Transcript: Liveable Cities and Federal Campaigns | Oct 15, 2019

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and checkered blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Livable cities and the Federal campaigns. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says CANADA IS A BIG
COUNTRY, BUT IN TRUTH, MOST OF
US LIVE ALONG THE SOUTHERN
BORDER, AND MOSTLY IN CITIES.
THAT MEANS DURING A FEDERAL
ELECTION CAMPAIGN, ISSUES SUCH
AS TRANSIT, HOUSING, AND
AFFORDABILITY TRANSLATE INTO
COMPLICATED CROSS-JURISDICTIONAL
PROBLEMS.
HERE TO HELP US UNDERSTAND WHAT
THE PARTIES ARE OFFERING ON KEY
URBAN PRIORITIES, WE WELCOME...
BERRY VRBANOVIC, HE IS MAYOR OF
KITCHENER AND PAST PRESIDENT OF
THE FEDERATION OF CANADIAN
MUNICIPALITIES...

Berry is in his fifties, clean-shaven and balding. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and purple tie.

Steve continues JENNIFER KEESMAAT, FORMER CHIEF
PLANNER FOR THE CITY OF TORONTO
NOW CEO OF THE KEESMAAT GROUP...

Jennifer is in her late forties, with long wavy blond hair. She's wearing glasses, a purple blazer over a white blouse, and a golden pendant necklace.

Steve continues MURTAZA HAIDER, PROFESSOR OF
REAL ESTATE MANAGEMENT AND
DIRECTOR OF THE RYERSON URBAN
ANALYTICS INSTITUTE.

Murtaza is in his mid-fifties, with short receding gray hair and a stubble. He's wearing a gray suit, blue shirt, and spotted gray tie.

Steve continues AND STEVEN AYER, PRESIDENT AND
CO-FOUNDER OF COMMON GOOD
STRATEGIES CONSULTING, AND THE
LEAD AUTHOR AND RESEARCHER OF
THE TORONTO FOUNDATION'S ANNUAL
VITAL SIGNS REPORT.

Steven Ayer is in his forties, with short blond hair and a stubble. He's wearing glasses, a black suit, white shirt and blue tie.

Steve continues IT'S GOOD TO WELCOME EVERYBODY
AROUND OUR TABLE.
YOU CAME A FEW SUBWAY STOPS FROM
HERE.
YOUR WORSHIP, HOW LONG DID IT
TAKE YOU TO GET HERE?

Berry says TWO HOURS AND 15 MINUTES.
IT WAS PAINFUL.

Steve says I BET IT WAS.
TO THAT END, LET'S TALK ABOUT
SOME OF THESE ISSUES, INCLUDING
TRANSPORTATION.
STEVEN, THE VITAL SIGNS REPORT
THAT COMES OUT EVERY YEAR IS
REALLY A GREAT SNAPSHOT OF WHAT
THE BIG ISSUES ARE IN THE CITY
OF TORONTO, THE CAPITAL CITY OF
THE PROVINCE.
IN YOUR VIEW, WHAT WERE THE MAIN
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE REPORT THIS
YEAR?

The caption changes to "Steven Ayer. Common Good Strategies Consulting."
Then, it changes again to "Aiming for affordability."

Steven Ayer says A COUPLE OF INTERESTING
HIGHLIGHTS.
ONE OF THE KEY EMPHASIS WE FOUND
THIS YEAR WAS THE GROWING
INEQUALITY IN THE CITY.
SO JUST STARTING OFF, I THINK
MANY PEOPLE ARE FAMILIAR WITH
THE IDEA THAT WE'RE GETTING MORE
AND MORE INEQUAL.
WHAT REALLY SURPRISED ME WAS
JUST THE EXTENT OF IT.
SO WHEN WE LOOK AT THE TOP 1 percent
OVER THE LAST 35 YEARS,
ADJUSTING FOR INFLATION, WE CAN
SEE THE TOP 1 percent HAVE HAD THEIR
INCOME GO UP 99,000 dollars IN THE CITY
WHEREAS THE BOTTOM HAVE HAD
INVESTMENTS GO DOWN BY ABOUT
6,000 dollars.
THE POPULATION IS AGING.
IT'S NOT A PERFECT MEASURE.
THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE ON OLD AGE
SECURITY AND THINGS LIKE THAT AS
A BIG PORTION OF THEIR INCOME.
WE CAN SEE A PRETTY SUBSTANTIAL
PORTION OF THE POPULATION HAS
REALLY BEEN STRUGGLING.
AT THE SAME TIME, WE'VE SEEN
THAT THE QUALITY OF JOBS IS
GETTING MUCH WORSE IN THE LAST
DECADE.
TEMPORARY JOBS GREW FIVE TIMES
FASTER THAN PERMANENT JOBS IN
THE CITY.
SELF EMPLOYMENT INCREASED THREE
TIMES FASTER THAN PERMANENT
JOBS.
AND PART-TIME JOBS INCREASED
THREE TIMES FASTER AS WELL.

Steve says CAN YOU JUST TAKE
US... TAKE US TEN YEARS INTO THE
FUTURE OR TWENTY YEARS INTO THE
FUTURE, AND IF THIS TREND
CONTINUES, WHERE THE RICH KEEP
GETTING A LOT RICHER, EXCUSE ME,
AND THE LESS WELL-OFF KEEP
GETTING LESS WELL OFF, WHAT TO
THAT PORTEND?

The caption changes to "Steven Ayer, @SteveAyer."

Steven Ayer says AS PART OF THE RESEARCH WE
DID WE CONSULTED WITH A NUMBER
OF GRASS ROOTS LEADERS FROM SOME
OF THE LOW INCOME COMMUNITIES.
PEOPLE ARE TELLING US THEY
ALREADY ARE STRUGGLING.
THEY CAN'T PAY THEIR BILLS.
THEY ARE LIVING PAYCHEQUE TO
PAYCHEQUE.
PEOPLE THAT ARE IN THESE
TEMPORARY JOBS, IF THEY MISS A
PAYCHEQUE OR IF THEY FIND THAT
THEIR JOB IS ELIMINATED, THEY'RE
ALREADY REALLY, REALLY
STRUGGLING.
WHEN WE TAKE THAT FORWARD
ANOTHER 10 YEARS, IF THE TREND
CONTINUES, IT'S GOING TO BE A
PRETTY BAD SITUATION FOR MANY
PEOPLE IN THE CITY.

Steve says THAT'S THE SITUATION
IN THE CAPITAL CITY.
I WANT TO GO TO
KITCHENER-WATERLOO WHICH IS A
BIG REGION OF THE PROVINCE.
A LOT OF PEOPLE LIVE THERE.
WHEN THE STORY OF KITCHENER IS
TOLD IN TERMS OF HOUSING, IN
TERMS OF WAGES, IN TERMS OF
JOBS, WHAT DOES THAT STORY LOOK
LIKE RIGHT NOW?

The caption changes to "Berry Vrbanovic. Mayor of Kitchener. Federation of Canadian Municipalities Past President."

Berry says YOU KNOW, RIGHT NOW, STEVE,
THE STORY IS ACTUALLY LOOKING
REALLY GOOD.
WE HAVE AMONGST THE LOWEST
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IN THE
COUNTRY, AND ALSO AMONGST THE
HIGHEST EMPLOYMENT RATE.
BUT THAT ISN'T HAPPENING WITHOUT
SOME CHALLENGES.
CERTAINLY THOSE THAT ARE
TRANSITIONING AWAY FROM OUR
TRADITIONAL MANUFACTURING,
PARTICULARLY THOSE IN AN OLDER
DEMOGRAPHIC, ARE STRUGGLING IN
TERMS OF FIGURING OUT WHAT THEY
SHOULD DO AS SOME OF THE OLD
JOBS OF YESTERDAY ARE GONE, AND
WE'RE ALSO SEEING A LOT OF
PEOPLE WORKING IN THE SERVICE
ECONOMY.
AND SO WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT
AS WE SEE MANY PEOPLE BE
SUCCESSFUL WORKING IN OUR TECH
AND INNOVATION AND ADVANCED
MANUFACTURING COMPANIES, WE ALSO
WANT TO MAKE SURE WE'RE BRINGING
EVERYONE ALONG GOING FORWARD.

