43rd Parliament, 1st Session

L135B - Wed 20 Mar 2024 / Mer 20 mar 2024



Wednesday 20 March 2024 Mercredi 20 mars 2024

Adjournment Debate

Public transit


Report continued from volume A.



Relief for Renters Act, 2024

Loi de 2024 visant à alléger
le fardeau des locataires

MPP Hazell moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 163, An Act to amend the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 / Projet de loi 163, Loi modifiant la Loi de 2006 sur la location à usage d’habitation.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Pursuant to standing order 100, the member has 12 minutes for their presentation.

MPP Andrea Hazell: Madam Speaker, I am so honoured and delighted to debate my first legislation in this House. It means so much to me. I would also like to acknowledge the residents up in the public gallery from Scarborough and my Scarborough–Guildwood riding for your support. I’m here, I’m your voice, I love you, and this is why I became an MPP July 26.

Madam Speaker, renting in Ontario is harder than ever. Renters from across Ontario continue to struggle, especially our low-income renters who are stuck in unaffordable units. And this number is alarming: 87% of households in the private rental market with income of $30,000 spend more than 30% of their income on shelter—unbelievable—and 24.9% of renters are in poor housing. There are 1.7 million renters in Ontario, and guess what? Thirty-eight per cent of renters are paying more than 30% of their income on rent. Fifteen per cent of renters are paying—listen to this number—more than 50% of their income in rent out of those 1.7 million renters in Ontario. A record-breaking 20,541 notices of termination of tenancy were issued over the last six years. So you can imagine parents with young kids going to sleep at night, not sure if are they going to be able to shelter their family for the next month.

And I want to say again, people are struggling every day to make ends meet in Ontario. We hear it every day. Because of the affordability crisis that we continue to pound on families, to me, the situation that we have right now with the affordability crisis and the skyrocketing of rent, we can almost cross-relate it or cross-reference it to the pandemic, because it is a crisis. This crisis will only get worse before it gets better, and I’m hoping—I’m really hoping—that it gets better before 2026 to ease the suffering of single parents, students, young people between the ages of 25 and 35, and our vulnerable seniors and, don’t forget, our low-income earners.

Ontario that I used to—it’s supposed to be a land of opportunity, where people can imagine, where people can migrate, find amazing jobs, raise their families, own their businesses, create generational wealth and assets that can be carried down from generation to generation. That’s the Ontario I came to and met in 1988. However, this is an Ontario that I never thought I would live to see, where every economic growth sector—and if you know the financial industry, every economic growth sector of Ontario is now in shambles. Because of this, I am very worried about my three children. I am worried about everyone that has children here with hopes of becoming financially independent and, one day, to become a homeowner.

Renters are having financial difficulties at the end of the month as they make really tough decisions to pay their rent, to buy food, medicine or child care—let me add this—let alone saving for their post-secondary education or even saving for their retirement. This is leading to families going to the food bank, and it’s not just families that are going to the food bank. These are young people that are in high school, elementary school, showing up at food banks in Scarborough for food, for lunch. I have seen it with my own eyes. I have served those children.

But in good faith, I wish all the best to this government’s efforts to solve the housing crisis, and I would lend my support to such measures because we know the crisis that this is causing on families in Ontario. But in the meantime, my constituents in Scarborough–Guildwood are struggling. I’ve spoken to them last week. I’ve spoken to people in the west. I’ve even spoken to renters in Etobicoke. They all have the same message. They are being squeezed out of living with their family in peace. They cannot have peace of mind.

For example, a one-bedroom at $2,076 and a two-bedroom at $2,503—this marks a 15.6% increase for one-bedroom units and a 16.5% increase for two-bedroom units, and this is year over year. Housing affordability plays a crucial role in career decisions, and this is hurting Ontario. This is going to be hurting our job skills area; it’s going to be hurting our economy, because the latest stat that was put out there is that, due to the skyrocketing cost of rent, we have over 50,000 young people between the ages of 25 and 35 who have left Ontario for better jobs and low rent rates. How do we continue as members in this House to have a brain drain in Ontario?

