Tuesday 14 January 1992

Rent Control Act 1991, Bill 121 / Loi de 1991 sur le contrôle des loyers, projet de loi 121


Chair / Président(e): Brown, Michael A. (Algoma-Manitoulin L)

Vice-Chair / Vice-Président(e): McClelland, Carman (Brampton North/-Nord L)

Abel, Donald (Wentworth North/-Nord ND)

Bisson, Gilles (Cochrane South/-Sud ND)

Harrington, Margaret H. (Niagara Falls ND)

Mammoliti, George (Yorkview ND)

Marchese, Rosario (Fort York ND)

Marland, Margaret (Mississauga South/-Sud PC)

O'Neill, Yvonne (Ottawa-Rideau L)

Poole, Dianne (Eglinton L)

Turnbull, David (York Mills PC)

Winninger, David (London South/-Sud NDP)

Substitution(s) / Membre(s) remplaçant(s):

Daigeler, Hans (Nepean L) for Mr McClelland

Gigantes, Evelyn (Ottawa Centre/-Centre ND) for Mr Winninger

Morrow, Mark (Wentworth East/-Est ND) for Mr Winninger

Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre/-Centre ND) for Mr Bisson

White, Drummond (Durham Centre/-Centre ND) for Mr Marchese

Clerk / Greffier: Deller, Deborah

Staff / Personnel:

Baldwin, Elizabeth, Legislative Counsel

Klein, Susan, Legislative Counsel

The committee met at 1015 in room 151.


Resuming consideration of Bill 121, An Act to revise the Law related to Residential Rent Regulation / Projet de loi 121, Loi révisant les lois relatives à la réglementation des loyers d'habitation.

The Chair: Before we get into the clause-by-clause this morning, I have a letter in front of me from the minister.

"On behalf of the government, I would like to table further amendments to the proposed Rent Control Act, Bill 121, for consideration by the standing committee on general government.

"These amendments respond to concerns raised about potential delays when work orders are appealed that would delay the issuance of orders prohibiting rent increases; concerns about incomplete applications; clarifying when a matter will be reconsidered due to serious error or fraudulent activities; clarifying that maximum rent will be decreased after capital costs are no longer borne; and providing regulation-making authority to calculate maximum rents.

"In addition to the annotated amendments, there is a chart-form summary to explain these amendments."

Twenty copies have been delivered to the clerk and are being distributed. I take it that all members do have a copy of the government package of amendments. That is good.

Section 16:

The Chair: We will continue with the discussion of subsection 16(2). I believe Ms Poole had the floor when we adjourned yesterday. Mr Mammoliti is on the list, followed by Mr Turnbull.

Ms Poole: Yesterday we were discussing subsection 16(2) in Bill 121.

Mr Turnbull: On a point of order, Mr Chair: I just want to point out that in this letter we have from the Ministry of Housing, you can hardly read the amendments. If that is the kind of attitude the ministry has towards people who are considering this, it is just unacceptable.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I think the member has a good point, because I find the duplication is less than helpful here. I think we had better look for better copies. It certainly was not our intent to provide bad copies.

The Chair: Thank you, Minister. I think we will receive better copies shortly. Thank you for bringing that to our attention, Mr Turnbull.

Ms Poole: Subsection 16(2) refers to the fact that when the ministry will be dealing with the transition period applications, "The rent officer shall not consider a capital expenditure under this section if it became necessary as a result of neglect in maintaining the residential complex or a rental unit in it." Yesterday we were discussing the fact that the test of neglect has changed significantly from the one under the Residential Rent Regulation Act to what is in this section.

Ms Parrish had told us that under the RRRA the reference was to "deliberate, ongoing neglect." That was the test. She also told us that it was virtually unused because it was impossible to prove. It was impossible to prove what a landlord was thinking and what a landlord's intentions were, so it was impossible to prove. That was the test.

Now, under this particular section, it has been changed to simply "neglect." Again, "neglect" is not defined, but it is definitely a substantively different test than was used under the old legislation. What we are doing here is going back in time with revisionist history and saying to landlords, "If you apply for relief from the devastating effects of Bill 4 so that you can get at least a 3% relief from the capital expenditures you made during the Bill 4 freeze, then you now, maybe three or four years after the fact, have to prove you did not neglect the building."

On the other hand, the tenants involved have the burden of proof of neglect when it may be three or four years after the fact and they have not collected evidence. I say to the minister I think it would be very clear that the tenants would not bother collecting evidence, because if Ms Parrish was correct in saying that ongoing, deliberate neglect was never accepted as a rationale for not granting a rent increase, that it was virtually unknown to happen -- and that is certainly my understanding as well -- then tenants gave up trying to collect evidence of neglect.

It was not accepted; it was not instrumental in the rulings by these same rent review officers that this government now puts all its faith in to magically make the correct decisions. The way the rent review officers made decisions under the Residential Rent Regulation Act was they decided that ongoing, deliberate neglect could not be proved, so tenants did not bother giving the evidence.

I just do not see how retroactively -- again retroactively; this government seems to excel at that -- they are going to say, "We are going to change the test," and the test that was valid at the time the landlord did the repairs and in the period previous to that is going to be a different test from what they have to meet if they apply today. It does not seem to me to be reasonable or logical that they would apply a different test than what the landlords were operating under at the time. I think you are going to have the same problems that Ms Parrish mentioned when we were talking about subsection 16(1) and about trying to get evidence too long after the fact. You are going to have the same problem here in spades.

Mr Mammoliti: I cannot understand why Ms Poole was attacking our system, the system that we would like to implement and would like respected as well by her government, seeing that her government is the one that implemented a system that really did not care for the tenants. I cannot understand why she is attacking --

Ms Poole: On a point of order, Mr Chair: I would ask Mr Mammoliti to refrain from inflammatory comments which are neither substantiated nor accurate.

The Chair: That is not a point of order.

Ms Poole: But it is a point of truth.

Mr Mammoliti: The point of truth is that you have no right to attack how we believe this system will work. We believe it will work better, and you do not have a right to attack that.

Ms Poole: I certainly do. I am an opposition member. That is my job.

The Chair: Order.

Mr Mammoliti: You have the right, as opposition, to question.

Mr Turnbull: Are you dictating? The Liberals have the right to question.

Mr Mammoliti: You have the right to investigate, you have the right to ask questions, but you have no right to attack. You have no right in this particular case to say to us that the people we choose to deal with these problems will not be able to deal with neglect. I differ with you and I say you are wrong. I say that along with our system comes a change of attitude, Ms Poole, and that change of attitude down there will prove to be successful, a lot more than your rent review system in the past for tenants. That is why you do not have the right, in my opinion, to attack in this case.

Yesterday Ms Poole said, through you, of course, Mr Chair, that we cannot justify it. I would say to Ms Poole that she should perhaps go around the province and even perhaps my riding. Come along with me one day and we will hit some of the buildings in my riding. Tell the tenants we cannot justify it. Tell the tenants we cannot justify the system we want. Tell them exactly what you have been saying here for the past couple of days, Ms Poole. I will tell you that the tenants will say, "Yeah, it's justified." What we want to do is justified, and, again, you do not have a right to attack there.

What has happened lately in my riding is just ironic. At Weston Road and Finch we have recently learned there is a building that has been neglected, in my opinion. It is beyond words, as I have stated in the past. This building is completely out of order. Not that I am at this point, I hope, Mr Chair, but the building certainly is. I would say to you that when you talk about neglect and what can happen, the particular apartment I am referring to has been neglected completely and because it has been neglected completely in its simple, everyday maintenance, capital work has to be done in that apartment.

You say, "How can you prove it?" Just go up there, Ms Poole. Come with me one day and determine in your opinion, your judgement, whether this apartment has been neglected. I assure you, the people who would investigate through our system, the one you say is not going to be any good, will find it to be neglect. I do and I do not know how this landlord could have ever let it happen, unless he wants to make all kinds of profit off the backs of the tenants. That is what I am assuming. I hope I am wrong, but in my investigation that is what I am finding. When I approached the landlord, he did not even want to talk to me.

Ms Poole: I cannot comprehend why he would not want to talk to you, George.

Mr Mammoliti: I cannot understand that either, Ms Poole. I cannot understand that one bit.

The Chair: Through the Chair, please.

Ms Poole: I can comprehend why nobody would want to listen to you, but I do not comprehend why anybody would not want to talk to you.

The Chair: Order.

Ms Poole: Sorry, Mr Chair. I apologize.

Mr Mammoliti: Excuse me, Mr Chair, for a second. The apartment I am referring to has as well -- I could not believe the laundry room, the facility itself. Out of 10 machines, I believe, only two of them were working, eight being out of order for months, the landlord knowing about it and not wanting to do anything and coming out and saying, "I'm not fixing it." All kinds of tenants in the building told me they have had to literally fix up their units themselves. If there was a leaky spindle, they had to fix it; if there was a hole in the wall, they had to get the plaster and fix it because the landlord did not want to do it. When capital expenditure has to be done on these minor repairs, you tell me it is not because of neglect. I tell you you are wrong.

