More Homes, More Choice: Ontario's Housing Supply Action Plan
Today, Ontario passed legislation to help people struggling to find a home they can afford. It lays the groundwork needed to tackle Ontario's housing crisis and help build more homes that meet the needs of people in every part of the province.
The comprehensive legislation is central to More Homes, More Choice: Ontario's Housing Supply Action Plan, which outlines a suite of legislative, regulatory and policy changes across multiple ministries. The changes eliminate unnecessary steps, duplication and barriers to creating the housing Ontarians need. While cutting red tape, the government is holding firm to its commitment to maintain protections for health and safety, the environment, the Greenbelt, agricultural lands and our rich natural and cultural heritage.
The legislation includes the following changes:
Conservation Authorities Act
Heavy rains and flooding threaten our communities and the people of Ontario need our conservation authorities to focus on programs and services that have the greatest impact. Changes to the Conservation Authorities Act will ensure that conservation authorities focus and deliver on their core mandate and that taxpayer dollars are being used effectively. These changes will also improve public transparency, consistency and accountability in conservation authorities' operations.
Development Charges Act
The changes will help increase housing options for the people of Ontario and make the upfront costs of building housing more predictable. Allowing development charges for certain types of development to be paid in installments will also encourage more apartments and affordable housing. Development charges for non-profit housing (including non-profit rental) will be payable over 20 years, while development charges for other rental housing will be payable over five years. Municipalities will be able to fully cover growth-related costs for waste diversion and ambulance services through development charges. The legislation reflects feedback from public, municipal and development industry consultations over the past six months, including at the committee stage of the legislative process. The changes were also posted on the Environmental Registry for 30 days, and the government intends to consult on regulatory approaches to implement the legislative amendments.
Every community has different education needs and it is time the government respected these differences by moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach to Education Development Charges. The Education Development Charges framework would be changed to help reduce the high cost of housing for the people of Ontario and ensure school boards have resources to support growing communities. The Ministry of Education will implement its changes later this fall. From December 2018 to January 2019, our government consulted with experts from the education, municipal and developer sectors on an updated framework and will continue to consult with the education sector throughout implementation.
Endangered Species Act
The changes will make it easier to harmonize the Endangered Species Act with other like-legislation and will help establish Canada's first Species at Risk Conservation Trust. The Trust will provide transparent rules on how to protect species at risk habitat. Changes will also support a modern ecosystem-wide approach to species protection that balances a healthy environment with a healthy economy and is effective and efficient. These changes have been posted for public comment for 30 days on the Environmental Registry ending May 18, 2019.
Environmental Assessment Act
We are implementing sensible, pragmatic solutions to modernize Ontario's environmental assessment process to make sure we're focusing on projects that pose actual, real risks to our environment and communities, while streamlining approval timelines and reducing duplication. By removing the lowest risk projects, such as snow plowing and de-icing operations, we can focus on higher-risk projects, such as landfills or new transmission lines. These changes were posted for public comment for 30 days on the Environmental Registry, ending May 25, 2019.
Environmental Protection Act
We're delivering on our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan commitment to protect our land by proposing steps to properly manage local soil and brownfields, ensuring valuable resources don't go to waste, reducing construction costs associated with managing and transporting excess soil, reducing the risk of contaminants and revitalizing vacant land for housing. This would allow us to make sure the environment is properly protected by setting clear rules so good actors can get on with business and home building while also ensuring we have strong enforcement for those who violate the rules and hurt our environment. Proposed changes for the excess soil and brownfields regulations have been posted for public comment for 47 days on the Environmental Registry until June 17, 2019.
Local Planning Appeal Tribunal Act
Our government is committed to ensuring that services are delivered as efficiently and effectively as possible in the land use planning and appeal system to avoid unnecessary delays that slow down the construction of new homes. The changes will allow the LPAT to make the best major land use planning decisions on appeals; increase powers to manage and mediate cases to reduce delays; appoint additional adjudicators to address the backlog of cases that has tied up about 100,000 units in Toronto alone and to manage ongoing and future caseload; and move toward a system that is more self-sustaining and ensure that access to the LPAT is not so expensive to the point that cost would be an obstacle for those seeking to launch an appeal.
Occupational Health and Safety Act
The change will give the province's Chief Prevention Officer the power to amend training and other requirements for Joint Health & Safety Committee (JHSC) member certification where necessary to reduce administrative and cost burden to businesses, including small and medium-sized construction employers and other home builders. This includes extending the required certification refresher training to a five-year cycle instead of the current three-year cycle, helping businesses manage their operations and costs. These changes to the Act complement the JHSC training program standard improvements (online learning, etc.) announced by the government in January 2019.
Ontario Heritage Act
The people of Ontario are rightly proud of our history and expect to see sensible rules that ensure our heritage is protected. It is possible to build a brighter future while protecting our proud past. We are working with property owners and communities to protect heritage properties while managing change and allowing for development that makes sense in specific areas to make sure that new homes can be built, and Ontario's valuable sites are protected. In some cases, lack of clear direction and multiple appeal processes have led to inconsistencies and inefficiencies. The changes will provide increased clarity and guidance to help municipalities more effectively protect important heritage resources in their communities and facilitate timely and transparent decision-making. These changes were posted on the Environmental Registry for 30 days, where the public, municipalities, heritage sector and developers were able to provide comments and formal submissions.
We are making it easier to bring housing to market with changes that accelerate local planning decisions and put in place a more efficient appeals process. Changes to the Act allow homeowners to create an additional residential unit in their main residence and another unit in another building on the same property, such as above garages or in laneways. They also let municipalities collect funds from developers to cover the capital costs of community benefits, like libraries and daycare facilities. Changes to the Planning Act help municipalities address local housing needs by allowing the use of inclusionary zoning around major transit station areas. The changes reflect feedback from broad online public consultation in late 2018 and early 2019, as well as through sector-specific discussions with municipalities, developers, ratepayer groups and others. The government also intends to consult on regulatory approaches to implementing the legislation.
Workplace Safety and Insurance Act
Our government is removing unnecessary financial burdens on Ontario businesses, while protecting workers and ensuring that everyone has a good paying job and a safe place to work. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board will continue to set a lower premium rate for construction job creators who do not perform construction work and are exposed to lower risks of injury at work.
Cannabis Control Act
We must protect young people, keep communities and roads safe, and combat the illegal market and criminal activity. Police and law enforcement need tools to combat the illegal market and help keep communities safe. Changes to the Cannabis Control Act, 2017, will remove the exemption that prohibits enforcement from temporarily closing illegal storefronts if the premises are being used as a residence, set minimum fines for individuals and landlords who commit offences related to illegal sale and distribution of cannabis; and make it an offence to enter or attempt to enter a premise that has been barred by police or obstruct police officers or other persons enforcing the Act. The amendments align with feedback the government has heard from its law enforcement partners to date.
Labour Relations Act
The changes will enhance stability in an important part of the construction industry, especially in high-rise construction. The amendments will restore legislative rules related to concrete formwork and the province-wide application of the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) rules in the Labour Relations Act, 1995 and will return the Act to its status before the Plan for Care and Opportunity Act (Budget Measures), 2018 was enacted. These rules, that had been in place for decades had fostered stability and had the support of construction industry stakeholders generally. The changes reflect feedback from construction stakeholders on amendments to the Labour Relations Act, 1995. Relevant stakeholders were also consulted.