gave up four hours of their Sunday afternoon to help make my first constituency event a great success. Thank you.
I also would like to thank the many families that came out. It was great to have so many families there, families who came up to speak to me just to thank me, and also to have a conversation. And I would like to thank all the residents who brought a non-perishable food item to the event. I’m pleased to say that we collected 10 full boxes—
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Members’ statements?
Mr. Stephen Blais: I’d like to take a moment to address the growing challenge of “level zero”—sometimes “code black”—here in Ontario. This is the complete absence of ambulances available to respond to 911 calls.
In 2021, Ottawa paramedics spent more than 49,000 hours in offload delay at area hospitals. This resulted in 750 incidents of level zero. The 90th percentile hospital offload delay was 97 minutes, which far exceeds the 30-minute benchmark. This means that paramedics are waiting for over an hour and a half to transfer their patients to hospital—two paramedics and an ambulance stuck at the hospital because the hospital is too backlogged to take them.
In the first seven months of 2022, the Ottawa Paramedic Service experienced more than 1,125 instances of level zero. In some cases, Ottawa had 11 consecutive level zero hours—11 hours of consecutive level zero, Madam Speaker—and some low-acuity patients waiting seven hours before being transported to hospital.
Level zero isn’t just a problem in Ottawa, of course. It’s happening right across the province. The province and municipalities pay for paramedics to be assisting residents needing urgent medical attention. They do not pay them to wait at the hospital to offload their patients. It’s imperative that the government provides the funding necessary to municipalities, in particular the monies requested by the city of Ottawa, to hire the paramedics needed to end level zero events and better serve our friends and neighbours.
Mr. Joel Harden: Good morning, Speaker. Good morning, colleagues.
The people of Ottawa and Gatineau are preparing a protest unlike anything you’ve ever seen. We will be using an iconic item you see everywhere in Canadian society, and I’m not talking about hockey sticks. I’m not talking about doughnuts. Speaker, I’m not even talking about duct tape. I’m talking about electrical cords. You heard me right, Speaker: electrical cords. On November 5, the people of Ottawa and Gatineau will gather together with extension cords, electrical cords—the same thing that powers backyard barbecues, Halloween decorations and holiday lights.
Why are we going to be doing that? Because at a time when we need to double Ontario’s electrical capacity, this government has decided to rip up its energy agreement with Quebec. It makes no sense. We could continue to import Quebec power for five cents a kilowatt-hour. It’s affordable and it makes sense, but instead we’re pledging to fire up gas-fired electricity that will cost at least twice as much, balloon our emissions and ruin our attempts to deal with our climate emergency. The only people who win are gas industry executives and lobbyists.
Folks back home are going to show the government, with people power, a different way. We’re going to run extension cords from Quebec to Ontario for a family-friendly event. I invite all members of this House to join me as we celebrate how we bring clean power to Ontario and fight for our kids’ future. Stay tuned for details about the electrical cord protest.
Mr. Matthew Rae: Earlier this fall, I had the opportunity to attend the Stratford Optimism Place women’s shelter 40th anniversary celebrations. Optimism Place provides an integral service to our community. They offer shelter, counselling and protection for women and children in abusive or precarious situations.
At their anniversary celebrations, they also marked the official ground-breaking ceremony of their 7,000-square-foot, 18-bed expansion project. This expansion project will add 10 new bedrooms, seven new washrooms, three laundry rooms, a new playground, two counselling offices, a multi-purpose meeting space and a kitchenette. Through private donors, government and in-kind support, they’ve already raised 80% of their $5-million capital budget.
I’m pleased to announce they also received over $100,000 through the Ontario Trillium Foundation Resilient Communities Fund. They plan to use this funding to support additional staff, programming and the development of an Optimism social enterprise initiative. This physical expansion and the new social enterprise initiative will allow Optimism Place to help more women and children in our communities.
Congratulations, again, to Jasmine and the entire team. Thank you for everything you do in our community.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Speaker, I’m wearing purple today to show my support for the education workers, the education assistants, custodians, early childhood educators, school secretaries and other school support staff who provide vital supports to students, yet are the lowest-paid workers in the school system.
Parents in London West and across the province know the contributions of these workers to the success and safety of their children, and they want to see them fairly compensated. They also want more supports for struggling students in schools instead of direct payments to parents for an hour or two of tutoring, which won’t do anything to help students catch up and requires parents to try to track down a tutor.
CBC London shared some comments from parents. One said, “You can’t have a government at the table saying we have no money to give education workers, then provide all these random payments to parents.”
Another asked, “Wouldn’t it just be a better decision to take that money and hire EAs? That way, this so-called catch-up plan could be a plan that helps teachers support our students and not put the burden back on parents.”
A third said, “This feels a little bit more like a bribe to parents and families,” and would rather have that money go back into the education system.
Instead of a $365-million catch-up program, why won’t this government invest in the supports that would really help kids catch up—the education workers who support students in our schools?
Events in Kitchener–Conestoga
Mr. Mike Harris: It’s great to be back here in the House after a busy and productive month working in our ridings. And it was nice to get out to some fall fairs that took place, especially my favourite, Oktoberfest, which is one big day for Waterloo region and, of course, my riding of Kitchener–Conestoga.
Speaking of promoting local events, we’ve just celebrated Small Business Week here in the province, where I had an opportunity to highlight just a few of the countless local businesses in my community. Over 400,000 small businesses are the backbone of communities across this province, fuelling the economy and employing more than two million people—businesses like Morty’s Pub, Mr. Speaker, a must-stop for wings if you’re in the region; the Maryhill Market for Kawartha Dairy ice cream and homemade sandwiches; as well as the famous St. Jacobs market that is host to a ton of local crafters, artisans, farmers and more.
With the holiday season just around the corner, I want to encourage everyone to support local businesses. It is a great way to get unique gifts and products for yourselves and loved ones—not just at Christmas, but year-round.
Health care funding
Ms. Sandy Shaw: There’s a frightening crisis in children’s hospitals across Ontario. Children are waiting days in emergency rooms, facing cancelled procedures, and—for what must be every parent’s nightmare—they are being sent across the province to find care beds.
Bruce Squires, who is the president of McMaster Children’s Hospital, is sounding the alarm: “Our pediatric critical care capacity is so limited that critically ill children are having to be transferred outside of their local area to be admitted to an ICU.” This is a situation that he calls “extremely concerning.” Critically ill children from Hamilton have been sent as far away as Ottawa to find a bed in a pediatric unit. As of Thursday, there were 11 patients in the ER who had been admitted to hospital but were still waiting for a bed, some for 30 hours or more.
Grey, who is a four-year-old boy from Ancaster, waited five days for emergency elbow surgery. Now his mom is warning other parents that the system is a disaster and people need to know what to expect.
It should be our highest priority to care for sick, injured or dying children. But instead, hospitals are being slowly starved by this government’s disastrous plan to privatize health care. We need more investments in our struggling health care system, not a profits-over-people approach.
We have the solutions. We need to implement them now to make things better for children across Ontario.
Pathways to Education
Mrs. Robin Martin: It’s my pleasure to rise to highlight an organization which is improving the lives of students within my riding of Eglinton–Lawrence and around Ontario and across Canada: Pathways to Education. I fully support Pathways’ mission to help high school students who face barriers to reach their full potential through education.
Pathways focuses on supporting students from low-income households who might otherwise struggle to finish secondary school or even drop out. Pathways provides lots of practical support, even bus tickets, for participants to get to school. Essentially, it provides them with what they need to finish their education so that they can have all the possibilities that that opens.
A few weeks ago, Owen Hinds and the rest of the Pathways team at Lawrence Heights invited me to once again tour their Pathways facilities in my riding. I enjoyed meeting the students, who were busy working on their homework assignments, supported by peers and by other volunteer mentors. Pathways boasts over 800 volunteers, who should be commended for their over 26,000 volunteer hours. With over 19,000 students having benefited from Pathways since 2001 and over 6,000 currently in the program, 78% graduate from school and 69% go on to post-secondary education. It’s a true success story.
Along with the Minister of Colleges and Universities, I attended their grad ball recently, as well, to celebrate with them and continue to support all of their efforts.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I didn’t want to interrupt the member for Eglinton–Lawrence, but the volume of the private conversations collectively is at a level where it must be difficult for members to concentrate on their presentation, so I would ask members to please quiet them down.
Kayla’s Children Centre
Ms. Laura Smith: Last month, I had the honour of being part of the 25th anniversary Ride for Kayla’s, in support of Kayla’s Children Centre. Kayla’s, or KCC, has deep roots in Thornhill. Known as a place where children of all abilities can shine, Kayla’s mission is to deliver innovative educational, therapeutic and recreational programs for children and youth with disabilities and complex medical needs. This year’s bike ride involved over 200 cyclists who came out to show their support for KCC’s specialized programs—programs that enable children to flourish academically, socially and emotionally, including a licensed daycare and school, on-site therapy centre, adaptive sports, and life skills programs for teens.
KCC offers supports and respite for parents, siblings and grandparents, giving them the much-needed time to run errands or spend time with their other children. One of the organization’s most recent and substantial accomplishments was a state-of-the-art hydrotherapy centre. In the warm waters, children with mobility issues can be independent, flexible and free.
One of the long-standing supporters of the Ride for Kayla’s is Hershy Weinberg, who rides under the team name of Zaidey Hershy. Hershey’s dedication and support along with so many other organizers, including the staff and instructors, have helped build KCC into a state-of-the-art facility. And by the way, Mr. Speaker, “zaidey” is the Yiddish word for “grandfather.”
I want to thank KCC staff for their dedication to the success of every child, providing childhood experiences that otherwise would not exist. In Thornhill, we support our not-for-profits because they support us. I am truly looking forward to next year’s ride.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Once again, I’m going to ask members to please keep the volume of their private conversations lower. I can barely hear the member who has the floor. Thank you.
Protests in Iran
Ms. Goldie Ghamari: Mr. Speaker, 40 days ago, on September 16, 2022, a young 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman, Mahsa Jina Amini, was brutally murdered by the morality police of the terrorist and illegitimate Islamic regime in Iran. Since then, the brave people of Iran have been protesting—protesting 43 years of a brutal dictatorship.
This is the same dictatorship that almost three years ago shot down Ukraine flight PS752, killing over 50 Canadians, and I would like to thank Premier Ford for taking swift action back in January 2020 by siding with the people of Iran and announcing scholarships to honour every single Canadian murdered during that plane crash.
Hundreds if not thousands of Iranians have been arrested, murdered, tortured and killed by the brutal and terrorist illegitimate Islamic regime in Iran. For Iranians mourning someone’s passing, the 40th day is incredibly significant. And it’s not just Mahsa Jina Amini’s family that is mourning; all of the people of Iran are mourning. Iranians around the world are mourning, and the world is mourning with them. There are nation-wide strikes happening, and while pro-Islamic regime lobby groups like the Iranian Canadian Congress have tried to apologize for the regime, the world has opened its eyes.
The regime has shut down the Internet to prevent the voices of the people of Iran from being heard. But they are asking the world for one simple thing: to be their voice, to share their stories and to make them heard.
I have several hundred constituents in my riding who, just like me, are of Iranian origin. Today, I want to let the people of Iran know that they are not alone in their fight for freedom and democracy. Here in Canada, we are blessed to live in a free and democratic society. The people of Iran deserve the same.
Deaths in Iran
Ms. Goldie Ghamari: A quick point of order.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Point of order: the member for Carleton.
Ms. Goldie Ghamari: I would like to seek unanimous consent from the House for a moment of silence in honour of all of the Iranians who have been brutally murdered and tortured at the hands of the illegitimate and terrorist Islamic regime in Iran.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member is seeking unanimous consent for a moment’s silence at this time. Agreed? Agreed. Members will please rise.
The House observed a moment’s silence.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you. Members will please take their seats.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Point of order: the member for Ottawa–Vanier.
Mme Lucille Collard: I am seeking unanimous consent that, notwithstanding standing order 100(a)(iv), the independent members be permitted to share the five minutes allotted to a single member for the debate on ballot item number 4, standing in the name of the member for Brantford–Brant.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Madame Collard has sought the unanimous consent of the House that, notwithstanding standing order 100(a)(iv), the independent members be permitted to share the five minutes allotted to a single member for the debate on ballot item number 4, standing in the name of the member for Brantford–Brant. Agreed? Agreed.
Introduction of Visitors
Ms. Peggy Sattler: I am once again delighted to welcome proud dad Dr. Collin Clarke, who is here today in support of his daughter, Pearl Clarke, one of our pages, along with proud uncle and aunt Adam and Melody Clarke and proud cousin Emma Clarke. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: I have the great honour of introducing my constituency office dream team: Monika MacAlpine, Jenny Yeung, Paul de Roos and, just starting today, my parliamentary and legislative executive assistant, Martin Kasprzak.
Mme France Gélinas: It is my pleasure to introduce some of my executive assistant’s family from Taiwan. Welcome to Mr. Joe Russo and his wife, Agata Chang. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
Hon. Paul Calandra: Mr. Speaker, as you know, Malini is one of our pages, and her father, Ayyappan Subramaniyan from Markham–Stouffville, joins us here today. Welcome to Queen’s Park, sir.
Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: I’d like to give a warm welcome to Michau van Speyk from Parkdale–High Park.
Ms. Goldie Ghamari: I’d like to welcome Kaveh Shahrooz, a lawyer and senior fellow at Macdonald-Laurier Institute, an outspoken advocate for freedom and democracy in Iran, and one of the main organizers of the historic October 1, 2022, rally in Richmond Hill, which saw over 50,000 people attend. I’d also like to introduce Mahsa Mortazavi, a reporter with Iran International TV, and also my mother, Sara Hooshiyarfard.
Mrs. Nina Tangri: Good morning. I’d like to welcome Marlon Porter to the Legislative Assembly today. He’s an extremely talented artist from my riding whose art is currently being shown in the legislative dining room, so I encourage everybody to please take a look. Welcome, Marlon.
Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: I’d like to welcome the family of the legislative page from Mississauga Centre, Amy Do Rego-Luis. Her family is visiting today: Sandra Do Rego, Sofia Do Rego-Luis, Joshua Do Rego-Luis, Maria Do Rego, Angie Sansalone and Anh Phan. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
Mr. Todd J. McCarthy: It’s my privilege to welcome and introduce to the House today Jim Vigmond, co-founder of the law firm of Oatley Vigmond LLP, a leading Ontario trial lawyer and the 2022 recipient of the Ontario Bar Association insurance award for excellence.
Mr. Stephen Crawford: I’d like to introduce the family of page Elliott from my riding of Oakville. In the members’ gallery, we have Audrey Wubbenhorst and Eloise Dixon. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
Hon. Doug Ford: I’d like to wish one of the great pages a happy birthday: the nephew to our MPP Dowie, Marshall Dowie. Happy birthday, my friend.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’m now going to ask our pages to assemble for their introductions.
It is my distinct pleasure as Speaker to welcome this latest group of legislative pages: from the riding of Markham–Stouffville, Malini Ayyappan; from Cambridge, Vanessa Bal; from Huron–Bruce, Rachel Beith; from Dufferin–Caledon, Mitchell Blanden; from London West, Pearl Clarke; from Oakville, Elliott Dixon; from Mississauga Centre, Amy Do Rego-Luis; from Don Valley East, Karma Dorji; from Windsor–Tecumseh, Marshall Dowie; from the riding of Timmins, Jacob Dunkley; from Nickel Belt, Molly Farrell; from Barrie–Springwater–Oro-Medonte, Julien Gingras; from Scarborough Southwest, Julie Harrop; from Kanata–Carleton, Conner Kam; from Toronto–St. Paul’s, Sofia Marra; from Kitchener South–Hespeler, Mae McNamara; from the riding of Orléans, Bridget Osezua; from Ottawa Centre, Gabrielle Ovens; from Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry, Nolan Stoqua; and from the riding of King–Vaughan, Sahana Suren.
Public Order Emergency Commission
Ms. Marit Stiles: My question is to the Premier.
Yesterday, we saw both the Premier and the former Solicitor General—now Deputy Premier—dodge questions about their summons from the Public Order Emergency Commission. In fact, since the summons was issued, we haven’t heard a word from either the Premier or the former Solicitor General. Hiding the problem does not make it go away.
I ask the Premier, will he come clean and commit today to speaking with the commission?
Hon. Doug Ford: Mr. Speaker, this is a federal inquiry into the federal government’s use of the federal Emergencies Act. From day one, for Ontario, this was a policing matter; it was not a political matter.
The opposition knows politicians don’t direct the police. Top officials from the OPP, who were running the operation in conjunction with the municipal police agencies and the RCMP, are testifying at the committee.
Again, Mr. Speaker, this is a federal inquiry into the federal government’s decision to use the federal Emergencies Act.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question?
Ms. Marit Stiles: I’d like to hear the word “federal” one more time, Speaker.
Back to the Premier—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order.
Stop the clock.
The House will come to order. We’ve got 58 minutes and 26 seconds to go. We’re just getting started. It’s the second day. I have to be able to hear the member who has the floor.
Start the clock. Supplementary question.
Ms. Marit Stiles: Back to the Premier: During former Ottawa mayor Jim Watson’s testimony to the commission last week, we learned that in his conversations with the Prime Minister in February, the Prime Minister told Mayor Watson that the Premier was “hiding from his responsibility” for, yes, “political reasons.”