In the same apartment I referred to earlier there was a window. In that window it started out to be a small leak at that time, but the whole frame of the window is now ready to fall out completely. We are talking about the seventh floor, we are talking about three children in the apartment and this landlord does not want to do anything. It started out to be a small leak. Now they have to repair the whole side of the building because of neglect.

I am not going to stand for that sort of thing and I am glad we have referred to this the way we have. I am hoping the attitude down at the offices that deal with this will change considerably, because the attitude that existed before under the Liberal rent review certainly was not that great. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Mammoliti. Mr Turnbull, then Mr Owens, Ms Poole and Mr Wood.

Mr Turnbull: I would not want to add anything to that rant.

The Chair: Fine, then we will move on to Mr Owens.

Mr Owens: Thank you, Mr Chair. I am not sure I could be as eloquent as my colleague.

Ms Poole: Oh my God, Steve.

Mrs Marland: Let's put it this way: We are quite sure you could be more eloquent.

Mr Morrow: Come on, that is not very nice.

Mrs Marland: I have listened to both of them.


Mr Owens: I suppose it is not surprising that the Housing critic for the official opposition is not familiar with the term "neglect." The tests that might be employed around that, in terms of gathering evidence during our consultations, have determined that "neglect" is a very real word for tenants and in fact is a provable entity. The thing that does surprise me, however, is the less than wholehearted support for the system that the Housing critic's government set up and for the people employed in that system. I find it to be very surprising that the Housing critic feels these individuals would not be able to go out.

I think that during the hearings prior to the Christmas break on a similar issue, the member for Mississauga South made a comment or provided some anecdotal evidence around a balcony where a tenant rents and goes out and finds the railing wobbly, rust at the base of the railing, and questions whether that is neglect or is a necessity to repair. I suggest that not only the rent review officers who are currently employed by the ministry, but also tenants understand what neglect is. Neglect is not a nebulous phrase that was dreamed up by some fuzzy-headed bureaucrat. Neglect is real and it is there. I suggest that it is provable, and is provable in legal forums.

Ms Poole: I will deal with Mr Owens's comments first, since Mr Mammoliti has not come back yet and it would probably be better if he was here when I made my rebuttal. First of all, Mr Owens has said the Liberal Housing critic is not familiar with neglect. Perhaps I could point out to him that I represent the tenants of my riding, 45,000 of them, and they re-elected me in overwhelming numbers because I am working with their problems on a daily basis. I do know what neglect is.

Mr Owens: You said that neglect was not a provable --

Ms Poole: But unfortunately you were not here --

The Chair: Through the Chair.

Ms Poole: Unfortunately, Mr Chair, Mr Owens was not here when we were discussing neglect prior to Christmas.

Mr Owens: I was, actually.

Ms Poole: You were not here for the full time, because if you were --

The Chair: Through the Chair.

Ms Poole: Mr Chair, excuse me for not going through you. Of course I want to do that. If Mr Owens had been here, what he would have realized is that I have no objection whatsoever to having neglect in this legislation. In fact, I wholeheartedly support it.

Mr Owens: I was here the last day --

Ms Poole: Mr Owens, please. What we were talking about at that time was the fact that I wanted a neglect section, but I wanted it defined and I wanted criteria attached. I did not want a rigid breakdown saying it has to be this, this and this, but some guidelines for the rent review officers so that tenants know what the criteria are, so that landlords know and so that people know what they are operating under, and so that it would be easy to prove because all they would have to do is meet the qualifications of the act. That is what I suggested, and I suggested it either be put in the legislation --

Mr Owens: So you have issues that perhaps are outside the --

Ms Poole: Mr Chair, what Mr Owens does not understand about what we have been debating yesterday and today with the matter of neglect is the problem I have with neglect, again, not defined, but changing the test after the fact, retroactively, and making revisionist history. This government may like to do things retroactively. I do not think it is right.

We also heard from the policy director of the government yesterday that under the old system, ongoing deliberate neglect was unable to be proved, so the criteria have changed.

Mr Owens: Because it is difficult to prove intent. We are talking about neglect; we are not talking about deliberate neglect.

The Chair: You have had your opportunity, Mr Owens. You can have another opportunity. I will put you on the list if you request it, but it would be much easier if I could listen to one member at a time.

Ms Poole: Thank you, Mr Chair. The point is not whether tenants understand neglect -- tenants certainly understand neglect -- but the important thing is that tenants also have to be able to prove neglect, and to prove neglect they need guidelines and criteria so they know what they have to do to build their case and take it to court.

I have gone around with tenants. I have taken pictures under the old legislation. I have gone to their appeals. I know the difficulty of trying to prove neglect when it is not the right definition and when it is not defined appropriately. That is the problem Mr Owens is neglecting to understand.

As far as the Residential Rent Regulation Act is concerned, which both Mr Owens and Mr Mammoliti refer to with great contempt, there were some problems with the RRRA. If you know anything about my history in government, you know I was the first one on the line to point out to the government the shortfalls in the RRRA. Any piece of legislation that comprehensive is going to have difficult things that need to be adjusted, amended and changed.

But I can tell you that a substantial amount of the RRRA has been repeated in Bill 121. They are tenants' rights and tenants' protections, and they have been repeated in this bill because those rights and protections were good under the RRRA. It is the old NDP cause: They throw the baby out with the bathwater. For political hay, they will say that all of the RRRA was wrong because the Liberals brought it in, and that because Bill 121 is a piece of NDP legislation, it is all perfect.

Well, I am sorry. Contrary to what Mr Mammoliti said, my right -- in fact my duty -- as an opposition member is not only to look at the legislation; it is to criticize parts of the legislation that I do not believe are right, and it is also to attack parts of the legislation that I think are wrong.

As far as Mr Mammoliti's comments go, I think he has a basic misunderstanding about the job of the opposition. The opposition are the watchdogs. They are the ones who are supposed to point out difficulties with the legislation, and that is exactly what we are doing here today. Mr Mammoliti simply does not seem to understand what we have referred to in this section and our difficulty with it. He thinks that some magic change of attitude is going to happen, but it is more than attitude. You have to have extremely well-trained rent officers, you have to have people who are well qualified, but you also have to give them criteria to work with. That is one of the problems, that there are no criteria attached to neglect, and not only that. In this particular section, you are going to change the terms of reference.

I just say to the members of the NDP that if they want to attack me personally, that is certainly their right; perhaps not their duty but certainly their right. I have no problem with that. I am quite able to defend myself. But I can tell you that I have been in those buildings and I know the ones where there is neglect and I would like to see that problem dealt with. I just do not think you are going about it the right way. Give us some criteria.

The Chair: The minister would like to participate in the debate at this point.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Ms Poole, do you know of cases of neglect that would fall under this section?

Ms Poole: Where there are buildings caught under the Bill 4 freeze? Where they have been neglected or they have not been?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Where they have been. You might find this clause very useful to your tenants if that is the case and if you have photos.

Ms Poole: The ones I have photos for have already been to appeal. They were dealt with from the period 1987-90, so they would not be instances where they are caught under the bill for a freeze.


Hon Ms Gigantes: You may find nevertheless that some tenants will come forward to whom this particular clause would have great meaning.

Ms Poole: Perhaps I could ask the minister -- I think it is a crucial part of it because you have chosen not to define "neglect," or even if you did not wish to give a rigid definition of "neglect" -- to at least provide some criteria for the rent review officers. When I asked whether it would be in the regulations, certainly the sense I got in November and December when we discussed it was that there would not be criteria in the regulations as well.

Hon Ms Gigantes: That is correct.

Ms Poole: There are not going to be any criteria and there will not be a definition, so it will be up to the individual rent officer to determine whether there is or is not neglect.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Mr Chair, I did not wish to engage in debate on this. I just wished to ask whether the member knew of cases where this clause might be applicable.

Mr White: I would like to enter into this discussion. I certainly would not want to engage Ms Poole on a personal level; I do not think that is appropriate. But on the issue she brings up, the definition used in the past of ongoing, deliberate and intentional neglect really qualifies the nature of neglect to something that is very, very difficult of course to read. How does one know that a landlord, or the steward or custodian of a building, is deliberate in neglecting some facet of it? How does one know whether the railings on the balcony were deliberately not painted so that greater capital costs would be brought on later?

The issue of neglect is therefore defined with intent. I believe that neglect is something we are all familiar with, that we all know what it is. To define it in that kind of narrow way really does limit things. I think a landlord who is responsible in looking after his building, or the custodian of that building, obviously wants to look after that building in an appropriate way. Where through absence of that care the building falls into disrepair and requires capital expenditure, it really has to be defined that this is a sense of neglect. Whether it is intentional or not is really irrelevant; the tenants suffer the consequences. I believe the whole issue of neglect of maintenance is going to be a crucial one over the next decade when most of the building stock is older.

