Thursday 14 August 1997

Tenant Protection Act, 1996, Bill 96, Mr Leach / Loi de 1996 sur la protection des locataires,

projet de loi 96, M. Leach

Valiant Property Management

Mr Robert Hann

Canadian Federation of Students--Ontario

Mr Wayne Poirier

Mr Ashkan Hashemi

Children's Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto

Ms Ann Fitzpatrick

Mr Lawrence Smith

Mr Michael Trebilcock

Ontario Building Officials Association; Large Municipalities Chief Building Officials; Toronto Area Chief Building Officials

Mr Tony Chow

Mr Daniel Mousseau

Queen Street Patients Council

Ms Jennifer Chambers

Touchstone Youth Centre

Ms Sabine Wood

Ms Kulvinder Kalirai

Ms Marleane Davidson

Ms Cindy Buott

Older Women's Network

Ms Eileen Smith

Burton-Lesbury Holdings

Mr Robert Burton

Roomers' Rights Organization (Toronto)

Ms Mary Taylor

Mr Michael Baxter

Kensington Youth Theatre and Employment Skills

Mr Stephen McCammon

Yolles Partnership

Ms Nancy Gillespie

East York Tenants Alliance

Ms Mary Jo Donovan

WoodGreen Community Housing; Coalition of Visible Minority Women (Ontario)

Ms Maureen Houlihan

Ms Elaine Prescod

Ms Jennifer Newby

Metro Network for Social Justice

Ms Marnie Hayes

Ontario Manufactured Housing Association

Mr David Rice

Ms Elizabeth Rowley in place of Ms Patricia Moore

North Toronto Tenants' Network

Ms Lynn Carleton

Mr Herb Heimbecker

Mr Peter Tabuns

Roomers' Rights Organization (Toronto)

Mr Michael Baxter


Chair / Président

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel PC)

Vice-Chair / Vice-Présidente

Mrs Julia Munro (Durham-York PC)

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood L)

Mr Harry Danford (Hastings-Peterborough PC)

Mr Carl DeFaria (Mississauga East / -Est PC)

Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East / -Est PC)

Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce PC)

Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock PC)

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East / -Est PC)

Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur L)

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York ND)

Mrs Julia Munro (Durham-York PC)

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview L)

Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough PC)

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel PC)

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North / -Nord ND)

Substitutions / Membres remplacants

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre ND)

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville L)

Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights L)

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine ND)

Clerk / Greffier

Mr Tom Prins

Staff /Personnel

Ms Susan Swift, research officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1001 in room 151.


Consideration of Bill 96, An Act to Consolidate and Revise the Law with respect to Residential Tenancies / Projet de loi 96, Loi codifiant et révisant le droit de la location à usage d'habitation.

The Chair (Mr David Tilson): Ladies and gentlemen, I think we'll call the meeting to order. This is the standing committee on general government and this is the final day of public hearings of the committee. We have been travelling around the province and we have returned to Toronto for the final day. We are reviewing Bill 96, which is the Tenant Protection Act, 1996.

We have a full day so we will start without further ado. The first presenters are Robert P. Hann and Debbie Clarke, who are from Valiant Property Management.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): On a point of order, Mr Chair: I don't believe a quorum is present. The government has an obligation to keep quorum.

The Chair: We will adjourn for 10 minutes.

The committee recessed from 1002 to 1011.


The Chair: I see a quorum. Good morning, Mr Hann and Ms Clarke. You may proceed.

Mr Robert Hann: Mr Chairman and members of the committee, government staff, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the chance to explain our position on Bill 96. I just want to mention to you that Debbie Clarke is my daughter. She is the fourth generation in our family business.

First, a brief history to qualify ourselves.

My family have been builders and developers in the Toronto-Oshawa-Peterborough area since 1922. This is our 75th anniversary. We built rental apartments from 1957 to 1972 -- when rent control was threatened -- every size from 15 suites to 245 suites. We own and manage about 1,700 suites. I have land zoned for rental apartments in Oshawa but will not be building them unless major changes are made to Bill 96 and other provincial laws.

The most onerous deterrent is the high assessment for real estate taxes compared to single-family housing. Rental apartments are assessed at three or four times individually owned housing. The changes in the new Assessment Act will not correct this because municipal politicians will not be able to resist the demands to keep taxes low for constituents who own their own homes. The local politicians will set rates on the apartment-building class much higher to buy votes.

Further, if fairness prevailed, the taxes on apartments should be far less than on single-family homes because apartments don't require as much municipal infrastructure: shorter roads to maintain and plow, more concentrated use of sewer and water lines and so forth.

If a single, semi, condo or rental apartment has the same market value, you should not create different classes. They are all residential and they should all pay the same ratio of taxes to market value. The only exception should be for services not rendered. For instance, if garbage is not picked up by the municipality, there should be an allowance for that.

The taxes on rental apartments are even higher per square foot than on shopping centres.

Another major reason that I won't be building rental apartments is that I cannot compete against the rent-controlled apartments with today's construction costs and development levies. When the province was building apartments, the shortfall was about $1,200 to $1,500 per month per suite. As bad as that is, it must have skyrocketed, since the shallowly subsidized suites have suffered extremely high vacancies. Some forensic accounting on a representative number of so-called non-profit apartments will no doubt show some horror stories of mismanagement.

Mr Leach has said the new Development Charges Act, DCA, will promote rental construction. I think not. As far as I am aware, the DCA does not correct the following unfairness. In Oshawa, the total levy for a two-bedroom apartment is $10,074, which is $11.85 per square foot on an average 850-square-foot, two-bedroom suite. Compare that levy to houses we are building now in Oshawa at our Sundance West subdivision. Bungalows range in size from 1,500 to 1,700 square feet and two storeys range in size from 1,800 to 2,400 square feet. By the way, all these figures do not include the garage. On average they are therefore 1,950 square feet, with a total levy of $13,595, or $6.97 per square foot. If that is not bad enough, also remember again that because apartments are concentrated with fewer service connections, less road frontage to build etc, the city or region saves a lot of money on apartment buildings being constructed.

The capital cost allowance pass-through is a definite improvement over the draconian, counterproductive, retroactive terms of Bill 4. However, the capital cost allowance should make provision for the fact that most improvements must be done and paid for from May to October during the building season, whereas the income from that allowance will take several months to get it approved by the rent control staff and three months' notice then over the next 12-month period to finally recover the full 4% of the rental income. By that time interest has increased the debt and there will be another building season and capital work that must be done. The treadmill will continue to get steeper as buildings age.

All of our buildings have been looked after. We have spent about 10% of gross rents per year on maintenance, replacement and refurbishing, but now that our buildings have reached 30 to 40 years of age, more major work must be done. As an aside, I'm really worried about our buildings becoming slums.

Another problem with the 4% capital cost pass-through that will prevail is that now the construction industry is getting busier, the price of work is going to escalate. So less work can be done and more work will be delayed to await the capital cost allowance to catch up. Also, we now have record low interest costs, and I don't believe they will stay this low forever. When you add on the higher interest costs, this ratchets down the quantity of work that can be done. I believe the capital cost allowance should be raised to an increase of 5% from 4%. This, then, would help pay back the principle, the higher interest and construction costs that are sure to come. It is fair to tenants because it gives them a better apartment to live in.

The vast majority of our residents can afford to pay the economic rent that is required to maintain the buildings they live in. Many spend time in Florida, very few are driving clunkers and many hate rent control because the 24 years of rent control have compounded slight inequities into situations where legal rents are cheaper in a three-bedroom apartment than in a one-bedroom apartment across the hall in the same building. There is no method of equalizing rents, so the suites already underpriced will have virtually no turnover and this unfairness will be worsened. The tenant paying market value will be subsidizing the tenant paying a low rent because there will be less refurbishing done because of the flock of underpriced units.

Let me give you an example of how out of line and Byzantine rents have become. Our rent includes heating, electrical, water, sewer consumption, parking, keeping the public areas clean, elevators maintained, fire insurance on the building, landscaping, snow removal, boiler repairs, security, fire retrofit, ad infinitum. We have numerous two-bedroom apartments that rent for about the price of a case of beer per week per four occupants.

Further, there is a great deal of verbiage by tenant advocates about rents skyrocketing. They never back up their "sky is falling" scenario with any real-world facts and figures. They ignore dozens of studies by authors of all the political spectrum which show that rent decontrol does not cause the horrendous problems.

I do not envy your task of trying to reach a fair, balanced rental apartment regime, but I honestly believe that the best form of rent control is that achieved by the open market. Prior to rent control we scrambled to get our suites rented. We offered moving allowances, one month's free rent on a 24-month lease, a gift basket of champagne, candles and glasses, everything to entice a tenant to sign. With the best of intentions, rent control has skewed the market so badly it is like a drug of dependency that is in short supply.

If you get rid of the mandated rent control, you attract business people who create jobs in all spheres of endeavour. The spinoff is extraordinary. Yes, there will be times when there are shortages of apartments, but this will correct itself as builders identify a need and leap into it.

When we started building apartments, we drove down the rent on the older existing buildings that were without the fancy lobby, pool, saunas and games rooms that we put in. Poorer people were advantaged because those who could afford these amenities went into the newer buildings and fewer people were chasing the cheaper suites. With rent control, people stay put longer even though most gradually became more affluent and no longer should be entitled to the low rents.


At the risk of immodesty, may I suggest to you that someone like myself with a proven track record of being a producer of apartment homes should be listened to, more so than someone who professes to have the poor tenants' best interests at heart. They haven't laid one block, wheeled one cubic foot of concrete, taken one single positive action to help produce shelter for someone. I don't know why we should give them the time of day, really.

In summary, the following are my points:

New rental apartment construction will not take place until market value assessment is equalized for all residential premises. Levies and all other development costs the province can control need to be made fair between all forms of housing. The rent increase allowed for capital costs must be more in line with what real world costs are so there is an incentive to the landlord. Serious efforts should be given to decontrol rents on existing tenants who cannot prove need, as well as when a suite becomes vacant. There should be an equalization factor created so that a small percentage increase is allowed in addition to the allowable figure set each August.

In closing, I again thank you and wish you well in making difficult decisions. I will be glad to try to answer any questions you might have, failing which I will not take any more of your time.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Hann. We do have time for questions.

Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): Thank you very much, Mr Hann. I have a question for you. I'd just like your comment on it. I understand your position where you feel there should be equalization on all residential properties, but what I don't agree with is that there isn't equity now, because the person who lives in their own condo or lives in their own house is paying all of their expenses, their taxes and everything else, on after-tax dollars. You, as a business, are paying all of your expenses at tax-deductible dollars.

Unless you equalize that as they do in the United States, where they allow mortgage payments and things like that to be deducted from your taxes, there isn't equity in use but there is inequity in how you pay for it. Do you have any comment on that?

Mr Hann: First of all, I don't know what you're talking about in the way of equalizing. Are you talking about equalizing real estate assessment?

Mr Kwinter: You're saying that market value assessment is equalized for all residential premises, which would mean that a residence is a residence. According to you, it doesn't matter whether it's rental, it doesn't matter whether it's a condo, it doesn't matter whether it's sole ownership. What I'm saying is that the person who lives in their house --

Mr Hann: Mr Kwinter, what you're failing to make the differentiation on is that it is not me who is paying those taxes. It's not me. I don't pay the taxes. The tenant pays the taxes, and the tenant who pays the taxes is the person who is the least capable and has the least resources. Now, you look at me and say: "Mr Landlord, you've got a nice suit on and you drive a nice car and everything. You should be paying more money because you're a businessman." What I'm saying to you is, all I am is a tax collector. I'm just another form of a tax collector, and so what's happening in the scenario you said is that you are jumping on the poorest person in all of society that is able to pay. That's the problem.

Mr Kwinter: I understand, but the point I'm making is that tax is only one component of the expense. You've got your mortgage payments, which you deduct, which a homeowner doesn't. You have your heating, you have all of your maintenance, all of those things which make up the rental that the homeowner still has but has to pay for after taxes.

Mr Hann: I don't pay any of those. It's the tenants who pay them.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I'm rather curious and I just need some clarification. Do I understand from what you're saying in the last couple of pages that you believe there should be a means test for everyone who's in a rental apartment to determine where they could live?

Mr Hann: No. I think there are definitely people who do need help. There is just no doubt in my mind that we have some residents who need help. So if they identify themselves -- it can be as circumspect as another situation I can tell you about to prove that it will work. If Mrs Smith is having a problem and she can prove that, "Look, I'm in trouble. I need a lower rent," I, as one landlord, would not be against a certain number of people having a lower-priced apartment.

Our family were poor at one time too, and we were helped back in the pogey days, so I've seen the other side as well as being on the winning side, if you want to pose it as a game. I think some people should be helped, but I don't think people who are going to Florida for six months of the winter should have a subsidized suite, which is what they're having right now. They're having low rent because it's available to everybody. The person in need should be the one that's helped, but not the people who don't need it.

Mrs Boyd: I understand that, and if they're on a social program, there are mechanisms to determine whether or not someone is eligible. But you seem to be saying that in lower-cost housing, when people are not directly on any form of assistance, they oughtn't to be in that lower-cost housing if they have enough money not to be. Is that what you're telling me? I'm just trying to be clear.

Mr Hann: Yes. What I'm saying is, it should be for the needy, not the greedy. The subsidized housing should be for the needy, not the greedy.

Mrs Boyd: You're not talking about cheaper suites in rental market apartments; you're talking strictly about subsidized housing. Because as your brief reads, you seem to be talking about cheaper suites in the general market rental.

Mr Hann: I think it should be done in the same way that we have a very successful program that goes on. There is very rarely ever any discussion about it in the papers or anything, but we found it's a very successful program. It's good for us as landlords as well as for the tenants, and that is the deal we have on a couple of buildings with OHC.

What happens on OHC is, when they get somebody who needs help -- they have identified that person, because we can't identify them, okay? We've no way to find them. So we have a deal with OHC. OHC call us and the property manager says, "Okay, I have Mr and Mrs Jones who need a two-bedroom suite," and we look at their record. If their record seems to be okay, fine, we'll let them move in. We can turn down up to two and then we have to take the third one.

Mrs Boyd: On the rent supplement.

Mr Hann: Yes, on the rent supplement. Then first of all, the portion that this needy tenant pays, they pay direct, and OHC pays the other portion direct. It's worked out now for -- I don't know -- 15 or 20 years and it's been an excellent system. We don't want too many people on high need in one building because we don't want a situation arising where you can easily identify who is on need. We want them to come in and enter into the apartment just like any other tenant who's paying the full shot themselves.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): Mr Hann, it's good to see you again, and thank you for your presentation. I think you've come right to the heart of the matter, that people like yourself, who are in the business, who are actually putting their money on the line, are the ones to whom I think we should be paying the greatest heed, because it is you who not only were building and renovating but who stopped, generically, as a group. To anyone who looks at the statistics, there is an absolute correlation between the implementation of rent controls and the end of construction of private sector apartments in the province of Ontario.

Mr Hann: Exactly.

Mr Gilchrist: It went from 26,000 units a year to 1,200 last year: 20 new apartments in all of Metro Toronto; 37 the year before. But those who would profess to have a social conscience think that's somehow nirvana for the 50,000 people who moved to this city last year. I don't know where they think they're going to be housed, but clearly the private sector has walked away because of government intervention.

I'd like to explore further the point you've raised about property tax inequities. Again, there are a lot of people who do a good job of professing to care about affordable housing in this province, but when given the tools, when given the opportunities to do something about it, they don't do a damn thing, quite frankly.

We've had three Toronto councillors appear before us here so far, and the current mayor of Toronto -- you may or may not know this, and I'd like your comment -- in 1994 when she was running said that she found "outrageous" the differential in the taxes and that she would move as soon as she was elected to remedy that inequity.

Well, Mr Hann, in downtown Toronto today the variance is as great as 6.2 times as much being paid by a tenant as by a homeowner with equal square footage. What do you think would happen to the affordability of apartments in this province if municipalities recognized that inequity, did what they should be doing and balanced the tax load so that tenants went down to the taxes that are being paid by homeowners in this province?


Mr Hann: I think it would help considerably the chances of rental apartments being built, because it's the second-highest cost we have. The only higher cost is the mortgage financing, interest on the money, and the next-highest cost is the municipal or real estate taxes. If they went down to a realistic figure, I think that would help increase considerably the chances of apartments being built.

Mr Gilchrist: We have another election this fall. Maybe they'll take a different tack when they have the next chance.

Mr Hann: I won't take too much longer because my time is just about up --

The Chair: Unfortunately, we're out of time, so very briefly.

Mr Hann: I'm really disappointed that this government has drawn up the Assessment Act to allow the municipal politicians to make the decisions, because they will not be able to make decisions.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): You had a chance and you walked away.

Mr Gilchrist: So you want us to interfere with the municipalities. Mike Colle calls on us to interfere with the municipalities.

Mr Colle: You had a chance to do something about it and you chickened out. You walked away.

The Chair: Mr Colle, please.

Mr Gilchrist: The same people who tell us not to interfere with the municipalities now want us to --

The Chair: Mr Colle, Mr Gilchrist.

Mr Colle: Because of downloading, you knew you had to walk away. You chickened out.

Mrs Boyd: On a point of order, Mr Chair: You may want to call the next people, and we can just deal with it very briefly as they come up.

The Chair: I'm going to call the next people. I'd like to try and get some order in this committee. I hope all members of the committee will cooperate and stop the name-calling.

Thank you very much, Mr Hann and Ms Clarke, for your presentation this morning.

The next presentation is the Canadian Federation of Students -- Ontario. There are two presenters: Wayne Poirier and Mr Ashkan Hashemi.

Mrs Boyd: On a point of order, Mr Chair, before they begin: I wonder if at the end of the presentation, if there is time for questions, you would tell us how much time there is for questions each time. I would really appreciate that. It gives us a better idea how lengthy a question can be.

The Chair: I will do my best. I try not to cut people off in the middle of sentences, and sometimes some get more than others.

Mrs Boyd: I just meant so we know. If there's two minutes, it's different than if there's five minutes.

The Chair: Okay. I'll do my best.


The Chair: You may proceed.

Mr Wayne Poirier: On behalf of the Canadian Federation of Students, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to present to you today. I hope the information presented will be considered and that amendments will be made to this bill to lessen the negative impacts it will have on Ontario tenants. The federation is made up of more than 110,000 members in Ontario, at more than 20 campuses.

In the initial discussions surrounding the tenant protection legislation, New Directions for Discussion, the majority of presenters spoke against many of the changes, as they would be detrimental to the majority of low-income renters. We are now faced with Bill 96, which has not taken into account the public consultations of the discussion paper. Thus I will present to you our original response, as most of the issues remain the same. I will also point out some other areas of concern that have arisen from Bill 96.

I would like to start with the student-tenant profile. This piece of legislation will have an impact on several thousand student renters. Among student renters, it should be noted that virtually all would be considered low-income earners, as they have limited income while attending school. In addition, students are among the most likely to deal with landlords on an annual basis, as they often rent in the place of study but live at a different permanent residence. For these reasons, Bill 96 will have great effects on the rent that students pay and the availability of affordable housing for them.

It should be noted as well that students' income has remained relatively fixed, while the largest ever tuition increase has been seen in the past two years. Therefore, even minimal changes to the rental rates will have significant effects on student renters.

Vacancy decontrol: Students are in a unique position, in that a tenant market will make them among the most susceptible to rent decontrol. Students often lease for one year and move on to more adequate housing. This will mean that as a student vacates a unit, the landlord will be free to increase rent to any level they desire. Landlords would be guaranteed this opportunity quite frequently in the student market. Rent control measures provide some consistency for students, which Bill 96 does not guarantee.

Harassment: Bill 96 provides incentives for landlords to harass tenants. In particular, students are often harassed, as they are less likely to follow through on complaint mechanisms. If a landlord wishes to raise the rent, it would follow that harassment would be an easy way to vacate a unit. The new measures of enforcement are useless unless this government is committed to providing adequate funding for enforcement. As it stands, there will be no money available from municipalities with all the downloading that is taking place. Rent enforcement will undoubtedly be a low priority for municipalities dealing with other restructuring issues.

In addition, we would like to condemn the proposal to allow discrimination based on social assistance. If landlords are given the right to discriminate against social assistance recipients and income, it would violate every definition of equal treatment. Any changes to the Human Rights Code should in no way discriminate against any person based on income or employment situation.

Subletting: I'd like to note that the right to sublet is one of the most important rights that students have in order to make making a living while away from home somewhat feasible. Students who return home must have this option available to them in order for them to make money during the summer to pay for their expenses at school.

Dispute resolution mechanisms: The proposed changes will likely become an undemocratic means of dispute resolution appointed by government and with the influence of a political agenda. Any dispute resolution process that is implemented must be independent of government and must follow due process in fairness and impartiality. Given the track record of this government in appointing such bodies, we are very sceptical about a body being created in a fair way for tenants to be protected.

The next item I'd like to get to is the creation of rental units. If the purpose of this bill is to produce more rental units, clearly it has missed its aim drastically. One only need look to BC to see how rent decontrol and the abolition of rent control led to fewer new housing starts, more condominiums and higher rents. I will point you to page 8 of our brief to see the BC case at a glance. In that you will notice that condominium conversions to new units were increased with rent decontrol and new housing starts were very minimal.

The vacancy rate is already extremely difficult for students, and any decrease in affordable housing would make it impossible for students. Increases to rent only serve to limit housing. As a result, any demand created for housing will not be for rental units, because the increased demand would only be for affordable units and not new high-priced units. The solution to create more rental starts that are affordable is not found in this bill. We will urge that this be addressed. The need for subsidized housing will only be exemplified if this bill is accepted.

In conclusion, I'd like to say that this bill heavily favours landlords and does little to protect tenant rights and, more importantly, affordable housing. Students will be greatly impacted by any increases to rents. The effects have great spinoff effects for the accessibility of post-secondary education and, as a result, on student aid entitlements.

We urge you to rethink this legislation and maintain the elements of the current legislation which offer students bare minimal protection. I encourage you to have a more thorough look at our brief to understand some of the analysis contained within it. Myself and Ashkan Hashemi, the CFS researcher, will now take questions. I thank you for your time.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Poirier, Mr Hashemi. Ms Boyd, you have about two or three minutes.

Mrs Boyd: Thank you for your presentation. Coming from London, the issue of student housing is very urgent in a community like ours where the community college and the university are a very big part of our economy and student renters are a very large part of our population.

I think you've done a very good job of showing the interaction of policies and the cumulative effect of those policies, like the tuition increases, like the changes in student loans in terms of part-time/full-time students, how all of that accumulates, and then you have this on top of it making it very difficult for those who don't have a lot of private resources to continue at university. I think that's something to keep in mind.

I wanted to have you talk a little bit more about the British Columbia example, because I think the biggest motivator for those who are in favour of this bill is the claim that it will increase rental units. Quite clearly, the BC example showed that after the abolition of rent control, the proportion of rental housing starts fell from 64% to 9% of all multiple dwelling starts and the slack was taken up by condominiums. That is exactly what our concern is, and we don't think there's an incentive here. We just heard an experienced builder say the same thing: This isn't going to increase housing starts, especially low-cost housing starts. Is that your experience all over the province?


Mr Poirier: That's the exact experience we would like to see avoided. In terms of new housing starts, any new housing that would be created would be high in rents. It's very unlikely that they are going to suddenly appear. It's very unlikely that Ontario is going to have a very different scenario from that of BC. In BC it is quite clear that once new, higher rents are the case, it is more likely that conversions to condominiums will be the case and not new rental units. As such this legislation doesn't make any sense, because if the aim is to increase housing for rental units, it's not going to happen. We have a clear example in British Columbia and I encourage people to look at that more thoroughly.

Mrs Boyd: There is already a problem for students in terms of the whole issue of whether they have to rent for a full year even though they're only in their location for eight months and that sort of thing, so the increase in the possibility of harassment from a landlord to get that movement even speeded up is very real, isn't it? The only incentive now for students to stay in the same place and try and sublet or find a job there is so that they can maintain their housing. But if this comes through, you really fear an increase in harassment, as I understand it.

Mr Poirier: We would expect that to be the case. We already see cases where students are currently harassed, and based on the fact that students have very little time when full-time studies and part-time employment are factored in, students don't have the time or the means available to go through dispute resolution processes. As such, landlords know that the are an easy target for harassment.

We expect that this would increase and that students would be vacating units that they currently sublet during the summer so that in September they can come back to their place of study and already have their residence. This would mean that students would be coming back in August, giving up a couple of weeks of work to come and look for new housing, which in the Toronto market, for example, is extremely difficult, and this is the case throughout the province.

Mr Gilchrist: Thank you both for your presentation. I hope you weren't overgeneralizing. As I look through your brief, I must challenge your suggestion that we didn't respond to the submissions you made a year ago. On one page alone, page 9, quasi-illegal basement apartments: Every single apartment in this province is covered by this act. Every tenant in any scenario is protected. So to your suggestion that it be added to basement apartment: It's covered. Shared rental accommodation: The unit is only vacant when all signatories to any lease have left. So if you rent a room and you leave, then the room is decontrolled. If four of you decide that you share a house and you sign the lease for the entire house, you're protected until all four people have left. So you're not at any risk if one person drops out of school or decides to move away.

The dissemination of information: There absolutely will be an abbreviated version of this act prepared, available for all tenants. In fact, we're looking at expanding the number of notices that municipalities would have to send directly to tenants when tax changes take place, for example, and give them information they've never had before.

I just heard your comment about harassment. We've expanded the existing Landlord and Tenant Act provisions on harassment and have put in fines that are so far beyond anything that's currently in the act that a landlord would have to be pretty foolish to tread in that area.

I must challenge one other suggestion you make and I'm glad you raised it early in the proceedings today. There is certainly no issue that has been as misunderstood as the section 200 aspect, the addition of income information, as another protection against discrimination.

Right now in Ontario it is absolutely, positively legal for landlords to ask about income information, but it is not covered in the Human Rights Code. We are adding it to the code and we are adding a second section. Everybody conveniently forgets there's a second paragraph after that which says that regulations will be developed that show the only means through which a landlord can use that information, and if it's used for discrimination, he or she will be guilty of an offence. That is a new penalty. That is a new right that has been added to the Human Rights Code. While others may disagree with that, I think the language is quite clear; and even more than that, the intent is absolute. We will not allow discrimination on that basis or on any other basis. You are quite incorrect when you say that it takes away the current code restriction against discrimination for source of income. That section of the Human Rights Code is not touched at all. I just wanted to clarify that point in your brief.

Mr Duncan: On the issue of section 200, the parliamentary assistant has failed to talk about section 36, failed to identify that the government is expressly prescribing that income can be used. They say they will bring forward regulations subsequently, but I think based on the statements of the minister in the House and based on their own track record, in my view it is quite clear that the government believes it should be authorized, in fact prescribed, that income sources can be taken into account.

The parliamentary assistant raised a couple of issues that I feel are addressed in the bill that you have raised in your presentation.

With respect to harassment, we don't agree with the government. We think you're absolutely right on the nail about harassment. It's quite clear to us that the amount of harassment that particularly vulnerable tenants or tenants in types of situations that many students will find themselves in will be heightened.

I'd be curious to get your views on section 37(3). We had a presentation put to us by a student landlord group in Kingston arguing that because of the nature of student accommodation and the amount of time that students are in an apartment, the eight months versus 12 months, this new bill does harm to landlords, student landlords specifically. I'd be curious to get your views on that.

You've dealt with the subletting issue, but the issue of security of tenure and termination of tenancies, I wonder if you could elaborate on that, please.

Mr Ashkan Hashemi: Just to your first point around income discrimination and harassment and things like that, I think, with all due respect to what the parliamentary assistant was talking about, it shows that maybe he hasn't rented anything for a very long time.

Mr Gilchrist: I am a tenant right now.

Mr Hashemi: Sure, you might have it in the law that you are restricting harassment, but the reality of when you go to rent a place isn't quite that cut and dried. When the landlord asks you what your income is, under this new legislation you have to tell him and -- "Oh, but I can't use that information now that I have it to discriminate." So you might get a phone call a month later saying, "We rented it to someone else who came before you did." How do you know that's not what was discriminated against? It's great that it is in there. It's just ink on paper at this point. It doesn't deal with the reality of the landlord and tenant relationship, in my opinion; the same with the harassment legislation.

