RESCON sent letter to Premier Doug Ford.Photo: Viktor Birkus / Adobe Stock

Ontario’s residential building association is urging the premier to make changes that will help to meet the province’s target of creating 1.5 million homes in the next decade.

Earlier this week, the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) announced that it had sent a letter to Premier Doug Ford highlighting “critical steps,” that should be taken to produce more housing in the province. In its four-page letter, RESCON outlined recommendations to end exclusionary zoning, digitize the development approvals process and reform the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) to allow more newcomers to work in construction, among other suggestions.

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“The government has already taken many positive steps to address the housing and skilled trades shortage and we appreciate that, but there are inefficiencies in the development approvals process and further actions are necessary in order to keep up with demand and ensure that our industry can meet the housing supply target,” said Richard Lyall, president of RESCON, in a press release.

“We must address these issues as they will dissuade building investment and hamper the economic recovery of our province,” he added.

To remove barriers that impact the creation of housing, RESCON recommended in its letter to the premier that action should be taken to end exclusionary zoning and establish province-wide zoning standards, a step that would spur missing middle housing development. Municipal development planning and building permitting processes should also be reformed to tackle inefficiencies and process challenges, the letter stated.

The association noted in its letter that the More Homes for Everyone Plan — a bill focused on the creation and development of Ontario housing — incorporates some of the recommendations proposed in the Housing Affordability Task Force Report that was published in February. RESCON called the bill a “good first step,” towards increasing housing stock. However, the organization stated that a pathway to implement all 55 recommendations from the Task Force’s report “is needed for 1.5 million homes built within the next decade to come to fruition.”

By 2030, nearly a quarter of the Greater Toronto Area’s construction labour force is set to retire, equivalent to 42,840 workers. This will require thousands of labourers to be trained and hired to replace those heading into retirement in order to keep up with housing demand. However, domestic training and hiring alone will not offset these impending shortages, RESCON explained.

To manage the potential shortfall of workers, RESCON suggested in its letter that changes should be made to the OINP system so that more immigrants can work in construction, like removing administrative burdens to streamline the hiring process and expand the list of eligible professions.

“To build the much-needed new housing, we must also have a well-thought-out skilled trades strategy to train the next generation of workers,” said Lyall. “Funding needs to be expanded to recruit and train more voluntary residential trades with specialized skill sets, some of which are suffering acute shortages.”

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