Cool the red-hot housing market now, PC leader urges

Cool the red-hot housing market now, PC leader urges

Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown wants the Wynne government to release its housing affordability plan immediately, saying he believes "wild speculation" about new measures is only fuelling the red hot housing market.

"Musing about getting involved in the housing market affects the rental market. It has created uncertainty and chaos. Neither tenants nor landlords nor builders know what to expect," Brown said at Queen's Park on Monday.

"You're hearing stories of landlords who are doubling rent in advance of that potential change coming."

In a media conference called by Brown on Monday, the PC leader said "unprecedented" growth in housing costs has reached a "crisis point" and the Liberal government must take urgent action.

According to the Toronto Real Estate Board, home prices in Toronto have risen more than 33 percent in the past year.

"The dream of home ownership has become just that: a dream that is out of reach for many," Brown said.

Responding to Brown's push for action, Liberal finance minister Charles Sousa said the government has already taken several steps to address housing affordability and there are more on the way.

"We are working with the municipalities, we are looking to expedite some more permitting, we are looking at finding ways to temper the market," Sousa said.

Sousa brushed off the PC leader's criticism that the Liberals aren't doing enough to address the issue.

"It's nice that they've joined the conversation, but all they're offering is conversation."

Brown urged the government to address what he called a "concerning" lack of housing supply that's being exacerbated by red tape in lengthy development and building processes.

"Delays can cost developers thousands in employee salaries, interest on loans and other items – costs which are eventually passed on to home buyers," Brown said.

The PC leader want also wants data collected on what he calls "speculative vacancies" as well a review the government's own real estate portfolio to determine what could be sold off in order to boost supply.

Finally, Brown is calling for an expert panel to be struck that includes planners, builders and prospective homebuyers.

The PC's statements on the housing file follow an NDP effort to make renting more affordable in the province.

In March, MPP Peter Tabuns moved a private member's bill that calls for the end of an exemption that removes rent control from nearly all rental units built after 1991.

In a statement released Monday, minister of housing Chris Ballard said the government is "serious about reducing the pressure of housing costs felt by Ontarians."

The statement said the government will be bring forward a package of measures to deal with the problem "in the near future."