The Ontario government’s new housing plan is a major step toward tackling the province’s growing supply shortage, but “there is more to be done,” Ontario Real Estate Association Chief Executive Officer Tim Hudak said.

The province’s Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act, which was recently passed, took several of the recommendations from the government-appointed Housing Affordability Task Force, added Hudak, who was a member.


It’s probably the most pro-homeownership and pro-rental legislation enacted in my lifetime. …it is an important first step."

Tim Hudak, CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association

The bill includes important legislation aimed at intensifying housing along transit lines; lowering costs to develop a piece of property and removing red tape to cut down on approval time; ending exclusionary zoning to allow a property to have more density, or homes on it.

“It’s probably the most pro-homeownership and pro-rental legislation enacted in my lifetime. There is more to be done, but it is an important first step,” Hudak, former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, said during the Scotiabank Affordable Housing Summit in January. 

Ontario’s Housing Affordability Task Force was appointed in December 2021 to tackle the growing housing supply crisis in the province. In its report, the task force noted that 1.5 million homes need to be built in the next 10 years if the province is to solve the housing affordability crisis. It made more than 50 recommendations in order to reach that goal.

OREA, which represents and supports 96,000 Realtors across Ontario in helping people find a great place to call home, work and thrive, is focused on helping advance legislation to end exclusionary zoning and bring more pro-housing policies forward, which would level the playing field for first-time homebuyers and renters, Hudak said.

The Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area, a destination for many immigrants to Canada, needs to make the most of the land between Lake Ontario and the Greenbelt, and especially along major transit corridors, he said, noting that 70% of the land in Toronto is single family housing.

Using the example of a wartime bungalow past its prime, Hudak noted that bylaws permit the owner to replace it with a four-storey single home, but if they want to build a duplex, a triplex, or townhomes, which are affordable for first-time buyers, there are a lot of regulatory hoops to go through. “It can take a year plus, so many people throw up their hands and walk away,” he said.

In areas of higher density, Hudak said, owners should also be able to convert a commercial building into residential or mixed use and build high around and above transit stations without having to deal with regulations that delay the project. 

In smaller communities, Hudak said getting more homes built on land that is not environmentally sensitive should be supported by infrastructure investments in transportation, communication and internet access, and natural gas.

Hudak also applauds the move by Ontario to hold councils in the largest 20 or 25 municipalities accountable for building a set number of homes. “If you don’t measure something, you’re just practicing. You’ve got to set goals,” he said.

Achieving those goals could be advanced by also acting on the taskforce’s recommendation to create a housing delivery fund to reward municipalities that meet their targets by moving them to the top of the list for, say, an arena, a highway expansion, or a bridge. On the other hand, communities that created barriers to developing housing would be sent to the bottom of the list. “You need that significant carrot to incent those targets,” Hudak said.

There are jurisdictions that are finding some success in addressing the housing supply shortage, Hudak noted. Calgary, for example, is advancing with respect to exclusionary zoning and conversion of commercial properties, while Alberta tends to have a lot less red tape, which means less delays getting projects built, he said.

Similar to Ontario, Nova Scotia appointed a task force and subsequently empowered its housing minister to declare areas where intensification would increase. “That will get more homes built in Halifax alone than have been built across the entire province in the past four years,” Hudak said.

While he acknowledges the federal government has little influence on getting affordable housing built, he noted a couple of ways in which it could be helpful.

Every federal budget should include the infrastructure fund to incent municipalities — the housing delivery fund, he said.

Second, if Ontario is to meet the task force’s recommendation for 1.5 million homes to be built, something needs to be done about the labour supply shortage. While the province is responsible for getting it in the classrooms, and making the apprenticeship programs clearer, the federal government is responsible for the immigration incentive system, Hudak said.