October 1, 2011
Chris Luxemburger, President
The Brampton Real Estate Board
35 Van Kirk Drive, Unit #10
Dear Mr. Luxemburger:
Thank you for your letter and the enclosed questionnaire from the Brampton Real Estate Board (BREB). I am pleased to have the opportunity to respond on behalf of the Ontario Liberal Party.
Working together, the number of homeowners in Ontario has grown to an all-time high — increasing by hundreds of thousands — since 2003. According to the most recent census, more than 71 per cent of Ontarians have achieved the dream of owning their own home.
Ontario Liberals recognize the close link between a strong economy and a healthy real estate market. That is why we have worked hard over the past eight years to modernize our tax system, reduce red tape, develop a skilled and well- educated workforce, and invest in critical infrastructure neglected by the previous PC government.
Today, our schools are rated among the world’s best, our health care ranks first in Canada, and old jobs are coming back while new jobs are being created in emerging industries like advanced manufacturing and clean energy. This can only strengthen the economy and, in turn, our real estate market.
Our plan is getting results and Ontario is solidly on track. The Hudak PCs would take us off track and put our fragile recovery at risk with their reckless schemes.
We need to keep moving forward, together. We look forward to continuing to work with the Brampton Real Estate Board to strengthen our economy and build an even brighter future for Ontario.
Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party
Brampton Real Estate Board
1. Does your party have a strategy to support home ownership in Ontario?
The number of homeowners in Ontario has grown to an all-time high — increasing by hundreds of thousands — since 2003. According to the most recent census, more than 71 per cent of Ontarians have achieved the dream of owning their own home.
The most important thing we can do to encourage homeownership is to focus on economic growth and job creation. Despite being hit hard by the global economic downturn, Ontario is now emerging from the recession stronger, having regained more than all of the jobs lost during the downturn. Our Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth, which cuts the tax rate on new business investment in half, is showing results. In 2010, for the second year in a row, the Financial Times of London ranked Ontario second only to California in North America as a recipient of foreign direct investment. To secure an even brighter economic future for our children and grandchildren, we need to keep building the best education system in the world so we can compete with India and China. To ensure our workforce is healthy, we need to keep building a strong, sustainable public health care system, and we need clean, reliable energy.
Given the significant risks that remain in the world economy, and the ever-increasing forces of global competitiveness, it is more important than ever that we stay on track with our long-term economic plan, and reject both the deep cuts proposed by the PCs and the job-killing taxes offered by the NDP.
Ontario Liberals also took specific measures to help Ontarians with the costs of homeownership. We introduced a rebate so that first-time home buyers can get up to $2,000 back on their land transfer tax. We helped with home energy costs by reducing hydro bills by 10 per cent through our Ontario Clean Energy Benefit. We introduced the Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit, as well as the Northern Ontario Energy Credit. Our Senior Homeowners’ Property Tax Grant helps seniors stay in their homes by providing them up to $500 per year to help with the cost of property taxes.
2. How would a government make home ownership more affordable for first time buyers?
Ontario Liberals have long been committed to ensuring that low- and moderate-income families have access to safe and affordable housing options. Down payment assistance offered under the Homeownership component of the Affordable Housing Program Extension (2009) helped low- and moderate-income households purchase affordable homes, while encouraging new affordable ownership housing development.
In response to feedback from service managers, we also ensured that resale units were included as an eligible unit type for down payment assistance. This change acknowledged the positive economic impact of resale home purchases and sales, while addressing the concerns of service managers in areas where newly built homes lack affordability.
Also, a land transfer tax rebate has been available to first-time home buyers who purchase newly constructed homes. The first-time home buyers’ program was expanded in 2007 to include purchases of resale homes.
Ontario Liberals are also committed to continuing to reduce costs for Ontario builders so that homeownership is affordable for Ontario families.
3. Does your party support energy efficiency retrofit rebates for home owners?
Ontario is a North American leader in conservation and we are committed to achieving the conservation targets — 7100 megawatts (MW) by 2030 — outlined in our Long-Term Energy Plan. The four-year Ontario Home Energy Savings Program (HESP) helped homeowners, supported jobs and improved Ontario’s environment. The program supported over 354,000 energy efficiency retrofits and will save an approximate $4.5 billion in lifetime energy costs.
It also supported 9,400 jobs and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 557,000 tonnes per year. Ontario Liberals were proud to continue to fund this program until March 2011 despite the federal government’s early and unexpected withdrawal of support in March of 2010.
Although HESP did end as planned at the end of March 2011, we continue to fund the cost of half an energy audit, up to $150. We have also introduced a suite of comprehensive conservation programs aimed at residential, commercial and industrial users. These programs are part of the new saveONenergy program, which is being delivered by the local distribution companies and will empower a wide range of Ontario electricity consumers with the tools they need to use less energy and to save money. For more information, please visit https://saveonenergy.ca/
4. Does your party favour the creation of a permanent Ontario home renovation tax rebate?
Ontario Liberals are the only party committed to a home renovation tax credit.
Ontario Liberals will create a Healthy Home Renovation Tax Credit to help seniors make the renovations they need to meet their changing needs so they can remain at home as they age.
The credit — which is worth 15 per cent of up to $10,000 in renovations per year — can be claimed by seniors for their own home or by a family member who is providing a home for an elderly relative. The credit covers changes that allow seniors to continue living independently, such as a chair lift to upper floors or a walk-in shower to prevent falls.
Ontario’s tax plan will deliver $12 billion in temporary and permanent tax relief for people over three years. Ninety-three per cent of Ontario income taxpayers received a permanent personal income tax cut, saving the average family $355 per year. We also introduced a range of tax credits to help with family finances, including the Ontario Sales Tax Credit, the Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit, the Children’s Activity Tax Credit and the Senior Homeowners’ Property Tax Grant.