The simple folk wisdom, the husbandry, the stewardship issues come to the fore, I think. On the issue of the definition of "neglect," I would certainly agree with Ms Poole that it would be helpful to have those things defined, but the way in which they were defined in the past turned out to be not at all helpful, because they could not be used when they were so narrowly defined in a constricted way in terms of intent.

The Chair: Mr Owens, I would remind you before you start that we are discussing subsection 16(2), which involves a transition section of the bill. Maybe we could keep our comments on that particular section.

Mr Owens: I will try and keep my response germane to the section. Contrary to what Ms Poole indicated, I was not showing contempt for the RRRA, although there are contemptible things about the bill. However, I was not expressing contempt. My comments were directed at Ms Poole's, as I indicated less than wholehearted support for her government's legislation and for the people who are employed to enforce that legislation.

Second, the issue around tenants not being able to prove neglect or having neglect not recognized is not surprising, especially since as far as I know -- and perhaps the ministry person can correct me -- neglect is not referenced in the previous legislation. How does one prove something that does not exist in law? I do not understand why there is that lack of recognition.

Mr Harcourt: There is reference to neglect in the previous legislation. In the Residential Rent Regulation Act, the neglect had to be ongoing and deliberate neglect.

Ms Harrington: I hope this discussion about neglect will be helpful because it is touched on in other sections of the act. Hopefully, we have something accomplished here with regard to our understanding of that particular issue.

I want to bring everyone's focus back to section 16, and in particular to subsection 16(2), which we are doing. We are dealing with the transitional provisions in the act. When we started this discussion, I believe Ms Poole was focusing in on the retroactivity, that such a thing was bad. The whole idea we have to clarify is that we are going back to a transition period. I cannot understand why the opposition does not understand that.

We are trying to do a fair deal with expenditures that have been made. Obviously, for tenants this is going to be in the order of a resulting 9% increase. The question is, how could the opposition believe that tenants should pay for these transition improvements if they were a result of neglect of this building? We are saying it is totally unfair that tenants should pay for these transitional improvements that were made in the past if there was neglect of the building.

The point of the definition we were getting to at the end of the session yesterday was that in the previous act, which we have mentioned, it stated "ongoing and deliberate." That could not be proved. The tenant would say to the landlord, "This is not done." The landlord could then say, "I didn't deliberately set out not to fulfil this maintenance." I cannot see why they would not agree that taking that out and putting "neglect" would certainly improve the situation.

I cannot understand why they would have an argument with retroactivity, because what we are dealing with is a period in the past, which by definition is clearly going back. I cannot understand why they would think that these tenants, who are paying above the guideline to the landlords for these improvements, should not have a provision in there that they not pay for neglect. It just seems simple and logical and I cannot understand why people would argue against that.

Mrs Marland: I think the point that is being missed here is that we would not be arguing against it if there was a definition for it. It is that simple. As my colleague the member for York Mills just explained to me, the only right for appeal anywhere in this legislation depends on facts based in law.

Mr Owens: That is why you cannot prove intent.

Mrs Marland: When you talk about neglect and you do not even have a range of definition -- even if you wanted to say that neglect could be between here and here, then there are some parameters. What you are doing is saying you are not willing to define it because it is going to depend on the rent officer's interpretation. You are saying it is going to depend on evidence before the rent officer when he interprets the case. You are going to have two sides of evidence.

Minister, happy new year and welcome. We missed you yesterday in one way. Your parliamentary assistant did a very excellent, capable job in answering the questions from the minister's perspective. I think you should know she did an excellent job. I did not agree with very much of it, but she did do an excellent job.


One of the things that came up yesterday and that we were talking about was why landlords should be prohibited from having the opportunity of applying for an increase they may not have chosen to apply for. In terms of retroactivity, we were talking about the month and the year this bill would be effective from. Ms Parrish was explaining that the reason you cannot go back is that nobody would have accurate records.

When will we be able to get Hansard from yesterday?

Clerk of the Committee: I will check with Hansard and find out for you.

Mrs Marland: Ms Parrish was explaining that you cannot give the landlords the opportunity retroactively to apply for an increase they might have chosen not to apply for at the time, because the tenants would not have their records and would not have their evidence -- that was the reason -- and it would not be fair to the tenants because tenants move in and out and may not have passed on the story; the history of what the conditions had been may not be available.

I found it tremendously interesting to use that argument, on the one side, as it was used in the example I have just given you, and yet here when we are talking about neglect under subsection 16(2), because there is no definition of "neglect" you are now going to say the tenants will have the evidence and it will be acceptable. Perhaps the minister can tell us how under subsection 16(2) the residents will have gathered their evidence to prove "neglect," for which she has no definition.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Mr Chair, do you wish me to respond now or to wait, or what would you like?

The Chair: If Mrs Marland would like a response and you wish to respond, then that suits me.

Hon Ms Gigantes: There may be easy ways for tenants to do that. There may, in cases that are applicable under this section, be work orders, for example, and evidence of work orders. If that is the case, it is fairly easy to bring forward the evidence for the period that is involved. There may be letters to the landlord. There may be any kind of evidence. There may be calls to the rent review office. There may have been meetings of tenants. There may be minutes of those meetings. There are any number of ways this section might be useful to tenants at this stage.

Let me reiterate what has been indicated before. This section really provides a way for landlords to make an application for a previous period. All we are saying in this part of this section is that if landlords take advantage of this section of the act to make an application for the previous period, then it shall be open to tenants, as it would be in the main body of this legislation, to bring forward evidence to the rent officer that the capital expenditures were generated by neglect.

That is all we are doing. We are applying the same principle to that section of the bill which permits landlords to go back to the previous period and apply for an above-guideline increase that we apply in the main body of the bill, which is that there shall not be an above-guideline increase where there is evidence of neglect.

Mrs Marland: I agree with the minister that it would be easy for the tenants if there were outstanding work orders. That would be very concrete evidence in terms of the work orders being issued by an independent third party. But I think it is relevant to ask the minister some questions about these rent officers who are going to make decisions under subsection 16(2) in terms of interpreting neglect, since there is no definition of "neglect" in this bill.

Mr Chairman, you may recall that I asked the minister for some background on who these rent officers would be, what kind of training they would have and what kind of expertise they needed to apply for the job. I would like to ask the minister some of those questions at this point. I received in response to my questions a package that talked about it. "Position Specification and Class Allocation" is the form, and it is for the position of rent review administrator. Do I assume correctly that rent review administrator is the same as rent officer?

Hon Ms Gigantes: That will be the case once the new legislation comes into effect. Am I right? I hope so.

Mr Harcourt: Generally, there will be competitions for the position. Certainly, the specifications for the position of rent officer have not been developed. In fact, they are being developed right now. There will be competitions when these positions do become available, and the qualifications will undoubtedly vary somewhat from what is in the administrative position.

Mrs Marland: This is great. We do not have a job description yet then?

Mr Harcourt: A job description has not been completed at this date, no.

Mrs Marland: Then this is useless. This does not answer the questions I asked.

Mr Harcourt: Many of the qualifications are the same, but there will be some that are different; that is correct.

Mrs Marland: I think, Minister, with respect -- what date was this bill tabled?

Hon Ms Gigantes: June 6, I am told.

Mrs Marland: We are now at January 14, so we have had this bill for seven months that has talked about rent officers, and your ministry has not yet developed a job description or a position specification for those applicants. Am I correct, from the answer we just had?

Hon Ms Gigantes: I believe the member heard the answer from Mr Harcourt, and at the rate this discussion is going, we might be very much ahead of ourselves to have job descriptions any time in the next few months.

Mrs Marland: That is a pretty shoddy reply. This whole bill pivots on rent officers, and you have not yet decided who a rent officer will be. You have not yet decided what their job specification is or what their entitlement and eligibility to apply for that job will have to be.


Hon Ms Gigantes: Mr Chair, with respect --

Mrs Marland: Excuse me; I have not finished.

When I asked the question, and I asked the question, according to my notes, about the second or third week in November, I received this response from you -- oh, that is right, I forgot; it was an undated letter. Anyway, your undated letter was tabled with this committee around December 5. What you are telling me is that there is no point -- I have spent some time, by the way, considering this package of material because I understood this applied to the rent officers. Now that I start to question about the relevance of this material to rent officers, Mr Harcourt tells me that some of it may apply but you actually have not made the decisions yet on who a rent officer will be.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Was that asking for a comment? Is that the question?

Mrs Marland: What was the point in furnishing this material is the question.

Hon Ms Gigantes: If you step back from this very intense discussion of the specifics of the job specs for a rent officer, I think it very reasonable in a bill such as this one, which will be in the main implemented through the work of rent officers, that we should not define every jot of the job description until we get a very good sense of what the rent officers are going to be doing. We are at section 16 now, so we are making progress in defining what the framework of this legislation is going to be, but it is slow progress.