As far as subletting arrangements, and the eight to 12 months, it seems to me that it makes more sense -- currently subletting is not up to the landlord. The landlord has to be aware of it, but it's up to you to make those arrangements. Why would a landlord want to sublet now when he could actually declare the place vacant and jack rents up to the roof if he wants to? The person who made a presentation before us made that point very clearly. What he wants to do is raise rents. That's exactly what this legislation will allow him to do. In order for them to build more affordable housing, he says he wants the moon. He wants his taxes cut drastically etc.

None of those are really viable answers. The most viable answer to building rental housing in this province is to have the government re-establish what was happening before in that the government was building affordable housing. The private sector will not do it unless it's for profit. Sorry, low-income rental housing isn't always profitable. That's something this government needs to be aware of.

The Chair: Mr Hashemi, Mr Poirier, unfortunately we are out of time. On behalf of the committee, I thank you for making your presentation this morning.


The Chair: The next presentation is the Children's Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto, Ann Fitzpatrick. Good morning.

Ms Ann Fitzpatrick: Good morning. On behalf of the Children's Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto, I'd like to make some recommendations on Bill 96. I'm a community worker and I work to support families and social workers in dealing with housing problems on a daily basis.

The CAS is legislated to provide child protective services and preventive supports to children under the age of 16 across Metro Toronto. We also provide foster care and adoptive care for children at risk, where necessary.

In 1996 we worked with over 15,000 children who live with their parents in the community, as well as providing services in care for an additional 2,531 children. In addition, we work with over 200 wards of children's aid who are now adolescents and moving towards independent living in the community.

Housing problems and child welfare problems are linked. This has been proven by many studies. A study we did in 1990 with the University of Toronto showed that housing problems were a factor in over 18% of child admissions to care.

Each admission to care has a large emotional impact on families, but there's also a financial cost to the government of over $1,400 per month, and the average length of stay in care is about 16 months.


Since July 31 of last year, there are an additional 184 children who have come into care. This month we had 1,766 children in care. There is no doubt that the stress, poverty and housing problems facing families are some of the factors related to child abuse, neglect and admissions to care.

We have a number of recommendations in our brief that's before you and we urge your committee to consider it carefully, as well as to look at some of the appendices which look at ratios of income to rent. The full list of our recommendations is summarized on page 10, but today we want to focus on two areas: the removal of rent control on vacant units, and the section 200 changes to the Human Rights Code, which we believe give landlords the expanded right to use income information in screening out tenants.

Before I get into the legislation, I'd like to show you a picture of the typical families we work with and how housing issues are affecting them. This is a family of newcomers in Canada. The father is employed at a minimum-wage job. They have two children and it's a two-parent family. They're sharing a one-bedroom apartment with another family of three. The children are sleeping wall to wall on the floor and the parents sleep on the couch. Their family doctor has communicated with children's aid a concern that the two children, seven and nine, are failing to thrive. They're losing weight because of the stress situations in this accommodation. The father has tried to find alternate accommodation but has been turned down because his income is too low.

Sandra is a single mom, with two kids, on social assistance. Her income per month is $1,126 since the 21.6% reduction. She's paying 75% of her income on rent, but she pays her rent each month. She is looking for alternate accommodation, but she has also been turned down many times because she's on welfare or she has children.

Mary and her four children have been living in a cramped motel room along Kingston Road for the last four and a half months since she fled her abusive partner. This motel is one of 12 along Kingston Road that are are trying to keep up with the overflow of the shelter demand in our system. There are about 500 other homeless children and families in the same motel strip, paid for by welfare. Welfare pays $1,350 per month to house her and her children for a month.

The children are ridiculed by other children at school, and they're experiencing stress and doing very poorly in school because of this environment. There's no place to play except in the parking lot. There's no privacy in this situation, and at times this parent seems close to the breaking point, although children's aid is trying to give her the support it can.

Jane is a young woman who is a 17-year-old ward of our society. She's living independently, finishing up high school and planning to go to college. She receives $663 a month and is living in a small basement room in a house, which takes up 56% of her income. It's damp and there's often flooding. She wants to move to other accommodation but she's been turned down because of her age and her income.

These cases are not atypical. I deal with them on a daily basis. Fifty-eight percent of our clients are sole-support families and they're low-income, and over half are on social assistance. Only a quarter of our clients are in subsidized housing, so the majority are dealing in the rental market.

The National Housing Act talks about affordable, suitable and adequate housing, and I'm telling you that the circumstances families are living in in the community are going well below those standards. I think it's something the provincial government should be concerned about. Since the welfare cuts, Metro is estimating that 66% of recipients are paying more than their shelter allowance on rent.

The CAS opposes the deregulation of rents on vacant units, and we also oppose the changes to the Human Rights Code. We're particularly troubled by the volatile combination of these two policies, because it is going to give landlords, in lock-step, the power to raise the rents as high as they can and then set the income requirements, which will then screen out people on social assistance.

We're really concerned that we're going to be institutionalizing a permanent underhoused and homeless class of low-income families and children. Tenants make up 74% of the clients we work with at children's aid. They need housing on the private market. We think the government regulates all kinds of other services, products and utilities, and they should be regulating rents as well, especially in something as basic as housing, which is a human need. It's the parents who are homeless, it's people who have had an additional child, it's youth leaving care who are going to be the most vulnerable in the marketplace, having to negotiate with landlords.

The other presumption is that everyone has equal power to negotiate. I think in this situation it's very clear that vacancy rates are very low in the marketplace and our clients are not going to be in a bargaining position, with the kind of incomes they have, to get access to a vacant unit.

It also sets up two classes of tenants. The sitting tenant has certain protection and the tenant who is homeless or is looking for housing has no protection at all, and we don't think that's fair. Furthermore, we don't think negotiating rents is a common practice. Most of our clients would no sooner negotiate to buy groceries or to buy a dress than they would to negotiate with a landlord, so I think that's a very unrealistic premise.

We're really concerned about the downward spiral we're already seeing in the current rent control system, which is universal if these changes are implemented. We also oppose the changes put forth in section 200 and we do interpret it -- we have read it -- to mean that the use of income information will be able to be used to screen out tenants. Clearly, this will eliminate all kinds of additional housing options for people on social assistance. As I've outlined and as all the stats in Metro show, the reality for tenants is that they're already paying 50%, 60%, 70%, 80% out there. So if they're trying to find a cheaper place that might be 40% or 45% or 50%, their income will be used against them.

We also think that section 200 needs to be reworded to clarify that the absence of a credit check or rental reference shouldn't be used against a tenant who is applying for housing. We fully appreciate and understand that a landlord should have the right to use that kind of information if there's a negative credit rating or rental history, but what does a young person do who has never rented an apartment before? What does a newcomer to Canada do who doesn't have a credit card or a credit rating? Is the absence of that information going to deny them equal access to accommodation? We don't think it should go that way.

We hope the committee will understand the negative impact of a denial of rental housing on children and families. We think that our families use their common sense to assess what their income is, what the rents are in the newspaper and when they meet with landlords, and they are in the best position to make autonomous decisions about their family. It's not fair for a landlord to arbitrarily say, "You can't rent here because it's 30% of your income."

The children's aid joined with the four other child welfare organizations in Metro Toronto -- native child and family services, the Jewish, and the Catholic children's aid -- and we participated in a board of inquiry at the Ontario Human Rights Commission for the last couple of years, opposing the use of income information, in terms of protecting the human rights of tenants. We urge this committee to look at the testimony and the evidence that were brought forward at that tribunal. They haven't reported yet, and Bill 96 came in between, but we think if you review all the evidence, you will find that this is not the direction to go.

I'd like to conclude that children's interests must be considered when amending laws such as landlord and tenant laws, rent control laws and the Human Rights Code. We don't think there will be any additional cost to this government to implement the recommendations we've outlined. In contrast, we caution you very seriously that there will be huge social and economic costs and many negative outcomes for children if these changes are implemented.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms Fitzpatrick. We have an opportunity for about a minute per caucus.

Mrs Julia Munro (Durham-York): Thank you very much. Yesterday we heard from children's aid and I raised the question with them about the fact that there is an opportunity for landlords. We've heard from landlords who have told us that they rent their units to those on social assistance. They find them to be great tenants, and there are certainly, as we all know, good landlords and good tenants.

But I wondered whether or not you see the announcement that social assistance money could be directly directed to landlords as a positive sign in terms of that particular issue you've raised.

Ms Fitzpatrick: I think that already happens in certain cases --

Mrs Munro: Yes, it does.

Ms Fitzpatrick: -- with children's aid clients, where they have a proven record of arrears and certain problems, and we make case-by-case arrangements on that. But I think it's very unfair to label all people on social assistance that they're all automatically going to be poor credit risks and they're not going to pay their rent. That is why we need a strong Human Rights Code. I think the fact that landlords are saying, "If you get welfare paid directly, we will rent to recipients on welfare," is evidence, which has been covered by other studies such as David Hulchanski's, that many landlords, despite the protections in the Human Rights Code, have concerns about renting to social assistance recipients because of their low income.


Mr Colle: Thanks, Ms Fitzpatrick. You've certainly highlighted another major deficiency in this bill: that it doesn't recognize the fact that there are children who are going to be made very vulnerable as a result of this bill. When they talk about tenants, they forget the children. As you know, in Toronto 36% of our children are already living in some kind of vulnerable situation, and this is going to add to it. Yet this bill, which is an attempt to deal with the housing situation, doesn't even mention the word "child" or "children." Do you feel we're going to be able to cope? Given the 22% cut in social assistance and this other destruction of affordable housing, what's going to happen to the children as a result of this and other actions?


Mr Colle: Well, they live in their darned apartments with their parents.

The Chair: Gentlemen, please.

Mr Colle: You don't have any children, but there are children who live in apartments who are going to be hit by this thing.

The Chair: Gentlemen, let's give our presenter an opportunity.


Mr Colle: But they live in the apartments. They're going to be hurt by your stupid Bill 96. You don't care. She cares about children.

The Chair: I'd like to hear from the presenter.

Ms Fitzpatrick: I am very concerned, because what I see right now in terms of the cases brought to my attention -- and I don't think these situations are coming to the public's attention or the government's attention -- is that we have more and more families we're working with who are living in very bad situations. They're living in unsafe and unregulated housing, they're living doubled up, they're staying longer and longer in shelters. As it is, I get the perception that many families are in a trap.

Already landlords are not upholding the Human Rights Code, even with the strong protections we have. I think the direction we need to move is to strengthen the enforcement of the Human Rights Code, strengthen the education to landlords and tenants about what their rights are and make it crystal clear that the amount of people's income or the source of income cannot be used to deny someone accommodation. It has to be crystal clear. When I read section 200, it is not clear to me, and section 21 is not clear to me.

We're in a housing crisis right now and children are in a crisis, and there's a cost to be paid for that, through an increase in children's aid services, an increase in shelter use, an increase in health costs. It's breaking out all over the place.

The other thing is, 10 years from now, what is going to happen to these children who are growing up in these very insecure situations, some of them moving five times in a year? That's what I'm concerned about. Are we institutionalizing that kind of downward spiral? We just need to look south of the border to see that it's become a fact of life in the US. Homeless families are just accepted as part of the terrain. I hope that's not what we want for Ontario.

Mrs Boyd: I'm very struck by what you say about not just the short-term costs but the long-term costs. You're being very practical here; you're not being a bleeding heart, as some people would say. You're saying practically, for society, if we don't guarantee adequate housing and adequate food to children early on, we pay the cost in another way later on. That's one of the very basic concerns I have. We're signatories to the rights of children, and one of the major rights for children is safe and secure housing. Here we are in the midst of a discussion on a bill that everyone who works with the vulnerable population has tried to tell this government takes away that security of housing. It's very costly in the long run, isn't it?

Ms Fitzpatrick: Yes. I don't know how to react to that except to say there's an awful lot of pain out there, children in pain and families in pain, and all I can predict with these two changes, in addition to the other recommendations, is that it's just going to get worse and worse. I can't even envision how we're going to deal with it.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Fitzpatrick, for your presentation this morning.


The Chair: Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to remind you that the rules of this committee and the rules of the Legislature do not allow applause or any form of demonstration. I ask that you respect that rule we have in this committee.


The Chair: The next presenter is Lawrence Smith, professor in the department of economics, University of Toronto. Good morning, Professor Smith.

Mr Lawrence Smith: Good morning. Before I turn to the comments I have, I might just point out that there's often a perception that economists don't care, having followed up on the previous discussion. I want to try and dispel that before I start by saying that we do care, in general, and I care. The question is only how we see the market operating, how we see the economic system functioning and what we see as the best way to achieve ends. If we talk about ends, I don't think you would find that most economists and most social workers, for example, would have different ends in mind. The question is the most effective way and the most reasonable way to get to those ends. It's with that context that I want to make my remarks this morning.

Rent control and tenant protection have taken many forms in Ontario. Implicit in this is the notion that tenants need special protection from the vagaries of the market, and they need this because either the private rental market is thought to be a market failure, meaning it doesn't respond or work, or because tenants have insufficient income to make their housing needs effective in the marketplace, or another way of looking at that is insufficient incomes to be able to buy a socially accepted bundle of goods, housing in particular. These positions are taken by a lot of people and they were made most forcefully, for example, by Professor Hulchanski to this committee.

These positions fail to reflect the way the housing market actually operates, the consequences of rent controls and the appropriate role and form for government policy.

Let me begin by looking at market failure. Market failure occurs when markets fail to respond to economic and financial forces. Because of lags in the adjustment process, sometimes you're going to have what looks like a slow response, but if we look at what's been going on in Ontario over the last number of years, we can see clearly that we've had a persistently low amount of rental starts and a persistently low vacancy rate. Clearly, we have market failure. I don't think there's any disputing that the rental private sector is not functioning.

However, that doesn't mean that the private rental market is naturally a market in failure or is even prone to fail. In fact, what it really means is that under the current conditions, especially the regulatory environment we have, the market responses are reduced and incentive for new construction is considerably reduced.

Let me look at this by looking at the story before rent controls, what happened when rent controls came in, and what I think would happen if rent controls were fully removed.

Before rent control, the rental market worked extremely well in Ontario. In the five years before rent control, for example, private rental housing starts averaged over 27,000 starts a year. In fact, not only was that true for the period 1970 to 1974; it was true in the late 1960s. When rent controls came in in 1975, the situation changed, and Ontario went from having a housing market that was functioning at a high level and gave us one of the highest housing standards in the world to a situation in which the private market went basically into rental failure.

In the five years immediately after rent control, private starts fell 80% and averaged only 5,500 units, and throughout the 1980s, they continued on average to be 5,500.

Rent control is not the only reason rental starts would have gone down. There were changes in demographics, there was an increase in inflation that impacts negatively and an increase in interest rates, but rent controls were the major reason.

You can see this in a number of ways, but let me just give you a couple of really easy ways to glimpse at it. The same demographics, the same inflation, the same interest rate factors existed in all of North America, yet if you look at Ontario in the mid-1980s compared to what happened before rent controls and compare that to the rest of North America, rental housing starts in Ontario fell 260% more than in the United States and they fell 200% more than in the rest of Canada, even though there were other and weaker forms of rent controls in most of the rest of Canada at that time.


Enid Slack, in a study for the Thom commission many years ago, calculated that in 1984 rent controls were responsible for between 8,000 and 10,000 fewer rental housing starts than would have existed otherwise. Prior to rent controls there were no signs of rental market failure. Rent control broke the market connection between demand and rental price adjustment and the seeds for market failure were sown.

Let me comment on an issue that is often made, and again it was one stated by Professor Hulchanski, namely, that rent controls are a psychological barrier or a psychological concern only. It's not true. Rent controls are much more. They have very real financial effects. They reduce the expected return on investment and they reduce the profitability of new construction. Why? If rent controls are binding -- to be binding, it means they have to hold something down, so they are either reducing the current rent or they are reducing the expected rent in the future. Probably they're doing both, because otherwise there is no point in them.

If they lower the rent, either now or in the future, that means the present value of that income stream is lowered. That's what the capital value is of the project, so that means they reduce capital values. It's as simple as that. If they lower the expected rental stream, they lower capital values. If they lower capital values, new construction is less profitable and you get less of it.

Another way of looking at this is that there's an ancillary effect that goes with rent controls, namely, rent controls raise what I'll call the going-in rent required for new construction. In other words, they make the rent higher that landlords need in order to build. Why? Suppose you want to end up with a rent over here at the end of so many years. If rent controls lower the expected growth of rents -- because that's what they're going to do, they're going to hold future rents down -- if you want to end up here and you are going to start here and you're going to grow at this rate before rent controls, if rent controls now tell you no, you're going to grow at slower rate because they're going to be lower, to get to here, you have to start higher. If you don't get higher, you're not going to get the same present value. Basically, if you want to end up at the same present value as before, you need a higher initial rent if expected future rents are going to be held down, are going to be able to rise less quickly.

Therefore, what do rent controls do? They raise the required rent for new construction. That means they reduce the amount of construction, because the rent that's available in the marketplace is determined in the marketplace.

What would happen if rent controls were removed? The first thing to note is that rent controls are not the only regulatory or policy depressant on housing starts. The differential in property taxes, which I'm sure you've been hearing about also, between single-family and multiple rental housing is another major depressant on rental housing starts. It actually leads to rents being much higher than they should be. It's something that's translated in the form of not only fewer housing starts but it ends up in higher rents.

It's not clear that the removal of rent controls by themselves would trigger a major supply response. It is true, however, that the removal of rent controls, if it were believed that they would stay off, would greatly reduce the going-in rent that's required for new construction. Just as it brought it up before, it'll bring it down. If that were combined with what I'll call a rationalization of the property tax system -- in a study I did for the C.D. Howe Institute a few years ago, what I ended up with as a rationalization was basically a 45% reduction in rents for rental apartments, which still left them about 40% higher after the adjustments would have been made in the home ownership sector, higher than home ownership.

If those two things were done, at today's current mortgage rates of 7% or 7.5% -- I use 7.5% in my calculations -- rationalizing property taxes, together with the removal of rent control and today's mortgage rates, would generate a little bit over a 5% return on initial cash investment. That is more than enough to generate new construction in a free sector.

Let me just say, I'm only talking about the going-in rent, so for those of you who have been thinking long-term returns, that implies an internal rate of return, or an overall return, of about 13% to 15% over the life of the project.

These aren't only my calculations. A study by Greg Lampert, Steve Pomeroy and Helyar and Associates for Toronto indicated that if property taxes were cut in half at today's mortgage rates, the initial return would be 5.6%. There's no question that the market, if this is the issue, would generate returns that would bring forth investment if regulatory restraints were removed in the forms of rent control and property taxes were rationalized, although not the full differential removed.

The issue of market failure is clear. Prior to 1975 and the introduction of rent controls, there was absolutely no evidence of market failure. If rent controls were to be removed and property taxes rationalized, new rental construction would be viable and would increase substantially. To the extent that we have market failure today -- and we do -- it is entirely government-induced. The termination of rent controls and rationalization of property taxes would eliminate this market failure.

Turning to the second issue: social need. The second argument advanced for rent control is social need, namely, that people do not have enough money to generate demand in the marketplace. This argument as a rationale for rent control -- I'm not disputing that that is true, that there are people in need, but as a rationale for rent control, which is what we're looking at, it is completely spurious. It completely ignores the consequences of rent control and the relationship between appropriate government objectives and instruments.

Social need is a very major concern. There's no question in my mind that it's something that must be addressed. The question only is what form of policy should address it. Generally speaking, economists are united on the notion that the way you deal with income problems, income deficiency, is by using income policies -- that is, social assistance, shelter allowances, guaranteed annual income -- policies that transfer spending power to the recipient directly. Why? Because income policies are more efficient than direct intervention through regulation or in-kind transfers, because income policies maximize recipient utility or welfare for a given expenditure, and they do not directly distort markets or misallocate resources.

Direct intervention in the form of housing policy, and now I mean public housing, non-profit housing, interest subsidies -- I'm not talking about the fact there aren't other reasons for these, because there are other reasons to have those policies; I'm talking only for the issue of social need because there's insufficient income. For income purposes, those policies are only appropriate if the correct or appropriate income policy response is not available. It's at best what economists would call a second-best solution. It's not the right way to do it. The right way is to deal with the problem directly through income transfers.

However, if you do have to have a housing policy for income distribution -- and there are times when you would and when it would be appropriate -- rent controls are clearly not appropriate. They're not appropriate because rent controls are inefficient and they're inequitable for dealing with income distribution. They are a very blunt policy instrument. Winners and losers are imprecisely targeted. For example, some low-income tenants who are able to be in controlled housing benefit; others, who end up in uncontrolled units, namely, newly built units whose rents weren't controlled, or flats or single rooms or basement apartments, pay higher rents than they would otherwise have paid. What you have is that some win and some lose, even though they're in the same situation economically.

The Chair: Professor Smith, I regret to tell you you've got about two minutes left.

Mr Smith: That's okay. That'll do it.

Just to follow up on this, George Fallis and I, in a study we did on Canadian public policy, for example, indicate that the magnitude of net income distribution by income class is small, that is, rent controls did not redistribute income very much from one income class to another. The Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in a 1982 study said only 34% of the savings from rent controls went to low-income families. Another study by William Stanbury and Ian Vertinski demonstrated that the bulk of benefits from lower rents go to tenants in high-income categories. In other words, rent controls are an inappropriate way for dealing with social need. They provide little, if any, benefit for low-income households and they often harm a segment of low-income tenants.

So rent controls cannot be justified in Ontario on either the grounds of market failure or social need.

The Chair: Thank you, Professor Smith. I'm sorry to cut you off, but we are out of time. I thank you on behalf of the committee for making the presentation to us.



The Chair: The next presenter is Michael Trebilcock, a professor at the faculty of law, University of Toronto. Sir, good morning.

Mr Michael Trebilcock: Good morning. I welcome the opportunity to speak to this committee. The focus of my comments is on the appropriateness of rent-to-income criteria and other criteria of default risk in the allocation of rental housing, so I am not speaking to the rent control issue but rather the so-called human rights issue.

I am a professor of law and economics at the University of Toronto. I work principally in the areas of contract law, competition policy, international trade law and government regulation. A recent book of mine published by Harvard University Press, The Limits of Freedom of Contract, addresses extensively, among other issues, the question of what we should do about discrimination in private markets: employment markets, housing markets, education markets and the like.

I should add that I was an expert witness for an association of landlords in the recent case before the Ontario Human Rights Commission board.

A principal theme of my comments this morning is to develop an understanding of what sets of issues human rights laws can appropriately deal with and what sets of issues are best dealt with through other policy instruments.

I take it that the purpose of human rights laws is to prohibit discrimination where discrimination involves drawing distinctions based on the group, class or category to which a person belongs rather than on the basis of individual merit. That view of human rights laws is widely espoused by courts and commentators. This means that human rights laws should prohibit direct forms of discrimination based on any of the ascriptive or group characteristics set out in section 1 of the code and should prohibit indirect forms of discrimination based on these characteristics.

In my book, I strongly support both objectives and indeed go further and argue that in a limited range of circumstances, affirmative action programs in employment or education may be justified, at least if complemented with various supply-side policies. However, the view I've taken over the years, including in my book and in my evidence before the Human Rights Commission board is that contract regulation is an inappropriate, inequitable and inefficient way to achieve society's redistributive objectives and that these are best dealt with through other policy instruments, including the tax and transfer system, public provision of primary and secondary education and health care and, arguably, public housing. In other words, there is an important institutional division of labour as between issues that human rights laws can deal with and social problems that should be dealt with through other policy instruments.

Why is it that human rights laws are not an appropriate instrument for dealing with economic inequalities? In the written comments I've prepared for the committee this morning, I take some very simple examples. That is to say, I think it would strike all of us as perverse that we would expect a seller of cars or food or clothing, any merchant operating in any of the streets around us, to be placed under a moral or legal obligation to sell goods to consumers who lack the cash to pay for them; that is, to sell the goods at the limit, at a zero price.

Why would we regard this as perverse? Clearly, suppliers placed under such an obligation -- that is, to give away their goods irrespective of the ability of people to pay for them -- would quickly drive these merchants out of business and would ensure that no other merchants entered such a sector, with the consequence that all consumers in short order would be rendered worse off. That is to say, if refusing to supply goods or services to people who lack the ability to pay for them constitutes discrimination for human rights purposes, there are thousands upon thousands of acts of discrimination going on all around us as we speak, as merchants refuse to supply goods to people who lack the ability to pay for them either by way of cash or on credit. This cannot conceivably be viewed this as a form of discrimination for human rights purposes.

Now, that is not to say that I celebrate the fact that people lack resources, either in cash or in terms of credit capacity, to buy many goods or services. In fact, I deplore that phenomenon, but the question is, how should we respond to it? As I have said already, the way to respond to it is through policy instruments that address these inequalities directly: the tax and transfer system, public provision of primary and secondary education, public provision of health care, public provision, if necessary, of housing.

The first point I want to stress is, how should we respond to economic inequalities? Is human rights legislation the proper domain for addressing these issues? My answer to that is no.

Coming to the use of rent-to-income criteria in the allocation of rental housing and the controversies this has generated, there are two lines of objection to landlords employing rent-to-income criteria in allocating rental housing. Let me briefly address each of these lines of objection.

The first is that this is an incomplete form of information about what I call default risks; that is, simply to rely on income information and to relate this to rent ignores a range of other sources of information that may provide a fuller or more complete or accurate picture of a prospective tenant's potential default risk, and in that respect, it's inappropriate that landlords should rely exclusively on income criteria. Some commentators -- I think Professor Hulchanski may take this view -- feel that nothing short of an in-depth socioeconomic analysis of the circumstances of every family would provide sufficiently complete information to make an assessment of potential default risk.

Let me just say something about this line of objection. First, the acquisition of additional information is never costless. One has to ask, does requiring the acquisition of further information improve the quality of the risk assessments entailed? The answer may be yes or it may be no.

The second point that needs to be emphasized is that even if further information on potential default risks could be collected costlessly, past and present information -- rental records, employment records, credit records -- will never be able to predict the future with certainty, including ability to meet future rent commitments, which will depend on future contingencies such as job layoffs, sickness, marriage break-up and so on, which past and present information of course cannot and does not capture.


Third, and perhaps most important, requiring landlords to assemble and review a more complete information set on potential default risks than simple income data will still mean that many individuals and groups differentially disadvantaged by rent-to-income criteria will continue to be disadvantaged, in that people who simply lack resources will likely be screened out, whether the screening mechanisms relate to income, credit records, employment records, past rental records, or whatever.

It's true that a fuller screening mechanism will advantage some and disadvantage others relative to rent-to-income criteria, but the issue for me is, are we persuaded that the net disparate impact on protected groups under the Human Rights Act is likely to be less by requiring landlords to collect and assess a broader range of information on potential default risks?

For example, somebody who meets, let us say, a 30% rent-to-income criteria may be disqualified if his or her past credit record or employment record is assessed. Somebody who fails a 30% rent-to-income test may qualify for accommodation in the light of a stable employment record. Whether the net impact on protected groups of requiring landlords to assess a broader set of information on potential default risks is positive or negative I think nobody knows.

One line of objection to use in rent-to-income criteria is that the information is incomplete, that there's other information out there that would enable a more accurate assessment of default risks to be made. I express scepticism about that.

A more radical objection to landlords using rent-to-income criteria is that even if landlords were required to assess this broader set of information, the fact of the matter -- and this was conceded by many participants in the human rights proceeding -- is that people who suffer from severe economic disadvantage will still be disadvantaged, that is, they will have poor credit records, poor rental records, or no records, as well as having bad rent-to-income ratios.

People who acknowledge that whatever criteria for assessing default risk are used will differentially impact on people who lack resources argue more radically that accommodation should be allocated on a random basis: first come, first served, or a lottery. This means everybody gets an equal chance, but of course the effect of random allocation of apartments would be bizarre. That is to say, landlords would be precluded from relying on any information relating to default risk and would be required to rent $3,000 penthouse apartments to people who lack any resources at all, to use an extreme case. A form of random allocation -- that is, first come, first served, or a lottery -- would have severe effects on the supply of rental housing because landlords would be, as I say, prevented from screening tenants for default risk on any basis whatever.

Now I come briefly to Bill 96 itself. I'm going to make two points briefly. The first point is a process issue on which I'm critical of in the bill. The human rights issues addressed in this bill have been long debated and are highly contentious, yet the bill essentially defers to a process of executive decision-making by regulations for the resolution of these issues. I regard that, frankly, as an avoidance of legislative responsibility for making hard social choices and at variance with accepted norms of transparency and accountability in a representative democracy. However difficult these issues are, they should be dealt with in the legislation, even though I recognize that there are views that are widely divergent from mine on these issues.