Speaker, the Premier was hiding then, when he let convoy organizers occupy Ottawa and harass residents, and he is hiding now by not testifying at the commission. He cannot hide forever. Will the Premier finally do the right thing, go to Ottawa and testify before the commission?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To reply, the government House leader.
Hon. Paul Calandra: I think the Premier has been very clear. This is obviously a federal inquiry into the federal government’s decision to invoke the federal Emergencies Act. I know the member opposite doesn’t appreciate that, Mr. Speaker, but that is the case.
At the same time, we have been assisting the commission by ensuring that cabinet documents have been provided to the commission and by also ensuring that both the Deputy Minister of Transportation and the Deputy Solicitor General are made available to the commission to assist them as they investigate the federal government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The final supplementary?
Ms. Marit Stiles: Back to the Premier: The commission summoned the Premier and the former Solicitor General because the people of Ottawa and Windsor—and everybody else in this province—deserve answers and they deserve accountability from this government. Instead, this Premier is choosing to hide behind parliamentary privilege. Parliamentary privilege? That’s baloney and everybody in this room knows it. He failed Ontarians—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’m going to caution the member on her language—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I caution the member on her language and recognize her to continue with her question.
Ms. Marit Stiles: This Premier—and this Premier knows it—failed Ontarians during the convoy and is failing us now. The former Ottawa mayor testified. The Prime Minister is going to testify and so is the mayor of Windsor. Other political leaders aren’t afraid to talk to this commission. Why is this Premier shaking in his boots?
Hon. Paul Calandra: Again, Mr. Speaker, because it is a federal inquiry into the federal government’s use of the federal Emergencies Act. At the same time, we are assisting the commission in its work by ensuring that cabinet documents are provided to the commission and by ensuring that the Deputy Solicitor General and the Deputy Minister of Transportation are made available to the commission for testimony, Mr. Speaker. Also, obviously the commissioner of the OPP will be testifying.
The member herself shows exactly why this is political. It shouldn’t be. It is a policing matter. We have been hearing that consistently throughout the testimony so far and that is why we are assisting the commission in ensuring, as I said, that cabinet documents are made available, that the Deputy Solicitor General has been made available and the Deputy Minister of Transportation. We’ll continue to provide that assistance as required.
Public Order Emergency Commission
Mr. Joel Harden: My question is to the Premier. Premier, it’s nice to see you today. I expect an answer to the question I’m about to ask.
Friends, I wonder if you could clear something up: Is the mayor of Windsor a police officer? Yes or no?
Mr. Joel Harden: Is the Prime Minister of Canada a police officer? Yes or no?
Mr. Joel Harden: So, could somebody please explain to the people of Ottawa Centre why these officials saw fit to answer the call to testify before a commission, but this Premier and the minister responsible, the former Solicitor General, won’t?
Let’s get to the nut of it, Speaker. Lawyers representing this government told a federal court yesterday that “irreparable harm” will be caused if this Premier and that minister testify before the commission. Could the Premier tell us today: What irreparable harm are you talking about?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To reply, the government House leader.
Hon. Paul Calandra: Again, they may change the person asking the questions, but the facts still remain the same. The federal government made a decision to invoke the federal Emergencies Act. By the status of that legislation, the federal government has to convene a commission of inquiry about their use of the federal Emergencies Act.
We are assisting the commission, Mr. Speaker, as you would expect, by ensuring that the Deputy Minister of Transportation and the Deputy Solicitor General are made available to the commission. We know that the OPP commissioner also will be testifying and, at the same time, cabinet documents with respect to that time period have been turned over to the commission. We will continue to assist the commission as it investigates the federal government’s use of the federal Emergencies Act.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question.
Mr. Joel Harden: I didn’t get an answer to my question. I really hope the Premier will rise in his place and answer the people of Ottawa Centre today, because we deserve it.
The question here is, what irreparable harm is this Premier and his lawyers talking about? Because I want to talk about actual irreparable harm. I want to talk about a government that sat on its hands for three weeks while chaos reigned in our city, while residents choked on diesel fumes, while hate groups ran amok with impunity. And I want to talk about a government—it took three weeks for them to tow and fine 39 vehicles, and then they gave those vehicles back to those truck owners without a single fine, despite the fact that this Premier promised $100,000 fines.
Small businesses like the Ottawa Bike Café suffered terribly on Sparks Street, and they are—right now, as I say these words—teetering on bankruptcy. That’s the real harm caused to the people of Ottawa Centre.
What are the fake excuses this government is hiding behind today?
Hon. Paul Calandra: Obviously, a tremendous amount of resources were provided to the city of Ottawa and continue to be. But the current commission of inquiry is specific to the federal government’s use of the federal Emergencies Act. By the terms of that legislation, of course, the federal government had to invoke this commission of inquiry.
Now, we are assisting the commission in its work by ensuring that the Deputy Minister of Transportation is made available to the commission, by ensuring that the Deputy Solicitor General is made available to the commission. At the same time, certain cabinet documents have been requested. We’re assisting the commission by providing those documents to them. We’ll continue to work with and assist the commission as it does its work.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The final supplementary.
Mr. Joel Harden: You know, Speaker, I have to say—back to the Premier—I feel bad for the House leader. It’s tough to be pushed by a leader who won’t take responsibility to face the music, when that leader himself won’t take a short drive up to Ottawa to face the music himself, despite repeated requests from the commission. He has, in fact, denied that he received them. We know he got them.
We know for a fact that the commission has made clear, with several pieces of evidence, that the province chose not to get involved at early critical stages of the convoy protest. It’s like they forgot the city of Ottawa was in the province of Ontario. And after what people back home have been through, this Premier and that minister owe it to us to come to Ottawa and testify.
Here’s an offer, Speaker, through you to the government: I’ve got a nice little hybrid vehicle here. I leave on Thursday to go back to Ottawa. Do you need a drive, Premier? Do you need a drive, Minister? I’ll take you there myself. The ride is a serious offer.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Once again, I’d remind the members to please make their comments through the Chair.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order.
Hon. Paul Calandra: Again, we are continuing to assist the commission of inquiry into the federal government’s use of the federal Emergencies Act. We’ve provided cabinet documents, as requested. We, of course, have made the Deputy Minister of Transportation available and we have made the Deputy Solicitor General available as they do their work, as well as the commissioner of the OPP.
At the same time, I’m heartened to know that the member opposite has a green vehicle. He’s very lucky, because of all of the work that the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade has been doing to ensure that green vehicles are the future in the province of Ontario. And because of the work of the Minister of Energy, we can now charge up those green vehicles at the ONroutes between Ottawa and Toronto. We couldn’t do that before, could we? We couldn’t do that before because they didn’t exist. So congratulations to the member opposite.
We’ll continue to work on behalf of the people of the province of Ontario. But really, specifically to the commission, we’ll continue to assist them because it’s important that we do so.
Public Order Emergency Commission
Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: To the government House leader: There was absolutely nothing funny about what happened in Ottawa or in Windsor, so I suggest that you stop making light of the situation and cracking jokes.
My question is to the Premier. The federal Public Order Emergency Commission has requested to interview the Premier and Minister Jones regarding the use of the federal Emergencies Act.
In my riding, the Ambassador Bridge, North America’s largest international crossing, was completely blocked by convoy supporters. Billions of dollars of goods were unable to cross into Canada or the United States, which caused auto and manufacturing plants to close, and thousands of workers were laid off. Cross-border workers, including nurses, were unable to access their jobs. Many small businesses in the area were forced to close and lost significant business due to the disruption. The people in my riding deserve complete transparency from this government.
Just the other day, the Premier said he stands shoulder to shoulder with the Prime Minister in support of using the Emergencies Act. Why doesn’t he stand shoulder to shoulder with him at the commission and actually answer their questions?
Why do the Premier and Minister Jones continue to refuse to appear at the federal commission?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I remind members to make their comments through the Chair.
Response? The government House leader.
Hon. Paul Calandra: I guess that question in itself highlights why the NDP is trying to turn this into something that is political.
What we’re trying to do and what the commission is trying to do is get to the bottom of the fact of whether the Emergencies Act was required. By law, the federal government has to invoke this commission of inquiry. They have asked us for certain cabinet documents—and we’re assisting the commission in ensuring that that happens. It is a policing matter, as the Premier has said. It shouldn’t be a political matter, like the opposition is trying to make it. That is why we have offered and are ensuring that the Deputy Minister of Transportation is available to ask the questions—as the member for Ottawa Centre has highlighted. We’re also making the Deputy Solicitor General available.
We’ll continue to assist the commission as it does its work to investigate the federal government’s use of the federal Emergencies Act.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question?
Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: What that response shows is this government and this Premier’s will to completely abdicate responsibility for the decisions that they did or didn’t make while the crisis was happening in Windsor and Ottawa.
For six days, my community was in crisis due to the blockade at the Ambassador Bridge. Residents in Sandwich Town were unable to access other parts of our city. Some were afraid to even leave their homes. Truck drivers trying to move goods back and forth across the border were stuck on the road for days without food or access to washrooms. The impact lasted far beyond the blockade.
The Premier and former Solicitor General are dodging requests to be interviewed by the commission and are committed to fighting a summons to appear.
Speaker, the Premier has long said that the buck stops with him, and yet he won’t appear at the commission to answer questions about his decisions.
What are Premier Ford and Minister Jones hiding, and why won’t they testify to ensure that something like this never again happens in my community or in Ottawa or in Fort Erie or anywhere else in this province?
Hon. Paul Calandra: Mr. Speaker, I suspect some of the elements of the member’s question are exactly why there is a federal inquiry into the federal government’s use of the federal Emergencies Act.
That is why, of course, we are assisting the commission in its work, by ensuring that the Deputy Minister of Transportation is available, that the Deputy Solicitor General is available, and by ensuring that cabinet documents relevant to the commission’s inquiry are also made available.
We continue to assist the commission of inquiry as it does its work in assessing whether the federal government’s invocation of the federal Emergencies Act was required at the time.
Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: My question is for the Associate Minister of Housing.
Speaker, as you know, Ontario’s housing supply is in crisis. Skyrocketing demand has far outpaced the construction of new supply, making the Canadian dream of home ownership far out of reach for many Ontarians. And with Ontario’s population projected to grow by millions in the coming years, the demand will only increase.
Many of my constituents in Mississauga Centre—from hard-working young professionals to young families, students, new Ontarians, and seniors looking to downsize—are finding themselves priced out of the market and unable to find housing options that meet their needs.
Can the minister elaborate on what steps our government’s newly proposed housing supply action plan will take to ensure that our province is able to achieve our goal of building 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years?
Hon. Michael Parsa: I want to thank the hard-working member from Mississauga Centre for that very important question.
Speaker, we know that the status quo is simply not working. If we continue on this path without making bold and transformative changes, the next generation will not have the same opportunities for success as previous generations had. The proposed legislation will take several steps to make sure Ontarians get the additional housing supply we so critically need.
By permitting more gentle intensification, an issue that the opposition have many times said transcends party lines, our proposed changes will lay the foundation for more missing-middle housing, giving Ontarians more choice and flexibility. Additionally, we’re reducing building costs to incentivize our private sector and non-profit partners to get more housing built faster.
Together, with all hands on deck, we can ensure that home ownership is attainable for all Ontarians across our great province.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question.
Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: I thank the minister for that response, and I also thank him for recently visiting Mississauga and sitting down with stakeholders on this topic. Speaker, as the minister mentioned, the proposed changes will make alterations to current municipal fees levied on new developments and construction of new housing units across the province. I understand that for every month that approvals are delayed, it can add anywhere from $2,600 to $3,300 onto the cost of building a single-family home or condominium unit in the greater Toronto area, including in Mississauga. Furthermore, many municipalities have increased fees, which are ultimately passed on to the new homebuyer.
Can the minister let us know how this legislation will address this very problem?
Hon. Michael Parsa: Again, I want to thank my honourable colleague for that follow-up question. Speaker, at a time when Ontarians are facing a rising cost of living, we recognize the need to keep costs down for all Ontarians. It’s a concerning trend to see municipal fees and charges levied on new and affordable housing skyrocket by up to 36%. Without considering the impact fee increases have upon tenants and future homeowners, housing prices will rise and affordability will worsen.
Our proposal, if passed, will reduce the cost of residential development by freezing, reducing and slowing future growth of municipal charges. Speaker, as I’ve said before, our government will not shy away from bold and decisive action, under the leadership of this Premier, to streamline municipal approval processes and reduce costs for Ontarians entering the housing market. Like we’ve said time and time again, the previous government let down the people of this province. We will not.
Public Order Emergency Commission
Mr. John Vanthof: My question is to the Premier. In 2017, the Premier of the province was asked to testify at a very high-profile inquiry in Sudbury. Premier Wynne could have invoked parliamentary privilege to avoid testifying, but she did not. I will quote what she said: “I will testify and I will go along with the process and do what I can to clarify.”
Premiers have waived privilege before. Why won’t Premier Ford?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The government House leader.
Hon. Paul Calandra: Well, Speaker, I think in the member’s example, the former Premier herself was the subject of the inquiry, right? So it is certainly a big difference. Having said that, we, of course, are going to continue to work with the commission. We have provided cabinet documents for the commission, as has been required. We’re going to continue to assist them by ensuring that not only the commissioner of the OPP but the Deputy Solicitor General are made available to the commission and the Deputy Minister of Transportation is made available.
Look, the difference, again, is that this is a federal commission of inquiry into the federal government’s decision to invoke the federal Emergencies Act for the first time, Mr. Speaker. As you would expect, the commission has asked for assistance in that, and we are providing that assistance in the capacity that I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions in the House.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): And the supplementary question.
Mr. John Vanthof: Speaker, twenty years ago, Premier Harris also didn’t shy away from an inquiry. He had no problem speaking to the Walkerton inquiry, and I quote: “As head of the government, I’m accountable.”
To the Premier, why won’t he follow the lead of Premier Harris, be accountable, testify before the commission and tell his story?
Hon. Paul Calandra: Again, Mr. Speaker, the member is highlighting a provincial inquiry into a provincial matter. One would expect that when the provincial government has an inquiry, those people who need to be called are actually brought forward, but in this instance the member himself is highlighting exactly why the Prime Minister would be in front of that commission of inquiry, and why in this instance they are asking us for assistance. And that assistance is by ensuring that the Deputy Solicitor General and the Deputy Minister of Transportation and any relevant cabinet documents during that time period are made available. We are assisting the commission by ensuring that happens. The commissioner of the OPP is there, but at the same time, as the member has said—and I’d ask him maybe to reread his question, because it might better clarify for him that this is a federal inquiry into a federal act. Having said that, we will continue to assist as required because I think it’s the right thing to do.
Mr. Rudy Cuzzetto: My question is to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. Earlier this month, the minister was in Germany and Austria to continue meeting with and attracting investment in the automotive and EV sector. As being someone myself who worked in the auto industry for 31 years at Ford, we can all agree that Ontario should continue to focus on its manufacturing capabilities and ensure that there are plenty of jobs for families across the province.
Speaker, will the minister provide us with an update on his recent trade mission to Germany and Austria?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To respond, the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.
Hon. Victor Fedeli: The mission to Germany and Austria was an opportunity to build on the $16 billion in transformative EV and auto investments that were brought to Ontario in the last 22 months. With all of the turmoil surrounding Europe, these countries are feeling increased pressures on their supply chains. This is what we heard from them. Their dependence on materials from Russia and China has caused them to rethink about hitting a reset button. They now know that Ontario has everything they need.
We have the critical minerals. We have the refining capability necessary to make EV batteries and all of the components. And as the number two auto jurisdiction in all of North America, they know we have a proven ecosystem of reliable partners. We have the skilled trades, 65,000 annual STEM grads, public health care, 94% clean energy—something they’re not going to find in the US. Our message was clear: If you’re into EVs, you need to be in Ontario.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question.
Mr. Rudy Cuzzetto: It sounds like the trade mission to Germany and Austria came at a critical time for Ontario’s economy. The future of transportation is shifting towards electrification, and with this comes a renewed focus on clean electricity. The minister is right: Ontario must continue to promote itself as a great place to do business.
Speaker, will the minister shed some light on how Germany and Austria feel about investing in Ontario, and what they see our competitive edge to be here in Ontario?
Hon. Victor Fedeli: Companies worldwide are looking for stable, reliable, trusted jurisdictions. They want ethically sourced materials and products made using clean energy. We showed the companies that EVs and batteries made in Ontario are assembled with 94% clean energy. They now know we invested half a billion dollars in Dofasco to convert their coal-fired ovens to electric arc furnaces so that the steel in our cars is green. Our minerals are brought out of the ground and refined under the safest and most modern method on earth.
But, Speaker, we then outlined how EVs and batteries that are made in the US are not green. They are made by burning coal. When you buy an EV, you expect the vehicle to be a green vehicle with a green battery and green steel. So our message was very, very simple: You need to make your EV products in Ontario, and we’re here and open for business.
Ms. Jessica Bell: My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. I’m joined today by Susan De Rosa, a tenant whose purpose-built rental is set to be demolished and replaced by a condo. I have been working with Susan and her neighbours at 145 St. George to ensure that if the city approves the development, she and her friends and her neighbours still get the right to return to their homes at the same rent once the condo is complete. But this government is looking at scrapping the rules that give tenants the right to return to their homes at an affordable price, which threatens thousands of affordable private market rental units across our city.