Urgent relief is needed. It’s not needed later; it’s needed now. That is why I have introduced the Relief for Renters Act. This bill, if enacted, would provide assistance to the 1.7 million renters in Ontario and their families. They need a break. The legislation is simple. It’s very simple. It’s a no-brainer. It’s common sense. And it can be adopted immediately.

First is a one-year rent freeze. This would lock in rents for 2025. No one would receive a rent increase for a whole year. I want to mention this because I hear in the chamber from the members opposite that they love to put money back into the pockets of Ontarians, and this is what I’m asking you to do today—to do that for 12 months until we can get the affordability crisis under control.

The second component would enact new temporary restrictions on evictions on tenants who would rent in good faith. This would permit renters to breathe a sigh of relief as they would not have to face rent increases, especially our vulnerable seniors—and I’m going to come back to our vulnerable seniors—our single parents and low-income earners. This would particularly help renters not covered under rent control—and we’ve seen what happened when rent control was taken off—who often face rent increases of over 20% year over year. That is without rent control. We’re looking at increases year over year at 20%. And keep in mind, salaries are not being increased to meet the skyrocketing rents.

Let us use an example here. Take a family of four with two young children. Their combined family income is $68,627 a year after taxes, which is the median household income in Toronto. I love to show numbers because numbers make you feel the situation. The average rent for a three-bedroom in Ontario is $2,168, although three-bedrooms currently on the market rent out for more than 50% higher than that. For the sake of this example, we will use $2,168. Housing would currently cost this family nearly 40% of their income—nearly 40%. That is unsustainable for a family hoping to provide a quality, middle-class life for their kids. So that 20% increase would be $433 a month for that family—$5,203 a year in rent increase for that family. Numbers do not lie.


It is not just families who are struggling. It is our seniors who are on fixed incomes. Many have had to go back to the workforce. We are asking our 70, 71, 72 to 75s to go back into the workforce to supplement their income. How is that okay?

We’ve got students in college and university, too. They are working around the clock and studying full-time to be able to put a roof over their heads. Our children—well, my children, so I’m going to use myself as an example. We encourage our children to attend school and obtain a higher education, to find work following education, and then to rent, to become financially independent before becoming homeowners and having their own family. This was the Ontario I knew, we all knew, but under the Conservatives, that is not the Ontario my children know.

I remember the feeling of hope I felt moving here for the first time. It breaks my heart that new arrivals don’t experience that same privilege. This issue is even more severe with our international students, lured here by the promise of a best-in-class education. Instead, they’re unable to work full-time, have no family here to rely on and are forced into unsafe, crammed, unlicensed rooming houses for the sake of everyone in our province.

The housing crisis must be addressed urgently. There is a track record for such a measure; this very government introduced a rent freeze during the pandemic. They did it once before, and now I ask them to support this legislation and do it again. For the millions of renters in this province, let’s pass this bill and bring our Ontario renters much-needed relief. Let’s put the money back into the renter’s pocket.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Further debate?

Mr. Matthew Rae: It’s a pleasure to rise here this evening to speak to the member from Scarborough–Guildwood’s private member’s public bill, Bill 163, Relief for Renters Act, 2024. I just want to congratulate her on her first private member’s bill in this place. I know it takes a lot of work to put those together, so I appreciate her efforts in that.

Bill 163 proposes to amend the Residential Tenancies Act—RTA, as most people know it—“to provide for a residential rent freeze for the calendar year 2025, subject to specified exceptions”—so the exceptions part, I want to highlight, Speaker—“and to provide that no landlord shall terminate a tenancy under section 48 or 49 of the act during the same period, subject to specified exceptions.”

