Overview

While housing starts have hit record levels over the last two years, unnecessary red tape is still slowing down construction and preventing more homes from being built at the pace Ontarians need and deserve.

Those delays are also increasing costs and adding to Ontario’s housing affordability problem. For example:

  • A recent Scotiabank housing report found that Ontario is last in the country in the supply of homes per capita, and Canada has the lowest amount of housing per capita of any G7 country.
  • The Ontario Association of Architects (PDF) concluded that, for a 100-unit condominium apartment building in Toronto, delayed approvals cost about $1,940 per unit, per month.
  • A 2022 BILD study (PDF) looked at the impact of delays on construction costs. It estimated that, for each residential unit in a high-density development, approval delays add between $2,600 to $3,300 per month in additional construction costs.
  • The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (PDF) highlighted historical provincial agency review timelines and backlogs at the Ontario Land Tribunal that slow housing development, while incomplete applications also cause delays.
  • Requirements to build new housing vary from one municipality to another, with anywhere from 17 to 28 different studies for a single project, and approvals timelines from 14 months to three years.

These added costs and delays drive up the cost of homes and are passed on to new home buyers and renters.

We've introduced a range of solutions — early steps and longer-term approaches — to increase Ontario’s housing supply.

Improved housing starts

In 2021 Ontario had over 100,000 housing starts, the highest level since 1987, and well above the annual average of 67,500 starts over the past 30 years.  Rental housing starts improved too, with 2021 seeing the most starts in 30 years.

Chart 1: Housing starts in Ontario from 1990–2021

Line graph of housing starts from 1990 to 2021

Chart 1 description: Line graph of housing starts from 1990, showing that 2021 had the highest level of housing starts in over 30 years.

Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Starts and Completions Survey

Chart 2: Rental housing starts in Ontario from 1990–2021

Line graph of rental housing starts from 1990 to 2021

Chart 2 description: Line graph of rental housing starts from 1990, showing that 2021 had the most rental housing starts since 1991 (for areas with over 10K population).

Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Starts and Completions Survey

Protected homebuyers

To prioritize Ontario families and homebuyers, we increased the Non-Resident Speculation Tax rate from 15 to 20% and expanded the tax beyond the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region to apply provincewide effective March 30, 2022. 

Ontario’s Non Resident Speculation Tax applies to the purchase or acquisition of an interest in residential property located anywhere in Ontario by individuals who are: 

  • not citizens or permanent residents of Canada 
  • foreign corporations 
  • taxable trustees

Increased consumer protection on new builds

We’ve strengthened consumer protection for purchasers of new homes, by:

  • holding new home builders and vendors to professional standards
  • increasing fines to address unethical behaviour

Reduced administrative burden to speed up housing approvals

Accelerated timelines

We accelerated timelines to get housing built faster by reducing:

  • Official Plan Amendment timelines from 210 days to 120 days
  • zoning by-law amendment timelines from 150 days to 90 days
  • plan of subdivision timelines from 180 days to 120 days

We also introduced a new:

  • 90-day timeline for issuing a notice of intention to designate
  • 120-day timeline for passing a designation by-law to help conserve heritage properties while allowing for compatible development

We are encouraging dispute resolution by ensuring consistency in how planning policies are implemented to avoid further delays from appeals, while continuing to support thoughtfully designed and livable communities by:

  • extending the timeline for municipalities to review site plan applications before appeals can be launched from 30 days to 60 days
  • enabling the minister to pause the 120-day decision-making clock that determines when certain Official Plans or Official Plan Amendments that are before the minister can be appealed for a non-decision

We invested up to $350 million to help municipalities modernize services and achieve faster turnarounds, through three programs:

Faster housing starts

We are helping to get homes built faster to address the housing supply crisis. For example:

  • We now allow municipal councils to delegate planning decision-making authority for minor zoning by-law amendments to committees or staff, helping shorten approval timelines and get homes built faster.
  • We require council to delegate site plan control decisions to municipal staff, typically professional planners who have the professional expertise to evaluate the issues, understand the technical planning matters and approve the drawings and plans in a timely manner.
  • We are creating new archaeology standards for rural historic farmstead sites to reduce complex and expensive excavations.

