Note: Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act received Royal Assent on June 8, 2023.

Minister’s message

Our government has made significant progress in tackling Ontario’s housing supply crisis – and we’re far from done. We have introduced a range of bold and transformative measures over the past three years to increase housing supply and we can see their growing and positive impact. In the last two years, housing starts in Ontario reached a level not seen in more than 30 years – and just last year, rental housing starts in our province reached an all-time high.

These positive trends are a result of the policies our government has championed – but we know that more needs to be done in order to reach our goal of 1.5 million new homes by 2031. That’s why our government promised to update and adjust our housing supply action plan throughout our current mandate, so we can continue to make progress toward that goal.

Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants supports increased density and building more homes in existing communities, while making sure that enough land is available for the many new homes and jobs our province needs.

We’re also taking steps to make life easier for renters. We are continuing to invest in the Landlord and Tenant Board to improve services for tenants and landlords and quickly resolve active and future cases. We’re also introducing changes that would, if passed, clarify and enhance tenants’ rights to install air conditioners. We’re proposing to further strengthen protections against evictions due to renovations, demolitions and conversions, as well as those for landlord’s own use. Finally, we’re proposing to double the maximum fines under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, bringing them to half a million dollars for corporations – reinforcing Ontario’s maximum fines as the toughest in Canada.

We know the challenge young people, newcomers and growing families face in finding the right home. Our government is committed to helping them overcome this challenge. That’s why, in addition to our work to create more homes, we are exploring a cooling-off period to give home buyers time to reconsider the purchase of a new freehold home. We’re also protecting first-time home buyers’ financial savings by expanding deposit insurance for First Home Savings Accounts of credit union members. In addition, we’re looking at modular construction and other innovative construction options to reduce the cost of building attainable housing.

Students and seniors have unique housing needs, including the need for more affordable housing and long-term care spaces. Meanwhile labour and supply chain challenges continue to slow housing construction, limiting our ability to build the homes Ontarians require. That’s why we’ve committed to releasing updates to our housing supply action plans every year, to help address new challenges and meet unique needs.

Achieving our goal won’t be easy. No single government – municipal, provincial or federal – can solve the housing supply crisis alone. We are counting on our municipal and federal partners to be part of the solution so that, working in partnership, we can create the homes that Ontarians need today, tomorrow and in the decades to come.

Protecting tenants and building rentals

Reducing case backlog

We’re working with the Landlord and Tenant Board to reduce active applications and improve client service for its applicants. We’re providing funding to appoint additional adjudicators and hire more staff at the Landlord and Tenant Board. These resources will help to expedite the residential dispute resolution process and support the overall housing supply challenges across the province. These resources will allow the Landlord and Tenant Board to:

  • process, schedule, and resolve applications faster
  • streamline processes for tenants and landlords
  • improve service standards and client experience
  • build on work that is already underway to help reduce the backlog

Air conditioning

We are continuing to take steps to make life easier for renters, with proposed changes that would clarify and enhance their right to install air conditioning in their units. Under this proposal landlords would be unable to prohibit the installation of air conditioning units in rental apartments, provided the following conditions are met:

  • renters would have to notify their landlord, in writing, that they intend to install an air conditioner
  • the air conditioner would have to be installed safely and securely without causing damage
  • renters would pay for the air conditioner, installation and maintenance
  • installation and maintenance would have to comply with any applicable laws, including municipal by-laws
  • Where the landlord supplies the electricity:
    • renters would be required to inform their landlord about the air conditioner’s energy efficiency and how much they anticipate using it
    • landlords would be allowed to charge a seasonal fee based on the actual electricity cost or an estimate based on the information provided by the tenant

These changes would come into force on proclamation.

Reinforcing rules against evictions

The plan also proposes to further strengthen renter protections. When requiring a tenant to vacate a unit in order for it to be renovated, landlords would be required to provide:

  • proof that the unit must be vacant for renovations to take place
  • updates on the status of the renovations, in writing
  • a 60-day grace period to move back in, once the renovations are complete

Landlords must allow tenants to move back in at a similar rent once renovations are complete. If they do not, the tenant would now have two years after moving out, or six months after renovations are complete (whichever is longer), to file a complaint with the Landlord and Tenant Board. Adding the proposed six-month post-renovation time frame recognizes that some renovations may take more than two years to complete.