Minister, can you ensure that renters who are evicted can return to their rent-controlled apartment once building is complete?
Hon. Steve Clark: First of all, I want to thank the member for University–Rosedale. I saw her on CP24 this morning praising our government for Bill 23 and the fact that it would be creating new housing in the province. So I look forward to her party and the other opposition members who asked us to put many of these measures into the bill—I look forward to them supporting Bill 23 as we move forward.
In debate this morning, both her and the opposition House leader mentioned this consultation that the government is doing on the rent replacement bylaws that are in a very few select communities in Ontario. I’m just wondering about the motive of the question. Is this setting up the opposition for voting against a bill?
Many times, the members opposite have presented suggestions on increasing Ontario’s housing supply, and a lot of those suggestions are incorporated in Bill 23. We think it’s a bill that everyone in this chamber can support, because we desperately need more rental housing stock—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question?
Ms. Jessica Bell: Minister, we need to build more housing supply and more rental stock but not—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock.
I apologize to the member for University–Rosedale for having to interrupt.
I have to be able to hear the member.
Start the clock.
The member can continue.
Ms. Jessica Bell: We need to build more housing but not at the expense of the affordable housing that we—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock.
The government side will come to order. The opposition will come to order. If it happens again, I’ll start calling out the members by name.
Start the clock.
The member can continue.
Ms. Jessica Bell: We need to build more homes but not at the expense of the affordable rental homes we already have.
My question is back to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
This government wants to reduce and exempt development fees for some homes. These fees pay for transit, for daycares, for parks, and for the services that residents need. They also help build new affordable housing. Toronto is already experiencing a funding shortfall of more than $800 million.
What is this government’s plan to help municipalities make up for this massive loss in funding?
Hon. Steve Clark: First, I want to deal with her first question again.
We are launching consultations to determine how to protect our supply of housing. I want to make sure, for the people who are in the gallery—it’s important to keep in mind that the proposed amendments would not impact renter protections or requirements under the Residential Tenancies Act. Our government has made changes to the RTA to better protect tenants, to stop renovictions, to avoid evictions. I just wish the opposition would have supported it.
On the issue of the charges: We have to get those baseline costs down so that we have more affordable housing and more attainable housing. But even in our own financial information returns, it shows that municipalities have $8 billion in their DC reserves, including $2.25 billion in the city of Toronto.
We’re going to continue to work with our municipal partners. We’re also going to work with the federal government on their $4-billion Housing Accelerator Fund. We think that would help municipalities as well.
Health care funding
Mr. Adil Shamji: This summer, Ontarians told us that the health care system was in crisis, but the Premier and Minister of Health were nowhere to be found for six weeks.
Then, in August, the CEO of Ontario Health went on record admitting that the health care system was under tremendous strain.
Despite this, we kept hearing from the government that patients were getting care in the time that they needed even though they weren’t. This month, I discovered leaked Ontario Health data revealing that for the month of August, ER wait times, lengths of stay, ambulance off-load times, and time to in-patient bed were the worst that they have ever been, going all the way back to 2008. The health care system took a nosedive in the last 12 months alone.
Yesterday, the member for Eglinton–Lawrence quoted Dr. Ronald Cohn to justify her position that our health care system has adequate capacity, yet Dr. Cohn’s quote was incomplete. In the same article she referenced, he conceded that, faced with mounting patient volumes, “I am worried about how much more we can do.”
Will the Minister of Health explain why, in each of these examples, the government’s position has disagreed with the positions of their own sources?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To reply on behalf of the government, the member for Eglinton–Lawrence and parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Health.
Mrs. Robin Martin: Thank you to the member opposite for the question. Frankly, Mr. Speaker, the source that he’s referencing, Dr. Cohn, said exactly what I quoted: that the resources would be there for critically ill patients if they needed them at Sick Children’s Hospital. I don’t know if he wants to challenge me on my reading comprehension, but I think it’s pretty good.
Really, many of the pressures facing our health care system are not new, and none of them are unique to Ontario. That’s why we’ve passed our Plan to Stay Open in preparation for a likely winter surge, and have been taking all kinds of actions to make sure that we are prepared.
For example, we have a plan, which has a five-point strategy, to further bolster Ontario’s health care workforce, expand innovative models of care and ensure hospital beds are there for patients when they need them. The plan outlines what Ontarians can expect, which we think is better health care, as we build a better health care system. That’s what this government is going to do.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?
Mr. Adil Shamji: Mr. Speaker, I was merely pointing out that the member across didn’t read the whole quote.
The plan that she references, a Plan to Stay Open, is the most unambitiously titled plan, I think, in history. It’s a plan to stay open; it’s not a plan to deliver great patient care. It’s a plan to merely stay open, and it’s already failing on that mandate.
Anyway, I would like to expand on the Ontario Health data I revealed on October 12, which for the first time revealed the incredibly bleak and deteriorating state of our health care system. The people of Ontario used to get weekly updates from the Chief Medical Officer of Health. They used to have transparent access to Ontario’s science table.
Now the only way to get real data portraying our health care system is to get leaked information from the courage of people who are willing to share documents. I’m hearing now from health care workers that there is deafening silence from the Ministry of Health, and also that this weekend there were multiple GTA emergency departments on redirect because they were full.
Will the Minister of Health or her designate explain why this government refuses to be accountable to the people of Ontario about the state of our health care system?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To reply, the Premier.
Hon. Doug Ford: I find it really rich coming from the Liberals that destroyed the health care system and created hallway health care. They fired nurses, shut down the health care system and reduced the funding.
What we’re doing is we’re hiring more nurses, over 12,800 nurses; they were firing thousands of nurses. We’re building new hospitals; they were closing hospitals.
We’re going to continue increasing the funding in health care, ending hallway health care that they created for decades, and we’re hiring more doctors, more nurses, and creating a medical school university. They never created even one spot in the medical universities; they actually took spots away, Mr. Speaker.
Invasion of Ukraine
Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: My question is to the Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. Speaker, Russia’s egregious actions and invasion of Ukraine have forced thousands of Ukrainian citizens to leave their homeland. These families—women, children and seniors—are being separated because of Russia’s unprovoked violence, and many of them are trying to find safe refuge here in Canada, the best country in the world.
Mississauga is home to over 30,000 Ukrainian Canadians and many institutions like St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and St. Sofia school. And we are proud to welcome several dozens of new families every week.
Speaker, my thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been affected by Russia’s abhorrent invasion of Ukraine, especially the children, whose childhoods have been affected forever.
Speaker, my question to the minister is, what is our government doing to assist these moms and dads, young people, seniors and families to settle here in Ontario?
Hon. Monte McNaughton: I want to thank the member for Mississauga Centre for that question, but most importantly for what you’re doing to welcome Ukrainians here to Ontario. Thank you.
Mr. Speaker, our government, under the leadership of Premier Ford, stands with Ukraine against Putin’s aggression. Across government, we are working with employers, labour unions, faith organizations and community groups to do everything we can to help the people of Ukraine.
For those seeking refuge in Ontario, we’re prioritizing their immigration applications. We have also expanded Better Jobs Ontario to provide up to $28,000 for Ukrainians who want to train for a new career here in Ontario, and our dedicated jobs helpline has now helped more than 1,000 Ukrainians get the support they need to find meaningful employment.
Mr. Speaker, our government is going to continue to stand with Ukrainians against evil every single day.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question.
Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: Speaker, Ukrainians coming to our province to escape Russia’s aggression need to know that we are making every effort possible to ensure that they can settle here and continue their lives with dignity and the means to provide for their families. These are individuals and families who are facing challenges and adversity that few of us could ever imagine.
In times of hardship and strife, it is important that the world knows that the Ontario spirit of hospitality and support never wavers for those in need.
Speaker, once again, my question to the Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development: What is our government doing to make sure that the many local organizations across Ontario that have been hard at work have the resources they need to effectively and efficiently aid Ukrainian newcomers?
Hon. Monte McNaughton: Thanks again to the member for that question.
Mr. Speaker, last week I visited Jewish Immigrant Aid Services in North York with my caucus colleague the member for Thornhill. We got to see their efforts first-hand and learn more about the incredible work that they’re doing to help Ukrainian refugees. Our government is proud to be supporting this agency and 13 other local organizations with $3 million in additional funding towards settlement, housing, employment services and mental health resources. These resources build on the $900,000 we provided the Canadian Ukrainian Immigrant Aid Society earlier this year.
Our government, under the leadership of Premier Ford, is committed to making sure that Ukrainians coming here to Ontario can settle and feel at home as quickly as possible.
Health care funding
Mr. Terence Kernaghan: My question is to the Premier.
MPPs across the province have been hearing from constituents about the unmitigated crisis in our hospitals. But are Conservative MPPs truly listening?
My constituent Colleen told me about her mother’s ER experience: “My brilliant, independent, selfless, always-helping-others mom had to hope and pray for someone to walk down that hall to attempt to get help.” Her oxygen machine was empty. When Colleen brought this to the hospital’s attention, the nurses’ overwhelmed exhaustion was clear. It wasn’t their fault.
Will this government keep blaming others and keep neglecting public health care or fund it properly and pay nurses what they’re worth?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Eglinton–Lawrence and the parliamentary assistant.
Mrs. Robin Martin: After decades of underfunding, it is this government that has made unprecedented investments in our health care system. As I said yesterday, health care funding has increased a record 6.2% year over year—the largest increase on record, including an over $5-billion increase in base funding, which is an 8.9% increase. A lot of these investments are because we’ve just gone through a very difficult time for the health care system. As everybody knows, the pandemic has been happening for two years.
That is why we passed our plan to stay open—because you want to stay open. The pandemic had shut everybody down for a while, and we want to make sure we stay open. That plan has five important initiatives to, once fully implemented, help our health care system get back on track. We’ve added up to 6,000 more health care workers after that plan is instituted—but you know we’ve already added 11,700 health care workers since the pandemic began. Our plan also frees up over 2,500 new hospital beds and expands models of care.
We’re going to continue working for the people of Ontario in finding solutions to make our health care system better.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question.
Mr. Terence Kernaghan: I guess part of my question was answered: They will continue to blame others. Look, this Conservative Party is the party of furniture, whereas we are the party—the NDP—of the front lines. They’re the party of health care profiteers, whereas we’re the party of the working people. For years, the Liberal Party cut and underfunded the way for hallway medicine, and it has only degraded further since this Conservative government started their callous evisceration of our public health care system. They have not fixed it; it has gotten worse.
Just last week, LHSC in London posted a 20-hour delay for their ER and asked patients to bring a snack and activities. My constituent Tina told me about searching in vain for a nurse or doctor after her partner Rod’s major surgery. No doctors were available and nurses were run off their feet. Tina waited for days until she finally got a phone call.
The RNAO surveyed nurses and found that 69% are planning on leaving the profession in the next five years. When will this government admit they’ve created a crisis and spend money on front-line health care heroes?
Mrs. Robin Martin: Thank you again to the member opposite for the question. This government has made record investments in all of our health human resources, and we’ve been doing it since the pandemic began, because we want to make sure that we have health human resources. We have hired already, since March 2020, 11,700 new health care providers. The College of Nurses of Ontario said the other day that they have registered more new nurses this year already, with two months left to go, than ever before: 12,802 nurses.
All of these efforts are to make sure that Ontarians get the care that they deserve, and we are going to keep working on these things, because we have long said the status quo is not working. That’s why we’re making changes, and we ask the members opposite to stop opposing all of the solutions we’re putting forward. Help us to fix the health care system for generations.
Research and innovation
Mr. Ric Bresee: My question is to the Minister of Colleges and Universities. All Ontarians should feel proud of the great history of medical and science research from our post-secondary institutions that has saved lives and changed the world. Just one example: We only have to look across the street to the University of Toronto to see the Banting and Best Diabetes Centre, which is Canada’s leading centre for innovation in diabetes research, education and clinical care. In my own personal experience of having spent 25 years at St. Lawrence College in Kingston, I’m very aware of the wonderful research being done at that institution.
To this day, we know of the positive role that our colleges’ and universities’ hospital research institutions continue to play when it comes to innovations and progress in our health care system.
Can the Minister of Colleges and Universities please inform the House on what is being done currently by our government to support these investments?
Hon. Jill Dunlop: Thank you to the member from Hastings–Lennox and Addington for that important question. This government understands that investments in college and university hospital research not only strengthens Ontario’s existing innovation and commercialization capacity, but also grows our province’s professional and skilled workforce and positions us as a global leader. Our government is supporting research and innovation that lead to the discoveries and advancements that make a real impact in people’s lives.
Ontario will be supporting innovation with an investment of more than $198 million in research projects at colleges, universities and research hospitals across the province. This funding will support 241 research projects across this province, and these projects will be integral in building, renovating and equipping research facilities with upgraded technology and supporting research to attract new research talent. We will continue our commitment and efforts in strengthening Ontario’s college and university hospital research initiatives, which provide college and university hospitals with the ability to adopt advanced technologies to remain competitive and move Ontario forward.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question.
Mr. Ric Bresee: Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, it was imperative that our government showed leadership to address the shortfalls of the previous government when it came to investing in our research and innovation sector. Our government has worked towards ensuring that the province’s most vulnerable people receive the care that they need.
Working with so many stakeholders, our government has often talked about the investments in hospitals and strengthening our province’s public health sectors.
Speaker, can the Minister of Colleges and Universities elaborate further about the initiatives that our government has invested in to support a more robust health sector?
Hon. Jill Dunlop: Thank you, once again, to the member for raising this important issue. Ontario has incredible researcher potential, and we are working to realize this potential through investments in important research organizations like the Ontario Health Data Platform Intellectual Property Committee. Through groups such as this one, we are ensuring that researchers are able to access invaluable de-identified data to support the work of our health care sector.
This government is proud to stand behind investments like this one and will continue to work with all post-secondary institutions and research organizations across the province to ensure we continue to increase Ontario’s research and innovation capabilities to help build health care capacity and create more jobs, opportunity and growth for our economy.
It’s also exciting to look across to the other corner to see the new U of T biomedical research centre. Stay tuned for more.
MPP Jill Andrew: My question is to the Premier. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that person-centred care, secure housing of choice for life and participation in community life are human rights for people with disabilities. But for Jonathan, a constituent of mine with developmental disabilities—he’s been deprived of each of these as he’s been warehoused in a hospital for over a year. The very basics he deserves as a human being, like a hug from his mother or simply having his nails clipped, have been kept out of reach from him. Meanwhile, the wait for the supportive housing he needs in community is up to 40 years long.
My question to the Premier: Can the government explain the choice to deprive Jonathan of his fundamental human rights? And can the government explain why the Premier has not responded to Janet Abramson, who is sitting in the gallery, who is Jonathan’s mother? For over a year now she’s been asking the Premier for five minutes on a phone call and they will not respond.
Can the government explain why Jonathan is being left behind in hospitals? Why is he being left behind? He needs supportive housing today.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To respond, the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.
Hon. Merrilee Fullerton: Thank you very much for the question. When we took office, we saw that adults with developmental disabilities and their service providers were continuing to face many of the same problems over many, many years. It was our government that developed Journey to Belonging. It’s about including people in the community. It’s about creating a place for them to live where they can achieve the life that they want to live. It is about inclusion. It is about belonging. Those are powerful words. That was in May 2021.
We had started that work when we began as a government, and we consulted with various groups across the province. Between November and December 2020, we held eight virtual sessions with over 190 participants, including individuals with lived experience, family members and service providers. We also received nearly 900 written submissions.
We’re making both immediate and long-term improvements to developmental services in Ontario. We want people to be able to live in their communities where they belong, to belong and have a life of meaning and purpose. And we’re going to continue to—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you.
The supplementary question.
MPP Jill Andrew: Speaker, Janet is in the gallery. Will the minister and the Premier look at Janet? Look at her. She’s a person.
My question is back to the Premier. Report after report shows that investment in independent living doesn’t just respect Jonathan’s human rights, it is far more cost-efficient. Without it, people with developmental disabilities end up in hospitals or long-term care, where their care is compromised because of this government’s cuts. This is why we, the official opposition, prioritize the building of 60,000 supportive housing units in Ontario, because it’s an investment that is fiscally responsible and also ethical.
My question is back to the Premier. This government talks a big game on being fiscally responsible. Will you turn your words into action? Will you house Jonathan? Will the government create independent living for tens of thousands of people with developmental disabilities who deserve to live their best life? And will you give her five minutes on the phone? Your staff said you were too busy. She’s right there. Look at her. Thank you.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Once again, I remind members to make their comments through the Chair.
To reply on behalf of the government, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Hon. Steve Clark: Speaker, through you to the member from Toronto–St. Paul’s, I appreciate her passion on this issue. I’m glad she’s talking about housing supply.
During debate on one of our previous housing supply action plan, the member for Toronto–St. Paul’s actually stated in this House the statement that more houses is not necessarily the answer. So I’m glad that we can look forward.
In fact, the member for Toronto-Rosedale said last week that she wanted to see a comprehensive plan. This is exactly what we’ve put forward.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order.
Hon. Steve Clark: We put forward a comprehensive plan—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order. The member for Toronto–St. Paul’s, come to order.