The second issue relates not to process but rather to substance. Is there any middle ground that can be found between contending positions on the issue of screening criteria with respect to rental housing allocation? One possibility that occurs to me -- I advance it only tentatively, but I think it may be worth exploring -- is a provision that provides that where other information on potential default risks of prospective tenants is readily available, such as credit records, past rental records, employment records, guarantees, landlords may not rely exclusively on income information in rejecting a prospective tenant.

I think that is a potential compromise position that is worth thinking about. Why do I offer it only tentatively? First, I am not yet persuaded, but could be, that utilization of additional classes of information will reduce the net disparate impact on protected groups under the Ontario Human Rights Code. That is, even using these additional sources of information, people without resources still won't get housing.

Second, I'm concerned that a requirement, such as that I'm tentatively proposing, may place an undue burden on small landlords, and here I have in mind the elderly widow who is perhaps renting a basement apartment in her home. Requiring her, or landlords like her, to obtain full credit records on all prospective tenants may be unduly burdensome, unless this falls within the undue hardship qualification in section 11 of the code.

Those are my comments, Mr Chairman.

The Chair: Professor, you have timed it perfectly, because the clock has run out. This issue is one of the more contentious issues, as you know, with respect to this bill, and I know members would like to ask you questions. Unfortunately, there is no time. I suspect your paper will surface during the clause-by-clause discussions. Thank you very much.


The Chair: The final presentation this morning is the Ontario Building Officials Association, Tony Chow, Dan Mousseau and Bernie Roth. Good morning, gentlemen. We have your written material and we are ready for your presentation.

Mr Tony Chow: Thank you, Mr Chairman. Mr Mousseau will provide you with a summary of our presentation.

Mr Daniel Mousseau: Before I get into this, I'll just tell you where our focus is. You'll see that we're not covering a broad spectrum, which you've probably been involved with in the past. Our comments are going to be only in the area of enforcement and responsibility, a very narrow focus.

Before I get started, I would like to introduce Tony Chow. Tony is the president of the Ontario Building Officials Association, and with Tony is Bernie Roth. Bernie Roth is on the executive of the Large Municipalities Chief Building Officials, and I'm the chair of the Toronto Area Chief Building Officials committee. That's the group before you. We're not going to make three separate presentations. We've consolidated it to save your time, to avoid duplication and overlap and repeating ourselves two or three times, if that's okay with you.

As the first slide indicates, the OBOA represents about 2,200 building officials throughout the province of Ontario. It's the main umbrella organization for building officials in the province. The Large Municipalities Chief Building Officials represents chief building officials from 42 of the largest municipalities in the province, the largest being 50,000 population or larger. Finally, the Toronto Area Chief Building Officials committee represents 18 chief building officials in the GTA and some surrounding municipalities.

We've given you these slides so you don't have to read the four-page brief. I find it's a little easier if you have point form in front of you instead of trying to get into all the verbiage and what have you. You can worry about the verbiage later, if you so choose.


Slide 3 lays out the areas we support that we think are great ideas in the proposed legislation.

(1) We think the transfer of authority from the Planning Act to the Building Code Act is a great step in the government's mandate to reduce duplication and overlap and introduce streamlining. The transfer of authority will reduce costs and eliminate the overlap that currently exists in some municipalities.

(2)The elimination of the notice of violation and the hearing: This proposal will allow us to follow due process. We have, under the Building Code Act, certain ways of doing things. By eliminating this, you're falling into the due process that is already there in the Building Code Act. The chief building officials have been operating under the Building Code Act since 1975.

I maybe stand to be corrected: In some of your municipalities, if you've done some building, you may have run into a building official whom you may have found to be a little unreasonable, but our position is that the chief building official has shown to be responsible and reasonable in the carrying out of the enforcement of the Building Code Act. We're not gunslingers; we don't go out there shooting from the hip and that kind of thing. We deal with the builder. We try to reason with people. Our ultimate goal is to reach a mutually satisfactory solution, still preserving the health and life safety of the building and the occupants.

(3) The revised procedure for service of orders. We believe this change will save time and money for municipalities. It will make searches at the registry office a thing of the past. It will add some streamlining to it. The existing procedure for work orders under the building code works very well.

(4) Similar powers of inspection. Providing the property standards officers with similar powers to the building inspector is a good step. It will speed up enforcement proceedings. The bylaws and the Ontario building code both rely on the Provincial Offences Act: A property standards bylaw, which the municipalities enforce, and the Ontario building code, through bylaws as well, both rely on the Provincial Offences Act, and this change will make them both the same and put them under the same umbrella.

We operate right now under notices, orders, stop-work orders, prosecutions, that kind of thing. In certain instances, notices are not given because of the severity of the violation. Where there's something very wrong, life safety is at stake, we issue an order to comply. We try to treat everybody in a fair and equitable manner by dealing with them first hand, verbally, maybe a written notice or what have you, but in very bad situations an order is a requirement. That indicates the seriousness of the situation. It's usually for the health and safety of the occupant.

(5) Proposed recovery of municipal repair costs. That's a very good step in the direction to assist the municipalities to recover the costs if they find themselves in the unfavourable position of having to do the work. If we have to do the work, it's basically an emergency type of situation and, again, it's for the protection of the people. This proposal is a good balance and it gets more timely results. The contravenor ultimately pays, not the taxpayer.

(6) Finally, the revised higher fines speak for themselves. Putting fines back into the neighbourhood of the Ontario building code, which is $50,000, possibly $100,000, is a very good idea. They've done that in the building code. It's been there now for a number of years. Unfortunately, the reality is that when you do go to court and have the opportunity to ask for a $50,000 fine, the courts haven't really come around to realizing the severity of the offence and we're still getting fines that are less than $1,000. In some cases the builders view that fine as a cost of doing business.

The other thing, which is not in this slide and I just want to add, is that the legislation proposes court orders, a prohibition order. Those prohibition orders are really the hammer the municipality needs to obtain final enforcement. If somebody views a $250 fine as a licence to do business, they keep on operating in that fashion. When you get one or two convictions, you go to the justice of the peace on your next conviction and you ask for a prohibition order, which means you cannot do it again; if you do it again, you're in contempt of court. Finally, you get their attention.

I am not sure if you're aware of it, but the Building Code Act changed a few years ago. It used to be that you were subject to a fine and up to two years in jail, which was really an interesting provision. That's been taken out. I'm digressing here, but we thought the two years was a good idea because the people then saw the seriousness: "If I really screw this thing up and go to court, there's a chance I could go to jail." That's taken out. The prohibition order is still there and we really support the prohibition order.

Those are the areas we support and the reasons we support them.

The final slide shows the areas where we strongly recommend that this committee endorse or support our presentation in terms of changes to the legislation.

(1) The first recommendation is one-stop service. One-stop service is a very admirable goal on the part of the government. When you try to get a building permit -- I've got them myself for doing my things, but when the general public tries to get a building permit, there are myriad areas you have to go to, myriad other hurdles you have to cross before we can even give you a building permit.

The red tape commission recommended that various ministries -- I won't read them to you; I gave you an excerpt of 122 -- get together and develop options and a recommended approach to delivering one-stop service for all necessary approvals and permits related to the construction and maintenance of buildings. We think that's a tremendous idea. That's a great step forward. We also believe that the requirements of the other agencies, as they affect existing buildings, should be consolidated into one document.

(2) The second recommendation is that the property standards be mandated in the building code and to the chief building official. The building code right now has the chief building official as responsible, with statutory responsibility for enforcing all aspects of the building code. The proposal is to take the property standards provisions out of the Planning Act and put them into the Building Code Act, then they would be running parallel in the Building Code Act, with the chief building official having no responsibility whatsoever over that section dealing with property standards.

We believe that property standards should be mandated in the building code and that the chief building official should have overall responsibility for that piece of legislation that would also be in the Building Code Act. Doing that would add further enhancement towards one-stop service. If people have property standards complaints, they know where to go. There's only one place to call: You call the chief official or his office and you get your service.

The other aspect of that is that if you make that move -- I don't want to sound political here, but the province is amalgamating numerous municipalities in Toronto and throughout the rest of the province. If you mandate the provincial property standards requirements to the chief building official, you will force other municipalities to consolidate their own administration and eliminate duplication in those municipalities. Instead of having two people running in two different directions, one person would be overseeing the whole action.

(3) I've already covered this by mentioning the red tape commission. I'll briefly mention it one more time. The red tape commission recommended that anything related to the maintenance of existing buildings should be consolidated into one spot. I mentioned that; that's 122.

The consolidation of other agencies' requirements into one spot, especially as it affects existing buildings, will avoid more duplication and will make it easier for the consumer to have their problems addressed, have responses to their concerns coordinated so that they're not having to go in various directions. Right now, if you have a problem with an elevator in your building, don't call us; call the elevator safety branch. If you have a problem with property standards, you may call us or you may call another department in the municipality. It's that kind of thing. This would streamline and assist the public in obtaining service and obtaining service in a more timely fashion.

(4) Finally, we recommend consolidation of other building-related legislation and standards into one document, and that follows from the red tape commission as well. The ministries of Municipal Affairs; Housing; Economic Development, Trade and Tourism; Consumer and Commercial Relations; Energy and Environment; and Solicitor General and Correctional Services all have some legislation that deals with existing buildings. If you could consolidate that in some fashion, the people who live in apartment buildings or rental accommodation have a one-stop shop, one place to go to get all their troubles realized.

Right now, in Burlington, where I come from, if they have a problem, they have to call the fire department, they call the health department, they call the elevator people, they call the building department. They're calling all over the place to try to get people to come. A whole army of servicemen show up. When the building inspector shows up, the provincial offence officer shows up, the health inspector shows up, the fire department shows up, it just looks ridiculous. It looks like bureaucracy at its best.

The Chair: You've got about a minute left.

Mr Mousseau: In summary, we see benefits to all the parties. The tenants are going to have fairness and better results. We're an impartial third party. We go out and see what we see and make a judgement call based on what we see. The tenants will get fairness and better results. The landlords will have an incentive to complete the repairs, and we will be working with them in that regard. The general public will see reduced costs. The one-stop shopping, that type of thing, will be a benefit to the general public, a benefit to us. As people keep saying, there's only one taxpayer. We just happen to be paying it out in many directions.

In closing, I'd like to say that our associations are supportive of the government's initiative to consolidate the various regulations enforced at the municipal level. We believe that bringing the regulations into the Building Code Act will result in a more uniform approach to enforcement and better utilize the limited resources that municipalities have to deliver these types of services.

Thank you for allowing our associations' input into this progressive piece of legislation. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

The Chair: Mr Mousseau, unfortunately we are out of time. On behalf of the committee, I'd like to thank you and Mr Chow and Mr Roth for making your presentation this morning.

Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes the presentations this morning. I will make one brief announcement on behalf of the clerk's office. They've asked that any airplane receipts or taxi chits that haven't been used be returned to the clerk's office for purposes of auditing.

I recess this hearing until 1:30 this afternoon.

The committee recessed from 1155 to 1334.


The Chair: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Our first delegation this afternoon is Jennifer Chambers of the Queen Street Patients Council. Good afternoon. You may start.

Ms Jennifer Chambers: The Queen Street Patients Council is a non-profit board consisting of people with direct experience of the psychiatric system, known as psychiatric consumers or survivors, elected by the same. The council works to represent the interests of people who are or have been patients at Queen Street Mental Health Centre. As you may know, Queen Street Mental Health Centre is the largest provincial psychiatric hospital in the province, in the middle of the largest psychiatric survivor ghetto in North America. The council has two part-time staff, of which I am one.

Some of the issues I could raise today have been well argued by other representatives from other groups. I'll focus on the special impact that this legislation will have on psychiatric survivors, and I mean a crushing impact.

There are two major categories of inequities to which psychiatric survivors are going to be subject. One is the injustice resulting from unequal access to those rights that remain legislated. The other is the legislated inequality in creating a special deprivation of rights for people in care homes.

This legislation relies on the ability of individuals to fight for the price of their housing, to fight individually for its proper maintenance and to fight easier evictions. The result is to stratify tenants according to their ability. It is a law of the jungle.

I don't know if you're familiar with the term "vulnerable person," but it exists for a reason. People who landed in the psychiatric system are generally coping with a lot, in themselves and in their lives. Are you seriously suggesting that everyone in Ontario who needs to get a home has to negotiate for it? A lot of people who are perfectly able to choose housing in their price range will find bartering for a bed overwhelming. The vast majority of people in the psychiatric system are abuse survivors, and the conflict inherent in negotiation would be frightening to many of them. Most of my friends who are or have been in Queen Street are good, caring people who often give the little bit they have to people who ask for it. Yet this government is setting up a situation inviting landlords to take every cent they can get from a prospective tenant. You're inviting disaster.

I can barely count the ways in which this legislation leaves vulnerable people without access to even the minimal rights provided. How are vulnerable people supposed to cope with the discrimination that's so roundly encouraged by the legislation? Psychiatric drugs can cause tics, spasmodic movements, slurred speech and other characteristics that make people easy targets for prejudice, especially as most psychiatric survivors are also on social assistance. To access a tribunal, a properly filled out application must be filed in writing within five days. Some people will not be able to read enough to find out that they have this opportunity not to be able to write. Mediation is going to favour the articulate.

It is the position of the Queen Street Patients Council that individuals should not be required to fight on their own for shelter to this extent. Citizens have the right to expect their government to provide some generalized protection. If this bill is passed the way it is today, we certainly hope the government is planning to fund a substantial number of advocates for the people whose vulnerability is increased tenfold under this legislation.

Now I'm going to deal particularly with the impact of the legislation on people in care homes.

The term "care home" sounds protective, don't you think? But care homes are completely unregulated. Under existing legislation they must at least be registered, but this act does not even require that. All that is necessary to be called a care home is to provide meals and give out some pills to tenants. It's possible to live in a care home without receiving any care oneself. Currently there's no particular incentive for a landlord to call her or his property a care home, but now there will be perks, because this legislation diminishes the rights of people in care homes more than any other tenants', and where tenants' rights are reduced, landlords are enhanced.

The Residents' Rights Act, which this bill will abolish, gave people who were in care homes longer than six months the same protections as other tenants under the Landlord and Tenant Act. The Residents' Rights Act was created to stop the arbitrary evictions of poor, vulnerable tenants that became known as garbage-bag evictions -- because tenants would find themselves out on the streets with all their belongings in garbage bags -- for reasons that would not lead to evictions for people covered by the Landlord and Tenant Act. Bill 96 returns us to the bad old days by wiping out the Residents' Rights Act.

Under Bill 96, section 3, people in care homes are not covered under the Tenant Protection Act if the operator intended that they live there for no more than a year. This means that fewer people in care homes will have the same rights as other tenants. Now that we have legislation based on intention, what is in the mind of the landlord? How is this to be established? What if the tenant has something else in mind?

Section 93 allows a landlord to evict a tenant if the tenant no longer requires the landlord's level of care, or requires more than the landlord and community services are providing and if there is appropriate alternate accommodation. This section, called "Transferring Tenancy," should be titled "special rights to evict people in care homes." It is based on the assumption that people in care homes are incompetent to make decisions about where they should live and what kind of care they require. Who is the landlord to decide that someone no longer needs something or that the care they are receiving in their home from another service is inadequate?

This section does not even allow for the tenant to arrange for more community services. It refers only to those services already being provided. Under the Substitute Decisions Act, someone is either competent to make this decision for themselves, or they have a substitute decision-maker for treatment who will make this decision for them. The landlord has no role in health care decisions.


Psychiatric survivors and people with disabilities have stated for years that services should be independent of housing. If a person's need for care changes, why should they have to keep moving? It makes no sense. It is disruptive, stressful and bad for people's health. People aren't baggage to be moved for other people's convenience.

What is the definition of "appropriate alternate accommodation?" No one has the right to decide what accommodation is appropriate for someone else. Being in a care home does not mean that someone does not have thoughts, feelings, will and ownership of their own body and its location in the world -- and legal rights. To single out people in care homes for this kind of violation of their right to self-determination is grounds for challenge under the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as the Health Care Consent Act and the Long-Term Care Act.

Under Bill 96, if a tenant in a care home disputes this eviction, mediation before a tribunal may be mandatory, and according to section 171(2), mediated settlements can contain provisions that violate even the Tenant Protection Act. Once again people in care homes are being given a special opportunity to have their rights violated. A mediator can potentially become a sort of anti-advocate. Without the benefit of an advocate, a vulnerable person could end up with, for instance, no proper notice of eviction.

Does this sound unlikely? Eviction without proper notice is exactly what happened at 46 The Queensway when tenants were shipped off to a new location in another town with 24 hours' notice. Frightened, vulnerable people were manipulated and frightened into leaving their home with a day's notice and with no information or other options offered.

Bill 96, which opens the door for more conversions, renovations etc without municipal approval states that the landlord can evict people in order to do this and must only make reasonable efforts to find appropriate alternative accommodation. No definitions are provided. Would relocating someone in another town be considered reasonable or appropriate? What if there is no such housing available to tenants because of the reduction in low-cost housing that is going to be caused by this bill? Municipalities won't be able to regulate the process. The landlord, having made some effort, will not prevent people from ending up on the street. Why isn't eviction prevention a priority?

In conclusion, I would like to point out that even if economic, not human cost is what drives this government, it is making bad decisions. This bill will create more homelessness, and shelters cost more than homes: $1,100 a month for one person. Homelessness also makes people crazy. I have a study you are welcome to a copy of that finds that the vast majority of people who are homeless do not start off with psychological disturbances but develop them from the intense strain and vulnerability of being homeless. This government is now setting aside 50 beds at Queen Street for homeless people at the average cost of $10,000 a month. Wouldn't it be far more economical to create the conditions in which people can keep their homes?


The Chair: Ladies and gentlemen, as I indicated first thing this morning, demonstrations of any kind, whether it be applause, whether it be boos, whether it be buttons, sir, are actually not allowed. The Speaker has ruled those out of order and I'm obligated to rule them out of order as well. I ask that you respect those rulings. We have to conduct these committee hearings in the same way the House is operated.

Ms Chambers, there is time for questions. We will start with the Liberal caucus. We have about two or three minutes each.

Mr Duncan: I'm going to ask a brief question, then Mr Kwinter has one.

Thank you for your presentation. I want to explore with you for a minute the concern you raised around mediation and its particular impact on vulnerable people, because that is an argument other representatives of vulnerable people we've heard from have not brought up and it was something of a surprise to me. I've often felt the notion of mediation in disputes can be beneficial.

I wonder if you could expound on that a little bit for me. Your presentation today was unique in that sense. My own bias prior to your presentation was that mediation could be helpful particularly to people -- not necessarily vulnerable people, the kind of client or individual you deal with -- in other instances. I wonder if you could perhaps expound on that a bit for us.

Ms Chambers: I'll give you an example of my experience at Queen Street Mental Health Centre when people are, say, in a situation with staff in which they have different opinions and they become conflicts. If a vulnerable person doesn't have, say, an advocate with them to support them, it's very easy for them to be overwhelmed by the greater familiarity with the rules the staff have -- the staff are very articulate in this -- and their general concern about what the outcome could be of the mediation and discussion.

Mr Duncan: So it's related to your concern that individuals, clients you may deal with, would define themselves in a mediated situation where they'd have no advocate or representative (a) to perhaps put their position more clearly, or (b) to explain the position of the landlord more clearly. Am I interpreting that properly?

Ms Chambers: Yes.

Mrs Boyd: Thank you very much for your presentation. I want to talk a little bit about the comments you made about the kind of situation that happened in 46 The Queensway, because coming from the London area I know how concerned people are for those who were suddenly moved into their neighbourhood and their inability to provide the services, but also people's real disbelief that this could happen to people. Yet if it can happen. Although we were assured every ministry was looking into how to help these folks, no ministry appears to be able to help them now. This bill is going to give landlords the right to move people around willy-nilly at their convenience. They're just going to be baggage.

Ms Chambers: So it seems. Even if the bill contains some requirements for proper notice, it's also possible for that to be suspended for tenants in a care home. People will be as vulnerable before, with even less recourse than they have now.

Mrs Boyd: The changes in terms of conversions and renovations, which were the purported reasons for moving the folks to Aylmer, are made much easier under this act, aren't they?

Ms Chambers: Yes, they certainly are.

Mrs Boyd: I have real concerns because I see this from two perspectives. One is that communities need to be sure that the services are in place for people who are going to need them in their communities, and this kind of ability to simply transport people to another community, when we're seeing increased costs for communities in providing services, is very worrisome, isn't it?

Ms Chambers: Yes. It makes you wonder what it will mean in terms of "appropriate and reasonable" measures for people being taken and whether or not in some people's eyes this would fall into the category of "appropriate and reasonable."

Mrs Boyd: One of the people in Aylmer indicated that the whole impression he got was that these people were not being treated as people but almost as the belongings of the landlord, and this repeats some of the concerns Dr Lightman originally expressed in the Lightman report about care homes and about the real need to ensure that it isn't an increase of vulnerability when someone is supposedly being cared for in that setting.

Mrs Munro: Thank you very much for being here today. I just wanted to come back to the issue you raised with regard to the care homes and the legislation in section 93 about that. Could you explain for us your familiarity with the community care access process and its role in regard to care homes?

Ms Chambers: Are you talking about supports someone could arrange other than what's provided in the care home? Is that what you're asking?

Mrs Munro: Also the fact that the community care access has that legal mandate of ensuring the appropriate level of care.

Ms Chambers: Sorry, I'm not sure I know what you're asking.


Mrs Munro: My question really comes from the fact that you have expressed some very strong concern about this section and that in subsection 93(2) it says, "the level of care that the landlord is able to provide when combined with the community-based services provided to the tenant" and so forth, that sentence. My question to you then is with regard to the legal mandate of the community care access centre in providing the level of care for an individual. It has precedence over the care home, does it not?

Ms Chambers: No. There are a lot of different services that can provide care, some of which the landlord may choose to allow access to for the individual or some of which the landlord might for some reason decide not to allow into their home. The way the legislation is worded, it refers to the community care that is being provided. It doesn't even allow for the possibility that the person could seek out greater care.

Mrs Munro: But it does. It says "that the landlord is able to provide when combined with the community-based services...."

Ms Chambers: It says, "when combined with the community-based services provided"; it doesn't say that "could be provided."

Mrs Munro: But the community care access centre has that legal responsibility to provide care appropriate for the individual.

Ms Chambers: I'm not aware of any place, regarding the support of people who come from the psychiatric system, in which there's a legal obligation for a certain level of care to be provided, so I'm not sure what you mean.

Mrs Munro: My comments simply refer to that legal responsibility of the community care access centre for those people who are resident in the area over which they have jurisdiction, that they have a legal mandate to provide long-term care, and obviously it takes precedence over this part of the legislation. They have the responsibility, community care access.

Ms Chambers: Not as far as I know. There's no overriding body that takes care of the care provided to psychiatric survivors in homes.

The Chair: Ms Chambers, thank you for your presentation.

Mrs Boyd: On a point of order, Mr Chair: This is several times that Ms Munro has raised this question and has said that the community care access centre's mandate should resolve this problem. Nowhere have I seen anything written down about that being the case which can be seen by people who are apprehensive about this legislation. In fact, there have been a number of disputes of that. The issue that was raised in your question and in the answer about the fact that this bill reads "the care that is in place," the landlord is not able to offer the care that is in place in combination -- we're talking about mixing up the residents with the care.

I would like, Mr Chair, a policy statement that clearly shows that this apprehension is not correct and that clearly people can be assured they will get the care they need, and we need that tabled with this committee before we go to clause-by-clause.

The Chair: Ms Boyd, I think it's fair that you ask a question, and the parliamentary assistant to the ministry may or may not answer it. I can't stop any member of any caucus from saying anything. It's not for me to say what is correct and what is incorrect.

Mrs Boyd: I wasn't asking you to.

The Chair: Accordingly, your point is out of order. However, the question --

Mrs Boyd: Mr Chair, I was asking for the tabling of information.

The Chair: You have put that forward and I'll trust that the ministry will deal with it appropriately.


The Chair: The next presenter is the Touchstone Youth Centre and the representative is Sabine Wood. Good afternoon. You have three people with you. I trust you will introduce those representatives to the committee. You, Ms Wood, are the executive director?

Ms Sabine Wood: That's correct.

The Chair: You may start with your presentation. Thank you for coming.

Ms Wood: Mr Chair, honourable members, I'd like to introduce Marleane Davidson, who is the work employment counsellor and housing coordinator over at Touchstone Youth Centre; and a former resident, Kulvinder Kalirai; and Cindy Buott, who hails from Peterborough and will speak a little bit about the whole issue of homelessness and housing. I'd like to begin by expressing my thanks to the committee for the opportunity to speak on the subject of legislative amendments proposed by Bill 96, An Act to Consolidate and Revise the Law with respect to Residential Tenancies.

Section 200 of the proposed bill would amend the Ontario Human Rights Code to allow landlords to refuse to rent to persons who do not meet their requirements. This will have devastating results for some of the most disadvantaged people among us. Access to adequate accommodation is a basic right for which there is clear international recognition, and I'm here to speak about this today.

As mentioned, my name is Sabine Wood and I'm the executive director of Touchstone Youth Centre. I operate East York's first and only emergency youth shelter. Touchstone Youth Centre is a 23-bed emergency shelter located in the borough of East York. We provide food, safe shelter, crisis and support services, including a work employment and housing program, to over 750 young people annually. The length of stay is three months and our age group is 16 to 20.

The primary reason that youth need shelter is chronic homelessness, which includes family breakdown, evictions and when fleeing violence or abuse. Reductions in the lack of affordable housing and rising youth unemployment and a combination of other social factors have made homelessness a growing and visible problem in East York as well as throughout Toronto. Homelessness is a highly complex issue which relates directly to housing, to jobs, health and mental health. At any given time some 5,000 people are visibly homeless and are living on the streets. An increasing number of these are youth, which I'm very much concerned about.

In 1997 alone, Touchstone Youth Centre has been operating at near capacity all year and at times over capacity, especially during our extreme cold-weather response alerts. The number of youth who are seeking shelter and housing have increased steadily since 1994.

We decided at Touchstone Youth Centre to collect from January 1, 1996, until June 30, 1997, a phone survey. The survey was taken by staff and volunteers who were tracking calls from youth. We handled 1,672 calls where staff were unable to fulfil some of the requests for service. The major reason for the inability to service these calls was that, number one, Touchstone Youth Centre was full to capacity, but the secondary reason was that these individuals had nowhere else to go. The third reason was that they had just been evicted from their home.

Obviously the cuts have made it more difficult for young people who are on any kind of student welfare or social assistance to pay any of their housing costs. They cannot cover their rent at times and must use food money. Evictions have dramatically increased and landlords are fearful of renting to this vulnerable group. The poor can no longer afford phones, utilities, nor transportation for apartment searching, bargain shopping or even medical appointments.

We as shelter operators are challenged to find supportive housing for youth. Vacancy rates are at historic lows -- we know that -- and often affordable housing that is available is dirty, infested, unsafe and very depressing for young people such as Kulvinder, and we at times feel that there's no hope in sight.

Given how many youth have already been turned away from support services, such as emergency shelters, I'm here to put out a compassionate request that you take into consideration that section 200 be amended to ensure that our youth, who do not have access to references, to first and last months' rent, to the use of credit cards and who are renting for the first time, will not be excluded.


Please give careful consideration to how we take care of our citizens, how we perceive ourselves as a society, and the effects of your decisions on that society. Thank you.

At this point I would like to bring forward a young person by the name of Kulvinder. Kulvinder and I go back many, many years, from working in Peel region at another emergency shelter to Touchstone Youth Centre. She is one of our young ladies who has had tremendous success in our program and is currently out in the community. Her name is Kulvinder Kalirai, and welcome.

Ms Kulvinder Kalirai: I'll start off by talking about how I got to Touchstone. Growing up in a violent home with parents from another country, with a lot of strictness and a lot of abuse, one night after a certain incident when I went to the hospital I was referred to a youth shelter. After staying at that shelter I was referred to Touchstone because I couldn't stay there. Part of that had to do with just being depressed, and they didn't want to be responsible. When I went to Touchstone it was a lot different. They accepted that and they said, "We're here to help you."