5. What is your party’s plan to eliminate the deficit and pay down Ontario’s debt?
When the global economic downturn hit, Ontario Liberals responded, creating jobs through strategic infrastructure investments and maintaining public services for people and communities in need. Now that the economy has turned the corner, we must confront the challenge of returning to fiscal balance while protecting health care and education. An Ontario Liberal government would build on its track record of fiscal responsibility to address the debt and deficit challenge, ensuring that government lives within its means over the long run. Just as we eliminated the $5.6-billion deficit we inherited in 2003, delivered three consecutive balanced budgets and surpassed our fiscal targets since the onset of the global economic downturn — Ontario Liberals are the only party with a plan to balance the budget by 2017-18 by focusing squarely on making government more efficient, effective and responsive.
Ontario Liberals are ahead of schedule with our plan to eliminate the deficit while protecting health care and education. Ontario’s deficit in 2010-2011 was $5.7 billion lower than projected in the 2010 budget. This progress is mainly due to the delivery of better front-line services as we work to control costs. More than three-quarters of all ministries found savings or spent less than had been projected.
This is the second consecutive year that Ontario has done better than the projections in the Balanced Budget Plan. The Ontario economy has now grown for seven consecutive quarters and jobs are coming back. This year, 63 per cent of the full-time jobs created in Canada have been in Ontario.
So far, we have saved by undertaking major initiatives such as harmonizing our tax system, reforming our generic drug system and shrinking the size of the public service.
We have also saved by spending less on consultants, travel, telecom, fuel, office equipment and paper. And we have reduced the number of government agencies, asked our major agencies to deliver efficiencies of $200 million, and reduced public-sector executive office budgets by 10 per cent.
An Ontario Liberal government would build on the recommendations of the Drummond Commission, and on the 2011 Budget, by introducing further reforms that drive efficiencies while protecting the services that matter most to Ontarians.
Instead of addressing the long-term fiscal challenge, the PCs have produced a platform containing a $14-billion hole — that is $14 billion in uncosted promises on top of the existing budget. This is a recipe for deep, across-the-board cuts to health care and education — cuts that will derail Ontario’s ongoing recovery and make our economy less competitive in the long run. The NDP, with their disappointing platform, are calling for a crushing $9 billion in new taxes, which will kill jobs, slow growth and lead to higher deficits.
6. What is your party’s plan to expand the supply of rental housing?
Since 2003, Ontario Liberals have invested more toward the creation and repair of affordable housing than any previous government. After years of neglect by the previous PC government, Ontario Liberals began investing in a cash-strapped system that was left depleted and in need of necessary repair.
To date, we have provided more than $2.5 billion toward housing. Our unprecedented investments, committed in both good and lean economic times, have helped us create 22,000 new units while repairing more than 250,000 others.
These investments have assisted more than 680,000 Ontarians to date, but have also helped us create more than 53,000 person years of employment, both prior to and during the economic downturn.
7. Does your party support the creation of a broad based portable rental housing allowance?
Ontario Liberals are committed to ensuring that low-income families have access
to safe and affordable housing. Unlike the PCs, who downloaded the responsibility for affordable housing and homelessness onto the backs of local municipalities, and drastically under-funded the housing portfolio during their time in office, Ontario Liberals have invested more than any previous government, providing in excess of $2.5 billion to date.
Our investments have helped us build and repair more units than any previous government, but have also assisted us in providing more than 35,000 rent supplements to date.
We are also the first government in Ontario history to move forward with a long-term affordable housing strategy, which will greatly improve the ability of municipalities to address local needs by providing them with the flexibility to utilize housing dollars in local priorities that they determine. Rental housing allowances is certainly one area that providers will be able to invest in.
8. If elected, would your government create a provincial registry of former marijuana grow operations and clandestine laboratories?
Ontario Liberals believe that the most effective way to reduce crime in our province is to get tough on crime, while also getting tough on the root causes of crime. Our goal is to reduce and ultimately eradicate crime in our communities — in particular gun, drug and gang activity from Ontario’s landscape.
Since 2003, we have put over 2,500 additional officers on the street, including 150 for targeted drug enforcement. We have created a first-ever coordinated Guns and Gangs Strategy to support our law enforcement in the fight against drugs, guns and gangs. Included in this strategy is the $2-million Crystal Methamphetamine Elimination Project, aimed at dismantling clandestine operations.
In 2005, Ontario Liberals enacted Bill 128, which gives electricity distribution companies the authority to cut power without notice at any property where they believe the property is being used as a grow op or drug lab. The legislation requires municipalities to inspect a property after being notified by police that it had been used as a grow op, and to order remedial work where the property is found to be unsafe.
We also strengthened the Civil Remedies Act (2005) to allow for the seizure of drugs and equipment from grow ops and drug labs, and divert them into a special victims of crime fund.
The results have been remarkable. We have reduced crime in Ontario, and it is now the lowest in Canada. Since 2007, there have been over 9,000 investigations, $750 million in drugs seized, 1,500 grow ops dismantled and hundreds of thousands of marijuana plants destroyed.
By focusing on enforcement and intervention, we are reducing illegal gang, drug and weapon activity, thus preventing the expansion of drug operations in our communities.
While Ontario Liberals have made significant progress, we still have more to do. We created a Provincial Advisory Group on marijuana and clandestine grow operations representing input from fire, police, industry and relevant experts to provide advice on reducing the prevalence of these operations in our communities. We are enthusiastic about working with you as we move forward on a number of its important recommendations.
Thank you for the opportunity to share with BREB the Ontario Liberals’ plan for a brighter future for Ontario.