Hon. Steve Clark: —to create more housing opportunities for Jonathan and other individuals in the province of Ontario. We’re going to continue to build more, to support more and to ensure that everyone has a safe, secure place to call home.
Curriculum / Cost of living
Mr. Mike Harris: As we all know, the last two years have proven to be very challenging for many parents and students. The recent EQAO data shows that most Ontario students, like students all across Canada, are struggling with math. I’ve also heard from many parents who say their young children’s reading skills are not progressing as they should. After the pandemic and with union-driven strikes, it’s fair to say that we cannot take children out of class.
We now have an opportunity to help Ontario students recover. Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education: What is being done to help our children recover from these learning losses?
Hon. Stephen Lecce: I want to thank the member for Kitchener–Conestoga for his question, as a parent and advocate to making sure children remain in school.
We are investing more in our students, in our schools and in our parents because we know that part of Ontario’s Plan to Catch Up—the first pillar is keeping kids in class. That’s why we’ve expanded supports because we recognized that learning loss is a challenge across this nation and the world. It’s why we’ve expanded tutoring by $175 million, the largest tutoring program—the only one of its kind in this country—to allow small-group interventions for the folks in reading, writing and math.
For the first time, next September, we’re going to have a new screening program for kindergarten, grade 1 and grade 2 kids so that we understand their literacy capabilities and we can help to get them back on track.
We also have a new math curriculum, finally eliminating the former Liberal government’s discovery math curriculum, with a modern skills focus emphasis on life and job skills: coding and financial and digital literacy critical for the jobs of tomorrow.
Mr. Speaker, in addition, we’ve expanded tutoring virtually and online.
We also recognize that new educators in this province—we feel so strongly, we’re taking this case to the courts—should be able to have a basic grade 9 math standard.
This is the plan to get kids back on track, and it starts with keeping kids in school.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question.
Mr. Mike Harris: With that said, there are still many families in my riding, like the Stevens family, who are experiencing financial hardships due to soaring inflation. Hard-working parents across this province are struggling with the stress of day-to-day costs on top of supporting their kids’ education with the tools and supports they need for success.
These are unpredictable economic times, marked by increased costs that are across the board, and parents, now more than ever, can use financial relief that will ease the costs associated with their children’s learning recovery. Parents need flexibility so that they can best spend those dollars to help their kids catch up.
Speaker, on behalf of hard-working parents in my riding, can the minister inform this House on what our government plans to do for parents who are in financial need?
Hon. Stephen Lecce: We do recognize, as Progressive Conservatives, that there is great instability in the global economy and there’s a real impact to the cost of living for the families we all represent.
It’s why we believe, for the fourth time, we should be providing direct financial support to the parents of this province. Again, we’re providing a catch-up payment—$200 for every child up to age 18, and $250 for every school-aged child up to age 21 with special education needs. To date, there are over 850,000 applications. We opened the website just a few days ago. It shows and it underscores the need in this province and country for financial relief.
In addition, it was our government and Premier who cut the gas tax by 10 cents. It was our government that reduced taxes for the lowest-income Canadians through the LIFT tax credit. It was our government that provided a child care deal that will literally provide a 50% reduction by Christmas this year—$6,000 in the bank. These are meaningful ways we can support families, support children and our economy through this instability here at home and around the world.
MPP Lise Vaugeois: My question is to the Premier. Street Outreach Services, known as SOS, provides a critical service for vulnerable people in Thunder Bay. For those experiencing homelessness, the SOS van provides a warm space, meals, transportation to shelters, and has literally saved lives these last two winters. Unfortunately, Thunder Bay’s Shelter House has announced that it must permanently close its SOS service because it hasn’t been able to secure funding.
Will this government step forward and supply the funding needed to keep people alive this winter in Thunder Bay?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Response? Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Hon. Steve Clark: I want to thank the honourable member for that comment. I was just in Thunder Bay with my parliamentary assistant, MPP Holland. I met with many stakeholders. We had a fantastic announcement with the Matawa First Nation, a fantastic project to build more homes in that area, so it was a great day.
I appreciate the fact that the honourable member is bringing forward the shelter challenges. We’ve been very open with the DSSAB in Thunder Bay. We’ve provided a significant amount of dollars under the social services relief fund to support the shelter and to support the vulnerable populations. We’ll continue to work with the DSSAB as we move forward. My understanding is they haven’t allocated their fifth phase of the social services relief fund. We’ll continue to work with them on homelessness programs in Thunder Bay. I appreciate the member bringing the matter forward.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question.
MPP Lise Vaugeois: The Harris Conservative government downloaded many social service responsibilities onto already overburdened municipalities, and this government is at the helm of a collapsing social safety net. In Thunder Bay, SOS is actually one of three key outreach services that doesn’t have funding to operate this winter. What each of these services needs is core operating funding so that there will never again be a question of whether or not they can be available.
Anna Betty Achneepineskum, a Deputy Grand Chief with the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, notes that with Thunder Bay being the hub for many individuals—not only First Nations but other individuals who come here for services—the lack of street outreach threatens lives. With winter quickly approaching, will the Premier move further to do what is necessary and provide the funding needed to keep these important street outreach services open in Thunder Bay?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.
Hon. Michael A. Tibollo: Thank you for that question. Just recently—actually, last week—I was in Thunder Bay and had the opportunity, along with our member from Thunder Bay–Atikokan, to meet at the United Way and to meet the people who were involved in SOS and look at it as an important part of the continuum of care that we’re looking to build, not just in Thunder Bay but around the province, in all rural, remote communities and in the cities.
One of the things that we learned about it was that it’s a piece that’s necessary. But in addition to that, we also have to look at the housing needs, and that’s something that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing is looking at. We are taking an all-of-government approach, along with the legislation that we’re looking to bring forward and have passed, to ensure we have that continuum of care, because we understand that the individuals, whether they be living on the street or whether they’re individuals in need of support, need to have housing if we want to ensure that they do not end up on the street again.
We are looking at it and we are working with the community to ensure that those supports and services are there.
Ms. Patrice Barnes: This is to the Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity. As a woman I understand the need to help women across Ontario thrive at home and at work, especially in my community of Ajax. One of my top priorities is helping to remove barriers to economic security and prosperity. By working with community organizations, we can lift women up and empower them to excel in business leadership roles, as well as entrepreneurs, in sectors where they’re often underrepresented. The Investing in Women’s Futures program partners with community organizations across the province and has a proven track record of bringing women off the sidelines and into the heart of our economy.
Speaker, can the Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity please tell us what she’s doing to ensure the growth of this great program?
Hon. Charmaine A. Williams: I thank the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Education for the question, and thank you for the work that you’re doing to address the barriers that prevent women from entering and re-entering the workforce.
Mr. Speaker, I’d like to take a moment to highlight an inspiring quote from a woman who I met in Thunder Bay. Her name was Sarah, a woman who recently attended an IWF recipient centre that successfully supported her in pivoting to the online market during the pandemic. Sarah said, “I realized I can do a lot more than I thought I am able and capable of. I just needed the proper education and support system with female mentors. I now feel my future will be different and I’m able to build on my skills.”
When women re-enter the workforce and have wraparound supports, the mentorship and counselling programs offered through IWF are vital to their success. And when women feel supported, it builds their confidence and helps them address the challenges. We are going to continue to do that, Mr. Speaker, because we know this program works.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The time for question period has now expired. That concludes our question period for this morning.
Official members’ photograph
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I want to remind members and ask them to remain in the chamber, after we recess the House, for the group photograph that we have planned.
Notice of dissatisfaction
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Pursuant to standing order 36(a), the member for Toronto–St. Paul’s has given notice of her dissatisfaction with the answer to her question given by the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services concerning developmental disabilities. This matter will be debated today following private members’ public business.
Ojibway National Urban Park
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Now we have a deferred vote on private members’ notice of motion number 1.
Call in the members. This is a five-minute bell.
The division bells rang from 1147 to 1152.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Mrs. Gretzky has moved private member’s notice of motion number 1. All those in favour will please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.
- Andrew, Jill
- Armstrong, Teresa J.
- Begum, Doly
- Bell, Jessica
- Bourgouin, Guy
- Bowman, Stephanie
- Burch, Jeff
- Collard, Lucille
- Fife, Catherine
- Fraser, John
- French, Jennifer K.
- Gates, Wayne
- Gélinas, France
- Glover, Chris
- Gretzky, Lisa
- Harden, Joel
- Hsu, Ted
- Hunter, Mitzie
- Karpoche, Bhutila
- Kernaghan, Terence
- Mamakwa, Sol
- Mantha, Michael
- McMahon, Mary-Margaret
- Pasma, Chandra
- Rakocevic, Tom
- Sattler, Peggy
- Schreiner, Mike
- Shamji, Adil
- Shaw, Sandy
- Stevens, Jennifer (Jennie)
- Stiles, Marit
- Tabuns, Peter
- Vanthof, John
- Vaugeois, Lise
- West, Jamie
- Wong-Tam, Kristyn
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): All those opposed to the motion will please rise and remain standing until they’re counted by the Clerk.
- Anand, Deepak
- Bailey, Robert
- Barnes, Patrice
- Bethlenfalvy, Peter
- Bouma, Will
- Bresee, Ric
- Byers, Rick
- Calandra, Paul
- Cho, Stan
- Clark, Steve
- Coe, Lorne
- Crawford, Stephen
- Cuzzetto, Rudy
- Dixon, Jess
- Dowie, Andrew
- Downey, Doug
- Dunlop, Jill
- Fedeli, Victor
- Flack, Rob
- Ford, Doug
- Ford, Michael D.
- Fullerton, Merrilee
- Gallagher Murphy, Dawn
- Ghamari, Goldie
- Gill, Parm
- Grewal, Hardeep Singh
- Hardeman, Ernie
- Harris, Mike
- Hogarth, Christine
- Holland, Kevin
- Jones, Trevor
- Jordan, John
- Kanapathi, Logan
- Ke, Vincent
- Kerzner, Michael S.
- Khanjin, Andrea
- Kusendova-Bashta, Natalia
- Leardi, Anthony
- Lecce, Stephen
- Lumsden, Neil
- MacLeod, Lisa
- Martin, Robin
- McCarthy, Todd J.
- McGregor, Graham
- McNaughton, Monte
- Mulroney, Caroline
- Oosterhoff, Sam
- Pang, Billy
- Parsa, Michael
- Piccini, David
- Pierre, Natalie
- Pirie, George
- Quinn, Nolan
- Rae, Matthew
- Rasheed, Kaleed
- Rickford, Greg
- Riddell, Brian
- Romano, Ross
- Sabawy, Sheref
- Sarkaria, Prabmeet Singh
- Saunderson, Brian
- Scott, Laurie
- Skelly, Donna
- Smith, David
- Smith, Graydon
- Smith, Laura
- Surma, Kinga
- Tangri, Nina
- Thanigasalam, Vijay
- Thompson, Lisa M.
- Tibollo, Michael A.
- Triantafilopoulos, Effie J.
- Wai, Daisy
- Williams, Charmaine A.
- Yakabuski, John
The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Todd Decker): The ayes are 36; the nays are 75.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I declare the motion lost.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): There being no further business at this time, this House stands in recess until 3 p.m.
The House recessed from 1156 to 1500.
Reports by Committees
Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
Mr. Ernie Hardeman: I beg leave to present a report from the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs on the estimates selected by the standing committee for consideration.
The Clerk-at-the-Table (Ms. Valerie Quioc Lim): Mr. Hardeman from the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs presents the committee’s report as follows:
Pursuant to standing order 63, your committee has selected the 2022-23 estimates of the following ministries and offices for consideration: Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade; Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development; Office of the Premier; Cabinet Office; Treasury Board Secretariat.
Standing Committee on Social Policy
Ms. Goldie Ghamari: I beg leave to present a report from the Standing Committee on Social Policy on the estimates selected and not selected by the standing committee for consideration.
The Clerk-at-the-Table (Ms. Valerie Quioc Lim): Ms. Ghamari from the Standing Committee on Social Policy presents the committee’s report as follows:
Pursuant to standing order 63, your committee has selected the 2022-23 estimates of the following ministries for consideration: Ministry of Health; Ministry of Colleges and Universities; Ministry of Education; Ministry of Long-Term Care.
Pursuant to standing order 64(a), the 2022-23 estimates of the following ministries not selected for consideration are deemed to be passed by the committee and are reported back to the House:
Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services: vote 701, ministry administration, $101,819,700; vote 702, children and adult services, $18,337,038,400; vote 704, children, community and social services capital, $92,782,900;
Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility: vote 3501, ministry administration, $7,564,600; vote 3502, policy, program and strategic partnerships, $220,424,000; vote 3503, accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities, $6,904,400.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Pursuant to standing order 46(b), the report of the Standing Committee on Social Policy is deemed to be received and the estimates of the ministries named therein as not being selected for consideration by the committee are deemed to be concurred in.
Report deemed received.
Standing Committee on the Interior
Mr. Mike Schreiner: I beg leave to present a report from the Standing Committee on the Interior on the estimates selected by the standing committee for consideration.
The Clerk-at-the-Table (Ms. Valerie Quioc Lim): Mr. Schreiner from the Standing Committee on the Interior presents the committee’s report as follows:
Pursuant to standing order 63, your committee has selected the 2022-23 estimates of the following ministries for consideration: Ministry of Energy; Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry; Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks; Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Introduction of Bills
Health Care is Not for Sale Act (Addressing Unfair Fees Charged to Patients), 2022 / Loi de 2022 sur les soins de santé qui ne sont pas à vendre (lutte contre la facturation d’honoraires injustes aux patients)
Madame Gélinas moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill 24, An Act to amend the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 and the Independent Health Facilities Act to address unfair fees charged to patients for health care services / Projet de loi 24, Loi modifiant la Loi de 1991 sur les professions de la santé réglementées et la Loi sur les établissements de santé autonomes pour traiter de la facturation d’honoraires injustes aux patients à l’égard des services de soins de santé.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
First reading agreed to.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Would the member for Nickel Belt like to explain her bill briefly?
Mme France Gélinas: Absolutely. Health care is not for sale. This bill amends the Regulated Health Professions Act as follows:
Section 3 of the act is amended to provide that an individual be treated with fairness in addition to sensitivity and respect in their dealings with their health professionals. The colleges protect the public but don’t protect us from unfair fees, and now they will.
Section 51 of schedule 2 of the act is amended to provide that a member has committed an act of professional misconduct if the member or another person has charged a patient an unfair fee for a service provided by the member. If the panel makes such a finding, the panel may require the member to reimburse the patients for the amount paid by the patients for the unfair fee as well as direct the registrar to suspend the member’s certificate of registration for three months.
Schedule 84 of schedule 2 of the act is amended to provide that the patient relations program of a college must include measures for preventing and dealing with unfair fees charged to patients.
The bill also amends the Independent Health Facilities Act in the following ways:
Section 18 of the act is amended to provide that the director may revoke or suspend a licence in instances where the independent health facility is charging unfair fees to patients; and
Section 20.1 of the act is amended to provide that the director may eliminate services from the list and types of services in respect of the independent health facility which, in the opinion of the director, are being charged, or will be charged, to patients in an unfair way.
I support this bill and I hope everybody else will.
Rent Stabilization Act, 2022 / Loi de 2022 sur la stabilisation des loyers
Ms. Karpoche moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill 25, An Act to amend the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 to implement various measures to stabilize rent / Projet de loi 25, Loi modifiant la Loi de 2006 sur la location à usage d’habitation afin de mettre en oeuvre diverses mesures destinées à stabiliser les loyers.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
First reading agreed to.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I would invite the member for Parkdale–High Park to briefly explain her bill.
Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: We have a cost-of-living crisis, and housing is a big part of it. Rents are becoming unaffordable, especially in cities like Toronto.
The Rent Stabilization Act amends the Residential Tenancies Act to end vacancy decontrol, a mechanism that allows rents to be raised with no limit when a unit is vacated, which is being used to unfairly evict tenants and drive rents skyrocketing.
The bill also requires the Landlord and Tenant Board to create and maintain a rent registry so tenants can be confident in knowing that they are not being gouged on rent. This bill will stabilize rents and end the incentive for unfair evictions by ensuring new tenants pay what the last tenant paid.
Nextblock Inc. Act, 2022
Ms. Bell moved first reading of the following bill:
Bill Pr6, An Act to revive Nextblock Inc.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
First reading agreed to.
Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: I’d like to give a special shout-out to Sally, who has collected signatures on this petition and sent it to me. It reads:
“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas Ontario’s social assistance rates are well below Canada’s official Market Basket Measure poverty line and far from adequate to cover the rising costs of food and rent: $733 for individuals on OW and ... $1,227 for ODSP;
“Whereas an open letter to the Premier and to cabinet ministers, signed by over 230 organizations, recommends that social assistance rates be doubled for both Ontario Works ... and the Ontario Disability Support Program...;
“Whereas the recent small budget increase of 5% for ODSP still leaves these citizens well below the poverty line,” and “both they and those receiving the frozen OW rates are struggling to live in this time of alarming inflation;
“Whereas the government of Canada recognized in its CERB program that a basic income of $2,000 per month was the standard support required by individuals who lost their employment during the pandemic;
“We, the undersigned citizens of Ontario, petition the Legislative Assembly” of Ontario “to double social assistance rates for OW and ODSP.”
