Improving housing attainability for all Ontarians

Wearing new shoes on budget day is a unique ritual among Finance Ministers in Ontario. It’s a time-honoured tradition, and perhaps even adds a spring to their step. Either way, it is a key indication that the provincial budget is about to be delivered and that the province will indicate its priorities for the year ahead. 

As the Ontario Finance Minister prepares the provincial budget, there are numerous considerations that go into the document. Changes to spending, policy and programs all impact our province and the new-home construction sector. For many Ontarians, a key priority remains the attainability of housing and increasing supply so that more individuals and families can find a home. While significant changes to increase supply are critical, there are also fiscal options available to the provincial government that can dramatically increase housing attainability. 

There are key fiscal measures that should be considered to help put the dream of homeownership back within reach of more Ontarians. These recommendations include several policy options available to the provincial government, which would have a meaningful impact on restoring attainability over the long term and providing more housing options.

One bold change the province can consider is eliminating the provincial portion of the HST on new housing entirely and to offset that shift in revenue with a flat tax on all home sales (both new and resale) in Ontario. This option to support new-home buyers is a courageous measure that would immediately increase housing affordability and stimulate economic growth. This change would help close the gap between new and resale homes, increasing attainability for homebuyers and improving competitiveness. 

Second, to directly help first-time homebuyers, the province should consider increasing the Land Transfer Tax Rebate from a maximum refund of $4,000 to $10,000 for qualifying buyers. Not only would this create more options for those looking to enter the housing market for the first time, but it would also help increase competition within regional housing markets. 

Third, the province can look at how Ontarians can improve their home and its livability. Home renovations are vital to Ontario’s residential construction sector and the province’s economy. Professional renovations span a wide variety of focuses, from adding a second unit to a home to energy-efficient retrofitting, benefiting both consumers and the local community. A Home Renovation Tax Credit would help encourage existing homeowners to renovate their homes and could be targeted to incentivize the construction of additional units, increasing housing supply and providing new rental options. 

These measures are substantial steps that could have an important and immediate impact on housing attainability. The bold pursuit of these recommendations would help put the dream of homeownership back within reach so that more Ontarians can find a place to live, work and raise a family.

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