Steve says I GET IT.
YOU'RE A MAYOR OF A CITY AND YOU
HAVE TO BE A BIT OF A BOOSTER.
I GET THAT.
HAVING SAID THAT, WE KNOW WHAT'S
HAPPENED IN MANUFACTURING IN
KITCHENER OVER THE LAST 20 YEARS
AND IT'S NOT A PLEASANT PICTURE
IN MANY WAYS.
HAVING SAID THAT, YOU'RE ALSO
THE HEAD OF THE FEDERATION OF
CANADIAN MUNICIPALITIES SO YOU
HAVE A SENSE OF THE WAY THESE
ISSUES PLAY ACROSS THE WHOLE
COUNTRY.
FILL US IN ON THAT SCORE.

Berry says WE'RE REALLY FOCUSING ON A
VARIETY OF AREAS BECAUSE WE
THINK THEY'RE KEY TO KEEPING THE
ECONOMY GOING AND MAKING SURE
TOGETHER WE'RE BUILDING BETTER
LIVES FOR CANADIANS.
SO OUR ASKS OF ALL THE POLITICAL
PARTIES IN THIS ELECTION HAVE
FOCUSED ON A NUMBER OF KEY
AREAS.
FIRST OF ALL, A PERMANENT
DOUBLING OF THE GAS TAX, WHICH
WOULD MEAN OVER 2 BILLION DOLLARS OF
PREDICTABLE FUNDING EACH AND
EVERY YEAR FOR MUNICIPALITIES
GOING FORWARD.
A PERMANENT TRANSIT FUND.
RIGHT NOW THE FUND THAT'S IN
PLACE EXISTS FOR TEN YEARS.
WE LOOK TO SEE THAT CONTINUE FOR
ANOTHER TEN YEARS.
SO MUNICIPALITIES MAKING
TRANSFORMATIONAL INVESTMENTS IN
TRANSIT CAN CONTINUE TO FOCUS ON
THAT GOING FORWARD.
HOUSING AFFORDABILITY IS A KEY
AREA, PARTICULARLY IN TERMS OF
SUPPORTIVE AND INDIGENOUS
HOUSING.
AND FINALLY, LOOKING AT AREAS
AROUND CLIMATE CHANGE AND WE HAD
AN ASK OF 22 BILLION DOLLARS OVER THE
NEXT 14 YEARS TO HELP US DEAL
WITH ISSUES OF CLIMATE
ADAPTATION AND MITIGATION IN OUR
COMMUNITIES.

Steve says A YEAR, A YEAR AND A
HALF AGO, DO YOU REMEMBER WHAT
YOU WERE DOING?

Jennifer says I DO.

Steve says YOU WERE RUNNING FOR
MAYOR OF TORONTO.
AND IN THAT EFFORT, YOU WERE
TRYING TO BRING ATTENTION TO
SOME ISSUES THAT YOU THOUGHT
WERE PARTICULARLY KEY THAT WE
HAPPEN TO BE TALKING ABOUT NOW
DURING A FEDERAL ELECTION
CAMPAIGN.
WHAT CONCERNS YOU THE MOST AS
YOU WERE RUNNING A YEAR, YEAR
AND A HALF AGO?

The caption changes to "Jennifer Keesmaat. The Keesmaat Group."

Jennifer says YOU KNOW, BERRY REALLY HIT ON
ALL THREE.
IT'S HOUSING AFFORDABILITY,
TRANSIT ACCESS, AND MITIGATING
THE IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE.
THOSE ARE REALLY THE THREE KEY
ONES.
IF YOU THINK ABOUT SOME OF WHAT
STEVE HAS SAID WITH RESPECT TO
THE GROWING GAP BETWEEN THE RICH
AND THE POOR IN THE CITY, WHICH
IS A 30 OR 40-YEAR TREND LINE
WHICH IS ACCELERATING RIGHT NOW,
ONE OF THE REALLY BIG ISSUES IN
THERE IS ACCESS TO HOUSING AND
HOUSING AFFORDABILITY, AND IN
PARTICULAR, WE KNOW WHAT'S
HAPPENED IN THE TORONTO CONTEXT
BUT IT'S HAPPENED ACROSS THE GTA
IN KITCHENER, IT'S REALLY
HAPPENED COAST TO COAST, IS THAT
WE'VE SEEN AN INFLUX OF
INVESTORS INTO THE HOUSING
MARKET, WHICH IS ESSENTIALLY
MEANT THE DETACHMENT OF LOCAL
WAGES FROM THE COST OF HOUSING,
AND AS A RESULT, YOU KNOW, SOME
OF THE MEASURES THAT HAVE BEEN
PROPOSED IN THIS CAMPAIGN, LIKE
EXTENDING THE AMOUNT OF DEBT,
ALLOWING MORE ACCESS TO MORE
DEBT IS REALLY PROBLEMATIC
BECAUSE WHEN YOU HAVE HOUSING
THAT IS 12 TIMES THE COST OF
AVERAGE WAGES, WHICH IS WHAT'S
HAPPENING ACROSS THIS COUNTRY,
JUST FOR SOME CONTEXT... WHEN MY
MOM AND DAD BOUGHT A HOUSE IN
1970, THEY WERE BOTH 20 YEARS
OLD, 20 AND 21 YEARS OLD.

Steve says IN WHICH CITY?

The caption changes to "Jennifer Keesmaat, @jen_keesmaat."

Jennifer says IN HAMILTON.
THE COST OF THEIR HOUSE WAS TWO
TIMES MY DAD'S ANNUAL SALARY.
TODAY, THE AVERAGE IS 12 TIMES.
WHEN I BOUGHT MY FIRST HOME, IT
WAS FIVE TIMES.
SO WE'RE IN A SITUATION RIGHT
NOW WHERE THIS ISN'T JUST ABOUT
PROVIDING MORE ACCESS TO MORE
DEBT, IT'S UNSUSTAINABLE FOR
CANADIANS TO BE TAKING ON THAT
MUCH DEBT.
WE HAVE MORE DEBT THAN ANY OTHER
COUNTRY IN THE G-7, FOUR TIMES
THAT OF OUR AMERICAN COUSINS ON
A PER CAPITA BASIS.
SO WE NEED TO BE LOOKING AT
SUPPLY.
WE NEED TO BE ADDRESSING SUPPLY
IN A FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT
WAY, AND PART OF OUR SUPPLY
MEASURES NEED TO INCLUDE
ADDRESSING VACANT HOMES.
WE KNOW THAT THERE ARE A
SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF VACANT
HOMES.
SOME ESTIMATES AS HIGH AS ONE IN
EIGHT IN CITIES LIKE TORONTO AND
VANCOUVER SITTING EMPTY.
WE NEED TO ADDRESS VACANT HOMES.
AND WE NEED TO HAVE
SUPPLY-DRIVEN MEASURES.
IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT THE COST,
IT'S ABOUT MORE ACCESS TO
HOUSING.

Steve says MORE ON THAT TO
COME.
MURTAZA, HOW DO YOU SEE IT FROM
YOUR PERCH AT RYERSON?

The caption changes to "Murtaza Haider. Ryerson University. Ryerson Urban Analytics Institute. @regionomics."