I fully support this petition and will affix my signature to it.
Mr. Jeff Burch: “Petition to Save the Welland Hospital Emergency Department.
“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas the current Niagara health system restructuring plan approved by the Ontario Ministry of Health includes removal of the emergency department and associated beds and ambulance service from the Welland hospital site once the Niagara Falls site is complete, creating inequity of hospital and emergency service in the Niagara region and a significant negative impact on hospital and emergency outcomes for the citizens of Welland, Port Colborne and all Niagara;
“Whereas the NHS is already experiencing a 911 crisis in EMS, a shortage of beds and unacceptable off-loading delays in its emergency departments across the region;
“Whereas the population in the Welland hospital catchment area is both aging and growing;
“Whereas the Ontario Legislature passed a motion by Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch on April 13, 2022, to include a full emergency department and associated beds in the rebuild of the Welland hospital;
“Therefore, be it resolved that we call on the government of Ontario to work with the Ontario Ministry of Health and the Niagara Health system to implement motion 47 to maintain the Welland hospital emergency department and adjust its hospital plan accordingly.”
I affix my signature and hand it page Amy for the desk.
Ms. Jessica Bell: This is a petition called, “Demand Filters for Washing Machines to Reduce Microfibre Pollution Getting into Waterways.
“To Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas microfibres are ubiquitous pollution in the environment; and
“Whereas there is scientific evidence suggesting microfibres cause harm to animal life; and
“Whereas to date, the largest documented source of environmental microfibres is from laundering synthetic plastic and non-synthetic textiles in washing machine; and
“Whereas scientific studies indicate washing machine filters divert the majority of microfibres released during laundering and significantly reduce loadings to the environment;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“—pass Ontario Bill 279, requiring built-in washing machine filters that capture microfibres at a filter force size set of 100 micrometres;
“—provide a tax credit to consumers that retrofit machines with after-market filters; and
“—legislate that laundry filters be required in industrial textile facilities, as well as commercial, public and institutional laundry facilities.”
I support this petition. I’ll be affixing my signature to it and giving it to page Julien.
Mme France Gélinas: I would like to thank Ann Schroeder from Lively in my riding for this petition.
“Whereas Ontarians get health care based on their needs, not their ability to pay;
“Whereas the Ford government wants to privatize our health care system;
“Whereas privatization will bleed nurses, doctors and PSWs out of our public hospitals and will download costs to patients;”
They petition the Legislative Assembly “to immediately stop all plans to privatize Ontario’s health care system, and fix the crisis in health care by:
“—repealing Bill 124 to ... recruit, retain, return and respect health care workers with better pay and better working conditions;
“—licensing tens of thousands of internationally educated nurses and other health care professionals already in Ontario;
“—incentivizing health care professionals to choose to live and work in northern Ontario.”
I fully support this petition, will affix my name to it and ask page Pearl to bring it to the Clerk.
Mme France Gélinas: I would like to thank Cathie Kuola from Skead in my riding for this petition.
“Whereas northern Ontario motorists continue to be subject to wild fluctuations in the price of gasoline;
“Whereas the province could eliminate opportunistic price gouging and deliver fair, stable and predictable fuel prices;
“Whereas five provinces and many US states already have .... gas price regulation;
“Whereas jurisdictions with gas price regulation have seen an end to wild price fluctuations, a shrinking of price discrepancies between urban and rural communities and lower annualized gas prices;”
They petition the Legislative Assembly as follows:
“Mandate the Ontario Energy Board to” regulate “the price of gasoline across Ontario in order to reduce price volatility and unfair regional price differences while encouraging competition.”
I support this petition, will affix my name to it and ask page Pearl to bring it to the Clerk.
Mr. Mike Schreiner: I’d like to thank Kris Morgan and others in my riding for collecting petition signatures to double ODSP rates.
“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas the government systematically underfunds and fails to adequately support peoples with disabilities; and
“Whereas the government cancelled a planned 3% increase in ODSP benefits; and
“Whereas persons with disabilities have borne a disproportionate burden of the pandemic; and
“Whereas the cost of shelter” is up “4.8%, and food is up 3.9%”—that seems a bit low; and
“Whereas persons with disabilities on ODSP have been struggling to survive on $1,169 a month; and
“Whereas the government must place people with disabilities at the centre of the province’s pandemic recovery plans, addressing a long-standing gap in Ontario’s social safety net while honouring its commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“To instruct the Ontario government to immediately commit to doubling ODSP rates and take action to ensure Ontario provides a livable income supplement for people with disabilities.”
I support this petition, will sign it and ask page Gabi to bring it to the table.
Land use planning
Ms. Jennifer K. French: I have a petition here that has been sent by folks in Caledon and Kleinberg.
“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas the proposed Highway 413 will produce over 17 tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2050; and
“Whereas the proposed Highway 413 will cost the Ontario taxpayers upwards of the 2018 figure of $6 billion to save 30 to 60 seconds; and
“Whereas 400 acres of greenbelt and 2,000 acres of farmland would be paved over, habitats that support at-risk and endangered species would be damaged, and affected rivers and streams would be polluted;
“Whereas building more highways does not reduce traffic, but actually encourages more vehicle use; and
“Whereas there will be real harm to historic Indigenous sites;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“Stop the plans for building Highway 413.”
Of course, I support this petition. I’ll affix my signature and be glad to send it with page Malini.
Public sector compensation
Mme France Gélinas: I would like to thank Denise Sauvé from Chelmsford in my riding for this petition.
“Whereas Bill 124 removes the right of public employees to negotiate fair contracts;
“Whereas Bill 124 limits the wage increase in the broader public sector to a maximum of 1% per year at a time of unprecedented inflation;
“Whereas Ontario’s public servants have dealt with two years of unheralded difficulties in performing their duties to our province;
“Whereas those affected by Bill 124 are the people who teach us, care for us, make our hospitals and health care system work and protect the most vulnerable among us;
“Whereas the current provincial government is showing disrespect to public servants to keep taxes low for some of our country’s most profitable corporations;”
They petition the Legislative Assembly as follows:
“Immediately repeal Bill 124 and show respect for the public sector workers.”
I fully support this petition. I will affix my name to it and ask page Sofia to bring it to the Clerk.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: I have a petition that has been sent in by Jim McEwan and some of his neighbours.
“Petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas young adult stroke survivors in Ontario continue to be denied provincial government-funded physiotherapy on the basis of age, after completion of their initial rehab programs; and
“Whereas, as a consequence, these young adults are prevented from recovering to their best potential and possibly returning to work or continuing their post-secondary studies; and
“Whereas, to date, both Liberal and PC governments have failed to permit such funding, although both parties have previously taken steps to publicly support its implementation;
“Therefore we, the undersigned, hereby petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to expand Ontario’s government-funded community physiotherapy clinic program to include stroke survivors between the ages of 20 and 64 with a doctor’s referral, and after completion of initial rehab programs.”
I support this petition. I will affix my signature and send it to the table with page Amy.
Mme France Gélinas: I would like to thank Joanne Larocque from Val Caron in my riding for this petition.
“Time to Care....
“Whereas quality of care for the 78,000 residents of” long-term-care “homes is a priority for many Ontario families; and
“Whereas the provincial government does not provide adequate funding to ensure care and staffing levels in” long-term-care “homes to keep pace with residents’ increasing acuity and the growing number of residents with complex behaviours; and
“Whereas several Ontario coroner’s inquests into” long-term-care “homes deaths have recommended an increase in direct hands-on care for residents and staffing levels and the most reputable studies on this topic recommend 4.1 hours of direct care...;”
They petition the Legislative Assembly as follows:
“To amend the” Long-Term Care “Homes Act ... for a legislated minimum standard of care of four hours per resident per day, adjusted for acuity level and case mix.”
I fully support this petition. I will affix my name to it and ask page Julien to bring it to the Clerk.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: I have a petition that has been signed by Jemma Lambert of Oshawa and others in the neighbourhood to stop Ford’s health care privatization plan.
“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas Ontarians should get health care based on need—not the size of your wallet;
“Whereas Premier ... and Health Minister ... say they’re planning to privatize parts of health care;
“Whereas privatization will bleed nurses, doctors and PSWs out of our public hospitals, making the health care crisis worse;
“Whereas privatization always ends with patients getting a bill;
“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to immediately stop all plans to further privatize Ontario’s health care system, and fix the crisis in health care by:
“—repealing Bill 124 and recruiting, retaining and respecting doctors, nurses and PSWs with better pay and better working conditions;
“—licensing tens of thousands of internationally educated nurses and other health care professionals already in Ontario, who wait years and pay thousands to have their credentials certified;
“—making education and training free or low-cost for nurses, doctors and other health care professionals;
“—incentivizing doctors and nurses to choose to live and work in northern Ontario;
“—funding hospitals to have enough nurses on every shift, on every ward.”
Speaker, I support this petition. I will affix my signature and send it to the table with page Malini.
Mme France Gélinas: I would like to thank Claire Redmond from Chelmsford in my riding for these petitions.
“911 Everywhere in Ontario.
“Whereas when we face an emergency we all know to dial 911 for help; and
“Whereas access to emergency services through 911 is not available in all regions of Ontario but most Ontarians believe that it is; and
“Whereas many Ontarians have discovered that 911 was not available while they faced an emergency; and
“Whereas all Ontarians expect and deserve access to 911 service, throughout our province;”
They petition the Legislative Assembly as follows:
“To provide 911 emergency response everywhere in Ontario by land line or cellphone.”
I support this petition. I will affix my name to it and ask page Karma to bring it to the Clerk.
Northern Health Travel Grant
Mme France Gélinas: I would like to thank Joffre Labelle from Hanmer in my riding for this petition: “Let’s Fix the Northern Health Travel Grant.”
“Whereas people in the north are not getting the same access to health care because of the high cost of travel and accommodations;
“Whereas by refusing to raise the Northern Health Travel Grant ... rates, the Ford government is putting a massive burden on northern Ontarians who are sick;
“Whereas gas prices cost more in northern Ontario;”
They petition the Legislative Assembly ... “to establish a committee with the mandate to fix and improve the” Northern Health Travel Grant;
“This” Northern Health Travel Grant “advisory committee would bring together health care providers in the north, as well as recipients of the” Northern Health Travel Grant “to make recommendations to the Minister of Health that would improve access to health care in northern Ontario through adequate” re-investment “of travel costs.”
I support this petition, will affix my name to it and ask page Karma to bring it to the Clerk.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): That concludes the time we have available for petitions this afternoon.
Orders of the Day
More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022 / Loi de 2022 visant à accélérer la construction de plus de logements
Resuming the debate adjourned on October 26, 2022, on the motion for second reading of the following bill:
Bill 23, An Act to amend various statutes, to revoke various regulations and to enact the Supporting Growth and Housing in York and Durham Regions Act, 2022 / Projet de loi 23, Loi modifiant diverses lois, abrogeant divers règlements et édictant la Loi de 2022 visant à soutenir la croissance et la construction de logements dans les régions de York et de Durham.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): When this House last debated Bill 23, the member for University–Rosedale had the floor, and I believe that there’s still some time. I recognize the member for University–Rosedale.
Ms. Jessica Bell: Today, I rise to speak to Bill 23. It is a bill to increase housing supply, among many other things, across Ontario. It is a really big bill. I have it right here. It’s large. It’s over 130 pages. We received it yesterday at about 3 p.m., and we’ve been working hard and doing outreach with stakeholders to better understand what this bill means, what the legislative changes mean, what the proposed regulatory changes mean for a whole host of things in Ontario, from our housing sector, how it is going to affect renters, its effect on the building code, its effect on conservation authorities, on development charges, on municipalities, on consumer protections for new homeowners and new condo owners.
It is a significant bill. It is also a mixed bag. There are some things that I look at and I think, “That could make sense,” and there are other things that I look at and I think, “That’s going to have some pretty serious consequences on municipalities, on environmental protections, on renters.” It does look like Bill 23 will build more homes in existing neighbourhoods, but our assessment is that it will likely make renting more expensive, it will likely encourage urban sprawl, and it will certainly harm municipalities’ ability to provide services like transit and daycare to residents.
What we were wanting to see from this government after the election was a bill that didn’t just focus on building new homes, which is absolutely essential to tackling our housing affordability crisis, but also a comprehensive approach that deals with the housing affordability crisis overall. That means building new homes. It also means building more affordable homes and supportive housing homes. It means clamping down on investor-led speculation. It means bringing in—and this is extremely important—better protections for renters as well.
The reason why it’s very important to have a comprehensive approach as opposed to just focusing on one piece of the problem is that we have a massive housing affordability crisis in Ontario. It is the number one issue in my riding, and it affects all Ontarians in different ways. On a basic level, in our riding in particular, we have a very high homeless population. University–Rosedale, Toronto Centre and Spadina–Fort York have some of the highest densities of people who are experiencing homelessness across Ontario. Many of the services for people who are experiencing homelessness are in our ridings. Many of the shelters are in our ridings. As well, many of the encampments are in our ridings. What I’m hearing from my colleagues is that the number of people who are homeless, living on the streets, living in encampments, has spread from Toronto to areas all across Ontario. It’s extremely concerning.
We have an encampment at College Street right now. It’s a new encampment, and the people who are living in this encampment literally have nowhere else to go. We have communicated with local service agencies, including The Neighbourhood Group, the church, and we have communicated with the city to try and find more permanent supportive housing for people who are living in tents, and there is nowhere for them to go. There are no permanently supportive homes available. And there are very few shelter beds available, and the shelter beds that are occasionally available—shelters are about 98% full—many of these shelters are hard for people to live in. They’re often dangerous. People are concerned that their belongings are going to be stolen. They’re worried about COVID, especially since we’re going into another wave. They have to leave every morning at a certain time. It’s very unstable.
What we also know is that many of the hotels that were established to house people during the COVID period, their contracts are up for renewal, and many of these contracts are not going to be renewed. So we have this perfect storm of rising inflation, a homelessness crisis and these hotel contracts that could be ending, which could lead to even more homelessness challenges. So it’s very concerning.
Then when we move up to the rental market, we see that our rental market is extremely expensive. We saw a dip in rental prices during the COVID crisis, but now what we’re seeing is rental prices going up. In the case of Toronto, we’re seeing rent prices reach record levels—levels that we have never seen before in Toronto, ever. I just went and had a look at the cost of a one-bedroom rental. For an available one-bedroom rental in the city, it will now cost you an average of $2,329 a month, which is a 17.1% year-over-year increase from August 2021. So rents have gone up 17% in the last year. The average amount for a two-bedroom apartment is now $3,266 for an available market apartment. That is staggering. There are estimates that you need to earn over $100,000 a year to afford just to rent in Toronto at this point.
Then when we move to the dream of owning a home, and that is a desire of many newcomers, many younger people—anybody who doesn’t have a home yet would love to own their own home, and that has become increasingly out of reach. There has been a softening in housing prices since the housing peak in February and March 2022, but with the rise in interest rates, we have actually entered, according to RBC, the worst housing affordability crisis when it comes to home prices that Canada has seen in decades because interest rates have made it even harder for people to save up the deposit and then also cover the carrying costs of having a mortgage.
This has happened under this government’s watch. The cost of buying a home, the cost of renting a home and the homelessness crisis, which is escalating, has happened on this government’s watch. It also happened under the Liberal government’s watch, but it has happened under this government’s watch. That is a legacy.
There is a need to certainly address the housing affordability crisis, and there were measures that we wanted to see in this bill to really tackle the housing affordability crisis in a comprehensive way. I want to flesh them out a little bit more before I get to the bill itself.
One, we agree with the Conservative government that building more homes, market homes and non-market homes, is necessary to address the housing affordability crisis.
Ms. Jessica Bell: Yes. It is necessary—non-market and market homes. Thank you.
What is also important is that we need to make sure that the homes that we are building are the kinds of homes that people can afford and the kinds of homes that Ontarians want to live in. So we’re not just building homes for investors; we’re also building homes—we are prioritizing building homes for people who live in Ontario and for people who are planning on moving to Ontario.
The federal government has made the decision to increase immigration rates. That is a good thing. And we need homes for people who are moving to Toronto and moving to Ontario so they can rebuild and build their lives here. It’s extremely important.
We called for in our election platform a commitment to engage in ending exclusionary zoning and moving forward on zoning reform to encourage the construction of missing-middle homes—those duplexes, those triplexes and those townhomes—in existing neighbourhoods.
We call, and we continue to call for, more family-friendly rent-controlled purpose-built rental. When you go to Toronto today and you look at what homes are available, you increasingly see homes that are 600 square feet in size. That’s the average size for a condo in Toronto today. You cannot raise a family and stay sane raising a family in a 600-square-foot condo. It’s not a sustainable or healthy way to live. We need to be building bigger purpose-built rentals and bigger condos—family-friendly apartments—in order to have homes for people that work for families as well. And we have excellent examples of that in University–Rosedale. The Manulife building on Charles Street is an excellent example of a well-made building with purpose-built rentals that families live in because they are larger in size—two-, three-, sometimes even four-bedroom apartments. These are the kinds of measures that will require government regulation to ensure that those kinds of homes are built.
We are also in support of opening up public land to build non-market affordable homes. Ontario has over 6,000 properties that have been identified as being available and worthwhile—like, you could actually build non-market housing on them, and the land is serviceable.
