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August 16, 2022
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OTTAWA — Today, Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, delivered the following remarks to delegates during the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference:
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It’s a pleasure to join you all here in Ottawa for the 123rd annual AMO conference – and I’m glad we’re able to be here together in person.
Before we begin, I want to take a moment to remember our colleague, Mayor John Grace. I was deeply saddened to hear that he passed away… and I know he will be missed dearly.
My thoughts are with the Grace family at this difficult time, as well as with the people of Goderich. I know everyone here today feels the same.
I’d like to begin by congratulating Colin Best, AMO’s new president. Colin, I look forward to working with you.
And I’d like to thank Jamie McGarvey for his dedication and hard work in the role.
I’d also like to give a special shout out to Brian Rosborough, the AMO board, and all the staff who have gone to great lengths to organize this conference.
Finally, I would like to congratulate Monika Turner on her retirement after 12 years as AMO’s director of policy.
Monika, you’ve played an invaluable role advocating on behalf of AMO and all Ontario municipalities, and we are very grateful for your hard work and cooperation with our ministry over the years.
Today I’m joined by many of my caucus colleagues in the audience – I’m sure you’ve seen many familiar faces during the conference, and some new ones too.
I’m pleased to welcome someone you all know – our Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Graydon Smith.
As former president of AMO he was a champion for municipalities, and we’re excited to have him join our team.
I’d also like to introduce my new colleagues at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing – Michael Parsa, Associate Minister of Housing… and Kevin Holland, my new Parliamentary Assistant.
I am honoured to be part of this exceptional team, and it is a great privilege for me to continue as the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
A special thank you goes out to Premier Doug Ford for being such a strong leader over the years. Under his leadership, our government secured another mandate from the people to deliver on our plan to Build Ontario.
But we know that we cannot do this alone. We will need your support to ensure communities across the province realize their full potential. People come together during tough times.
We couldn’t have made it this far without your hard work on the frontlines. I want to thank each of you for your ongoing partnership and dedication to your communities.
There is no doubt about it – we are stronger together.
Maintaining a close relationship with AMO and its members will continue to be critical as we recover and work towards boosting Ontario’s economy.
We’re going to keep listening to you… and asking for your insights and advice. It is through partnership and collaboration that we’ll build a vibrant, more resilient Ontario for the generations to come.
Our government was re-elected with a strong mandate to help more Ontarians find a home that meets their needs and budget.
But Ontario cannot tackle the housing crisis on its own – Municipal councils play a crucial role in increasing housing supply.
The Premier and I have been working closely with municipalities to identify opportunities and bold solutions that would help us effectively address the housing crisis.
The message has been clear – municipalities need the tools and flexibility to get shovels in the ground faster on priority projects, especially housing.
In fact, over one-third of Ontario’s growth over the next decade is expected to be in Toronto and Ottawa.
That’s why our government introduced legislation that would give the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa the ability to drive policy changes, select municipal department heads and bring forward budgets.
We want to empower our municipal partners to be able to get things done.
This is just one concept that we want to implement. We will continue to engage municipalities as we explore opportunities to effectively address our shared priorities.
We are also working with our municipal partners to increase Ontario’s housing supply through our More Homes for Everyone plan.
More Homes for Everyone outlines the next suite of concrete actions our government is taking to address Ontario’s housing crisis…
Such as protecting homebuyers from unethical development practices, and accelerating development timelines to get more homes built faster.
Using the Task Force’s recommendations as a roadmap, we are committed to delivering a housing supply action plan every year over four years.
We’re also establishing a Housing Supply Action Plan Implementation Team that will work with municipalities, the federal government, partner ministries, industry, and associations to support improvements to our annual housing supply action plans.
In fact, just last week, I announced that Mayor of Windsor Drew Dilkens will lead the implementation team as Chair, with Cheryl Fort, Mayor of Hornepayne, as Vice-Chair.
And we are also implementing a new tool – the Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator – that would empower municipalities to fast-track critical local projects, like housing and long-term care homes.
On top of that, we’ve updated Ontario’s Building Code to unlock housing, reduce barriers, and get all kinds of housing built faster.
For example, we made it easier to use innovative construction materials and techniques that can save time and money… and we’re allowing more residents and commercial tenants to safely occupy the lower floors of super tall buildings – like condominiums and rental buildings – sooner.
Municipal building departments can also design and administer their own internship programs to help develop a pipeline of new building officials to better support construction activity.
We’ve worked closely with municipalities to ensure they have the tools they need to help address the housing crisis in their communities.
Many municipalities are already using these tools and successfully building homes faster.
But we need all municipalities to do their part to provide people with access to housing that meets their needs.
Our government will keep working with you to keep costs down and deliver on our commitment to build 1.5 million homes to address the housing supply crisis.
Our government’s policies have delivered historic results in getting more housing built faster, and complement our nearly $4.4 billion investments over the past three years.
These investments will grow and enhance community and supportive housing for vulnerable Ontarians and Indigenous people as well as addressing homelessness.
We have gone above and beyond to support our municipal and Indigenous partners, but we need the federal government to step up and do their part.
