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New land transfer tax powers will hurt Ontarians

(November 9, 2015) Our party is all for giving Ontario municipalities the tools they need to get the job done – that only makes good sense.

But the Liberals' plan to give municipalities the powers to levy their own municipal land transfer taxes is off the mark.

For starters, an expansion of these tax powers will mean an additional cost to people who dream of owning a home. It takes a long time to save for a down payment and it's not right that this additional tax must now be factored in.

There is no doubt this tax would disproportionately impact the middle-class and young families starting out and that's wrong.

This tax could also cost the province $2.3-billion in lost economic activity and 15,000 jobs, which is the last thing Ontario needs.

Since news broke last week that Premier Wynne might expand land transfer tax powers, I've heard loud and clear from residents in Simcoe-Grey. I've received dozens of emails from people, upset about this new tax.

"The Ontario government's plan to allow municipalities to introduce a municipal land transfer tax, or MLTT, will double the land transfer tax burden on Ontario," one Beeton resident wrote me. "Buying a home is part of the Canadian dream. I'm one of the 85 percent of Ontarians that believe the government shouldn't be making it harder to own a home."

The association that represents the Ontario real estate community is also speaking out.

"This is an unfair, unsustainable and unpredictable tax," Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) president Patricia Verge told Toronto Sun columnist Christina Blizzard.

On the OREA website, Verge also talks about the land transfer tax issue.

"Ontario homeowners are already charged a provincial land transfer tax, so by adding a municipal tax, they're essentially doubling the tax burden on Ontario families," she said.

She also points out that in May 2014, during the last provincial election, the Liberals told OREA they had no plans to extend land transfer tax powers to municipalities.

Promise made, promise broken. Unfortunately, that's the Liberal way.

Verge says OREA wants the Liberals to remain good on their election promise and so do we.

Furthermore, so do Ontarians. An Ipsos Reid poll shows that 89 percent of Ontarians outside the Toronto area oppose new land transfer tax powers for municipalities.

In the same poll, 77 percent of respondents indicated that if a new land transfer tax were put in place, it would limit their ability to afford a new home.

We've seen Ontarians demand the government not sell off Hydro One. We've seen the public outraged over the gas plant scandal and the ORNGE Air scandal. Our party has voiced its concern over these issues too. But each time the Liberals scoff at the objections and move on.

Maybe this time they will listen.

Ontarians shouldn't have to watch their home ownership dreams destroyed by a new tax made possible thanks to the Wynne Liberals.

Jim Wilson is the Progressive Conservative MPP for Simcoe-Grey.


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