We’re also calling for a public builder to build homes for Ontarians at cost. It makes a lot of sense. It’s been done in other countries. It should be done here.
But it cannot just be about supply. It also needs to be about bringing in better protections for renters and clamping down on speculation.
This government’s track record on improving protections for the 1.4 million households in Ontario that rent has not been strong. This government has made a decision with Bill 184 to make it easier to evict tenants that have fallen behind on their rent, often through no fault of their own. They’ve made it so that they lose their right to return to the Landlord and Tenant Board if they’ve already had a hearing.
This government has also made the awful decision to end rent control on new buildings. The reason why that is very concerning is that it means that when a new renter—maybe they’re new to Ontario or they’ve just moved out of their home—they found a place, they move in and then very quickly they discover that they’re not protected by rent control, which means that they’re not going to have steady, small increases year in and year out of 1.2%—or in this case, for 2023, 2.5%. Their landlord could turn around and raise the rent to however much they want. The challenge with that is that renters cannot prepare for a $500- or $1,000-a-month rent increase, and that is extremely concerning. What it does also mean is that renters can be economically evicted, because they cannot afford the rent increase that could come at any time. That is deeply concerning. It certainly benefits investor landlords, but who it doesn’t benefit—who it hurts—are renters, many of them working Ontarians who are running our cities: our paramedics, our students, our paralegals, the people who work in our supermarkets, our child care workers, our teachers. They’re the people that struggle as a result of that.
It’s been very concerning over the last four years to see this government’s moves to make it even harder to rent in Ontario.
So what we have been calling for, and what we are urging this government to do—and the MPP for Parkdale–High Park introduced a measure today which is related to that—is, instead of allowing rent to exponentially increase, to move forward with rent stabilization, move forward with a plan to bring in vacancy control, so there is a cap on how much rent can be increased when a tenant leaves and a new tenant comes in, and also to bring in better protections for renters so that their home is properly maintained. This government has shown no interest in moving forward with measures that would allow renters to live in safe and affordable homes.
The other measure that we have called for, which this government has been very reluctant to do, is to improve the functioning of the Landlord and Tenant Board.
Ms. Jessica Bell: Yes, it’s a huge issue. The Landlord and Tenant Board is the busiest tribunal in Ontario. It hears over 90,000 cases a year, and it resolves disputes between tenants, who see a house as a home, and landlords, who see that house as an investment. That means that they need to resolve very challenging disputes in a quick, fair and fast manner, so that everyone can get a fair outcome.
The challenge, however, is that people—landlords and tenants alike—are waiting months, and in some cases years, for their day in tribunal to get their issue resolved. We have a situation right now with an individual called Pin, whose landlord moved into their home without getting prior permission, has damaged the kitchen, has on occasion made their washroom not available for use—it doesn’t function properly. They have been waiting two years for a hearing at the Landlord and Tenant Board. That is extremely concerning. That means they are living in misery. It means they are living in very difficult housing conditions, and they have to go back to that every single night at the end of their working day.
The Landlord and Tenant Board needs to be improved. It needs to be fast and fair. There need to be fair and competent adjudicators hearing cases, and people need to have a right to an in-person hearing if either the landlord or the tenant requests it. This government knows that this is an issue, and they’ve done very little about it.
And then the final piece when it comes to addressing the housing affordability crisis—you’ve got the renter protections; you’ve got building new supply—is this critical measure that we need to address, which is to clamp down on investor-led speculation, so that people who intend to live in a home that they buy or rent are prioritized by our housing sector.
This government, in the last week, has started to make some moves to address the sharp rise in investor-led speculation that we have seen in Ontario over the last decade. This government has made a decision to increase the non-resident speculation tax from 20% to 25%, and this government has also made a decision to expand it from the GTHA to include the entirety of Ontario. That is a move that we support. Increasing speculation taxes to allow people who intend to live in the home that they buy or rent is a good move. It needs to be more affordable. The challenge is that there needs to be a whole lot more done in order to make housing affordable again.
We have called for the government to bring in an annual speculation tax and an annual vacant homes tax to make housing more affordable for first-time homebuyers and to increase rental supply. The annual speculation tax has precedent—it was introduced and implemented in BC—and the annual vacant homes tax was also introduced into BC, and it has been remarkably successful. In the case of BC, they did a report on the effectiveness of the speculation and vacant homes taxes this year, in June 2022. They found that the 2% tax raised over $231 million in revenue, which was then moved to build affordable housing, and it added over 20,000 long-term rental units into the Vancouver area—20,000 long-term rental units were added, all with the stroke of a pen.
The reason why it is so effective, especially the vacant homes tax, is because it gives investors a choice: They can choose to keep the property empty and pay a tax and contribute to affordable housing; they can choose to open it up to a long-term rental market and provide someone with their own home; or they could choose to sell it and give a first-time homebuyer who intends to live in the property an opportunity to live in it. It’s win-win-win. It’s an extremely effective policy measure.
This government has talked about setting up a vacant homes round table to discuss the possibility of bringing in a vacant homes tax. I was hoping to see a vacant homes tax in this sweeping housing bill, but I did not see it.
Our request is that the speculation taxes that you have started to introduce need to be expanded to include an annual speculation tax and a vacant home tax, so we can raise the revenue we need and increase supply to ensure that Ontarians can get access to that safe and affordable home.
Now I want to move to the bill itself. It is a complicated bill. As I mentioned, we received the bill at 3 p.m. yesterday. It’s over 130 pages long. We’re doing outreach to municipalities and planners and housing advocates and tenant associations and experts and conservation authorities to better understand what this bill means and how it’s going to affect our housing sector.
Already we are getting written statements and feedback expressing some concerns with the bill—some things people like, some things people have some concerns with. I’m going to spend my time going through some of the feedback I have received and also highlighting some of the concerns and things that I think are interesting in this bill.
Number one is the government’s plan to reduce protections for renters. This is in schedule 1, changes to the City of Toronto Act, as well as schedule 4, the Municipal Act. Essentially, the changes are to impose limits and conditions on a municipality to prohibit and regulate the demolition and conversion of rental properties under section 111. So what does that mean? I want to explain using an example.
We have a building in our riding, 145 St. George. It is a 12-storey building. It is a building with many seniors in it. I’ve canvassed and talked to residents many times in that building. It’s an older building. I think it was built in the 1960s, maybe the 1970s. Many people in that building have lived there for 20-plus years. The entire building is rent-controlled because it was built before 2018. That means there are tenants in there paying between $1,100 to $1,600 in rent, which is more affordable. A big developer came in and said, “We want to demolish this building and replace it with a condo. That’s our plan.” The city of Toronto has this bylaw, section 111, which says, “Hold on, developer. Renters deserve protections too. We’re going to assess whether you’re going to be allowed to build a condo or not, but at a minimum requirement, all the renters who live in that 12-storey building need to be able to move back into the condo once it is built and live in those units that are built, at the same rent as they were paying before.” Essentially, what that means is, the condo is larger, so there’s a percentage of units that are sold off because they’re condos and then there’s a percentage of units that the former tenants can live in. That’s how it works.
Ms. Jessica Bell: Yes, that’s how it works.
The developer gets the density bonus, and they get to make their profit. They bought the property knowing full well that that was a requirement and that renters permanently displaced from a neighbourhood that they’ve lived in for 20 years will continue to pay the affordable rents that they are accustomed to and that they can afford.
If you’re a senior on a fixed income, it is very difficult being evicted in this housing market and being forced to pay upwards of $2,300 to $3,200 for a new market apartment. You just can’t do it.
So that’s how the measure works. And the power of this measure is that it ensures that the thousands and thousands of tenants across Toronto and Ontario who live in purpose-built rentals are protected from developers and investors that want to turn that purpose-built rental into condos. That is the purpose of that bylaw. It is extremely important. And I was very concerned to see this government’s decision to give themselves control and override and change municipalities that have introduced this bylaw to protect tenants in private-market affordable apartments.
Ms. Jessica Bell: Yes. It is something that I’m sure the corporate real estate lobby and the big development sector has been advocating for, for a long time, and it seems like they got it in this bill.
I am already hearing from housing advocates and tenant advocates that this is a very concerning measure. Carolyn Whitzman, who is a housing expert, who is a long-time researcher at the CMHC, said that this could have a disastrous impact on net affordable housing. Canadians lost 15 homes renting at $750 or less for every one new affordable home created at that price point between 2011 and 2016, and most of this net loss was due to demolition and renovation of residential rental properties. So these affordable private-market apartments are in these purpose-built rentals. I see no value in increasing housing supply at the expense of the affordable homes that we already have, and this bylaw will do exactly that. I’m very concerned about it. I strongly urge you to remove that schedule from the bill. There’s no other way to describe it; it’s extremely concerning.
The next thing that I want to raise is changes to conservation authorities. We are getting some feedback on this. I just want to summarize: The role of conservation authorities is to work with municipalities and the province to try and make sure that we protect the wetlands, the precious green space that we have, and also to make sure that homes aren’t going to be swept away in a flood or fall over the Scarborough Bluffs. It’s a way to ensure that homes aren’t built on a flood plain.
This has become even more crucial because we are facing a climate crisis with an increasing number of extreme weather events that are increasing in frequency and strength. We just saw this with the hurricane that swept from Florida to Atlantic Canada. It has gotten so bad. I mean, every day there’s new disturbing news about the impact of the climate crisis. It’s our new horrible reality for today. But even just this week, the Insurance Bureau of Canada put out a press release stating the urgent need for the housing industry and governments to more openly consider and disclose natural hazard and climate risk “because of the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters.” The reason why I’m bringing up that quote is that the insurance industry is essentially telling you that conservation authorities have a really important job. Their job is to make sure that homes and developments are not built on flood plains. Their job is to ensure that we build in a sustainable way and that we protect our natural green space and our natural environment. It’s extremely important.
When I read this bill and I read statements about what this bill means, it seems that the government is giving itself more power to review and change any conditions that a conservation authority might place on a new building permit. That’s a lot of power. That’s concerning.
It is also concerning to hear that the ministry is looking at asking conservation authorities to evaluate their lands to identify areas of development, possibly with the goal of building more development on green space, natural habitat and areas that we should be protecting because they’re on a flood plain or they’re critical to natural wildlife. That is very concerning, and we are looking more into this and getting feedback from stakeholders.
I want to move on. The other measure that we are getting some feedback on is around the zoning reform pieces in this bill. This is mainly referring to the changes to schedule 9, which is the Planning Act. I want to be clear: During the election, we called very clearly for an ending to exclusionary zoning to allow more missing-middle housing—the duplexes, the triplexes, the townhomes in existing neighbourhoods—as well as higher density and transit. And there’s a good reason why: If we build in areas that are already zoned for development, then we get to protect farmland, which we’re losing at a very rapid rate, and our natural green spaces. It is a sustainable way to build more homes and more affordable homes for current and future Ontarians.
There are changes to the zoning laws to allow three homes on one lot: three in a primary building, or two in the primary building and one in a laneway suite, provided the square footage of the property essentially remains the same. And the changes would apply across the board to any urban residential area that has sewage and water services, so we’re not saying yes to new developments on areas that rely on septic tanks that don’t have the infrastructure necessary to enable a huge increase or a big increase in population.
Changing zoning laws to allow more homes in existing neighbourhoods is a good move. This is a step towards ending exclusionary zoning, and there are a lot of benefits to it. That’s one of the measures in this bill that we look at and we say, “Okay, this is interesting. There are some benefits to this.”
We are actually hearing from some stakeholders to move further, to look at expanding missing middle to allow for increased height, as well as stakeholders that are very interested in measures this government is interested in doing to enshrine affordability requirements in any missing-middle changes. I’ll explain that in a little more detail.
I want to quote an individual called Cherise Burda, who wrote a very interesting op-ed today about the need to increase density, allow for missing-middle housing—the need to ensure that there are affordability principles enshrined in that so that we’re not just building more homes; we’re also ensuring some of these homes that we’re building are also affordable. It’s a really interesting area of research that I’m following very closely.
Here is her op-ed—I want to clarify: It’s Karen Chapple from U of T School of Cities and Cherise Burda from TMU. They write:
“Most Ontarians know that we are in a housing affordability crisis, but the province is reframing this as a housing supply crisis to justify construction wherever developers want to build.”
She digs into the need to make sure that the housing that we do build also meets affordability requirements as well.
They write: “To that end, we laud one of the province’s proposed tools: Eliminating exclusionary zoning across municipalities to build missing-middle housing in existing neighbourhoods. Early evidence, however, suggests that ‘missing middle’ homes are being delivered at market rate costs, even pushing up land values and making these neighbourhoods more exclusive. Policy, programs and funding from all levels of government should focus on creating affordable and equitable missing-middle homes.”
That is a really interesting analysis. They’re looking at what is happening across California and the west coast, as well as Oregon, about the impact of the missing middle on affordability and how many more affordable missing-middle homes we can get around increasing density. I encourage this government to look into this, to meet with these stakeholders to make sure we don’t miss out on this opportunity where we build more non-market homes but we also build more affordable homes at the same time.
The second piece that I would very much like to see in this bill, when we are talking about moving forward with ending exclusionary zoning, is the need to ensure that renters are protected when homes are renovated. That gets back to this very issue of renters and how we can do everything possible to not force a renter to be evicted and to move into a more expensive apartment and to keep as many affordable units as we can. I encourage this government to look into some of the measures that other municipalities are moving forward on as well as what stakeholders such as ACORN are advocating for, which is to provide stronger protections for renters who need to be moved out of a home because it is undergoing a renovation of some kind.
Right now, let’s say a single-family home is going to be turned into a duplex. The Residential Tenancies Act, in theory, ensures that a renter has a right to return. So once the renovation is done, the renter can then move back into that home with the same square footage and at the same rent. That is their right to return.
The challenge is that the enforcement components of the Residential Tenancies Act are not strong. We have renters in University–Rosedale who have been evicted from their purpose-built rentals because the property manager wants to renovate, and two, three years later they’re still waiting to move back into their units, even though, when they walk by the purpose-built rental, they see moving trucks with people’s belongings parked outside and students and young people moving in. So they know these units are being filled, but the property manager is not giving them the right to move into the units even though they’re supposed to under the Residential Tenancies Act. That is a concern. There needs to be better enforcement.
When we’re looking at zoning reform—and this bill does move forward on that—I encourage this government to also look at how we can enshrine the creation of affordable housing units into the missing middle and how we can ensure that renters don’t suffer as a result of these changes to density. Their homes need to be protected as well. And there are examples of where that is being done, and I look forward to communicating with you in committee about how this could be a valuable change.
The next thing I want to address—and I’m not going to get to all of the bill; it’s too comprehensive, so I’m pulling out some of the biggest highlights that I’m hearing from stakeholders and that we saw ourselves. The next change that we noticed, and it’s significant, is around the Development Charges Act. That’s schedule 3. There are a lot of changes here. I’m going to summarize them. One is that there will be development charge exemptions for secondary units that are built into a home as well as the third unit that is built into a home. There are some benefits to doing that. There’s also a development charge discount for rental housing, and how this is spelled out is: There will be a development charge discount of a 15% reduction for one-bedroom units for purpose-built rentals, a 20% reduction for units where there’s a two-bedroom unit and a 25% reduction if there’s a three-bedroom unit.
I should go back for a minute. Development charges pay for all the services that the new residents will need when they move into that building: the sewage, the water, the transit, the daycares, the parks—all these necessary services. The development fees don’t cover all the costs of that. They only cover a portion of the capital costs. But they cover a lot of it, and then the city also contributes, and then there are operating costs as well that overwhelmingly the city contributes.
The challenge with the rental housing piece and the discounts to the development charges to the rental housing piece—I can see the logic; you want to make sure the development sector is building these bigger, more family-friendly units. But one of the issues that I’m concerned about here is that the rental housing that will be created is not affordable. So you can have a situation where you’ve got a three-bedroom unit—in my riding, they rent for about $3,000 or more a month. Maybe it will be a 1,000 to 1,100 square feet, because they’re really good at creating good design to get those three bedrooms in a small square footage, but it will cost $3,000. Why would we want to give a developer, who is not building rent-controlled units, that are priced at $3,000 a month, a discount on development charges? That seems like a concern to me. So we’ve got some red flags there.
Another piece where we have red flags is around the provincial government’s decision to change the definition of “affordability”—
Ms. Sandy Shaw: There’s the rub.
Ms. Jessica Bell: I know, right? I started reading this at 5 a.m.
So the definition of “affordability”—this is the definition that they’re looking at proposing: A unit is affordable—which means it would get a reduction in development charges—if it is 80% of market rent or 80% of the purchase price of the average area, and those definitions of affordability will be set by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
There are a few concerns that we’re already hearing about. One is that having developers get a development charge exemption—which is what you’re proposing—by only having an affordable unit for 25 years seems very generous to developers. And to give you an example, in the city of Toronto we just passed an inclusionary zoning law—which the Ontario government is sabotaging—which would require developers to get a development charge discount if the affordable housing units were for 99 years.
There is a move here that I’m seeing with this change to affordable housing where they’re affordable for less period of time and the definition of affordability is linked to market rents, as opposed to what a renter can afford—so based on income—and the discount of fees that developers get has gone from a little bit to completely.
