Tuesday 28 January 1992

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

Subcommittee report

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):

Jackson, Cameron (Burlington South/-Sud PC) for Mr Turnbull

Morin, Gilles E. (Carleton East/-Est L) for Mr McClelland

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

Ward, Brad (Brantford ND) for Mr Bisson

Clerk / Greffier: Deller, Deborah

Staff / Personnel: Baldwin, Elizabeth, Legislative Counsel

The committee met at 1011 in committee room 1.


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.

Section 35:

The Chair: The standing committee on general government will come to order as we continue our review of Bill 121 clause by clause.

The first order of business today is to take the vote on Ms Harrington's motion to subsection 35(1). Would members all take their seats. All those in favour of Ms Harrington's motion to subsection 35(1)? This will be a recorded vote.

The committee divided on Ms Harrington's motion, which was agreed to on the following vote:

Ayes -- 6

Abel, Harrington, Mammoliti, Owens, Ward, Winninger.

Nays -- 4

Marland, Morin, O'Neill, Y., Poole.

Ms Poole: Mr Chair, I have two deputations in writing to submit for the committee's information. Until Mr Mammoliti submitted the presentation from Mr Frank Haines yesterday, I did not realize that this was allowable, but since it is, there are two matters I would like to distribute through the clerk.

The first is a letter from the board of directors of the 400 Walmer Road Tenants Association and it concerns the matter of equalization. Unfortunately, by the date I received this letter the equalization section had been rejected by the government. But I think it is very important for members of the committee to have an opportunity to read this letter and see an actual example where rents were not illegally obtained and where the tenants very much would like the equalization process. This is for members' information.

The second piece I would like to distribute is an open letter to the Premier of Ontario by Minto Developments Inc. This was a large ad in the Ottawa Citizen this past weekend which dealt specifically with Bill 121. It just put a very different picture on why a substantial number of people in the province are very concerned about the legislation and the work this committee is engaging in. It does mention a few statistics, such as the fact that Minto has reduced capital expenditures on its rental buildings from $7 million in 1990 to less than $2 million for 1992, and this has led to a dramatic loss in Ontario of an estimated 25,000 jobs and has significantly worsened the current recession. This just puts a different perspective on it, so I will submit that for the clerk's action.

The Chair: Thank you, Mrs Poole, for the information. I should point out, though, that there is a difference between the information you are providing and what Mr Mammoliti provided, which was a letter addressed to the Chairman of the committee. But thank you for the information.

Returning to section 35, there is a government amendment, as printed I believe, to clause 35(1)(b). Do all members have a copy of the government amendment to clause 35(1)(b)?

Hon Ms Gigantes: It is a very simple amendment, Mr Chair.

The Chair: Perhaps we should have it moved, Minister. We will need a member of the committee to move it, Ms Harrington perhaps.

Ms Harrington moves that clause 35(1)(b) of the bill, as reprinted to show the amendments proposed by the minister, be amended by striking out "in the municipality" at the end.

Is there an explanation?

Ms Harrington: It is a technical amendment to clarify that this section applies to unorganized territories as well as municipalities.

The Chair: Questions, comments?

Ms Poole: Although we have no objection to the intent of the amendment, which is to clarify that unorganized territories are included, on principle the Liberal caucus will be voting against this amendment since we are very much in favour instead of reinstatement of the standards board.

The Chair: Further questions, comments? Shall Ms Harrington's amendment to clause 35(1)(b) carry? All those in favour? Opposed?

Motion agreed to.

The Chair: Shall subsection 35(1), as amended, carry? Carried.

Subsection 35(2), questions, comments, explanations?

Ms Harrington: The government has an amendment to subsections 35(2) and (3).

The Chair: Do members all have a copy of the government amendment to subsections 35(2) and (3)?

Ms Harrington moves that subsections 35(2) and (3) of the bill, as reprinted to show the amendments proposed by the minister, be struck out and the following substituted:


"(2) The director shall receive an order under subsection (1) only if,

"(a) the period for compliance with the order has expired or, if the order has been stayed, the period for compliance with it would have expired had the order not been stayed;

"(b) the order has not been complied with; and

"(c) the time for appealing the order has expired.

"Municipality to forward work orders

"(3) The council of a municipality shall forward to the director any order of the municipality or notice of appeal referred to in subsections (1) and (2) as soon as practicable and no later than the last day of the calendar month following the month in which the period for compliance with the order has expired.


"(4) The council of a municipality shall forward to the director any decision on appeal of an order referred to in subsection (3) as soon as practicable and no later than the last day of the calendar month following the month in which the decision was issued."

Is there an explanation for the amendment?

Ms Harrington: I am wondering if the minister would like to explain, or would she like me to explain?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Go right ahead.

Ms Harrington: This amendment provides that the director now shall receive copies of all municipal work orders, including those which are under appeal. The municipality must forward such orders once the period for compliance identified in the order has expired.

The amendment to subsection 35(3) requires that, where an appeal is made against a municipal work order, the municipal council must forward to the director the notice of the appeal at the same time that the work order is forwarded, as soon as practicable and no later, as I mentioned.

Subsection (4) is new and provides that the municipality must also send the appeal decision to the director as soon as practicable and also before the last day of the calendar month following the month in which the decision was issued.

This information is necessary in order to know whether rent increases should be prohibited.

The Chair: If the Chair could have one brief question, as we amended the previous section to deal with unorganized territories -- being a northern member I understand these a bit -- I am not aware of any case where an unorganized territory has jurisdiction at present for work orders etc, but it is quite possible that they could in the future, and maybe even now they do. How does this apply to them?

Ms Harrington: You might ask Colleen to clarify that.


Ms Parrish: We do have an amendment in clause 35(1)(b) that deals with the unorganized municipality problem. It is true that right now we do not have any unorganized territories that do this directly. My understanding is that in this section the word "municipality" does not refer to unorganized territories. So right now this section would not cover unorganized territories, because my understanding is that technically they are not municipalities. They do not meet the test of being a council of a municipality.

The Chair: That is true, but there are some rather innovative structures in some of the unorganized areas where local service boards, for example, may have jurisdiction in a number of areas and may request the jurisdiction in this area. There is also the opportunity in at least one case for a planning board, which represents a group, to have this kind of jurisdiction. Now I think you are correct that presently no-one does, but the law allows it as I understand it.

Ms Parrish: Certainly the amendment to clause 35(1)(b) that was made suggests you may have a bylaw that is passed, or a standard passed, in a place which is not a municipality. The problem is that we do not then require the municipality to forward the material. I guess these sections are essentially sections that make you do something. I am sure my colleague may have some things that he wants to tell me too, so I may just pause. But it seems to me that if you were concerned about that, I suppose you could create some sort of regulation-making authority that says you could designate some other body, for example, because you would not want to say to a local planning board in an unorganized territory that you will forward these things if they have not assumed the responsibility.

I think this drafting is fairly clear that it is only municipalities that are made to do this. Anybody else can do it and they have permission to do it, but they do not have to do it. It says in clause 35(1)(c) that we can receive these from anybody. The director may receive it, but only municipalities must do it.

Now if the committee was interested in expanding that, given the fact that to my knowledge no unorganized territory does this, and there was a desire to make it mandatory so that if they do issue these they must send them to us, as opposed to permissive as in clause 35(1)(c), I think it would be possible to add that anybody we designate by regulation must also do this. That would be a way of doing it.

Otherwise, what I think these sections say together is that the local services board of an unorganized territory may send it to the director and if it does, the director must do something with it, but only municipalities must send it to the province. So the question is whether or not you want to move these local services boards, for example, into the "must" category from the permissive category.

The Chair: As the Chair, I was just trying to clarify it. I was just bringing that to your attention, wondering if that was the intent of the ministry. I now understand what the intent of the ministry is. Further questions and comments?

Ms Poole: Just on a point of clarification, I have two government motions in my book, the one which was just read out and another one which deals with subsections 35(1), (2) and (3). Am I correct in assuming that this latter government motion would be withdrawn and superseded by the second one?

Hon Ms Gigantes: I do not have such a motion.

The Chair: We will just check that.

Ms Parrish: In the reprinted version of the bill, both subsections were amended. You are correct that we are withdrawing (2) and (3) and substituting the new amendment, and 35(1) is amended in the opening and in clause (b).

Ms Poole: So basically we are to ignore the government amendment which we originally received at the time all the amendments were filed with committee, because it has been dealt with in both the reprinted version and also with your new amendment tabled on January 14. I just want to know what to do with this piece of paper I have in my book.

Ms Parrish: When we reprinted the bill, we did provide the loose-leaf copies of all the amendments in the bill, because we were required to annotate each and indicate the reason for each. Some members find that helpful and others prefer to use the printed bill only, and then any supplementary amendments that have been filed by any of the parties or by the government.

Hon Ms Gigantes: The answer is, that is in your reprinted bill.

Ms Poole: Yes. This is in my reprinted bill and it was a government amendment tabled on October 31. Since the amendment you read this morning deals with subsections (2) and (3), it in effect revokes what you have put in subsections (2) and (3) in the one you tabled on October 31.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, that is correct.

Ms Poole: So we do not have to worry about this piece of paper.

Hon Ms Gigantes: You have it.

Ms Poole: Thank you.

The Chair: Further discussion on Mrs Harrington's amendment to subsections 35(2) and (3)? Shall Mrs Harrington's amendment to subsection 35(2) and (3) carry? All in favour?

Mr B. Ward: Twenty minutes?

Ms Poole: Mr Chair, can we have unanimous consent for five minutes?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Sure.

Interjection: No.

The Chair: No? The vote will be held at 12 minutes to 11.

The committee recessed at 1028.


The Chair: We will reconvene. All in favour of Mrs Harrington's amendment to subsections 35(2) and (3)?

Motion agreed to.

Section 35, as amended, agreed to.

Section 36:

The Chair: Shall subsection 36(1) carry? Carried.

Shall subsection 36(2) carry? Carried.

Subsection 36(3): Questions, comments, explanations or amendments? Mr Jackson.

Mr Jackson: It talks here about an inspector to make whatever inspections a director considers necessary to determine whether a landlord has complied with the prescribed maintenance. Can someone please give me a brief description of who the inspector is?

Ms Parrish: The inspector is a person who is designated by the director to make inspections, and the inspectors we currently use are all qualified property standards officers who have experience and training in the area. The reference to different kinds of inspections is that, depending on the situation, you may have to designate somebody, say, who is a structural engineer or whatever. Some cases are more complex than others but normally our inspectors are property standards officers.

Mr Jackson: Can you tell me who pays for those private sector consultants to come in and verify or do the work of an inspector? Has the ministry division a budget for all of this? I agree with the process, because that is how we had to do it on behalf of tenants. When we did our major appeal we had to bring in the consultants in order to verify various documentation and inspections.

Ms Parrish: We currently do this now.

Mr Jackson: To a degree, yes.

Ms Parrish: So we would continue to use the staff. The short answer is the ministry pays because the ministry is doing the inspection and it is its inspection. But we have a system now of using property standards officers and that seems to be a system which has found some favour, although it is not perfect and may have to be improved in the future. Essentially it is the government that does pay.

Mr Jackson: Another very quick question, and I appreciate the short answers. Has the number of employees in this area grown, and to what extent is it anticipated that it will grow?

Ms Parrish: We have 34 part-time inspectors now.

Mr Jackson: For the province?

Ms Parrish: Yes. Bear in mind we only inspect in areas where the local municipality does not have its own system, and as you know, in the large urban areas the municipality usually does. So we currently have 34 part-time inspectors. I understand the inspectors get a per diem and then they have an expense, and there are a number of approaches taken to reduce expenditures. For example, we try to choose a property inspector who lives within two hours of the inspected property to reduce travelling time, and that is why we use property inspectors around the province.

Mr Jackson: The other part of my question was, do you anticipate an expansion of that service grid, or is the minister satisfied that is sufficient to meet those requirements? The legislation does not specifically indicate that they are essentially contracting out, but you are on record as saying that is part of the current system.

Ms Parrish: At the present time we rely upon the expertise which exists within the municipal property inspection work force, and it is difficult to say whether there will be an expansion, because it depends on how far the provincial standard applies. In fact we found that the area of the provincial standard has actually decreased over time because some municipalities -- I think you may be familiar, for example, with Burlington -- at one time did not have property standards and now do. That is an area where the standard completely covered that area, and then I think they brought in outside property standards and we no longer did that. I think we still do the interior of the buildings. In fact there has actually been a diminution as municipalities have been convinced to do this for the good of their own people.

Mr Jackson: With the exception that in Burlington it is confined to the core area; we do not have a city-wide property standard. It is an outgrowth of the old downtown redevelopment fund as I referenced last week in a commentary. To sum up, the improvement area groups are voting to bail out of improvement areas because of the cost.

The minister may want to check with her counterpart, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, because I believe it is entirely his dollars that are utilized in that area. But my understanding from a few that I have talked to is that they are looking to get out. The question then would be whether the city wishes to continue with that process since it was a precondition of getting those federal and provincial dollars. I just wanted to get a sense of that as opposed to getting into a debate about its merits. I appreciate that information. Could you share that briefing memo from staff with the clerk to distribute to the members?

Ms Parrish: I have actually just tabled the letter with the clerk that answers some of these. I can give you some additional information to what I have given you now about the numbers and so on.

Mr Jackson: I would, because what I would not want to see is in this period of restraint that municipalities do not make the linkage to this legislation when they are cutting property standards officers and a variety of other personnel on the municipal payrolls. In most municipalities you would see a concentration of rental accommodation, so the councillors who would vote in favour of retaining those because in their minds they have linked it to this legislation may be in a dramatic minority, and residential suburban councillors might say, "We could survive if we cut that department in half." Its implications would be rather dramatic for this legislation.

I would certainly like to make sure that municipalities are aware of the importance of maintenance in this area -- no pun intended. We are at some degree of risk in that sense, that by listening to you we are relying on a grid that is in place in municipalities.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes.

