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Fix rising house prices, rents now, PC Leader Patrick Brown urges government

Government must act, Tories charge, as some tenants see rents double in a time of uncertainy, as house prices skyrocket.
April 10, 2017
By Kristin Rushowy

The government needs to act quickly to ease the overheated housing market and address uncertainty that has led to huge hikes in rental rates, says Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown.

“The premier’s wild speculation and the constant stream of policy rumours have started to affect the rental market and hurt real people,” Brown said at Queen’s Park at a press conference with MPP Ernie Hardeman, his party’s housing critic.

“I am calling on Premier (Kathleen) Wynne to release whatever is in her rental housing plan this week - not in the budget, not next month, but immediately.”

Wynne has previously said it is “an extremely urgent matter” and “unacceptable” that landlords are boosting rates because of the possibility that rent controls will be extended. In some Toronto neighbourhoods, tenants have received notice that their rents are doubling.

Brown called on the government to act on skyrocketing housing rates, which has priced many out of the market.

In a statement, Minister of Housing Chris Ballard said the government has a “housing affordability team looking at these issues” and is also taking part in a federal working group.

“Our government is serious about reducing the pressure of housing costs felt by Ontarians, as well as providing more affordable options for people to choose from,” said Ballard, who pointed to some changes, such as increasing rental units in homes, banning increases to apartment property tax levels and boosting refunds for first-time home buyers.

“We look forward to bringing forward a package of measures that deal with housing affordability in the near future,” he said.

New Democrat MPP Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth) recently put forward a private member’s bill to make all buildings subject to rent control, not just those built before 1991.

Hardeman plans to table a motion on Monday asking the government to reduce red tape and create an expert panel to look at housing issues both in the short and long term.

“Ontario families work hard and they worry how they’re going to be able to afford that home or condo whether they can achieve that dream,” Brown said.

“It’s reached a crisis point.

“The dream of home ownership has become just that: a dream that is out of reach for many.”

Lack of supply is a key issue that needs to be addressed, Brown said. When it takes close to two years for municipal approvals for even the most straightforward of single-family home projects, it’s time the government cut some red tape, he said.

“The status quo is not an option,” said Brown. “There has to be some measures to manage this crisis.”

Brown said the PCs are “willing to look” at a tax on vacant units among other solutions, and are “going to have an open mind to the recommendations that the government puts forward, but we believe there’s urgency here.”

Home prices in the Greater Toronto Area have gone up 33 per cent over the last year.