Murtaza says I THINK THE SUPPLY SIDE
SOLUTIONS ARE THE ONLY WAY OUT,
OUT OF THIS HOUSING
AFFORDABILITY CHALLENGE.
I THINK INVESTORS DO PLAY A BIG
ROLE IN HOUSING.
THAT'S WHERE JENNIFER AND I HAVE
A SLIGHT DEPARTURE.
YOU LOOK AT MONTREAL.
TWO-THIRDS OF MONTREALERS RENT.
THEY ARE NOT RENTING FROM
GOVERNMENT.
THEY'RE RENTING FROM INVESTORS.
AND MONTREAL HAPPENS TO BE MUCH
MORE AFFORDABLE THAN TORONTO.
SO THAT ARGUMENT THAT INVESTORS
PROVIDING RENTAL REAL ESTATE
WOULD MAKE THE RENTAL REAL
ESTATE OR HOUSING MORE EXPENSIVE
DOES NOT HOLD TRUE FOR MONTREAL,
WHICH IS THE MOST... THE CITY
WITH MOST RENTERS IN CANADA.
THERE'S NO OTHER CITY WITH THOSE
KINDS OF RENTAL NUMBERS.
THE SECOND THING IS WE HAVE TO
LOOK AT THE FACT THAT NOWHERE
ELSE THE PROBLEM OF HOUSING
AFFORDABILITY HAS BEEN FIXED BY
NOT ADDRESSING SUPPLY SIDE, AND
THE MORE DIFFICULT WE MAKE FOR
BUILDERS TO BUILD, THE MORE
REGULATORY BURDENS WE CREATE,
THE MORE DIFFICULTIES WE CREATE
FOR ACCESSING LAND OR DEVELOPING
IT OR REGULATIONS THAT PERMIT
WHAT THE PLANNERS MAY WANT TO
BUILD BUT WHAT THE SOCIETY WANTS
OR PEOPLE WOULD LIKE TO SEE,
THAT KIND OF THING WOULD CREATE
LAND SUPPLY ISSUES MORE ACUTE,
WHICH IS NOT TO SAY TO BUILD
SUBURBIA EVERYWHERE, IT IS TO
SAY BRING REALISTIC DEVELOPMENT
PLANS FORWARD AND HELP PEOPLE
DEAL WITH IT.
THE OTHER THING IS YOU HAVE TO
REALIZE, IF YOU PUT
AFFORDABILITY... THERE'S TWO
VARIABLES IN HOUSING
AFFORDABILITY PROBLEM.
ONE IS HOUSING PRICE.
THE OTHER ONE IS WAGES.
IF YOUR INCOMES ARE RISING IN
STEP WITH HOUSING PRICES, THEN
YOU WOULDN'T HAVE AS MUCH OF AN
AFFORDABILITY PROBLEM.
WHAT HAS HAPPENED WITH OUR
CITIES AND WHAT HAS HAPPENED
WITH OUR ECONOMY IS THAT OUR
INCOMES HAVE BEEN ALMOST
STAGNANT, RIGHT?
SO IF YOU LOOK AT THE MEDIAN
HOUSEHOLD INCOMES.
IN TORONTO IT'S ABOUT 83,000 dollars
AND IN THE SUBURBS, IT WILL BE
HIGHER.
THE MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME OF
FAMILIES IS HIGHER IN THE
SUBURBS THAN IN TORONTO AND
OBVIOUSLY THAT IS A VARIABLE IN
YOUR TWO-VARIABLE AFFORDABILITY
PROBLEM.
SO WHAT THE GOVERNMENTS HAVE TO
DO IS TO LOOK NOT JUST AT
PROVIDING JOBS BUT AT THE
QUALITY OF JOBS, WELL-PAYING
JOBS THAT HAVE THE KIND OF WAGES
THAT PAY FOR PEOPLE TO BE ABLE
TO AFFORD TO RENT OR BUY.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Steve says WE'RE GOING TO GIVE
SOME BULLET POINT HIGHLIGHTS
RIGHT NOW OF WHAT THE FOUR MAJOR
PARTIES HAVE ON OFFER.
THIS IS THE LIBERALS,
CONSERVATIVES, NEW DEMOCRATS,
AND GREENS.
SHELDON, IF YOU WOULD?
WE'LL BRING UP THE GRAPHICS AND
SEE WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY ON THE
ISSUE OF HOUSING.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Comparing plans for housing."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
FOR LIBERALS, 100,000 AFFORDABLE
HOMES OVER THE COURSE OF A
DECADE.
THEY WANT TO EXPAND THEIR
FIRST-TIME HOME BUYER SUBSIDIES
WHERE THE GOVERNMENT IS
CONTRIBUTING 10 percent ON NEW HOME
PURCHASES AND 5 percent ON RESALES, THE
IDEA BEING TO EXPAND HELPING
PEOPLE IN THE MORE EXPENSIVE
MARKETS IN THE COUNTRY.
AND THEY WANT A SURTAX ON
ABSENTEE FOREIGN OWNERS,
PROVINCE OF ONTARIO BROUGHT ONE
OF THOSE IN NOT TOO LONG AGO.
THE CONSERVATIVES, THEY WANT TO
CUT RED TAPE TO MAKE APPROVAL OF
NEW DEVELOPMENTS EASIER.
THEY WANT TO RAISE THE LIMITS TO
ALLOW FOR 30-YEAR MORTGAGES.
AND THEY WANT TO REVIEW THE
STRESS TEST SITUATION.
THE NEW DEMOCRATS TALK ABOUT A
HALF A MILLION AFFORDABLE HOMES
OVER THE COURSE OF A DECADE.
THEY WOULD LIKE TO SUBSIDIZE
RENTAL ACCOMMODATION.
THEY WANT TO OFFER TAX BREAKS
FOR DEVELOPERS TO BRING NEW
AFFORDABLE UNITS.
THEY'RE ALSO TALKING ABOUT
30-YEAR MORTGAGES INSURED BY
CMHC, AND A SURTAX ON FOREIGN
BUYERS.
FINALLY THE GREEN PARTY OF
CANADA TALKS ABOUT 25,000 NEW
AFFORDABLE UNITS.
15,000 RENOVATED EVERY YEAR FOR
THE NEXT 10 YEARS.
AND MAKE HOUSING, QUOTE, A
LEGALLY PROTECTED FUNDAMENTAL
HUMAN RIGHT FOR ALL CANADIANS
AND PRESUMABLY THERE WOULD BE
SOME DISCUSSION ABOUT WHAT THAT
EXACTLY MEANS.
OKAY.
THAT'S IN A NUTSHELL...
OBVIOUSLY NOT IN EXHAUSTIVE
DETAIL... BUT IN A NUTSHELL
WHAT'S ON OFFER IN THIS ELECTION
CAMPAIGN.
AND WITHOUT ASKING ANY OF YOU TO
BE PARTICULARLY PARTISAN IN ANY
WAY, I WONDER IF YOU WOULD JUST
SORT OF POINT TO WHAT YOU LIKE.
STEVE?

Steven Ayer says YEAH.
I THINK ONE THING EVERYONE
MENTIONED AROUND THE PANEL IN
THEIR INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS IS
THE NEED FOR MORE SUPPLY.
THERE ARE A NUMBER OF THINGS IN
THERE TRYING TO INCREASE THE
SUPPLY.
IN TERMS OF THE ACTUAL NUMBERS,
TO PUT IT IN CONTEXT FOR THE
CITY OF TORONTO, OUR REPORT
HIGHLIGHTED THE CITY OF TORONTO
ITSELF ADDED 77,000 PEOPLE.
A RECORD HIGH BY A LARGE MARGIN.
THE YEAR BEFORE WAS THE PREVIOUS
RECORD.
WE WERE ONLY ABLE TO BUILD ABOUT
11,000 NEW RENTAL UNITS.
THAT GAP IS PRETTY SUBSTANTIAL.
I MEAN, IN TERMS OF, YOU KNOW,
SOME OF THESE NUMBERS RIGHT
ACROSS THE ENTIRE COUNTRY, FROM
THE GAP WE'RE SEEING RIGHT NOW
IS ALREADY PRETTY SUBSTANTIAL.
YOU LOOK AT SOME OF THOSE
NUMBERS OVER TIME, THERE'S A
RELEASE QUESTION OF HOW QUICKLY
CAN WE GET THEM INTO OUR SUPPLY
AND WHETHER IT WILL BE ENOUGH IN
SOME OF THE DIFFERENT PLATFORMS.

Steve says MAYOR VRBANOVIC,
WHAT DO YOU LIKE?

Berry says I THINK THERE ARE A NUMBER OF
THINGS THAT ARE CERTAINLY GOOD.
AS YOU KNOW, WE FOUGHT LONG AND
HARD TO ACTUALLY GET A NATIONAL
HOUSING STRATEGY AND FINALLY SAW
THAT HAPPEN DURING THIS PAST
TERM.
A LOT OF THE FUNDING WAS
BACK-ENDED.
SO SEEING SOME OF WHAT'S ON
OFFER IS IMPORTANT.
I THINK FOR US ANYTHING THAT
WOULD SEE IMPROVEMENTS
PARTICULARLY AROUND SUPPORTIVE
HOUSING BECAUSE THAT NOT ONLY
ALLOWS US TO DEAL WITH THE
HOUSING ISSUE AT THE LOWEST END
OF THE CONTINUUM BUT ALSO GETS
THOSE FOLKS SUPPORT IN TERMS OF
MENTAL HEALTH, ADDICTIONS AND SO
ON, WHICH ARE CHALLENGES THAT,
AS YOU KNOW, WE'RE DEALING WITH
IN OUR COMMUNITIES, WHETHER IT'S
THE OPIOID CRISIS OR OTHERS.
SECONDLY, WE KNOW MANY OF OUR
CITIES ARE DEALING WITH
INDIGENOUS HOUSING SOLUTIONS.
IF WE WANT TO LIFT PEOPLE OUT OF
POVERTY, IT'S MAKING SURE THE
MOST BASIC NEED IS BEING LOOKED
AFTER.
AND SO ENSURING THAT THE NEEDS
OF THAT COMMUNITY IS BEING DEALT
WITH IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL.
AND FINALLY, I THINK ANYTHING
THAT WOULD ALLOW US TO SEE
RENTAL HOUSING PRESERVED AND
UPDATED IS KEY BECAUSE WE CAN'T
AFFORD TO TAKE ANY STEPS
BACKWARD.
IN FACT, WE NEED TO LOOK AFTER
WHAT WE HAVE AND BUILD NEW
HOUSING TO MAKE SOME INROADS.
WE HAVE A WAITING LIST THAT FOR
CERTAIN TYPES OF HOUSING IS
UPWARDS OF SEVEN YEARS IN
WATERLOO REGION.
QUITE FRANKLY, THAT'S NOT
ACCEPTABLE.
SO WE NEED TO SEE MORE FUNDING
FRONT-ENDED.