There is a benefit in having lower development fees for affordable housing units, but we have a lot of concerns around this decision to change the definition of affordability. We’re exploring that a little bit more and we’ve got a lot of concerns.
The other piece that we have concerns with when we’re talking about development charges is, how does this impact municipalities? The reason why I say this is because municipalities across Ontario rely on development fees to fund the services that current and future residents use. We’re talking garbage pickup, parks, child care, schools, constructing affordable housing, transit and sewage. When there is a reduction on development fees—some of them are good if it’s for non-market housing, non-profit housing, deeply affordable housing—it means that municipalities are in the hole. And it’s a significant hole.
In the case of Toronto, Toronto has an $800-million funding shortfall. That’s the shortfall that they’re facing right now. We just got a report here. This is the budget that the new city council is going to be debating. They have a deficit of $857 million. What is challenging is that they’re already having to make cuts. The city of Toronto is going to make cuts of $300 million to planned maintenance and repair projects because they don’t have enough money. The provincial and the federal governments have said that they don’t want to pay.
Then we also have the case where interest rates are going up. That means that the ability to access money and pay back money is going to become tougher and tougher and tougher. Matt Elliott, this reporter here, explains it. He says, “As inflation hammers the global economy, interest rates on new city debt have been going up fast. City hall was getting 30-year interest rates as low as 2.4% in 2020. Toronto’s latest 30-year debt issue carried an interest rate of 4.4%.”
So we’ve got this challenge now with this bill where the government has said, “We need affordable housing, we need to reduce development charges to incentivize more affordable housing, but we’re not going to cover the shortfall. We’re going to make municipalities just deal with it”—at a time when we have an inflationary crisis, we have budget shortfalls and we have interest rate hikes, which make these fees, or the ability to borrow, higher and higher and higher.
That is very concerning, that there is not a commitment from the provincial government to help out with this development fee shortfall so that we get the affordable housing but we also have the transit and the services and the child care and the parks and the sewage infrastructure and the electricity infrastructure that is necessary to house current and future residents. That is a big concern.
It’s a concern that AMO shares. They issued a press release—wow, they were quick. They introduced it at 5:51 last night, so maybe they got a heads-up this bill was coming. Who knows? They say, “Municipalities will welcome some of the proposed changes”—like I said, it’s a mixed bag—but are “very concerned about others, such as changes to the Development Charges Act. We will work with the government on the ideas that have the potential to make housing more affordable, and we will oppose changes that undermine good economic and environmental policy.” So they’ve got some concerns about how they’re going to balance their budgets and provide services to residents given that this bill guts their ability to access development fee charges. That’s the concern, and I’m not seeing this government come up with economically wise solutions to that. That’s a concern.
The next piece—like I said, this is a big bill—is schedule 5. Schedule 5 is called the New Home Construction Licensing Act. We heard a lot about this issue in the media because, across Ontario, people are buying homes that, in some cases, are shoddily built. The developer does not build the home to the standard that the homeowner expects: There’s mold, there are leaks, and then the homeowner has to pay the bill because the regulatory authorities are not strong enough at holding developers to account.
We’re also seeing this disturbing trend where homeowners will buy a home pre-construction. They’ll put down the deposit in the hope of getting access to this home, of buying their home and moving into it within two or three years once the home is built. Their dreams, their hopes are all tied up in this; as well their money is all tied up in this future prospect of living in a home. What we have seen as housing prices have risen, changed, and risen again and changed is that developers have turned around, often for no good reason, and said, “Actually, I know we said that we would let you buy this home for $600,000, but we took another look and we think that you’re going to have to pay $800,000 for that home, and if you don’t like it, too bad, so sad. We’ll give you your deposit back and we’ll just cancel the contract.” Then they turn around and sell it to someone else at a higher bid. That is really unethical. If developers sign a contract with a potential home buyer, that contract should be upheld by the Ontario government in a court of law, and the developer has a responsibility to honour that contract.
We have seen the Premier talk a good talk about how he’s going to slap developers on the wrist and fine them and ensure they have consequences if they do the wrong thing, but we have seen very little action—close to none—to ensure that developers build the homes that they say they’re going to build at the price that they committed to in the contract. It’s a huge concern.
In this schedule, the New Home Construction Licensing Act, there has been a decision to increase the maximum fines for developers that break contracts with first-time home buyers, with home buyers who are looking at moving into these homes. That is a good thing. There is also a broader range of actions the developer can be fined on, which is good. They’ve expanded the powers and the number of things that can be fined—good. It gives the minister the power to decide how much of a fine goes to the home owner. This is a bit confusing to me, because Minister Clark says one thing—that he’ll give it to the home owner—but when I actually read the schedule it says something else. I’m trying to get some more information there. It could be good, could be—I don’t know.
The big thing that we’re not seeing and what we’re hearing from stakeholders, such as Canadians for Properly Built Homes, is that there’s no commitment to actually enforce the laws on the books and ensure that developers are actually held to account. Doubling the fines, good, but it’s not worth anything unless you’re actually going to fine developers that aren’t doing the right thing. That’s what people are calling for and that’s what this government needs to do.
As Karen from Canadians For Properly Built Homes tweeted, “Please show us evidence, any evidence, that you’re ‘cracking down on unethical developers.’ There’s no disciplinary action on the website of your regulator, @hcraontario.” That’s what they’re looking for: They’re looking for enforcement. Let’s see if the government moves through on that.
There are other measures in this bill that we are talking to stakeholders about that could have a significant impact. One is changes to the Ontario Heritage Act, schedule 6. Schedule 25.2 gives the minister the power to override any heritage designation on any provincial property or any public property. That’s a lot of power. I welcome feedback from residents and municipalities on these proposed changes because they seem pretty significant.
Ms. Jessica Bell: No, that’s fine. I welcome heckling from this side.
There are also changes in schedule 7 to the Ontario Land Tribunal Act. This government has moved forward with legislation to change the appeal body. It used to be called the OMB, then it got called the LPAT, and now it’s called the land tribunal. Time and time and time again, the changes have always gone in one direction, and that is to make it harder for municipalities and residents to have a say in land tribunal decisions and much easier for developers to override official plans, rules, in order to get a development built.
There are two schedules here that we are looking into to get more information on and that we also have some concerns about. One gives the adjudicator of the land tribunal the right to dismiss a hearing if there’s undue delay, so we interpret that to mean that even if a third party has a valid claim, it could still be dismissed. The second thing is schedule 20, which gives the adjudicator the power to make an unsuccessful party pay costs. That has some concerns as well, and the reason why is that there are cases that go to the land tribunal that benefit affordable housing and that help with housing supply in a way—for affordability purposes.
The example that comes to mind, for me, is the city’s short-term rental rules in Toronto. The city, after years of consultation, developed short-term rental rules that would ban short-term rentals and investment properties. You can only do short-term rentals on your own property. But you couldn’t just buy up a house, kick out all the long-term tenants, and make it a short-term rental property—which continues to happen in the city of Toronto, because there’s no enforcement—so short-term rental providers took that to the land tribunal, or the OMB, to contest it. It got held up at the land tribunal for years, until eventually it got overridden or it got rejected and the city of Toronto was able to move forward with its short-term rental rules.
I wouldn’t want a situation where Fairbnb and the federation of metro tenants is fined because they’re making a genuine claim to the land tribunal about a short-term rental law that is turning long-term rental units into short-term investment properties. So that’s a concern.
The same thing is happening in Ottawa right now. Ottawa’s short-term rental rules to clamp down on investor-led short-term hotels and increase long-term rental units are being held up at the land tribunal.
We are calling for land tribunal reform, but we need to make sure that municipalities and residents have a say and that the land tribunal is a force for good, meaning that it benefits the public interest and it really addresses the issues of affordability—because sometimes it doesn’t.
So that’s where we’re at on that.
I have three minutes to go, so I’m just going to conclude with what we are calling for.
We want to see this government move forward with a comprehensive housing affordability plan that looks at building new homes as well as building more affordable homes and more supportive housing. That is key. This bill moves forward with building more homes, but I’m not seeing a lot of evidence here that we are going to see a net increase in the number of affordable homes that exist in Ontario. And I’m very concerned about the decision to get rid of protections that would allow for purpose-built rentals to be turned into condos and tenants to not be able to move back into their affordable rent-controlled units. That is very concerning.
What we also want to see from this government is a commitment to move forward with better protections for renters, so that the million-plus renters in Ontario can have an affordable and safe home that they can live in and can commit to a community in.
We absolutely need to clamp down on investor-led speculation. It’s absolutely critical. Increasing the non-resident speculation tax from 20% to 25% is a step in the right direction. I’m never going to criticize that; it’s a good thing. But we need to augment that with measures that really focus on domestic speculation as well. A vacant home tax and an annual speculation tax are measures that have worked effectively in other provinces, and I ask this government to really look into implementing those kinds of changes in this province as well.
I believe that’s all I have time for for now. If there are stakeholders, residents, community groups, experts who want to give us feedback, I encourage you to do that. This bill will be going to committee I hope, and I encourage you to sign up to speak to committee as well so that we can ensure this sweeping housing bill is as good as it can be.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Questions?
Ms. Natalie Pierre: Speaker, we know that municipal fees on new developments have continued to increase and approval delays have continued to grow longer and longer. Delays on new housing developments are now 40% longer than they were only two years ago, averaging 20 to 24 months. For every month those approval delays drag on, an additional $2,600 to $3,300 is added to construction costs. Since 2020, average municipal charges levied on new housing in the GTA have increased anywhere from 30% to 36%. Municipal charges are adding an average of $116,900, or $53 per square foot, to the cost of a low-rise home in the GTA.
At a time when we find ourselves in a housing affordability crisis, who does the opposition think picks up the cost of these excessive fees and who do these costs get passed down to?
Ms. Jessica Bell: Thank you very much. I’m pleased that you raised the issue of development charges. The reason why I’ve discussed development charges is because development charges go to paying for the necessary services that current and new residents use. It’s not an abstract fee. It goes to pay for sewage, water, electricity, transit, child care, roads, parks, and it doesn’t cover the whole. It covers some of the capital costs, and then municipalities need to step up and provide that additional fee, and then the operating costs are almost exclusively covered by municipalities.
My issue is, if we are looking at reducing development fees for non-market housing, for deeply affordable housing, okay, but how are municipalities going to cover that gap? Is the province going to step in and cover that gap? Because that’s a very real issue when municipalities are budget-strapped all across Ontario. It’s a question for you.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): The member from Oshawa.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: I would like to applaud my colleague for an excellent hour and a very comprehensive breakdown on a massive bill with huge implications. I have so many thoughts and questions, but in terms of the definition of affordable housing, I get a bit twitchy when the government defines it. I’d like the government to listen to the folks in Oshawa, who would define it, I’m sure, quite differently. Some of those folks in Oshawa and across communities are being bullied out of their barely affordable rent, especially seniors. Often these renovictions are being used to trick seniors into signing away their right to return.
I’d like to know what we see in this bill in terms of protections—there’s 135 pages; I’m sure there’s stuff in there—for seniors unable to afford rent across my community but across communities generally.
Ms. Jessica Bell: Thank you to the member for Oshawa. I have read this bill. There are moves to reduce development fees to incentivize the construction of affordable housing. There is nothing to expand rent control so seniors have stability and affordability. There is, in fact, a very concerning bill that would allow purpose-built rentals to be converted into condos and the tenants in those purpose-built rentals would have no right to return at the same rent as they were paying before. That is extremely concerning, because many of the tenants in these buildings, if they’re long-term tenants, are older; some of them are on fixed incomes. It could lead to increases in homelessness and people really struggling to get by.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Question?
Ms. Andrea Khanjin: I want to thank the member from University–Rosedale for reading the bill. I know she is quite passionate about things like fast-tracking what we talked about, this missing middle. You see folks in the greater Toronto area, in the riding that she represents, that can’t have families because there are no units for the families to live in, and so they have to self-construct their units. She lives in a riding where they have a subway station, the Rosedale stop, and it’s flat; you could have many apartment buildings built above that.
She also lives in an area where there’s a lot of yellowbelt that can be developed. This bill talks about building those two-to-three-bedroom apartments. This bill talks about laneway housing. I wanted to ask her what her advocacy in her riding is in terms of transit-oriented development at the Rosedale station and things like laneway houses that could work in that yellowbelt that she represents in her riding of Rosedale.
Ms. Jessica Bell: Thank you very much to the member for Barrie–Innisfil for raising that important issue. There are measures in this bill that look at moving forward with ending exclusionary zoning, such as allowing three units within a semi-detached or single-family home in yellowbelt areas. That is a move that I support. In fact, the city of Toronto, including the Rosedale area, already has that requirement—it would be other municipalities and not Toronto that would be affected by that—but I’m pleased that you raised that. It’s certainly a move that I support.
We are also in support of increasing density near transit stations. It makes a lot of sense. It’s a sustainable thing to do. It provides more options for people. So thank you for raising that, as well.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Question?
Mr. Jeff Burch: I, too, would like to congratulate my colleague on doing a great job on very short notice on a very large bill. Thank you for that.
My question has to do with renters. Comment came out from city of Toronto planners, I believe yesterday, that this bill meant open season on tenants. With her experience in Toronto, being from a riding in Toronto, I’d like to know: Does she agree with the statement that this is open season on tenants? What are the red flags she sees in terms of rents going up as a result of this bill?
Ms. Jessica Bell: Thank you for raising that issue. When I was reading through the bill, that was one of the most concerning things that I saw, because it significantly affects my riding in Toronto. My riding is 60% renters, and 80% of people in my riding live in buildings of five storeys or more. It’s one of the most dense areas in Ontario, and when you look at those 80% of buildings, half of them are condos and half of them are purpose-built rentals.
We are already seeing an increase in applications from developers that are choosing to look at purpose-built rentals that already have good heights—12, 14 or even more storeys—and saying, “Do you know what? It is cost-effective for us to demolish that building and then build even taller.” The challenge is, what happens to those renters that are evicted? What happens to them and their affordable units? We need to make sure that we keep those affordable units.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): The member for Kitchener–Conestoga.
Mr. Mike Harris: I just want to bring a bit of a Waterloo-region lens to the perspective of the conversation here. Waterloo region is slated to need somewhere in the neighbourhood of about 70,000 homes to meet targets over the next—well, looking at roughly by 2031. That’s coming up pretty quick. There are a lot of pieces of this legislation that I can really get behind, because we’re looking at ways to really move the needle forward in a much more expeditious measure.
One of the things that we talk about a lot in Waterloo region is student housing. When we look at what this does with as-of-right zoning for multi-unit housing, whether that be duplexes or triplexes, and not having to go through rezoning and being able to speed those things up—I’d love to hear some of your comments on that, looking at it from not just the people that are going to be living in these places, but students that often come to our country to experience our fantastic education system here or folks that are maybe coming from your riding to come out to one of our fantastic universities.
Ms. Jessica Bell: I’m so pleased you raised that question. I’ve spoken to your former planner in the Waterloo region about what Waterloo is doing right to plan, and they’ve moved forward with really sensible regulation to encourage the construction of homes for students, because that is a real need, and also for baby boomers that want to downsize into smaller units but don’t really want to move into a retirement home and are certainly not ready for a long-term-care home. There’s been a lot of thought there—as well as increasing density along transit zones. There’s a lot of sensible development happening in the Waterloo region.
We certainly need new student housing. Enabling three units within a property will help that. It’s something that we support, and we also need to augment that with better protections for students. What we see with the Residential Tenancies Act is that a lot of student housing is exempt from rent control and Residential Tenancies Act protections. There’s a real need to expand it to ensure that students have the same kind of protections as older people, people who—
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Thank you. Further debate?
Hon. Doug Downey: I’m so pleased to rise today to debate the More Homes Built Faster Act, a bill that would, if passed, help tackle Ontario’s housing crisis and build more housing that meets the needs of people in every part of Ontario. I’ll be splitting my time with the member for Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke.
But before I begin the bill that we’re discussing today, I want to acknowledge and thank all the stakeholders. I want to thank all the stakeholders and I want to thank all the staff, especially Minister Clark, Minister Parsa and PA Holland for all the work they did. I know they consulted all across Ontario, in every corner, to try to find solutions to build 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years—the contributions that people made, the practical insights. In every town, every city, every community in Ontario, people are looking for the same thing: They’re looking for affordable and attainable housing that meets the needs and goals of their budgets. Whether it’s a young person starting out in the market, a family that needs space, a senior couple that wants to move to different accommodations that opens up housing markets—we need more homes. It’s as simple as that.
We have to do something in this crisis that’s developed for demographics in our province. And the house prices in Ontario, they’ve tripled in the past 10 years. They’ve tripled in the past 10 years. We all have family and friends and children who would like to be in the housing market that are finding it very difficult. The answer is simple. We’re hearing it across the board, and the members opposite agree with us. We’re not hearing anybody say that the problem isn’t supply. The problem is supply, so we agree on the premise. We need to do something to build those 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years.
Cities are getting larger. Towns are getting spread out. It’s small towns, it’s rural areas, it’s cities, it’s everywhere. We have to do something, and we are doing something. It’s getting more difficult to find housing. It’s getting more expensive. Our government is going to bring a solution.