If a landlord chooses to evict a tenant in order to use the unit themselves or have a family member move in, our proposed changes would require the landlord (or their family members) to move into the unit by a specific deadline, to be prescribed in future regulation.

The Province is also proposing to double the maximum fines for offences under the Residential Tenancies Act (such as bad faith evictions) to:

  • $100,000 for individuals
  • $500,000 for corporations

Ontario’s maximum fines for residential tenancy offences are the highest in Canada.

To make it easier for both tenants and landlords, we’re proposing that the plain language form (PDF) provided by the Landlord and Tenant Board must be used for payment agreements when a tenant is in arrears for rent. This would help ensure all parties fully understand their rights and responsibilities.

All the changes in this section would come into force on proclamation.

Build more homes for renters

Our goal is to create 1.5 million homes by 2031 – and that includes rental homes.

We will continue to call on the federal government to defer the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) on all new large scale purpose-built rental housing projects to tackle the ongoing housing affordability crisis. The province would support this measure, as it would help spur the construction of more rental housing units while helping to create jobs, encourage economic development and support growth.

More Homes Built Faster introduced changes to enable home builders to replace older rental apartments with larger, more modern rental buildings. Municipalities can establish demolition and conversion by-laws which regulate what developers do when replacing these buildings. We will consult on how to create a balanced regulatory framework governing municipal rental replacement by-laws.

For example, where municipalities require landowners to build replacement units, we are considering requiring these replacement units to have the same core features as the original units (such as the same number of bedrooms), while permitting some flexibility when it comes to size. We’re also looking at measures to give existing tenants the right to move back into the new unit at a similar rent.

This would help protect affordable housing while encouraging the revitalization of older, deteriorating buildings and increasing rental housing supply.

We will launch consultations upon introduction of the Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act.

Helping homebuyers

First Home Savings Account protections

The First Home Savings Account (FHSA) is a new type of registered savings plan for Canadians, which provides tax benefits for people saving for their first home. It is expected to be offered in 2023. This new registered plan would give prospective first-time home buyers the ability to save $40,000 on a tax-free basis. Like a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), contributions would be tax-deductible, and withdrawals to purchase a first home—including from investment income—would be non-taxable, like a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA).

We want to help first time home buyers save for their down payment, and that includes protecting their accounts. That’s why we’re proposing to provide unlimited deposit insurance for FHSAs held at Ontario credit unions and caisses populaires.

Cooling-off period for purchases of newly built freehold homes

We will consult with the public and stakeholders on:

  • introducing a cooling-off period when people buy a new freehold home from a builder
  • requiring home builders to tell their customers about the cooling-off period

This would allow buyers to cancel their purchase agreement within a specified timeframe, strengthening protections and building consumer confidence.

As part of the consultation, we will seek feedback on how long the cancellation period should last, disclosure requirements and whether to include a cancellation charge.

We are also seeking input on requiring all new home purchase agreements to be reviewed by a lawyer. This will help consumers understand the details and any risks associated with buying their home.

Using modular construction for attainable housing

We are looking at modular construction and other innovative options to reduce the cost of building attainable housing. As part of this work, we will engage with the housing sector, municipalities and Indigenous communities to consider different opportunities to build housing – using modular and other technologies – in communities across the province. This is another step for the development of the attainable housing program, which will leverage crown lands and seek partnerships for development lands across the province.

Streamlined provincial land-use planning policy

To increase housing supply and help speed up planning approvals, we propose to integrate the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) and A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (APTG) into a single Provincial Planning Statement. The changes would simplify existing policies and refocus them on achieving housing outcomes while giving large and fast-growing municipalities the tools they need to help deliver housing. It would ensure that appropriate planning policies are in place to support growth throughout the province and respond to market needs, while recognizing that one size does not fit all.

Increased housing supply

Maintain a mix of housing types

All municipalities would be required to provide a range and mix of housing options, such as single an semi-detached housing, multiplexes, low- and mid-rise apartments, additional residential units, multi-generational housing, and community and supportive housing. Municipalities would also be required to work with service managers to address the full range of housing options, including housing affordability needs.

More rural housing

We’re proposing greater flexibility to build homes in rural areas, including allowing:

  • more residential development in rural settlements and multi-lot residential housing on rural lands
  • more homes to be built on farms while minimizing the impacts on agriculture
  • partnerships with the private sector to provide water and wastewater services

This would help smaller and more rural communities address their local housing needs and provide adequate housing for farmers and farm workers.