Steve says JENNIFER, WHAT DO
YOU LIKE?

Jennifer says WE THINK OF HOUSING AS A
CONTINUUM AND ON ONE END OF THE
CONTINUUM YOU HAVE MARKET
OWNERSHIP AND THEN YOU MIGHT
HAVE RENTAL HOUSING, THEN
AFFORDABLE RENTAL, THEN
TRANSITIONAL HOUSING WHERE
PEOPLE ARE PROVIDED WITH
SUPPORTS FOR MENTAL HEALTH OR
ADDICTION.
THEN YOU HAVE SOCIAL HOUSING.
AND THEN YOU HAVE EMERGENCY
SHELTERS.
IF YOU LOOK AT THAT ENTIRE
CONTINUUM, WE NEED OUR HOUSING
STRATEGIES TO BE ADDRESSING THE
ENTIRE CONTINUUM, BECAUSE WHEN
THERE'S A PROBLEM IN ANY PART,
PEOPLE KIND OF GET BUMPED DOWN
AND PUT... THERE'S CONSTANT
DOWNWARD PRESSURE.
SO YOU COULD EASILY ARGUE THAT
ONE OF THE REASONS WHY OUR
SHELTER SYSTEM IS OVER CAPACITY
IS BECAUSE WE HAVEN'T BEEN
BUILDING THE AFFORDABLE RENTAL.
SO WHEN PEOPLE CAN'T ACCESS
AFFORDABLE RENTAL, THEY END UP
IN... THEY END UP IN THE SHELTER
SYSTEM.
SO A REALLY BIG PART OF WHAT WE
NEED AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL IS A
STRATEGY, HOUSING STRATEGY,
THAT'S LOOKING AT ALL OF THESE
PARTS.

Steve says YOU SEE THAT HERE?

Jennifer says WELL, I SEE IT IN BITS AND PIECES.
I THINK THE EMPHASIS
OVERWHELMINGLY, AND THIS HAS TO
DO I THINK WITH MIDDLE CLASS
VOTERS, THE EMPHASIS
OVERWHELMINGLY SEEMS TO BE ON
PROVIDING ACCESS TO HOME
OWNERSHIP.
THAT'S PROBLEMATIC.
THE GAP WE'RE MISSING RIGHT NOW
IS REALLY IN THE MIDDLE AND WE
ALSO KNOW THAT, YOU KNOW, AT 12
TIMES THE AVERAGE WAGE, JUST
EXTENDING DEBT BY ANOTHER FIVE
YEARS ISN'T GOING TO MAKE HOME
OWNERSHIP ACCESSIBLE FOR PEOPLE.
LIKE, LET'S NOT FOOL OURSELVES.
INSTEAD WE SHOULD BE FOCUSING ON
BUILDING REALLY HIGH-QUALITY,
AFFORDABLE RENTAL HOUSING.

Steve says WHEN YOU SAY "WE,"
WHO'S THE "WE" THERE?

Jennifer says I THINK OUR FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT.
I AGREE, WE FINALLY HAVE A
FEDERAL HOUSING STRATEGY.
IT'S MOVING IN THE RIGHT
DIRECTION.
I THINK IT CAN BE MORE
AGGRESSIVE ON THE AFFORDABLE
RENTAL PIECE.
THE 11,000 RENTAL UNITS WE SAW
BUILT IN THE CITY LAST YEAR,
IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE, A VERY
TINY PORTION, LIKE NOT EVEN 5 percent
OF THAT 11,000, ARE AFFORDABLE.
THAT'S LUXURY HOUSING.
THOSE ARE LUXURY RENTAL UNITS.
THOSE ARE NOT AFFORDABLE UNITS.
SO WE NEED TO BE MORE
INTENTIONAL IN OUR STRATEGY OF
ENSURING THAT WE'RE PROVIDING
AFFORDABLE RENTAL HOUSING THAT
THE AVERAGE WAGE EARNER, A
TEACHER, A NURSE, A PLANNER AT
CITY HALL, CAN ACTUALLY AFFORD
HOUSING IN THIS CITY.
RIGHT NOW THAT'S NOT THE CASE.
THERE'S A REALLY BIG GAP RIGHT
IN THAT MIDDLE PART OF THE
OVERALL HOUSING CONTINUUM, AND
THAT PART... I THINK THE NDP
GETS AT IT WITH THEIR... THEY
GOT THE SUPPLY SIDE RIGHT IN
SUGGESTING 500,000 AFFORDABLE
RENTAL HOMES.
THAT'S A BIG, BOLD PLAN...

Steve says ACHIEVABLE?

Jennifer says THAT IS... WELL, THE
ACHIEVABILITY PIECE.
I DON'T THINK THEY PROVIDED THE
DETAILS ON HOW THAT'S GOING TO
BE ACHIEVED.
I THINK NONE OF THE PLATFORMS
HAVE DONE THAT.
I THINK WE NEED TO SET GOALS
THAT ACTUALLY FIT WITH THE
MAGNITUDE OF THE PROBLEM.

Steve says AND THAT DOES.

Jennifer says AND THAT DOES.
AND THE GREENS OF COURSE
COMPLETELY MISS THE MARK AT
25,000.
THAT'S LIKE A DROP IN THE BUCKET
FOR THE WHOLE COUNTRY.
THAT'S NOT EVEN ENOUGH FOR ONE
CITY LIKE TORONTO, LET ALONE
BEING AN OBJECTIVE FOR THE
ENTIRE COUNTRY.
THE REST ARE IN THE MIDDLE.

Steve says MURTAZA, WHAT DO YOU LIKE?

Murtaza says YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS IS AN
ELECTION YEAR AND ONE OF THE
LARGEST VOTING BLOCK ARE THE
YOUNG MILLENNIALS.
EVERYBODY IS GOING AFTER
FIRST-TIME HOME BUYERS.
I LIKE SEVERAL ASPECTS OF IT.
THE LIBERALS ARE HELPING THE
RENTAL CONSTRUCTION BY PROVIDING
THEM WITH FINANCING, THEY PUT
ASIDE ABOUT 10 BILLION DOLLARS IN IT.
I LIKE THE PLAN THAT THE
CONSERVATIVES ARE THINKING ABOUT
ADDRESSING THE STRESS TEST FOR
THE MARKET FACING AFFORDABILITY
CHALLENGES.
IT'S LIKE A VACCINE YOU
ADMINISTER TO THE ENTIRE NATION
WHEN THE PROBLEM IS ONLY IN TWO
CITIES.
WHY OVERMEDICATE THE ENTIRE
SYSTEM?
THIS LOVE FOR FIRST-TIME HOME
BUYERS IS MISSING FOR THE FIRST
TIME HOME RENTERS, AND THE
FIRST-TIME HOME BUYERS ACTUALLY
TRANSITION, MORE OFTEN THAN NOT,
FROM BEING FIRST-TIME HOME
RENTERS.
THE WAY TO FIX IT IS TO LOOK AT
WHAT JENNIFER SAID, NOT RENTAL
LUXURY HOUSING BUT RENTAL THAT
IS AFFORDABLE.
AND THAT WOULD HAPPEN IF YOU
LOOK AT WHERE WE WENT WRONG IN
THE LATE 1960s OR EARLY
1970s.
WE IMPLEMENTED CAPITAL GAINS TAX
ON RENTAL MARKETS, RENTAL
HOUSING, AND NOT INDEXED IT TO
INFLATION, WHICH MEANT THAT
SOMEONE WOULD END UP PAYING
HUMONGOUS TAX JUST ON INFLATION,
NOT ON THE ACTUAL APPRECIATION
OF THE RENTAL STOCK.

Steve says WHEN THEY SELL THE
PLACE.

Murtaza says THAT KILLED RENTAL HOUSING IN
THE 1970s.
THE OTHER THING IS RENT CONTROL.
IF YOU DO NOT ADDRESS THESE TWO
THINGS AND YOU WILL CONTINUE TO
COMPLAIN ABOUT IT.