We have explained to the member that most if not all of the requirements for eligibility as a rent officer will be a repetition of those skills and experience that have been required of the people who have served as rent review administrators under the current legislation, Bill 51. Given the fact that many of these individuals have had a lot of experience with the operation of a rent review system and a fair understanding of the field in which they would be called upon to work under Bill 121, the personnel involved will on the whole be the same.

It certainly is the intent of the Ministry of Housing to make sure that people who are members of the staff of the ministry are not thrown out of work without a thought given to their previous skills or experience, without a thought given to whatever new training they may need to implement new legislation and take on a new job title and new responsibilities under that title. I very much hope that people who have been employed by the Ministry of Housing as rent review administrators under the job description they have will seek and be successful in application to become rent officers. I think as a group they are probably the most experienced and skilled group we could find in this province.

There is nothing devious, nothing hidden, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing inexplicable, nothing outrageous, nothing abnormal. This is in fact quite a usual, practical, step-by-step, ordinary process of looking to a piece of legislation, understanding from that legislation what the roles of the people called upon to implement it should be, describing those roles once the legislation is fully approved, making sure all elements of their duties will be within their job description and then proceeding to look for people who have that kind of skill and experience. I expect they are going to be, in very large measure, the same people who have worked with the Ministry of Housing, sometimes under very frustrating and difficult circumstances, given the legislation they have had to implement, over some period of time.

Mrs Marland: I am not going to respond to the minister's ongoing sarcasm because I am not going to be drawn down into that. The public does a very good job of interpreting her answers and her style of dealing with my questions. We have received a lot of comment about her sarcasm.

The Chair: Perhaps we could discuss section 16.

Mrs Marland: The minister says in response, "this intense discussion of job specifications for rent officers." It is on our part a very serious discussion of who these rent officers will be, because based on the decisions of these rent officers with a wide-open bill that has no definition for neglect and no guidelines for those rent officers to execute their duties -- I now learn, in response to my question about rent officers, that we have a job description that is not a job description for rent officers. Naturally we are concerned about who these rent officers will be.

In fairness to the tenants who are going to appeal under the basis of legality for appeals in this legislation, a rent officer is going to make the decision and there is no appeal of that rent officer's decision. For the property owner that rent officer may or may not grant, under subsection 16(2), which is before us at this moment, eligibility for a capital expenditure. We are talking about millions of dollars in this province when we are talking about capital expenditures to property in which tenants reside.

If we think we can treat this subject so lightly when the future of rental accommodation in this province pivots on who that rent officer is -- if that rent officer does not grant something that is a legitimate, eligible capital expenditure, then the work may not be funded at all. There are so many questions to which this minister does not have the answers as we go through this bill.

She is perfectly right, we are only at section 16. The reason we are only at section 16 is because already, up to section 16, we have had any number of amendments. I have not counted how many amendments there are in section 16. I could go through and count all the little black arrows.

The Chair: Maybe we could discuss section 16.

Mrs Marland: I am discussing section 16. Up to section 16 we have had a number of amendments from the government; we have also had a number of amendments from the two opposition parties. But the reason it has taken so long to get this far, I suggest, is not because the bill is flawless; it is because the bill is being amended continually by the government. It is their own bill and today they brought in a whole new set of amendments.


Mr Morrow: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: It is really nice that you have a government over here that is really trying and putting amendments forward and all that, but can we please get back to the section we are dealing with?

Hon Ms Gigantes: There are no amendments in this section.

Mrs Marland: I am sorry, there is an amendment in section 16.

Hon Ms Gigantes: But on the subsection we are discussing, we have had a discussion of at least an hour, and it is not amended.

The Chair: Order. We are discussing subsection 16(2).

Mrs Marland: The minister said there is no amendment in this section. She is wrong. There is no amendment in 16(2), which is a subsection. I am talking about 16(2) as a subsection. In fact, part of the concern we have is relevant to section 16.

Mr Mammoliti: On a point of order, Mr Chair: We are on subsection 16(2)?

The Chair: We are on subsection 16(2).

Mr Mammoliti: Could you ask the clerk whether there are any amendments to 16(2)?

The Chair: There are no amendments to subsection 16(2). Is that a point of order?

Mrs Marland: It is wonderful how the trained seals react when you make a point. It was the minister who raised how much time it was taking to get through this bill. It was not me who raised it, the minister raised it. I am simply saying that as the minister raised how long it is taking to get through this bill, it is fair for me to respond to the minister.

The reason it is taking so long to get through this bill is that we have already had a substantial number of amendments by the minister and some amendments by both opposition parties. All of the amendments, I would suggest, pivot around who the rent officer is and what that rent officer's decision will be.

I have a perfect right, on behalf of the tenants and landlords in this province, to find out who the rent officers are and what kind of qualifications they are going to have, and I intend under subsection 16(2) to proceed with my questions. The minister has said that in all likelihood many of the current rent review administrators will become rent officers. Dealing with that answer, because she said she wants to protect their jobs, I would like to ask where in the rent review administrators' job training is there a direction or training session that deals with the interpretation of neglect?

Hon Ms Gigantes: There will be training sessions for those people hired as rent officers. They will include the skills required to implement the whole bill.

Mrs Marland: There will be training sessions. Could you tell us what those training sessions will involve in order that they can interpret the result of neglect as under subsection 16(2)?

Hon Ms Gigantes: No, I cannot. First of all, most people in Ontario if asked to define what neglect is would use the same kind of interpretation of neglect as we have seen in common-law court decisions and court decisions under legislation for many decades in this country and in British jurisprudence. I do not think there is going to be an enormous amount of difficulty around this question. In fact, I have not heard any member of the opposition suggest any case that might pose a difficulty for a person with an ordinary understanding of the rental field to make a decision of neglect. As has been pointed out many times, there is a descending order of evidence, and the member has agreed that perhaps the easiest kind of evidence for a rent officer to use will be work orders, descending in terms of -- what can I say? -- legality.

There are many kinds of evidence which can be brought forward by tenants and it will be up to rent officers to make a decision whether the evidence brought forward indicates neglect, which is a term commonly used on the streets and in the workplaces of this province and has been for centuries. It is also used in our courts. I do not think it is going to be a difficult matter to apply to the rental situation under the rules we are setting out in this legislation.

Mrs Marland: If this minister is not willing to give a job description for the rent officer or a definition of neglect, I think we really cannot deal with subsection 16(2). I am going to move that we stand down subsection 16(2) until we have a definition of neglect and a job description for rent officers who are going to interpret this section of the bill.

The Chair: Do we have unanimous consent to stand down subsection 16(2)?

Interjection: Absolutely not.

The Chair: We do not have unanimous consent to stand it down, Mrs Marland.


The Chair: One at a time. Mrs Marland.

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, Mr White said, "The trained seals said no." I guess that was predictable. That is because I suspect they do not want to agree to having a job description for the rent officer or a definition of neglect because they want to perhaps --

Mr White: On a point of order, Mr Chairman.

Mrs Marland: I am in the middle of a sentence.

The Chair: A point of order comes first.

Mr White: Thank you, Mr Chair. Two items: First, I indicated that the trained seals were saying yes, not no. Second, the request has already been denied, so it seems Mrs Marland is going back over ground that required unanimous consent. She does not have it, so she should move back to a discussion of subsection 16(2).

The Chair: Mr Owens, a point of order?

Mr Owens: No, just to put my name on the list.

The Chair: Mrs Marland, I am sure, will be discussing subsection 16(2) directly.

Mrs Marland: Mr White is really entertaining. He said the trained seals said yes. If you had said yes, I would have had unanimous consent, so you are slightly confused.

The Chair: We are discussing subsection 16(2), Mrs Marland.

Mrs Marland: Well, he is a little confused. Mr Chairman, could I ask you something? If the government members had said yes, would I not have unanimous consent?

The Chair: Just continue with your discussion of subsection 16(2), please.

Mrs Marland: I would have had unanimous consent. It is unfortunate that Mr White is so confused. If he would concentrate a little he would know whether he said yes or no. I was asking for yes; I wish in fact you had said yes.

Under "rent officers" in this package I received there is a section which says "procedural training, RCA." Could you tell me what that means?

Hon Ms Gigantes: It will be training that relates to the procedures under this legislation.


Mrs Marland: What does RCA mean?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Rent Control Act. Actually, I still am not used to the acronym and when the question was asked, my thought was RCA Victor. I actually turned and asked, "What is RCA?" We share that problem.

Mrs Marland: I do not assume an acronym's interpretation any more. You always have to ask what it applies to.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I certainly did.

Ms Poole: On a point of order, Mr Chair: If the members of the government were laughing at Mrs Marland because she did not understand, were they also laughing at the minister?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes.

Ms Poole: But they would not have if they had known, right?

Hon Ms Gigantes: I cannot guarantee that.