Then I started off with their work employment program, where they provide housing and they provide counselling for jobs. Part of that was that when you're looking for housing and you're only 17 years old and you're calling places and you ask people general questions and the response is: "Where's your family? Why don't you live with your family?" and other questions, including questions that I feel were inappropriate, it's really hard.

After talking to Sabine about this bill, I thought I had to say something because it's very hard being young and being on your own and not speaking to your family and hearing someone on the other end of the phone asking you about your family and even requesting your family's phone number when you've lost contact with them. Even that was very hard. It's just because you had to save yourself from a situation. You feel badly about doing that because it's your family and makes them look bad.

Housing is very important, and when you're young and you can't find a place to live, that's what the shelter is there for. I'm just glad that Touchstone is there, because I think otherwise I'd be out on the street. It's important that this issue is addressed because I don't think a lot of people realize how many people are homeless. A lot of them are youth who just can't seem to get housing anywhere because of some of the barriers: (1) just living at a shelter; (2) being young and not having a stable source of income.

Presently, I work. Actually, I have two jobs, and even with that and just being young and the questions that people ask you, it's still hard. I'm living in shared housing. I wish I could have my own apartment, but I don't. Part of the reason is that some things have to do with credit checks and having a credit card and paying first and last, which is really hard.

Ms Marleane Davidson: Hi. My name is Marleane and I run the work employment program at Touchstone. I've witnessed a lot of heartwrenching stories of youths whom I assist to get housing, get jobs and try to get out there to make it on their own. I've sat there and listened to some of the phone calls and some of the questions that are asked and it's remarkable to see them hold their heads up still.

A lot of the youths who have gone through the program are connected with jobs, which pay them minimum wage, so they are willing to pay the rent. It's just getting out there to get an apartment. Some of the scenarios they've come across are: "Oh, you're too young. Where's your family?" One that came along yesterday was just shocking to hear. We had a young girl who called and she could have the place but they said, "You're a female and I can't rent to a female, because if I rent to a male who is on welfare, he'd be more likely to get a job than you would." I was shocked. I just could not believe it.

The endless stories that go on -- "You're not working," but a lot of the youths who go through the program get connected with jobs. They're just now looking for a place to live, a place to call home, security, which I think they should be entitled to. They just want to be a part of a community and the barriers that are out there are just phenomenal.

There was a call-back where a caller had told them that they should go and live in subsidized housing. They're not aware that subsidized housing lists are very, very long. The time on waiting lists is incredibly long, and they also have to meet the criteria. They not only have to be living in a shelter to get emergency housing; they also have to fit in the guidelines of coming from an abused background. The waiting lists are long.

I also sit on the board as a vice-president for a non-profit organization. I've had to refer some of our residents there, but due to the waiting list, they are still waiting to get in. The barriers are out there, and somebody who has that high-income job has more opportunities than the youths who have low-income jobs. They're not all welfare recipients. They are out there and they have jobs. It's just an income barrier. Thank you.

Ms Cindy Buott: I'd just like to share my story about what it's like to be homeless. I had rented a place and I thought it was mine. I have three children and I'm a single parent. I rented the place. The landlord took my money and said I could move in. Then he got to thinking about it and said that my level of income wouldn't be sufficient, so he asked me to leave. When I refused and said no, I wasn't going to leave, he said he would charge me with trespassing. So for two weeks in January, I was forced to live between a 24-hour doughnut shop and my car until everything got straightened around. Actually, by the time things got settled and I had been to the legal centre for help, it was February 15 before I found accommodation. The impact that had on myself and my children -- you just don't realize what it does to you to be homeless. It was quite devastating.

The Chair: That concludes your presentation?

Ms Wood: It does. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you. We have an opportunity for one question, and I will give that to the New Democratic caucus.

Mrs Boyd: Thank you very much. I know that your organization does wonderful work. I hear about it all the time and I'm so pleased that you came to give this perspective. It takes a lot of courage.

I guess one of the biggest issues for you, then, is the ability of a landlord to base a decision about tenancy on income, which is the big change. People have been able to do the credit check stuff before, and we know that, but you believe this adds that extra barrier to the young people you serve to be able to get accommodation.

Ms Davidson: Definitely. About 90% of our youths who use the shelter -- we have 15 to 21 youths who go through daily, and they're not just residents who are living there. There are outreach residents whom I deal with also who come back with issues they've had dealing with landlords. They pay their rent; it's a matter of landlords dictating -- "You have too many friends over." For any other individual, that wouldn't be a question, but because they're young, that's what they are faced with.

Mrs Boyd: Thank you. You had an addition?

Ms Wood: In addition to what Marleane has just said, there are nine youth shelters across Metropolitan Toronto. In our particular shelter -- we've got around 750 young people who go through the system -- half of them are repeaters because they have lost their place of housing due to inadequate income to be able to continue to pay rent. Of those young people, 60% are actually students who are doing the best they can in attending school and also having to live independently in the community. That's where the repeaters come from. I just wanted to stress that also.

The Chair: Thank you for coming. I will say we have your newsletter, which we will all read.



The Chair: The next presenters are Dorothy Fletcher and Eileen Smith, representing the Older Women's Network.

Ms Eileen Smith: I'm sorry, but Dorothy Fletcher was not able to come this afternoon. I have come to make the presentation on behalf of the Older Women's Network.

The Chair: You're holding the fort. Thank you for coming. You may start when ready.

Ms Smith: Good afternoon, folks. I gather that you've been called back from vacation early to attend these hearings. We appreciate your commitment, particularly those of you who are trying to find real and meaningful solutions to the shortage of housing in Ontario.

I am a senior. There are no vacations when you are a senior. When one reaches 65, there is no escaping your situation. You wear your badge wherever you go. What you have is what you have. There are no miraculous new opportunities that will bring fame and fortune, no dreams which will make life more beautiful. Hard work? Ingenuity? None of these things will improve your lot. As the author Richard Bach said: "I gave my life to become the person I am right now. Is it worth it?"

As women, we worked, made sacrifices for our children and families and practised good citizenship through genuine concern for our community. As best we could, we built a future for ourselves and others which would be protected from the hardest knocks of bad fortune. Now we see our rights and privileges that we in good faith built over the years crumbling away. Our rights to medical care, recreational education and community living are being destroyed in the name of the market system. As Jean Chrétien said on July 1, "It doesn't get any better than this." It sounded great when he said it, while the crowd cheered on Parliament Hill, but the next morning as a headline in our morning paper it had an ominous ring. Was that a warning, Mr Prime Minister? Is it really going to not get better, but get worse?

Literally hundreds of people have appeared before you at these hearings on Bill 96. There is no need for me to detail again the disaster this legislation will be for the city of Toronto at this time or the hardship, misery and deprivation some families will suffer as a result. You either know this and don't care, or you are unconvinced and further insistence will be useless.

Let's look at the situation from a practical, economic viewpoint. Basic economics states, "If you can't build a widget that people can afford, then don't build it." In the city of Toronto, this is exactly what has been happening. Rental units were too costly to build, people could not afford them, so substantially no new apartments have been built by private developers for 25 years or more. Developers and investors have warned us that this new legislation alone will not be enough to create a new boom in construction of rental units. None the less, people must have shelter.

Up to now the solution has been for the community, supported by the federal and provincial governments, to step in and provide suitable housing at a reasonable price. Both the senior governments have now rejected this solution. They, or you, are saying in effect: "We give up. We'll throw it to the private developers and let them do what they choose." Before you take this irresponsible step, I beg you, folks, take some time to look at the solutions being provided to reduce the disastrous effects market rents will have on the community.

These solutions are being recommended by all sorts of different groups. Some of them are feasible, some are not, but they all should be seriously looked at. There are many solutions being offered, because it is a multifaceted problem. They are being offered because we are a responsible community. We do want to not just protest, but find and facilitate workable solutions. Here are a few of the ideas which warrant investigation before -- that is before -- this legislation is enacted. Some of these are:

Public lands available for development could be leased to developers at low initial costs.

Loan and mortgage arrangements which would lower the risk and long-term cost to developers could be guaranteed by the government.

Assistance to municipalities to enable them to expedite the levelling of taxes between condos and rental units. This is a great injustice that should be changed immediately -- not when we're able to but right away.

Tax relief for construction companies on both retail sales tax and GST.

Compulsory use of vacant buildings to provide low-cost housing for people who need it. Someone will be demonstrating on August 23 on this very subject.

Low-cost loans and other assistance to people who wish to convert part of their homes to rental apartments. We have the facilities there to provide more shelter for people. Why don't we use it?

Use of the rent subsidy money now provided to seniors to allow young people to adapt their homes to provide acceptable housing for their parents -- a good source of funds. It wouldn't solve a lot of problems, but it would solve some.

Assistance to municipalities in expanding services to new housing projects.

All these solutions will not only provide short-term relief in the housing market but will strengthen our society and contribute to the solution of many other problems.

I beg you, folks, delay this legislation until you've considered some of these options and have given the community at large the opportunity to put into effect some of the changes that will ease the problems this legislation will cause.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

The Chair: Thank you for coming. The questions will start with the government caucus.

Mrs Munro: I wanted to pay particular attention to the third suggestion you made, the assistance to municipalities enabling them to come up with -- I assume you're referring to a more equitable rate of taxation on multidwelling units as opposed to single-family units. Is that the kind of thing you're referring to there?

Ms Smith: Well, that's part of the problem. But it has also been determined by the mayor's committee on housing, called the stakeholders housing committee, reporting to Metro Toronto, that with condos and rental units in the same building, the same size and everything else, the rental units were being charged twice as much tax as the condos were. There's no justification for that.

Mrs Munro: Are you aware that the same kind of inequity exists between single-family residences, if we are comparing, and apartments? Certainly in the last municipal election the current mayor raised that issue as one that needed addressing. Obviously, by your being here today, that still is an issue at the municipal level.

The province has certainly given the municipalities the opportunity to address that inequity. I wanted to make sure you were aware of our sensitivity to that issue and our efforts to ensure that those inequities are balanced.

Ms Smith: Yes, I understand that. From what I can gather, from what I've heard, this will be addressed over a period of years. The municipalities don't feel they can immediately right this wrong. It's the old story: "We just can't afford to be fair." Probably this is a place where the government would be able to step in and assist the municipalities and also make sure the municipalities are doing that.

Mrs Munro: Certainly in previous days' hearings there has been the suggestion that both landlord groups and tenant groups should be putting pressure in the upcoming municipal elections directed towards this issue.

Ms Smith: Yes, but that's only one of the many very interesting solutions a lot of people are offering. I don't think we should zero in on just one and say: "We've solved it. We've done this."

Mrs Munro: Not at all. But I would suggest to you that when you look at those numbers, you will see that it would provide a very significant readjustment in favour of Ontario's tenants.

Ms Smith: That's right, it would, not sufficient to help to encourage developers to build, however.


Mr Duncan: Thank you for your presentation. The argument around property taxation is compelling at first glance and I think merits careful consideration. The assessment until recently has been the purview of the province. In Bill 106 the government had the opportunity to compel municipalities to deal with it if they really felt seriously about that question, but they didn't, and I suspect that was for a couple of reasons.

First, there's the question of the flow-through of tax savings to tenants, particularly low-income tenants. If I'm looking at your recommendations properly, you're suggesting that it is those tenants who require more affordable accommodation who are most affected by this bill, perhaps women especially who are seniors.

The other reason of course is the downloading that's going on. We've been provided with a number of statistics over the last few days by the government side. Yesterday I undertook to get in touch with the mayors who met with the Premier and was provided with the information they shared with the Premier that shows that in terms of property taxes, the percentage increase resulting from the download, based on 1995 tax rates, could be on average in the province 8.2%: outside the GTA 13.5%, and in the GTA it ranges from a low of 1.4% in Toronto, according to these figures, to a high of almost 13% in the Halton region.

The caution I share with you, and I'd like your views on this, is first, how do you disentangle this given that so much is in the air? The Premier and the Minister of Housing have agreed to review the issues around repairs and maintenance of current public housing stock, acknowledging that these numbers may not be accurate. How do you ensure, if we make that tax transfer, that the tax savings accrue to the tenants?

Ms Smith: I don't know, but I'm sure no one else can do it except the provincial government. I don't think you can get it consistent across the board unless the provincial government does it.

Mr Duncan: Precisely. I would submit that if the province were serious, they would have dealt with this issue in Bill 106. I suspect they didn't deal with it because they're really not so concerned about that. If they were, instead of trying to push the problem off on to municipalities along with a range of other problems they've pushed off on to municipalities and property taxpayers, they would have dealt with it in a substantive way. They chose not to. I see it as problematic, to be honest. Ensuring that the tax savings would accrue to tenants is a major issue, and I agree that the province is in the best position to ensure that.

Mrs Boyd: Thank you for coming. I won't belabour the tax issue, except to say that your main point was that seniors, whatever their circumstances, find themselves on more or less fixed incomes. Any prospective increase in rent, on top of what has already happened with user fees and all those sorts of things, obviously strikes fear into the hearts of those of us who know that our life expectancy is growing by leaps and bounds; what we may have planned for was a much shorter time than the time we're going to live. I think that is a very important point, because it tells us why seniors are so concerned, particularly at this time when there's been such an erosion in interest rates and many of those incomes are dropping at the same time these costs are rising.

It's good to hear you come and put this into the perspective of those on fixed incomes and the fact that there just isn't an ability to pay endless rent increases or improvements in your accommodation or to move when you're in that kind of circumstance.

I personally thought a lot of your suggestions were extremely interesting. Of course we know that this government doesn't share your belief that it is a governmental responsibility to participate in the provision of low-cost housing, and that is a concern.

Would you like to talk in more detail about any of your other suggestions? You're not just criticizing; you're providing some possible solutions. I wonder if you'd like to expand on any of them.

Ms Smith: Many of them of course can be expanded on. Many of them have been advanced by other groups. The assistance to municipalities in various ways is being addressed by the stakeholders' committee.

The one that I think is particularly useful is the use of the rent subsidy money now provided to seniors to allow young people to adapt their homes to provide acceptable housing for their parents. That's my own idea. I think it's just so exciting to suppose that you could take the subsidy, which is going to be given to a senior anyway over a period of five years or 10 years, convert it into cash and give it to their children and say to them: "Make your house available to your parents. Later on in life when your parents are less able to take care of themselves and where they might have to look for an institution, they will be there in your home and you can help."

There are limitations. This won't work for everybody. Not everybody wants to live with their children and not everybody's children want to provide a home for them. However, there are places where this would work. It would be a wonderful idea and it would provide us with additional housing. So many of these suggestions are to produce additional housing and to prevent this disaster that comes with the increases in rental allowances, with the removal of rent control on vacant houses and so on. This is a sheer disaster. Anyone who is in this situation recognizes it as a terrible threat, particularly seniors, who might be faced with a 5% increase in their rent every year. We don't get a 5% increase in our pensions every year. In fact, I'm not up to date on it, but I don't think we get much increase in our pension any more.

Or take a very young person, who is looking at a decreasing work market, a market which from year to year will return him less and less money. We see this happening. Statistics say that average income in the city of Toronto is decreasing. How can we possibly look at this kind of situation when people will have less resources to depend on?

The Chair: Thank you, Ms Smith, for your presentation this afternoon.


The Chair: The next presentation is Burton-Lesbury Holdings Ltd, Robert Burton. Good afternoon, sir.

Mr Robert Burton: Mr Chairman, members, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for inviting me to say a few words. I've come in at the tail end of listening to some other people, and perhaps I could give the landlord's reaction to some of this.

I don't pretend to speak for the industry, but in our experience with two B-plus complexes in Metro Toronto of about 280 units between them, our run-of-the-mill annual increase is somewhere on the order of $5 to $10, if we can get it at all. The current gap between our maximum legal rents and the actual rents we are collecting runs as high as $230 or $240 a month. The talk and the conversation among all of my colleagues about what Bill 96 will herald in terms of blowing the supposed lid off is that it won't. The market is in control of rents and the legislation is largely superfluous in terms of controlling rents because the legislated increases are simply not doable in the market.

I think that's a very important counterpoint to understand: We may be legally justified in trying to get and collect a $1,000 rent on an apartment, but the market for that apartment is $800 or $820 and that's it. Nothing in the market is going to change with new legislation. Those are the realities of the economics in the late 1990s in Ontario, particularly in some of the smaller cities where they have large vacancy experiences, vacancy rates, and in many cases have significantly depressed rents.


I'd like to return now to my presentation. I provided a written brief in early June, and I'm not going to read it to you. I want to touch on three things I mentioned in it and expand on them a little.

The first one, in line with what has just been discussed with the committee, is property tax reductions. With the advent of a new assessment system that is determined to be fairer to tenants there is bound to be a significant number of situations where there are tax reductions. As I've said, even in very tight markets like Metro Toronto, landlords can't get the current full maximum rent. You have to remember, and I don't know if I can emphasize it enough, maximum legal rent is the minimum cost-justified rent chargeable for a unit. In many cases over the years the formula for determining rent increases has been skewed to make sure that the full increase in cost has not been reflected in the increase to maximum legal rent from year to year. Eliminating it, which this bill proposes to do, effectively rolls back legal rent increases.

If a landlord is not charging the highest legal rent, if he can't do it, then it would seem that he ought to be able to recoup -- and only recoup, no more -- what the shortfall is between what he's legally authorized to receive and what he's actually able to receive out of any tax decrease. Beyond that, the tenant owns that benefit. I don't think there's any question about the fairness of the tenant being able to participate on that basis.

Unfortunately, the bill says that discounts in rent are going to be regulated, that the rules for determining them are going to be regulated, and nobody really knows yet what those rules will be. It's most likely that, unless those rules skew things, landlords are going to try and set the actual rent they discount to the equivalent of what maximum legal rent would be plus annual increases, simply because they like the consistency of pricing. The same apartment in the same building should not be $100 more because of the accident that somebody has been there for five years as opposed to having been there for two months.

In that sense, I want to suggest that the concept of maximum legal rent ought to be retained. Just because it's in use for other purposes, I relabel it. I'm calling it in my handout something else; I'm calling it the highest legal rent, which is the maximum legal rent starting out as of the date the bill comes into force, plus the permitted annual increases.

As I've said, if the highest legal rent through a tax decrease becomes less than the actual rent, the tenant gets that difference. Between the old highest legal rent and the actual rent, that decrease belongs to the landlord. He's simply recovering back to where he would be if the market had permitted him to charge a cost-justified rent. I've put a little table in here to illustrate that. I think that's fair to landlords and it's fair to tenants. It's quite likely that tax decreases are not going to be terribly significant, but I think the notion of a landlord, because of other problems he's going to face in terms of keeping his property well maintained and in compliance with fire code and keeping the roof from leaking and so on and so forth, really is not in a position to be generous, for want of a better word, with what is going to be, one could say, a windfall in terms of taxes. That's about all I have to say on that item.

The next thing I want to talk about is an emergency eviction procedure. There isn't any. There hasn't been anything like this since the first landlord and tenant amendments in 1968, and I think it's vital that there should be something. Let me tell you the story about our tenant from beyond hell. When I start talking about this I want you to try and understand that we are the cops; we're responsible for all the households in our complex. We are responsible for their safety; we're responsible for their wellbeing in terms of the soundness of the building, in terms of the behaviour of other tenants.

This story goes back a couple of years. The problem started when we told this person that he could only park a car with our sticker on it because we only have limited parking. It triggered a campaign of vandalism and vicious vilification of our onsite staff and my brother, who was the property manager. An elevator was sabotaged. All the secured entry doors were disabled; the locks were Krazy-Glued and were impossible to use. There was a lit cigarette left on the broadloom in a hallway. Thank God -- this dates back to before the fire code retrofit became mandatory -- it was flame-retardant. We had done what we were supposed to have done anyhow, and we didn't have any fatalities. When he finally vacated his apartment, we found he had destroyed the windows, he'd destroyed the walls, he'd destroyed the ceilings and he'd written a letter threatening arson, threatening to torch my brother's home. We made a $35,000 insurance claim, and that was low.

The problem was, we had our suspicions early on, but we didn't have anything approaching the kind of proof a court would require. In the meantime, someone could have been killed in an elevator; someone could have been killed because an ambulance or fire or police response to an emergency was delayed at a door; somebody could have been killed in a fire in a hallway. We didn't have any significant opportunity at all to do anything.

I'd like to suggest that where the behaviour of a tenant poses a clear and imminent danger to others or to the property there has to be some sort of emergency process. We found that serving papers often makes the situation worse. The time between the papers being served and when the courts are going to get their hands on it and do something about it is a time when everybody is utterly helpless. Whatever the depredations that person wants to inflict on other people, he's free to do. In many cases, we, like many other landlords, are forced to literally pay these people to leave the buildings.

When I talk about an emergency eviction situation, the implication of what I've said so far is that it should be done without notice. Obviously, it's vital to make sure you don't go overboard and end up throwing people out willy-nilly when there isn't any real significant threat. But if there is a threat of safety to others or to the property, something has to be available. Also, the legal standard of proof has to be lowered to a reasonable apprehension. Often, these dangers, in this experience, arise and have to be coped with well before the evidence is available to do something about it with the current burden of proof.


The alternative, if that sticks in your throat as being too arbitrary and too one-sided, is to devise a temporary banishment pending a hearing at which things can be thrashed out. It's somewhat messier in terms of mechanics, but it's fairer, and if there are constitutional problems with the ex parte eviction without giving anybody a chance to defend themselves, this is the solution to it.

I want to emphasize again, it's the safety of all the tenants in the buildings that I'm trying to impress upon you. This is what we have to protect. We don't want deaths, we don't want injuries, we don't want people harassed, and we can only prevent it with a change in this legislation that gives us an emergency process.

The last thing I want to talk about is discounts. I've mentioned it before. A case was decided late last year -- the title of it is in the handout I've given to you -- where the judge held that a discount was really a penalty, that when a tenant fell behind in his rent and the landlord tried to go after him for the full undiscounted amount of the rent, that was illegal because the discount, in a circumstance like that, was a penalty. I think this stands things on its head. I don't think it was necessary to make that decision in this case; it easily could have been decided for other reasons. But I think it's wrong to recast a discount for compliance into a penalty for non-compliance. It's rewriting the contract.

In many cases, the discount is there because it's impossible to rent for the full legal rent, but it's also there to induce compliance. It said in the case that the tenant was already obliged to pay his rent and therefore the extra inducement didn't have any legal significance. But I think it does. The difficulties in going after a tenant who doesn't pay his rent, the disruption to smooth and economic office procedure, the diversion in terms of time and attention that causes from other legitimate concerns that should be attended to, are significant.

It's funny. If somebody goes into default and you start the legal proceedings, you can settle up with somebody and offer a discount and make all sorts of deals that aren't supported by this theory of legal consideration, the fair exchange of value. I don't understand why it shouldn't apply beforehand. It seems to me that this case stands the concept of a discount, and whether a discount is earned or not, on its head. If you're going to recognize discounts in the new bill, there's not much point in doing any of that if there's a case that says that it doesn't mean anything anyhow.

As I said, the reasoning of this is that if you have a sale of goods, where goods are on sale until Friday and somebody comes in on Saturday and complains that the sale's not on any more, according to this judge the sale is still on. If you earn an advantage, you're entitled to it. If you don't earn it, you're not. That's going to be part and parcel of the new bill. In light of this case, it's something you need to have another look at and perhaps fix a little bit.

Those are my remarks. If there's anything else you'd like to ask me about, from my written brief from June or any of this, please do.

Mr Kwinter: Mr Burton, thank you very much. Yours was an interesting presentation in that most landlords and developers who have appeared before this committee have been complaining that their rents are too low and that they need to have the ability to raise their rents because otherwise they can't survive. You're saying in your particular case you can't even get the maximum legal amount because the market won't pay it.

I just want to spend a minute with you on this case, because it really fascinates me. By your own admission, the rent you were charging, the discounted rent, was actually the amount the market would bear, even though the maximum legal rent was higher. As far as the tenant was concerned, the maximum legal rent was the amount he was quoted; you charged him the market rent and said, "You're getting a discount." It seems to me the judge is saying the market rent is the market rent. It doesn't matter what the maximum allowable is. That is it. In fact, you're penalizing him by saying, "Everybody else can pay the market rent, but if you don't comply, you've got to pay the maximum legal rent," which is actually a penalty. It would seem that if it was to be a true discount, you would take the market rent, which is below the maximum legal rent, and say, "I'm going to give you a discount of $150 because you're not going to have your cat or you pay a day early," or whatever it is, and that would be the discount.

I don't think the judge has really set this thing on its head. I think what you had was an artificial level that you felt was the rent, but by your own admission you're saying it wasn't the rent, you couldn't collect that anyway. Do you have any --

Mr Burton: Yes, I do. In a perfect world, you're right. No question about it. We've suffered through 22 years of rent review and rent control, which has skewed so many things in so many ways that the logic you're presenting simply doesn't cover the situation. As I said, the maximum legal rent is the minimum cost-justified rent for the unit. Renting below that entails not recovering costs or cost increases. That's the reality of the day.

The other reality I'd like to throw out to you is that when you have a tenant who doesn't pay his rent or who's a bad actor, very few rental operations are big and huge and institutionally geared to coping with these things. They set the small office on its head. Things have to get put aside. This has to be coped with. You start running up legal bills calling your lawyers and trying to get some advice to make sure you don't make the situation worse. You end up with all sorts of problems that arise from it. You've lost the revenue. Chances are that your recovery of the revenue at some later time is going to be quite incomplete. There are very significant costs to it.

Today, even though there are very, very low vacancy rates in cities like Toronto, nobody's going to rent an apartment unless you paint it and fix it up, so you're talking in the range of a month's rent to make an apartment ready for a new tenant. If you have to throw somebody out, you've lost that, on top of whatever rent you can't collect from that person. To be able to recover it in a situation like that doesn't strike me as foul or ill-motivated. If you say, "You agreed to pay the rent a day early," or "You agreed not to have pets," or "You agreed to behave yourself," or whatever the conditions are, it doesn't do any violence, to my way of thinking of what's fair, to say, "If you didn't earn it and it's significant enough that we are going to go after it," then it's fair. Obviously, if a guy's a day late, you're not going to jump on him with two feet. I think there are sufficient cases to say that the courts won't let that happen.

Mr Duncan: Thank you for your presentation. A number of landlord groups have made a compelling case about the legal maximum rent or what you call it. I do have a question. I don't mean to be argumentative about it; I raised this question with another landlord in a community where they don't have a shortage of housing. In places like London, Hamilton and Windsor, it's a different situation. It's a question of what I call the paradox of the landlords' positions I've heard.

First of all, on the one hand, with respect to rent control, we're told this is a market distortion, yet on the other hand a number of landlords have said the market is functioning quite well, even under this system. I've asked another landlord to reconcile that position. You started to get to it here in response to Mr Kwinter's question. Can you reconcile those two positions, that on the one hand rent control is an unnecessary intrusion in the market but on the other hand we're saying that in markets particularly where there is a low vacancy rate, the markets are functioning quite well?

The Chair: Be very brief, Mr Burton, because we're literally out of time.

Mr Burton: I'd like to simply refer you to materials that went to the Thom commission hearings. There was a submission, I believe it was a submission from either HUDAC or CIPREC, that said in the five-year run-up to the imposition of rent controls in 1975, the rate of rent increases for rental housing was only 60% of the consumer price index, despite the fact that the mix of costs of a landlord was far significantly higher than the consumer price index. I think I'm out of time.

The Chair: I'm afraid you are. Somehow we got away on this one, but thank you for coming, sir.

Mr Burton: Thank you for the opportunity.



The Chair: The next presenters are of the Roomers' Rights Organization Inc. Please proceed.

Ms Mary Taylor: My name is Mary Taylor. I'm a director of the Roomers' Rights Organization (Toronto) Inc and the gentleman seated next to me is Mr Michael Baxter. He is a director and he has been a member since the summer of 1991. He is currently working on our latest edition of our newsletter, which will be dealing with some of the issues with which he will also be dealing this afternoon.

Roomers' Rights has been working for almost 15 years out of the Christian Resource Centre -- Regent Park for the rights of rooming-house tenants and also those of people in the homeless, shelter-using and deinstitutionalized populations. Over and above this work within our official mandate, we are also very much aware of the concerns of the large population of public housing tenants in the neighbourhood surrounding our support agency.