Steve says BUT IT HAS BEEN
ADDRESSED.
THE CURRENT PROGRESSIVE
CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT TOOK OFF
CONTROLS ON POST... WELL, TODAY,
CONSTRUCTION.

Murtaza says ABSOLUTELY.

Steve says SO THERE'S PROOF OF
THAT.

Murtaza says THERE'S PROOF OF THAT.
BEFORE 1990, BUILDINGS
CONSTRUCTED BEFORE 1991, AND
THAT'S PRETTY MUCH ALL OF YOUR
PURPOSE-BUILT RENTAL IN TORONTO,
THEY'RE STILL SUBJECT TO THAT.
THE QUESTION IS, THESE ARE NOT
ISSUES WHERE ECONOMISTS ARE
CONFUSED.
THESE ARE ISSUES WHERE YOU HAVE
ALMOST UNANIMOUS CONSENSUS THAT
THESE THINGS DON'T HELP AND THE
WAY TO FIX IT IS TO LOOK AT THE
CAPITAL GAINS TAX, INDEX IT TO
INFLATION, AND LOOK AT THE
REASONS... IF WE ARE REALLY
HELPING PEOPLE WITH RENT
CONTROL.
I THINK THE RENT CONTROL DOES
TWO THINGS: (a) IT REDUCES THE
SUPPLY OF RENTAL STOCK, (b) IT
REDUCES THE QUALITY OF STOCK
OVER TIME BECAUSE THE LANDLORD
HAS NO INCENTIVE TO IMPROVE IT.

Steve says BUT C IT PROTECTS
THE PEOPLE ALREADY IN.

Jennifer says ECONOMISTS HAVE ONE PLAN,
PLANNERS AND BUILDERS HAVE
ANOTHER.
IF YOU TALK TO PEOPLE WHO BUILD
RENTAL HOUSING, THE RENTAL
HOUSING REVITALIZATION, IF YOU
WILL, BEGAN IN THIS CITY IN
PARTICULAR AS A RESULT OF CMHC
RENTAL CONSTRUCTION FINANCING
PROGRAM WHEN RENT CONTROLS WERE
STILL IN PLACE.
THE RENT CONTROL WAS NOT A
DISINCENTIVE TO NEW RENTAL
HOUSING BEING BUILT, IT WAS
ACTUALLY THE CHALLENGE OF
ACCESSING CAPITAL TO BUILD THE
PROJECT.
ONCE CMHC FIXED THAT PROBLEM
WITH THE RENTAL PROGRAM, WHICH
HAS BEEN WILDLY SUCCESSFUL, YOU
MENTIONED THE 10 BILLION DOLLARS
ALLOCATED TO THAT, WE STARTED
SEEING RENTAL HOUSING BEING
BUILT AGAIN, EVEN IF RENTAL
CONTROLS WERE IN PLACE.
IF YOU SPEAK TO PEOPLE IN THE
INDUSTRY, ONE THING THEY'LL TALK
ABOUT, ONCE YOU HAVE THE
BUILDING POPULATED, THE RENT
CONTROL DOESN'T COME IN PLACE
UNTIL YOU SET YOUR RENT.
WHEN YOU SET THEM, YOU CAN'T
INCREASE YOUR RENTS MORE THAN 1 percent
OF INFLATION.
VERY FEW BUILDING OWNERS WOULD
EVER INCREASE THEIR RENTS MORE
THAN THAT BECAUSE YOU DON'T WANT
TO BE EMPTYING OUT YOUR BUILDING
AND REPOPULATING YOUR BUILDING.
SO WHEN YOU BUILD A NEW
BUILDING, IF YOU GET THE PRICE
RIGHT WHEN YOU'RE BRINGING
PEOPLE IN, YOU'RE PRETTY MUCH...
YOU'RE PRETTY MUCH SET.
SO RENT CONTROLS... IT HASN'T
ACTUALLY PLAYED OUT IN THE
TORONTO CONTEXT, WHICH IS WHAT I
KNOW ABOUT, THAT RENT CONTROLS
WERE A DISINCENTIVE IN ANY WAY.
THE BIGGER ISSUE FROM MY
PERSPECTIVE IS THAT WE NEED TO
BE FOCUSING SPECIFICALLY ON THE
AFFORDABLE RENTAL STOCK BECAUSE
ALL OF THAT RENTAL HOUSING THAT
HAS BEEN BUILT HAS ACTUALLY BEEN
WAY, WAY BEYOND THE AFFORDABLE
CATEGORY, AND FOR THE NEWCOMERS
COMING INTO THIS CITY, THE
CHALLENGE IS, HOW DO YOU ACCESS
HOUSING?
DURING THE CAMPAIGN, I HAD A MAN
FROM CROATIA COME UP TO ME AND
HE SAID, YOU KNOW, I CAME HERE
IN THE '80s AND I CAME WITH 50
BUCKS AND A SUITCASE.
AND I CAN TELL YOU 25 YEARS
LATER, MY KIDS WENT TO THE BEST
PRIVATE SCHOOLS IN THE CITY, I
OWN A HOUSE IN FOREST HILL, AND
I LOOK AT WHAT'S HAPPENING IN
THE CITY RIGHT NOW AND I'M
TERRIFIED BECAUSE YOU CAN'T DO
WHAT I DID IN THE '80s, YOU
CAN NO LONGER DO IN THIS CITY.
AND SO I THINK THAT'S OUR GREAT
RISK, IS THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO
ARE COMING TO THIS CITY, AND
ALSO YOUNG PEOPLE, THOSE YOUNG
MILLENNIALS, WHO DON'T STAND A
FIGHTING CHANCE.
THEY'RE COMING OUT OF SCHOOL
WITH MORE DEBT THAN EVER AND
CAN'T ACTUALLY ACCESS HOUSING.
THEY'RE GOING INTO DEBT BEFORE
THEY EVEN OWN A HOME.
AND THAT'S NEW.
IT USED TO BE THAT OWNING A HOME
WAS THAT MOMENT WHERE YOU TOOK
ON SIGNIFICANT DEBT.
NOW YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE DEBT...

Steve says THEY'RE ALREADY THERE.

Murtaza says AND THEY DON'T HAVE A HOME YET.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says CAN YOU GIVE US A
SENSE OF THE LAY OF THE LAND IN
THE KITCHENER-WATERLOO REGION IN
TERMS OF WHAT AFFORDABLE RENTAL
HOUSING IS AVAILABLE?

Berry says YOU KNOW WHAT?
IT'S NOT UNCOMMON, FOR EXAMPLE,
TO NOW SEE, YOU KNOW, ONE
BEDROOMS BEING AT 1100 OR
1200 DOLLARS A MONTH AND THAT'S
A SIGNIFICANT INCREASE OVER THE
PAST 12 TO 18 MONTHS.
IN FACT WE'VE HAD SOME OF THE
HIGHEST INCREASES IN THE COUNTRY
IN OUR AREA.
THAT'S WHY AFFORDABILITY, I CAN
TELL YOU, IS A BIG ISSUE.
WE'RE JUST DOING AN UPDATE ON
OUR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
STRATEGY, AND WHETHER WE WERE
TALKING WITH PEOPLE IN THE TECH
FIELD, PEOPLE IN THE DEVELOPMENT
FIELD, EVERYONE WAS SAYING
AFFORDABILITY NEEDS TO BE A
PRIORITY.
AND I THINK THE POINT HERE,
STEVE, IS THAT WHAT IN MY VIEW
IS ABSOLUTELY KEY IS THIS IS NOT
A SOLUTION THAT THE FEDS, THE
PROVINCES OR THE MUNICIPALITIES
CAN SOLVE ON THEIR OWN.
IT NEEDS TO BE DONE WITH ALL
THREE ORDERS OF GOVERNMENT
WORKING TOGETHER, TOGETHER WITH
THE PRIVATE SECTOR.
WE NEED TO BE MORE INTENTIONAL
IN TERMS OF LOOKING AT THINGS
LIKE INCLUSIONARY ZONING BECAUSE
THERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS IN
TERMS OF HOW THAT'S GOING TO GO
FORWARD PROVINCIALLY, AND IF WE
DON'T HAVE THAT ALIGNMENT
HAPPENING BETWEEN THOSE FOUR
PARTNERS, WE'RE REALLY GOING TO
HAVE CHALLENGES IN DEALING WITH
THIS ISSUE.

Steve says I HAVE A FOLLOW-UP
QUESTION.
THIS IS NOT THE A FACETIOUS
QUESTION.
I DON'T KNOW.
DO YOU CARRY A PARTY CARD?

Berry says I DON'T AT THE MOMENT, NO.