Mrs Marland: Under this section it lists extensions of time, directions, file review techniques, evaluating submissions, determining validity of notices of rent increase, complete applications, file management and workload assessment. Could you tell me which of those, if any, apply to the rent officer who will be interpreting subsection 16(2)?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Mr Chairman, I wonder if I can make an offer to you, that when we get to a section of this bill which actually deals specifically with rent officers -- and I will take advice on which might be the most appropriate section -- we could prepare to have somebody from human resources in the Ministry of Housing come here and do a level-best job of answering the very detailed questions which interest the member. Would that be helpful? It is certainly not helping her, in my view, or elucidating matters to anybody else at this stage for me to attempt to answer these questions. It is a level of detail that I think we should call upon special help for. I do not want to stand down the section.

I will make her this offer, that if we get to the major section, part IV, which deals more generally with the implementation of the act, and we have a major problem where we all get convinced that we have to have a change around the duties of the rent officers and, as a result of that, subsection 16(2) might have to be amended, I will certainly consider coming back and doing that. But I would just like to get subsection 16(2) under our belts. I will make her that offer, that we come back with people who spend their working days devoting their efforts to making sure the people who work on the implementation of the legislation for rent control are going to be well trained and well aware of the elements of the bill and prepared to do a good job on behalf of the people of Ontario.

Mrs Marland: I understand the minister does not have the answer to any of my questions on these rent officers, but subsection 16(2) refers to rent officers. If we want to defer the questions until the minister can have her staff here to answer --

Hon Ms Gigantes: That was not the offer I made. The offer I made was that when we get to the substantive section of the bill that deals with the implementation of the legislation, I would be quite prepared then to give notice to the human resources people in the ministry, who are most knowledgeable in this area and who are indeed working on the development both of the job descriptions -- as we move along to describe what is in the job legislatively, I hope -- and also the training process. Otherwise, I would simply like to dispose of subsection 16(2). Where we simply are not in a position to be able to call people forward, I think it is a waste of everyone's time at this stage.

Mrs Marland: I agree that my questions about who the rent officer will be in terms of the job description and job qualifications is a waste of time, but what I think is deplorable is that this bill has been in this House now for seven months and you do not have those answers. That is the part that is totally unacceptable to us and totally unacceptable to the public, that we have a piece of legislation that refers all the way through to "rent officers."

You are saying now that you would be happy to answer my questions where we deal with rent officers. I respectfully suggest that there is a hardly a clause -- if there is one; I am not familiar with any clause or any section -- in this bill that does not require a rent officer to interpret it or enact it. If you are saying, seven months after the bill has been tabled, that you do not have the answers to my questions today and that you want to defer my questions until you have a staff person, that is fine with me, but I am saying that we cannot vote on these clauses where it specifically says "rent officer" until we know who that person is and if he or she is qualified based on a program that is yet to be developed by your ministry.

Could you tell me which section of the bill you would be prepared to have staff here to answer my questions?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Part IV; it is section 116.

Mrs Marland: "The director shall appoint rent officers for the purposes of this act."

Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, and if you also look at section 117, it would cover some of the areas that would be of interest to you concerning the powers of the rent officers. Those two sections I would propose as the most appropriate, Mr Chair. I am going to stress again that it will be very helpful to us in the ministry to have shape to this legislation, in other words, to have gone through it and incorporated amendments, before we set up the training program, for example. It is hard to tell what to train people to do when you do not know what they are going to be doing yet.

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman --

The Chair: Mrs Marland, just one moment. It is certainly not up to the Chair to decide how the committee proceeds, but in the tradition of this place, we have tried to go through bills in a logical and orderly fashion and decide questions once and for all rather than revisiting them constantly.

It seems to me that the minister is making a suggestion that would perhaps be helpful to the committee in coming to a conclusion on this particular issue, which members feel is very important, and then we can proceed with the bill as we see fit. That is just a suggestion. I leave it to you.

Mrs Marland: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I think we are getting into an area of gamesmanship here. When the minister says she would like to know the direction the bill is going, and there are six government members and five opposition members who vote on this committee, and we have not had any support for any opposition amendment from the government so far, and we know perfectly well that the minister wished to present her bill --

Mr White: On a point of order, Mr Chair: Could we return to the section under question, please, subsection 16(2)?

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, it is unfortunate that Mr White does not know that I am responding to the minister at this point. The minister has made a suggestion, Mr White, and maybe you were not able to understand it. The minister's suggestion is based on the direction of this bill. I am suggesting that given the voting power of the government members on this committee, there will not be any changes to this bill that this minister does not want. The fact that the minister is saying, "I don't have the job description and I don't have the job qualifications for these rent officers, because I don't know what the bill is going to say," is just a pure game.


Mr White: On a point of order, Mr Chair: First off, the question is not my comprehension or ability to comprehend; that is something which was determined long ago. However, the issue at hand is 16(2). Following the member's request, the minister very graciously suggested opening up at a later point in our discussion. I do not believe the member has accepted that suggestion, nor the Chair's suggestion of that same entrée. We are therefore back at 16(2) and I think we should confine our debate to that, as otherwise it will make no sense to the members present and have no reference to section 16(2).

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, 16(2) refers to rent officers.

The Chair: Correct.

Mrs Marland: And my questions have been about rent officers. Do you agree that my questions have been in order, Mr Chairman?

The Chair: Just continue, Mrs Marland.

Mrs Marland: Thank you. I am not willing to vote on subsection 16(2) without the questions I am asking about rent officers being dealt with. If the minister can have her staff here this afternoon or tomorrow to answer my questions, I think we could stand down subsection 16(2) for 24 hours. I am asking the minister if she would do that for 24 hours.

Hon Ms Gigantes: The answer is no. I have indicated to the member that I have no intention of standing down 16(2) -- none.

Mrs Marland: Maybe the minister could tell me, then, why this committee was stood down for two whole months before we started these hearings if now 24 hours is so important. This committee did not meet for two whole months because the government chose not to have the meetings. I am talking about the end of August, September and October, before we started the hearings. Even when the House came back this committee did not meet to deal with this bill, because the government --

Mr Owens: On a point of order, Mr Chair: The member is most aware it is not the minister who sets the committee schedule but the whips and the House leaders from all three parties.

The Chair: That is not a point of order, but a good point of information.

Mrs Marland: Is it not true that the government House leader takes, perhaps, direction from his ministers as to which legislation they would like to have a committee dealing with? Week by week, these committee meetings were cancelled. Every week we received a notice that the committee would not sit because the government was not ready to deal with this bill.

I am asking for a 24-hour deferral of this section until we get the answers to my questions and the minister is denying that, although she lost two months when we could have been dealing with the bill. That is autocratic and it is unfounded. My request is very reasonable and I cannot see why 24 hours -- it is not as though I have not asked these questions before.

Hon Ms Gigantes: That is true.

Mrs Marland: I still do not have the answers. I asked these questions in November and December and I did not have the answers. Three months later I am still asking the questions. The minister has now offered to get her staff here. I am simply saying we will deal with this section when her staff are here.

Hon Ms Gigantes: You are suggesting.

Mrs Marland: I am not prepared to discuss this section if I cannot get the answers to my questions, in fairness to the tenants and property owners in this province, who need to know who a rent officer will be and what qualifications he will have to have in order to do that job, apart from the whole subject of the word "neglect," for which we have no definition. It is pointless. If we are going to get the answers from the minister's staff three months after I ask for them, then a 24-hour stand-down of this section is ludicrous. Let's let the public decide. I thank the clerk for the copy of yesterday's Hansard.

Mr Daigeler: I think it was Ms Harrington who mentioned earlier that she could not understand why the opposition had any problems with the concept of neglect being taken into account in the consideration of capital cost allowances. We do not have any problems with that. I think the problem lies with the power that is being given, through these provisions, to what can be described as faceless bureaucrats. That is the concern we are trying to get across here, that a lot of people out there are very concerned about big government telling the people what to do without any appeal possibility. We have been trying for some time now to hear from the minister what assurances there are that landlords will also be protected against spur-of-the-moment decisions by the rent officer. If I am informed correctly, there is no appeal possibility at all any more against these decisions.

The question is, who defines "neglect"? Who looks at the interests of the landlord and the interests of the tenant as well? Is it only the officer? Is he or she the big policeperson who makes a decision without any appeal possibilities? I think that is the concern and the fear of the community out there. If I might have her attention for a moment --

Hon Ms Gigantes: You have my attention.

Mr Daigeler: I would like to hear from the minister whether there is any consideration at all to publicly giving the officers guidance, that can then be used by all the parties concerned, on the definition of "neglect." I think that is the question.

Hon Ms Gigantes: The answer is no, for the reasons I have spoken to before. We have discovered, through the unsuccessful application of those clauses related to neglect in the existing legislation, Bill 51, that when you try to define "neglect," you end up limiting its applicability as a useful term within the bill. I do not think, and I do not think you think, that it is difficult to decide whether neglect has occurred.