This piece of legislation, if passed, would prevent a landlord from terminating a tenancy in accordance with section 48 or 49 of the RTA. So for those who may not be aware here this evening of what section 48 of the RTA is, this is what currently is in the legislation:

“A landlord may, by notice, terminate a tenancy if the landlord in good faith requires” the residential occupancy “for a period of at least one year by,

“(a) the landlord;

“(b) the landlord’s spouse;

“(c) a child or parent of the landlord or the landlord’s spouse;”

Section 49 of the RTA:

“A landlord of a residential complex that contains no more than three residential units who has entered into an agreement of purchase and sale of the residential complex may, on behalf of the purchaser, give the tenant of a unit in the residential complex a notice terminating the tenancy, if the purchaser”—obviously—“in good faith requires possession of the residential complex or the unit for the purpose of residential occupation by,

“(a) the purchaser;

“(b) the purchaser’s spouse;

“(c) a child or parent of the purchaser or the purchaser’s spouse;”

I highlight those two key aspects, Speaker, because it’s disappointing that the member opposite did not consider the implications of her piece of legislation, specifically around 48 and 49. The RTA recognizes that the owner or purchaser of a rental unit may require the property for their accommodation needs. Existing provisions in the act prevent the misuse of these grounds for evictions, which can only be ordered by the Landlord and Tenant Board, the LTB. In fact, if passed, this bill would most likely lead to an increase in eviction applications, with landlords attempting to avoid these provisions before they become effective 2025. In addition, it may lead to an increase in residential properties being sold on the market to allow potential buyers to occupy the unit before the enforcement moratorium would take effect. It would achieve exactly the opposite of what the member for Scarborough Guildwood is hoping to achieve. It will not protect tenants and will lead to more evictions.

If this was bill was in force a few short years ago, it would have actually prevented me from purchasing my first home. I, like many in Ontario, worked hard, saved up for a very modest down payment and was able to purchase a home. I purchased a home that was previously rented out by the previous owner, and obviously the process to purchase and take possession of such a property is longer, 90 days in the RTA, which is significantly longer compared to normal closing agreements if it’s not rented out. A landlord obviously must provide the tenant notice of this, using an N2 or an N12 form to evict the tenant, if the landlord or purchaser of the unit or their close family member or caregiver intend to move into the rental unit. If the landlord has given the tenant notice of termination to end the tenancy, the landlord must compensate the tenant in an amount equal to one month’s rent or offer the tenant another unit of acceptable value to the tenant.

Under the RTA, every tenant facing eviction has the right to a hearing at the LTB, and terminating a tenancy requires an order from the LTB. And there are any additional specific requirements for landlords or purchasers to follow.

Speaker, our government will continue to take a balanced approach, one that supports the construction of more rental housing, which ultimately leads to more affordable rents while also ensuring the vast majority of rental units in Ontario right now remain under rent control—the vast majority.

Our government has brought forward two pieces of legislation to specifically protect tenants: Bill 184, Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020, and Bill 97, Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act, 2023. These pieces of legislation strengthened the protections against evictions due to renovations, demolitions and conversions, as well as those for landlords’ own use. We also doubled the maximum fines under the RTA 2006, bringing them to $100,000 for individuals and half a million for corporations—the toughest fines in Canada.

As I mentioned earlier, the vast majority of people in rental units in Ontario are under rent control. In fact, we have the lowest rent increase guidelines in the country—lower than the NDP government in BC.

Our government knows that the number one case of rental unaffordability is the lack of supply, and to improve rental affordability we need to increase the supply of available rental units. To do this, last year our government called upon the federal Liberal government to remove the HST on purpose-built rentals in Ontario, and after almost a year of us lobbying the federal government to meet us at the table on this, it was great to see, last fall, that the federal government agreed to remove their portion of the HST on purpose-built rentals, and our government followed suit as quickly as we could after that, Speaker.

Under our government’s More Homes Built Faster legislation, purpose-built rental developments are now eligible for up to a 25% discount in development charges for three-bedroom family-sized units. These changes, among others, have led to the highest starts of purpose-built rentals in our province’s history.

Our balanced approach is supporting the construction of more rental housing. Last year, for the second year in a row, we saw the highest level of purpose-built rental housing starts in Ontario’s history, at nearly 19,000, topping last year’s previous record high of 15,000—at the same time that we’re ensuring the vast majority of rental units remain under rent control.


