Board of trade says lack of affordable housing contributes to Toronto's brain drain

February 21st, 2018  |  Canadian Business

A sizeable portion of young professionals looking for work and housing in one of Canada’s biggest cities, can barely afford to live here.

A new CP24 report explains that the lack of affordable housing is “increasingly causing young professionals to look outside of the region for employment.” This poses a threat to Toronto’s ability to attract and retain an elite workforce, especially at a time when Toronto is in the running for Amazon’s second HQ.

The Toronto Region Board of Trade (TRBOT) released a Housing Policy Playbook ahead of the June provincial elections in hopes that the five ideas presented inside would be taken up by the next premier in the face of the inevitable (and continuous) housing crunch.

The proposals touch on making zoning changes to encourage mixed-use development above and around transit stations in the city, and reducing the red tape that slows down construction time. The Board is also calling for Premier Kathleen Wynne to reverse her April 2017 decision on rent control for new-builds. The Board believes this does not provide enough incentive for builders.

“Right now, a lack of affordable homes and long commutes are pushing newcomers and young professionals outside the region and our businesses struggle to compete as a result,” Toronto Region Board of Trade President and CEO Janet De Silva said in a press release. “The board is calling for more homes—of the right size and in the right place—to be built for workers with families so companies can attract and retain the talent our dynamic job force requires.”

Further, TRBOT conducted a survey of young professionals last year and asked them if they would be likely to leave the GTA because of high rents and housing prices – 42% said yes. Respondents also indicated that there are fewer and fewer options left for the middle class in terms of housing, such as access to three-bedroom condo units and townhouses. These categories were deemed insufficient by the respondents.

Only 15% of those surveyed said the GTA region “needs more one-bedroom condominium units.”

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