GOHBA’s pre-budget submission:  Renovation tax credit, surety bonds and support for major infrastructure projects

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

As part of the Ontario Minister of Finance’s pre-budget consultations, Jason Burggraaf, executive director of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association (GOHBA) spoke via video-link on Sept. 25 with Finance Minister Rod Phillips, Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries and local MPPs Jeremy Roberts and Goldie Ghamari.

Burggraaf’s observations reflect the lobbying consensus of the home building industry, represented by the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA) and its local affiliates.

In his remarks, Burggraaf urged the government to re-establish a Home Renovation Tax Credit, support major infrastructure like stage 3 and stage 4 of Ottawa’s light rail transit, and require municipalities to accept surety bonds as a financial tool to secure municipal agreements.

Here is a transcript of his presentation.

Good afternoon Minister Phillips, Minister MacLeod, and MPPs Roberts and Ghamari. My name is Jason Burggraaf and I am the Executive Director of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association. Thank you for providing today’s opportunity to share some of our sector’s thoughts in advance of the Fall 2020 Budget.

GOHBA is the proud voice of over 350 companies operating in the residential construction industry, employing 50,000 people and generating $6 billion in economic activity across the Ottawa area. GOHBA members know this is still not a “business as usual” environment and will continue to prioritize health, safety and sanitation on job sites to protect workers, clients, and their families.

Keeping job sites safe is our industry’s first priority. The home construction sector is ready to lead Ontario’s economic rebound, as we did back in 2008 following the economic recession. Luckily, home construction is one of the few industries that operates in every community across Ontario.

We have three suggestions for you today:

First, re-establish a Home Renovation Tax Credit. Not only has a home renovation tax credit been successful in the past in stimulating the economy, it also takes work out of the underground economy, meaning taxes are being paid, and it can help address the government’s environmental and climate change priorities by improving the energy efficiency performance of homes and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A home renovation tax credit will also help the renovation sector recover from the hit it suffered during COVID-19, a hit it continues to struggle with, and it will encourage Ontarians to invest in their number one asset and the foundation of their financial security – their homes.

Second, the province should accelerate major infrastructure projects based on clearly defined priorities. Obviously the most critical project for Ottawa is stage 3 and stage 4 of Light rail transit. LRT is the defining feature of how Ottawa will grow and evolve over the next 25 years, and we are seeing significant investment and economic activity along the transit lines of Phase 2, which is currently being constructed.

Finally, require municipalities to accept surety bonds as a financial tool to secure municipal agreements. This change would continue to provide the municipality with the financial security it needs, while freeing billions of dollars of financial liquidity for development. Additionally, it would have no impact on provincial or municipal revenues or expenditures. New liquidity and investment is what is needed to generate the private sector construction jobs that Ontario’s economic recovery needs right now.

These three suggestions – a home renovation tax credit, investing in major infrastructure projects, and supporting surety bonds – not only would help boost one of our province’s biggest economic engines, but it would contribute to the government’s housing accessibility and affordability goals as well.

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