Our government will continue to take a balanced approach to ensure we protect tenants and continue to build on our historic purpose-built rental housing starts. I know the member opposite, obviously, as a parent, has concerns for her children going forward. I can tell the member opposite, she can rest assured an Ontario PC government will get homes and rental units built.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Further debate?

Ms. Jessica Bell: I’m proud to be in the House this evening to speak to the member for Scarborough–Guildwood’s bill to bring in a rent freeze for 2025. These are measures we support because the housing crisis is hurting renters first and worst.

I want to give you a snapshot of the state of housing in Ontario today. The Conservatives—you’ve been in power for six years now and it has never been more expensive to own a home or to rent a home. That’s this government’s legacy. Rent is at a record high. The average asking rent in Canada reached $2,196 in January, a 10% increase from this time last year.

And when I go and look—I went to rentals.ca and I looked at the price of rent in specific cities—it is cities in Ontario that are in the top 10. They’re cities in Ontario. We’ve got Toronto, Ontario: The average asking price for a one-bedroom is $2,495. That is so much money. We’ve got Mississauga, $2,294; Oakville, $2,268; Etobicoke, $2,255; Scarborough, $2,195. It doesn’t matter where you go; the high rent follows you. There’s nowhere in this city, there’s nowhere in this province, where you can find an affordable place to rent anymore. And that’s especially the case in cities and towns that have high employment rates, where the jobs are, because that’s where people are going. It is very, very difficult to be a renter today.

And we’re seeing this in other statistics. A recent Star report came out last year that showed that in Toronto one in five people living in purpose-built rentals fell behind on their rent—one in five. I can’t even imagine the fear of having a family and falling behind on your rent and not knowing if you were going to be evicted or not. Can you imagine that? It would be awful. That is the reality for far too many people in Ontario today. Children are going hungry. Parents are falling behind on their bills. Multiple families are living in overcrowded apartments—students are living in overcrowded apartments—because they cannot afford to pay the rent.

Recently, we organized a fundraiser for a food bank in our riding. We raised about two and a half thousand dollars—our riding association did. And when I spoke to the coordinator of that food bank—it was the Spadina–Fort York food bank—she had a terrible story to tell, and I’m sure you hear it in your ridings, too. The number of people that are using that food bank is going through the roof. It’s not just people on Ontario Works or Ontario disability now; it’s people who are working full time, single parents, seniors. The difficulty people are having in paying their bills is getting harder and harder. When people look at what the highest expense is, it’s rent—it’s rent. This government talks a good talk about how they want to make things affordable, but the number one expense for the vast majority of people in Ontario today is how much they are paying to rent a home, and it has gone up and up.

My riding is a very mixed riding. We have a lot of students. We have a lot of people on low six-figure incomes who work in the health care sector, in the public sector. And we regularly get calls from people who you wouldn’t expect would be having difficulty paying the rent, but they are.

We got a recent call from someone. She works in the finance sector. She’s single. She pays $1,995 a month for a 600-square-foot basement apartment. Can you imagine, $1,995 for a 600-square-foot basement apartment? Her landlord is trying to economically evict her because he wants her to pay an extra $200 a month. And he’s doing the exact same thing to the people who live above her, a family, where the landlord is wanting to raise the rent by another $400-a-month rent hike. That is happening all across our city; it’s happening all across Ontario, and people cannot make it work.

There is a reason why, when you look at immigration numbers, people are choosing to move out of this province to other provinces, and it’s because they cannot afford to live here anymore. They’re taking their skills and their talents with them: people in the trades, people in the health care sector, people in the tech sector, people in the finance sector. People we need to stay here: child care workers, education workers. They’re going.

Just recently, I had a call with St. Alban’s child care centre. They’re a child care centre in my riding. They’re part of the affordable $10-a-day child care program. They’re looking at leaving the program. I spoke to the manager of St. Alban’s, and she said, “One of the reasons why we have so much difficulty in staying a part of this affordable daycare program is because we can’t raise parent fees and we cannot afford to raise the salaries of people who work in our child care centre.” And they’ve had more turnover in the last year than they have had in the previous 25 years. They can’t keep people. When she asks her staff, “Why are you leaving?” they say, “I can’t afford to live in Toronto anymore. It’s too expensive. I can’t afford to find a place to rent and I’ve given up on the dream of home ownership.” And so they’re moving. It’s affecting our workforce.