We are using Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs) in collaboration with municipal governments to kick-start the planning approvals process by getting the zoning in place for critical local projects, including housing, long-term care homes, and health care facilities. MZOs have existed in the Planning Act since 1946.

MZOs have enabled the CaféTO program in the City of Toronto and helped hospitals, like Sunnybrook in Toronto and the Royal Victoria Hospital in Innisfil, expand their health care facilities to respond to COVID-19 and support healthy, growing communities. They are also:

  • accelerating over 58,000 new housing units, including 600 units of supportive housing
  • creating over 68,000 jobs
  • creating over 4,100 new long-term care beds
  • protecting groundwater in the City of Guelph to support safe drinking water for the community

Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator

In response to requests from municipalities, we’ve launched a new tool to help municipalities accelerate their own planning process – the Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator (CIHA).

The CIHA helps municipalities speed up approvals for housing and community infrastructure, like hospitals and community centres, while increasing transparency and accountability. The CIHA cannot be used in the Greenbelt, maintaining our steadfast commitment to protecting this valued area.

To use this tool, municipalities need a council resolution and a formal request explaining the project rationale, the approvals sought and any consultations.

Addressed backlog at the Ontario Land Tribunal

Hiring 12 new adjudicators, for what is now called the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT), has helped reduce the backlog of Ontario Municipal Board legacy cases by more than 70%, from 1,200 cases in June 2019 to about 350 in September 2022.

Chart 3: Hiring 12 new land use planning appeal tribunal adjudicators has reduced Ontario Municipal Board legacy case backlogs

Chart illustrating the addition of 12 new adjudicators and reduction in Ontario Municipal Board cases between June 2019 and September 2022

Chart 3 description: 12 icons of people with clipboards to represent the new adjudicators, next to a bar chart that shows cases reducing from 1,200 in June 2019 to 350 by September 2022.

Our investment of more than $19 million over three years will help both the OLT and the Landlord and Tenant Board to reduce their backlogs. The funding will enable the tribunals to get more resources, including adjudicators and staff, so land use planning and tenant and landlord disputes can be resolved faster. Funding will also support the OLT to expand technology to further enhance efficiency and e-services.

We’ve enabled the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, when making decisions on official plans and amendments, to refer all or parts of an Official Plan matter to the OLT for a recommendation, or refer the entire matter to the OLT to make a decision as an impartial adjudicator.

Encouraged innovation

Embracing innovation in housing keeps Ontario’s eye firmly on the future, for example, updating the Building Code to:

  • make it easier to relocate tiny homes that are constructed in one municipality and shipped to the owner’s property in another municipality
  • allow 12-storey mass timber buildings
  • streamline modular multi-unit residential building approvals
  • create safe ways to allow residents and commercial tenants of the lower floors of super-tall buildings under construction to move into their units earlier, so they can find a home and open the doors of their business sooner

We also developed guides on a variety of complex subjects to help homeowners and homebuyers understand diverse and creative housing options:

Introduced strong mayor powers

The Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act, 2022 was passed in order to provide the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa with more authority to move forward on shared provincial-municipal priorities, including increasing the supply of housing. The powers laid out in the act include: 

  • bringing forward matters for council consideration that may advance provincial priorities, including building more housing or transit
  • vetoing bylaws if they could interfere with these provincial priorities 
  • hiring the Chief Administrative Officer and certain municipal department heads and creating and re-organizing departments
  • appointing chairs/vice-chairs for committees and local boards, and establishing new committees
  • proposing the municipal budget

Municipal councils in Toronto and Ottawa could make changes to the municipal budget, however, the mayor could veto those changes. If the mayor vetoes any budget changes or bylaws, a council could override the veto with a two-thirds majority vote.

These changes will help strengthen mayors’ ability to reduce timelines for development, standardize processes and address local barriers to increasing the supply of housing in Toronto and Ottawa.

The new powers for the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa are intended to come into effect on November 15, 2022 – the start of the new municipal council term. 

Made more land available for housing

We’ve turned unused provincial lands into affordable homes, like the Homes for Heroes project in Kingston for homeless veterans. We’ve made it easier to build smaller, more affordable types of homes (for example, laneway houses, basement apartments and tiny homes) often on existing residential properties.

We’ve helped home builders to estimate development charges earlier in the planning process, while ensuring municipalities can still provide the infrastructure needed to support new homes, and created a community benefits charge to help municipalities fund infrastructure for developments over five storeys and/or ten units.

