Canada, Ontario face hard choice as Toronto home bubble builds

Canada, Ontario face hard choice as Toronto home bubble builds

Canada, Ontario face hard choice as Toronto home bubble builds

The Ontario government will take steps within a week to try to rein in the cost of buying and renting a home in the Greater Toronto Area, senior officials tell CBC News.

The Greater Toronto Area may be the focus of federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau's meeting with his provincial counterpart and Mayor John Tory on Tuesday, but a city more than 4,000 kilometres away could be top of mind, according to a leading financial expert.

Tory said the three also discussed the possibility of a tax on vacant homes in order to discourage speculators form holding on to empty units.

Resales of Canadian homes rose 1.1 percent in March from February and prices were up 18.6 percent from a year earlier as strong demand in Toronto offset cooling elsewhere, a report from the Canadian Real Estate Association showed on Tuesday.

"In the coming week, the Ontario government will announce a suite of measures created to increase supply and address demand", Sousa told a news conference in a tree-lined Toronto neighbourhood.

Sousa said Ontario policy makers will unveil a "suite of measures" in coming days in an effort to boost housing supply and address price gains in Toronto and the broader region.

"We're concerned that the price increases, in particular in the GTA, are putting the dream of owning a home out of reach of middle-class families", he said.

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"Ontarians can't afford to wait, we need to act now", Sousa said, adding, "Stay tuned".

Sousa has signalled new housing affordability measures may be part of his government's upcoming budget, taking aim at what he called "property scalpers" in public comments last week.

"The challenge for Toronto is whether these people think a foreign buyers tax in isolation is a good idea or not". We know these individuals are concerned by the housing market.

"What we are trying to do today is to work collaboratively to make sure we are getting at measures that can actually deal with that potentially speculative behavior", Morneau said.

The two finance ministers and Toronto Mayor John Tory will meet on Tuesday to discuss house affordability in the region.

While ongoing collaboration with the federal government and City of Toronto is key to improving housing affordability for renters and those looking to purchase a home over the long term, our government is also aware that a response is needed now to address recent dramatic increases in rents and home prices.

Last year, the Clark government in B.C. put in place new rules that require real estate agents to draft offers that require the seller's consent to a contract transfer, and any resulting profit to be returned to the seller.

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