Ontario, home to some of the country’s hottest real estate markets, is introducing legislation it says will make it easier to buy a home.
The province wants to crack down on speculators, protect buyers from predatory development practices, and get more homes built faster.
Ontario Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark introduced The More Homes for Everyone Act which was built on the Housing Affordability Task Force report and the Provincial-Municipal Housing Summit. Though the bill doesn’t act on many of those recommendations, Clark called it a “roadmap for the future” in a press conference Wednesday.
“Ontario is the best place to live, start a business and raise a family, but we can only build on our success if all hardworking Ontarians and their families are able to find the home they need and want,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford in a release.
“As Ontario’s population and our economy continue to grow, building more homes is another way that we’re keeping costs down for families across the province.”
The bill increases Ontario’s foreign buyer tax from 15 per cent to 20 per cent, and expands it to include all of Ontario instead of just the Golden Horseshoe area. Rebates will be available to new permanent residents.
“Ontario families and homebuyers should be the first priority for housing in our province, not foreign speculators looking to turn a profit,” said Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy during a news conference.
It will also work with municipalities to crack down on land speculation.
Fines will be doubled and licences will be suspended to address cases that the province sees as unethical conduct by developers like cancelling projects to increase the price of their units.
“Any time an Ontarian provides a deposit for a pre-construction project, if that project were to be properly cancelled, that they would not be losing their hard-earned money and would be able to earn interest at the Bank of Canada interest rate,” said Ontario Consumer Services Minister Ross Romano during a news conference.
A Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator is intended to help municipalities speed up approvals for housing and community infrastructure, like hospitals and community centres. The province says this will not be used in the Greenbelt.
The Ontario Land Tribunal and the Landlord and Tenant Board get $19 million to help reduce their backlogs.
The province is also looking at ways to increase ‘the missing middle’ housing and increase density, as well as community housing.
Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.