We’re also encouraging the redevelopment of underutilized commercial and industrial properties into housing by enhancing the Brownfields Financial Tax Incentive Program.

Balanced transit and parks

Building complete communities requires careful planning for not just housing, but employment uses, infrastructure and transit. We are implementing our Transit-Oriented Communities Program, which provides real opportunities to build vibrant, higher density, mixed-use communities that are connected to transit stations.

For transit-oriented communities, we’ve set a maximum for the portion of a home builder’s development land, or cash-in-lieu, that a municipality can use for parks. These changes:

  • balance the priority for new housing close to transit
  • help more Ontarians be less dependent on cars
  • continue to create more parks

Growth planning

Planning for growth is key to making sure future generations can find affordable homes. We’ve updated A Place To Grow to make it easier for municipalities to plan for growth based on projected market demand (using a new Land Needs Assessment) and to encourage municipalities to look at least 30 years into the future, so Ontarians can be confident that there’s enough land to accommodate new homes and businesses.

We have been steadfast in our commitment to protect the Greenbelt, and we will not consider proposals to remove or develop any part of it at this time. We will continue to take a balanced approach that protects the environment and supports smart growth to create much-needed housing and jobs.

Supported tenants and landlords

Our Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act discouraged bad faith “renovictions” by increasing tenant compensation and raising the maximum fines to $50,000 for an individual and $250,000 for a corporation.

Hiring more adjudicators and updating computer systems has helped the Landlord and Tenant Board to reduce their hearing wait times for most applications by 2–3 months.

Created more affordable housing

Supply is not just a problem for market housing, there’s also a shortage of affordable housing supply.

That’s why we deferred development charges to be paid in installments over five years for rental and over 20 years for non-profit housing and removed development charges for second suites in new builds like basement apartments and granny flats.

Through our Community Housing Renewal Strategy and response to COVID-19, we invested more than $3 billion combined in 2020–21 and 2021–22, which is helping sustain, repair and grow community housing and address homelessness in Ontario. This includes investments to service managers and Indigenous program administrators through the Social Services Relief Fund to improve housing and homeless shelter solutions and support vulnerable people through these challenging times.

The Homelessness Prevention Program, which launched April 1, 2022, streamlines and simplifies access to provincial housing and homelessness supports, and provides nearly $464 million each year.

Strengthened rural and northern communities

In 2021, two years after More Homes, More Choice was implemented, small and rural municipalities saw triple the number of housing starts compared with 2020 — the highest level in over three decades. 

Here are some of the changes that helped make that possible:

  • We’ve made it easier to transfer parcels of land, by making Ontario’s subdivision control system clearer for the real estate sector, which supports new home building in rural areas. The Planning Act sets out how land may be divided into parcels. We’ve addressed a number of long-standing issues with technical and policy changes to reduce red tape, simplify subdivision control and save owners and applicants time and money.
  • Changes to the Provincial Policy Statement also gave northern and rural municipalities more flexibility to support appropriate development in areas without full municipal sewer/water services.
  • Using more wood-based modular and pre-fabricated housing construction leverages Ontario’s manufacturing industry and also supports the forest sector and the rural and Indigenous communities who rely on it for their livelihood. By investing in modern wood-based industrialized construction, like Element5’s facility in St Thomas, Ontario is investing in our local manufacturing sector, using our own locally sourced sustainable natural resources and encouraging the use of low-carbon home building materials to aid in the fight against climate change.
  • We’ve also invested nearly $500,000 to train 625 northern workers, including Indigenous people, for in-demand electrical worker jobs.

Addressed skilled labour shortages

One of the reasons behind the housing supply shortage is the difficulty finding skilled tradespeople — the electricians, plumbers and carpenters who build much-needed homes. Our Skilled Trades Strategy simplifies Ontario’s skilled trades and apprenticeship system and encourages employers to participate. It also removes barriers for newcomers pursuing their skilled trade licences, such as the requirement for Canadian work experience.

Our Skills Development Fund: Job-Ready Program gives 125 jobseekers free training and work experience in residential construction in partnership with the Ontario Home Builders’ Association. These measures will help increase the number of qualified skilled tradespeople, which helps to speed up new home construction.