Build up near transit

Twenty-nine large and fast-growing municipalities would be required to plan for growth in major transit station areas and other strategic growth areas (for example, downtowns). Minimum density targets would apply to major transit station areas and strategic growth areas, and they would be encouraged to plan for density levels that would support transit use on greenfield lands.

Planning for growth

As part of their role, municipalities must plan for future population and employment growth. Under the proposed changes, municipalities would need to ensure land is ready to meet their community’s future housing and employment needs.

Managing municipal settlement area boundaries

Municipalities would have more flexibility in when and where they expand their settlement area boundaries. They would consider available infrastructure, avoid specialty crop areas and mitigate agricultural impacts and use consistent criteria when calculating how far livestock farms should be from homes.

Protecting employment lands

The proposed changes would ensure land is available for industry and manufacturing, encourage office and institutional uses in areas closer to transit and provide flexibility to convert employment lands for local uses – supporting the kinds of development and jobs that communities need.

Balancing housing and other needs

Some industries need to be separated from residential areas to reduce the impact of noise, odours and other undesirable by-products. Housing cannot be located too close to these areas under the proposed Provincial Planning Statement.

Infrastructure to support new homes

Incorporating child-care and schools in planning

School boards and municipalities must work together and would be encouraged to integrate schools into developments in innovative ways in the new Provincial Planning Statement.

Corridor protection

Communities need electricity, transit and transportation. Under the proposed Provincial Planning Statement, municipalities would be required to protect corridors and rights-of-way for this type of infrastructure and would be encouraged to co-locate them where possible.

Less work for more growth

Some land-use planning elements are also covered in other provincial policies and legislation. We’re proposing to:

  • reduce duplication in planning for water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure
  • encourage municipalities to plan for the energy needs of their growing communities

Balance housing with resources

Protecting farmland

To encourage an agricultural systems approach, under the proposed Provincial Planning Statement, municipalities would have to map and designate prime agricultural areas to support an agri-food network.

Protecting water

Encouraging municipalities to adopt a watershed planning approach would protect water resources while facilitating more new home construction.

Accessing aggregates

Aggregate resources, such as stone, sand and gravel, are essential to building our growing communities. We are proposing to create consistent requirements for aggregate extraction, ensuring fairness between expansions and new applications. All applicants within and adjacent to natural heritage features and near prime agricultural areas will continue to follow provincial guidelines.

We will continue to recognize access to mineral aggregates as a matter of provincial interest and will maintain existing requirements to protect “close to market” aggregate resources and existing pits and quarries. This will ensure the aggregates are available to build new homes and infrastructure while limiting the impacts to the environment and community.

Climate change

Municipalities would be required to focus on improving air quality and to prepare for the impacts of a changing climate under the proposed Provincial Planning Statement.

Greenbelt Plan

We will maintain all Greenbelt Plan protections, including policies on environmental and agricultural lands. Should a new Provincial Planning Statement be created, we would amend the Greenbelt Plan to continue all existing protections.

Freezing provincial housing development fees

To reduce the cost of building housing, we’re planning to freeze 74 provincial fees at current levels – including several related Tribunals Ontario, the Ontario Land Tribunal and the Building Code. We’ll be consulting on implementation of the fee freezes via Ontario’s Regulatory Registry.

The Planning Act

We’re proposing updates to the Planning Act that support changes in the Provincial Planning Statement, including the definition of area of employment. Other proposed changes include allowing the minister to exempt individual projects from needing to comply with provincial policies and plans, in addition to specifying zoning as part of a Minister’s Zoning Order. The minister would also have the authority to require home builders working with the Provincial Land and Development Facilitator to come to agreements (for example on community benefits). These changes would help facilitate priority projects and get housing built faster.

Listening to municipalities

More Homes For Everyone required municipalities to gradually refund zoning by-law and site plan application fees if they failed to make a decision within specified time periods. We’ve listened to municipal feedback and have postponed the start date from January 1 to July 1, 2023 to give them time to adjust.

Municipalities also told us that some smaller projects (for example, housing near train tracks) need to be able to address the type of concerns provided in a site plan review. We’re proposing to allow municipalities to use site plan control for residential projects with 10 or fewer units in specific circumstances.

Building capacity to speed up approvals

We know that labour shortages are limiting home construction. We’re proposing to address the shortage of building inspectors by redesigning the qualification program and supporting uptake of the new internship program. Developing more tools and guidance materials would also help to make their jobs more efficient.