What I want to do today is to express the concerns, as I feel I understand and have experienced them, on the part of the populations I have just spoken of, about some of the measures proposed in Bill 96. I am speaking here today not only as a member of Roomers' Rights but also as an executive and outreach worker for Home Front Public Housing Fight Back, a growing Ontario-wide housing coalition, as a regular volunteer with Out of the Cold and other drop-in programs for homeless and marginally housed people, and also as someone who is herself a tenant of a rooming house in the Regent Park area.

Due to time constraints, I will be dealing primarily with care homes today. We are concerned that the provisions on care homes threaten tenants who are vulnerable by virtue of advancing age, medical and psychiatric problems but also potentially involve everyone else in the single-room renting population. This is because we fear section 93 could open the door to any care home operator evicting any tenant by virtue of the lack of sufficiently clear definition of "level of care provided by the landlord," which this section states would be a ground for eviction if this tenant is deemed to no longer require this level of care. At the same time, due to the vagueness of the definition of "care home" and "care services," any rooming or boarding house could conceivably qualify itself as a "care home" and, in combination with the eviction clause, work to jeopardize literally every tenant in this type of housing.

Some might argue that the tenant should have plenty of control and rights in relation to the all-important basic definition of "care" simply because the main section on care homes opens with the statement that there shall be a written agreement between the landlord and every tenant on the particulars of care services and that the landlord shall give the new tenant an information package containing "the prescribed information."

For our population, the problem with this idea is that it is not founded on an understanding of the real world context as we have been experiencing it. People who live in rented rooms find that they tend not to have long, stable tenancies. We find we are more likely to have to move from sitting tenancy to competing on the rental market for a new unit, and we find we are in this more vulnerable situation with a significantly greater degree of frequency than people in virtually any other type of housing. To say that we are more vulnerable is a significant understatement of the situation we face when you know something of the contributing factors.

Before we even look at Bill 96, we can look at the rental market and see a vacancy rate here in Toronto, where about 63% of the population are renters, of around 1%. Smaller cities in Ontario tend to have vacancy rates of around 4% to 6%. These may all look like small numbers, but rental tenants and their various advocates recognize that at around 4% vacancy rate, landlord and tenant power and rights are balanced about equally, while at closer to 1% we are dealing with a landlord's market to a very considerable degree.

Bill 96 introduces income disclosure, vacancy decontrol and effective eviction fast-tracking, the first two of which very greatly increase the difficulty of obtaining a new unit when it is necessary to vacate your old one, while the third contributes significantly to the issue-specific eviction concerns in relation to care homes, to say nothing of contributing significantly more to the overall insecurity and weakened bargaining position of our populations.

With all these factors combining to undermine the status and security of tenants, it seems much too likely that an unscrupulous care home operator could place pressure on the prospective tenant to sign an agreement stating that they were providing some type of support for them, even if this were to entail just dispensing medications for common ailments or catering to a special diet, to say nothing of possible leeway for claims to be dealing with problems in especially concrete-evidence-resistant areas such as the non-medical psychiatric realm. In many cases the prospective tenant might not need much pressure to sign such an agreement simply because they have absolutely no idea that they are signing away a substantial part of their right to resist wrongful eviction by so doing.

The definition of the rooming or boarding house itself as a care home would be subject to these same corrosive realities of tenant weaknesses even if it were to be circumscribed to some degree in theory by such things as the "subject to regulations" passage in the definition of care services at the beginning of the act or the dispute mediation process which the act is proposing to set up.

Members of the rooming tenant community and our member advocates and others who are involved with our concerns would like to see this unnecessary cause for eviction removed unless, at the very least, we are furnished with definitions both of care homes and care services which satisfy our concerns as the present eviction clause presumably satisfies the concerns of the landlords of existing care homes.

Careful, precise definitions help to safeguard responsible members of the population while providing for a more expeditious resolution of problems created by troublesome individuals. Too vague laws perform what might be the most undesirable function possible in our society: They maximize the range of confusion and downright abuses that can possibly occur instead of minimizing them, especially when they fail to take into consideration the very considerable weight of living in a comparatively disadvantaged position with regard to these vagaries and abuses, as this in turn comes to bear on the actual ability of ordinary people to secure decent and affordable housing for themselves and their families.

The Chair: Sir, did you have some comments?

Mr Michael Baxter: No, thanks.

The Chair: Okay. We will commence with the New Democratic caucus.


Mrs Boyd: Thank you for your presentation. I think this whole issue about what is or what is not the override in terms of people's rights in care homes has become a particularly important issue in these discussions, particularly as it applies to that rapid eviction problem. I thank you for giving your perspective on it.

We keep being puzzled because the government keeps claiming that the community care access centres are going to somehow be able to prevent any abuse of these sections in this act, even though subsection 2(1) of the act says very clearly, "This act applies with respect to rental units in residential complexes, despite any other act and despite any agreement or waiver to the contrary."

Although the next section goes on to say, "In interpreting the provision of this act with regard to a care home, if a provision in part IV conflicts with the provision in another part of this act, the provision in part IV applies," it doesn't resolve the concern you have, because the provisions under part IV, as you pointed out, are so vague that virtually any landlord could manage to claim in a boarding-house situation that they came under that particular part and because the area on the eviction says the tribunal has to take into account levels of care. There's nothing to require the tribunal to follow what the community care access centre says is the reality. There is no safeguard there, although the government keeps claiming there is. Is that your understanding?

Ms Taylor: One of the main underlying things there as a common denominator for all the points you can make is the tribunal, the mediation process. It seems to me there are a lot of broad escape clauses in the process, for one thing.

Another problem is that we have yet to specify the fees that the tribunal will presumably be able to set for individuals and whether or not this will tend to be prohibitive to some extent for tenants. The property owner can afford the property they've living in plus the property they're renting, even if they are renting the rental property in order to help to keep themselves in their more basic expenses, whereas apparently only about one third of people who are renting accommodations could afford to own their own living situation.

The mediation is supposed to be triggered if anyone disputes anything. You're supposed to be able to automatically get it for that. It really does depend -- they're supposedly going to take the rent registry material and keep a hold of it, but at the same time they can charge fees for people to come in and access that. It's all a question of whatever these fees are all about and how it relates to being open to various kinds of legal aid provisions and things the current system is open to, even to the extent that it is right now.

Mrs Boyd: We've heard from some of the legal services that of course the access to justice with respect to landlord-tenant matters has diminished quite substantially with the kinds of financial pressures that there are on the legal aid clinics. The whole issue of changing this to a tribunal is supposed to streamline it, but if it also costs more, then it becomes that much more difficult for people to actually access that justice.

Did you have any sense from the kind of vague language around the agreement that tenants would have to sign whether they could be waiving, despite any agreement or waiver to the contrary, other citizens' rights in order to try and maintain their accommodation?

I'll give you an example. Say the landlord said part of your agreement is that you must be in at 8 o'clock every night and you cannot have any visitors. Now that is not a normal tenancy agreement at all. It seems to me that you were talking about people coerced into agreeing to things partly because they wouldn't necessarily know that they could not agree, but also that they're so desperate for accommodation they could agree to very unreasonable terms and then find themselves in a situation where they were claimed to have broken the agreement and therefore have a fast-track eviction.

Ms Taylor: They find themselves in a situation where whatever it was they agreed to, the landlord could come to the point of claiming they no longer required that level of care, especially if it's care in a vague area. Also, relating to some of the things you were saying about restricting personal habits, here we've got all sorts of things like health care, rehabilitative, therapeutic. Some of that could be to do with psychiatric, could be to do with rehabilitative in the sense of people just sort of taking a rest cure, kind of like people who are just recovering from being exhausted, who are trying to basically fit back into the community even if it isn't strictly within a psychiatric parameter.

If people are induced to start talking about this whole care issue in relation to all situations where people cannot or do not choose to spend their money on a unit that's the minimum of bachelor apartment size, then we open up such a large can of worms for all sorts of psychiatric jargon and all sorts of presumptions about people needing to be cared for, and I don't really think it's a very good idea. We need much more circumscription because it's just a temptation. We have no idea how far it could go in relation to the rooming market as we see it right now.

Mr Gilchrist: I appreciate your presentation. It certainly is an important section of the act, but I think again -- and it's come up once earlier today and I don't know if you were here; Ms Munro raised the issue in response to one of the presenters -- it is very important to recognize that all of the standards being created by the Ministry of Health and community care access centres will take priority over this legislation. Nothing in this bill in any way subverts the Ministry of Health's pre-eminence in the role of ensuring that people have adequate care. That remains paramount.

The bottom line is that even if the landlord asks to relocate a tenant -- and when it comes to fees that's a non-issue because it's the landlord who will have to be making the application -- the landlord will pay the fee. The question will then be submitted to competent authorities.

The tribunal will not be acting as if they were medical doctors. The tribunal will take the recommendation of the CCACs. If there is more appropriate accommodation, if that is really the conclusion of the medical experts involved, then I hope you would agree with me that if there's more appropriate accommodation, if someone needs a different level of care, then that care should be provided. I don't think you'd want anything in this act that forces people to stay in a place where they can't get adequate care. I don't think you've said that anywhere in your presentation. But the bottom line is that those decisions will be made by competent medical authorities.

You comment about the need for definition in the act. Certainly "care home" and "care services" are defined and further elaboration on that would be found again in the Ministry of Health's description of what every one of those points means. I don't think you have to suffer under any concern that a landlord is going to be able to make arbitrary medical decisions; nor will the tribunal. The fact of the matter is, unless the case is proved absolutely that the landlord's position that a different level of care is necessary, then the tribunal cannot allow the relocation.

I think that by tying those two ministries as intimately as they will be, you've got the best of both worlds. You have the protection in the Landlord and Tenant Act in all other respects, but at such time as health care needs change, then you've the Ministry of Health through the CCACs, which will be able to take the role that they should have in making sure the appropriate level of care is available.

Mr Duncan: First of all, there is absolutely nothing in the act --

Mr Gilchrist: You know that's not true. Don't insult me.

Mr Duncan: -- that requires that. It is not included in the act. You may try to argue that you're going to do it in regulation, but frankly you have no credibility on the issue.


The Chair: Mr Gilchrist, Mr Duncan has the floor.

Mr Duncan: You have no way of enforcing what you just said. What these people have talked about -- there are two jurisdictions in the province of Ontario that regulate lodging homes today. One of them is Windsor and the other one, I believe, is Hamilton, if I'm not mistaken.

There was a report called the Lightman report that made a raft of recommendations with respect to the appropriate treatment and the appropriate care of vulnerable individuals, and we have seen case after case after case. You may comment. I helped write the bylaw in Windsor. It's one of two jurisdictions that has that type of protection, and frankly it's inadequate.

To suggest somehow that a landlord of a so-called care home, whatever that means -- and you go through the definitions; we've gone through the definitions and it's unclear -- has to take into account those considerations -- it's not required, first of all. Second of all, I'm just envisioning the bureaucracy. Anybody who's tried to deal with the public guardian, for instance, or other organizations in government and deal with it in an expeditious fashion, I'll tell you, a number of these patients, clients, vulnerable individuals are in situations that require immediate remedy. They don't require a slow bureaucratic process that I am convinced is not provided for in this legislation.


The view we have heard expressed by a number of people at these hearings throughout Ontario is quite the contrary to what the parliamentary assistant said, and we think it's part again of a denial of what this bill is all about. It's a bill that makes the vulnerable more vulnerable. It's a bill that not only does not provide additional protection; in our view, it takes away protections, protections that we all know -- it's been studied to death -- have not been in place.

I'm not suggesting for a minute that the problem is easily solved, but we think this is a step in the wrong direction, and it's my view, that what the parliamentary assistant said simply will not happen.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms Taylor and Mr Baxter. Unfortunately, the time has expired. On behalf of the committee, I thank you for coming this afternoon.

Mr Baxter: If I might comment, when we were offered 20 minutes, the presumption was that the time would be split between us, so I prepared a deputation that is quite different in focus from that of Mary Taylor. She was to be allotted 10 minutes and myself 10 minutes.

The Chair: Sir, I asked you if you wished to make a presentation. We're out of time.

Mr Baxter: You asked me if I wished to comment on what had been said. That is quite a different matter.

The Chair: Sir, I'm sorry. You misunderstood what I said.

Mr Baxter: Obviously I did, because of the way it was phrased.

The Chair: I'm in the hands of the committee, but we have other presenters.

Mr Duncan: I move that we add him to the delegation list at the end of the day.

Mrs Boyd: I concur.

The Chair: Is that unanimous consent of the other members? The members agree, sir, so if you wish to wait until the end of the day, we'll give you 10 minutes.

Mr Baxter: What time would that be?

The Chair: It could be 6 o'clock. There may be a cancellation, so it may be a little bit earlier, so I'd be here any time from 5:30 on.

Mr Baxter: Thank you. We were quite confused about what was happening.

The Chair: If I misled you, I'm sorry, but your time has expired.


The Chair: The next presenter is the Kensington Youth Theatre and Employment Skills program, Stephen McCammon. Good afternoon, sir.

Mr Stephen McCammon: Good afternoon. First of all, I want to thank you very much for providing the opportunity for the Kensington Youth Theatre and Employment Skills program to give a talk today about Bill 96. My name is Stephen McCammon, and I'm a volunteer there.

KYTES is an innovative program that serves 16- to 24-year-olds who primarily have lived life on the street or in shelters, and the purpose of KYTES is to provide these young people with a chance to make the transition towards a full participatory life in society. What that means really is help them with employment skills, help them with life skills, help them get stable housing and get on with their lives. These are young people who have typically either fallen or crashed through the cracks, if you will, of the system, and I think it's fair to say that they're not in any way stereotypically the bad, tough apples only or the sad stories of people who have had family abuse that has driven them out of the home. There are a variety of real complex individuals just as there are a variety of real complex individuals around this room today.

KYTES is concerned about Bill 96 out of a concern for the central importance of stable housing in these young people's lives. I have titled this little note that I offer you, "Are Street Youth the Canary in this Particular Coal Mine?" to ask you to draw your attention not only to the implications of Bill 96 for street youth and youth at risk but for young people and in fact tenants as a whole. As you may recall the story of the canary in the coal mine, the canary was used by miners in Wales some 100 years ago to indicate that the air wasn't all that right down there. I'm trying to suggest that as street youth go, perhaps other things go as well.

I want to outline from the beginning that there are positive things about Bill 96 from the perspective of an organization like KYTES. For starters, the tribunal proceedings will likely offer speedier, more sensitive and more focused expertise to resolve these kinds of disputes, and that may benefit both tenants and landlords. Second, I think the clear anti-harassment language in the offences provisions is helpful to both tenants and landlords and certainly to tenants who have concerns about the bad apples in the landlord bunch.

Having said that, there are some concerns about other aspects in relation to tribunals and the offences provisions. I hope that the bill, if passed as is, will be translated by resources to, for example, the tribunal so that it can fulfil its duty, as laid out in one of the provisions under part IX, to inform the public of their rights under the act. That means in particular vulnerable constituencies who plainly don't know how to assert their rights.

I am also concerned that the tribunal will provide speedier access to remedial action, but it may also provide too speedy action. The five days that a respondant/tenant has to file a dispute to an eviction notice may be just too short. I think it's fair to say that lawyers are often struggling to get their acts together and respond to complex legal matters in short order. Laypeople certainly are going to have that problem, and as I heard people talking about legal aid limits and so on, that's going to compound the problem, so that's something I'd like to draw to your attention.

Someone else has already mentioned the issue of cost of making an application to the tribunal. If you don't know your rights, if you can't afford your rights, they are not really rights at all.

There is also a provision -- I think it's section 172 -- which suggests that the tribunal may not hear evidence from a party if it doesn't pay money to the tribunal to hold in trust pending the resolution of the dispute. I just wondered if it wouldn't be worth having language attached to that provision that directed the tribunal to be cognizant of the possibility that the respondant, whether that be the landlord or the tenant, may not have the money, and that may be a genuine reason to allow for leniency there and hear the evidence anyway and answer the question on its merits.

There is also some confusion between a section that provides an offence of a tenant altering the locks, with fines up to $10,000, and another provision in section 35 which suggests that the powers of the tribunal are limited to ordering that a tenant provide the keys and pay the landlord any reasonable out-of-pocket expenses. To the extent that there's some sort of conflict or confusion between those two provisions, section 35 and subsection 94(1)3, I direct that to your attention for your answer.

I'd also like to briefly note that there may be circumstances where a tenant legitimately needs to change the locks at short notice without time to ask the consent of a landlord. What jumps to mind right away is an emergency situation involving the breakdown of a relationship. We all know about spousal abuse and spousal violence in the media these days. It would be a shame for a tenant to face a penalty for doing something that he or she had absolutely good cause to do. In that regard, I think the bill should provide that a landlord shall not unreasonably deny a tenant's request to have the locks changed.

The other positive aspect of the bill is that it suggests there is going to be enforcement of standards in terms of maintenance, safety and security, and I think that sounds quite wonderful. The caveat to that, of course, is that the government has to provide the resources to do that job, to make sure that investigations are conducted and landlords who fail to live up to the standards are called to account. In that way, I add, the Tenant Protection Act will begin to earn its name.

If I could move on to the problems in the bill, there are three broad areas that I think need addressing. No doubt you've heard about concerns about a couple of these areas or all three of these areas, if not once or twice, then many times. I will try to be short and persuasive. One problem has to do with privacy; the other has to do with the issue of deregulation or partial deregulation of rent controls and, last but not least, legislating exceptions to human rights protection under section 2 of the Human Rights Code.


On the issue of privacy, whether you own or rent the place you call home, most of us would agree a man or woman's home is that person's castle. Whether you're living in Rosedale or Parkdale, Thunder Bay or Ottawa, in the mansion your grandfather built or a bachelor apartment with a view of the back end of a store, this is your kingdom, your place to shut out the world, to rest, to renew before another day of getting on with the work of lifelong learning and employment. The presumption in regard to any dwelling place is that, subject to narrowly defined and properly authorized exceptions, no one shall enter another person's home without that person's free and informed consent.

The Landlord and Tenant Act says as much. The emphasis on the general sanctity of the tenant's home is clear. Unfortunately, in an effort to clarify what are probably some genuine concerns about the business of being a landlord, the bill appears to weaken this fundamental right to privacy.

I suggest that some kind of language in the bill that says something to the effect of a tenant has a right to privacy in the reasonable enjoyment of a rental unit and a landlord may only enter a rental unit under specified sections, 20, 21 and so on, would help to stiffen up in the minds of the public, which is at issue and a concern here, in the minds of landlords and inform tenants of their basic right to privacy at the same time allowing for many of the specific rights of entry which you then go on to list in the subsequent provisions.

Having said that, I think there might still be a couple of clarifications made about when a landlord can go in to clean, which is not to say the landlord can't, but that it might be added that the landlord makes a reasonable effort to keep the tenant informed as to scheduling of cleaning entries where it isn't laid out in the tenancy agreement. It's just putting a small onus on the landlord to do his or her best to make sure that the private sanctity of someone's home isn't interrupted randomly or at short notice while you're in the bath in the morning.

The last two points in regard to privacy: I think when it comes to the landlord's coming by and checking out an apartment for the purpose of renting it, there again the landlord might be put to just one little extra effort which is to make reasonable efforts to contact the tenant ahead of time by even an hour rather than what appears to be the intention of the provisions, which is simply to knock on the door. One hour's notice can help a great deal and ensure that someone, whether it be a widowed mother of any of us or whether it be a street youth who has just found his or her first apartment, feel that their home is genuinely theirs and that this kind of provision doesn't put too much onus on the landlord.

Lastly, and perhaps most important, subsection 21(1) lists a variety of written notice possibilities for entry into the unit. I think the last one speaks about, "For any other reasonable reason as set out in the tenancy agreement." I'm a little concerned that we would be putting tenants at risk of contracting out of their right to privacy when they're not necessarily informed of all the fine print on the contract, when they're not necessarily in a position, on the other hand, even if they are informed, to really negotiate with a landlord, especially if you understand that when it comes to the market in a city like Toronto or a city like Kingston or perhaps many smaller and larger communities in Ontario, the tenants are the ones who have far less market power than the landlord to set conditions.

The next general area of concern is of course rent control and the market-driven rents. In short, I want to jump right to the heart of the matter there from the perspective of youth and street youth in particular. They are the people who are going to be invariably facing the unregulated rent because of course they're going to be moving into vacant apartments. They're not going to be someone locked in. Every young person who goes out at one point, whether they leave home with parents' okay or whether they leave home with parents' curses, is going to be facing new apartments. They're going to be the ones with the fewest resources on average and they're going to be, quite frankly, sons and daughters of people around this room. Whether you can supply them with the cash or not, lots of other young people are going to be striding out there without a shot at a decent place.

I think that's a big concern for street youth in particular who are trying to get stable homes. It's absolutely essential to anyone's life. Imagine getting up this morning to come to work and not having fresh clothes hanging in your closet or a shower in which to wash or a telephone to call the office and say something's wrong.

Since I feel it's unlikely that I'm going to persuade you not to go the way of this deregulation, I suggest an alternative that will only go so far in helping, but at least it puts something back into the act. Those recommendations are at page 3 of my presentation.

I suggest that above and beyond the offences set out in section 194, particularly withholding vital services and failure to comply with a work order, you suggest amendments creating two new offences: "Failing to keep a rental unit at or above a minimum standard of safety, security and good repair," and "Failing to keep a rental unit at or above a minimum standard of safety, security and good repair while charging or asking an exorbitant rent." I think that would not stop landlords from asking high rents, if they so desired, not stop them from trying to make their places lovelier, but it would make them think twice about gouging someone for a crappy apartment, which is all too common today, I'm afraid.

In addition to that, if it was made part of the Minister of Housing's responsibility to assess and report annually on the homeless and the undersheltered, on the state of rental accommodation in Ontario, especially affordable housing and the question of the role of government in facilitating and/or providing affordable housing and do that in relation to the effectiveness of the new rent control/deregulation scheme when the minister tables the tribunal's annual report with the assembly, I think there would at least be a kind of ongoing public accountability over the question of whether or not this regime is going to work, why and what could be done about it in the interim.

Finally, in regard to the human rights protection changes, this amendment creates special risks to young people with no credit or rental history and it creates enormous risks to young people in receipt of public assistance, which is in the main the constituency served by KYTES, a constituency that KYTES helps to transform into employed, studying and eventually taxpaying citizens.

In his submissions to you, the chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission has already ably articulated the problems with sections 36 and 200, and I believe he suggested alternatives or variations. We endorse those comments and recommendations. Let me add that young people struggling to turn their lives around need a shot at stable livable housing, period, and while that is beyond the ambit of Bill 96, it is perhaps not beyond the ambit of your government to do all it can to help that cause in other legislation, in the provision of public housing and so on.

Whatever the legal fallout, these provisions send the wrong signal to those landlords who already deny accommodations unfairly, and they send the wrong signals to good kids who deserve a shot at success and need a home and not just a shelter.

When issues of human rights and housing intersect, you can be sure you're dealing with vital and complex issues that require careful consideration. What questions may a landlord reasonably ask a tenant? How should these questions be posed and in what circumstances? These are issues that deserve a full and fair airing from the perspective of both landlords and tenants. It seems ironic then that in what may, in many respects, be fairly titled the Tenant Protection Act, the government is weighing in prematurely in such a heavy-handed fashion as to amend the Human Rights Code. Arguably, the government's actions in this regard have all the appearance of choosing sides in a vital and complex relationship.

Let the properly constituted human rights board of inquiry do its job. Let the parties hear the decision and appeal if they feel it is necessary. Let the government consider the implications of the decision. If it appears unreasonable from a public interest perspective, act accordingly. But in the meantime, we ask you to withdraw those provisions or at least consider delaying their implementation until such time as the litigation has run its course and the public has had another chance to consider what direction is wise to take.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr McCammon. Your time has expired and we appreciate your coming and making your presentation to us. Thank you, sir.



The Chair: The next presentation is going to require some construction work, I understand. It's going to be a slide presentation and the presenter is Nancy Gillespie, who is speaking on behalf of Yolles Partnership. Ms Gillespie is an engineer and associate of building science services. The floor is yours, ma'am. Thank you for coming.

Ms Nancy Gillespie: My name is Nancy Gillespie and I'm an associate with the building science division of Yolles Partnership.

Yolles is a consulting engineering firm. It was founded in 1952 and has a long history in the design of high-rise structures, also residential, industrial and commercial. Some of the buildings you might be familiar with are something like the BCE Place, the Canadian embassy in Washington, the Bata Shoe Museum, which are all our structural design.

My particular responsibility has to do with the restoration of concrete structures, principally. That involves underground parking garages, balconies, also brickwork, window replacement, caulking, other miscellaneous building components.

As structural engineers, we have particular concerns about the safety and occupancy issues which have arisen because of the deterioration of these structures, and today I'd like to talk about some of the conditions we deal with on a daily basis, some of the remedial measures that are required and how this might affect the work of this committee.

We have today an aging inventory of buildings that require massive work to bring them into code compliance, quite apart from work which would improve them to today's standards. The living conditions in many buildings are deteriorating. The nominal maintenance items are postponed as long as possible, and those components that require major work are often undertaken only in response to city work orders. Even then, generally the work is what will get passed to lift the order.

We see buildings that can't provide residents with hot water during peak demand times. The 25-year-old boilers are inefficient and occupancy loads now are often much greater than they were in the past. Piping in the high-rise building deteriorates over time, and at 20 or 25 years you get pipe bursts and damage to units and shutdowns of service.

Windows are another typical example. Many buildings were built with single panes of glass. At times of cheap fuel they were standard, but now they're inefficient not only from an energy perspective, but the increased humidity levels mean that you get ice buildups and damage to interior finishes, mould and mildew around frames, and with people who have allergies and sensitivities to that sort of thing it becomes a major problem.

Balconies have railings that don't meet the current code with respect to height and configuration. Railings are corroding, panels that form the railing are sometimes loose and posts are often rusted and no longer attached to the concrete. The reinforcing steel corrodes within the balcony slabs and pieces of concrete break loose and fall. It's a hazard to pedestrians and obviously makes the balcony structurally unsound.

One building that I deal with was circled with an orange snow fence and posted signs saying, "Danger, falling concrete." It's hard to believe that people are actually living in this building.

Parking garages: The older ones are poorly lit compared to present standards. That brings in safety issues for people using that garage, also activity that might occur in the garage after hours. Cracks in the concrete slab allow water to drip through on to vehicles and pieces of concrete come loose and fall.

The question is, how did we get there? At the time of construction, when Toronto went through its building boom in the late 1960s and early 1970s, we really didn't understand the behaviour of concrete over time. We looked at concrete and thought it was going to last forever. We ended up with some poor construction practices.

Prior to the building boom, construction used to shut down for the winter. No one even considered doing that sort of thing in January. It was too cold to place concrete, and then they discovered the effect of calcium chloride. Calcium chloride, or regular salt, is added to concrete and it causes it to set up faster so it can be finished before it freezes. Governments were quite keen to explore that possibility because it cut down on the cyclical unemployment that is endemic to the construction industry. Grants were provided to offset the low productivity of winter work and you had all kinds of structures built in the winter specifically, and unfortunately they incorporated salt as an additive. That has had the effect of just increasing any other problems you might have.

Concrete that didn't have the good durability at the time of construction and also had this salt added to it then, when combined with the road salt and water brought in by the cars, had the right mixture that right now we have parking garages that look like what you see in city hall, for instance, Terminal 1, that are going through continual repair. The same factors apply. You have an aging structure, a harsh environment and high restoration and maintenance costs.

I brought some slides today to show you some of the types of deterioration we see on a regular basis and the types of things that tenants end up living with.

We have here a brick wall. We have a roof problem on the other side of a parapet. You can see the bricks are bowed and there's a lot of water damage on them. Pieces of that brick fall and there's scaffolding installed below so that it doesn't fall on pedestrians walking below. I have a close-up of the situation. You can see where the brick is displaced. They've tried to do some caulking repairs that haven't helped because it really hasn't addressed the original problem of deterioration of the roofing system.

What that means on the inside -- I don't know whether you can see that terribly well -- is that the plaster and drywall all around the window is all bubbled and bowed. We took that out after this shot was done, and the black mould that was on all the framing was absolutely incredible. It was quite amazing.

This is a corner of a balcony railing. You can see the glass panel. You can see the rusting on the railing. The glass panel can come out under hand pressure and the rusting on the railing -- that particular post wasn't even connected to the concrete, obviously not in code condition.

That's the underside of a balcony. You can see some dark patches there. That is a material probably from Canadian Tire that someone decided they were going to patch the end of the balcony slab with. It's not a slam on Canadian Tire, but it was an inappropriate use of a particular material.

