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ACORN’s Statement on Ontario Budget 2023 - ACORN Canada

ACORN’s Statement on Ontario Budget 2023

Posted March 23, 2023

Today, the PC Government unveiled the 2023 Budget. Titled “Building a Strong Ontario”, Ontario’s biggest ever budget of $204 billion offers nothing for low and moderate-income renters at a time when hundreds of thousands of people are struggling with the housing crisis getting worse.

Nothing for renters, nothing for affordable housing!

The budget focuses on more tax credits to corporations and developers building infrastructure such as highways. But what it completely misses out on is any mention of the dire need for affordable housing.

There is a mention of $202 million for the Homelessness Prevention Program and Indigenous Supportive Housing Program but this amount is too low to meet the demand.

  • There were 186,000 households, representing 481,000 people, waiting for affordable housing in the province. The number of households on the waiting list increased by 36% from 2003 to 2016. Wait times ranged from almost 2 years to over 9 years depending on the region of the province, and only about 5% of people were housed each year.
  • The demand for supportive housing in the province far exceeds supply. There is an immediate need for 30,000 new supportive housing units across Ontario.
  • Toronto alone needs $26.3 million annually for supportive housing.

Also, more money going to the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB) is likely to just expedite evictions and above guideline rent increases. Since the pandemic started, the Doug Ford Government moved the LTB hearings online which has had devastating impacts on the most vulnerable tenants.

Except for calling on the federal government to defer the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) on all new large scale purpose-built rental housing projects, it fails to do anything to support building new affordable housing.

In fact there is NO new funding or plan in the 2023 budget to help cities meet the target of building hundreds of thousands of new units but without the development charges that are critical to meet important infrastructure needs. The Doug Ford Government rammed through legislature late last year to pass the More Homes, Built Faster Act 2022′, commonly known as Bill 23 which exempts developers to pay development charges if they build certain kind of housing. The cities were promised by the province that they will be made “whole” on the development charge revenue loss but that promise is contingent on meeting ambitious housing targets. Lack of any mention of this critical issue in the Budget clearly demonstrates that the lack of commitment from the province to follow through its promise made to the municipalities.

As per the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, there could be a deficit of $5 billion as a result of Bill 23. In Toronto alone, the loss of development charges will cost at least $230 million.

The PC Government calls this new legislation BOLD action to build more homes but this action only focuses on building homes that will not be subject to rent control and not affordable for low- and moderate-income people.

ACORN has been calling on the Doug Ford Government to take urgent action to tackle the housing crisis. ACORN’s demands:

  • Implement REAL Rent Control by implementing vacancy control, bringing back rent control to all apartment buildings and banning above guideline rent increases.
  • Repeal Bill 23. Doug Ford’s Bill 23 severely curtails the powers cities have to build affordable homes using tools like Inclusionary Zoning and protect existing homes by introducing and strengthening rental replacement bylaws.