Mr Jackson: That is all I am saying. As politicians, we will receive letters from tenants saying, "I got through phase one, I got through phase two, I got through phase three, but now we've got this maintenance problem and I'm told at city hall it will take an inspector six months to get over here." We are not empowered to step into a municipality and say, "Excuse me, you really must go over and take that apartment building and jump the queue and have that inspection done." I am given some consolation when you indicate that at least we can go in and do the interior, but that only is hit or miss if it is the exterior which is the area of maintenance concern or the area of maintenance in dispute.

I have described a situation and you have used the example of my own community and those are the circumstances. My tenants are concentrated in two specific wards in my city and therefore they are in a somewhat vulnerable position vis-à-vis all councillors who would be on a cost-cutting crusade. Maybe the minister would like to respond.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I take your point very much to heart.

Mr Jackson: Then I know it is very close to what is important to the minister.

The Chair: Further questions, comments? Shall subsection 36(3) carry? Carried.

Section 36 agreed to.


Section 37:

The Chair: On subsection 37(1), as the original bill was presented, are there questions, comments, explanations or amendments? Shall subsection 37(1) carry? Carried.

On subsection 37(2), are there questions, comments or explanations? Shall subsection 37(2) carry? Carried.

On subsection 37(3), I believe Mr Jackson has an amendment.

Mr Jackson moves that subsection 37(3) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:

"(3) If the landlord who has received an inspector's work order is not satisfied with its terms, the landlord may, within thirty days of the giving of the order, apply to a chief rent officer for a review of the work order."

Mr Jackson: That does not change the time frame. It just deals with the issue of flexibility should there be requirements for negotiating certain circumstances that might apply to weather, tenant inconvenience or availability of materials. There are a series of things that would flow as a concern of not only the tenant but also the landlord and this would allow for a certain degree of flexibility. If you wish, we could tighten the language to confine it to those things that are in the minister's opinion helpful to tenants. I merely want to get across the notion that flexibility sometimes means that it works to the advantage of a tenant.

Ms Poole: The Liberal caucus will be supporting this amendment. There are a number of time frames within the original legislation that we felt were simply not adequate. One instance dealt with the fact that the legislation automatically defaults to administrative review unless the tenants or the landlord, the other party, applies within 15 days to have a hearing. The government has in its wisdom seen that the time frame was not adequate in that particular case and has proposed an amendment to 30 days.

Mr Jackson's amendment would do a similar thing with respect to giving the landlord an opportunity to dialogue with the inspector and ensure that the work order actually can be carried out. As Mr Jackson mentioned, there are a number of issues involved here. One is the availability of material. The second is inconvenience to tenants who did not want the work done. For instance, if it was work on windows, they might not want it done in the middle of winter. Another extenuating circumstance might be if it was exterior wall work, for instance, and the landlord would need some time.

In these cases the landlord needs an opportunity to negotiate with the building inspector. When these things are brought to the building inspector's attention, he might well change the terms of the work order. What this amendment does is allow 30 days for the landlord and building inspector to have this opportunity, as opposed to 15 days. We feel this is much more realistic.

Hon Ms Gigantes: We will not be supporting this amendment. In spite of what has been said by the two members speaking just now, this clause has nothing to do with a landlord speaking to the inspector. Read it again. It says, "If a landlord who has received an inspector's work order is not satisfied with its terms, the landlord may, within fifteen days of the giving of the order, apply to a chief rent officer." This has to do with a landlord's ability, his right to apply to the rent office, to the administration of this legislation, not to the inspector at all for a review of the work order. If the landlord has received the work order and wants to make an application, 15 days is plenty of time in which to do it.

Mr Owens: Further to the minister's comments, I agree that if a landlord or property owner is served with a work order certainly he can get his act together within two weeks to decide whether or not he is going to appeal the work order. I do not think it has anything to do with the inconvenience of tenants. My reading of this clause is that it is simply an administrative vehicle for the landlord, giving that property owner a time frame in which he or she can appeal that work order.

Ms Poole: What I would point out to both the minister and Mr Owens is it has a great dealt to do with the negotiations between a landlord and a building inspector. If a landlord wished to apply to a chief rent officer, it would be paramount for that landlord to have talked to the inspector and made that inspector aware of the difficulties. In fact in a number of cases they might be able to get the concurrence of that inspector. This facilitates that process. Fifteen days for that appeal to occur is simply not an adequate time and that is what it comes down to.

This amendment is identical to what is in the original legislation, other than one word. If I am not mistaken, the only change is that in the Conservative amendment the word "thirty" appears and in the government amendment the word "fifteen" appears. We are just talking about a longer time period to allow those discussions to take place. In fact, one thing that might result from this is that you might not even need that appeal to the chief rent officer. The landlord and the inspector might reach the agreement that a longer period of time could be allocated and that appeal does not even need to take place. We are just trying to reduce the amount of bureaucracy and give a more reasonable aspect to it.

Mr Mammoliti: Ms Poole said a longer period of time. I think she hit the nail right on the head in terms of more time wasted perhaps. I am looking at the possible abuse that may take place. I am looking at landlords taking advantage of this consistently to neglect and stall work. That is something I do not want to see opened up.

Putting myself in a tenant's shoes, perhaps I note something wrong in the building, that needs a work order immediately. It takes some time to get that work order and it takes some time to get an inspector out. This would only stall it another 15 days. I see some obvious abuse happening, some stalling tactics. That is why I cannot support it.

Mr Jackson: Before we get too fixated on the concept of stalling, I think we should be familiar with the processes that are out there. You are talking about 10 working days, first of all. You are talking about the requirement to go out and get tenders or to get the work done as reasonably as possible. I stress the issues of weather and availability of materials and tenant inconvenience. I do not know how involved you are with your tenants. I presume you are. But getting past all the rhetoric, I can point you to buildings where specifically tenant inconvenience was a factor in the flexibility of when certain renovations were started.

The point I am trying to stress is that you have such tight time lines here you leave the landlord with no position other than to send a recorded letter through his lawyer to the ministry saying, "You have not given me sufficient time for all of this." Do not forget: By definition we have been told by counsel that this is predominantly a rural phenomenon, where we have people coming from Gananoque to go to New Liskeard and we have people coming from Brantford to come all the way to Stoney Creek. These people also are employed by other municipalities and they just cannot drop what they are doing and pick up the telephone and say: "Oh, I'm talking to a landlord. Yes, I did that inspection. You don't like the order? What's the problem?" You cannot take completely all the flexibility out of a system. The truth is, if you tighten it up too much, you force landlords to go into an appeal mechanism.


My question to the minister now has to be, what happens when you get a large number of not failure-to-comply simply, but letters to you from a lawyer, to your ministry, saying: "We're willing to comply, but I have only gotten one quote. Here are the two companies I am trying to get my mitts on so that they will come in and give me a quote"? This is separate from certain matters that have to do with the fire code and so on. I will come back to that point in a minute, because I want to make it clear that these are not all life-threatening issues which deal with safety code standards and fire code standards. I would expect immediate compliance, but I can speak to this committee at length about the flexibility in our current system on those matters.

I am talking about regular maintenance deficiencies that have been allowed to go on too long. They still have to be done by competent people, and not grab the first fly-by-nighter who is available: "Because I was told to do it, I have done it and that should be sufficient." Now you have an appellant mechanism in place for two or three years while we fight over whether or not the right person did the right renovations up to a proper standard. You have created more work.

It is in everybody's nature to potentially put off till tomorrow what can be done today, but I will tell you one more thing: In this economy, nobody is throwing good money after bad, I mean nobody. If you think landlords are just sitting there scheming how they can simply delay and blow more money -- they have a responsibility to their own children, their own families and their own pension plan to make sure they get value for their dollar, because if they do not they will lose the money and, second, they will have to do it over again.

I am sorry, but two weeks dealing with government agencies, especially when this is not an employee who is there at the beck and call of the process -- this is somebody who lives in an entirely different community, who is employed by another agency, another level of government. They are apt to say: "Look, don't bother me. I only get paid on an hourly rate. I've earned my money and I'll hang up on him." I do not blame them for doing it, unless the government is rushing in to say, "We'll pay you more money because of all these needs to sit down and discuss the implications of what the decision is." That is the practical effect of that legislation.

This is my final concern. When it is too tight, and it is on record that it is too tight, and you have so many thrown into that category, you have lost your right as a government to say, "Sorry, we're bringing the hammer down." If you give them the 30 days, then you do not have to listen to any crap, because you know you have 30 days, which is so many working days, available to implement those changes.

I may as well get all my points across and then I can yield to the minister because I have asked her a direct question. There are homes for the aged in this province that are run municipally that have been in violation of building code matters and fire safety matters. If there is a fire, a lot of people are going to die, and we are not doing a damned thing about it. I can tell you the actual ones because we have been fighting with subsequent governments, three of them, and my seniors who are tenants, who are in those units -- and there is no bogeyman, no bad actor landlords involved here. These are municipally run homes for the aged. They are in serious non-compliance and we have had orders sitting out there. So what is the standard we are telling people: that seniors do not deserve the same level of protection?

The government has a definition of flexibility when it suits it, which is what we are experiencing with our seniors in a lot of these locations, but all of a sudden we do not have one ounce of flexibility. We have a hard and fast rule. People are going to spill over that line, whether we want to say they should or should not, and then we have a bigger mess. I would rather take a tough stand, giving them 30 days, than come back to look at the legislation and say: "We know it is 15 days. We know that is only 11 working days at best, but do your best and we'll do what we can if you get around to it in 30 days." For God's sake, what are we talking about here other than let's help the system work? When you get an opportunity to participate in that kind of amendment, who is getting hurt? The tenant and the landlord get hurt if we make things so rigid they cannot move. That is all I want to say.

Mr Owens: I have to ask the members opposite about their comments with respect to flexibility. How much more flexibility do you want than a clause that starts off, "If a landlord who has received an inspector's work order is not satisfied with its terms," and then there is a vehicle for appeal? How much more flexibility do you want? Are you telling me that it takes more than 15 days -- that is three weeks of working time, times five days --

Ms Poole: No, it is not. It is not three weeks.

Mr Owens: -- that you cannot get on the phone, through your agent or through yourself and file an appeal?

Ms Poole: It is not 15 working days.

The Chair: Mr Owens has the floor.

Mr Owens: Then you look down to clause (4), which cannot be read in isolation, and see that the inspector's work order is stayed once an application has been filed. All this stuff about having to do tenders and inconveniencing tenants is not an issue. It is a phoney issue. Once that person gets on the phone and notifies the chief rent officer that there is an appeal, the work order is stayed. It has absolutely nothing to do with inconveniencing tenants or throwing people out in the cold etc. You talk about flexibility; the flexibility is there, absolutely.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I found the minister's remarks stated in a very condescending manner, and I certainly find there have been very good points placed that give our arguments a lot of substance. I think there is a misunderstanding on the part of the government here of business practice, and I am not surprised about that. There is a misunderstanding about the real world of what is possible and the time lines that are necessary to do business in this province. This province is not Prince Edward Island. It happens to have very large distances between some municipalities --

Mr Owens: That is a very astute observation.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: -- that depend on other municipalities, and the fact that we are talking about time lines has direct reference to those points.

This subsection states the landlord "may" -- it does not say "shall" -- take 15. We are asking that the landlord may have 30. That, I am sure everyone realizes, necessitates a level of trust on the part of landlords, but it seems to me that every landlord in this province is looked upon as a crook or a criminal in this legislation, and that is why we get letters from people like Minto, from the minister's own community, that say Bill 121 forces landlords to do business outside Ontario because this government continues to pursue policies that are anti-landlord, and that is not helping tenants. This is another example.

Mr Owens: Nice speech.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Of course, your statements on the government side are never speeches. I have made my comments, Mr Chairman.

The Chair: Thank you, Mrs O'Neill. Mr Mammoliti.

Mr Mammoliti: God knows I have never made a speech in this place.

Mr Jackson: The odd nursery rhyme.

Mr Mammoliti: Nursery rhymes, yes. Cam, I am serious on this point, because I take this particular point and this particular amendment very seriously. The minister has mentioned the language in the amendment, and I agree with the minister. It says the landlord will "apply to a chief rent officer for a review of the work order." What does that mean? What does a review mean?

Mr Jackson: It means everything that has to do with a review.


Mr Mammoliti: How much longer can it be stalled if this review --

The Chair: Through the Chair, Mr Mammoliti.

Mr Mammoliti: Sorry, Mr Chair, through you -- if the review includes everything -- just that, everything -- above and beyond what you have mentioned here in terms of tenders and in terms of the time it takes for a contractor to come out and all that? How much more time are we looking at? What does a review mean? I think it should be a little more specific if I were to look at it.

In terms of tendering, Cam, through you, Mr Chair, you mentioned that tendering is important. Let me just say that not everything is done by tender and not everybody exercises that process. You mentioned maintenance. It does not mean that everything is done through tender. It could be a smaller item, Cam. Let me say to you that there are mechanisms and ways of dealing with maintenance that do not come under that tender process. A lot of landlords have an operating list of contractors who could come out to the site immediately to do that work. Inspectors know of those individuals as well.

The other point you brought up was that an inspector or an officer cannot answer a phone and deal with an appeal immediately. I say to you, why not? Why can they not answer the phone? Why can they not deal with that particular landlord immediately? If you are saying to me that two weeks is not enough because they are just too busy, I can say to you, through the Chair of course, that I am concerned. If a tenant organization gets hold of me and says, "Look, this guy's sitting on his butt," I think it is my obligation as a member to find out what that officer is doing. I think the onus is put on us as well to do a little bit of homework as members in this particular case.

The Chair: I have the minister, Mrs Poole, Mr Owens and Mr Jackson.

Hon Ms Gigantes: How much discussion over 15 days? I think there is a principle here, and it is a principle which the opposition is confusing.

Mr Jackson: Oh, come on.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I will explain what I mean. This clause says that there is a relief valve for a landlord, and it says the landlord has to use that relief valve in 15 days.

Mr Jackson: Exactly. It means most of them are going to use it. That is my point. I am trying to reduce the pressure on that system. If you will forgive me, Mr Chairman, just a subquestion to the minister: You have civic employees from another --

Hon Ms Gigantes: Excuse me, Mr Chair.

