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Remarks to Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs

February 6, 2023


Hello, my name is Jason Burggraaf, Executive Director of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association.


Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today, it is much appreciated.


I’m pulling a bit of double duty here today as I’m representing Ottawa home builders but I’ll also be referencing the recommendations of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association, which they will elaborate on in their written submission.


So I’d like to go over our high-level recommendations:


First, that the province should eliminate the provincial portion of HST on new housing entirely and offset that shift in revenue with a flat tax on all new home sales


Second, the government should further strengthen the land transfer tax rebate for first time home buyers. In order to ensure that the land transfer tax rebate remains effective for First Time Home Buyers, we suggest the provincial government increase the maximum refund from $4000 to $10,000 dollars for qualifying buyers


Third, we recommend that the Ontario government audit municipal development charge by-laws and background studies to confirm compliance with the Development Charges Act, and implement changes to ensure that development charges are only spent on the growth-related infrastructure that they were collected for.


Fourth, we urge the government to continue to use the recommendations of the Housing Affordability Task Force to inform the government’s housing supply action bills.


And Finally, that is it critical to continue to build on the important steps that your government has already taken with the Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit, and expand this into a fulsome Home Renovation Tax Credit


And it’s this recommendation that I really want to emphasize, before adding one of our own on infrastructure.


We cannot overestimate the importance of renovation - and should I note that “renovation” in terms of projects is actually much broader than what we generally think of when we talk about renovations.


Because It’s not just repairs and upgrades. It’s often fundamental and radical changes to our living space. Its additions so that a family member can come live with us. It’s adaptions so that an elderly person can continue to live in their home safely. It’s increasing the energy efficiency of homes that that are 40, 60, 80 years old, so that they are more comfortable and cheaper to operate. It’s creating additional dwelling units so that we have more homes for people and families through intensification, and improving affordability across the spectrum.


There are 1000s and more likely 10s of 1000s of renovation projects across this city alone in various states of completion. All of these renovations improve and/or expand the livable space of someone’s home – the importance of which was never more obvious than during the pandemic.


It’s critical that we continue to encourage that renovation work be done above board, not only for the tax and revenue implications, but so that we can help ensure that jobs are done correctly and safely.


The importance of a healthy residential construction and professional renovation industry to the Ontario economy is evident:


Across the province, the industry in 2021 alone accounted for:

  • 555,000 jobs
  • Translating into 38 billion in wages
  • And 77 billion in investment
  • 100,00 housing starts


And as I said before, Renovations often don’t get enough attention – because within those economic impacts, renovations accounts for a full 60% of numbers across the province – so 333,000 jobs, 22.8 billion in wages, 46.2 billion in investment, all of that is due to renovation.


And that’s only the activity that’s above board and can be measured.


The other item I wanted to talk about today is investment in infrastructure, and specifically municipal infrastructure.


Ottawa needs new infrastructure to support new homes for its growing population, especially in terms of intensification.


Ottawa’s potential for intensification, and it’s own goals for intensification in its Official Plan, will be limited by the ability of infrastructure to support that growth.


Literally whether there is enough capacity in pipes in the ground servicing a given piece of land, or sufficient public transit.


Not just in Ottawa, but for every municipality, there will be little positive impact on housing affordability through intensification if there is insufficient infrastructure for growth. If there is not sufficient capacity – sewers and stormwater – then intensification will not produce more affordable homes because there will be significant costs to put in the appropriate infrastructure, which under current arrangements would be borne by the people who live in those new homes.


If we want to achieve 1.5 million new homes over ten years across the province, or 151,000 new homes here in Ottawa – as I certainly do – then all three levels of government – because I’m not forgetting about the feds in this - need to invest in the appropriate infrastructure to support that new housing.


We urge the province to continue and enhance its infrastructure investments at the municipal level in order to support of its housing goals.


So please let me leave you with this: Housing policy is fiscal policy.


Improving the current housing stock we have through renovations to be safer, to be more energy efficient, and to accommodate more people, is sound fiscal policy.


Ensuring the appropriate infrastructure is in place for new housing, meanwhile, will address a critical factor in housing supply and affordability.


Again, thank you for your time this afternoon and I’m happy to answer any questions.

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