In a year when housing became significantly less affordable in Ontario, more than a quarter of MPPs profited from rental income or held other real estate assets beyond their own homes or cottages.
There were 33 Ontario MPPs who were landlords, had a spouse who was a landlord, or, between them and their spouse, owned additional properties or invested in real estate holdings, according to information they disclosed. Of these MPPs, 21 were Progressive Conservatives, eight were New Democrats, two were Liberals, one was the lone New Blue Party MPP and the other was an independent.
Ten of the 34 MPPs in Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet, between them and their spouse, were landlords or held other real estate assets last year.
Excluding MPPs’ spouses, 29 were landlords or owned real estate assets: 18 PC MPPs, eight New Democrats, two Liberals and one independent.
There were 23 MPPs who, alone or via their spouse, made money renting out property. Seven MPPs owned multiple income-generating properties. Four MPPs and their spouses owned additional properties that, according to what they disclosed, didn't generate income. Associate Transportation Minister Stan Cho disclosed owning four additional properties — the most of any MPP. Cho worked as a real estate agent for 15 years before being elected.
QP Briefing’s tallies come directly from MPPs’ public disclosure statements, which are listed on the Office of the Integrity Commissioner’s website. According to the Members’ Integrity Act, MPPs are required to annually submit a list of income sources, assets — including investments, and properties — and liabilities, to Ontario’s integrity commissioner, as well as those of their spouses and children who are under 18. The commissioner reviews submissions and publishes public disclosures excluding certain information, including MPPs’ homes, properties MPPs or their families use recreationally (such as a cottage), and the amount assets are worth.
QP Briefing was inspired to tally Ontario MPPs’ holdings after Global News reported on federal MPs’ stakes in the real estate market. Global News found at least 20 per cent of MPs held rental or investment real estate assets.
In December 2021, housing prices in Ontario were 30 per cent higher than a year earlier, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. Nationally, it cost 17.7 per cent more to purchase a home than at the end of 2020. Rapidly increasing prices show no signs of slowing down either. Royal LePage said prices were up 25.1 per cent nationally in the first quarter of 2022 in a report last week. Early in the year, the average cost of buying an Ontario home surpassed $1 million, according to Ontario Real Estate Association data.
After the average rent price fell during the first year of the pandemic, renting also got more expensive in Ontario last year; rent costs increased three per cent from the end of 2020 to 2021, reaching $2,022/month, according to Rentals.ca.
Rent increases have also significantly outpaced income growth in Canada over the last 20 years, although not as dramatically as the cost of buying has soared.
MPPs are far more likely to own multiple properties than the average Ontarian.
In 2020, 896,185 Ontarians were multiple-property owners, according to Statistics Canada, which is about six per cent of the province's population, or one out of every 17 Ontarians. Multiple-property holders own 31 per cent of all residential properties in Ontario.
The integrity commissioner only publishes the public version of an MPP's disclosure statement after he's met with the member and is satisfied they've met their obligation under the Members’ Integrity Act.
The act also states MPPs must not influence, or seek to influence, decisions to advance their private interests. MPPs can ask the integrity commissioner to investigate their colleagues if they feel another MPP has acted in a conflict of interest. The commissioner can recommend penalties for MPPs he deems violated the act, which MPPs vote to confirm or reject.
“Members are expected to act with integrity and impartiality that will bear the closest scrutiny,” the integrity commissioner’s website says.
Since the beginning of March, NDP MPPs Andrea Horwath, Bhutila Karpoche, and Chris Glover, who all had rental income in 2021, each asked questions during question period about Ontario’s housing affordability crisis. There were also 10 MPPs who received rental income, or held other real estate assets, who debated Bill 109, the PCs’ More Homes for Everyone Act. The bill sought to speed up housing developments but was criticized by the opposition for lacking substance. It passed on April 14.
Asked about the potential for MPPs to have a conflict of interest as both legislators and landlords during a housing crisis, Horwath said last week that MPPs’ holdings are “something that people do need to reflect on.”
“One of the big issues that we have in our market is that investors are using property (and) housing as an asset, as an investment opportunity as opposed to housing for people. And so if people are holding these properties and not renting them out — or renting them out at exorbitant rents — and not being thoughtful about how these properties are being utilized, then that's something certainly that each person needs to think about seriously,” Horwath said.
Horwath said her “ex” lives in her lone rental property, which she’s been trying to sell “for a long time.”