The Chair: Ms Gigantes has the floor.

Hon Ms Gigantes: We have also had an explanation from the opposition about how we do not understand the real world, how we do not understand business practice, how we do not understand the size of Ontario. It has nothing to do with that. Read the clause. It says if the landlord has received a work order and does not like it, he may apply within 15 days to have it reviewed by the chief rent officer. All we are asking the landlord to do is to take 15 days and consider whether he thinks that work order is one that reasonably applies in his or her case.

Mr Jackson: Those are the only grounds.

Hon Ms Gigantes: That is all we are asking in this clause, and we are offering relief.

Mr Jackson: Right, and everybody is going to take it.

Hon Ms Gigantes: We are offering relief through subsection (4), which follows, which says that there can be a stay while the rent officer looks at the request for a review. What has been suggested by the opposition is that somehow we are asking landlords to get the work done, to get all their tenders in, to make a decision about who is doing the work, to get it under way, all this kind of stuff. We are not asking that at all. We are asking the landlord --

Mr Jackson: Read the section.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Mr Chair, I wonder if Mr Jackson would do me the kindness just to be quiet while I am talking, as I was when he was talking.

The Chair: I am certain all members realize that interjections are out of order. Ms Gigantes.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Thank you, Mr Chair. We are not talking here about compliance. We are not talking here about getting tenders in. We are not talking here about indications of good faith or progress on the part of the landlord. What we are talking about is an indication of good --


The Chair: This is not helpful. If we could just have one member speak at a time. Minister.

Hon Ms Gigantes: What we are talking here is the good faith of the administration of this legislation, the chief rent officer, who can be called upon by the landlord to take a look at the terms of the order. The landlord is going to call in and say, "Look, I'm not satisfied with the terms of my order," and there is a stop on that.

All we are saying is that the landlord has to call within two weeks, 15 days. That is not asking a whole lot. What it does do is cut down the period, which everybody knows, for some quite serious problems with some difficult situations in terms of the landlords we deal with -- and they are not just rural landlords. I will come back to that in a moment. What this does is insist that landlords are going to have to get their business practice together so they can make up their minds within 15 days whether they are going to ask for a review of the terms of the work order. They are guaranteed a stay if they do that.

Mr Jackson suggests that of course he is doing all this as a great big favour to the administration of this legislation. It is going to stop landlords from frivolously or too quickly putting in an application for a review of the terms of the work order.

I think on balance we feel that the need of tenants for a system that actually gets work done which needs to be done and for which there should be a reasonable expectation that it is done in a reasonable time, the balance that is required there does not argue in favour of giving the landlords another 15 days to decide whether they are going to ask for a review.

This is not a heavy matter. They have to decide whether the terms are acceptable or not. They have to decide whether they are going to call up a rent officer and say: "Hang on. On this particular work order, I want a review. You give me a review."

There has been -- I do not know if I would say it is -- no, I will not. There is a confusion in the words that have been put forward here on this motion, on this amendment by the opposition, between the question of getting the work order into the system and getting it worked on and a review process of that work order and getting the work done. Those are two different things. They cannot mush them together at all.

In terms of the application, here we are talking about people who have to go 50 miles for inspections, and it is hard to get hold of the inspector if you are not happy with the terms of the work order and so and so and so. We have heard a lot about that. The fact is that most of the rental units we are dealing with under this section, which is the section where provincial standards are being applied, are not somewhere out in the boondocks of Ontario. We are talking suburban areas with large numbers of rental units in major urban centres. Unfortunately, we are talking about fairly large municipal entities where there is not a satisfactory municipal building inspection service.

If the landlord wants to talk to the inspector, in most cases it will not be difficult, and certainly the landlord should be able to make contact if it is advisable to speak to the inspector, and perhaps discuss the terms of the work order first. We are not talking long-distance calls of 2,000 miles. I think we tried to make that obvious when we described who we use currently and will continue to use in making sure that these sections of the bill are properly implemented.

So having listened to all the arguments, some of them very confused and totally off base, of the opposition on this question, I feel more than ever that 15 days is what we need, not 30.


Ms Poole: In answer to something Mr Owens has brought up, I would like a clarification from the minister or from Ms Parrish. From my interpretation of this section, 15 days is very clearly not 15 working days. It would in fact be 10 working days. Could we please have a clarification?

Hon Ms Gigantes: It is 15 days of the month, calendar days.

Ms Poole: So that would include weekends and holidays and whatever.

Hon Ms Gigantes: That is correct.

Mr Owens: It boggles my mind that a person cannot get his or her act together to decide whether or not to appeal a decision within the 15-day period. Mr Jackson alluded to an interesting point. I am not sure about the municipalities the members opposite live in, but in my municipality the problem is in fact not the compliance with a work order but having the property standards person actually issue a work order on the building. I can think of several buildings, some of which have the province as landlord, where people are forced to live in appalling conditions and yet the property standards officers are loath to issue orders.

In terms of the flexibility of this clause, as the minister quite accurately pointed out, there is confusion as to what the intent of this clause is. It is simply to provide an administrative vehicle for the landlord or the property owner to have an appeal. Again, if you move down to section 4, the order is stayed. Again, in terms of flexibility, it does not even say that the application for appeal has to be a written application. I am presuming, with the language currently there, that I as a landlord, if I wanted to appeal, would simply have to call the chief rent officer, indicate that I am going to appeal and again the order would be stayed. Unless Colleen can tell me differently, I am assuming that is the kind of process that would take place.

The Chair: Clarification of your comments would be helpful to the Chair.

Mr Owens: Sure.

Hon Ms Gigantes: The procedure within the bill, Mr Owens, would require an application in writing.

Mr Owens: But at this point, in terms of the clause, if the landlord notified the landlord on day one and then followed up with written documentation, would that not keep that --

Hon Ms Gigantes: It has to be within 15 days and a written application.

Mr Owens: Within 15 days. Thank you. So end my comments.

Mr Jackson: I have to go back to the points I was stressing. It could be the landlord is willing to comply but it is physically impossible, as he indicates, for a variety of reasons. What I am suggesting is that we are literally forcing people to go into the appellant mechanisms. So let me ask some questions about how the appellant mechanism works.

First of all, these inspectors do not work in the jurisdiction to which the application applies. They are coming from another community. According to this memo, they are supposed to be doing this work during evening hours, weekends and during their statutory holidays.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Right on.

Mr Jackson: If that is the case, then you have the government's doors open during regular business hours but the substantive work being conducted is occurring after hours. In fact, my concern about working days is even more amplified now when I revisit this, because the working conditions and working day of the inspector is far, far less than 10 or 11, or even if we stretched it, 12 working days out of the 15.

What I am concerned about is, are these inspectors involved in any way in the appellant process? In other words, will the director have to contact the inspector to go over certain matters? Is this simply a paper process, or is there a gathering of the minds? Perhaps I will stop, since you are briefing the minister.

Hon Ms Gigantes: You go ahead.

Mr Jackson: I will give you all my concerns, because I want to set out the scenario as I understand it, and that may be the flaw in my thinking. If you have an autocratic approach where the director looks at two written pieces of paper and says, "The hell with you," boom, and the gavel comes down, then that is not a big process for government.

But if we are taking an employee from another community, say, if my inspector in Burlington has to take a day off work to go to Brantford to sit through a series of appeal hearings that flow from his inspection work in that city, then I have some concerns, because they are not actually inspecting. The parallel is how productive policemen are sitting around all day long waiting to get on in a court proceeding when they should be out there watching for bad people but are not and are instead sitting in a courtroom with some judge who puts things over and over and over. I do not want an employee in my community sitting at the regional offices of the ministry.

Without going over that at length, I would like to hear from you the details of how the appellant process works, because I am convinced that with these short time frames, if an employee is not in the office, you now have to phone him or her at home. Do we give the landlord the home phone number of an inspector? That is an absolutely critical question here. You are saying he or she is on the job and cannot be harassed at work, that he or she is available to be contacted. I would like to get some clarity on this.

I am convinced that landlords will simply say, "I cannot get clarification that I can get the work done in a certain time frame, because my appeal process is limited to two weeks and I cannot get anybody to assure me or contract with me that it will get done." He is not saying he does not want to do it. That is a whole other issue and the government has every right to say, "We are not listening to that." What we are talking about is that he physically cannot get the work done because there is nobody in the community willing to do it. If the landlord does get somebody to undertake it, he is liable if the contractor did not do it. The landlord can sue the contractor because the contractor assured him it would be done.

Landlords, whether a small landlord with life savings tied up in a six-plex or a major corporation, all will have a legitimate claim to say, "To protect myself, I have to appeal." When they get into appeal, they say, "These items I was concerned about I have now been able to address, so we can proceed." But I do not think landlords will do that. I think landlords will say, "Now I am into the appeal, if the ministry is not hearing these appeals very quickly, I have lots of time."

Technically, the best way to approach this is to say: "Here is the limited range of issues you can appeal, that you cannot comply with the work in the prescribed time, those kinds of things. Otherwise, damn it, there is going to be compliance." Otherwise it is just too loose and too open and it will be the subject of abuse. Either that, or just say, "You have two days to appeal it." Then everybody goes into appeal. But that is the net effect of this.

I would like some answers as to how these municipal employees in other communities are involved in the appellant process, if the landlord has the right to come and present his or her documentation to the director, if the tenants are allowed a representative in that process. These are the kinds of questions. We have a hairy infrastructure of sitting down and meeting, and the Statutory Powers Procedure Act applies. I am telling you we have created more of a problem.

Those are the areas of my concern and they have little to do with the concerns the minister might think she is hearing.


Hon Ms Gigantes: I do think Mr Jackson's concerns about what he is describing as an enormously complex appeal procedure are off base. I would ask Colleen Parrish just to comment on how this process will work.

Ms Parrish: The landlord receives an inspector's work order and usually inspectors do make an effort to talk with the residents of the building and the landlord to ascertain what the problem is. But at some level the inspector makes a decision that X should be done and says when. The landlord receives the order. They disagree either with the what or with the when.

Mr Jackson: And by when.

Ms Parrish: They have 15 days to say they disagree with this. When they say in writing that they disagree, there is an absolute stay of their order. The person they are dealing with is the chief rent officer, who is an employee of the ministry and who is around during working hours. That is the person who arranges for a rent officer to have the hearing. The rent officer is also an employee of the ministry and also has the hearing.

Whether it would be necessary to call the inspector as a witness would depend in part on what was in dispute and whether it was necessary to call the testimony of the inspector. It may very well be there was nothing disputed. The landlord could say: "I agree with everything the inspector says. I just want more time." They have evidence from their contractor that they cannot do it, or whatever. It depends on the circumstances.

There is the opportunity to have a hearing. If the landlord wants an extension of the term or wants to dispute whether he or she should have to repair X, Y or Z, there is the opportunity to have that matter heard under a provincial work order, just as there is that opportunity to have the issue heard at a municipal level. For landlords who are in communities that do not have municipal standards, this gives them the same due process protections as they would have if they were in a municipality that imposed property standards directly.

The inspectors may have to come for a hearing. Again, it is going to depend on the circumstances of the case. It is quite common when you deal with small landlords in particular that they will request an evening hearing. We would try to accommodate them because many small landlords have work outside their landlord responsibilities and so, whenever possible, we would try to accommodate it. That might be also convenient. As I said, we try to use inspectors who are within two hours of the building so we are not flying them all over the province for hearings or anything else.

That is the process. There is obviously a desire to make this as expeditious as possible because there is a stay during this entire period of time. If the landlord is appealing solely for the purposes of delay, that is problematic.

Mr Jackson: Do we have any sense of how long these stays last? Is your ministry monitoring them at all?

Ms Parrish: We do not have the same system now.

Mr Jackson: No, but you have a variation of it.

Ms Parrish: Yes, we have a variation, but it is so substantially different it is very difficult for me to extrapolate because, under the current system, there is a two-tiered approach. There is quite a bit of time lag that relates to that. I understand it is as much as a year under the current system, and that is not fast enough.

Mr Jackson: I did not get an answer to two questions I asked. This is not a regulation, this would be an operating procedure, a guideline from the ministry. Would you routinely share the home phone number of this hired inspector from another jurisdiction to facilitate access, whether it be with ministry personnel, the landlord or any contractors? Frankly, some of these inspectors would be put in touch with contractors. Landlords would say: "Don't look at me as a landlord. Talk to this contractor." The inspector would have every right to discuss that.

There was one other question I did not get an answer to. I am sorry: I have missed it.

Ms Parrish: We usually give the individuals a person to contact and it is usually not the inspector. It is usually the person who manages the inspector, in this case the staff of the standards board, but under the new system it will be staff of the director of rent control so that if people just do not understand the order -- it is not whether they want to comply -- if they just want to ask questions they can talk to that person. That person is in the office full-time and can help to troubleshoot.

Mr Jackson: My final question just reoccurred to me. Does the tenant have any rights in the appellant process if there are negotiations occurring? If you look at the plea-bargaining model, the victim is never in the room. If there is an agreement to change the original order in any way, to what extent do you facilitate the participation of the tenants and the landlord? You have answered the issue of the inspector's attendance.

Ms Parrish: It is quite common in these situations that the tenants are called as witnesses to deal with issues like inconvenience or how difficult their life has been made as a result of this. There is always a certain discretion involved here. Sometimes tenants do not want to be called as witnesses because they do not want to be involved in conflicts with their landlord. Similarly, they may not want to take time off work or whatever. There is some discretion about whether you call these people as witnesses.

They can also write letters, which they do. Their letters then become part of the public file. If they want they can intervene directly, but usually they come as witnesses. Then there is some attempt to be sensitive to the concerns of the tenants as to whether they do or do not want to be witnesses.

Mr Jackson: My fear is that we are not talking about the appellant mechanism here. I think you have just described the process that precludes it which leads to an order -- I should not say an order -- which leads to an inspector and a work order for compliance.

Ms Parrish: It could equally apply to a situation where the landlord indicates that he wants a review of the work order. Then there has to be a hearing. At that hearing, the tenants could be witnesses as well.