Mr Daigeler: Yes, I do.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Can you give me an example of where you think a case of doubt might arise?

Mr Daigeler: Listen, what may be neglect to me may not be neglect to someone else at all.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Give me an example of what is not neglect which you think might be contentious.

Mr Daigeler: I heard what you said. You said you would not give any guidance, okay? That is the answer I was seeking and that is fair; that is your position. Can I ask you another question? Are you considering any appeal option at all to that decision of neglect by the officer?

Hon Ms Gigantes: The process for any reconsideration of any section of this bill will be the same, and it will apply to subsection 16(2) as well.

Mr Daigeler: And that is?


Hon Ms Gigantes: If we move to amendment, as we are proposing, if there were a decision by the director of the rent office that a case should be reheard, then it could be reheard. That is an amendment we are putting forward which I would certainly be happy to discuss when it comes up.

Mr Daigeler: Frankly, that does not sound very reassuring to me in terms of an appeal avenue. I could possibly be satisfied to leave "neglect" totally open if there were a reasonable appeal option for both parties, but I am not hearing this at all.

Hon Ms Gigantes: The appeal mechanism or process will be the same for both parties.

Mr Daigeler: Yes, but I am not clear at all on what that process is.

Hon Ms Gigantes: This is not the section of the bill that deals with that.

Mr Daigeler: I know, but I certainly am not very clear on the description you just gave me, at least as yet. At this point I will pass it and perhaps hear more about what that appeal option is.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I think we have made it as clear as we can to members of the committee, the Legislature and indeed the public that it is our view that to have the same kind of arm's-length and complex appeal mechanism that we had in Bill 51, which is apparently what people who are looking for more appeal process within this legislation are asking -- it has proved totally intolerable to any person who has to deal with it. We have had such a complex, prolonged, dragged out and unhelpful appeal system, that my strong feeling and that of the government is that we should not entangle people in the same kind of thing again. It is best to have a decision.

People have made it clear to us that certainty is something they consider a prime goal in this legislation, to have a decision. In cases where, for one reason or another, it looks as if there has been some kind of problem with the initial decision, we will provide a provision for a rehearing. Otherwise, it is going to be a case where people will have to go to court. We do not think the mechanism of appeal such as we have seen has been helpful to any party.

Mr Daigeler: I think that is quite clear and I appreciate your frankness, but that is precisely what concerns me and other members of the opposition. It is that unrestrained power that is being given to government, but I guess that reflects the approach of your party.

Ms Poole: On two occasions now, the minister has challenged the opposition to give examples of a situation where it would not be common understanding whether or not it was neglect. I can give you some examples.

One example is underground parking restoration. In fact, we had confusion on our own committee about it. Last spring, when we were considering Bill 4, Mr Mammoliti made the accusation that underground parking garage rehabilitation was necessary because of neglect by the landlord. We had expert witnesses who came in and told us in no uncertain language and with no doubt whatsoever that it was not neglect by the landlord but the technology at the time the buildings were constructed which allowed for water to seep into the beams and cause a problem with rusting, deterioration and corrosion of the building structure.

Mr Mammoliti: On a point of order, Mr Chair: The people in front said there could be neglect by the landlord. She is misleading, I believe.

Ms Poole: Mr Chair, I would ask for withdrawal of that comment.

The Acting Chair (Mr Abel): I think perhaps, Mr Mammoliti, you could change your wording somewhat to avoid the word "misleading."

Mr Mammoliti: Mr Chair, my recollection of the individuals who came in front of the committee back then is that they did not say what Ms Poole claims they said. I will leave it at that.

The Acting Chair (Mr Abel): Thank you, Mr Mammoliti. Ms Poole.

Ms Poole: Thank you, Mr Chair. I would challenge Mr Mammoliti during the lunch time to look back at Hansard and bring back to us this afternoon or tomorrow morning the quotation where they said it was neglect by the landlord that caused the deterioration with the underground parking garages and not a matter of technology. I am quite firm on that. We had testimony from the Concrete Restoration Association of Ontario and from numerous expert witnesses who said the contrary.

That is one where there is certainly a lot of public misunderstanding -- any type of concrete restoration, for that matter. The thing we have to remember about these buildings, particularly the fact that they are aging housing stock, is that many things in a building have a life expectancy. We have a very hard climate here in Canada; we have days when it is freezing and we have days when it is 90 degrees.

The Acting Chair (Mr Abel): Is this related to the section under discussion?

Ms Poole: It certainly is.

Mr Owens: I do not think so. Climatic conditions are not related to subsection 16(2) of this bill.

The Acting Chair (Mr Abel): Please continue, Ms Poole.

Ms Poole: Perhaps, for Mr Owens's edification, I would tell him why this relates.

Mr Owens: My education is not lacking. It is your lack of understanding of the section that --

Ms Poole: I said "edification."

The Acting Chair (Mr Abel): Order, please. I would ask that all comments be directed to the Chair.

Ms Poole: On a point of clarification, Mr Chair: I said "edification." I would not insult Mr Owens's education, because he is certainly an articulate, educated person. I would explain why the climatic conditions do have something to do with it, because that relates definitely to the fact that our buildings expand and contract, that there is difficulty with the concrete because of it, and quite often it affects things such as concrete restoration. When it comes down to it, things like concrete restoration and underground parking rehabilitation are things where, on the surface, somebody may say, "This is crumbling, this is neglect," but in fact, it is not neglect and it cannot be laid at the landlord's door.

There are a number of instances I can cite to you. I had an instance where there was a work order out for replacement of a screen door, where it was out and it was not repaired. There was a work order by the inspector but the fact is that there was vandalism. The screen door had been replaced about 10 different times on 10 different occasions and the landlord finally said, "I'm not going to replace it because it's a waste of time."

You have instances like that. Obviously that is not a very common one, but the concrete restoration certainly is, the underground parking rehabilitation is another. I agree with Mr White and others who have said that you do not want a rigid, narrow definition; I agree wholeheartedly. That is the last thing I want and that is why it did not work in the RRRA. It was too rigid and too narrow. But that is not to say there should not be criteria and there should not be guidelines for the rent review officers so that when they are making these decisions they are the right decisions.

Do not forget one other fact, that in this kind of instance, if a rent review officer made a decision that an application was not allowed because of neglect, that would not be appealable, because it is not a matter of law so it could not be taken to the courts; it is a matter of fact. It is an error in judgement, basically, but that is not grounds for appeal.

So you are giving enormous power to this rent review officer to make decisions when he or she may not have all the information he needs to make them. If the minister had said, "In the regulations we're going to have criteria, we're going to have guidelines, we're going to give some assistance" -- not something rigid and hard and fast, but guidelines so they would have information to act upon -- then I would feel much more comfortable with it. I would not insist on a rigid definition, but to provide no definition, no criteria, no guidelines, and to go ahead and say, "Everybody knows what neglect is" -- well, we do not, because we are not experts. I certainly am not an expert in this, but I listened to what people tell me who are experts.

When we were talking about evidence, the minister referred to the fact that there are several ways to get evidence, and one is through work orders. Work orders are not evidence of neglect. Work orders are evidence of the fact that work needs to be done on the building, and there are work orders for underground parking rehabilitation.

Mr Chair, through you to the minister, I would say that there are work orders out there on underground parking rehabilitation programs because it is going to cost $1 million to do it and the landlord is having difficulty getting the financing to do it. When you have a cap of 3% per year on that and a limit of three years total over which it can be drawn, it is certainly quite conceivable that the landlord could not have it recouped in rents and therefore could not get financing even if he was willing to. So you come down to the situation that work orders are not necessarily evidence. In many cases the minister is right that they can be used, but certainly not in all cases. You cannot say, de facto, that because it is a work order it is evidence of neglect.

The second thing she said was, "Call a rent review office and they can give you information." That is not the purpose of a rent review office. I can tell you that I and my office have talked to the rent review office on hundreds of occasions, if not thousands, and that is not the type of information they collect and give out. The type of information they collect and give out is hard, cold facts and numbers, things that would not be helpful in the least as far as proving a case of neglect.

So it comes down to two difficulties with this section. One is neglect in itself -- I think that in section 20 or section 23 neglect rears its ugly head again -- and the fact that there are no criteria involved. The second part is that it is going to be difficult going back in time and getting evidence when the test and the rules have changed.

I have difficulty supporting legislation where it is not going to work, where you are going to have tenants and landlords spending a lot of time and effort preparing their cases when they do not know what the basis is going to be and when, if they do not like the decision, they have no route of appeal. That is it in a nutshell. Regardless of whether Mrs Marland gets her information on what rent review officers do or do not do or where they are qualified or are not qualified, on those two criteria alone I could not support this section.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms Poole. Mr Turnbull.