Steve says WERE YOU A MEMBER OF
A POLITICAL PARTY.

Berry says I WAS IN THE PAST.

Steve says WHICH ONE?

says THE LIBERALS.

Steve says FOR YOUR VISION AS
YOU'VE JUST OUTLINED IT TO COME
TRUE, DO WE NEED A FEDERAL
LIBERAL GOVERNMENT, A PROVINCIAL
LIBERAL GOVERNMENT, SYMPATHETIC
LIBERALS AT THE MUNICIPAL LEVEL,
OR CAN DIFFERENT PARTIES
ACTUALLY TALK TO EACH OTHER AND
MAKE DEALS ON THIS STUFF?

Berry says I THINK WE'VE SEEN MANY
EXAMPLES HISTORICALLY IN THIS
COUNTRY WHERE PARTIES OF
DIFFERENT STRIPES, FEDERALLY AND
PROVINCIALLY, OR, QUITE FRANKLY,
EVEN SITUATIONS OF MINORITY
GOVERNMENTS, WHICH WE MIGHT BE
TALKING ABOUT THIS TIME AROUND,
HAVE BEEN ABLE TO WORK TOGETHER.
IN FACT, THE GAS TAX ORIGINALLY
CAME FORWARD DURING THE PAUL
MARTIN YEARS, WHICH WAS A
MINORITY GOVERNMENT, WORKING
TOGETHER WITH JACK LAYTON'S
NDPs AT THE TIME.

Steve says WE HAVE NOT PUT A
PLATFORM OUT FOR THE PEOPLE'S
PARTY OF CANADA BUT WE SHOULD
SAY, IN FAIRNESS TO THEM, THEY
ARE PUTTING FORWARD A SOLUTION
TO THE AFFORDABILITY HOUSING
PROBLEM AND PART OF THEIR
SOLUTION IS: CUT BACK ON
IMMIGRATION.
CUT BACK ON THE NUMBERS OF
PEOPLE WHO COME TO THE BIGGER
CITIES IN THIS PROVINCE AND
THEREFORE YOU WON'T NEED AS MUCH
SUPPLY AS IF YOU ALLOW 320,000
PEOPLE INTO THE COUNTRY EVERY
YEAR.
STEVE, YOUR VIEW ON THAT OPTION?

Steven Ayer says WELL, I THINK... LIKE,
OBVIOUSLY ALLOWING IMMIGRANTS
INTO THE COUNTRY IS A GREAT
THING FOR THE COUNTRY, AND THERE
ARE A LOT OF REASONS WE DO IT.
JUST A FEW YEARS AGO, THE
EMPHASIS WAS MORE ON HOW WE WERE
GOING TO BE ABLE TO FUND OUR
AGING POPULATION AND THE
INCREASED DEMAND FOR SERVICES.
SO LOOKING AT TORONTO, WE CAN
SEE THAT THE OLDEST POPULATION
IS GROWING 3.5 TIMES FASTER THAN
THE REST OF THE POPULATION, IT
COSTS FOUR TIMES MORE FOR HEALTH
CARE ALONE, OR HOUSING NEEDS AS
THEY'RE AGING.
THERE ARE A LOT OF COSTS THAT
ARE GOING TO GO UP.
IF WE JUST HAVE AN AGING
POPULATION WITH AN INSUFFICIENT
SUPPLY OF LABOUR, WE'RE NOT
GOING TO BE ABLE TO AFFORD THAT
OVER THE LONG RUN.
I THINK THE BROADER QUESTION IN
THE SHORT RUN IS: CAN WE BUILD
ENOUGH SUPPLY TO ACTUALLY HELP
ADDRESS THE SHORTFALLS IN SUPPLY
VERSUS DEMAND?
I THINK THAT'S A LITTLE BIT
MORE... THE QUESTION IS NOT, DO
WE NEED IMMIGRANTS?
WE CLEARLY DO.
YOU CAN SEE WHY WE NEED THE TAX
BASE IN THE LONG RUN.
IT'S HOW TO MAKE THE TRANSITION
AS PAINLESS AS POSSIBLE.

Steve says CUT BACK IMMIGRATION
BY 50 percent TO TAKE DEMANDS OFF
HOUSING?
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT IDEA?

Murtaza says WHEN YOU COME UP WITH A
PROGRAM WITHOUT ARITHMETIC
BEHIND IT, THIS IS THE KIND OF
THINKING THAT GOES INTO IT.
YOU LOOK AT THE CONFERENCE BOARD
OF CANADA, THE NUMBER OF
STUDENTS WE WILL GRADUATE FROM
HIGH SCHOOL... FROM UNIVERSITIES
AND INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER
LEARNING, WE WOULD HAVE A GAP OF
ABOUT 1.5 MILLION HIGHLY
EDUCATED WORKERS NEEDED TO KEEP
THE CANADIAN ECONOMY GOING AT
THE PACE THAT WOULD GROW IT EVEN
AT MODERATE 2 percent LEVEL, AND...

Steve says IF WE CUT IMMIGRATION IN HALF?

Murtaza says IF WE HAVE NO IMMIGRATION...
IF YOU DON'T ACTUALLY BOOST UP
YOUR IMMIGRATION TO THE LEVEL
THAT WE NEED, WE ARE LOOKING FOR
2 MILLION WORKERS NEEDED BY 2030
THAT WOULD NOT BE GRADUATING
FROM CANADIAN UNIVERSITIES
BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT THERE.
YOU ALREADY SEE THAT HIGH SCHOOL
STUDENTS... THE SUPPLY LINES ARE
CHOKING.
IMMIGRANTS WE NEED NOT BECAUSE
OF CHARITY, BECAUSE WE ARE
RUNNING A CHARITY.
YOU LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN
YOU BRING IN IMMIGRANTS, TWO
DAYS AGO, ONE IMMIGRANT ONCE THE
ECONOMICS NOBEL IN THE U.S.
IMMIGRANTS ARE DRIVING THE
ECONOMY.
YOU WALK INTO ANY ENGINEERING
FACULTY IN ANY UNIVERSITY IN
CANADA AND MOST OF THE STUDENTS
WORKING IN ENGINEERING LABS,
MOST, NOT JUST THE MAJORITY,
MOST STUDENTS ARE IMMIGRANTS.
YOU CANNOT SUSTAIN THE PIPELINE
FOR INNOVATION IN CANADA WITHOUT
IMMIGRANTS, AND THAT'S A
REALITY.

Steve says OKAY.
I DON'T WANT TO LET THE CLOCK
GET AWAY FROM ME HERE.
LET'S MOVE ON AND TALK ABOUT
TRANSIT.
WE WANT TO COMPARE THE PLANS
THAT THE FOUR MAJOR POLITICAL
PARTIES SEEKING YOUR VOTE ON THE
21ST HAVE FOR TRANSPORTATION.
SHELDON, IF YOU WOULD?
LET'S BRING THE GRAPHICS UP.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Comparing plans for transit."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
THE LIBERALS WOULD KEEP UP WITH
INCREASING COSTS BY ADDING
3 BILLION DOLLARS IN FUNDING PER YEAR.
THEY WOULD TIE TRANSIT FUNDING
TO INVESTMENT IN ZERO-EMISSION
TRANSIT VEHICLES, STARTING IN
THE YEAR 2023.
AND THEY WOULD START A SO-CALLED
NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE FUND TO
SUPPORT THE BIGGEST PROJECTS.
THE CONSERVATIVES, CONVERSELY,
WOULD SCRAP THE CANADA
INFRASTRUCTURE BANK.
THEY SAY IT'S NOT WORKING WELL.
THEY WOULD REVIVE THE PUBLIC
TRANSIT TAX CREDITS THAT STEPHEN
HARPER BROUGHT IN SOME YEARS
AGO.
AND THEY WOULD COMMIT TO FUNDING
FOR THE ONTARIO LINE AND THE
YONGE SUBWAY EXTENSION PROJECTS
THAT AT THE MOMENT THE ONTARIO
GOVERNMENT IS BACKING.
THE NEW DEMOCRATS, THEY WANT TO
ELECTRIFY TRANSIT FLEETS BY THE
YEAR 2030.
THEY WANT TO WORK WITH
MUNICIPALITIES TO MAKE TRANSIT
FAIR, FREE.
AND THEY WANT TO RE-ESTABLISH
RURAL BUS SERVICES.
THE GREENS FINALLY WOULD LIKE TO
BUILD HIGH SPEED RAIL IN THE
TRIANGLE AND THE
CALGARY-EDMONTON CORRIDOR.
THEY ARE AIMING FOR ZERO CARBON
PUBLIC GROUND TRANSPORTATION BY
THE YEAR 2040 FOCUSING ON RAIL
AND ELECTRIC BUS.
IF YOU WANT TO BUY A BIKE, THEY
WOULD TAKE THE GST OFF THE COST
OF A BICYCLE.
LET'S GO AROUND THE HORN AND SEE
WHAT EVERYBODY THINKS OF... WHAT
DO THEY LIKE HERE?
JENNIFER, START US OFF.