Mr Jackson: That is what I was waiting to hear, that if they have a hearing the tenants would be notified that there has been an appeal, that the work order they are anticipating compliance with at the moment is in a stay and that during the stay there would be a hearing subsequently and they can participate. I just wanted on the record that this is what my tenants can anticipate.

Ms Parrish: We have the ability to pass procedural regulations that would set out whether there would be notice given in every case. We are going to be consulting on those procedural regulations letting people sort of find out.

There is always a certain sensitivity here, because the work order that is being enforced is the work order of the province.

Mr Jackson: I understand that.

Ms Parrish: The tenants have an interest in the enforcement of the work order, but in the end it is not like other disputes which are between the landlord and the tenant. In this case, the parties to this particular dispute are the province upholding its standard and the landlord who in the view of the province has breached the standard.

You could have procedural regulations that say the tenants must be informed. Sometimes that is difficult because you do not know who they are. You can provide for other forms of notice, such as posting in the building, because you may not know who they are if there has not been a process, or you can call the tenants as witnesses. Sometimes they prefer that because they do not want to be parties for a number of reasons. They prefer to be witnesses and not parties -- exactly how we should make that work in a way which is fair to landlords and tenants and which is sensitive to the desire of some tenants not to be embroiled in a dispute between the province and the landlord.

The Chair: I have Mr Winninger, Mrs O'Neill and Mrs Marland on my list. Mr Winninger, you have the privilege of being the 15th intervention on this clause.


Mr Winninger: I will be brief but hopefully to the point. I think it might have swayed some of the concerns of the opposition members to make reference to section 58. It does not refer to subsection 37(3) specifically, but it provides for the discretion of the rent officer to extend or abridge the time for making applications. A rent officer may extend the time for doing something even if the time for doing it has already expired, and may abridge time for doing something even if the time for commencing it has passed.

At that time, under section 58 the rent officer has to give all affected parties written notice of an extension or abridgement of time, and if the rent officer extends or abridges time, he has to notify the parties by the application of the new filing date and of any resulting new times for making submissions.

I had some concern that this section may not apply to work order situations, but I have had some informal consultations and I am advised that the same rules apply. So the landlord who might be a victim of extenuating circumstances -- he may be out of the country at the time that the work order is issued and need additional time -- can rely on section 58, I would submit. By having that short 15-day time period we set down a standard by which a landlord has to respond to the issuance of work orders, but at the same time, in needy circumstances, where extenuating conditions prevail, a landlord can fall back on section 58. I would suggest that should increase the comfort level of landlords who may feel unfairly dealt with under section 37.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I indeed have found Mr Winninger's remarks very helpful, in contrast to misunderstandings from another government caucus member, who is suggesting it is 15 working days and a non-written application. I feel good about what Mr Winninger has just said, because those are the kinds of things I was talking about as not being part of the real world. People who are landlords take extended vacations sometimes or go to visit other homelands. Sometimes landlords also want to consult with their advisers about a major outlay they may have. They may have to wait to get appointments with these people. Anybody who has had anything done, whether to a residential or a commercial building, knows it is not always possible to get an appointment the day you want it.

I also find that normal business practice on this kind of measure is usually 21 days and often 30 days. That is the basis upon which my statements were made. I still believe that this kind of clause, unless it is backed up by section 58 or some reference is made, does create an atmosphere where business people in this province feel somewhat harassed or feel they are not understood. Their limitations are there. They are built into their lives. This bill applies both to large and small landlords. I feel that somehow, I hope in the Hansard at least if not in a more direct way, we can indicate that section 58 would help us in the administration of our section 37.

Mrs Marland: I would like to thank Ms Parrish for the letter this morning responding to the questions I brought up yesterday about who the part-time people were and how they were doing their work. I think the answers are relevant to this section, because we are talking about how this section would work.

I would like to ask one question of the minister. The second paragraph describes who these people are and how they work on a part-time basis and conduct inspections on weekends, during evening hours and when on vacation from their full-time jobs. Can you tell me whether the ministry obtains permission from their full-time employer to do this part-time work? Do you have that answer, Madam Minister? I guess you do not.

Ms Parrish: This is done under the auspices of the standards board and therefore it is not directly the responsibility of the ministry. I understand that the standards board requires the individuals to deal directly with their own employers. I cannot answer in any greater detail than that. I do not know personally.

Mrs Marland: So we do not know if these people are moonlighting.

Hon Ms Gigantes: They are moonlighting.

Mr Jackson: Yes, they are moonlighting. It says right on it.

Ms Parrish: I am not sure what moonlighting is.

Mrs Marland: Moonlighting, as I understand it, is when you work at one job while you hold another job without telling your full-time employer that this is what you are doing.

Ms Parrish: I know the individuals are certainly urged to negotiate with their employers and work this out. I understand some municipalities are quite supportive of this, because they feel that they have an interest. For example, where they are a city and there is a regional municipality surrounding it, they see some interest to them as a municipality in having a standard set and so on. I cannot speak for the standards board. There is no indication, as far as I know, that these people are doing anything improper.

Mrs Marland: Do you know if OPSEU approves of this contracting out?

Hon Ms Gigantes: These employees would not be OPSEU members.

Mr Jackson: It is in the principle.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Mr Chair, if I could just for a moment, the people Mrs Marland is talking about are a fairly small circle. This is not the kind of skill and employment which every person on every block of every street has. People in the business, if I can put it that way, of building inspection all know each other and all deal with each other frequently on matters of mutual concern. They have, through our ministry, met on a regular basis to upgrade their skills and share information about their profession. If there is a problem in terms of the employer, it certainly is not a problem which would remain unresolved very long. You do not inspect buildings in a furtive way.

Mr Jackson: What does that mean?

Hon Ms Gigantes: I mean that the employer is going to know, Mr Jackson, so this whole question of whether the employers are going to feel that their employees' time and skills and energies are being stolen, which is somehow being suggested by your colleague Mrs Marland, is exceedingly unlikely.

Mrs Marland: Honestly, Minister, you are unbelievable at times. I take exception to your suggesting that I am saying something is stolen. It is very interesting your saying --

The Chair: Perhaps the minister would withdraw that choice of words.

Hon Ms Gigantes: No, Mr Chair. If I could explain, I did not mean to suggest anybody was stealing. When Mrs Marland suggested that the employers might not know what their employees were doing if they were taking contract work through our Ministry of Housing to provide inspections in neighbouring municipalities, I suggested that there was no question of furtiveness, of stealing the energy, efforts or talents of those people. I do not think I am impugning anybody here.

I am suggesting that what she is trying to suggest is really quite off base. This is a coterie of professional people, all of whom know each other very well in every municipality, in every region of Ontario. It is a brotherhood and sisterhood. I do not know how many women are actually employed, but these people know each other well and they deal with each other frequently. What she is suggesting about their employer somehow being deceived or unhappy about this process is really highly, extremely unlikely.

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, it is wonderful to have this minister on record with these last two minutes of diatribe, because you see what she has just said proves that she again does not have a clue what is going on.


The Chair: I would ask that members try to refrain from being unnecessarily provocative and that we speak to the issues directly.

Mrs Marland: All right. I am only following the example of the minister.

The Chair: I was cautioning all members, Mrs Marland.

Mrs Marland: Instead of saying that, I should say "sufficiently uninformed." I am asking if these people carrying out work as a result of a provincial mandate, a provincial piece of legislation, are doing it with the permission of their employers. When the minister says: "Of course, they all know each other very well. There aren't that many of them. They are specialists in their area and they know each other in this region and that region," it begs the question: If that is the case, why are we bothering to send them out of their regions to do the work? You cannot say one thing on the one hand -- Ms Parrish has very carefully explained that these people work outside their area.

Hon Ms Gigantes: That is the only place they are needed.

Mr Jackson: No, they are needed in their own community.

Mrs Marland: I would suggest if that is the only place they are needed, they would not have a job in their own community in the first place. What kind of an answer is that?

Hon Ms Gigantes: The only place they are needed --

Mrs Marland: I think I have the floor, Mr Chairman. The fact is, if we are saying these people have full-time jobs and are working evenings, weekends and on their vacations, do their full-time employers know about this? What is the answer?

Hon Ms Gigantes: It would be impossible for them not to.

Mrs Marland: It is impossible for them not to. How would you suggest they know?

Hon Ms Gigantes: I just explained to you.

Mrs Marland: Take the example of the person paid by the taxpayers of Brampton.

Mr Jackson: And inspecting in Stoney Creek.

Mrs Marland: -- and inspecting in Burlington, Stoney Creek, Halton Hills and Caledon. How do the taxpayers of Brampton, through their municipal council, know this individual is working in these other municipalities? I would suggest that Burlington, Stoney Creek, Halton Hills and Caledon have building inspectors of their own, so why are you suggesting their employers know they are working elsewhere when it is in off-hours, weekends and vacations? How do you know that?

Hon Ms Gigantes: First of all, to deal with the question of whether they would be required in Burlington, Stoney Creek etc, those municipalities do not have property standards officers. That is what we are addressing here, Mrs Marland.

The second matter is that most building inspectors working for a municipality report to somebody. The person they report to will know the business they are in. The person they report to will know the business of building inspection in other municipalities and will know perfectly well that the employee is involved in work in other municipalities. If it were the intent of an employee in this situation to keep this extraterritorial work secret, I suggest, Mrs Marland, that in all practical senses it would be virtually impossible.

The Chair: Thank you, Mrs Marland. Just to be helpful, I think we should try to focus our discussion as much as possible on the issue raised by the amendment. The issue raised by the amendment is only one word, and that is the time element. I realize these other things are important, but we have had a rather full and wide-ranging discussion.

Mr Jackson: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: I am not challenging your ruling, I simply want to suggest that in the process of this discussion we are uncovering for the first time that the activities of these individuals go beyond this 30- or 15-day period. If we are just discovering that, I can assure you that the employers the minister and my colleague are talking about are not aware of it. There is a series of additional questions we would like to place on the record which deal with the concept of just how much of this clause flows as an expense to a local municipality. I think we are very much on topic. We will try to keep our comments brief, but we find it important that we get a couple more concerns on the record briefly.

The Chair: I appreciate that, Mr Jackson. I was trying to understand that this is a broad-ranging topic. I was just pointing out that the difference between your amendment and the government's amendment is simply one word and that in our amendment you are also talking about inspectors. I was not making a ruling, I was just trying to be helpful.

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, I appreciate your being helpful. I think it is important to note that the matter we are discussing is in response to a matter I raised yesterday. I am simply responding to the answers we got from the Ministry of Housing yesterday.

When we are dealing with these inspectors working on a part-time basis in jurisdictions other than the jurisdictions in which they are employed full-time, it raises a number of very pertinent questions. I would like to ask the minister, since she cannot seem to confirm that there is any formal communication between the standards board and the employer -- she is saying the employer must know because these people are working in the adjacent communities. I think I will have to ask the minister just once more and see if I can get a direct answer. Do the standards board staff that employ these inspectors ask permission of their full-time employers?

Hon Ms Gigantes: I do not have a knowledge of the practice of the standards board as it currently operates on this question.

Mrs Marland: The standards board, I understand, is going to be disbanded. Is that correct? Can you tell us how this work will be done in the future and to whom these part-time staff will report?

Hon Ms Gigantes: The part-time staff will report, through the administrative sections of this legislation, to the director of rent control.

Mrs Marland: So these part-time people are now going to be employees of the Ministry of Housing, correct?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, they will be on a part-time basis.

Mrs Marland: Do you plan to get permission from their full-time employers for them to work for you?

Hon Ms Gigantes: No.

Mrs Marland: You do not. You are just going to hire them on a contractual basis to work evenings, weekends, and in their holidays and you are not going to ask their full-time employers if that is okay.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I do not even know if all the people being hired as inspectors -- and this question may be relevant to ask -- are actually employed full-time. They may well be retired. I certainly know of people in the Ottawa area who have retired and who would make very good inspectors in this kind of process.

One cannot expect the employees involved, who are employees of municipalities, to make arrangements with their employers about this work which would be reasonable. I do not think everything in this world has to be regulated through this bill.

Mrs Marland: Do you know if they use in this part-time work people employed elsewhere, not retired people? Even if there is one full-time person, this response would indicate perhaps that they are working elsewhere and that is why they have do to their work on weekends, evenings and holidays, I would suggest. If they are working full-time, that would hardly be a description. It says, "when on vacation from their full-time job." Do you know, when they do this work, if they are using their own vehicles or ones belonging to the municipality that is their full-time employer?

Hon Ms Gigantes: No, I do not know that and I would suggest that at some point, one has to trust to a level of common sense and an understanding of the employee-employer relations which may change from municipality to municipality. I see no reason for the Ministry of Housing to make a decision about how an employee relates to an employer who from one area of the province to another may have quite different rules and regulations around all these matters.

Mrs Marland: Well --

The Chair: Mrs Marland. It has been brought to my attention that a subcommittee meeting would be useful about now.

Mrs Marland: I am about to finish. I only have one minute left and I am finished.

The Chair: We could do it this afternoon. I am not trying to cut you off. I am just trying to allocate the time.

Mrs Marland: I might as well finish it. In closing, I want to assure the minister that I will be forwarding to all the municipalities, through AMO, the Hansard from this deliberation this morning about how the Ministry of Housing chooses to use full-time staff to do work on a contractual basis as a part-time job without notifying the full-time employer.

I know, speaking for my own municipality, that there will be -- when we are talking about the cost of government today and we are saying to one municipality, "It's okay if your staff decide to work evenings and weekends and are too tired to do their full-time jobs which is their primary responsibility as employees of the municipality." I think this is pretty significant, particularly because the minister does not know how it has been managed and she has been in government for almost 18 months now.

The Chair: Thank you. Shall Mr Jackson's amendment to subsection 37(3) carry? All in favour of Mr Jackson's amendment? Opposed?

Motion negatived.

The Chair: The committee will adjourn until 2 o'clock this afternoon.

The committee recessed at 1152.


The committee resumed at 1404.