The Chair: I shouldn't interject at this point but it's too tempting. The parliamentary assistant used to be part of Canadian Tire.

Ms Gillespie: I do apologize. There's nothing wrong with the product; it was an inappropriate use of the product.

The Chair: I couldn't resist.

Ms Gillespie: Fair enough. This is another balcony. They have tried to repair a problem with a condition on the top of the slab by putting on material laid on top. It hasn't taken and it's all coming off. The top of this particular balcony was so uneven that it was quite a hazard just to walk on.

That's a shot of a balcony railing. I don't know whether you can see how the railing itself is all crimped. It's not even connected there at the edge. That's a shot of the whole building, looking up. You can't see it, but it was taken to show the deterioration on the underside of the balcony.

We have a parking garage here. The ingenuity in trying to keep water off cars in parking garages is absolutely incredible; generally ingenuity, I might add, by the residents and rarely by the landlord. In this case they have put up plastic to try and stop water that's dripping through the slab from damaging cars. That again is a bit difficult to see, but we have some metal eavestroughing installed under the crack. These issues are intended to prevent water dripping through and damaging the car. They obviously do nothing to repair the problem.


This too is a bit difficult to tell. What we've got here is a deterioration on the top edge of the slab. The entire top of the concrete has lifted and the reinforcing steel is exposed. You can see the water ponding around the column, a serious structural concern.

A similar situation here: We have water that has ponded around the base of a column. You can see the rusting on that column, and that's reinforcing steel that is critical to the integrity of that column that is corroding.

When I speak of falling concrete, this is the typical condition. Water penetrates the slab and the reinforcing steel corrodes. Rust occupies approximately seven times the volume of the original steel, so when it forms it expands and pops off the concrete, a very typical condition in many, many garages.

An example of maintenance that just is not done on a continual basis: This is a drainpipe in a garage that is split, probably frozen in winter, probably plugged and full of debris, and this is a drain on the underside of the slab. You can see the condition of the slab and the rust stains. Obviously the drain hasn't worked for some long period of time.

That's the end of that. Every day I see the effects of lack of maintenance on buildings, and by "maintenance" I mean work that is going to repair the small problems before they develop into large problems. The situation of the brickwork: A repair to the roof would have saved a lot of problems down the road. However, without operating funds, small problems grow to be major issues which affect the living standards and the health and safety of the building residents.

We're seeing more and more structures now that are in an advanced state of deterioration to the point of becoming unsafe. Will they fall down? Very rarely. However, in the case of the balcony railing, it contravenes the clause in the code that limits the size of the object that is allowed to pass between the slab and the bottom of the railing. It means that a small child could fall through that. Where you get a railing being severely rusted, if something fell against it or someone fell against the railing, would it hold? In some cases I've seen they wouldn't.

The reason this condition has developed, we believe, is the fact that landlords are unable to recoup the cost to maintain the building. Costs are very substantial. The cost to recaulk windows, for instance, something as simple as that, to prevent water penetration into the inside, is $30,000 to $50,000. A major balcony restoration project, to deal with the types of balconies we saw there, is in the $300,000-to-$500,000 range. A major garage restoration can go up into $1 million or more.

What's been occurring is that the repairs have been carried out to patch the areas, repairs that weren't durable in some cases, and they sometimes do more harm than good because they cover up the area until a very severe condition develops. Now these buildings need major work.

There are a number of garages in the city where large sections are simply closed because of falling concrete. So much water is coming through the slab that it's a hazard to be below it, so they just close the entire area.

Who benefits from the current condition? The tenants have low rents but cope with deteriorating buildings: damaged plaster, mould and mildew, balconies that aren't safe, poorly lit garages, falling concrete in the garage and water dripping on cars. Landlords see their buildings as a distinct liability. The land ends up being worth more than the actual structure on it.

From an engineer's perspective, we're asked to solve long-standing problems with minimal budgets. We deal with one aspect of a deteriorating building knowing that other issues are potentially unsafe. In some cases, we've recommended closures of balconies, the types you saw there where the railing is simply not connected. Unfortunately, this creates a host of other issues because it becomes a fire safety issue.

Some building departments have been conducting audits of the older buildings, resulting in work orders. It's very common. The city of Toronto has gone through and done quite a job on garages and balconies over the last few years. In many cases, the work is carried out more with a view to removing a work order and not to maintain the building over a long period of time. Why? Because such planned maintenance requires a long-term commitment by the owner, and this commitment isn't forthcoming in the climate of uncertainty.

So what do we do now? In our view, we provide a mechanism to recoup costs that are required to bring these buildings up to standard. The carry-forward provision in the bill is, in our opinion, a method of achieving this goal. We also create a climate that provides a sustainable return on investment that's driven by market forces. Investors predict this risk and can cope with it. What they can't cope with is a changing political wind and the resulting uncertainty, and removing this uncertainty, in our view, is critical to solving this current dilemma.

The Chair: Thank you. We have time for probably one or two questions.

Mr Duncan: Thank you for your presentation. The whole issue of the state of our rental stock is, I think, of concern to everybody, regardless of points of view with respect to rent control-decontrol-recontrol. Here is the question I would like to put to you, and I recognize it's probably not your area of expertise, so I'm not trying to put you on the spot.

We do not support the concept of getting rid of rent control. It's our view that the government's clearly is to create more rental stock and, I presume, to allow, in the government's view, landlords to recoup greater rents in order to reinvest. We don't think that is going to happen. We think there will be an increase in the stock of higher-end units. We think to compare the situation in the rental market today with what it was in 1975 and the period immediately prior to 1975 is really very tenuous at best -- there are a number of circumstances -- and to somehow factor them all out individually.

My question is this: Can a system of rent control, where an appropriate guideline is in place with an appropriate figure for capital, not provide for maintenance? We regulate the price of telephones. We regulate the price of water. We regulate the price of natural gas. Arguably, those are monopolies, but I would think that tenants, particularly vulnerable tenants, would argue that similar economic relationships exist.

Ms Gillespie: You're right that this is well beyond my expertise, which won't stop me from commenting on it anyway.

Mr Duncan: You should be an MPP.

Ms Gillespie: What I'm giving you here is a personal opinion because it really doesn't have very much to do with engineering. There are segments of our society, it seems to me, that have to be protected -- no question. I'm not sure that rent control administered as a total umbrella is the way to do it. People have these buildings to make money. It's not an altruistic activity. They're there to make money. If it doesn't provide a rate return, they do one of several things: They unload it, they don't maintain it or they dump it and put their money somewhere where it will generate. It seems to me that if you can go and put your money into a mutual fund and get 10% without working very hard, then why would you have a building with all the other problems that are associated with it?

The Chair: I'm afraid we'll have to move to the next question.

Mrs Boyd: That's the question I keep asking: If it is so tough being a landlord, why do so many people want to be landlords and maintain that? Is it really a question of not being able to afford to maintain or is it a question of making a choice about the rate of income you're not willing to go below?

Ms Gillespie: I think that has a lot to do with it. If you have a choice between making a 2% return and making a 20% return, I would suspect that you don't have a lot of choice.

I can tell you about a couple of buildings that I deal with. One of them is a building that has been in a particular family for a long period of time. The newer people coming up can see that building and that's going to be their building. There's almost an emotional attachment to it.

The building is free and clear and has been for years. Their concern as to how much rent they can get -- they have to make a certain amount to be able to maintain the building, but the decisions they make when they go and do repairs is very much, "Let's do it the right way, and yes, it's going to cost a lot of money, but we're going to have this building for a long time." That's a completely different mindset than a consortium of people who decide to invest in a building. That building must return a certain amount, and if it cannot return that certain amount, they put their money elsewhere.

I don't know whether that answered your question.

Mrs Boyd: Indeed it did.

The Chair: We have a problem in that we're out of time. I'd like to let you elaborate further, but the time has expired. I thank you for taking the time to come to us and make your presentation. The clerk will help you with your slides.



The Chair: The next presenter is Mary Jo Donovan, who is speaking on behalf of the East York Tenants Alliance.

Ms Mary Jo Donovan: Good day. My name is Mary Jo Donovan. I'm the chair of the East York Tenants Alliance. I'm here to speak on behalf of the tenants of East York.

We all trooped down here a year ago to participate in what was called a discussion, which has proven to be an outright farce and an exercise in futility. The well-thought-out recommendations on behalf of tenants were to all intents and purposes ignored. We're back again for farce '97. I hope you're going to pay attention this time.

I usually try to avoid arguing with a closed mind, but I'm going to make a final attempt. We realize that our chances are slim, but we figured that if serial killers in Canada can have a faint hope, then perhaps tenants in Ontario may also have a faint hope, even though the killers probably have a better chance of a fair hearing.

Those who were not aware of it before are certainly in no doubt now that the tenants of this province appear to be without representation in this government. The proposed legislation is biased in favour of the landlord, and you even presume to amend the Human Rights Code so they can discriminate with impunity. You've given the bill a short title which is an outright lie. You've shown your utter contempt for the security and wellbeing of tenants by depriving them of the Rental Housing Protection Act.

At the very least, municipal governments should have some control over conversions, not only for the sake of good planning but in order to give some consideration to the large percentage of their populations which you have chosen to ignore. They should not be inhibited in this by bad provincial legislation.

Notwithstanding the alarming truth of all the above, for the sake of the 50,000 tenants in East York we feel duty-bound to submit the following.

A number of tenant advocates from legal clinics and tenant organizations have made excellent presentations, most of which we support. You are obligated to give them the attention they deserve, and I hope you're going to do that this time. We will not attempt to repeat what has already been very well said.

We hope we can prevail upon you to change the definition of "tenant" to the one which is currently in the Landlord and Tenant Act. The definition in Bill 96 could give rise to serious injustice because of the wording defining "tenant" as the one who pays the rent. In situations where the husband regularly pays the rent and for one reason or another departs the family home, will the wife then be permitted to assume the duty of paying the rent or will she lose her status as a tenant?

There are numerous instances and a variety of situations that could arise which would make this a serious problem for a lot of people, and there are a lot of unscrupulous landlords out there who could take advantage of a situation to rid themselves of a tenant merely for the opportunity of increasing the rent on a vacant unit. It is essential that the necessary changes be made to prevent these possible injustices.

If you choose not to retain the definition currently in use, then at least the definition of "tenant" in Bill 96 should be amended by adding, "'tenant' includes those who occupy the rental unit in a spousal or familial relationship, or as friends or partners of the tenant who pays the rent." People make all sorts of arrangements for their living accommodation and they have honourable agreements with each other that they don't necessarily feel obliged to put in writing. The oral agreements that exist between parties in a rental unit should be recognized by the landlord.

Regarding the tribunal, we are especially concerned that the TAG recommendations be included in the final package. I'm assuming you all remember who TAG is. They're the Tenant Advocacy Group, made up of lawyers, legal workers and others who have long-standing activity with regard to tenant law.

Having been deprived of our right of access to the courts, we should at least have some assurance that what replaces it will at the very least conform to the rules of natural justice and what we have come to expect from the common law. Considering what has gone before, we are justified in our suspicions that the tribunals could be stacked with political pals and that our pleadings may well fall upon the deaf ears of Tory hacks. We urge upon you to allay this suspicion forthwith. It's essential that somebody speak up and make sure the tenants are promised that this is not going to happen. We're concerned about a lack of equity and that the process in these tribunals may end up being just one more example of orchestrated tyranny of landlords over tenants.

TAG has clearly defined potential problems and made excellent suggestions. We're not going to repeat them all here and we haven't given you anything in a written form because it would just be repetitious.

The recommendations for the appointment, training and size of the panel are simply good sense and should be adopted. No fairminded person could fault them. The recommendations for procedure are eminently reasonable and should form a part of the final draft.

There should certainly be no filing fees or orders for costs. The majority of tenants are medium- or low-income and include the working poor, old-age pensioners and those on social assistance. The inclusion of fees and costs would be a grossly unfair burden on these tenants.

Section 167(1) requires written responses. Tenants who have not had the advantage of higher education and those with English as a second language will almost certainly lack the necessary skills to produce a comprehensive and persuasive written document in order to present their case. Even an oral presentation is difficult for many, and it requires careful questioning by a sensitive and patient rent officer to extract the pertinent facts to reveal the truth of the matter and come to a fair decision. To expect the average tenant to prepare what could amount to an adequate legal brief indicates a failure to grasp reality.

To make matters worse, it is very likely that their submissions will be adjudicated by someone who has never experienced poverty or hunger or any of the other many deprivations which beset the underprivileged of this world. In light of all this, there must be some provision for oral responses and presentations.

Section 167(2): It should be clear to any thinking person that five days is insufficient time for an adequate response to the threatened loss of a home. A minimum of 20 days, as recommended by TAG, would not work an undue hardship on the landlord and would enable the tenant to cope fairly with the situation.

Section 168 is reminiscent of some of the worst aspects of the RRRA. Section 168(1) sets out seven precise rules for the giving of documents, and 168(2) effectively ignores these rules and allows the party to pass on the information in any way they choose. Considering that one of the defining characteristics of landlords is mendacity, writing things like this into a piece of landlord-tenant legislation merely encourages bad behaviour. This is a serious loophole that has to be closed, because unscrupulous landlords are going to take advantage of it and do a whole lot of things they shouldn't do.

Mediation must be voluntary and the tenant must not be rendered vulnerable to coercion by the process. Tenants should have the right to evening hearings so as not to interfere with their work hours.

Section 172(3): The right of a tenant to be heard should not be dependent on the payment of money to the tribunal, especially when the sum demanded is the subject of the dispute. If the landlord claims the money is owing and the tenant claims it is paid, why should the landlord be believed more than the tenant? Why should the tenant be penalized while the matter is still being decided? If what is in dispute is a month's rent and a tenant on a fixed income has already paid the rent, it is unlikely that the necessary funds would be available for an additional payment to the tribunal.

Most but not all of the above comments are reflected in the TAG brief, which is extensive and divided into sections. It should be read in its entirety and carefully studied and understood. The validity of the points made should be recognized and the bill modified accordingly.


It is to be hoped that closed minds will not prevent this, and that an unwarranted egotism will not continue to invalidate the intellectual process. The perfidious subjugation of tenants is just one more outrage in a long list of assaults on decency and equity. Harris, Leach and Dave Johnson, with the help of the backroom boys, are writing the worst horror story that ever came out of Queen's Park.

The culpable acquiescence of the back bench will not go unnoticed. You seem to think your Teflon skin will protect you indefinitely, but one thing Teflon can't take is high heat. The action is moving to the front burner and the heat is being turned up to maximum. You had better be prepared: You're going to be scorched and peeled.

That's all I had to say today. I'll answer any questions.

The Chair: Mr Duncan, would you like to add to that?

Mr Duncan: I have a question or two. It comes down to what was at the heart of a lot of your presentation: the proposed rules under the new system for conflict resolution. With the kinds of amendments that have been proposed that you have talked about in terms of the bill, my view and the view of our caucus has been that the tribunal process in and of itself, if done properly, can actually work better than the current system. We will be proposing a number of amendments not unlike the ones you've talked about today.

If those kinds of amendments were brought about, do you think tenants' interests would be well served by a new tribunal system, as opposed to the current dispute resolution system that's in place?

Ms Donovan: Considering the short shrift they're being given in the court system right now, it probably couldn't be much worse, but there's no point in replacing it with something just as bad. The tribunal system has to be set up in such a way as to be not only fair but seen to be fair, and it has to be staffed by people who are not political pawns.

There's no point in having the thing if it's not going to work right. You can't let politics enter into this, and you have to make sure people tell the truth, because landlords lie, you know. They lie to each other and they lie to the tenants and they lie to the courts and they lie on affidavits, and nobody says anything about it. They're always believed. If the tenant says one thing and the landlord says another, it's the landlord who is believed. The rent officers are sitting there in their suits and the landlord comes in in his suit, and neither of them has probably been any farther than six blocks from Bay Street in their lives. They say, "This guy wouldn't lie to me, no, not at all" -- just almost all the time.

There has to be some way of resolving this problem, because tenants run into it all the time. The landlord is believed; the tenant isn't believed.

Mrs Boyd: I can tell from the passion of your statements that you've seen lots of cases over time where tenants have been disadvantaged even under the current protections, so you're really worried about these new ones because you see this as just eroding their rights further.

Ms Donovan: There's that potential. If the thing is done properly it will probably be better, but if it isn't funded properly, if there isn't duty counsel there for tenants who need it, if there aren't all these things -- I'm not an expert on this, but the TAG brief is very explicit about what's necessary. I'd advise you to read that.

Mrs Boyd: I have. What I'm trying to say to you is that you're not just saying the status quo is good enough. You're saying that yes, there should be changes, but they should be improvements for tenants rather than an erosion of their existing rights. One of the real issues is that every time we object to some of these provisions, the government says, "I suppose you think the current system is just fine," and of course you don't, because you're talking out of real frustration for what doesn't work right now. But if we're going to change it, we should be changing it for the better and balancing that power between tenants and landlords in a more appropriate way.

Ms Donovan: All tenants want is fairness and equity. They don't expect to be given any advantage over the landlord, but we want what's fair, what's equitable. We don't have it and we've never had it.

Mr Gilchrist: I appreciate your coming before us again here today, Ms Donovan. I would disagree with you; I think there were quite a few submission made last year that have been incorporated, and I can tell you there are many more -- in fact, many of the specific points you've raised here today -- that as a result of submissions made to us in the course of the hearings, the way the system is supposed to work, are going to be presented as amendments next week when we come forward to do the clause-by-clause consideration. Hopefully at that time you will see the merits in having made your presentation.

I just want to speak very briefly to two points you raised. The very first one in your presentation talked about conversions. That is already a power available to municipalities. They can control that through their official plans; many do.

Ms Donovan: But will they be able to when you get through with it?

Mr Gilchrist: They still will, because this bill doesn't change that. Similarly on the tribunal, I've never heard anyone on the other side and I don't think we've ever raised it, or the previous governments: Ontario Municipal Board appointees are picked on the basis of having planning knowledge. People for this tribunal will be picked on the basis of having knowledge of landlord and tenant issues, strong interpersonal skills, preferably some knowledge of the law itself, not just having had a working relationship, and in particular there will be an opportunity for people to apply from across the province. This isn't going to be done by backroom types.

Ms Donovan: But none of this is in writing. There are no rules in writing.

Mr Gilchrist: Nothing like that is ever in writing.

Ms Donovan: There are no regulations written. There's nothing for us to see. Until we see something positive and definite, we're going to continue in this state of anxiety that we're going to get the wrong thing.

Mr Gilchrist: The sequence always is that the legislation comes first, then the supporting regulations are drafted, then you go through the actual rules of the tribunal. That was typical. That's exactly the way the OMB is structured, its regulations, the operating rules of the OMB; the Social Assistance Review Board is the same thing.

Ms Donovan: I'm aware of the process.

Mr Gilchrist: This tribunal will be no different. I can't assuage your concern except to say that we will expect the same level of competence from this board as we do the OMB or the Social Assistance Review Board.

Ms Donovan: But the reason for the concern is that your reputation has preceded you. That's why we're concerned, and nobody has said anything to allay that concern.

Mr Gilchrist: Hopefully, history will be the best judge of all this. Thank you for coming.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms Donovan, for your presentation this afternoon.


The Chair: The next presenter is Maureen Houlihan, who is speaking on behalf of WoodGreen Community Housing. Good afternoon, Ms Houlihan.

Ms Maureen Houlihan: Good afternoon. My name is Maureen Houlihan. I'm with WoodGreen Community Housing, which is the housing provider serving people who are chronically homeless, consumer survivors, newcomers to Canada and other special needs groups who have difficulty in obtaining affordable housing and maintaining it.

On June 26, 1997, we did a submission to the standing committee, together with the Supportive Housing Coalition of Metropolitan Toronto and Robin Gardner Voce Non-Profit Homes. I just want to draw your attention to that. We were put on the schedule individually as an agency, but the views and concerns we expressed in that submission are the same.

Today I felt that since our voice had already been heard, I wanted to share the floor with members of the Coalition of Visible Minority Women, because we consider visible minority women as having particular problems with access to housing and having discrimination issues they will face with these changes to the Tenant Protection Act. So I want to pass the floor on to them.

The Chair: Ms Houlihan, how you make the presentation of WoodGreen Community Housing is up to you. You can introduce the presenters.

Ms Houlihan: I'd like to start by introducing Elaine Prescod, from the Coalition of Visible Minority Women.


Ms Elaine Prescod: Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Elaine Prescod. I'm the director at the Coalition of Visible Minority Women. The Coalition of Visible Minority Women is a multiservice organization which provides services for refugees, immigrants and visible minority women in Ontario. Among other functions, we conduct research and public education on issues such as racism and sexual assault, we provide language instruction and assist clients in areas of housing, immigration, the law and health care.

We have been instrumental in building a co-op at the lakeshore, which now houses 133 low-income families and seniors, single mothers with children. We were in the process of starting another one, but that didn't come about.

When I look at Bill 96, I see some of the things that would affect us as refugees, immigrants and visible minority women especially, where women head up a lot of the households in Ontario. They need to have rental accommodation and be informed on how this bill is going to impact on their lives, because the majority of the women we see are of the low-income bracket, poor, and are often discriminated against in the areas of housing, accommodation, training and education, the whole gamut.

I have done a lot of research on this and I want to present you with what you will see on that paper, which we have presented. I will skip some of it because we have given you a whole research paper, looking at it from the areas of income discrimination, social and economic discrimination.

We first look at Bill 96 and income discrimination. As an organization which serves populations which are already subject to considerable discrimination in housing, we are very concerned about proposed amendments to the Human Rights Code which would essentially legalize income discrimination. We look mostly at section 200 as it pertains to us. It amends the Human Rights Code to allow landlords to use income information in tenant selection. The practical effect of this change will be to give landlords the freedom to disqualify low-income households merely because of their low incomes. This provision cannot fail to have a discriminatory effect on low-income individuals and families, and it will eventually place these households in a disadvantaged position relative to households where there's more money.

The most likely application of income information in tenant selection will be the use of minimum income criteria. Presently, a large number of large landlords and property managers use a variation of the 30% rent-to-income rule, which requires that prospective tenants pay no more than 30% of their income in rent. Low-income people cannot meet such criteria. As a result, landlords will be able to screen out low-income people from their buildings, making Human Rights Code protections on housing virtually useless. You can see there we quoted something that Keith Norton from the Human Rights Commission said.

Any suggestion that section 200 merely clarifies what kind of information landlords can ask for is simply wrong. In fact, section 200 of Bill 96 authorizes the use of income information. This goes far beyond allowing landlords to ask for income information but not use it in a discriminatory fashion. If the provincial government merely wants to make it clear that landlords can ask for income information, the legislation must state that clearly.

Similarly, it is incorrect for the government to suggest that section 200 actually strengthens protections under the Human Rights Code. It is important to remember what section of the code is being amended. Section 200 of Bill 96 amends section 21 of the Human Rights Code to permit the use of income information in tenant selection. The sole purpose of section 21 is to take certain discriminatory practices which would otherwise be illegal and make them legal. Therefore, by amending the section to allow the use of income information, section 200 of Bill 96 effectively shields landlords from any challenges which might be faced under the Human Rights Code when they discriminate against groups such as social assistance recipients as well as low-income families.

The income profiles of refugees, immigrant and visible minority women: We did some research, and reading from what Michael Ornstein illustrates, refugee and visible minority women will be extremely hard-hit by any legislation which allows tenant screening based on income level. We have left some tables for you to see; I won't go through all the tables there.

Residency status and citizenship is table 2. If one considers women who are non-citizens, once again the degree of financial disadvantage is startling. In 1991, 61% of these women who were single and 47% who were lone parents had incomes of less than $20,000. As I said before, they do not meet the criteria. Then we go on to look at the places of birth, where these people came from, and then by race. I won't bore you with all that, because it's written there in the deputation which we handed out.

The next part of this that I'd like to touch on is the exclusionary impacts of income criteria. If we take this analysis further and look at the exclusionary effects of a 30% rent-to-income rule on refugees, immigrant and visible minority women, it is not surprising that the pattern of severe disadvantage continues. You can go on and see we have put out a lot of percentages there: mothers born in Africa, black single women, black single mothers. These statistics are too stark to be ignored. Professor Ornstein, in his research, clearly illustrates the devastating impact which income criteria would have on these women. Then we look at the residency status, showing unattached women, men, female single parents, and the results are all the same.

As we go on, we look at those who had citizenship and were unattached -- meaning they weren't married, they were alone -- place of birth, the household type, and that again speaks on behalf of the income exclusion and discrimination.

One may argue that section 200 of Bill 96 is not proposing a 30% rent-to-income rule. However, when large landlords currently use income criteria, this is the cutoff they almost invariably use. This being said, whatever arbitrary cutoff -- and such cutoffs are indeed arbitrary -- is used, people and families with low incomes will invariably suffer severe disadvantage. Since refugee, immigrant and visible minority women are very likely to have lower incomes, allowing tenant screening based on income will cause severe hardship for these women.

The end result of section 200 will be to dramatically reduce the already meagre housing options for low-income families and individuals. In many cases these people will be left with no other alternative but to live in shelters for the homeless. In other cases, they may have to accept accommodation which is substandard and likely overpriced.

Women in abusive relationships will be placed in particularly difficult positions. By escaping the violence they face in their homes, they will run the risk of becoming homeless. In many cases, these women, particularly if they have children, will not be able to take that chance and will be forced to remain in their dangerous home environments.

For women who are newcomers to Canada, good affordable housing is the essential first step in a continuum of services they need to start their new life. Unfortunately, by erecting additional barriers in their housing search, section 200 will ultimately delay the integration of these women into Canadian society. Having come to Canada with the hope of a new life, many of these women will have their dreams shattered as they struggle to secure affordable, appropriate housing. Starting a life by yourself in a foreign country is difficult enough without the added stress of being disqualified from affordable housing because your income does not meet some arbitrary criteria set by the landlord.


Discrimination is clearly a major problem faced by refugee, immigrant and visible minority women in their search for housing. They often face discrimination based on their race, their ancestry, their religion, their country of origin and, if they are receiving social assistance, their income or employment status. They may also experience discrimination if they are single mothers. Section 200 presents landlords with a tool to socially engineer their rental properties based on their particular prejudices. If they do not want to rent to single mothers, they can screen them out based on their incomes. If they do not want to rent to immigrant or refugee women, they can do the same. If they do not want to rent to black women, they can screen them out based on their incomes. While all of these groups are protected from discrimination in housing under the Human Rights Code, landlords will essentially be able to bypass these protections. Section 200 effectively legalizes discrimination in housing, as we see it.

I'm going to go now to credit checks, credit references and landlord references. Bill 96, in section 200, authorizes the use of credit checks, credit references and landlord references. While in most circumstances these represent appropriate ways of assessing an individual's credit-worthiness, some important qualifications are necessary. For example, newcomers to Canada who have very little English, most of them, will often have no Canadian credit or rental history and therefore will be unable to produce these references and records. In addition, many women leaving abusive relationships may only have credit records or rental references in their ex-partners' names. Thus, applicants for rental accommodation should not be refused on the basis of the absence or unavailability of credit records, credit references or landlord references. To act otherwise will severely compromise the ability of newcomers and women leaving abusive relationships to secure adequate housing, punishing them for what we term crimes they did not commit.

I have some recommendations. I won't go through all the recommendations because I want to give the other two speakers the opportunity, but the recommendations are here.

First, we urge the committee to adopt the chief commissioner of the Human Rights Commission's recommendation that income information be removed from sections 36 and 200 of Bill 96. That's the greatest recommendation.

Next, we think section 200 needs to be further amended to ensure that people who do not have, or do not have access to, credit records, credit references and landlord references are not disqualified by landlords on this basis.

I have one little piece more which looks at the socioeconomic powers of Bill 96. The last section of this submission will reflect our views on the socioeconomic powers which Bill 96 imposes over women, especially poor women.

At present, many landlords are required to hold any property left behind by a vacating tenant and to let the tenant know how he or she can secure that property. Under Bill 96, the tenant loses this right. Once the tenant has moved out, all material goods left behind can be kept by the landlord or destroyed, thereby forcing the tenant into financial hardship as he or she would have to replace those items.

In addition, under Bill 96, landlords will be able to make rent increases, and tenants will have no say. These changes make it very difficult for tenants facing eviction, as they will not be able to dispute their eviction and at the same time stay in the apartment. How will the tenant be able to discuss her problem with the landlord, as it says in Bill 96, when the government will abolish the rent registry which allowed tenants to find out what rent was paid by the previous tenants?