As I’ve said before, solving the housing crisis is a long-term process that requires long-term commitment and collaboration with all levels of government.
That’s why in June, I met with my federal, provincial and territorial colleagues to discuss housing and homelessness, identify opportunities to collaborate on solutions, and advocate for Ontario’s fair share of federal funding.
Ontario is currently being underfunded by approximately $490 million for housing and homelessness over the term of the National Housing Strategy based on the province’s level of Core Housing Need, which is the highest in the country.
We need our municipal partners to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us and urge the federal government to pay its fair share, so we can continue working together to deliver supports and resources to vulnerable populations.
We will continue advocating for Ontario to ensure federal programs align with our priorities and the needs of Ontarians.
Our government also listened when municipalities told us just how important the Social Services Relief Fund has been to ensure they have the additional resources they need to support our most vulnerable.
Ontario’s total SSRF investment is over $1.2 billion, one of the biggest investments in affordable housing and homelessness supports in the province’s history.
This funding is helping municipal and Indigenous partners to build stable housing solutions, add to rent banks and support staff and residents to respond to increased shelter demands.
But we didn’t stop there.
After extensive consultation with the community housing sector, we introduced a new regulatory framework under the Community Housing Renewal Strategy to strengthen the system for those who live and work in it…
We’re investing an additional $25 million annually in our Homelessness Prevention Program to help more people find the right housing and other supports, bringing the total annual investment to $464 million.
We are providing $10 million annually to support Indigenous led, culturally appropriate long-term housing solutions and wraparound services for Indigenous people who are experiencing homelessness…
And investing an additional $6.7 million in the Indigenous Supportive Housing Program in 2022-23, bringing the total annual investment to $30 million.
By investing in supportive housing that is by and for Indigenous people, we are one step closer to building a better, brighter future for everyone who calls Ontario home.
Local governments play a critical role in our communities, providing many of the essential services that residents and businesses rely on every day.
The past three years have shown us how important it is for municipalities to have the tools and flexibility they need to function effectively.
That’s why we are strengthening local governments by helping municipalities improve local service delivery.
We’ve allocated up to $350 million through 2022-23 to help municipalities identify and implement modern solutions through the Audit and Accountability Fund, Municipal Modernization Program, and Streamline Development Approval Fund.
Thanks to your innovative ideas and participation, the programs have been tremendously successful!
We are supporting over 940 projects that are helping municipalities across the province deliver more modern, efficient services.
These programs are also helping municipalities unlock housing supply by streamlining, digitizing, and modernizing their approach to managing and approving applications for residential developments.
For example, the Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry are working together to develop a one-window permit service, which will speed up approvals.
And York Region is working to improve customer service and make it easier for stakeholders to share information online.
They are also standardizing the application process for new residential and commercial developments.
We also look forward to working with our partners in rural communities, including by carefully reviewing the Rural Ontario Municipal Association’s recommendations on attainable housing and purpose-built rental accommodations.
These are just a few examples of how we are working with municipalities to deliver better, more modern services for the people of Ontario.
We’ll continue working with municipalities to better meet local needs, increase housing supply and make housing more affordable for hardworking Ontarians.
I would like to note here Premier Ford’s serious concern over a disturbing trend affecting too many Ontario homebuyers.
We’ve all seen recent media reports of cancelled contracts for new homes – some for legitimate reasons, but others for clearly unethical ones.
This is unfair and wrong, and we are actively working to stop it from happening again.
Last November, the Premier vowed to stop developers from trying to unfairly make extra money off the backs of hard-working people.
We unequivocally expect all builders to operate in a professional manner, with fairness, honesty and integrity towards consumers.
That’s why our government strengthened the regulatory tools available to address this behaviour, including in the New Home Construction Licensing Act and the More Homes for Everyone Act.
These measures include much heftier fines for builders who try to rip off homebuyers, as well as enhanced powers so the Home Construction Regulatory Authority can proactively investigate potential bad behaviour on the part of developers.
On top of this, we’re protecting consumers by ensuring the deposits they put down for pre-construction condominiums are returned with interest at the Bank of Canada rate in case a project is cancelled.
Taken together, these significantly strengthened penalties and reparations could cost unlawful developers hundreds of thousands of dollars on a single home, as well as the loss of their builders licence.
Moreover, these penalties are retroactive, which means developers who acted unethically prior to the regulations coming into force will still be held accountable.
These measures will make any predatory builders think twice before trying to rip off an Ontario homebuyer, and we are keeping a close eye to ensure they have the intended effect.
Hard-working Ontarians can rest assured knowing our government has their backs as they embark on their journey of home ownership.
I’ll close by saying that we know collaboration with our municipal partners is key to building strong, thriving communities.
I’m very proud of all that we’ve achieved together.
With municipal elections coming up this fall, I want to take this opportunity to thank
every local leader in this room for your unwavering dedication and service to your communities.
I also want to thank AMO and everyone here today for your continued support and partnership.
Our government will continue working with you to build on our progress by building more housing faster… getting shovels in the ground on critical infrastructure … and creating good, local jobs in our communities.
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