Mr Turnbull: Through you to the minister, I want to reference her remarks. She said she is against a drawn-out appeal process, but essentially, other than mistakes in law, there is no appeal process to this legislation. I had a long chat yesterday with the president of the Federation of North York Tenants Associations, and he is absolutely outraged at the fact that there is no appeal process. I am sure many landlords feel the same way. Unless you have a definition, there can be no reference to the court of items of law with respect to chronic neglect. The tenants I represent very strongly feel that there should be an appeal process, and in fact we will be bringing in, under sections 87.4 and 90, amendments to reflect the fact that there should be an appeal process.

Specifically, I am rejecting what the minister is saying because the tenants want an appeal process. They may not have been happy with the process that existed under Bill 51, but they feel there should be a normal appeal process, as there is in all matters of law.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Without getting into debate, I suggest that the amendment we are bringing forward to subsection 89(1) is one that members might like to look at. It deals with the process of reconsideration of a decision. It may not satisfy members, but it is substantial enough, I believe, that members here can no longer say with accuracy that we are making no provision for appeal.

Mr Turnbull: I will consider that. This is one of those pages that I can hardly read, but I sort of get the gist of it. I want to consider that, but I wanted to point out that tenants were not happy with that.

Hon Ms Gigantes: On a point of order, Mr Chair: I may not have the same quality of copy as individual members, so if there is difficulty on any of these amendments, we would be more than happy to replace the copy.

Mr Turnbull: I presume after lunch we will be getting new copies.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I am told we are getting a whole new package after lunch. Our apologies.

The Chair: That would be appreciated.

Mr Turnbull: I will obviously have to consider that and discuss it with the tenants to see if they are satisfied with that. But you used the expression "British jurisprudence." The root of British jurisprudence is the fact that you have a right to go to the courts on any matter with respect to legislation. It is basic. To a great extent you have pulled the carpet out from underneath people's feet on this, so your waving British jurisprudence before us is something of a red herring.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I have nothing further.

The Chair: Do you wish to continue, Mr Turnbull?

Mr Turnbull: I am going to consider this amendment and then I will refer back to it at the appropriate time. Unfortunately, I will probably not be here in committee when we study that section.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Turnbull. It being 12 o'clock, we have one member who has indicated he wishes to speak on that, Mr Owens, and we can pick that up at 2 o'clock.

Mr Owens: I will keep my comments short.

Mrs Marland: On a point of order, Mr Chair: We have a subcommittee meeting at noon. If we are going to do the subcommittee meeting and continue now, those of us who have to sit on the subcommittee really are going to be out of time.

Mr Owens: I can certainly wait until after lunch.

The Chair: That is what I was actually suggesting, Mr Owens.

Mr Owens: That is fine.

The Chair: We will reconvene at 2 o'clock, and as Mrs Marland mentioned, there will be a subcommittee meeting immediately. The committee is adjourned.

The committee recessed at 1159


The committee resumed at 1412.

The Chair: The standing committee on general government will come to order. Mrs Marland.

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, I called in at the Speaker's office a few moments ago on the way to this meeting to find out what the Speaker was doing with regard to staff in the Legislative Assembly building in light of the increasingly difficult weather outside. I understand from speaking to the Speaker that he has given permission for his staff to leave the building today at 3. I suggest that in fairness to the staff associated with this committee, the Hansard staff, the clerk's staff and the Ministry of Housing staff, we give our staff the same consideration because of the severity of the snowstorm.

The Chair: Do other members have any comments on Mrs Marland's suggestion?

Mr Owens: We should include legislative counsel as well.

Mrs Marland: I did intend to include everyone.

Mr Owens: That is a good suggestion. In fairness to the staff, as well as for their safety concerns, I think 3 o'clock is a good time to break.

The Chair: Do I have unanimous consent to adjourn at 3 o'clock?

Agreed to.

The Chair: Back to the business at hand: We are dealing with subsection 16(2). Mr Owens has the floor.

Mr Owens: In the interest of brevity I will borrow a phrase from your caucus colleague Elinor Caplan and not tease the bears. I will yield my time to the next speaker.

Mrs Marland: That is Floyd's phrase.

The Chair: Thank you very much. The present Treasurer invented that phrase. Shall subsection 16(2) carry?

Mrs Marland: Recorded vote.

The Chair: Mrs Marland has requested a recorded vote. All those in favour?

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman --

The Chair: All those in favour?

Mrs Marland: Excuse me.

Hon Ms Gigantes: The vote has been called.

The Chair: We will proceed with the vote. We have a recorded vote requested.

Mrs Marland: I was going to ask that I have five minutes to get Mr Turnbull, but if we are going to continue the games, I guess I will not get five minutes.

Mr Mammoliti: You are an expert at games.

Mr Morrow: We did not make the rules.

Mrs Marland: I did not realize -- I thought he had come in.

Mr Morrow: You talk about playing games; you are the one --

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, I am asking for a 20-minute recess to call all the members for this important vote.

Mr Mammoliti: Mr Chair, with all due respect, you called the vote.

The Chair: We are just checking to find out if Mrs Marland is in order. As soon as the clerk can tell me whether she is order, I will make a ruling, Mr Mammoliti.

Mrs Marland is in order. According to the standing rules, she cannot ask for 20 minutes until I have put the question, so she is in order. The committee will reconvene at 2:37, and if everybody could agree to begin as soon as Mr Turnbull comes down.

The committee recessed at 1416.


The Chair: The committee will come to order.

Mrs Marland: A recorded vote?

The committee divided on whether subsection 16(2) should stand as part of the bill, which was agreed to on the following vote:

Ayes -- 6

Abel, Gigantes, Harrington, Mammoliti, Owens, White.

Nays -- 4

Daigeler, Marland, Poole, Turnbull.

Mrs Marland: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: Could you clarify for me if the minister is now voting in place of Mr Morrow?

The Chair: I will ask the clerk.

Ms Gigantes is properly substituted for this afternoon.

Mrs Marland: The reason I raised that point was that it was attempted to have me substituted halfway through a day.

The Chair: I understand from the clerk that the substitute for this afternoon was received this morning before 10 o'clock, so it is then in order. If you wish to substitute on to the committee, the committee needs to have that before the committee commences.

Clerk of the Committee: Within 30 minutes after the start of the meeting.

Mrs Marland: And you are able to split a day between two members as long as the notice is given?

Clerk of the Committee: That is correct, but the substitution slip still must be received within 30 minutes of the start of the meeting on the morning of that day.

Mrs Marland: All right, because that question did come up and we did not have it clarified. So you can have two members sitting on a committee in one day as long as both, if they are substitutions, are approved within 30 minutes in the morning. Thank you for clarifying that.

The Chair: Shall section 16, as printed, carry?

Section 16, as amended, agreed to.

Section 14:

The Chair: We will now revert to dealing with subsection 14(1). We have an amendment which has been moved by Mrs Poole. We have had substantial discussion upon that.

Ms Poole: We are going backwards again?

The Chair: We are going back to the section that was stood down yesterday until the minister was present. The minister is now present and therefore we will deal with it at this time. I will give everyone a moment or two to find the proper place. I should explain that I chose yesterday to deal with just subsection 14(1), although Mrs Poole had moved the amendment to 14(1) and 14(2). The Conservatives also have an amendment to be placed to 14(1).

I suppose one of the things we could do, if it pleases the committee, would be to deal with the Conservative amendment as an amendment to the Liberal amendment. I notice they have a large degree of similarity. Then we could deal with the differences in that way and then deal with the Liberal amendment. I am open to however the committee wishes to proceed.

Mrs Marland: I think the Liberal amendment should stand on its own. It is dealing with land leases and we support that. The only difference in our amendment is that we think the garbage tipping fee should be included. I think we should deal with them both individually.

The Chair: That is fine. We will deal with Mrs Poole's and then the Conservative motion.

Ms Poole: The reason this was stood down yesterday was because the parliamentary assistant was in the chair -- not precisely in the chair, beside the chair -- yesterday and at the time we were discussing it she said she would talk to the minister and see whether there was any feeling that the minister would agree that the part about the prescribed operating cost category for the whole residential complex being put in could stand if it were separated from the other portion. The parliamentary assistant was going to speak to the minister on that.

There are basically two items that differ from what the government has in subsection 14(1). The first is that if there was an extraordinary increase in a land lease from a government agency or a financial institution, then that could be flowed through as an extraordinary operating cost. However, it would of course be subject to the cap the same as all other extraordinary operating increases would be.

I would specify and make very clear that this is not referring to private land leases. This is only talking about government or government agency or financial institution land leases in situations where it may be 25 or 30 years since these leases were originally negotiated. Obviously, since that time, the price of land has escalated enormously.

It might end up in a number of insolvencies if indeed there is no provision made. I do not think you would find there are a large number of these in the province, just a fairly small number. For that reason, I do not think the minister would find it was going to deal with a large number of buildings.