Our organization often sees women in abusive situations, and we feel that Bill 96 does not protect these women in any way. As I said before, they won't have the right to change the locks on their doors to get away from an abusive partner. At the same time, many of these women are not aware of their rights and responsibilities in the landlord-tenant relationship. Bill 96 makes the situation even worse as the landlords, to us, seem to have all the power.

Finally, the forms that are used to gather information must be written in clear and plain English. A number of women heading up households face not only economic barriers but also linguistic barriers. Many newcomers to Canada are women who do not understand lease agreements and the various accompanying forms. We feel that this is another attack on low-income women in Ontario, specifically refugees, immigrants and visible minority women.

Do you not feel as politicians that you have a responsibility to protect those who are the most vulnerable in our society?

I want to thank you for listening.

The Chair: Ms Houlihan, you've indicated that you have two more presenters. I would like to inform you that you have four minutes. The floor is yours.

Ms Houlihan: Okay. I will put the floor to Jennifer Newby. We'll just have the one speaker.

Ms Jennifer Newby: Good afternoon. I'm just here to talk a little bit about the effects that this bill could have. Although it hasn't been passed yet, the income criterion is already being used and I have felt the effects personally. I tried to get an apartment in April of this year after finishing university and I was denied. I was denied on the basis of my income. This is what I was told. I tried to get the apartment with my partner, Harcourt Sinclair. We were denied on the basis of income, which brings me to my first point, which is simply that this is really going to have a very negative effect on students.

For people who are graduating from high school, colleges and universities, their incomes when they first leave school are not very high. I was coming out of residence, was looking for my first full-time, steady job. I had a part-time job, he had a part-time job, but we weren't making $30,000 a year at that time so we were turned down. I have a real concern about how this is going to affect students, how this is going to affect young people trying to get their first apartment or trying to get an apartment at all.

Second, after I was turned down, because I wasn't told initially right away that it was based on my income, I had to stop and think, is there another reason? Is it because I'm black? Is it because I'm a female? Is it because I'm young? Is it because I'm a black, young, cohabiting female? These are questions that were raised and this is something I won't have an answer to because the landlord was able to say: "No, it's because you don't make enough money. You're a really nice person and everything." I really think it is, as she was stating before, a shield. If a landlord discriminates against me because I'm unmarried and cohabiting or because I'm black, I'm not going to know and I'm not going to have any recourse. There's nothing for me to do.

I'm just flying through this really quickly, but I want you to understand that this is something that does affect people.

Third, the fact that it is arbitrary: I'll just tell you now that in April, as I said, I had a part-time job, and it was the combined salaries of me and my partner that we were going to use to pay the bills in this apartment. Since April my income has all but tripled, simply because I got a full-time job in another field. Nothing has changed about me. I didn't go back to school. I've done absolutely nothing differently. Yet if I were to go back and apply for this exact same apartment now, supposedly I would get it and I would get it by myself. I wouldn't even need another income.

I really have a problem with this whole arbitrary idea, how they determine how much they're going to ask for in terms of yearly salary, the fact that they are taking this into consideration. This is something that can change at any point. Like I said, at that time I didn't have the money, according to them, and now I do. I have more than enough. I have so much I wouldn't want to live there anyway.

At the time, also, this individual was, "Well, we like 24 or we like 25." The numbers can go up and down according to how he feels that particular day or what they want to say is a worthy income to live in that building.

I think the end result is something we really don't want to see in Toronto, something we really don't want to see in Canada. I really don't think we want to have this sort of ghetto mentality happening where if you make this much money you live in this part of the city or you live in these type of developments; if you make this much money you can live here; if you don't, don't even think about living here. I really want you people to please, please consider how this is affecting us, how this is affecting young people, just to be cognizant of that.

The Chair: Thank you for your presentation. I'm sorry we don't have more time, because this issue is probably one of the most contentious issues we have in this committee; it's been argued many times for and against. But we are out of time and we don't even have time to ask you questions. Thank you for your presentation.



The Chair: The next presenter is Marnie Hayes, speaking on behalf of the Metro Network for Social Justice. Ms Hayes, good afternoon.

Ms Marnie Hayes: Good afternoon, everybody. I'd like to thank you very much for giving me and us the opportunity to present here this afternoon on this very important proposed legislation.

First of all, I'd like to begin by saying I'm a tenant and I have a personal stake in this legislation. I want you to keep that in mind. I'm glad I'm able to speak on my behalf. As well, I work in a legal aid clinic in the east end of downtown Toronto where we represent thousands of low-income tenants every year and we see many low-income tenants coming through our doors every day. I'm coming from that perspective as well. Also, as you mentioned, I'm speaking this afternoon on behalf of the Metro Network for Social Justice. We are a coalition of groups across Metro. Of course, Metro is comprised of more than 50% tenants, so we have a very specific interest in this legislation and you hearing us out about this legislation. Our coalition is made up of everything from legal clinics to faith groups to arts groups to neighbourhood centres, unions, youth groups, drop-ins etc, so many tenants as well as immigrants, refugees and people of colour.

We feel it's really important to raise some points with you because obviously this bill is going to have a massive impact on tenants in Metro Toronto. Let's be really clear about that. The decisions you make about rent control, evictions and the conversion of rental housing are going to affect family lives, affect people's ability to feed their children, put food on the table. Let's be clear. Your decision to move ahead with this legislation as it is cannot be taken lightly.

First of all, I would like to briefly speak about the context in which this legislation has been introduced, the overall context and agenda of the Tory government, as well as the context of the housing agenda.

I just want to point out that we can't take the Tenant Protection Act in isolation. We have to look at the whole package as what has happened since June 1995. Since the Tories came to power there have been major cutbacks imposed, major legislative changes, an agenda to privatize. I would submit that there's been one very major goal that this government has had in mind, and that is the idea to transfer wealth and power primarily from low- and middle-income people to wealthy people.

Just a few of the legislative changes, since we're talking regulations here, have been, for example, changes to workers' comp; changes to social assistance that have reduced the rights of low-income people, that have reduced benefits of low-income people; employment standards legislation which has significantly reduced the rights of workers in this province and increased the rights of employers. The vast majority of tenants -- people on welfare and workers -- obviously have less resources and power as a result of the legislation that has been introduced by the Tory government. The plan to reduce income tax has disproportionately benefited the wealthy.

The only conclusion one can come to after two years in power is that this government is doing everything in its power, as I said, to redistribute wealth and power to upper-income Ontarians and corporations.

Speaking on point here, the Tenant Protection Act will further erode the supply of affordable housing, have a devastating effect on the lives of low- and middle-income tenants and, as is the plan of the Tory government, it will put more money into the pockets of landlords. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's one of the goals of this legislation.

The idea, as you all know, is called the trickle-down theory. It's an economic theory that says if you put more money into the pockets of the wealthy, they will create jobs, landlords will create more housing, there will be more wealth. The bottom line and the problem with this theory is that, time and time again, it hasn't worked. In Thatcher's England, in Reagan's US, in the current US, in New Zealand, where the theory has had devastating effects, trickle-down has had disastrous effects on the living standards of ordinary working people.

Having said that's the bigger overall political and economic agenda of this government, let's look at the housing agenda. The following is the housing record: The first thing this government did with respect to housing when it came into power was that it got rid of the law allowing basement apartments; significantly eroded the rights of people living in care homes; stopped building non-profit housing; stopped funding tenant advocacy groups such as the United Tenants of Ontario and the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations. It then further looked into the possibility of selling off non-profit housing and when that didn't work out, when tenants started to fight back and when there were no deals to be made, those responsibilities of public housing were downloaded to the municipalities.

This legislation, the Tenant Protection Act, is going to complete the picture. It will further punish tenants, no doubt about it. It's a sad misnomer, the Tenant Protection Act, because it's not going to protect tenants, it's going to do just the opposite. I want to speak specifically now about that.

Let's look first at the concept of vacancy decontrol, that is, phasing out rent controls, which is a pillar of the legislation. The bill states that when a tenant leaves a unit the landlord can raise the rent. This means that while rents will not be raised to market rent immediately, over a period of time the entire province will be raised to a certain rent, so-called market rent.

The government's own stats show that 20% to 25% of rental units turn over every year. A quick mathematical calculation would show that in about four to five years the entire rental housing market will be decontrolled and landlords will be able to charge whatever they want for rental housing in this province -- not what the market will bear, but whatever they want. For example, say there's a 1% vacancy rate and someone's desperate for housing. If someone is desperate for housing it's going to be the first place they put their money. If there's a 1% vacancy rate and landlords want to charge X amount of dollars, tenants are going to pay for it; either that or be homeless. They do that and go without other necessities. The market is not going to control the price of rental housing, landlords will, once the market is decontrolled.

The other theory behind this legislation is that the landlords will build more rental housing if there are no rent controls. I'm sure you've heard this from other deputants, but this is patently not true. Landlords themselves have said they won't build, and the existing Rent Control Act exempts all new buildings. Where are the new buildings?

We currently have approximately a 1% vacancy rate, as I said. I don't know how many of you or your families or people you know have looked for apartments lately, but it's really hard out there. Rent control was created in 1973 by the Tories in the context of a very low vacancy rate and rental housing wasn't being built then, so that argument just doesn't hold true.

The other thing I want to raise is the issue of the Rental Housing Protection Act, a law, as you know, that was brought in in the late 1980s by the Liberal government. It was a very necessary thing at the time and remains a necessary thing because it protects the supply of affordable rental housing, especially in Metro Toronto.

Getting rid of the Rental Housing Protection Act is going to further tighten an already tight market and give more economic power to landlords. Furthermore, the most beautiful, desirable apartments are going to be the ones that are converted. I know you've got something in the bill that states it's okay, that tenants have a right to stay in the apartment if it is being converted to condo, but the thing is that there are ways to get tenants out. Over time, those tenants are going to move out and those units are going to be converted and there's going to be a permanent loss of affordable housing. To be responsible as a government, you really have to consider the RHPA as a very important thing for protecting supply.

Back in 1988, when the law was first introduced, as many of you will remember -- the first law said that if you got vacant possession of the unit, you could convert. So what were landlords doing? Hiring motorcycle gangs -- do you remember the newspaper articles? -- and doing everything they could to get tenants out, harassing them. In one case that I worked on there was a letter that went around the building saying there was a boa constrictor loose in the building. If landlords want tenants out and their primary motive is profit, they're going to get them out.


The rent registry: Getting rid of the rent registry is a travesty. Right now, we have something in the province that documents all legal rents. How will getting rid of the rent registry protect tenants, I ask you?

With respect to maintenance, one of the major, most important issues to tenants in this province -- they pay good money, as we all know. They pay high rents to get in return a decent place to live. This legislation gets rid of orders prohibiting rent increases.

Government stats show that about 12,000 OPRIs have been issued over the last three years and about 80% of those have been complied with. As someone who has worked with tenants who have very stubborn landlords, this is not super-effective, but better than nothing, and that's what you're proposing, to have nothing in place. I don't see how the Tenant Protection Act addresses the problems of poor maintenance at all. Downloading responsibilities against municipalities -- municipalities have said they're not going to do it, so it's really a provincial responsibility.

Finally, I want to raise section 200 of the Tenant Protection Act, which the previous two speakers spoke so eloquently about. Metro Network is extremely concerned about the fact that this government will allow, if this bill is passed, landlords to use income information about prospective tenants in order to not rent to them or to discriminate against them. This is a huge concern. I know that lots of people have spoken to you about this. I know that the chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission sees the discriminatory effects of this section of the bill.

It's really scandalous, especially in the context of all the other things I've mentioned, for this government, even though a board of inquiry has been taking place for quite a long time to address this issue, to turn around and just put something in the legislation that allows landlords to say: "What? You don't make enough money? Sorry, we don't rent to you."

Obviously, if tenants don't pay their rent, there are lots of mechanisms in your new law for landlords to get them out. You've got to treat tenants like responsible adults. If they say they're going to pay the rent, they're going to pay their rent. As I said, it's going to be their first priority. Discriminating against them is not acceptable. This section will allow landlords to refuse housing to the most vulnerable residents in Metro, who are becoming more and more vulnerable.

Finally, this bill, while it's called the Tenant Protection Act, looks from our perspective, mine and many other people you've heard from, like the result of many meetings and many consultations with landlords. This will provide landlords with a legislative scheme that will clearly serve their interests. We submit that the tenants in this province deserve much, much more.

Mrs Boyd: Thank you very much. You're very eloquent in this cause. I would agree with you, not only about the harassment issues in the direct sense you were talking about, the examples we all read about and know about in terms of intimidation. I myself had a volunteer who worked in my organization who committed suicide because secure housing was going to be destroyed as a result of conversion. That's not an uncommon story for people whose only stability is the place where they have always lived. I think that's a very real issue.

It's not just a question of a few people who will be affected, because we know that without that protection, the way to make money is to upgrade and upscale and have that conversion. There hasn't been a great deal of talk about the conversion aspects from a lot of speakers, but I would agree with you that I think it's a very ominous piece of this iceberg that's really bearing down on us in this legislation. Thank you for being so eloquent about that part of it.

Mrs Munro: As time permits only a brief comment, I'd like to refer to what you said at the very end, that you thought this represented something that was purely in the interests of landlords. I can assure you, having heard landlords, that they feel the reverse is true. Perhaps one of the marks of a balance is that each side can find reasons to be unhappy with the bill, assuming that it benefits the other side.

I would like to ask you one question with regard to section 200, and that is what you perceive is the appropriate basket of information that a landlord should be able to ask a prospective tenant.

Ms Hayes: The landlord can ask the tenant how much money they make, but they shouldn't be able to refuse an apartment based on that. I don't know if any of you are tenants --

Mrs Munro: As a matter of fact, many of us are.

Ms Hayes: So you know that when you live in an apartment this is your home, this is where you live, and you don't want to be bothered by the landlord. It's like any consumer issue. The landlord is selling something to you and it's really none of the landlord's business. Many things about your life are none of the landlord's business. A lot of the questions that are being asked these days are far too intrusive. I don't know what you're getting at.

Mrs Munro: The credit checks, the reference checks --

The Chair: You can't get at it, whatever you're trying to get at, because we've got to move to Mr Kwinter. I'm sorry; we have to move along to share the time.

Ms Hayes: The bottom line is that if the tenants can't pay their rent, there are ways of landlords to get them out. They're going to pay the rent. They're going to make that payment because they know that if they don't, they'll lose their housing.

Mr Kwinter: Thank you very much, Ms Hayes, for your presentation. I agree with a lot of what you've said. I just have a question. I don't quite understand the rationale in the statement that landlords under this particular act will be able to charge not what the market will bear but whatever they want. That goes sort of contrary to life. You can't charge something if the market won't bear it.

A Mr Burton was in earlier today and said that he can't charge the maximum legal rent because no one will pay it, so he's getting anywhere from I think he said $180 to $200 less than what he is legally entitled to charge.

Ms Hayes: Where's the apartment?

Mr Kwinter: I have no idea. I'm just going on what he said. He made this presentation to us today to say that he cannot charge because the market will not bear the rent. That's why I was curious about your statement. Maybe you can refute what he had to say. I'm just telling you that was his representation to us today, that he has 280 apartments, I think he said, and he cannot collect the legal rent because the market won't bear it.

Ms Hayes: I don't know what the housing market is like in Oshawa, but in Metro Toronto the vacancy rate is extremely low. That means that people are desperate and they have to take what they can get. It's less than 1% right now.

Basically, when I say the market cannot regulate the rent so that you can't say it's what the market will bear, it's because once there's no control landlords can charge whatever they want, especially if there's a lack. It's a necessity. It's not like dresses or suits or clocks. It's housing. It's their number one priority in their life. They have to get housing. If there is a very, very low vacancy rate and there's no rent control, landlords can charge whatever they want, so the market goes out the window. That's the point I'm trying to make.

This Mr Burton's apartments, I don't know if they're in Toronto, but it's funny, because everybody I ever talk to about the rent registry and legal rents, it's always being charged above the legal rent, not below. I don't know if that's an isolated case or not. I don't know.

The Chair: Ms Hayes, we are out of time. I thank you for your presentation on behalf of the committee.



The Chair: Our next presentation is David Rice, who is speaking on behalf of the Ontario Manufactured Housing Association.

Mr David Rice: Mr Chairman and members of the committee, my name is David Rice, and I am here on behalf of the Ontario Manufactured Housing Association, known as the OMHA. The OMHA is an organization which represents about 110 mobile home parks or land-lease communities throughout the province and roughly about 20,000 home sites in mobile home parks throughout the province. Our association represents the manufacturers of mobile homes, landlords and owners or developers of mobile homes, mobile home parks and land-lease communities.

I'm a director of the association and also involved in our family business, which is in the mobile home park business. We manage or are involved in about 2,000 home sites around the province.

The most significant point that needs to be mentioned here is that there are huge differences between apartment buildings and mobile home parks, and legislation in the past, we feel, has not addressed it properly. We think that you here as a committee have an opportunity to correct some of that. I want to go on to say right now that the vast majority of what is in the Tenant Protection Act, as proposed, we are in full support of.

There are two areas that we wish to address. I've handed out a fairly lengthy submission and if you get a chance I'd appreciate it if you could read it because it really sets out the background. I'm not going to follow along with that today because there just isn't time, but the two main areas of concern deal with the annual guideline for mobile home parks, the annual guideline rent increase, and also the capital expenditure guideline.

I'm not going to follow my notes because what it really comes down to is the fact that our members in our association have an average monthly rent of $125. The problem we're running into and in the past, over the last 12 or more years that rent controls have affected mobile home parks, the problem has been that when you apply a percentage to a relatively low amount, in real dollars it's almost like a negligible increase. For instance, most of the mobile home parks in the province are ma-and-pa operations. They maybe consist of 50 to 100 or 150 mobile homes and have an average monthly rent of $125. If you apply next year's guideline of 3% to it, that's a $3.75 increase per month, or roughly $40 a year, and in real terms that isn't a lot of money today. What we're finding is that a lot of these ma-and-pa operations are in dire straits. They're just scraping along as it is right now and they're desperately relying on you to address and correct a situation that may cause them to be out of business or certainly see an asset that for a long time has been in their family that erodes to being not worth anything.

What we propose -- you know, you can choose a number but what we basically say in the report you have there is that with respect to the rent control or the guideline for annual increases, we really feel that it can't be a percentage, or if it is a percentage, it should be some multiple of an apartment percentage or the typical guideline. It's better to be an actual dollar amount. What we've proposed is that for mobile home parks we think the maximum increase annually should be the greater of either three times the guideline or $50 a month, whichever is greater. If you take a $100 rent and you say it would be three times three for next year, that would be 9%, or a $9 increase, or $50. In that particular case, if the market would bear it, it would go to a $50 increase for next year.

The reason we do this is because what's happening is, if one argues that the guideline works for apartment buildings at 3%, or whatever the building operating cost index works out to be, given that the rent is so low, these people are never able to catch up to market. Over the last 10 to 15 years they have fallen well -- I hate to use the words but it's almost like a chronically depressed rent. Somehow they have to catch up.

As you no doubt are aware, the way they act is proposed now -- and we don't have any problem with this, really -- it says that when a tenant moves out of a mobile home park, it doesn't go to vacancy decontrol. We understand that. We understand that a person has invested money in their home and they can't be subject to the whim of a landlord trying to rapidly get to market and therefore when they go to sell their home, their rent has increased a lot and they lose some value in their home.

We understand that, but we also recognize the fact that because the rents are so low, whereas in an apartment building you normally have a turnover annually of roughly 25% on average, in mobile home parks we're seeing a 7% turnover. One of the objects, as we understood it, of the TPA was to allow rents to get to market over time. It's going to take a long time for these ma-and-pa operations with low rents -- our parks are one of these cases that was just mentioned. We don't even charge maximum registered rent because our maximum registered is above market, but we're sort of an abnormal case in our business. But the ma-and-pa operation is at maximum and they need a lot more. In most cases they need almost double the rent they're getting to be able to survive.

What we have outlined there are a few suggestions, some that are sort of a sliding scale somehow to arrive at a guideline that will allow these mobile home parks that experience a 7% turnover and no vacancy decontrol to be able to bounce up to market in roughly the same length of time as is anticipated or designed in the act for apartment buildings to do so. The best way to do that is to tie it to an actual number rather than a percentage, because the percentage is what has skewed things out of whack today.

Similarly, with the capital expenditures, we as landlords are very happy with the philosophy behind the capital expenditures cap, but again, when you're dealing with $100 or $150 a month rent, when you apply a 4% amount, it ends up being a negligible amount again. We similarly say we'd like you to address a dollar amount or a multiple of the guideline to make it something realistic. We've made a suggestion there. You might think it's ridiculous, but somewhere in there is something that would be workable. It would work and help the ma-and-pa operations' long-term investments.

Traditionally in our industry we cater more to first-time homeowners or to seniors, and I know you've heard from seniors, some from people who live in our communities. It's a very complex situation when you're applying rent control legislation that originally, we believe, was designed for apartments to a situation where a tenant is there at a lower rent and also has an investment in the community. For instance, in listening to the question earlier about the Rental Housing Protection Act, we're landlords. We think it's great that the mobile home parks will be coming out of the Rental Housing Protection Act, as proposed. But you could turn around and use the same example as was given earlier about the motorcycle gang. If there was a motorcycle gang, all of our tenants, because they own their homes in our communities, would be absolutely glad that we could stop a motorcycle gang or somebody who was not the right person and wants to take advantage of the situation from moving into the community. I don't envy you, I really don't.

If able, I would love to be able to answer some questions. There are a number of items that we bring up in what we've given to you that go into a lot more detail, but we certainly appreciate the opportunity you've given here today.

The Chair: We do have time for questions, Mr Rice. Mr Gilchrist, I understand, has a question for you.

Mr Gilchrist: Thank you, Mr Rice. I appreciate the detail in your presentation. We'll certainly take back all of your submissions to the ministry. We've had the opportunity to hear from a number of your members across the province, and some have made similar suggestions. I don't know to what extent you've heard the results of those discussions. Let me ask you to rank in the overall scheme of things where the issue, for example, of out-of-pocket expenses for third-party-ordered water testing, sewage testing, municipal work orders, that sort of thing -- if you would like to elaborate on that.


Mr Rice: It's mentioned in our brief here. Again, it's a very odd situation which relates to mobile home parks. What we look at in those cases would be that we'd think that it should be passed through. It should be an item that could be passed right through because the tenancy agreement was entered into based on certain circumstances and the rent was such and such and all parties agreed to that. There could be, and there have been over the last few years, a few cases where an additional cost is being brought up that was never thought of. It certainly is necessary that the testing be done but we felt it should be passed through to the tenant.

Mr Gilchrist: Could you give me any other examples over and above those ones where your parks have been beset with any work orders from municipalities or other repairs or improvements?

Mr Rice: Most of the work orders are sewage-related or environmental-related, and I think that's addressed fairly well in the --

Mr Gilchrist: For example, have you ever been ordered to upgrade the roads to a certain standard or to put in sidewalks or to change the street lighting?

Mr Rice: I'm sure it's happened. I'm not aware. If I speak personally on our communities, no, we haven't. Our communities are Sandy Cove Acres, Wilmot Creek and Grand Cove. They're projects that won't even be affected by this legislation because we've put our own marketing controls on rent. It's a typical example where, as Mr Kwinter was saying before, the market will dictate what the rent will be, and we've recognized that. We know that our maximums that we have are above what the market will get. When we lease a new site we say that we guarantee that for 20 years that rent will not increase more than 2.9%, regardless. We know that it works out and it's good marketing. It doesn't matter what this legislation says, unless the legislation says the guideline is less than 2.9%. That's the maximum that will be going through.

Mr Gilchrist: Thanks again for your comments.

Mr Colle: In terms of the mobile home or trailer parks, what is happening to the numbers using them in recent years? Is there any trending that's happening?

Mr Rice: We've found that throughout Canada, western Canada has a lot more. I think in British Columbia there were something like 2,000 new homes; in Ontario there's been 600 new homes in the last year. Meanwhile, Ontario has a vastly higher population and it should be exactly the opposite to that. There hasn't been a lesser usage --

Mr Colle: It's pretty well stable, you're saying.

Mr Rice: It's pretty well stable, I'd say, yes.

Mr Colle: The other question is, in terms of this bill here, I know one of the rationales the government has given is that it will induce more rental construction. Do you think this is going to be any kind of inducement in your industry to provide any more accommodation, mobiles homes etc?

Mr Rice: I think it will, but there are lot more factors involved. We don't have the problem that apartments do relative to taxes affecting the decision as a landlord to get in and build more apartments. In mobile home parks we don't have that problem. Strictly, the answer would be yes. The act, as I understand the way it reads now and the way we interpret it, says new construction, any new site within an existing mobile home park that's never been built on before would be exempt.

The thing that is always a bit of a concern, though, is that because of the legislation there has been in the past, you don't know, as a landlord -- the fear about what's going to happen in three or four or five years as other governments or changes happen. That's a fear. As the earlier speaker who was talking here said, some of that is making landlords hesitant to decide to build.

To answer your question, I'd say yes. I'd say with the rent control item taken out it, it should be a greater inducement to go ahead and invest more and build more.

Mrs Boyd: It's nice to see you again, Mr Rice. You're always very eloquent on this subject. May I ask you what the length of lease is that people take in yours? You can just talk about yours because I know it might vary.

Mr Rice: In ours, we lease 20-year leases, but they vary. Across the board, they could be months, a year.

Mrs Boyd: Yours are the modular home, for the most part, I gather?

Mr Rice: Yes.

Mrs Boyd: What kind of an investment would people put into the building on that leased land, what average investment?

Mr Rice: It varies, because there is always the resale home coming up in these communities and resale homes could range from $50,000 to $100,000. New home construction in our developments basically range from about $85,000 or $86,000 to $150,000 for the home, and then they'd lease the land.

Mrs Boyd: So fairly modest in terms of housing prices in an urban setting, but still a substantial investment for somebody who is going to be living on a fixed income.

Mr Rice: Right. But you have to appreciate, our parks are somewhat different because they're very highly lifestyle oriented and they cater to the Metro Toronto area. But members of our association could be in North Bay, all over, and in those situations it could be a lot less investment in the home.

Mrs Boyd: Do all of the parks charge, in addition to rent, a maintenance fee?

Mr Rice: No. That is really right across the board because it's been open to the interpretations of rent regulation over time. What we do is we quote a gross rent similar to an apartment building and that includes the maintenance, land tax, which is the realty tax on the unit that is being leased -- not the house, because the house is owned by the individual -- and our return on our investment. We have a gross rent, similar to an apartment.

Mrs Boyd: In yours, but that's not true in all.

Mr Rice: It's all across the board, it really is.

Mrs Boyd: In some of the presentations that we've had we've heard that the rent is much lower than the maintenance cost and the maintenance cost is very similar to a fairly upscale condo in an urban setting. It makes it hard to generalize, doesn't it, about exactly what is included in rent control and what isn't and how that works, if you're actually listing it in different ways?

Mr Rice: It does and I think that's the good thing about the legislation. It's going to bring it back more to the agreement between the tenant and the landlord. As that person moves out, there will be a new agreement. In mobile home parks the rent will be controlled but I think it will get away from the red tape of all of us, let alone myself, trying -- and certainly with seniors it's a huge problem -- to interpret and understand how the Rent Control Act today can be applied to mobile home parks and be understood. It's a huge job and I think that's a real positive of what we're aiming for here because it will be like a new agreement with every new tenant as they come in in the future.

Mrs Boyd: You're not concerned about the disparity between the circumstances of one neighbour to their next-door neighbour and what kind of affect that would have on resale values and so on?

Mr Rice: Yes, we are. In fact, that's a big problem in our communities because, depending when the person moved in, the rent could be this amount relative to another amount and the same person next door is saying, "Boy, I'm paying $100 more a month in rent." It's a big problem, but today we can't correct that. What we're hoping is that with the new act, if we can move rents by a new person moving in and all of a sudden you're able to maybe get somewhere up to $50 more a month, then you could in effect -- I'm not saying we would, but you'd be at least in a position that you could say, "Hey, we don't need to raise this one as much," because what we're really looking at, financially, from a business point of view, is the end product, the revenue and what's left at the end. I don't know if I'm being clear on that.

Mrs Boyd: But you're not going to have new places -- if you've got 20-year leases, this isn't going to help you much, is it?