The Chair: The standing committee on general government will come to order. The first order of business will be to deal with the report of the subcommittee. I believe all members have a copy of the report of the subcommittee on their desk. I will give people a moment to read through it. If members have comments, I would like to know about that. If they do not, I would appreciate someone moving that the report of the subcommittee be adopted.

Mr Abel: I so move.

Mr Jackson: You can move adoption, then I wish to discuss the motion.

The Chair: Okay. Mr Abel has moved the adoption of the subcommittee report. Mr Jackson?

Mr Jackson: I just wanted some clarification relating to the cross-border shopping and the child care. It is my understanding that we were going to deal with one and not the other. Am I under a misunderstanding?

The Chair: The committee has I believe three hours on the cross-border shopping issue.

Mr Jackson: To complete.

The Chair: To complete, and then we will be moving to the child care issue. Does that clarify it?

Mr Jackson: It makes sense too. That is wonderful.

The Chair: Unusual, perhaps.

Mr Jackson: No, it is good.

The Chair: Further discussion?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Could I ask a question, which I guess relates to how we wrap up our work on Bill 121? During earlier discussion in this committee, we had a number of questions, presented primarily by Mrs Marland, concerning the duties and the hiring procedure for rent officers. At the time, I suggested to Mrs Marland that when we got to part IV of the bill I would be glad, if it were of interest to members of the committee, to ask knowledgeable people from the ministry to be available here to provide some information and to answer some questions about rent officers and how we plan to hire and mandate them. I do not know if that is of continuing interest to the committee. If it is, then I think we should probably try and make sure that we have the appropriate people here from the ministry, but I would welcome guidance on that. Perhaps we would like to set a time period within our work.

The Chair: That is a valuable suggestion and I am sure we are looking for some clarification, but I suggest that the whips for each of the parties discuss this issue informally and bring forward a suggestion. I note that there are some members not here at the moment and they might like to have some input into it. But to facilitate that, I would suggest some informal discussions could perhaps solve it.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Could I suggest that we might want a proposal that would say exactly what time and perhaps for how long we would call upon the specialized ministry staff.

The Chair: I think that is a reasonable suggestion and I am sure that the parties can come to some agreement informally and let us know. Mr Jackson, did you wish to comment?

Mr Jackson: I do not think it is a matter subject to party agreement. The request of the member was conceded to. The member's interest is still there. It simply becomes a matter of scheduling time.

The Chair: Exactly.

Mr Jackson: I would leave it up to the minister and the Chair to arrange that, but to get into discussions which almost imply negotiating this time -- in this we do not want to participate. We simply wish to have someone come forward and share simply, cogently, quickly, the information which was sought, and I do not wish to make it more complex than that. The minister was kind enough to come forward and offer a legitimate request, which is, when would you like this to occur? We would be able to arrange that through Mrs Marland and we should be able to resolve this before the end of today. I thank the minister for getting guidance on that, but I do not wish to get into whole hairy discussions.

The Chair: I think your suggestion is quite acceptable and I believe that is really, in truth, what I was attempting to articulate. Fine. Further discussion?

Shall Mr Abel's motion that the subcommittee report be adopted carry? Carried.

Motion agreed to.



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.

Section 37:

The Chair: Now we revert to our discussion on subsection 37(3). Is it the pleasure of the committee that this section carry? We have had extensive debate on the amendment to this. Shall subsection 37(3) carry? Carried.

Hon Ms Gigantes: We had an amendment. Did we vote on the amendment? Yes. That is great.

The Chair: Subsection 37(4), questions, comments, amendments?

Ms Harrington: Mr Chair, did we vote on Mr Jackson's motion?

Hon Ms Gigantes: I asked too.

The Chair: Yes, we did.

The Chair: Shall subsection 37(4) carry? Carried.

Shall subsection 37(5) carry? Carried.

Section 37 agreed to.

Section 38:

The Chair: There is a government amendment. Actually there is a government amendment to sections 38 through 41. I believe it is as printed. Is that correct, minister?

Hon Ms Gigantes: That is correct. We also have an amendment to add section 38.1.

The Chair: We have a government amendment, section 38.1.

Hon Ms Gigantes: The government amendment falls in at subsection 38(3). Perhaps we would like to deal with these matters in order.

The Chair: All right. We will deal with subsection 38(1). Questions, comments? Shall subsection 38(1) carry? Carried.

Shall subsection 38(2) carry? Carried.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Can I ask where 38.1 fits in?

The Chair: It will fit in before we go on to section 39.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Very good.

The Chair: Now we are dealing with a government amendment to subsections 38(3), 38(4) and 38(5).

Ms Harrington moves that subsections 38(3), 38(4) and 38(5) of the bill, as reprinted to show the amendments proposed by the minister, be struck out and the following substituted:

"(3) Subject to section 38.1, the order is effective 30 days after it is issued.

"(4) The order shall contain,

"(a) the municipal address or legal description of the rental unit or residential complex affected;

"(b) reasonable particulars of the work order that is the subject of the order prohibiting the rent increase; and

"(c) the fact that the order prohibiting the rent increase is effective 30 days after it is issued unless it is stayed or rescinded before that time."

Ms Harrington: Mr Chairman, these are technical amendments that result from the amendments made by adding section 38.1, which I believe we will be doing. They provide that an order prohibiting rent increases is effective as of 30 days after the order is issued unless it is stayed or rescinded.

The Chair: I believe I have a Conservative amendment.

Mr Jackson: Actually, on file with the clerks and the committee is a series of three amendments. Counsel to the committee has been up to her exceptional efforts and has assisted in developing another amendment. I will read that and I believe it will be circulated. Disregard the three; these have been blended.

The Chair: Mr Jackson moves that the government motion to amend subsections 38(3), (4) and (5) be amended by striking out "30" in the first line of subsection (3) and in the second line of clause (4)(c) and substituting "60" in each instance.

Do you have an explanation for your amendment?

Mr Jackson: Reference was made earlier today to the notion of time necessary for completion. I recognize the effect of the minister's amendments, but I still submit that 30 days for complete compliance is a little onerous. If we were at all listening during the public consultation and hearings on this bill, the point was made and stressed that it was insufficient time. We are simply responding to the concerns raised at the public hearings as reasonable and, therefore, we have amended accordingly.

The Chair: Further questions, comments to Mr Jackson's amendment to subsections (3), (4) and (5)?

Hon Ms Gigantes: The government motion on subsections (3), (4) and (5) identifies 30 days after the order is issued as the time at which a decision to prohibit a rent increase should become effective, and we feel that is plenty of time.

Again there is confusion exhibited by members of the opposition on the question of the completion of all work contained in an order and the satisfaction that a landlord is going to get work done in a reasonable period. The terms of the work order set out the reasonable period. The landlord can, under the legislation, dispute the terms of the work order and that is the point at which we find out whether there is enough time allowed for a landlord so that the penalty section in this legislation related to maintenance and repairs is not brought to bear against the landlord. The landlord can at that stage, as we have just discussed, go through a process of appeal; have a stay if that seems to be justified. There has to be a stage where we say in the legislation, "The time has come." The work order has been made; the landlord has had a chance to appeal; a decision has been made on that. The terms of the work order have to be met; we are deciding when they shall be met.

We feel that this 30-day period is quite adequate. If we are going to provide an additional 30 days we will once again be moving off into the realm where the power of tenants under the legislation to seek redress when maintenance is allowed to run down is not adequate. We have had problems having tenants get adequate maintenance action through legislation for years in this province. Through the legislation we have set about providing a mechanism so that does not continue to happen. Once you go through all the stages we have just discussed in section 37 and get to the final moment of truth, as it were, we do not need to add another 30 days when that moment of truth actually becomes a reality as far as an effective response for tenants is concerned.

Mr Jackson: Can I ask a question to that? Are we then saying the landlord does not have to have the work completed? That is when the state acknowledges that this is final, it is now on you, you are liable and that the repercussions beyond this are civil court or the Supreme Court or whatever? Is that the nature of my confusion?


Hon Ms Gigantes: We are saying that if the work order, whose terms may have been disputed under section 37, has not been met, then after 30 days we are going to see this legislation swing into motion and have the effect of staying rent increases.

Mr Jackson: Right. That is the first penalty. But is it the completion -- I am sorry, minister, I want to understand you. Does the work have to be completed by the end of that 30 days; that everybody agrees that now you should have had that done? There is my confusion. I am not arguing with you. I just want somebody over there to clarify it for me. You are helpful but not unto my question.

Hon Ms Gigantes: The words in my ear from Colleen Parrish are the words that I have been trying to say to you. The compliance period is over within the work order. The terms of the work order may have been varied; they may have been appealed, changed or stayed under section 37. The period attached to the terms of the work order has been passed and we are saying that within 30 days of that --

Mr Jackson: Thirty days after the date in the order.

Hon Ms Gigantes: That is right. Then we shall say, "There shall be no rent increase."

Mr Jackson: That makes more sense.

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, it may make more sense in understanding what the minister's answer was, but it certainly does not make any sense in terms of the practicality of the situation. This means that if for any reasons beyond the control of the property owner the work is not even started, let alone completed; if a work order is issued that certain work has to be done as under section 37, they only have 15 days to dispute the condition of the work order or the terms of the work order. Now we have 30 days to get the work done or started.

Hon Ms Gigantes: No.

The Chair: Were you looking for a response?

Mrs Marland: Let me phrase the question differently. If it is not, are they not eligible for their rent increase?

Mr Jackson: I am confused with those head shakes.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Shall I start again?

The Chair: Please.

Hon Ms Gigantes: A work order is issued. Under section 37 a landlord has 15 days to let a rent officer know if the terms of that work order are difficult from the landlord's point of view, and the landlord appeals to have a review of the work order. The work order may be reviewed. It is put in place, established. However, it may be varied, confirmed, withdrawn or whatever by that review process.

The work order has terms attached to it. It may say, "Nine months from now you have to have the 14 steps on such-and-such a floor fixed." Or it may say, "Three days from now, you have to have the hole in the step fixed." Once the term of that work order is up and the process is followed so that it is brought to the attention of the rent office that the term has not been met, 30 days later -- here we are giving landlords who have not complied with the work order an extra 30 days. There is a 30-day period of grace in which the landlord can try and scramble and get it done. But 30 days after the term of that work order is up and the work order has not been met, an order is issued that says rent increases will not be permitted.

Mrs Marland: So where the wording actually is "the order is effective 30 days after it is issued," this means it is only effective in not permitting rent increases. That is the effectiveness of it.

Hon Ms Gigantes: That is correct. The order to which we are referring here is the order that the work order has been found unmet. There is a determination by the rent office that the work order has not been met and 30 days later the order for non-increase of rents is made.

Mrs Marland: So in the situation where a work order is issued for a certain project of work to be completed -- did you want to say something else?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes. I think I phrased it incorrectly. There would be an order that related to the non-fulfilment of the work order and it would not have effect for 30 days. Okay?

Mrs Marland: So it is really a notice that is given.

Hon Ms Gigantes: It is a final, last, flexible and accommodating notice.

Mrs Marland: We will find out how flexible and accommodating in response to my next question.

Hon Ms Gigantes: It is probably too much.

Mr Jackson: There is time to amend it.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Thank you for your support.


Mrs Marland: Let's say a work order is issued to remedy a certain situation and that project that is going to be the remedy is normally feasibly executed in, say, a month or two months. They are given a month or two months to do it, but during that time it may prove impossible to do it, beyond the control of the individual property owner -- strikes, for example, or just absolute lack of availability of a part, whatever. Because there is no channel of appeal to any of this legislation or any of the sections in it, does that mean that in this section, it is going to be 30 days or else? It is just 30 days and we do not care if there has been a province-wide strike of cement workers or bricklayers or there are no parts available for this elevator. I gave as an example that an elevator part has to be shipped by sea, it cannot be shipped by air, and it comes from Europe; this is an example in my own riding. Is this so arbitrary that there would not be any leniency in any of those circumstances which are beyond the control and the good intent of the property owner to meet the work order and to execute the remedy?

Hon Ms Gigantes: I am going to ask Colleen Parrish to comment on this because we had both originally looked at section 58 as providing what you are looking for, Mrs Marland. We believe now that it would not, and Ms Parrish can explain what avenue might be available in that case.

Mrs Marland: Good luck, Ms Parrish.

Ms Parrish: I think the way this system works is that it relies upon the work order issued by a work order issuer. That may be a municipality. It may be the province, where it is a provincial standard that is breached.

Mrs Marland: The part-time workers.

Ms Parrish: It could be that the order is issued by a rent officer, who, by the way, is a full-time worker. It is the inspectors who are part-time. The order is issued by a full-time worker.

Mrs Marland: Oh, right.

Ms Parrish: It could be a public health official who has issued the work order; it could be a provincial staff member in other ministries, such as in the elevating devices example. People even talk about the possibility that you could have a pesticides issue or whatever.

Mr Jackson: It could even be the board of health.

Mrs Marland: She said that.

Ms Parrish: It could be the board of health. So essentially this has some reliance on our work order issuer to resolve all issues related to the work order. The director does not inquire into the bona fides of that order, because that is the job of the order issuer. If the landlord has a dispute with the order issuer about the assessment of the situation, about the period of time given for compliance, about the reasonableness of various conditions, then he must use the remedies related to this work order.

This is not a system that gives you a second kick at the cat if you are not satisfied with what the Ontario Municipal Board said or what the municipality of Mississauga said or whatever. All this does is say that where that process is exhausted and where the landlord has not complied and where the work order issuer has forwarded the order to the director, there will be a notice that goes to the landlord that says in 30 days rent increases will be stayed because he has this outstanding work order. There is no ability to abridge that time or to adjust the time. The reason is that this is not a decision to which the Statutory Powers Procedure Act applies. There is no hearing at that stage. The hearings have occurred at the stage of the work order issuance. This is essentially a system designed to deal with a situation in which all appeals have been exhausted but the orders are not being honoured.

Mrs Marland: Okay. One final question. You have given reason why you are not willing to extend this 30 days to 60 days, but if there is a stay in a rent increase, is it not so that the stay in the rent increase is as of the date the work order was issued?

