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The 2019 Ontario Provincial Budget, titled “Ontario’s Plan to Protect What Matters Most,” was introduced on April 11. The government says it focuses on streamlining processes, finding efficiencies and cutting red tape by 25 per cent by 2020. The plan sets out a debt reduction strategy and projects a slow but steady economic growth and a balanced budget by 2023–24.
Among the other commitments made in this proposed budget, the Province has introduced a “Housing Supply Action Plan.” Its accompanying legislation, Bill 108 (More Homes, More Choices Act) would, if passed, speed up the development approval process, promote densification and support the faster introduction of new homes to the Ontario marketplace. With some elements similar to the SvN Architects + Planners Inc. report commissioned by the OAA’s Housing Affordability Task Group (HATG), “Housing Affordability in Growing Urban Areas,” this proposed legislation looks to increase supply of housing units and types of housing throughout the province, especially within existing built-up areas. The OAA is currently preparing a submission on Bill 108.
The Provincial Government has also committed to cancel the cap-and-trade program, which it suggests could save the province in excess of $10 billion. The Cap and Trade Cancellation Act was enacted on October 31, 2018 and seeks to establish targets for reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario while also supporting the provincial economy.
With respect to both the More Homes, More Choices Act and the Cap and Trade Cancellation Act, the OAA continues to strongly advocate for environmental protections and believes that climate change is an issue of utmost importance and urgency. As recently as January of this year, the OAA wrote to the Hon. Rod Phillips, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, to share some sustainable design recommendations to address climate change in Ontario. The OAA believes that the Government of Ontario should commit to making the environment a top priority.
Another significant commitment included in this budget is the government’s plan to modify the Tarion New Home Warranties program. Proposed modifications include the establishment of a second regulator to address conflicts of interest on claims made to Tarion and the exploration of a multi-provider model for new home warranties and protection in Ontario.
On the infrastructure front, this budget allocated $11.2 billion to support the expansion of rapid transit throughout Toronto. As well, the Provincial Government recently announced a Call for Development to support the reimagining of Ontario Place; it seeks transformational ideas for this unique waterfront asset. Proposals that include residential or casino developments will not be considered; however, the Province is encouraging proposals that may include sport and entertainment landmarks, public spaces and parks, recreational facilities and retail.
Other notable announcements in this year’s budget include:
• The new Ontario Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) tax credit for families with low and moderate income, which, if implemented, would provide a tax credit of up to $6,000 for eligible expenses per child in a family;
• A $13 billion commitment to school renewal over 10 years, including $1.4 billion in the 2019–20 school year to improve the condition of schools across Ontario;
• Lowering tuition fees at publicly funded post-secondary educational institutions by 10 per cent in 2019 and implementing a tuition freeze in 2020–21; and
• Cutting the small business income tax by 8.7 per cent.
The OAA continues to monitor these and other legislative developments to keep the membership informed about significant developments.