I’ve now had this job for six years. It’s quite a long time. My hair is going grey. It was going grey before, but now it’s really going grey.

Ms. Jennifer K. French: Hey, I feel you.

Ms. Jessica Bell: Yes, I know, and there are some of us here. It’s okay. I’m okay with it.

But it does mean that I have been following very closely what the Conservatives have been doing on the housing file for some time. And what I see is a whole list of policies that aren’t making our housing sector affordable. They’re just not. I look at—I mean, gosh, there are so many things to look at. I look at the latest National Bank of Canada report. It shows that you need to earn $205,000 a year to afford an average home in Toronto. That’s the top 5% of income earners—MPP salary, no way; not even a federal MP salary. You can’t make it work.

We are allowing—this government is allowing investors to dominate the market, and it is pricing out first-time homebuyers who cannot compete. And they just want one home. They don’t want six; they just want one. That’s it. I think that’s a shame.

I also look at what the government is doing on meeting the housing targets that all parties have set for themselves: 1.5 million homes for Ontarians over the next 10 years. And what we see is that this government even still has difficulty doing the measures that we need to take to build the kind of homes that people want to live in, that meet the real housing shortages that we have in Ontario: affordable housing, seniors’ housing, student housing, starter housing for first-time homebuyers, housing where people can downsize. That’s where the real gaps are, not 500-square-foot micro units. That’s not where the issue is.

I still see this government has so much difficulty in saying yes to ending exclusionary zoning—so much difficulty. Everybody on this side supports these policies—

Mr. Dave Smith: No, we don’t.

Ms. Catherine Fife: Not this guy.

Ms. Jessica Bell: Come on. You can do it. You can do it—maybe not you. I see that this government has eliminated rent control on all new buildings. As a result of eliminating rent control on new buildings, we get calls from tenants who have moved into an apartment and then the landlord is economically evicting them because they can raise the rent by $1,000 a month. There’s no rent control. What that means is that these tenants are too scared to complain, because they’re worried their landlord is going to say, “Out you go.” I think that’s a shame. There was a recent op-ed that came out. I really enjoyed reading it. I’m going to send it to some of you, Matthew Rae in particular—sorry for naming you by name. Sorry for naming you.

What was very clear about this op-ed is that it dispelled the myth that rent control stymies the construction of new purpose-built rental housing. And it didn’t just look at, okay, there is one little study in one little city over here where all the conditions were all right—no, no, no. It said, “Let’s take 50 years of CMHC housing data and compare cities with rent control and no rent control.” It’s pretty clear: There is no evidence that rent control limits housing construction—50 years of housing data, comprehensive study. This government is like, “No, no, no. Let’s get rid of rent control.”


Of all the things this government has done, one of the things that really doesn’t sit right with me is this government’s failure to build affordable housing. With Bill 23, this government cut millions and millions of dollars from affordable housing and shelters in cities and towns all across Ontario. That money hasn’t been made up.

No affordable housing has been built under Bill 23, even though this government promised it—not one. You haven’t even enacted the laws. There’s no affordable housing definition, there’s no attainable housing definition, and the laws aren’t even in force. Not one developer has taken advantage of that program, because you did all the press releases on it, but then you didn’t put the laws into force. I think that’s a shame.

Then, I see we’ve got the new Ontario Line and we’ve got inclusionary zoning. This government is sitting on inclusionary zoning. They’re not allowing cities to move forward with requiring developers to do their fair share and build some affordable homes in big new condos in big new purpose-built rentals. Other cities have done it, and this government cannot bring itself to allow the city of Toronto to do it. I think that is a shame and a massive loss of opportunity.

I want to conclude by saying this: A rent freeze is needed. It is important. People are paying too much to rent. We also need vacancy control so there’s a cap on how much the rent can be raised between tenancies. It is the single most effective thing that we can do to make housing affordable for the 1.7 million people in Ontario who rent. It’s the single most effective thing we can do.