We’re committed to creating and growing strong and safe communities. To do so, we need to build the housing that fits the needs of people and families in every community across our great province. Ontarians deserve the opportunity to find the right home in the right place at the right price, and get away from government bureaucracy that is standing in the way. That’s why, as part of the More Homes Built Faster Act, we’re investing $2.5 million in the Ontario Land Tribunal to ensure disputes holding up housing growth are resolved faster.
When I think of the Ontario Land Tribunal, I think about the great work that we’ve done to date—that our government has done to date—to move things forward. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge Marie Hubbard, who was the chair of the Ontario Land Tribunal. She was a force. Unfortunately, she has passed. She was a visionary. She had deep experience and she amassed a team of professionals who heard matters over the last several years, ably assisted by Greg Bishop, the associate chair. Together, they built a system that is working very well, but the need is even greater. So further investment in the resources for the Ontario Land Tribunal were needed, and I can tell you that Marie would be very proud of the work that we’re doing.
I just want, if I can, to mention a little bit about Marie’s background. She was such a force. I remember meeting her for the first time. I went into her office and she had a great command of how many files were lined up, what kinds of files, the kind of work that needed to be done, what the time frames looked like, and she helped shepherd when we brought five different land tribunals together into one land tribunal. It was phenomenal. I left that meeting with her and I thought to myself—I didn’t just think to myself, I actually said to my assistant, “I want to be Marie Hubbard when I grow up. She is in such command of what she does, and she has such a handle on what needs to happen.”
I just want to read a little bit from a piece in Clarington that was posted when she passed and part of her bio: “Marie Hubbard was appointed to the Ontario Municipal Tribunal ... in 1997. Six years later, in 2003, Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant appointed” her “as the interim chair of the OMB. When the OMB transitioned to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal in 2019, Marie Hubbard became the interim associate chairperson.”
Then she went on to accept an appointment from our government, and as I mentioned, led the way in cutting the path to clear out the backlog. And we’re doing more of that good work now. We got $2.5 million to the Ontario Land Tribunal to ensure the disputes that are holding up growth are being dealt with. That comes in addition to the investment that we made in last year’s budget that provided an extra $14.7 million in resources to the Ontario Land Tribunal.
I know numbers are hard to follow, but what I can tell you is, these are sizable investments but in such a critical part of what we’re trying to do as a government. We have targets; we’re going to meet the targets. But we have to have the infrastructure in place, and under Minister Clark’s leadership, who often sets the rules for some tribunals and then I run the tribunals—they’re actually independent, but I oversee the tribunals—it’s been a really great partnership in terms of moving things forward, creating housing stock and getting us there.
Now I just want to talk a little bit about why the Ontario Land Tribunal fits into this bill and into this equation. It plays a pivotal role in the housing strategy in our action plans. It’s an impartial, independent adjudicator. It helps create more housing by resolving proposed development disputes to help break the cycle of delays caused by appeals.
Madam Speaker, people don’t always agree on how their community should develop or change, and that’s okay. Disputes often arise over land use planning issues, such as where industry should be located, where roads should be, where transit should be, where housing should be. When community members can’t resolve their planning issues or they’re having disputes with their municipal councils, if they can’t settle them independently, they can go to the Ontario Land Tribunal and they help them resolve them, either through mediation or through hearings, and it’s exactly that that we need to deal with.
Our government is working hard to ensure that the Ontario Land Tribunal has what it needs in terms of resources and technological capabilities. The investments we’re making that I referenced, the $2.5 million and the $14.7 million, are going to the back office, they’re going to adjudicators, they’re going to processes. Putting the five into one has made that possible, to make it seamless.
But there’s more to be done, Madam Speaker, which is why at every step the government has taken, we’re moving to making housing that’s affordable and attainable, more accessible in the province, for it to be built and for it to be expanded. We have to give it the tools it needs, and we’re doing that; we’re doing exactly that.
We need to improve, enhance and modernize the way the tribunal functions so that it’s geared to solving disputes faster, more efficiently and fairly to meet the supply needs that we have today. It’s a critical player in creating more housing, Madam Speaker.
I just want to say that in terms of efficiency—as a practising lawyer I practised real estate law and development law for 20 years. I had an OMB file that lasted 10 years, and do you know what the issue hung on? Whether a horse is a pet or livestock. Ten years, Madam Speaker—shocking. Well, that is no more because we’ve taken steps to make sure that the tribunal that hears these important matters allows projects with merit to move forward, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.
The message we want to send is very clear: The Ontario Land Tribunal is there to help resolve disputes constructively and efficiently. It is not to be used as a delay tactic. We’re also seeking to clarify the OLT’s powers to order an unsuccessful party to pay a successful party’s costs. That is not unheard of in any other forum. It’s an important part of making sure that those that oppose come to the table and stay at the table—or they don’t come to the table at all. This approach would help discourage parties from bringing appeals to the OLT that don’t have merit. This is supposed to be a merit-based process, Madam Speaker, and I can tell you the changes we’re making are going to make a difference. It will give us the ability to consult and talk about how we prioritize what’s heard before the Ontario Land Tribunal, to make sure that the things that matter to Ontarians the most—to allow us to achieve our goal of 1.5 million homes in 10 years.
As the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Minister Parsa and MPP Holland have all talked about, we have to do this because the opposition will not do this. They have not done this. And the only way we are going to get there is to create the systems that allow everybody to achieve the goals of homeownership, attainable housing, to make sure that we are creating safe and wonderful communities for all of our constituents in Ontario.
Madam Speaker, I’m watching the clock. I’m going to cede the balance of my time to my friend MPP Yakabuski.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): The member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke.
Mr. John Yakabuski: I want to thank the Attorney General, as well, for his address today. And of course, he is bang on in everything that he said. I want to remind people that each one of us, we were—it’s not that long ago we had the election in June. Every one of us, no matter what our riding is, when issues were talked about during the campaign—housing, housing, housing, from all corners of the province. What was one of the key issues, what was one of the crises that Ontario was facing? Housing. And then just the other day, we had our municipal election. And what were municipal candidates talking about?
Mrs. Robin Martin: Housing?
Mr. John Yakabuski: Exactly, I say to the member from Eglinton–Lawrence: housing. I have 19 municipalities in my riding, and many of those had all-candidates’ nights and meet-and-greets and whatever. So we’re talking about probably 250 or so candidates from the municipal election in my riding just the other day, and I congratulate all those who were successful and thank all those who put their names forward. But at each one of those meetings, what was the topic of conversation, of debate? Housing.
So what it says to us in no small way is that this is an issue that no one can deny is a critical issue for Ontario at this time. And our government ran on the platform that we are going to build 1.5 million homes in the next 10 years in Ontario. That’s building upon the 100,000 homes that were built last year, which is a record not seen in over 30 years in the province of Ontario. But 100,000 homes a year for 10 years? I think we can all do the math. That doesn’t get us there. I say this to the opposition, and I say this respectfully: Laying back and hoping for something to happen will not get it happening. Taking only one section of housing and saying that that’s the priority will not make it happen. We have got to be singularly focused, laser-focused on making sure that housing is the priority in this province.
I want to thank Minister Clark, Minister Parsa and PA Holland for following through—and Premier Ford for his leadership on this—and acting so quickly. This piece that we have before the House today, Bill 23, is transformative legislation. This is the ultimate game-changer when it comes to the housing crisis in the province of Ontario.
I hope that the opposition understands that and stops focusing on some issue that is not specifically addressed in the bill and gets behind this, because you will be evaluated on your position on housing in this province.
Let’s remember: The whole province knew that housing was a key issue in the campaign. They made a choice as to which party they believed would actually get the job done, and that’s the Progressive Conservative Party under Doug Ford and our minister Steve Clark.
I heard today—I may not have it 100% right, but usually I’m 93% or so—that Mayor John Tory, re-elected to his third term, in Pembroke, actually said that he is going to use the strong mayors act to ensure that he gets housing built in Toronto. You see, our minister has thrown it out there to people like John Tory that 285,000 homes in the next 10 years, in addition to their current plans, is the expectation from the province, in Toronto. These are not small numbers. You’re not going to get there by being shy, and you’re not going to get there if you just think the status quo, without ruffling some feathers, without making some changes—there is an old saying that you can’t make an omelette if you don’t crack some eggs. Well, we’re cracking some eggs and we’re changing things. We’re making sure that municipalities understand that this is not a debate; this is an absolute necessity. Two million more people coming to the greater Golden Horseshoe in the next 10 years—you heard that from Minister Clark this morning. We’ve got to be able to put them somewhere. If you’re going to have housing—and affordable housing is housing—you’ve got to start somewhere, you’ve got to build more. There’s no other way around it.
I hear the NDP talking about, “Minister Clark is planning to reduce or eliminate development charges.” Minister Clark is trying to remove the impediments, the barriers, the burdens to getting more housing built. Well, folks, development charges are one of those burdens. What does it do? It adds tens of thousands of dollars, in some cases, to the cost of building a home. If you’re adding tens of thousands of dollars, that home becomes less affordable. As Minister Clark said, municipalities have in the neighbourhood of about $8 billion in development charge—
Mr. Anthony Leardi: Reserves.
Mr. John Yakabuski: —reserves—thank you very much, member—currently on hand. So we can help build more houses by removing those development charges.
Governments don’t build homes. Builders, contractors, developers build homes. We’ve got to ensure that we have them on board so that they can get the job done, with help and direction from the provincial government, working in concert with the municipalities all across this province—including the federal government, which has to be a partner in this as well. We’re not going to get to 1.5 million homes if our plan is, “Oh, no, we better not do that because this group doesn’t like it” or “You better not do that because those neighbourhoods”—folks, this is not an easy task, but you’ve got to have the stomach for it, and this government has the stomach for it. We’re going to ensure that job gets done.
I don’t have a lot of time left.
A lot of people will see this as primarily an urban, city issue. The bulk of those homes, as you saw from the chart, will be built in the greater Golden Horseshoe and the 29 municipalities that have been identified by the minister.
But we want to build more homes in rural Ontario, too, and I will continue to have discussions with the minister and the ministry about ways we can encourage more building of homes in rural Ontario as well, ensuring that the burdens that exist are minimalized or dealt with, because we have people who want to move to the great parts of this province—such as Renfrew county, where, I want to say, the minister was very helpful in making some changes with regard to the official plans that will help to encourage more homes being built. But there is work to be done there as well, and we’re going to continue to work with the minister in that regard.
Let’s get back to the point here: We need 1.5 million—and I’m not even sure that that’s going to do it, but that’s the number that we’re doing. And we’re going to have a housing supply bill each year of this mandate. We are not resting on our laurels, bringing in this piece of legislation and saying, “The job’s done.” No, the job is actually just beginning. But we need all members of this House, on both sides of this House, to recognize and accept that this is a critical point in Ontario’s history and a critical point for the ability of families to afford a home. If we’re going to bring down the prices of those homes—supply, supply, supply. If you don’t have any supply, then the price for the limited supply that you have only goes up.
So I ask the people on the other side: Stop the politics. This is a critical time in Ontario. You know this is the right thing to do. This government is moving in the right direction to solve this crisis. Let’s get on board together so that we all get it done.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Questions?
MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam: Thank you very much, Speaker. I appreciate the opportunity. Like the opposition critic for housing, I did take some time to read the bill last night. It was very long—123 pages—and it intersects and amends 13 acts. It’s not easy to digest, certainly. But I do recognize, as I was reading the bill, that a few things were coming to mind. One of them was the fact that the government is reframing this whole affordable housing crisis as a supply crisis. Certainly this bill is trying to get to that, but I don’t think it gets to the affordability piece.
What the bill does do, interestingly enough, is gut certain things. You’re gutting the conservation authority, you’re undermining food security by not protecting farmland, and you’re taking away critical revenues for cash-strapped cities.
The bill also ignores the fact that there’s a rising cost of construction, a labour shortage, land values and other building regulations that are stopping the construction of affordable housing. How will your bill address those concerns that I’ve just raised?
Mr. John Yakabuski: I want to thank the member very much for that question. It goes back to what I’ve said here. What you’re talking about there is the status quo. You don’t want to see those changes. You don’t want to see things that are standing in the way of building affordable housing and housing in general. You don’t want to see those changes.
Well, the reality is, I say to the member, those are some of the things that exist today that our ministry—and this was not without consultation. This was with broad consultation that we have come to the conclusion that these are some of the impediments that have to be dealt with. I know the Attorney General talked about changes at the land tribunal as well. We’re going to remove some of those impediments that have been holding back Ontario. It takes too long to get things done. We’ve said that we got elected on getting it done, and we’re going to get it done.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): The member from Richmond Hill.
Mrs. Daisy Wai: Thank you, our members from this side, for explaining to us the importance of this housing crisis. Actually, when I’m going around in my riding, everybody is just coming to us, telling us about the problem of affordable housing.
But I also know there are some, especially at the municipal level—a lot of them will be saying, “Not in my backyard.” How are we going to overcome that and make sure that we can achieve our goals?
Hon. Doug Downey: Thank you for the question. I know you listen to your constituents, just as municipal politicians listen to their constituents. So it’s important that we have a full conversation around how we move forward, but that’s no reason to have red tape and bureaucracy in the middle holding things up and having a results-driven—a process-driven result instead of an intentional result.
Part of how we’re going to do it is to make sure there are forums for conversations, that they’re the appropriate forums and the appropriate conversations, but we will not have projects delayed simply because people are using the tools of government to delay them with no merit.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): The member from Hamilton West.
Ms. Sandy Shaw: My question is to the member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke—
Ms. Sandy Shaw: I will just yell across the way because my mike’s not on. I can yell too, John.
Ms. Sandy Shaw: All right. Should I wait? I don’t think it’s on.
Mr. John Yakabuski: No, you’re good.
Ms. Sandy Shaw: Okay. My question to the MPP from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke: Are you aware of what the infrastructure deficit is for your community? Because I know in Hamilton it’s $3 billion. We’re talking about roads, we’re talking about sewers, we’re talking about bridges, water, waste water—$3 billion, and to even begin to tackle that, the city is talking about a cost of $850 per year for 10 years for municipal taxpayers, and every municipality in Ontario is struggling with these costs.
You talked about the relief from development charges for developers. That’s your plan to sort of goose the housing supply. But can you tell me what you’re going to do to protect taxpayers who are going to end up with this additional burden? If it’s not being paid by the developers, it’s going to be paid by your local taxpayers. So is there any other solution that you have other than putting this on the backs of already strained and stretched municipal taxpayers?
Hon. Doug Downey: Look, the plan is not to do more of the same and talk about doing something different. We have to do something different. We have a crisis. We need 1.5 million homes in 10 years. Last year, we had a record 100,000 homes, which is a record over the last several decades. So to suggest that if you do this, then that. Yes, if we do this, then that—the that is 150,000 homes minimum per year.
So we have to do things differently. We have to do them faster. We have to be more efficient. We’re going to create safe and affordable homes for people in Ontario. Again, it goes back to creating the supply and incentivizing the people who are going to build the homes across Ontario.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): The member from Essex.
Mr. Anthony Leardi: The Attorney General touched upon an interesting matter, which is called a costs award, and throughout the process of land planning, objectors—whether they be reasonable objectors or unreasonable objectors—could often delay a project by months and months, sometimes even years. Simply by filing an objection and paying a very nominal fee, let’s say $175 or $200, they could hold up a development for months at a time, simply by filing a one-page objection and paying the fee.
The Attorney General touched on this idea of a costs award. How does a costs award prevent spurious objections from holding up development for months at a time?
Hon. Doug Downey: Thank you for the question. I know that you know litigation well. You practised it for many years. Here’s the thing: For starters, it’s an independent tribunal, so they’ll make the assessment. They’re going to look at merit, and for those who want to hold up a project through administration—if it was months and months, we wouldn’t even have a problem. It is years and years—you’re absolutely right about that—and so it’s about “you pays your money; you takes your chances.” If you want to object to something, you’d better have some merit to it, or there may be some natural consequences.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Question?
Ms. Jennifer K. French: The government seems to be responding interestingly about development charges, but I’m going to stay the course here. With the development charges and exemptions, I do worry that municipalities are going to have to share that cost or move that cost onto the ratepayers and our neighbours in the community, but that’s not what I’m going to ask about.
I’m going to ask about the permits that the developers get and sit on when municipalities have plans and they’re trying to plan for growth. How come there’s no “use it or lose it” in this bill? The developers hold on to these permits, they don’t use them and it’s gumming up the works. Why don’t we see that here? Do you have anything to say about holding developers accountable so that this housing does indeed get built?
Hon. Doug Downey: In fact, I do. In fact, the rules of the Ontario Land Tribunal will apply to everybody in front of the land tribunal. The movement to create 1.5 million homes is going to be an effort pushing on both sides to make sure that things are getting done, to make sure that they’re actually getting built. And so if we find ourselves in a situation where developers are sitting on housing stock and not building it, then you will see a response from the government, Madam Speaker. We have to make sure these homes are built.
The Premier has been crystal clear. This should be no surprise to everybody. Pre-election, during the election and post-election, this has been a top priority, and the people of Ontario sent us here to solve this problem.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): The member from Ottawa South.
Mr. John Fraser: Quick question: Words are important. Affordable or attainable, and what does that mean?
Hon. Doug Downey: I like a concise question. I’ll give a concise answer: affordable and attainable.
Report continues in volume B.