WATCH: Keesmaat proposes luxury home surtax to fund rent-to-own program

Toronto mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat is proposing a tax on super pricey homes to fund a rent-to-own program.

"This is really about asking those who can afford to pay more to give young people the opportunity to access home ownership in our city," Keesmaat said in Liberty Village Thursday.
"There's an entire generation being priced out of access to housing in our city. They are struggling with debt. They have little saved for retirement and I have seen the home ownership ladder kicked out from under them."

Keesmaat is pitching a property tax surtax of 0.4% on homes valued at $4 million or more. The Toronto Real Estate Board put the average cost of home in the city last month at $864,275.

John Tory's challenger expects the surtax would be applied to some 3,000 homes and raise $80 million a year to help make the dream of ownership come true for 10,000 families over ten years.

The 10,000 rent-to-own homes are part of Keesmaat's broader pledge to build 100,000 affordable housing units in a decade. With provincial and federal help, she says it could be 30,000.

Toronto would need the province's blessing to bring in a surtax. Keesmaat doesn't see it being an issue.

"The Premier says he's 'for the people' and this is about ordinary people having access to home ownership," Keesmaat said.

A spokesperson for Ontario's Minister of Finance says the ministry does not speculate on tax policy or comment on "hypothetical situations or platforms" from political candidates.

Earlier this year a plan by the government of British Columbia to add a surtax on high value homes received a lot of pushback.

Starting next year, B.C. homes worth between $3 million and $4 million will be subjected to a 0.2% property tax surcharge. Any home value above $4 million will be taxed at a rate of 0.4% While dubbed a "school tax" revenues from it will go into general provincial coffers.