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Almost 20% of Ontario MPPs declared rental income in 2021

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Almost one in five members of the Ontario provincial parliament declared rental income in 2021, according to public filings from the integrity commissioner.

The disclosures reveal 13 PC, eight NDP, two Liberal and one Independent MPP declared rental income for themselves or their spouses last year. It comes as Ontario prepares for an election campaign that looks set to focus on affordability.

MPPs are responsible for setting rental rules in Ontario, including policies around rent controls.

Elected officials at Queen’s Park are required, under the Members’ Integrity Act (1994), to provide detailed financial information about themselves and their families to the integrity commissioner every year.

The information, which includes amounts and sources of income, is confidential but a summarized version is made available to the public. This limited public document discloses if a member of the legislature earns rental income.

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There are no rules that forbid MPPs in Ontario from also acting as landlords and the politicians with declared rental income on their disclosures followed the proper process.

Five PC cabinet ministers are among the 24 Ontario MPPs that declared rental income for themselves or their spouses last year.

Jill Dunlop, minister of colleges and universities, and Parm Gill, minister of citizenship and multiculturalism, both listed rental income in 2021. Nina Tangri, responsible for small business, and Peter Bethlenfalvy, minister of finance, also earned rental income.

Stan Cho, associate minister of transportation (GTA), was the fifth cabinet member to declare rental income in 2021.

A spokesperson for Bethlenfalvy said his rental property was in Florida, not Ontario.

An additional eight PC Party MPPs declared rental income for them or their spouses in 2021. Four of them — Amarjot Sandhu, Deepak Anand, Rudy Cuzzetto and Sheref Sabawy — represented ridings in Peel Region.

Anand, the PC MPP for Mississauga-Malton, told Global News his prime residence has a one-bedroom unit attached that he rents out. Cuzzetto, whose partner declare rental income, said his wife is the co-owner of a rental property in Quebec.

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Three others — Billy Pang, Logan Kanapathi and Vincent Ke — are from elsewhere in the GTA.

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Will Bouma, who was elected in the 2018 PC blue wave to represent Brantford-Brant, also declared rental income for both himself and his partner.

Eight of the NDP’s 38 MPPs elected in 2018 declared rental income last year.

Four represent ridings in the Greater Toronto Area: Bhutila Karpoche, Chris Glover, Doly Begum and Gurratan Singh.

Andrea Horwath, the party’s leader, alongside Percy Hatfield, Sandy Shaw and Teresa Armstrong, also disclosed rental income to Ontario’s integrity commissioner.

Percy Hatfield, the retiring NDP MPP for Windsor-Tecumseh, said he owns a rental that his daughter lives in.

Two Liberal MPPs were also on the list of Queen’s Park politicians earning rental income in 2021.

Former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne said she owns two properties. One is rented out to a tenant and, with the funds she earns as a landlord, Wynne is able to support her niece who lives with disabilities in the other property, she told Global News.

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Mitzie Hunter, who was elected for the Liberals to represent Scarborough-Guildwood in 2018, also declared rental income.

“As has always been the case, all MPPs are required to meet the asset disclosure requirements set by the Integrity Commissioner’s Office and all Liberal MPPs are in compliance with these rules,” the Liberal Party said in response to questions from Global News.

Neither the PCs nor the NDP provided comment.

Roman Baber, who sits as an Independent MPP and is running for the Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership, also declared rental income in 2021.

Provincial politicians in Ontario are responsible for setting the rules for landlords and tenants in Ontario, including overseeing the rules that govern rent increases and evictions.

In 2018, the PC Party passed legislation that capped rent control on new buildings that were occupied for the first time after Nov. 15, 2018.

Landlords of apartments built and occupied after that date are not required to follow provincially capped rent increases.

For apartments that do fall under rent control rules, the increase was capped at 1.2 per cent in 2022.

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Heading into June’s provincial election, all of Ontario’s major parties are making promises around housing and rent.

The Progressive Conservatives’ final budget, which was tabled without being passed and is expected to act as their campaign document, makes few references to rentals.

The document’s housing section promises to protect “homebuyers, homeowners and renters” by cracking down on foreign speculation and helping municipalities consider vacant home taxes that are also aimed at reducing speculation.

The document also promised to hold “new home builders and vendors to professional standards” and increase fines.

The NDP has released a detailed housing platform that includes several pledges to “make rent affordable” in Ontario.

In one promise, Horwath’s party said it will abolish rules that allow landlords to reset rent after tenants move out.

Under the current system, rent control only applies to tenants who have lived in a home continuously and as soon as new tenants move, landlords can set rents at whatever rate the market will bear.

“We will also ensure that you pay what the last tenant paid by scrapping vacancy decontrol,” the NDP platform says.

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The party has also promised to create a “portable housing benefit” that will help 311,000 households and restore in-person hearings at the Landlord Tenant Board.

The Ontario Liberal Party, which has not yet released its platform, promised policies that will include “real relief for renters and a strong plan for addressing housing affordability across the province.”

Rents in the GTA, where 16 of the 24 MPPs who declared rental income represented ridings, are some of the highest in Canada.

According to the Rentals.ca monthly rent tracker, Toronto, Etobicoke and Mississauga are included in the 10 most expensive cities to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Canada.

Toronto, which is second only to Vancouver in rental costs, averaged $2,023 per month for a one-bedroom in April, up 11 per cent compared with 2021. The average price for a two-bedroom was $2,776 – a year-on-year increase of more than 16 per cent.

A poll completed by Ipsos exclusively for Global News found 63 per cent of Canadians who did not own a house had “given up” on ever buying one.

The election campaign is expected to officially begin in Ontario on May 4.

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