Ms Parrish: No, it is as of the 30 days from which time we have issued the order. The reality is that the work order has not been complied with. Maybe it was supposed to be complied with on February 1. If it is not complied with on February 1, the city makes an inspection. They say, "Still not complied with." They send an order to the province. We read the order. We then send out our order and then, 30 days after that, the order is effective. So the landlord has not only to the end of the compliance period and the 30 days but, to be frank, he also has the period of time it is going to take the municipalities to get around to sending us the order for us to get around to issuing our order. That is, frankly, why we are concerned that you could have a very long period of time here if you do not attempt to impose some time limitations in the statute.

Mrs Marland: So that is why the difference between 30 and 60 in actuality is a difference in the time that the rent would not be allowed to be increased?

Hon Ms Gigantes: If I could just add to that, the concern really was that originally we had not put a time limit, as I recollect. There had been no time limit in the original bill, and there was a concern that this whole process could be spun out and spun out and spun out.

Mr Jackson: You do not have that concern any more?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Thirty days is a long time. I think when you are talking about the kind of process we have described here through section 37, where the possibility of repeal and review and all that stuff is there around the work order, to give another 30 days after all these communications have taken place errs on the side of providing too much time, in my view.

Mr Jackson: As you have described the system, you were referring to segments of the process that did not have time limits associated with them. That is your concern.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Originally.

Mr Jackson: Are you saying every one of those processes -- the appeal does not have a time limit on it; it only has a time limit on it when you file. But your government is not under any time constraints as to how soon you will hear the appeal, which front-ends this clause in terms of when the final order axe falls.

Hon Ms Gigantes: That is right.

Mr Jackson: That is open-ended, and that is the responsibility of your government.

Hon Ms Gigantes: That is a responsibility that the government is taking on under the legislation.

Mr Jackson: That is what I thought. Okay, thank you.

The Chair: Further questions and comments to Mr Jackson's amendment to subsections 38(3) and (4)? Shall Mr Jackson's amendments to subsections 38(3) and (4) carry?

Motion negatived.

The Chair: We will now deal with the government amendment. We have had a rather full discussion of the issues involved.

Shall Ms Harrington's amendments to subsection 38(3), (4) and (5) carry?

Motion agreed to.

The Chair: Now section 38.1. Before we do that, I would like to draw the members' attention to a group that has chosen to come and have a look at how the legislative process works. Dr Rick Loreto is conducting a seminar on the legislative process for Management Board secretariat. Welcome to the committee.

Now we will do 38.1.

Ms Harrington: Can we pass section 38 first?

The Chair: You want to pass section 38 first?

Ms Harrington: Yes, I do.

Mr Owens: Mr Chair, what is the name of the gentleman and the organization again?

The Chair: Dr Rick Loreto of Management Board secretariat.

Mr Owens: Welcome.

Mr B. Ward: Welcome.

The Chair: Shall section 38, as amended, carry?

Section 38, as amended, agreed to.

Ms Harrington: We certainly appreciate having guests with us and hope they will be able to endure.


The Chair: Ms Harrington moves that the bill, as reprinted to show the amendments proposed by the minister, be amended by adding the following section:

"38.1(1) The director shall stay an order prohibiting a rent increase if he or she is advised before the order is issued that an appeal of the work order that is the subject of the order prohibiting a rent increase has been filed.

"(2) If an order prohibiting a rent increase respecting a residential complex or a rental unit in it has been stayed, the landlord may increase the rent charged for any affected rental unit or give a notice of rent increase respecting any affected rental unit in accordance with this act.

"(3) If the director has stayed an order prohibiting a rent increase and he or she is advised that the decision on appeal confirms the work order, the director shall lift the stay of the order prohibiting the rent increase.

"(4) If the director lifts the stay of an order prohibiting a rent increase,

"(a) the order shall be deemed to have been effective as of the day that is 30 days after it was issued;

"(b) any notice of rent increase respecting an affected rental unit issued during the period that the order would have been effective but for the stay shall be deemed to be void; and

"(c) any increase in the rent charged for an affected rental unit that took effect during the period that the order would have been effective but for the stay shall be deemed to be rent charged in excess of that permitted to be charged.

"(5) Subsection (4) does not operate to make a landlord who increased the rent charged for a rental unit in accordance with subsection (2) guilty of an offence."

Questions or comments?

Ms Harrington: This amendment changes the treatment of a work order which has been received by the director and which has been appealed. For example, the municipal council would forward a copy of the order and the notice of appeal simultaneously. An order prohibiting a rent increase would then be issued. However, the order would be stayed, that is, not in effect, pending resolution of the appeal.

While the prohibition order is stayed, the landlord may increase the rent charged for any affected rental unit or give notice of a rent increase.

Where the work order is confirmed, the director lifts the stay of the order prohibiting a rent increase, and the order is effective as of 30 days following the date it was originally issued.

I hope that that is of some help.

The Chair: I am certain it is, Ms Harrington. Further questions and comments? Shall Ms Harrington's amendment to section 38.1 carry?

Motion agreed to.

The Chair: Subsection 39(1), as printed. Questions, comments or explanations?

Ms Poole: Mr Chair, I have had some discussions with the ministry on this one because of my concern with the word "varies" and some of the abuses that may occur, because it is not specified what exactly is meant by "varying" a work order. I believe the ministry has suggested we stand this particular section down until we can perhaps accommodate some different wording. So I would ask for unanimous consent to stand down the section.

The Chair: Minister?

Hon Ms Gigantes: We are quite willing to consider some change to this amendment that we have put forward and we do not quite have agreement yet on what the nature of the wording of that change should be.

The Chair: Do I have unanimous consent to stand this section down?

Agreed to.

The Chair: Subsection 40(1).


The Chair: Well, I was just going to leave that until we came back to the original section.

Section 30:

Ms Poole: We did earlier stand down subsections 30(8) and (9). I wonder, since the ministry has come up with some new wording for those particular subsections, if we could consider dealing with that section mow.

The Chair: I see no reason why we should not.

Ms Poole: The clerk has copies of the amendment in this regard, which she is passing out.

The Chair: Ms Poole moves that subsections 30(8) and (9) of the bill, as set out in the minister's reprint, be struck out and the following substituted:

"(8) If the landlord who made the illegal charge is the tenant's landlord at the time of the order, the order may provide that if the landlord fails to pay the amount owing under the order, the tenant may recover that amount plus interest as may be directed in the order by deducting a specified sum from the tenant's rent paid to the landlord for a specified number of rent payment periods.

"(9) Nothing in subsection (8) limits the right of the tenant to collect at any time the full amount owing or any balance outstanding under the order."

Ms Poole: I would really like to thank the ministry for its cooperation in coming up with this new wording. It was in reaction to a concern I expressed that the wording under the original 30(8) and (9) seemed to be misleading in that the scenario is supposed to be that the landlord pays a lump sum plus interest to the tenant. In the alternative, if the landlord failed to do so, the tenant had the right to deduct it from his rent in specified amounts. The reason it was misleading in the original section was because it was not clear that the standard is that it is the lump-sum payment that is to be paid. I thank the ministry for what I feel is much clearer wording.

Motion agreed to.

Section 30, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 40 and 41, as amended, agreed to.

Section 42:

The Chair: Are there amendments to section 42? We are looking at just the reprinted bill, I believe. Questions and comments on section 42, as printed? Shall section 42 carry? All in favour?

Mr B. Ward: Could we have five minutes?

Hon Ms Gigantes: There were none against.

Clerk of the Committee: Yes, there were.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Nobody spoke against it.

The Chair: We will take the vote at five to 3. The committee is in recess until five minutes to 3.

The committee recessed at 1451.


The Chair: I will now place the question. All in favour of section 42, as printed, raise your hands. Those opposed? Carried.

Section 42, as amended, agreed to.

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, because we have these constant interruptions for five-minute recesses while the government members gather their clan to come in to vote, it is causing an interruption in the process of these committee hearings. We are already very short of time and will be cut back on the amount of time that we really need to examine this bill clause by clause. The absurdity of this business of, "Oops, we need our members here" -- these members, if they are here to vote, have the option of being here all the time. I really take exception to what we are into with the government members when they have 74 in their caucus and we have 20.

The Chair: Mrs Marland, all members of the committee have the right to ask for up to 20 minutes at any time on any vote.

Section 43, as amended, agreed to.

Section 44:

The Chair: Next is section 44. This is as printed, minister?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, as printed originally. This is the original bill.

The Chair: But it is printed, too.

Hon Ms Gigantes: It is printed, yes.

The Chair: Questions and comments to section 44, as printed?

Mrs Marland: I thought there was a government motion on section 44.

The Chair: As printed, Mrs Marland, it exists. Shall section 44, as printed, carry? Carried. All in favour? Opposed? The motion carries.

Section 44, as amended, agreed to.

Mr Abel: On a point of privilege, Mr Chair: Since Mrs Marland is so concerned about wasting time with voting, could I ask for unanimous consent that we stack all voting to the end of the day?

The Chair: I am told, at that point we would still have to take each vote individually.

Mr Abel: Individually, yes.

The Chair: Do you understand that?

Mr Abel: But they would all be voted at the same time. That is my request. Is that in order?

The Chair: If we have unanimous consent.


The Chair: No, we do not have unanimous consent.

Mrs Marland: We asked for that earlier and we could not get it from you, remember?

Mr Abel: Yes, but since you were so concerned about wasting time --

The Chair: But we do not have unanimous consent, Mr Abel.

Section 45: We will deal with subsection 45(1). We have a Liberal amendment. Ms Poole.

Ms Poole: We have a Liberal amendment to subsection 45(1) which relates to adding or discontinuing services for tenants in a building. However, I am wondering if we could have consent to stand this down. I was talking to Ms Parrish just a few minutes ago about the Liberal amendment and apparently the ministry does not feel this will solve the problem of the carports that we have been advised of by Mr Riopelle. So I wondered if we could stand that down and see if there is any other wording that could be suggested.

The Chair: Do we have agreement to stand down subsection 45(1)?

Agreed to.

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, could I ask a question on an amendment that was stood down? I am referring to subsections 20(8) and 22(3). Those were two amendments that were stood down because we understood that the ministry was going to look at those amendments, being our amendments, Conservative amendments, because you thought you could support them. This morning my staff person who drafts these amendments said she was working with the ministry but now she is not at all sure that you are going to be supporting it.

The point of my question is, is there any point in my staff carrying on investing time with those amendments if the government has now changed its position from when it thought it could support them?

Hon Ms Gigantes: I will ask Colleen Parrish to update us.

Ms Parrish: We have been working with your staff, and Ms Dalziel has been very helpful to us. We have come to sort of a meeting of minds as to which section of the act should be amended to do this and it is section 125. We have not changed our minds as to the policy.

There has been some discussion about whether the drafting is not kind of hard to read and all we are really doing now is trying to see if we cannot draft it in a way which makes it a little bit easier read. There has been no change of position on the policy and we hope that by tomorrow we will have a new draft and that we can all go forward with that amendment. There has been no change in the policy position. There are just some drafting issues around whether we can explain what these prescribed allowances are in sections blah, blah, blah and blah, blah, blah. It is a very hard read, let's put it that way.

Mrs Marland: So it is still looking positive, but it is going to be further on, around section 125 or so?

Ms Parrish: Yes. I think everyone has agreed that the fix is in section 125 and not in subsection 20(8).

Mrs Marland: Thank you for that answer.

The Chair: Thank you, Mrs Marland. Could I have unanimous consent to stand down all of section 45? I think that makes more sense.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Section 45? Okay.

The Chair: We will come back and do it.

Hon Ms Gigantes: We are quite prepared to deal with the amendment which has been put forward to subsection 45(2), which we intend to accept.

The Chair: All right. We will do that. Subsection 45(2).

Ms Poole moves that subsection 45(2) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:

"If an order under section 33 determines that an agreement under subsection (1) has been entered into as a result of coercion or as a result of a false, incomplete or misleading representation by the landlord or an agent of the landlord, the agreement is not enforceable."

Ms Poole: This is very similar to the amendment which passed successfully under section 33, basically just extending the word "coercion" to include false, incomplete or misleading information given by the landlord or his or her representative, so I am very hopeful that the government would also agree to pass subsection 45(2).

The Chair: Are there further questions or comments to Ms Poole's amendment to subsection 45(2)? Shall Ms Poole's amendment to subsection 45(2) carry? Carried.

Subsection 45(3), questions or comments? Shall subsection 45(3) carry? Carried.

Sections 46 to 49, inclusive, agreed to.


Section 50:

The Chair: Are there questions or comments? Shall subsection 50(1) carry? Carried. Mrs Marland, you have an amendment to subsection 50(2).

Mrs Marland moves that subsection 50(2) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:

"If a rent officer believes that a person who should be included as a party has not been so included, the rent officer may permit that such a person be substituted or added as a party to the proceeding after consultation with other parties."

Mrs Marland: This amendment ensures that when a rent officer adds or substitutes a person or party to a hearing, the other parties are consulted.

The Chair: Are there further questions or comments to Mrs Marland's amendment to subsection 50(2)? Ms Poole.

Ms Poole: This appears to be a very reasonable amendment and I think the government would want to allow this type of consultation and the Liberal caucus will be supporting it.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I do not understand what the purpose is here. Perhaps Mrs Marland could explain how her amendment would become an amendment which we would find useful.

Mrs Marland: Under your subsection 50(2) in the bill, madam Minister, you say, "If a rent officer believes that a person who should be included as a party has not been so included, the rent officer shall require that the person be substituted or added as a party to the proceeding."

Hon Ms Gigantes: Right.

Mrs Marland: Rather than "the officer shall require," we are saying "the rent officer may permit that such a person be substituted or added as a party to the proceeding after consultation with other parties." If you have got a hearing between two parties, in most cases it will between the property owner and the tenant. If either party wanted to bring someone else into their deliberation, I think that in fairness it should be done the same way it is done in a court of law once a proceeding has begun, that it is with consultation with all parties.

You will notice that our amendment does not even say -- you asked me the question, so I am waiting until you stop talking and I will answer it. Ours is not saying "after agreement of all parties." It is simply saying "after consultation with other parties." That is not very difficult or onerous. It is not saying they can only be there if all parties agree; it is saying after consultation.