Mr Rice: The 20-year lease is really a marketing thing, because people do tend to move. On average in our communities people stay 12 years. Some of our communities are 30 years old and some are now just 15 years old, so we have the movement of previous units that were leased now coming available. Today the rent doesn't change. We hope now, with the act, that it will change to be able to come closer to market, and it may give us the opportunity to slow down increases or not increase. In some cases -- I'm not saying we would -- it would give you the opportunity that isn't there today to try to even things out.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Rice, for coming and making your presentation to the committee.



The Chair: The next presentation is to be made by two people, Patricia Moore and Elizabeth Rowley, who will be representing the Thorncliffe Park Tenants Association.

Ms Patricia Moore: I think there is a mistake. I'm Patricia Moore, but Liz Rowley, trustee from ward 2, will be making the presentation instead of me.

The Chair: I'm sorry. You'll have to identify who you are, please.

Ms Moore: My name is Patricia Moore. I'm from Thorncliffe Park Tenants Association. I will not be speaking any more. I am delegating it to Liz Rowley, trustee, ward 2.

The Chair: So Ms Rowley is going to be making the presentation on behalf of Thorncliffe Park?

Ms Moore: No. She will be making the presentation instead of me. I will not be speaking.

Ms Elizabeth Rowley: I will not be speaking on behalf of the Thorncliffe neighbourhood association, but I am a school trustee in East York, and that's why Ms Moore asked me if I would speak.

The Chair: I'm in the hands of the committee. Everybody agree with that?

Mr Gilchrist: I'm going to go on the record as expressing my concern. There is a waiting list, there is a priority, and when people jump ahead of the queue like this, that means someone else who put their name in earlier was deprived of that space. I'm not going to object to your being here, but I want it on the record that there are other tenants who clearly have a greater priority and a greater right. If Thorncliffe Park doesn't want to speak, that's fine, but other people have a greater right to be here than you.

The Chair: Ms Moore, I'm going to suggest, to solve it so there's no problem here at all -- that's going to be tough -- technically the Thorncliffe Park Tenants Association should be speaking, but it is your time and you can bring whoever you wish to speak on your behalf but that person should be speaking for the Thorncliffe Park Tenants Association. If Ms Rowley, who happens to be a trustee, wishes to speak on your behalf, that is fine.

Ms Rowley: That's fine.

As previous speakers, and in particular Ms Mary Jo Donovan, who is the president of East York Tenants Alliance, indicated, there are 50,000 tenants who live in the borough of East York. Of those, a great many are children. A great many of them come to schools in East York hungry in the morning, and a good part of the reason for that is the cost of housing in East York, and for that matter across Metropolitan Toronto. Not all children who come to school hungry come from homes in apartment buildings or in rental accommodation, but a good many of them do, in part because of the large number of low-income people who live in apartments, which relates to the cost of housing per se.

My departure point here is that housing is a right, not a privilege, and that all Canadians and all those who live here, and in the first place children, have a right to live in secure, warm, safe surroundings and not to have to forfeit their breakfast in the morning, their lunch at noon and their dinner in the evening so that their parents can afford accommodation.

This also relates to policies, obviously, that the government has passed in other areas with respect to cuts to social assistance and a tax on people in other areas that have made the issue of rents a major issue on which hangs the wellbeing of a great many people.

It seems to me that the deregulation that's inherent in this legislation is a licence to steal for landlords in this province. In the first place, landlords will be able to raise rents -- the sky's the limit -- in part because unforeseen costs to landlords will be a clause which is invoked every time landlords feel they want to raise the rent. Also, it will be facilitated by the fact that there will be an end to the rent registry and the ability of tenants to find out what the rent was in a unit they are moving into prior to being able to move in.

Affordable housing stock per se will be reduced, in my view, in this province as a result of the legislation that you are about to pass, that the government is very likely to pass. Adequate maintenance of rental housing will be reduced and property standards will not be enforced as a result of this legislation. This legislation infringes on citizens' rights to privacy and to security of person, and in particular, I'm referring to those sections of the act which will allow landlords to enter apartments at almost any time to change locks and so on.

This legislation infringes on citizens' rights to impartiality and fairness, and I'm referring to the newly appointed Dispute Resolution Commission that will be appointed by cabinet and by order in council. In regard to the comments that were made by one of the members of the committee earlier to do with the issue of fairness and impartiality, it seems to me that in this province we have had, certainly with the Education Improvement Commission and the transition team, enough experience with committees appointed by cabinet to know that they will be far from impartial and will be really loaded towards those which the government wants to support, in this case landlords.

It seems to me that this legislation is very much directed to meet the needs of a special interest group, mainly big landlords, and I would draw to your attention that in Metropolitan Toronto last year, when there were massive appeals of property taxes, very many of the large landlords who have an interest in this legislation sought to appeal their property taxes, some of them as far as eight years back. Those were municipal taxes, and they were also education taxes, and some of that money came right out of the classroom, which I'm sure the Minister of Education, and I hope the cabinet, will think about.

Where is the public interest in all this? I don't see that the public interest is represented at all in this legislation. To the contrary. I have to say that it seems to me that in the last two years we seem to have entered in Ontario a season to celebrate greed and to denigrate need, if you will. The attack on the poor and those on low incomes and fixed incomes has been shocking and appalling, and I think that this legislation will go a long way to continue in that direction when what's needed is a new direction to protect people and to protect children in the first place.

I don't see how the government or how this committee could conclude that the interests of children will be well served by this legislation. It's a clear conflict and a clear indication that if the legislation is passed, all of the fine words about the wellbeing of children are fluff.

With those few words, I urge the committee to recommend that this legislation not be amended and that it be dropped from the government's agenda.

The Chair: Any questions? No questions. Thank you for your presentation.

The next presentation is the North Toronto Tenants' Network, Lynn Carleton. Mr Clerk, would you call the name in the hall.

Mr Duncan: Mr Chair, there isn't a quorum present.

Mrs Boyd: There's no quorum present.

The Chair: We're going to adjourn for 10 minutes.

The committee recessed from 1719 to 1731.


The Chair: The Chair sees a quorum. The Chair also sees the next delegation, which I understand is the North Toronto Tenants' Network, Lynn Carleton.

Ms Lynn Carleton: That's right, thank you.

The Chair: You have another person with you, Ms Carleton, if you could introduce that person.

Mr Herb Heimbecker: Herb Heimbecker, vice-chair.

The Chair: You can proceed and the floor is yours.

Ms Carleton: Thank you. Good evening on behalf of the North Toronto Tenants' Network and affiliated tenants' organizations in North Toronto. Here we are again, the same problem one year later. Our comments this evening are directed towards the Conservative members of this committee. We are not going to quote statistics to you. We've said them all and you've heard them all. The Conservative members know that this bill is going to pass. You know it, we know it, you know we know it.

You may ask, then why are we here? We're here because we choose to be standing up when you roll over us rather than lying down and making it easier for you. As many of us are aware, it was a Conservative government that brought in rent controls. North Toronto has a lot in common with some ridings in that we too have elected Conservative members. We represent the tenants who live in Al Leach's riding and Isabel Bassett's riding and Bill Saunderson's riding, and these are all swing seats. These are the Conservative seats to lose.

We understand that a Conservative government brought positive changes in the past, but this one is absolutely devastating and we can't tell you how much we disagree with it. Our former MPP, Roy McMurtry, a member of the Conservative Party and the Attorney General of this province for 10 years, was the member for Eglinton riding for 10 years and for 10 years he protected the tenants of North Toronto and all of Ontario and we rewarded him with three election victories.

But you know, we cannot award one Conservative MPP in the next election. Unfortunately Mr McMurtry, as Chief Justice of Ontario, may again get a chance to have his say when this legislation is ultimately challenged before the courts and thrown out as a violation of basic human rights. We're asking you to have some respect for this Conservative legacy and realize the damage this will do before tenants become prisoners in our homes.

This government has annoyed many people, actually quite a lot of people, including your own supporters: the firefighters, the teachers, the police, doctors, CUPE and tenants. But we as tenants do not have the clout of these groups. We do not have the resources and do not have the finances to organize. We are like a piñata at a party. We're hanging out there and you folks keep whacking at us. You have one year left.

The other two parties have made statements with respect to revising and rescinding some parts of Bill 96 after the next election -- you know, the next election when you lose? You do know that you will lose. This government is like a one-trick pony. But before you go we urge you to take a second look at this bill, and if you're going to make these changes, understand the impact they will have on people who supported Mike Harris and his Common Sense Revolution. We're asking that you use your common sense and revisit some specific areas of this legislation such as, "It's not the right time."

Renters are people who rent until they can afford to buy. It may be short-term, long-term or a lifetime activity. The 90s is a devastating decade with costs and expenses continuing to escalate. People are unemployed or underemployed and it not the right time to legislate higher rents.

It is not the right focus. The focus of this bill is on one group, the landlords. Bill 96 does not focus on benefits to tenants. Profits made by the landlords will come from the income groups who can least afford increased costs. It is not the right focus; it is not the right approach. Bill 96 chooses to subsidize some tenants at the user level rather than subsidizing building at the developer level. It is not the right approach.

The North Toronto Tenants' Network believes that it is not the right time, it is not the right focus and it is not the right approach to bring about the availability and affordability of rental units. Please do not force us to be scrambling for apartments out there.

As I said, we are not prepared to hear historical statistics. We want to look to a brighter future with secure, fair and affordable housing. Perhaps we all need to take a different look at this situation.

Mr Gilchrist: Turn the camera off, Chair.

The Chair: Turn the camera off, please.

Mr Duncan: Why would the camera be turned off?

Mr Gilchrist: Because it's a demonstration, Mr Duncan, and you know full well demonstrations aren't allowed. Quit posing.

Mr Duncan: It's a legitimate expression.

Mr Gilchrist: Oh, quit pandering.

The Chair: The meeting is recessed for 10 minutes.

The committee recessed from 1737 to 1744.

The Chair: Okay, we'll reconvene the meeting. Do members of the committee have any questions of this delegation?

Mrs Boyd: Whose turn is it? Aren't you on a circuit?

The Chair: We can ask you, Mrs Boyd, if you have a question.

Mrs Boyd: I do. I'm quite curious about the third point in your presentation: "It is not the right approach. Bill 96 chooses to subsidize some tenants at the user level, rather than subsidizing building at the developer level." Can you explain that? I'm sorry, it's the end of a long day, but I don't get it.

Ms Carleton: Do you want to explain it, Herb?

Mr Heimbecker: We all know what subsidies at the user level are, where there's subsidized rent for people whose income won't stand the normal charge. That's subsidy at the user level. The other one is we're taking the approach there should be more development of additional high-rise housing, and to do that the government should encourage it by a tax concession while in construction -- not after; once they start moving people in, full taxes apply. But they have no progressive tax as they construct. Some sort of breaks. The government is good at fine-tuning it so it won't take cash out, because they're not getting it anyway. They just start getting it a year later, instead of instantly.

Mrs Boyd: That's similar to a suggestion we had earlier today from the Older Women's Network. One of their suggestions was that if the government would, for example, provide some government-owned land that wasn't required any more, rather than charging market value for that, allowing that to happen to encourage the land costs, which are really quite high in some municipalities. Another of their suggestions was not having the PST or the GST on the building materials for someone who is prepared to build low-cost housing, trying to work it that way, as well as this issue around the differential between residential taxes on single-family and multifamily dwellings -- a multipronged approach. I gather you think it should be focused in that direction, as opposed to the other.

Ms Carleton: Absolutely.

The Chair: Thank you for your presentation.

Ms Carleton: Thank you. It's too bad you missed the presentation. If I could just say one more thing --

The Chair: No, you can't, ma'am. The presentation is finished.

Ms Carleton: That's okay. It's unfortunate you don't have a sense of humour, but that's what this government lacks and that's what we're fighting.

The Chair: Thank you for coming.


The Chair: Mr Tabuns is the next presenter. Peter Tabuns is a councillor with the city of Toronto. I might add, sir, the Speaker has ruled in the Legislature, and it applies to the committee, that buttons are not allowed during committee hearings or in the assembly, so I'll have to ask you to remove the button.

Mr Peter Tabuns: I'll take this button off. Do you have one as well, sir? Do you have a button that you're wearing?

The Chair: You're not allowed buttons that are demonstrations, sir.

Mr Tabuns: Is this a demonstration? Extraordinary.

Thanks for this opportunity to address your committee and to have the last word on rent control. I gather this is the last deputation. I think many people are considering Bill 96 to be a fait accompli and are resigned to accepting it.

I think this is one of the most damaging things this government has done, notwithstanding the megacity legislation and notwithstanding the cuts to welfare, notwithstanding the downloading. I think your impact on tenants is going to be devastating. I, and I'm sure my colleagues at Toronto city council, will not stop fighting this. If the bill is passed, we at the municipal level will be watching very closely to track its impacts and making sure the public is well aware of those impacts. After all, with the devolution of housing and public health responsibilities, we at the local level will have to deal with those impacts.

Today, I would like to talk to you about the effect that this legislation will have on the lives of individuals and families who live in and depend on rental housing. These people make up almost two thirds of the population of the city of Toronto and over half the population of Metro, the proposed new city of Toronto. As chair of the Toronto board of health, I'm very concerned about the effect the proposed legislation will have on the health and wellbeing of tenants, especially tenants who are already struggling to make ends meet and for whom their housing is the key stabilizing factor in their lives.


Many of my fellow speakers and people submitting written submissions since the proposed Tenant Protection Act -- and I find it extraordinarily badly named -- was introduced have told you that the bill will have three main negative impacts on the lives of tenants. First, rents will increase for both sitting tenants as well as those who move for one reason or another. Second, many tenants will be forced to move from their homes to cheaper, perhaps substandard housing. Third, the changes will result in lower maintenance standards and poorer upkeep in existing rental buildings.

I'll discuss the impacts in each of these areas.

First, increased rents: In addition to the annual statutory guideline, which is set at 3% for next year, landlords can get an additional 4% for capital repairs instead of the 3% they now get. They will also be able to charge, without limits, increases for operating expenses, and repair costs that have already been paid for, known as "costs no longer borne," will continue to be included in the rent for all time. It is possible that rents for sitting tenants could increase by almost 10% in the first year, just taking into account, within Metro Toronto, within the megacity, the restructuring of the city and the downloading of social services. Rents will also increase due to a lack of accountability in the way rent increases are spent, the lack of control over unnecessary renovations and the elimination of the provincial rent registry.

A group that's very vulnerable to rent increases is social assistance recipients. Approximately one third of all renters receive social assistance. In October 1995, the Ontario government imposed a 21.6% cutback on social assistance benefits, which include both shelter allowance and basic allowance for food and clothing. As a result, a single person now gets only $325 a month for a shelter allowance, while a family of four gets $602 a month. As you probably have heard from previous deputants, an average Toronto bachelor unit rents for $545 and a three-bedroom unit averages $1,308.

Our data show that thousands of low-income families are already paying more than 50% of their income on rent, which is one of the reasons you have increased crowding and demand at our food banks. As a result of higher rents, some tenants would be forced to cut back on other costs of living, such as suitable clothing and nutritious food for themselves and for their children. Last year the Daily Bread Food Bank saw a 54% increase in use over the previous year.

Many tenant households, after this act goes through, would face an increase in domestic stress and family violence. In fact, you've taken legislative steps to deal with family violence, but what you're doing with this legislation is fuelling the forces that cause it to happen in the first place.

The decontrol of the rents of vacant units will allow landlords to charge whatever they want to a new tenant. Given the estimate that each year about 25% of Ontario tenants move, in a few years most rental units in this province will be decontrolled. Over time, the choices of affordable units on the market will be severely limited, especially given the demise of the non-profit housing program in the province. This in turn will increase the stress on tenants, who must make difficult choices about living expenses.

The second issue I wanted to discuss is forced relocation. For tenants who cannot bear the load of a drastic rent increase, the only option is to move to a place they hope will be cheaper. With so many tenants on social assistance or paying more than 50% of their income on rent and therefore on the brink of economic eviction already, we will likely see a staggering number of households forced to move due to substantial and immediate rent increases.

As has been argued by many, the decontrol of vacant units and the elimination of rental housing protection legislation gives landlords an incentive to harass tenants out of their homes if they believe they can collect a higher rent, sell the unit as a condominium or convert the building into luxury apartments at much higher rents. This incentive thereby leads to the displacement of even more tenant households. We, in the city of Toronto, have even had the ugly experience of landlords who hire biker gangs to get rid of unwanted tenants. I, as a tenant, have not had that experience, but in the mid-1970s I had the experience of a landlord deciding to get rid of my household and the households of my neighbours and the units we were renting and deciding to sandblast the units while we were living there. As you can imagine, having crews sandblasting through, filling our units with dust and sand day after day, month after month, drove many people out of their households. There are scrupulous and decent landlords. There are a lot of landlords who would not fit that description and you are leaving tenants at their mercy.

Some will turn to substandard rental units for shelter, such as unlicensed rooming houses or illegal basement apartments, and will suffer from poor housing conditions such as inadequate heat, dampness, lack of natural air and light and a general lack of health and safety provisions. Others will choose to double up, leading to overcrowding and stress caused by undue noise, lack of privacy and loss of dignity. Still others, of course, will become homeless altogether and enter a cycle of unemployment, poverty, violence, lack of nutrition and related health problems, possibly ending only in death due to exposure.

In 1995, Metro hostels division reported that economic evictions and family breakups were the most common reasons for hostel use. Already we have seen eviction applications in Metro increase 30% from 1993 to 1996. We can't allow these trends to continue and escalate as a result of this proposed legislation. Quite surely, if you pass this legislation, those trends will escalate, they will increase.

Third, poorer housing conditions: Under current law, landlords who do not comply with city orders to make repairs could receive an order prohibiting rent increases, an OPRI. These landlords are not allowed to increase rents until repairs are done. The city's experience has shown that OPRIs work. In the majority of cases, landlords had carried out the repairs before the OPRIs took effect. We have found that the use of OPRIs is the single most effective tool to get landlords to do the repairs on their properties.

However, the proposed law is eliminating these orders, making it much more difficult, expensive and time-consuming to bring needed repairs into effect. It has been the city of Toronto's position that landlords be required to create capital reserve funds for capital repairs. These funds should come out of rental revenue, without imposing extra charges on tenants.

Suitable, well-maintained housing is conducive to the social and physical welfare of people, while substandard housing is unsafe, unhealthy and affects people's ability to live productively and to succeed as contributing members of society. Governments owe it to consumers of rental housing, just as we do with many other consumer products, to ensure that this housing remains safe, secure and does not contribute to undue health problems for tenants and their children. Tenants should also feel that they can complain about legitimate maintenance problems without fear of harassment, in the knowledge that reasonable repairs will be made in a reasonable time.

Food and shelter are the two basic elements necessary for survival. For many people who are juggling the demands of their work or education, their children or other family or community commitments, housing is the one stabilizing factor in their lives. The wholesale disruption this legislation could cause in terms of increased living costs, relocation or a deterioration in housing conditions must be viewed in terms of the health and wellbeing of the individuals being affected. I urge this committee to consider these factors before allowing this legislation to come into force. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Tabuns. There are questions, I believe.

Mr Gilchrist: Thank you, Mr Tabuns. Let me ask you something. Would you agree with the premise that clearly, if your greatest concern is that it be affordable for those with the lowest income, providing affordable housing, the basic issue is the cost? Would you agree with that? That is obvious but I'm asking for you to confirm that. Clearly the ability --

Mr Tabuns: The cost is quite central, Mr Gilchrist.

Mr Gilchrist: No doubt you're aware of the property tax differential. Let me just read you a quote.

Mr Tabuns: I am, I'm aware --

Mr Gilchrist: "I'm outraged that you pay a significantly higher rate of property taxes than anyone else. You don't even know how much tax you are paying because it's hidden in your rent. This must change. I voted to send you clear information on the property taxes you pay as part of your rent because I believe you have a right to know."

That was said by our current mayor, Barbara Hall. Could you tell me what day council tabled any resolution to restore property tax fairness in this city so that people pay the same rent in apartments per square foot as they do in single-family homes?


Mr Tabuns: You're quite well aware, Mr Gilchrist, that we don't have any power over the legislation.

Mr Gilchrist: That's not true, Mr Tabuns.

Mr Tabuns: No, that's quite true, Mr Gilchrist.

Mr Gilchrist: You can charge a mill rate.

Mr Tabuns: We can't differentiate between classes.

The Chair: Mr Gilchrist, we're going to have to move on to Mr Duncan.

Mr Gilchrist: The answer was, you didn't do it.


Mr Duncan: Assessment is a provincial jurisdiction. This government, through Bill 106, could have dealt with it. They chose not to because their downloading will cost cities like Toronto, poor people, women, vulnerable people, more than they can even calculate. They acknowledged in their meeting with big-city mayors that they don't have all the numbers. They acknowledged that they have the numbers broken down by municipality but wouldn't release them. All your badgering and all your bullying and all your hot air isn't going to change that.

What we've seen here today, in terms of turning the television off for a visual presentation, in terms of badgering of witnesses here in Toronto and right across Ontario, is an absolutely despicable display that will be rewarded quite amply in two years' time. We look forward to that day.

We thank you, sir, for your presentation. There are some points of view that the official opposition agrees with the government on and doesn't necessarily agree with you, but your presentation has been meaningful to this debate and hopefully will enhance the quality of debate in the Legislature so that all of us can be proud to be members and can respect one another enough to listen.

Mrs Boyd: Thank you very much, Peter, for your presentation. Mr Gilchrist, when he goes after those who disagree with him the way he does, sometimes gets himself into a mess. We all heard what he just read that Mayor Hall said. What she promised to do was try and get the tax bill to show what the differential was, what the proportion of rent was that was taxed. She did not have the power to change the assessment. She promised that she was going to try and find a way to let people understand what portion of their rent is taxed. Would you like to respond to that?

Mr Tabuns: In fact, she did, along with the rest of council, vote to send out those notices, and they were sent out. As a tenant in the city of Toronto, I received my notice.

The Chair: Mr Tabuns, we thank you for coming.


The Chair: We have one more item on the agenda, ladies and gentlemen. We have agreed that Michael Baxter, because of a misunderstanding, would have 10 minutes to make his presentation to the committee. Mr Baxter, you have 10 minutes.

Mr Michael Baxter: In light of what happened, the misunderstanding earlier in the day, Mr Chairman, I would like to express my appreciation for your allotting me this time, not that it ultimately matters that much, but having made the preparation, it's really decent of you to do so.

I believe the last time I made a deputation in relation to housing it pertained to Bill 121 and my opposition to some of the policies being initiated by Al Leach's predecessor, Evelyn Gigantes. My focus then was on the impact of Bill 121 on caring facilities. I was particularly utilizing the situation of the Massey Centre as a focal point of opposition. Without wasting time on unnecessary elaboration, the gist of my position was that we were contending with ideological blinders, and I used the newspaper quote to the effect that Ms Gigantes was "the last real socialist in Bob Rae's cabinet."

Relating to this factor of the distorting nature of ideological commitment, I must emphasize that Evelyn Gigantes truly believed that her policies were to the benefit of all concerned. I did not perceive her as other than a caring and concerned person who was the unfortunate victim of a kind of political fundamentalism, ie, socialist ideology.

It bears somewhat of an analogy to this present situation, Bill 121 having become legislation with all its perceived imperfections, in that we are again contending with an ideological mindset and considering the consequences thereof.

I recall one of the deputants from last week's session here, a Mr Herman, I believe, who, in his support for Bill 96, presented a compelling case on behalf of the landlord. He dealt primarily with the question of rent control and of the need for landlords to be enabled to charge sufficient rent to deal with costs related to such major repair items as elevators, furnaces etc. Within the context of marketplace economics, I would not be prepared to argue with Mr Herman. In fact, I would think he has pleaded a legitimate case, albeit within a certain limited context.

This does not imply, however, that I am prepared to support Bill 96. This bill must be examined in relation to other legislation proceeding from the government of Mike Harris and Co. Ltd., and the social implications thereof, particularly for downtown Toronto.

Vis-à-vis the analogous nature of our present situation, as referred to above, let's recall the response of PC members then of the opposition when Bill 121 was passed into law. Memory doesn't always serve me well, but I do recall at least that Margaret Marland, among others, castigated the government of Bob Rae for the dictatorial manner in which Bill 121 was imposed, as expressed in committee hearings, against the will of those concerned, or, to use that more ideologically tinged phrase, "the people."

As those who read a front-page item in the Globe and Mail of Friday, July 25, might realize, there is already considerable strife among different factions of the neighbourhood in downtown Toronto east, especially the lower Cabbagetown area. To use a cliché that I wish were not so apropos, I fear that we ain't seen nothin' yet.

As per the specific conflict between 416 Dundas, the Friends of Shopping Bag Ladies' Centre, and local residents' associations, ie, SOBRA and TEDRA, our organization is distributing a newsletter, Rumours. I believe this has been distributed around the table. Copies have been provided and there are others further available.

The most compelling issue, one that immediately presents itself and is impossible to ignore or dismiss, concerns that ever-increasing sector of our downtown population who comprise the clientele of such social support centres as 416, the Open Door Centre, Central Neighbourhood House, the Friendship Centre, Council Fire Native Cultural Centre, the Christian Resource Centre, Seaton House etc.

If I may use a favourite expression of our Minister of Housing, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that we are referring to a very significant number of those whom we might speak of as being somewhat disfranchised and dependent. If it is necessary to categorize among those more readily slotted, we are looking at various aspects of mental illness and/or incompetency, at various addictions and dependencies relating to alcohol and other drugs, and so on. Whatever, although they don't comprise a constituency of significance regarding electoral input, we are looking at one heck of a lot of people who stand to be even more alienated from sharing in the provisions of an increasingly productive, but also an increasingly strife-ridden, society, one that's driven by an ideology of free market economics and that would wish to be able to ignore the plight of those who fall by the wayside. You certainly shouldn't have to be a rocket scientist to see that Bill 96 is simply another in the legion of those, especially proceeding under the aegis of Al Leach, which are part of a revolution which augurs a society of which I do not particularly wish to be a member.

Indeed, one can readily and realistically project to the societal nightmare that must proceed from the consequences of fiscal downloading to municipalities, a move facilitated by Bill 120's amalgamation. I would find it difficult to perceive of SOBRA and TEDRA as being even more so bastions of reactionary intolerance and NIMBYism than they've already become over the past year or so. However, with increased property taxes in an ever more so factionally conflicted and overburdened municipality of Toronto, I'd hardly advise anyone to take up residence in Toronto east downtown.

As for Bill 96, it's simply another component of what is proceeding from the free market ideologues at Queen's Park, and even a rocket scientist could see through the rhetorical manipulations of the housing minister and his cohorts. One is obliged to ponder just how cynical and callous our political representatives can be. What sort of provision is being contemplated by the Ministry of Housing for the truly numerous residents of downtown Toronto whose housing needs will not be accommodated in the policies ensuing from this regime at Queen's Park? No explanation can be found in the notion that somehow a consequence of downloading will be that of attributing responsibility to the municipality.

Also, the move to total privatization of housing, combined with the removal of rent control, with no indication to consider or to deal with the disastrous consequences, is totally a deal made in Queen's Park, with no attribution to be made to Ottawa or to the city of Toronto.

The goal of cutting costs is pursued in a number-crunching mode that is oblivious to other costs, those that would relate to a humane sensitivity and concern regarding the lives of that relatively poor and dependent segment of our society, a group of people who apparently can be callously dismissed.

There are some great and innovative things happening downtown, such as a more realistic way of providing overnight accommodation for alcoholics at the annex to Seaton House. Such items would tend to give one hope. However, one's optimism is seriously attenuated when one considers the relative insignificance in relation to the obvious legacy of what is being dictated by the cynical ideologues at Queen's Park.

How does that old cliché go? Something to the effect that, "The love of money is the root of all evil." Amen.

The Chair: Mr Baxter, you stuck to your word and you were almost 10 minutes precisely. There is no time for questions, but we thank you for coming back from earlier this afternoon and making your presentation to us. Thank you very much.

That concludes, ladies and gentlemen, the oral presentations of this committee. I wish to remind the caucuses that any amendments by the three caucuses must be before the clerk, as I understand it, by 5 o'clock on August 21, which is next Thursday.

Accordingly, unless there are other questions or comments from the committee members, this meeting is adjourned until August 28 at 10 am.

The committee adjourned at 1812.