Ontario considering ‘speculation tax’ to cool housing

GTA prices are up 33.4% from a year ago

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TORONTO — The Ontario government is considering a tax on non-resident speculators as it looks for ways to cool the hot housing market in the Greater Toronto Area.

A spokeswoman for Premier Kathleen Wynne says the tax is one of the measures being examined as the province readies to unveil a much-anticipated package of housing affordability measures.

The possibility of the tax has been raised as Ontario’s finance minister is set to meet today with his federal counterpart and the Toronto mayor to discuss housing affordability in the GTA.

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa has said he’s concerned about speculators “playing the market” and therefore limiting supply.

Sousa has also mused about a tax on foreign buyers or vacant homes, as well as looking at ways to speed up more supply becoming available.

The average price of detached houses in the region was $1.21 million last month, up 33.4 per cent from a year ago.

A spokesman for federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau says Ottawa is concerned about diminishing affordability in the housing market, calling the matter a complex issue with lots to talk about.

Toronto Mayor John Tory has said he plans to discuss the city’s lagging rental supply, a vacant property tax and the lack of real estate data at today’s meeting.

Last week, the head of the Bank of Canada warned of growing speculation in the Toronto housing market and said a correction there could reverberate in other parts of the country.

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