Rent control is one of the most effective things that we can do to clamp down on investor-led speculation and help first-time home buyers get their first home. It means they can save because their rent is more affordable, and it means when they go out and they want to buy that home, they can compete, and they can get that home. They can make that bid. They can get that callback saying, “You’re going to have a massive mortgage now, and you can move in.” That’s what people want to do; they want to have that dream. They want to keep it alive.

I support this motion, and I urge this government to support this motion as well.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Further debate? Further debate?

Mr. John Fraser: I’ll go.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Member from Ottawa South.

Mr. John Fraser: It’s a pleasure to speak to my colleague’s Bill 163. I want to congratulate her for bringing it forward.

Before I get started, I’ve got a story. I heard the Premier say today, after my colleague asked him a question, that he was coming to take her riding. I just want to remind him, if he’s listening right now, that he was in Scarborough–Guildwood three times, and they poured tons of resources in, and they weren’t able to take it. So good luck to you, sir; good luck to you. I think you’ve got bigger fish to fry.

About three months ago, I called my pharmacist. There’s a lady who works at the pharmacy who I’ve known for years, a very nice lady. I’ve probably known her for 25 or 30 years. I knew her before I was elected. I knew her when I was working in the grocery business. I don’t think I knew her when I was a teenager, because that’s longer than 30 years ago. I’m talking to her, and she doesn’t sound right. I say, “What’s wrong?” She says, “I don’t know what I’m going to do.” I say, “What do you mean?” She says, “Well, my landlord is telling me she’s increasing the rent by this much. Otherwise, she’s going to move in. I don’t know where I’m going to go because I can’t pay that.” She’s crying: “I don’t know where I’m going to go.” I didn’t know what to say to her. I couldn’t say anything to her, other than, “I feel really bad that that’s happening to you.”

My colleague from Orléans had a similar story about the Promenade in Orléans, which is a retirement home. In that place, there are increases of $1,000 a month. They’re coming back to people—$800 to $1,000 a month—and saying, “If you don’t pay this, you’re out. You’re going to lose your home.” If you guys are calling long-term-care beds homes, then I guess a two-bedroom apartment in a retirement home is a home. So there’s a problem.

I heard the member from Perth–Wellington, and I accept some of those arguments. But here’s the thing: Because there’s no rent control on anything built after 2018 or if a tenant moves out, and because there’s a shortage of places for people to live, people are now using personal evictions and renovictions as a way to get away from rent control. We all know that; it’s obvious. So what are we going to do about it? Nothing?

Maybe what the member has put forward needs some tuning up. I think we need to talk about renovictions. But we can’t turn our heads away from it and say, “Well, no, that’s not a problem.” It is a problem. It’s a problem in my riding; it’s a problem in your riding, in everyone’s riding here in this Legislature. Unless we start to address how these evictions are being used to get around rent control, we’re not really helping people.

The member makes a very good point about a rent freeze. The government found its way, during the pandemic, to ensure that people weren’t evicted, weren’t pushed out of their homes, could afford to live. It was important. It was a pandemic; it was a crisis. It was the right thing for the government to do. There is a crisis right now. It may not be a medical crisis. We may not have to lock down or distance, but it’s a financial crisis that the government talks about all the time. They talk about it all the time.

The way that they want to address this financial crisis, this affordability crisis, is to write another letter to the Prime Minister: “Let’s write another letter to the Prime Minister.” I’m going to start calling the Premier a man of letters.

Ms. Catherine Fife: That’s a stretch.

Mr. John Fraser: That’s what it is; it’s true. When, in fact, you have the tools available to you, like a rent freeze, to ensure that we can somehow get this situation under control—that’s what the bill is all about. I encourage all members to consider that when it comes to voting on this bill.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): The member now has two minutes for reply.

MPP Andrea Hazell: First, I want to say thank you to my colleagues for having my back and being here with me today. Thank you for the residents from Scarborough–Guildwood again for being here and seeing me debate this very urgent and important bill.

