Government Proposing Development Charge Exemption for Secondary Units

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the Ministry of Housing are proposing an exemption from development charges for secondary suites in new homes. The proposed regulatory change is designed to help increase the supply and range of affordable housing in Ontario.

Find more information about this proposal here. Interested parties have until June 9th to submit comments or concerns.


New Report on Rethinking Social Assistance

A new report, published by the Mowat Centre, argues that patterns in Canada’s labour market are creating a growing number of Canadians with little or no attachment to our country’s social architecture. The report questions the extent to which Canada’s social architecture is suited to the new realities of work, including automation, the rise of short-term contracts and the “gig” economy. Within this context, millions of Canadians could lose their jobs to automation, or see their full-time positions replaced with short-term contracts. Unless policy makers embrace transformational changes to our social safety net, many of our social policies and programs will prove inadequate to meet these challenges, which could place an enormous strain on governments at all three levels.

The fissures in existing social programs
and policies are already evident, whether it
is unemployed workers ineligible for EI, a shortage of affordable childcare spaces or barriers to accessing mental health services
and pharmaceuticals. As more people enter
the gig economy of self-employed, independent contractors or lose out to automation, their place within Canada’s social architecture will become even more tenuous.


Read the full report here.

Government of Ontario Tables Fall Economic Statement

Today the Government of Ontario tabled its fall economic statement, which was full of measures designed to address the high cost of housing for first time homeowners. Under the government’s new plan first time homebuyers would be exempted from paying the Land Transfer Tax (LTT) on the first $368,000 of the cost of their first home, while the LTT refund would be expanded from $2,000 to $4,000. According to the government the costs of these new exemptions will be paid for by increasing the LTT on properties sold for more than $2 million.

Updates with Local Government Implications: 

  • Updates to the business property tax capping program that give municipalities the option to limit the program to historic changes, and broaden the eligibility criteria for the phase our of the capping program. This change should be in effect for the 2017 tax year
  • A freeze on the property tax rates on apartment buildings.
  •  Creating a new Financial Services Regulatory Authority that will act independently of the government
  • A pledge to keep consulting with municipalities about the sharing economy

Other Highlights: 

  • $1.1 billion in funding for schools to address much-need repair and upgrades
  • A ban on door-to-door sales of water heaters, air conditions, furnaces, and water filters
  • Passing legislation to licence and set the qualifications for home inspectors
  • Eliminating fees for special occasion permits allowing the sale of beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages
  • A new dementia strategy to enhance services for people newly diagnosed or living with dementia and their caregivers
  • Investing $32.4 million over four years in the Scale-Up Voucher Program to help companies overcome barriers to their next stage of growth

Fiscal Outlook: 

The government is sticking with its pledge to balance the budget by 2017-18 and keep it balanced for the 2018-19 cycle. The deficit for 2016-17 will remain at $4.3 billion (same as the 2016 budget projection), while the province’s net debt for the same period is projected to be $317.9 billion.




For more:

Building Ontario Up for Everyone: 2016 Ontario Economic and Fiscal Review 

Backgrounders for Housing, Balancing the Budget, Healthcare, Economic Development, Infrastructure Retirement Security, and others 

Government Consulting on Basic Income Pilot

The government is looking for feedback as it designs a new basic income pilot project. This pilot project is meant to test whether or not a basic income is a more effective way of lifting people out of poverty than the province’s current social security infrastructure. The government is specifically looking for feedback from those with lived experience with poverty, experts, academics, and municipalities. Those interested in participating in the design of this pilot project can do so in the following ways:

More information on this consultation can be found here.

Province Announces New Investments in Housing and Homelessness

The government announced yesterday that it is increasing its investments to help municipalities work with individuals and families to find safe and affordable housing. The government is investing an additional $15 million in the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI), bringing its annual contribution to $338.7 million by 2019-2020.

For more:

News Release: Province Combating Homelessness in Ontario Communities 

Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative 

Does the Land Transfer Tax Impact Housing Sales?