Former premier Kathleen Wynne's disclosure lists two properties, including one she owns outright and another she and her partner own. A Liberal Party spokesperson said Wynne's rental income comes from a property that "helps support her niece" who has "acute needs."
QP Briefing reached out to all 10 members of Ford’s cabinet who, between them and their spouses, were a landlord or held other real estate assets last year, asking if they’d recused themselves from housing-related policy decisions. Stan Cho, Jill Dunlop, Nina Tangri, Parm Gill, Greg Rickford, Doug Downey, Michael Tibollo and Sylvia Jones did not respond by a deadline set before the publication of this story.
Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy's disclosure lists rental income from property in Florida, which he shares with his wife. His spokesperson said he needn't recuse himself from any cabinet discussions on housing because the property is in the United States.
Economic Development Minister Victor Fedeli said in a statement to QP Briefing that his vacant lot in North Bay, the lone real estate asset listed in his public disclosure, is “where my wife and I intend to build our home when we retire. There is no income from it.”
The NDP has released its housing platform, while the PCs’ budget that Bethlenfalvy’s tabling Thursday is expected to contain more details about their party’s vision for addressing the issue of affordability.
The Liberals haven’t released a housing platform but were critical of the Ford government’s recent housing legislation.
Horwath and the New Democrats’ housing proposals focus on ending exclusionary zoning, restoring rent control and creating a speculation and vacancy tax, while also promising to create a portable housing benefit for tenants to pay rent.
All 33 MPPs are listed below by party, along with any property they own, beyond their own home and any recreational property in 2021, as disclosed by the integrity commissioner:
- Deepak Anand: Rental income earner. Owns one property. Spouse owns residential property.
- Amarjot Sandhu: Rental income earner. Owns one property. Spouse earns rental income and real estate commissions.
- Parm Gill (Citizenship Minister): Rental income earner. Owns one property.
- Vincent Ke: Rental income earner. Owns one property. Investor. Spouse earns rental income.
- Nina Tangri (Red Tape Minister): Rental income earner. Owns one property.
- Will Bouma: Rental income earner. Owns one property. Spouse earns rental income.
- Billy Pang: Rental income earner. Owns one property. Spouse earns rental income.
- Christine Hogarth: Owns one property. Investor. Spouse invested in real estate stocks.
- Victor Fedeli (Trade Minister): Owns one property. Spouse owns residential property.
- Sheref Sabawy: Rental income earner. Owns three properties. Spouse earns rental income.
- Stan Cho (Transportation Minister): Rental income earner. Owns four properties.
- Jill Dunlop (Universities Minister): Rental income earner. Owns undisclosed number of properties.
- Peter Bethlenfalvy (Finance Minister): Rental income earner. Owns undisclosed number of properties. Spouse earns rental income.
- Stephen Crawford: Investment income earner. Spouse invested in real estate stocks.
- Ernie Hardeman: Investment income earner. Spouse invested in real estate stocks.
- Greg Rickford (Mining and Indigenous Affairs Minister): Investor. Spouse invested in real estate stocks.
- Doug Downey (Attorney General): Controls holding company that owns property.
- Bob Bailey: Investor.
- Michael A. Tibollo (Mental Health Minister: Spouse owns residential property leased to the Ministry of the Solicitor General.
- Rudy Cuzzetto: Spouse earns rental income.
- Sylvia Jones (Solicitor General): Spouse invested in real estate stocks.
- Gurratan Singh: Rental income earner. Owns one property. Spouse earns rental income.
- Andrea Horwath: Rental income earner. Owns one property.
- Sandy Shaw: Rental income earner. Owns one property.
- Doly Begum: Rental income earner. Owns one property.
- Percy Hatfield: Rental income earner. Owns one property. Spouse earns rental income.
- Teresa J. Armstrong: Rental income earner. Owns two properties. Spouse earns rental income.
- Chris Glover: Rental income earner. Owns two properties.
- Bhutila Karpoche: Rental income earner. Owns two properties. Spouse earns rental income.
- Mitzie Hunter: Rental income earner. Owns one property.
- Kathleen O. Wynne: Rental income earner. Owns two properties. Spouse owns residential property.
New Blue and Independents:
- Roman Baber: Rental income earner. Owns three properties.
- Belinda C. Karahalios: Spouse invested in real estate stocks.