The caption changes to "Taking transit seriously."

Jennifer says WELL, OKAY.
I'LL START WITH WHAT I LIKE.
I THINK THE... FOR THE FIRST
TIME IN MY ADULT LIFE, WORKING
IN THIS PROFESSION, OVER THE
COURSE OF THE PAST FOUR YEARS,
WE SAW REAL MONEY BEING
ALLOCATED TO TRANSIT THROUGH THE
PUBLIC TRANSIT INFRASTRUCTURE
FUND.
AND UNFORTUNATELY THERE'S A LOT
OF PROJECTS ACROSS THIS COUNTRY
THAT ARE ADVANCING... THEY
AREN'T COMPLETE YET... BUT
THEY'RE ADVANCING AS A RESULT OF
THAT CYCLE AND THE AVAILABILITY
OF FUNDING, WHICH WAS MADE
AVAILABLE BASED ON RIDERSHIP.
SO PREVIOUSLY, WHAT HAPPENED WAS
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND GOT SIMILAR
FUNDING TO THE CITY OF TORONTO
BECAUSE THE WAY THE FORMULA
WORKED AND THERE WAS A LITTLE
BIT EXTRA MONEY THAT WAS GIVEN
TO SMALLER COMMUNITIES AND IT
REALLY WAS INSIGNIFICANT IN
TERMS OF BEING ABLE TO ADVANCE
LARGE INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS.
BUT WHAT'S CALLED PTIF FUNDING,
PUBLIC TRANSIT INFRASTRUCTURE
FUNDING BROUGHT IN OVER THE LAST
FOUR YEARS, WAS A GAME CHANGER.
AND MANY OF THE PROJECTS THAT
ARE ADVANCING ACROSS CANADA
TODAY ARE ADVANCING BECAUSE
THERE WAS THAT STABLE SOURCE OF
FUNDING, A RELIABLE SOURCE OF
FUNDING THAT WAS PUT IN PLACE.
THE EXPANSION OF THAT, ADDING AN
ADDITIONAL BILLIONS AND BILLIONS
OF DOLLARS TO THAT IS A REALLY,
REALLY GOOD THING.

Steve says LET ME JUMP IN FOR A
SECOND...

Jennifer says SCRAPPING THAT IS PROBLEMATIC
IN MY MIND.
IT MEANS STARTING OVER WHEN
WE'VE SPENT THE LAST FOUR YEARS
BUILDING SOME INFRASTRUCTURE
OVER HOW YOU ACTUALLY ADVANCE
TRANSIT.

Steve says I ASSUME YOU'RE GOOD
WITH THE CONSERVATIVES
COMMITTING THE BILLIONS TO BUILD
THE YONGE EXTENSION...

Jennifer says I'M NOT A HUGE FAN OF THE YONGE EXTENSION BECAUSE I'M AN
EVIDENCE-BASED PLANNER.
THE RELIEF LINE, ABSOLUTELY.
WE KNOW THAT'S BEEN A BIT OF A
PUNCHING BALL AND THE NAME HAS
CHANGED AND THERE'S SOME
CONFUSION ABOUT THAT RIGHT NOW.
WHAT I'M CONCERNED ABOUT FROM A
NATIONAL LENS IS HAVING THE
INFRASTRUCTURE IN PLACE.
SO THE BIGGEST PROBLEM AS A
PLANNER IS, IF YOU DON'T HAVE
THE FUNDING, IT'S REALLY
DIFFICULT TO ADVANCE THE VERY
FIRST STAGE, WHICH IS THE
PLANNING.
AND WHAT THE PUBLIC TRANSIT
INFRASTRUCTURE FUND DID... THERE
WAS MONEY FROM THAT FUND
ALLOCATED TO MY TEAM PLANNING
THE RELIEF LINE.
THAT'S WHY IT'S ADVANCING.
BUT THIS ISN'T JUST ABOUT
ONTARIO.
IN B.C., THERE ARE MAJOR TRANSIT
INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS,
INCLUDING THE SKYTRAIN EXTENSION
TO UBC THAT HAVE ALSO BEEN
ADVANCED AS A RESULT OF THAT
FUNDING.
SO IT'S NOT ABOUT, GIVE US A
PROJECT AND WE'LL FUND IT.
THAT'S NO LONG-TERM STRATEGY.
WHAT'S POWERFUL ABOUT THE PUBLIC
TRANSIT INFRASTRUCTURE FUND IS
THAT IT SETS CRITERIA,
MUNICIPALITIES APPLY.
IF YOUR PROJECT MEETS THE
CRITERIA, THEN YOU CAN ACCESS
THE FUNDING.
SO IT ALLOWS MUNICIPALITIES...

Steve says NOT A ONE-OFF APPROACH.

Jennifer says IT'S NOT SAYING, OH, YOU'VE GOT A PROJECT?
SURE.
IT'S AN ELECTION CAMPAIGN.
WE'LL FUND THAT PROJECT.
IT'S ACTUALLY A RATIONAL
EVIDENCE-BASED APPROACH THAT
PUTS IN PLACE LARGER
INFRASTRUCTURE TO ADVANCE
TRANSIT PLANNING, NOT JUST IN
TORONTO... OH, TORONTO VOTERS
WANT THE RELIEF LINE.
WE'LL GIVE THEM THAT.
THAT'S NOT WHAT IT IS.
IT'S ACTUALLY A SYSTEMIC
APPROACH AND IT WAS WHAT WE AS
PROFESSIONALS HAD BEEN
ADVOCATING FOR.
WE'VE BEEN SAYING, LOOK, WE
CAN'T PLAN TRANSIT
INFRASTRUCTURE WHEN THIS FUNDING
IS HERE ONE DAY, IT'S GONE THE
NEXT, OR IT'S ALL DRIVEN BY AN
ELECTION CAMPAIGN.
YOU WANT THIS PROJECT.
WE'LL PROMISE THAT IN OUR
ELECTION CAMPAIGN.
THE PUBLIC TRANSIT
INFRASTRUCTURE FUND RISES ABOVE
THAT AND ACTUALLY PUTS A
MECHANISM IN PLACE...

Steve says IT TAKES THE
POLITICS OUT.

Jennifer says IT TAKES THE POLITICS OUT.

Steve says HAVING SAID THAT,
I'M GOING TO ASK A POLITICIAN
WHAT HE THINKS.

[LAUGHTER]

Steve says WHAT DO YOU LIKE?

Berry says YOU KNOW WHAT?
I COULDN'T AGREE MORE WITH
JENNIFER IN TERMS OF THE
IMPORTANCE OF THE PTIF FUND AND
THE FACT THAT IT GAVE
MUNICIPALITIES THE ABILITY TO
HAVE PREDICTABILITY AND TO PLAN
FOR INVESTMENTS IN TRANSIT
INFRASTRUCTURE GOING FORWARD.
THE CURRENT PROGRAM WENT THROUGH
TO 2027-2028, THEY WANTED TO SEE
ANOTHER TEN YEARS PUT ONTO IT
THROUGH TO 2037-38 WHICH WOULD
HAVE ADDED ANOTHER 30 BILLION
DOLLARS, GIVEN MUNICIPALITIES
LONG-TERM PLANNING WINDOWS BASED
ON RIDERSHIP.
THERE WAS A CALL FOR 4 BILLION DOLLARS ADDITIONAL MONEY FOR THOSE THAT
WANTED TO MAKE TRANSFORMATIONAL
CHANGES IN THEIR COMMUNITIES.
SO YOU LOOK AT A COMMUNITY LIKE
OURS THAT HISTORICALLY JUST
RELIED ON BUSES, WENT TO AN LRT,
WE'VE SEEN HUGE SUCCESS WITH IT,
AND NOW WE'RE READY TO GO TO
PHASE 2 FROM KITCHENER DOWN TO
CAMBRIDGE.
YOU KNOW, WE'RE DOING THE EA FOR
IT AND WE'RE READY TO MOVE
FORWARD.
WE'RE NOT SURE, IS THE FUNDING
GOING TO BE IN PLACE.

Steve says WHAT'S THE PRICE TAG
ON THAT?

