Ontario could fall well short of its signature commitment to build 1.5 million homes by 2031, according to projections included in the latest budget.
In order to meet its ambitious target, the province would need to build an average of 150,000 homes per year.
The 2023 budget, however, projects fewer than 100,00 new homes will begin construction every year between 2022 and 2025.
A total of 96,100 homes were started in 2022, the document said. That number is set to fall to 80,300 in 2023 and again to 79,300 the following year. The budget projects around 82,700 homes will begin construction in 2025.
That means over four of the 10 years set out in the province’s plan, just 23 per cent of its total target of homes would be built.
Speaking on Thursday, Ontario finance minister Peter Bethlenfalvy said he was “optimistic,” noting the projections came from the private sector and did not reflect recent legislative changes.
“We have a long-term goal,” he said, adding, “What I do know is we won’t relent.”
The target has been at the centre of the Ford government’s approach to housing, affordability and controversial legislation.
In its quest to build housing, the province has announced policies that it says will make it easier to build homes and reduce red tape.
They include removing 7,400 acres from the protected Greenbelt to allow for homes to be built and dramatically reducing the fees that developers must pay to cities when they build.
The policies have faced a fierce backlash from many cities, mayors and environmental advocates.
Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said that building in the Greenbelt would actually make housing more expensive. “It costs so much money for municipalities to service sprawl,” he said.
Defending them, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his ministers have said the changes are necessary to deliver 1.5 million homes and reduce the cost of both home ownership and rental.
“We’ll have some lower years, and we’ll have some higher years,” Bethlenfalvy said.