I’m saying it again—I have 1.49 minutes—1.7 million renters are renting in Ontario. They could be your cousins; they could be your sisters; they could be your aunt. They could be someone who is retired and now in the nursing home, or they’re renting, and they have their fixed income and they cannot afford to pay their rent. Let’s have the backs of our young people who have now graduated and are having a hard time finding a job and don’t know where their next paycheque is coming from to pay for their rent. There are adults who are one paycheque away from going homeless.

I’m asking you today, if you have that beating heart in your soul, to save Ontarians who have worked so hard and paid taxes in this country, in Ontario, to make this Ontario a greater place. Let’s give them back some hope so that when they sleep at night, they can wake up with peace of mind in the morning.

Also, what I want to add is that while we are here in this chamber, we’re fortunate. We’re lucky to be here. Maybe that’s why the opposite members don’t really think much about those who are really suffering in Ontario, who can’t afford to pay their rent. But I’m asking you: This is a reality. It’s urgent. It’s like a pandemic. It can be related to the pandemic. Let’s help our Ontarians who are suffering.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): The time for private members’ public business has expired.

MPP Hazell has moved second reading of Bill 163, An Act to amend the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.


All those in favour, please say “aye.”

Those who oppose, please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the nays have it.

A recorded vote being required, it will be deferred until the next instance of deferred votes.

Second reading vote deferred.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Pursuant to standing order 36, the question that this House do now adjourn is deemed to have been made.

Adjournment Debate

Public transit

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): The member for University–Rosedale has given notice of dissatisfaction with the answer to the question given by the Minister of Infrastructure. The member has up to five minutes to debate the matter, and the parliamentary assistant may reply for up to five minutes.

I recognize the member from University–Rosedale.

Ms. Jessica Bell: I decided to request a late show tonight, because I was dissatisfied with the answer that the Minister of Infrastructure gave to my very easy-to-answer questions this morning. And I want to summarize what these questions are. They’re about building affordable housing near transit.

The first question was that we have recently learned that the Conservatives are failing to build enough affordable housing along the Ontario Line. An excellent advocacy group called Housing Now did a review of how many affordable homes have been committed in new developments that are affiliated with the Ontario Line, and they uncovered some pretty shocking numbers. They have uncovered that of the 13,000 homes that are scheduled to be built along the line as part of this government program—some of them are getting access to build above a transit station or near a transit station, which means they are getting access to public land. And of those 13,000 homes scheduled to be built, only 213 of them are required to be affordable. We don’t even know what that definition of affordability is. It’s only at one station, the East Harbour station.

My question to the government is, can this government commit to building more affordable housing near transit? The answer that I got from the Minister of Infrastructure avoided the question completely. The Minister of Infrastructure talked on and on about their transit record, which is a bit rich, given that Toronto and the GTHA has some of the worst commute times in North America. When we’re talking about fixing transit in Ontario, we are falling very far behind.

The second question I had for the Minister of Infrastructure is very related. I raised the issue of the government refusing to allow the city of Toronto to move forward with inclusionary zoning. Now, Toronto, over two years ago, came up with a plan to require all new big developments—we’re talking 100 units or more—have a percentage of affordable homes allocated to them, starting at about 10%. So that means if you’re building a condo of 100 homes, 10 of those homes would be required to be affordable. The developer is given the opportunity to build near a transit station and get the price markup for doing that. They also need to contribute, to share that benefit and have some affordable homes in that new development. It was a policy that was debated for months at the city of Toronto. We had developers come in. We had city planners come in. We had stakeholders come in, and citizens. And the city did extensive work with economists to work out how we can make sure the developers maintained their fair share of profits, and also that they contribute and they build some affordable housing. The numbers were crunched, figures were identified. The law was passed called inclusionary zoning.

Over two years later, the city has submitted over 104 requests to this government to require developers build some affordable housing and build new buildings near transit, and not a single request has been approved—not a single request. Over that time, developers have submitted their applications to build big developments near transit, and they don’t have to build any affordable housing.

