Rent control, building more housing key promises as Ontario Liberals unveil platform

·3 min read
Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca is unveiling his party's election platform on Monday, following a weekend spent campaigning in eastern Ontario. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca is unveiling his party's election platform on Monday, following a weekend spent campaigning in eastern Ontario. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The Ontario Liberal party says, if elected, it would create a single rent control system for the province.

Currently, most landlords can only increase rent by 1.2 per cent per year, however, that increase can be higher in rental units in buildings occupied for the first time after Nov. 15, 2018.

"We'll end the two-tiered rental market, bringing back rent control to all rental homes across Ontario and providing much-needed stability to renters who can prepare for smaller, more predictable rent increases," the platform states.

In addition, the party says it would create a legal framework that would establish rent-to-own programs, so renters could potentially buy their home from their landlord. Meanwhile, it would punish landlords who keep homes vacant in urban areas by taxing them (international owners would pay a five per cent tax, while domestic owners would pay a two per cent tax.)

The housing promises are included in the party's election campaign platform, which leader Steven Del Duca officially launched in Toronto on Monday morning. You can read the full budget document at the bottom of this story.

The party is also vowing to tackle Ontario's housing crisis by building more supply. Here are its targets:

  • Some 138,000 of those will be "deeply affordable," including 78,000 new units of social or community housing and 38,000 supportive housing units.

  • It's also pledging to build 22,000 new homes for Indigenous people.

The Liberals estimate the construction work will employ some 150,000 people per year.

The platform also suggests it would repair existing affordable housing, but there's no dollar figure associated with that work in the platform document.

How would Liberals pay for the promises?

A Liberal government in Ontario would count on a renegotiated child-care deal and "efficiencies" in procurement to pay for the housing construction and other promises like ending for-profit long-term care (a previous pledge the party said would cost $50 million this fiscal year, $150 million in 2023-24, and $200 million in each of the following two years.)

The party said it would also draw money from contingency funds that the province's auditor general has described as "overly cautious."

The Liberals expects to balance the budget by 2026-2027 — with Del Duca telling reporters "I think that we are definitely on a path to be able to balance ... before the next election."

But it wasn't immediately clear how the Liberals would reopen the child-care deal, which the provincial and federal governments signed earlier this year and only allows for renegotiation in the third year.

Here are some other highlights from the platform

The Liberals are also pledging to scrap the proposed Highway 413, and use the savings to build new schools and repair existing ones.

On health care, the party is pledging to put $1 billion toward clearing surgical backlogs and lowering wait times at hospitals.

The party is also proposing the creation of a universal workplace benefits package — which would be available to gig and contract workers — that includes 10 paid sick days and drug, vision and dental care.

The party says it would raise the minimum wage to $16 an hour and boost disability payments by 20 per cent.

The platform includes a number of previously announced policies, such as $1 per ride transit fares until 2024 and an optional Grade 13. The Liberals also want to bring back the cancelled basic income pilot project and explore establishing a four-day work week.

Here's the full Liberal platform released by the party on Monday:

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