It is a very human, decent way to proceed. Sometimes it may be that there are elderly tenants who are not very capable of speaking for themselves and they want other parties to be there, maybe family members or maybe other agents, for them. It is obviously a very reasonable amendment that is suggesting that, in the interests of the two parties at a hearing, another person may be added or substituted.

A few days ago, Ms Parrish said it is quite in order to have agents representing tenants, so I think the amendment stands on that statement. You have already acknowledged that it is okay. This is talking about substitution or additional people. It is not very complicated.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Mr Chair, if I could, then, I would like to note for the record, the written Hansard, that Mrs Marland had to wait a full two seconds for me to exchange a few words with my adviser from the Ministry of Housing while she was speaking.

Mrs Marland: Aren't we getting petty.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I think it is important to note that two seconds can make her stop dead in her tracks and get all annoyed.

I would suggest Mrs Marland is confusing issues. We are not talking here of agents, we are talking of other parties. The government position, as laid out in section 52, indicates that the rent officer has formed a belief, has had some reason to come to a belief that a person should be included as a party. What Mrs Marland is presenting us with is an amendment that says once the rent officer has come to that belief, then the rent officer has discretion about having that person included in the proceeding. Further, the rent officer has no discretion but to consult those already involved in the proceeding.

We consider this both unnecessary and perhaps confusing in terms of the process involved. We think that when the rent officer has come to a belief that a party shall be included who has not been included before, then that person should be included, and there should be no obligation on the rent officer to consult with existing parties to the proceeding.

Mrs Marland: As much as I try not to be drawn into the pettiness of the minister, she did ask me a question, however. I was in the middle of answering her question when she had to listen to someone else, which is fine. I was just saying I was waiting until she could listen to me again, since she had asked me a question.

On the subject of the rent officer having discretion, it brings me to the matter of who this rent officer is. I understand there was a brief discussion of that earlier this afternoon. I would like to ask for the record, since we are now at Tuesday and have three days left, whether the minister could fulfil her offer of having someone from her staff present to discuss the job description, training and qualifications of the rent officers. I suggest we would have to do that tomorrow afternoon or Thursday morning, whenever the minister's staff can be here, and I would like to know when they are coming. Could we have that answer, Mr Chairman?

The Chair: I believe it was previously undertaken that the minister and I would decide on that scheduling and we would involve in consultation the whips of the three parties. The minister and I will determine that so the committee may hear from the ministry directly.

Hon Ms Gigantes: If I could add to that, I had also suggested early in the afternoon that it would probably be helpful for us to know not only the time but the length of time the committee would wish to have ministry staff discuss this question.

Mrs Marland: The key person in the implementation of this legislation is the rent officer. That being so, the legislation is not going to go anywhere after it is passed without rent officers. I think the public has a right to know who these people are going to be, what their qualifications are, what their training is, and the prerequisites for the job.

I would suggest it depends how many people on this committee are interested in asking questions of the staff about this information. If we are saying the ministry staff can be here for an hour and everybody is going to ask some questions, that may not be long enough. It may be long enough if I am the only person asking questions. It is a matter which I originally brought up, I say with respect, three months ago. I do not think at this point it is too fair to ask, "How long is it going to be?" If I am the only person asking questions, I am quite sure I can get my answers from the ministry staff in half an hour to 45 minutes at the most. If I am not the only person asking questions, I do not know how long it will take. I can only tell you how much time I need to get the answers.


The Chair: If it would be helpful, the minister has informed me that the ministry will be available at 2 o'clock tomorrow afternoon to answer questions.

Mrs Marland: That is excellent. Thank you.

Now, if we are talking about the rent officer's discretion in the minister's explanation of her subsection 50(2), as opposed to the amendment we have just placed, I am wondering why the rent officer "shall require" that person to be substituted or added, rather than "may permit." In other words, there is no option of either party; it is totally in the power of the wizard.

Hon Ms Gigantes: If that is a question to me, the wizard, as Mrs Marland calls the rent officer, is the person who will come to a belief. We do not contemplate or desire a situation in which the rent officer has come to a belief that another party should be added to the proceedings and then that will be open to a round of debate, discussion or pressure from any of the parties to the proceeding at that point. We do not wish this to be a question that is going to generate a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, argument, discussion, debate, counterargument and so on. We think that when the rent officer comes to a belief that a party should be added, that party should be added.

Mr Jackson: Is the concept of notification of all parties a concern to the minister? I understand where she is coming from, and I understand what the word "consultation" means, but "notification" is another word which, in my view, would apply, in that there are no surprises that changes have been made.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Where would that come from? I am just checking where the notice would come from.

Ms Poole: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: While the ministry staff is looking up some information, I had a request from a lady from Sault Ste Marie, only a one-paragraph-letter request of the committee which I would like to read on the record.

She said: "As a former landlord, I'm very interested in the committee meetings on rent control legislation. After the meeting on Thursday, January 16, I felt I was left `hanging in the air' and, as the suspense mounts, I would like to know if I can receive a copy of all proceedings following January 16....Among other things, I can hardly wait to hear the story of Chicken Little, as related to the bill, and told by the member for Yorkview! Thank you for your attention to this letter. Yours sincerely, Barbara White."

So Mr Mammoliti, you have a wide viewing audience out there.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms Poole. That is not a point of order.

Ms Poole: But it was a good letter.

Hon Ms Gigantes: If I might, I would ask Ms Marland first, or Mr Jackson, whose question it was, to turn for us to section 71, which says, "Any party to the application may make submissions at a pre-hearing conference respecting the matters in issue at the conference."

If we return to paragraph 69(3)2, the question of "whether any person ought to be added or removed as a party to the proceeding" can be a matter for a pre-hearing conference. So starting from the top, the rent officer comes to a belief that a person should be added. The rent officer says a person shall be added. One of the parties to the process says, "We want a pre-hearing conference on this." Sections 71 and 69 swing into effect and under paragraph 69(3)2, the question can be addressed. I hope it does not happen very often.

Mr Jackson: The scenario of concern to me, notwithstanding that which caused Mrs Marland to bring forward this amendment, centres around substitute decision-making and a whole series of new pieces of legislation currently being discussed down the hall by another committee: that a growing number of, to a degree, challenged tenants, meaning their capacity is diminished greatly for a variety of reasons, that these individuals wish to and may avail themselves of services previously unavailable in this province.

Hon Ms Gigantes: That would involve having a person acting as your agent.

Mr Jackson: That begs an even greater question, because what I am sensing now is that each senior could go out and acquire his or her own agent. That makes me a little nervous, but I do not wish to burden a section with that. The concept of notification can help when all parties are aware that this activity is going on, so that you are not dealing with 10 or 12 agents representing 12 "challenged" or vulnerable citizens who may be tenants in that building. What one party is not communicating to another party, everything is communicated to the rent officer.


I follow the minister clearly in how sections 69, 71 and back to 50 cascade and how we react to those. I am still trying to see clearly where the concept of notifying all parties that so-and-so has made an application, or so-and-so on behalf of so-and-so has made an application. Whether we want to get into their right to appeal it, you cannot appeal something you have not been advised of.

I think it is discriminatory to suggest that if you are a so-called tenant applicant only the landlord needs to be notified. My thesis is that tenants should also be notified when other tenants within their building wish to appear. I have given as an example the process of the Advocacy Act and substitute decision-making responsibility which is going to impact in these sections.

Hon Ms Gigantes: If I could, I believe the issues Mr Jackson raises are definitely issues which affect the operation of this legislation, but I would call to his attention that I think they are better addressed in, first, section 48 and later section 56, which deal with the notification and the acknowledgement of notices.

Mr Jackson: So to prevent me from having to sit here and read that while we all watch me read, are you undertaking to consider amendments in that area that ensure that when there is a change all parties are notified; that those people wishing to come forward or those to whom, to be more specific, the rent officer has agreed can now become parties -- that all parties are subsequently notified of that fact? That is really all I am interested in.

I have not seen it clearly. I understand how the process flows and the minister has unveiled that properly. I still do not see nor am I clear that all parties are aware when persons are approved for that process so that this is a point of information that so-and-so down the hall has now someone representing him and I might be able to contact so-and-so and that person can also represent me, etc.

Hon Ms Gigantes: There are a certain number of matters which this legislation can address in terms of the implementation of the measures in it and there are other matters that really fall in other legislation. I do not think we can call upon the rent control regime in Ontario to provide the framework that addresses all the questions of substitute decision-making that you are raising.

Mr Jackson: No. That was just an example.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Some of those will have to be addressed within the legislative framework that we create for substitute decision-making rather than through this particular legislation. I do believe that if he takes a look at section 48, the giving of notice, and section 56, the acknowledgement of notice, that provision has been made for an adequate framework within this legislation for addressing the questions of substitute decision-making.

Now, there are a million kinds of examples we can think of where a rent review officer might consider whether somebody should be added to a proceeding. I am going to suggest to Mr Jackson that were he to cast his mind to the role of the rent officer and think about the position and the duties of the rent officer, it will be easier for the rent officer, in most cases, not to seek to add people to a proceeding. One does not in an administrative position generally feel impelled to complicate the decision.

I think the emphasis will be quite the contrary and for the rent officer to come to the belief that a person should be added to the proceeding is going to take some unusual kind of evidence. It may in fact be the kind of evidence to which he is speaking when he talks about the question of cases where a substitute decision is involved.

I think that what we have provided here are mechanisms that, as far as humanly possible, are going to provide that in cases where it is quite obvious that it is necessary to have another person added to a proceeding, that decision will be made by the rent officer and will be made with effect and without a whole lot of debate, except if somebody wants to go to the trouble of using sections 71 and then -- I have lost it -- 56 to ask for a pre-hearing. Is it 68? Section 68, sorry.

Mr Jackson: If there is a dissuasion -- to use your words -- to increase the workload or to complicate the hearing, then I submit to you that there would be greater reason for people to seek out the clause which will cause a pre-hearing. My purpose is only in making sure there are no surprises once we get to the hearing stage. That is really all I have said and I have specifically used this as an example.

I will be working on the other piece of legislation and I am concerned that those legal procedures that impact on vulnerable individuals are adequately represented. So my point of interest here is solely that if there is one vulnerable tenant in a building who has been able to seek out assistance, I certainly do not want 20 tenants seeking out 20 different people to advocate on the exact same point; that in fact there is some wisdom in sharing that. That is all I am saying.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I bet a rent officer would agree with you.

Mr Jackson: I am sure, but we are talking about civil servants here. If the legislation does not compel them to do an act -- I do not want to confuse you -- to follow a procedure, and the regulations which flow from the bill do not compel them to do it, and by your own testimony you do not think they are highly impelled to be doing it in the first place -- I simply want to go back to the point that you have a whole other group of tenants out there who are not informed that they may be represented efficiently and effectively, if we can communicate that, and it is quite in the best interests of the tenants to make sure they do not show up with 20 advocates who all want standing; that in fact if all parties are aware, you can piggyback them.

That is the only reason I have suggested the concept that, once he has made a decision, the tenants in the building know who is being added and the landlord be advised. That is all I am suggesting. I understand the process; I just do not see where the bill says they will be communicated that decision. I did not hear you show me that; you simply said it.

Hon Ms Gigantes: It is not in the bill. In fact there are many things in this world that are not in the bill.

Mr Jackson: I heard that extrapolation and I do not necessarily buy it. I have been working on legislation as long as you have in this building and I just know that if it is not in there, this is our opportunity. You will have very many busy and challenging things facing you in the coming three and a half years if you are still this minister, and reopening this bill certainly will not be one of them.

Hon Ms Gigantes: It might be, but I do not think on this point.

Mr Jackson: Once you open a bill everything is available to be open, as you know. So it never gets open, but that is fine. I have made my point for the record.

The Chair: Any questions or comments on Mrs Marland's amendment to subsection 50(2)? Shall Mrs Marland's amendment to subsection 50(2) carry? All in favour? Opposed?

Motion negatived.

The Chair: Shall subsection 50(2) carry? Carried. Shall subsection 50(3) carry? Carried. Shall subsection 50(4) carry? Carried. Shall section 50 carry?

Section 50 agreed to.

Section 51 agreed to.


The Chair: Questions or comments on section 52?

Ms Harrington: Mr Chair, we have a government amendment.

The Chair: Where would I find this amendment, Ms Harrington?

Ms Harrington: It is a lengthy amendment replacing all of section 52.

The Chair: Ms Harrington moves that section 52 of the bill, as reprinted to show the amendments proposed by the minister, be struck out and the following substituted:

"52. The applicant shall file with the application,

"(a) in the case of an application under section 13 (application for increase above guideline), a cost statement in the prescribed form and information for the prescribed periods concerning the operating costs for municipal taxes, hydro, water and heating;

"(b) the prescribed material; and

"(c) all other written evidence that the applicant relies upon in support of the application.

"52.1 (1) An application is not complete unless all of the material referred to in clauses 52(a) and (b) has been filed.

"(2) If the applicant files an application that is not complete, a rent officer shall notify the applicant in writing of that fact.

"(3) The notice shall inform the applicant that,

"(a) the applicant may file further material to complete the application within the period set out in the notice; and

"(b) if the applicant does not do so within that period, the proceeding will be discontinued.

"(4) The period set out in clause (3)(a) shall not exceed thirty days and despite section 58, shall not be extended by a rent officer.

"(5) A rent officer shall discontinue a proceeding if a notice has been issued under subsection (2) and the applicant has not filed the required material within the period set out in the notice."

We have a Liberal amendment to the government amendment.

Ms Poole moves that section 52 of the bill be amended by adding the following clause:

"(a.1) all documents in the applicant's possession that relate to the application, including engineers' or consultants' reports and inspection reports;"

I am sure you wish to explain that, Ms Poole.

Ms Poole: At first glance it may appear that these items would naturally be covered under clause 52(c), "all other written evidence that the applicant relies upon in support of the application." However, traditionally tenants have had a very difficult time getting access to things such as engineers' reports, consultants' reports and inspection reports. We just wanted to make it perfectly clear in the legislation that if the landlord has this type of report available, it must be submitted with the other documentation with the application. If the landlord plans to make use of any of this information, then it is only fair that the tenants also have access to that information.