Berry says DON'T KNOW YET.
BECAUSE, AS I SAID, WE'RE JUST
FINISHING THE EA.
THE FIRST WAS SHY OF
900 MILLION DOLLARS TO WATERLOO TO
SOUTH-CENTRAL KITCHENER.

Steve says WHAT DID THE FEDS
PUT IN FOR THAT?

Berry says THAT UNDER THE OLD FUNDING
MECHANISM WAS BASICALLY ONE
THIRD, ONE THIRD, ONE THIRD.
SO OUR REGION ACTUALLY SAID,
THIS IS A PRIORITY.
SO, YOU KNOW, NOT SORT OF... I
WILL SAY I'M A LITTLE ENVIOUS OF
MY COLLEAGUES WHO ARE GETTING
FULL FUNDING NOW AND CERTAINLY
FOR PHASE 2, THAT'S OUR HOPE AND
EXPECTATION.

Steve says GOT IT.
MURTAZA, YOUR PLAN OF THOSE
TRANSIT PLANS AS YOU JUST SAW
THEM?

Murtaza says THEY ARE NECESSARY.
PUBLIC TRANSIT IS VERY IMPORTANT
FOR THE SUCCESS OF LABOUR
MARKETS, URBAN LABOUR MARKETS.
IF YOU LOOK AT LARGER CITIES
LIKE NEW YORK AND BERLIN AND
LONDON, ENGLAND, PUBLIC TRANSIT
IS SORT OF THE MAIN ARTERY...
MAIN VEHICLE OF SUSTAINING
LABOUR MARKETS.
BUT I MUST SAY THIS, THAT THIS
IS A FEDERAL ELECTION.
IT'S NOT A MUNICIPAL ELECTION.
AND IF YOU LOOK AT ACROSS
CANADA, WHAT PERCENTAGE OF
PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN AREAS WHO CAN
BENEFIT FROM PUBLIC TRANSIT...
MY ESTIMATE IS ABOUT 7 MILLION OUT OF 37 MILLION IN CANADA.
WHY I SAY THIS IS YOU LOOK AT
THE BIG CITIES, THE TORONTOS OF
THE WORLD, MONTREAL, VANCOUVER,
CALGARY, EDMONTON AND OTTAWA.
SO THAT'S WHAT 7 MILLION THAT CAN BENEFIT FROM TRANSIT IN
MARKETS WHERE YOU CAN HAVE,
LET'S SAY, 20 percent... THAT IS 20 percent OF
THE TRIPS ARE MADE BY PUBLIC
TRANSIT.
THE REST OF CANADA RELIES ON
AUTOMOBILE.
THE REST OF CANADA RELIES ON
USING ROADS TO GET TO WORK.
SO WE SHOULD NOT BE LOOKING AT A
NATIONAL TRANSPORT POLICY THAT
ONLY TALKS ABOUT TRANSIT BECAUSE
IT SERVES THE URBAN NEEDS.
AND I UNDERSTAND THAT.
BUT WE HAVE TO BE VERY MINDFUL
OF THE MOBILITY NEEDS OF
COMMUNITIES THAT ARE NOT IN A
POSITION AND WOULD NOT BE IN A
POSITION FOR THE FORESEEABLE
FUTURE TO HAVE A VIABLE PUBLIC
TRANSIT SYSTEM.

Steve says WOULD YOU WANT
GOVERNMENTS, THOUGH, TO
INTRODUCE POLICIES THAT AIM TO
GET MORE PEOPLE OUT OF THEIR
CARS AND ONTO PUBLIC TRANSIT?

Murtaza says ABSOLUTELY... AS I SAID, ANY
FACILITY THAT HELPS US REDUCE
OUR RELIANCE ON PRIVATE
AUTOMOBILE IS THE RIGHT
STRATEGY.
BUT THEN AT THE SAME TIME, IF
YOU LOOK AT THE ELECTORAL
PLATFORMS, YOU SEE
INCONSISTENCIES THAT ARE COMING
UP.
FOR EXAMPLE, GAS TAX.
I KNOW PEOPLE WANT TO USE... OR
INCREASE GAS TAX.
BUT ALL THESE POLITICAL PARTIES
WANT TO GET TO ELECTRIC
VEHICLES, AND YOU WILL SEE WHAT
THE U.S. HAS ALREADY SEEN A
REDUCTION IN GAS TAX REVENUE,
WHICH IS CAUSING THEM PROBLEMS
IN FUNDING PUBLIC TRANSIT
INFRASTRUCTURE BECAUSE THE
CAPITAL EXPENDITURES COMING FROM
GAS TAX AND ALREADY YOU'RE
SEEING A DECLINING GAS TAX
REVENUE, EVENTUALLY THESE
VEHICLES WILL BECOME ELECTRIC
VEHICLES, THERE WILL BE NO GAS
TAX.

Steve says GOTCHA.
STEVE, I HAVE A MINUTE AND A
HALF LEFT.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE?

Steven Ayer says A NUMBER OF PEOPLE HAVE
MENTIONED IN TERMS OF ACTUALLY
INVESTING IN TRANSIT.
ONE OF THE THINGS WE FOUND IN
VITAL SIGNS, IN TORONTO, TWO
THIRDS OF UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE HAVE
THE LOWEST ACCESS TO PUBLIC
TRANSIT.
HAVING TRANSIT NETWORKS THAT
WORK FOR PEOPLE IS REALLY
CRITICAL IN THAT ASPECT.
I DO THINK THE OTHER THING IS
COST IS A BARRIER FOR LOW INCOME
PEOPLE TO USE TRANSIT EVEN AS IT
EXISTS.
SO WHERE THERE ARE CREDITS FOR
THINGS LIKE THAT OR DIFFERENT
WAYS TO MAKE THE INDIVIDUAL USE
OF TRANSIT IMPROVE, THAT CAN BE
A BIG DIFFERENTIATOR.
USING THE TTC AS AN EXAMPLE.
OVER THE LAST 20 YEARS, THE
FARES HAVE BEEN INCREASING AT
TWICE THE RATE OF INFLATION.
A BIG PART OF THAT IS BECAUSE WE
HAVE SUCH LOW OPERATING SUBSIDY
SUBSIDIES PER PASSENGER.
WE HAVE THE LOWEST IN NORTH
AMERICA.
WE'RE FORCED TO RELY ON TRANSIT
FARES FOR PEOPLE TO PAY WHICH
PUTS PEOPLE MOST AT RISK IN
TERMS OF EITHER BEING ABLE TO
AFFORD IT, MEANING THEY HAVE THE
LEAST ACCESS TO TRANSIT WHEN WE
ARE INCREASING THE FARES
CONTINUOUSLY TO BE ABLE TO PAY
FOR THE TRANSIT WE ALREADY HAVE
AND KEEP IT OPERATING.

Steve says FAIR TO SAY IT
DOESN'T ENCOURAGE ANYBODY TO
TAKE TRANSIT WHO OTHERWISE
WOULDN'T BUT IT GIVES YOU A
BREAK IF YOU'RE ALREADY DOING
IT?
I THINK THAT'S WHAT THE
EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE SHOWED THE
LAST TIME IT WAS BROUGHT IN.

Murtaza says STEVE, CAN I SAY THAT?

Steve says YOU HAVE TEN
SECONDS.

Murtaza says MY COLLEAGUE AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO DID A VERY
GOOD STUDY AT LOOKING AT WHAT
WOULD IMPROVE ACCESSIBILITY TO
EMPLOYMENT AND THEIR STUDY IS
VERY CLEAR, IT SAYS IMPROVING
ACCESSIBILITY TO VEHICLES,
AUTOMOBILES, IMPROVES THE ODDS
OF GETTING TO A JOB FAR MORE
THAN PUBLIC TRANSIT.
WHEN I SAY ACCESSIBILITY TO
EMPLOYMENT IS TIED TO COST, IT'S
TRUE FOR TORONTO AS WELL.
WE HAVE SEEN THIS THROUGH
SCIENTIFIC STUDIES, NOT CONJECTURE.

The caption changes to "Producer: Cara Stern, @carastern."

Steve says TALKING ABOUT
INACCESSIBILITY. I HAVE NO MORE
ACCESSIBILITY TO TIME. WE'RE
DONE. JENNIFER, BERRY, STEVEN,
MURTAZA, IT'S GREAT TO HAVE
ALL OF YOU ON TVO TONIGHT.
THANKS FOR COMING IN AND SHARING
YOUR VIEWS ON ELECTION 43.
HERE WE GO. THANKS EVERYBODY.

Berry says IT'S GOING TO BE INTERESTING.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Steve says YEAH, IT SURE IS.

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