OTTAWA, ON (October 25, 2022): Today, the government of Ontario announced an important new housing initiative that represents a major shift in addressing Canada’s housing crisis. Many recommendations from Macdonald-Laurier Institute experts have made their way into this new legislation.
First and foremost, the Ontario government’s plan recognizes that the root cause of high prices is a lack of supply due to overburdensome fees, regulations, zoning restrictions, time-consuming application processes, and more. These are precisely the challenges that authors Murtaza Haider and Stephen Moranis identified in a 2021 MLI paper titled Hitting too close to home: Lack of supply and the housing affordability crisis in Canada.
To address this challenge, Ontario has proposed freezing, reducing, and exempting certain development charges and fees levied on new home construction, particularly as they pertain to affordable housing, non-profit housing, and inclusionary zoning units. The government also intends to streamline development approvals to reduce net costs passed on to consumers. Its plan aims to remove certain zoning barriers that prevent new homes from being built, particularly as it relates to densification in high-demand areas such as near transit hubs.
These changes directly reflect the recommendations made by MLI authors and experts.
In a recent op-ed in the National Post, MLI Domestic Policy Program Director Aaron Wudrick recommended reducing development charges, undermining exclusionary zoning practices, tackling delaying measures, and undermining the ability of “NIMBY” activists to throw up hurdles to increasing the housing supply. Haider and Moranis argued that jurisdictional gridlock between different levels of government would need to be resolved, particularly through leadership of higher levels of government, to tackle the supply shortages.
The Ontario government’s moves appear to have adopted all of Wudrick’s recommendations and reflect the broad strokes of the strategy articulated by Haider and Moranis.
“Ontario’s new housing legislation underlines the vital role that think tanks like MLI play in shaping public policy,” notes MLI Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley. “We bring to bear the best insights from Canada’s top policy thinkers to help in the development of policies that are in the interest of Canadians. And, as evidenced by today’s announcement, we get those ideas noticed by governments, media, and the general public.
“MLI welcomes the government of Ontario’s decision to adopt the policies and approach to policy-making that our experts have recommended, and we are always ready to assist governments in Canada in developing the right policies for Canadians.”
Even so, there is much more to be done. As Haider and Moranis suggested in their 2021 paper, the crisis is acute in certain municipalities and provinces, but Canada more broadly has a serious housing supply shortage.
The authors point out that if Ottawa is interested in tackling the web of restrictions, delaying tools, fees, and other supply-limiting policies, the federal government should use its spending power to induce lower levels of government to adopt policies that reduce regulatory barriers and speed up approval processes for private investment in housing.
The federal government’s Housing Accelerator Fund has the potential to affect such a change. MLI’s experts will continue to encourage the federal government to assist provinces and municipalities in addressing Canada’s chronic housing shortage.
For more information, media are invited to contact:
613-482-8327 ext. 111