New research, from the Institute of Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG), examines the impact of the City of Toronto’s decision in 2008 to introduce a Land Transfer Tax (LTT). It argues that the decline in housing sales in 2008 was more of a function of the global recession that began that year, than the city’s decision to apply a LTT to real estate transactions.

Previous research has shown that housing sales declined in Toronto once the City imposed the land transfer tax. This study, however, concludes that the negative impact of the tax on housing sales was statistically insignificant…

Read the full paper here.

Ontario Government Releases Proposed Regulations for Inclusionary Zoning

Last week the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) released a proposal for inclusionary zoning regulations under the Planning Act. Inclusionary zoning is a policy tool that requires affordable units be included in new residential developments. This regulatory proposal is part (Schedule 4) of Bill 204, the Promoting Affordable Housing Act, which was introduced and received first reading on May 18th, 2016. If passed, the regulations would establish a framework to allow municipalities to pass inclusionary zoning by-laws. The regulations would also provide regulatory authority on related matters to the Minister of MMAH.

Key elements of the proposed framework include:

  • allowing municipalities to determine where and how inclusionary zoning applies through official plan policies and zoning by-laws, subject to the requirements of the proposed legislation and potential regulations
  • prohibiting appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board from municipal inclusionary zoning official plan policies and zoning by-laws, except appeals made by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
  • disallowing municipalities to accept money in lieu of inclusionary zoning units or allow the units to be built on off-site lands
  • requiring municipalities to establish a procedure for ensuring that inclusionary zoning units remain affordable over time
  • requiring owners of inclusionary zoning units to enter into agreements with the municipality, which may be registered against the land and can be enforced against subsequent owners to keep the unit affordable
  • restricting municipalities from using section 37 (density bonusing) in addition to inclusionary zoning requirements, except in circumstances outlined by regulations

Interested stakeholders have until August 16, 2016 to provide comments using the MMAH Feedback Form, Environmental Bill of Rights Registry, by email to, or write to:
Provincial Planning Policy Branch
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
777 Bay Street, 13th Floor,
Toronto ON M5G 2E5

For more:
Proposed regulations under the Planning Act
Environmental Registry Regulation Proposal Notice
Inclusionary Zoning Consultation Discussion Guide
Planning Act
Bill 204 – proposed Promoting Affordable Housing Act, 2016
Backgrounder Proposed Amendments to Promote Affordable Housing

Government Announces New Funding for Energy Retrofits and Social Housing

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change announced today that over the next four years, the province will be investing up to $900 million from cap and trade proceeds into energy retrofits. The full funding will be divided into $500 million for a retrofit program offering efficient and renewable energy technologies for social housing, and up to $400 million for an incentive program offering grants and rebates for private residential multi-tenant buildings to buy energy efficient technologies. This is an expansion of the Green Investment Fund and part of Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan which is set to be released this summer.

For more:

News Release: Ontario Investing up to $900M in Energy Retrofits for Social Housing, Private Residential Apartment Buildings

Ontario’s Climate Change Strategy

Ontario’s Green Investment Fund

Ontario’s Long-term Energy Plan

Ontario Introduces Affordable Housing Legislation

Yesterday the government introduced the Promoting Affordable Housing Act, which if passed would amend four pieces of provincial legislation by:

  • Giving municipalities the option of implementing inclusionary zoning
  • Making secondary suites in new homes less costly, by exempting them from development charges
  • Providing local service managers more flexibility to administer and deliver social housing
  • Reforming tenant rights to prevent unnecessary evictions from social housing, and modernizing how rental property standards are enforced
  • Requiring Service Managers to conduct local enumeration to count people who are homeless in their communities

The introduction of this bill comes two months after the government updated the Long-term Affordable Housing Strategy.

For more:

Bill 204, Promoting Affordable Housing Act 

Backgrounder: Proposed Amendments to Promote Affordable Housing 

Long-term Affordable Housing Strategy 

Frank Clayton and Geoff Shwartz, “Is Inclusionary Zoning a Needed Tool for Providing Affordable Housing in the Greater Golden Horseshoe?” 

Wellesley Institute, “Inclusionary Zoning” 

City of Toronto, “Ahead of the Curve, Preparing for Inclusionary Zoning in the City of Toronto”