United Way did a bit of a deep dive to look at how many affordable homes we could have built if we passed that policy and if this government approved that policy when they were supposed to, and we would have been on track to build 6,000 affordable homes already. I think that is a massive, massive lost opportunity, and I don’t want us to continue to miss out on that opportunity. So I asked the government a very practical question: When are the Conservatives going to get out of the way and allow the city of Toronto to move ahead with requiring developers build some affordable housing in big developments near transit? The answer I got was nonsensical. It had nothing to do with—I don’t even think the Minister of Infrastructure used the word “affordable.” I’m not even sure if she used the word “home.”

So why I called a late show is that I would like a reasonable answer to these very reasonable questions. What are you going to do? And what is your plan to build affordable housing near transit?

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): Further debate? I recognize the member from Brampton West.

Mr. Amarjot Sandhu: I appreciate everyone staying late. In response to the member opposite’s questions, I would like to emphasize the undeniable facts. Our government was elected with a clear mandate to prioritize the development of critical infrastructure, and our government is committing a historic $185 billion over the next decade, including $20.7 billion in 2023-24, to build highways, transit, hospitals, long-term-care homes, schools, child care spaces and further critical infrastructure needed to keep Ontario strong.

Madam Speaker, after years of political gridlock and unnecessary delays, our government is taking decisive action to address the pressing transportation needs of GTA commuters. By introducing the Ontario Line, we anticipate a staggering 400,000 passengers daily, helping to alleviate the overcrowding on our already strained subway lines. Let me say that again: The commute for 400,000 transit riders will be significantly more convenient with the construction of the Ontario Line.

Furthermore, this new transit line is projected to generate over $11 billion in economic benefits, while simultaneously creating 4,700 well-paying jobs each year, with the potential for even more in the future.

Our government is also building other various transit projects, such as the Finch West LRT, which will offer 11 kilometres of dedicated light rail transit with 18 stops. This transit line will connect people to jobs and their families while making transportation more convenient to people in the GTA. This project will also provide essential links to TTC Line 1, York and Peel regional transit.

Additionally, our government is working on the Yonge North subway extension, which will span across the city of Toronto and York region, including sections in Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan. This extension will not only create thousands of jobs during construction, but also generate $3.6 billion in total economic benefits. It will promote economic and community growth along the future transit line, offering job opportunities with 22,900 more jobs with a 10-minute walk to a station.

Madam Speaker, let’s not forget about the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, a 19-kilometre corridor with 25 stops connecting to 54 bus routes, easing congestion by accommodating 5,500 passengers during peak hours. Alongside these lines, we’ll be implementing transit-oriented communities at certain stops.

Through this TOC program, we are engaging on 20 sites across 12 future stations. We’re also moving forward on GO and LRT sites to create transit-oriented communities at new and existing stations. So far, through TOCs, we’re planning to build 54,000 residential units to support growing communities and ensuring these future residents have immediate access to transit. The province is also exploring options for affordable housing at these sites. However, since these TOC sites are still in the early planning stages, the exact number of affordable housing units is yet to be finalized. Collaboration will continue between the province, the city of Toronto, York region and other stakeholders to provide community benefits, public spaces and potentially affordable housing at these forthcoming sites.

Madam Speaker, further on affordable housing, let’s talk about the track record of the opposition. It’s worth noting that the members on the other side voted against removing development charge fees on homeowners for affordable homes. Unlike those members, our government believes that non-profit and affordable housing providers should not be burdened with excessive red tape and skyrocketing costs.

That is why we have eliminated excessive development charges on affordable homes. We’re already witnessing progress across the province, with shovels hitting the ground and projects moving forward, due to our changes.

Madam Speaker, unlike the members on the other side, our government recognizes that the lack of supply is the main driver of unaffordability throughout the province. Our balanced approach supports the construction of various types of homes, including rental housing and affordable houses. This is how we will tackle the housing supply crisis.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Patrice Barnes): There being no further matters to debate, pursuant to standing order 36(c), I deem the motion to adjourn to be carried.

This House stands adjourned until 9 a.m. tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 1851.