Ontario Government Passes Controversial Housing Bill That Affects 13 Pieces Of Legislation

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Queen's Park. Photo credit: “Ontario Legislature” by Flickr user abdallahh is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The controversial More Homes, More Choice Act, also known as Bill 108, garnered many negative reactions even before the provincial government passed the bill on June 6, introducing changes to 13 pieces of legislation aimed at addressing the housing crisis in Ontario.

The legislation is a central part of the More Homes, More Choice: Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan, which outlines legislative, regulatory and policy changes across multiple ministries. The changes look to eliminate unnecessary steps, duplication and barriers to creating the housing Ontarians need, according to a statement from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The bill includes changes to four pieces of environmental legislation, four pieces of legislation related to planning and development, and three pieces of legislation regarding workplace safety and labour. It also contains alterations to the Education Act and the Cannabis Control Act.

“Our government wants to put affordable home ownership in reach of more Ontario families, and provide more people with the opportunity to live closer to where they work,” said Steve Clark, minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “That’s why we consulted widely and acted swiftly to face the housing crisis we inherited head on. This legislation will make it easier to build more homes, more quickly, giving people more housing options and helping to bring prices down.”

Tim Hudak, CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association, said that the passing of the Ford government’s More Homes, More Choices Act means that help has finally arrived. He said he applauds Minister Clark and the Ford government for the legislation, which incorporates eight of 10 points from the OREA’s submission to the province’s Housing Supply Action Plan consultation.

Despite Hudak’s praise, the bill received considerable backlash across the province, even before it passed. In an open letter from May 31, six Toronto-area mayors, over 40 municipal councillors, 18 environmental advocacy groups and 18 housing advocacy groups urged the government to delay passing the legislation to provide more time for consultation. Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger said he is totally opposed to Bill 108, calling it shortsighted on the Bill Kelly Show on June 4. The City of Brampton released a statement on their website, saying that while the city supports the goal of housing affordability, it’s unlikely that Bill 108, as proposed, will provide that result.

Environmental groups have been vocal as well, particularly when it comes to concerns about the Endangered Species Act. The advocacy groups Ontario Nature, the David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence and Grassroots released a joint statement on June 6, emphasizing that the bill takes Ontario in the wrong direction for protecting the province’s biodiversity. The statement said the provincial government chose to “ram the Bill through the Legislature, curtailing debate and ignoring the serious concerns of environmental organizations, scientists, Indigenous voices, municipalities and tens of thousands of citizens” due to growing opposition to the bill.

“The Endangered Species Act has been torn to shreds,” said Kelsey Scarfone, program manager with Environmental Defence, in the statement. “Those with a vested, short-term economic interest in sprawl development now have free rein to bulldoze, dig up and pave over the habitats of our most vulnerable plants and animals.”

To read a summary of the changes from the Ontario Government, click here. To read Bill 108, visit the Legislative Assembly of Ontario website.

Photo credit: “Ontario Legislature” by Flickr user abdallahh is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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