Ontario stops publishing foreign buyers’ tax figures

The Ontario government has stopped publishing statistics about the tax it imposes on foreign property buyers.

Officially known as the non-resident speculation tax, the 15% levy was put in place by Kathleen Wynne’s government in 2017 to try to cool the housing market in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond.

The provincial government published figures showing that non-residents bought about 1,400 homes in the first 10 months of the tax, generating $172 million for the province. Those statistics were last published in April 2018, and since Doug Ford’s PCs were elected last June, no new figures have been released.

CBC said that it has requested more recent numbers from the province’s Ministry of Finance twice in the past six months. However, on both occasions, officials said, “There is no further update at this time.”

When asked why the foreign buyers’ tax figures are no longer being publicized, Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said that he didn’t know.

"I'm not aware that there's any changes," Fedeli said. "I'll have a look at where they are being published."

When asked if the provincial government is committed to keeping the tax in place, an official in Fedeli’s office didn’t give a direct answer.

"In order to address Ontario's housing crisis, our government is focused on building more homes that are affordable through our Housing Supply Action Plan," said Clint Thomas, Fedeli's communications director.

Meanwhile, James Cohen, executive director of corruption watchdog group Transparency International Canada, believes that those statistics ought to be available.

"The Ontario public has a right to know," Cohen said. "It's not a good trend to be moving away from stats that the public needs to see. The more eyes on this, the better."

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