The second part basically says that if the government in its wisdom deemed there would be an operating cost category, that they would like to be in the regulations under which extraordinary operating increases would apply, that they would have that discretion. It does not obligate the government to do so. It does provide the government with that window of opportunity if it wanted to make changes. They would not have to go back to open up the act in total again in order to make those changes.

It differs from the Conservative amendment in that the Conservative amendment is quite specific about the things they would like added as extraordinary operating increases. They have included insurance, cable television, superintendent's salary, sewage fees, garbage tippage fees. To me at least, the government presented quite an adequate case for why garbage tippage fees should not be included, and there may be reasons why some of the others should not. But the government might like the discretion at some stage to change the extraordinary operating categories without having to open the legislation.

I think that second portion was what the parliamentary assistant wanted to refer for the minister's direct answer as opposed to making that kind of decision on her own.

Mr Turnbull: With respect to leasing of land, I just did a quick example now. Let us say you have a land value today of $2,500,000. As I said yesterday, the way you would normally assess the way in which a land-lease rent would be upped would be to take a percentage of the value of the land.

This is just a hypothetical situation: Let us say you had a land value in 1967 of $500,000 and you applied a 5% per annum rent on that. That would be a $25,000 charge against the expenses of this building. In 1992, 25 years after 1967, the lease comes up. Let us say the value of that land is $2,500,000. These are probably fairly reasonable guesses. If you apply 5% against that $2,500,000, you then have a charge of $125,000 per annum, so there is an increase of $100,000 per year from one year to another.

Quite obviously the proposed legislation does not contemplate that kind of increase at all because if you were to eat up all of your increases with respect to extraordinary operating costs for the 3% increase, you are still not going to cover it. That is why Ms Poole's amendment is very important, because the way the bill is drafted at the moment it makes no reference whatsoever to that kind of situation.

Mr Mammoliti: As Ms Poole was speaking I saw her looking towards me, and I think that is because of what I said yesterday in terms of subsection 14(1). Perhaps she misunderstood me. I know this particular section deals with government and government agencies and land. What I said yesterday, and this is again just to verify perhaps something that Ms Poole is thinking, I believe the private sector should not be able to increase the lease and pawn it off on the tenants.

To say I would disagree with the government in this particular case would be hypocritical on my part. That is what I was saying yesterday, that I do not think government should be allowed to do it either. If we are saying private owners should not be doing it, then I would say government should not do it either. That is why I have to say again that I agree with subsection 14(1). I agree with the government's amendment.


Ms Poole: I believe the crux of Mr Mammoliti's argument is if private sector land-lease programs are not able to be eligible, neither should government land-lease or government agency land-lease programs. There is a very significant difference, as all people are aware or should be aware. For the private sector there would be a profit motive. Mr Mammoliti implied yesterday that the private sector would perpetrate a huge ripoff. Whether that is true is another point. I do not think that is how the government or the government agencies operate.

We are talking about a legitimate, bona fide renegotiation of a land-lease deal where a government or government agency significantly increases the cost of the land lease. We are not talking about situations which are not at arm's length or where there is a middle person trying to make a quick buck. We are talking about what I hope would be reputable government agencies and the government. I do not think that argument should enter into it at all. We are talking about a particular case. Most of these land leases are actually government, government agencies or financial institutions, so we are talking about a very different category affecting quite a small number of buildings.

Mr Mammoliti: It is still not consistent. Even though we believe that government may not do it, its intentions are good, we are honest people and would never rip anybody off, the public is still out there, the tenants are still out there. I would differ in that the public does not believe that. The only way to get the public and those tenants on side on this is to let this go through so they know they are secure and it will not be put on their backs per se if a chosen government at some time decides to increase rent on that basis.

I know our government would never do that and, if it did, I would be very upset. I cannot speak for a Liberal government or a Conservative government. I am a little disappointed in how they have acted in the past, and I would not put it past them to do something like that. It is a little bit of preventive medicine as well in my opinion and I think in the opinion of a lot of tenants out there as well.

The Chair: The minister will not be with us tomorrow, and I wonder if we could have her comments while we have some time.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I have looked at the Hansard from yesterday and I think my colleague Ms Harrington stated the concerns we have with such an amendment very well. What we are looking at here is an amendment which proposes not only government agencies but financial institutions as the land holders. This opens up the whole question of the financing of land in such properties.

We have made it very clear that it is not our intention in this legislation to allow a pass-through on the subject of financing. That makes it a distinct change from the existing legislation, Bill 51. This amendment begins that process. We do not find it acceptable. We think the items for which a landlord might be able to make an application for an extraordinary increase are well listed. You know that tenants have the same counterability to apply for a decrease if there is an extraordinary decrease in operating costs for those same items. Of course, it would not be possible for a tenant to ever expect to look to a decrease in cost associated with land leasing.

I think our position is quite clear. It may not be the preferred position of the opposition, but it is the position that stands with the principle in this legislation, which is that we are not passing financing costs for land through to tenants in this form, as an extraordinary cost, or any other way.

Ms Poole: I would point out to the minister that if she is basing her reluctance to allow any other categories on the fact that tenants could not reasonably expect a decrease while landlords could expect an increase, then I would ask her to re-examine the extraordinary increases for municipal taxes. I can assure you there will be no decreases tenants can ever apply for in municipal taxes.

Hon Ms Gigantes: You may assure me, but you might be wrong.

Ms Poole: I might be and so might you.

Hon Ms Gigantes: So be it.

Ms Poole: But I think that is not a valid reason to base it on. The other thing you brought up is the extraordinary decreases, and in the event that you wished to have an extraordinary decrease in another prescribed area, as it is now set out you could not do it. So it would operate not only for extraordinary operating; there could also be an amendment for extraordinary operating decreases as well as increases.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Mr Chair, it is a very generous offer we are given by the opposition that we will not have to come back and go through legislative amendment on this bill, and certainly anybody who has watched any of the proceedings on this legislation would know how tempting such a position would be. However, it is against the principle we are following in this bill as far as pass-through of financing costs is concerned, and we are not going to re-establish that in the little foothold that would be established under the notion of extraordinary increases in operating costs.

Ms Poole: Perhaps I should clarify for the minister that when I made reference to the possibility of opening up in the regulations the matter of extraordinary operating decreases, I was referring to the final part of 14(1), which deals with empowering the government to deal with a new operating cost category, whether it be increase or decrease, through regulation.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Oh, I understand exactly what you are doing.

Ms Poole: It might not have anything to do with financing.

Hon Ms Gigantes: You are widening the list of items, and what you are doing is entering an item which begins to get into the finance area, and we have said -- and I will repeat again in case you did not understand -- that we are not going to allow cost pass-throughs of financing costs to tenants, and we will not introduce it by the back door in this small toehold you are suggesting in the area of land leasing.

Ms Poole: I just wanted to make one other point for the minister, because she was not here yesterday, so she might not have understood what I was referring to. I was not referring to the land lease section. I was only referring to the last line -- I guess it is the last line and one word -- which is completely separate from the land lease issue.

Hon Ms Gigantes: You mean, "any other prescribed operating cost."

Ms Poole: Yes.

Hon Ms Gigantes: No, thank you. We have said it. We have said no yesterday. We have said no today.

Ms Poole: But I am saying it has nothing to do with financing, that last part. You were saying you were against introducing a toehold for financing.

Hon Ms Gigantes: That is correct.

Ms Poole: That does not.

Hon Ms Gigantes: We would like to set in legislation, painful as it might be to have to come back and amend it at some time, the exact terms so that everybody understands them, and we would allow for extraordinary increases and allowances for municipal taxes, for hydro or for water or heating for the whole residential complex. We are not going to allow, by regulation, this item to sort of drift so that at some point in time -- perhaps we may not be the government, and were you the government, we would sure like to make sure you have to come back legislatively and get the change.

Ms Poole: I think it shows a dramatic lack of flexibility on the part of the government. We know this legislation is not going to be reopened for some time.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Good.

Ms Poole: Not because we would not want it to be but because the government would refuse to do it.

Hon Ms Gigantes: This one, yes.

Ms Poole: What we are saying to you is that we want to give the option that if there are other categories, whether they be increases or decreases to the tenants, you will be able to do it.

Hon Ms Gigantes: We appreciate the offer, but the answer is no.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms Poole. As the committee has agreed to adjourn at 3 o'clock, we will --

Mr Turnbull: Can I just ask one question of the minister very quickly? In light of the fact that you are opposed to the Liberal amendment to subsection 14(1), can I take it that you will come forward with separate legislation which will disallow any governmental organization or financial institution from increasing the land lease costs?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Absolutely not, no. That does not make sense to me at all.

Mr Turnbull: Okay. You do not mind that the landlord is going to suck air on it, but you do not want the governmental institutions to do this.

Hon Ms Gigantes: We could get into a very long discussion on this, which probably would be out of place right now, Mr Chair.

Mr Turnbull: That is absolutely unacceptable.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Turnbull. We will adjourn and meet tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock to resume consideration of this bill.

The committee adjourned at 1501.