The Chair: Further questions or comments on Ms Poole's amendment?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Go ahead, David.

Mr Winninger: Not until after the minister.

Hon Ms Gigantes: No, go ahead.

Mr Winninger: I am concerned that this list be fairly inclusive. I am not so sure whether this kind of amendment is going to be acceptable or not, but if it were to be acceptable, there may be some additional reports we might want to highlight in there, such as an architect's report, because they have been helpful in the past in determining whether there has been a need for capital repairs, and if so, to what extent. That is all I wanted to add at this stage.

Hon Ms Gigantes: What we have proposed here is that material which may not be relevant to the application be filed as a matter of course. Maybe that is what should happen. Maybe every time a landlord files an application we should get from the landlord all information in the possession of the landlord that has been produced for the landlord by an engineer or a consultant or indeed a landlord's own inspector. Is that what Ms Poole is looking for? That is what it would mean.

Ms Poole: I would point out for the minister's reference that our amendment specifically says, "All documents in the applicant's possession that relate to the application." We specifically pointed out in our amendment that we did not want extraneous material that might not apply to this particular situation. I think we have quite clearly stated that these reports would have to relate to the applications.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Perhaps we could ask Colleen Parrish to comment on this. As I understand it, once we are into a hearing, the tenants may request or the rent officer may request the production of documents which are considered relevant to the decision under section 13, and I would like to get Colleen's appreciation of what it means to ask for this up front.

Ms Parrish: Later on we have amendments to section 52 that say very clearly that if you are going to rely upon something, you must adduce that when you apply. So if you want to rely upon this engineering report, you have to cough it up. However, you may have had several engineering reports, and some of them may be positive to your case and some may not be. Usually it is not the case that you are required to adduce evidence negative to your own case.

At the hearing, those who are in opposite interest to you, whoever they may be, can say: "Do you have any other consulting reports? Did you get any other consulting reports?" Of course, unless you are prepared to perjure yourself, you have to answer that honestly. If at that time you refuse to disclose those reports, then the rent officer is in the position to assume that evidence may be negative in some way, but it is not normally the case that you require people to adduce evidence in their applications which they are not relying upon and which may be negative to their interest. That is normally done through the adducing of evidence by the party in opposing interest. It is a difficult area. You can obtain this evidence in another way, or if the person refuses to disclose the evidence, then the rent officer can assume a negative view.

The same would be true for the tenants. If perhaps they retained a consulting engineer and the engineer said, "In my view, this is necessary," and the tenants had other viewpoints and they did not want to bring that forward, they do not have to disclose the negative parts of their case until you reach the cross-examination stage.

I guess I have some discomfort about this, because I think it goes contrary to the way hearings are normally done and conducted. It does require parties to adduce evidence that is negative to them other than in the cross-examination system, which is how this is is done.

The other concern I have is sort of a technical issue. The applicant then has to decide what relates to the application. I can well imagine that if you have something which is negative, you are going to have some thinking about whether you can argue it is not in relation to your application. Then I have to say, what is the consequence if you do not? What happens if you do not? Then your entire application is dismissed, as opposed to going to a hearing in which the evidence as to whether or not it is relevant or whatever is adduced.

I have some discomfort that this does not give the parties the opportunities to have their evidence tested and cross-examined in the normal way. I understand what the intention is, which is to make sure that there is an opportunity to bring this material out, but I think there are other sections of the act that do that without forcing a party to disclose evidence as part of their application.


Hon Ms Gigantes: If the rent officer asks if there are other reports which relate, the applicant has to bring in the materials on which he has relied, but if the applicant has left out one report which relates to the application but upon which the applicant is not relying and if the rent officer says during a hearing, "Have you had other reports," and the applicant says yes, can the rent officer say, "Produce them," and have that effected?

Ms Parrish: Yes, you can order it. If they refuse, you then can assume it is negative. You can say, "If you will not disclose this document, then I have to assume it is negative to your interests." That is normally how refusals are dealt with. But there are abilities to require evidence and so on in later sections.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I must say I am of two minds on this. I am not quite sure how best to proceed. Perhaps Ms Poole would like to make further comment. I think I would be prepared to reflect on this just a few hours more. I think that Mr Winninger is right, that if we are going to start listing documents which might be required in relation to an application, then perhaps we would want to include other documents. I am not sure of that. I am concerned about the question of what happens when you ask people to bring in everything in their possession that might relate to an application.

The Chair: I think Mr Winninger was looking for an opportunity.

Mr Winninger: Just one little addendum to what the minister said. I was concerned that if we do start specifying reports, it should be as exhaustive as possible, and then after some consultation, I thought to myself, "Is this really the place to do it?" Section 52 already says that the applicant has to file the prescribed material, so if it is decided that we should start listing some of the reports that should go in with the landlord's application, that could be done in a regulation as part of the prescribed material. If there is some expert evidence in the form of an architect's or engineer's report or whatever, that might be a better place to list it, rather than in a section like this.

Hon Ms Gigantes: But that does not really address the other point.

Mr Winninger: Sorry, what other point?

Hon Ms Gigantes: It does not address the other point of whether you should be asking an applicant to produce reports which may not be in the applicant's favour and on which the applicant is not relying.

Mr Winninger: At this point I was not prepared to go that far in my own position.

Hon Ms Gigantes: They may relate to the application, but if the applicant is not relying on them, what are we doing if we ask for their production?

Mr Winninger: In a judicial situation, these kinds of reports prepared in contemplation of litigation would be protected by privilege. That same privilege would not extend to this administrative tribunal situation, so there may be kind of an inequality that would be created for people who go to a tribunal versus those who go to a court. On the other hand, the Statutory Powers Procedure Act allows the chairperson of the tribunal to issue all manner of summonses for the delivery of evidence, so there is that discretion too in the tribunal.

Hon Ms Gigantes: We have that within the legislation. It is a question of whether we put the onus up front on the applicant to produce anything of an engineering, consulting or inspection report which might relate to the application.

Mr Winninger: I am content with the minister's position in this matter.

The Chair: I think we have been trying to determine that.

Ms Poole: I have a number of points to make. The first was in reference to the fact that the minister said that in the course of the hearing, the rent officer could require certain information to come forward, but the way this legislation is formulated right now, the legislation defaults to administrative review. It is only if one of the parties, the other party, requests within 30 days a hearing that we would actually be in the hearing process. That is the first problem.

The second is that it was brought to our attention that normally in a court proceeding, a person would not be required to prejudice his or her own interest by producing information that is negative to that interest. My concern in this particular scenario is that a landlord could go out and get an engineering report that says this is not structural; this does not need to be done. They might not like that report, so they may go out and retain a second firm, or a third or a fourth firm, until they get one that wants badly to do the work and says what they want them to say. In that particular scenario, I do not see why the tenant is not entitled to the information that there are five reports and four of them have said this work is not necessary or evaluated the work as being far less substantial and a fraction of the cost. I think that information should come to the tenants' attention. I think that would only be fair.

As far as doing it in regulation is concerned, I certainly would have no objection to this information being included by regulation. My general bias is to have it up front in the legislation because that way it cannot be changed at the whim of a bureaucrat or a group of bureaucrats.

The one concern I personally had about it that as soon as you start listing things, then you do not want to omit one that is important to be included and omit it by accident. Certainly prescribing it would eliminate that particular problem.

If the minister wants to consider this, I would be happy to ask for unanimous consent to stand it down and she could give us her decision at a later time.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Before we do that, I wonder if it might be possible to ask members of the committee to take a look at section -- administrative review, as a process in the bill, begins at section 62, and it is to section 66 I would ask members to address their thoughts. It reads:

"(1) The rent officer may consider any relevant information obtained by him or her in addition to the evidence given by the parties, provided that he or she first informs the parties of the additional information and gives them an opportunity to explain or refute it.

"(2) The rent officer may,

"(a) conduct an enquiry or inspect documents that he or she considers necessary;

"(b) question any person by telephone or otherwise; and

"(c) cause an employee of the ministry to do anything set out in clauses (a) and (b)."

That does give scope under administrative review, not just in a hearing, to the rent officer. Normally when an inspection is done, somebody in the building is going to notice, when a report is being done.


Ms Poole: Mr Chair, if I could respond to the minister, first of all a tenant would not always necessarily notice something being done, particularly if it were an internal structure, such as somebody being down looking at the underground parking garage during the day when tenants are out. I am not sure it is always a fact that tenants would know that an inspection is taking place. The problem with the administrative review process is that it is not formulated like a hearing. Evidence is not produced on a continual basis, so that information may come out at some process in the hearing where you would say: "You mentioned that there was another report. Well, could we have access to the report?"

In an administrative review that does not happen. The documents are filed, and unless the landlord is not in his right mind he is certainly not going to write up within the documents that there were five different reports and that he did not like four of them. Where it is most likely to come out is in a hearing process, where they are asked direct questions. One of the biggest disappointments I had about the administrative review under the Liberal government was the way in which it was initially envisaged. There was going to be give and take. The administrative officer would bring in the landlord and tenant and sit them down face to face and they would talk about it.

It never happened, and I think it is most unfortunate that it did not. What happens is that they shift papers and look through and see what the papers say and, since this legislation defaults to administrative review, unless some significant change is made within the next few days that we do not know about at this time, in many cases there would not be a hearing. So the tenants would never have access to the information and the ability to ask questions about whether there is other information. I certainly think that in those types of cases the fact that engineers, consultants and inspection reports be included, whether it be hearing or administrative review, would assist the tenant in making sure he or she has all this documentation.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I would like to give some time to think about this further, Mr Chair.

The Chair: What I am being asked for is unanimous consent to stand down the full section. Agreed? Agreed.

Sections 53 and 54 agreed to.

Section 55, as amended, agreed to.

The Chair: Questions or comments on clauses 56(a), (b) and (c)?

Ms Poole: Mr Chair, we will be supporting these amendments. It has long been a difficulty that completed applications sometimes take a long time to happen. When the landlord initially submits the applications, supporting documentation is not with it, so we think this is a good amendment and will support it. We are doing what I think we are doing.

The Chair: This must be an amendment I did not see.

Ms Harrington: Yes, Mr Chair, the government does have an amendment for section 56.

The Chair: Mrs Harrington moved that section 56 of the bill, as reprinted to show the amendments proposed by the minister, be amended by striking out "an application" in the first line and substituting "a complete application."

Ms Poole: Mr Chair, I think I was slightly ahead of my time. That is what I just spoke to; I am sorry about that. I thought that is what you were calling for.

Ms Harrington: It is all on the record, then.

The Chair: All right. Your amendment is 56(d) and (e), correct? Shall clauses 56(a), (b) and (c) carry? Carried.

Interjection: Wait a minute. You did not carry the amendment.

The Chair: I got excited here apparently and I forgot that we had not dealt with Mrs Harrington's amendment. Shall Mrs Harrington's amendment to section 56 carry?

Motion agreed to.

The Chair: Shall clauses 56(a), (b) and (c), as amended, carry? Carried.

Mrs Poole moved that clauses 56(d) and (e) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:

"(d) that there will be a hearing unless all of the parties agree to have the matter decided by an administrative review;

"(e) of the right of parties to request a pre-hearing conference; and"

Ms Poole: This is considered to be a very important number by the Liberal party. To sum it up very briefly, it says there should be a hearing as a natural course of events rather than administrative review. The reason we have taken this position is that right now the legislation defaults to administrative review unless one of the parties requests a hearing within 30 days. In many instances, usually dealing either with tenants or small landlords, they are not always as cognizant of the legislation as one might like or one might expect. Some of them do not realize that they would have to actually make application for a hearing and in fact that they would have to do it within a set time.

There is always, of course, a problem if you do not request a hearing within that 30 days. For instance, take the scenario where a landlord makes his application. That is day 1, and on day 29 the tenants make their submissions. In my understanding, at that stage the landlord, the original applicant, does not even have an automatic right to have a hearing. The landlord then has to request the hearing and it would be at the discretion of the rent officer whether to grant it. If it were any other parties to the hearing, then it would be automatic if they request it within 30 days; the hearing would be granted.

It certainly does not cover situations where information may come late or where they are not sure of the process to begin with, particularly in view of the fact that the government has virtually eliminated the right of appeal in this legislation except under fairly extraordinary circumstances, where it can be appealed to a court only and then only on a matter of law; it cannot be on a matter of facts. Since that right to appeal has been, as I say, virtually eliminated, it becomes even more important that a hearing be the recourse that we first recommend.

I would be most interested in hearing whether the government has had a change of heart in this regard. It is one matter where I cannot really understand the recalcitrance of the government in going to the hearing process as a right of first recourse, because it is something tenants and landlords are united on. They have requested it in many instances. It would save time. It would save that 30-day time period where tenants would go to administrative review and then have a 30-day period and decide to go to the hearing. It would expedite matters. I just think that, for all parties concerned, including the government, considering the lack of appeal, it should be a right of tenants and landlords in this province to have a hearing.


Hon Ms Gigantes: I draw the member's attention to subsection 59(3), which provides that "a rent officer may extend the time for any party to request a hearing at any time before a notice of administrative review is issued."

Ms Poole: May I draw the minister's attention to the same subsection 59(3), which says a rent officer "may" extend, not "shall" extend, that again it is discretionary and up to the wizard to make this decision.

What we are saying is that tenants and landlords should have the right to an automatic hearing. Mr Chair, perhaps it would be appropriate if the minister would indicate, if she would agree to this amendment or a form of this amendment which would be satisfactory to her, or in the alternative, if she is not willing to go the hearing route, whether she has had a change a heart concerning appeals?

Hon Ms Gigantes: This is not a question of a change of heart. The matter before us I think is both an intellectual and a financial question. It is intellectual and quite practical because, having provided for 30 days as we do in the printed bill, rather than the original 15 which had been contemplated in this legislation, for a party to request a hearing we think 30 days will give plenty of opportunity in which interested parties can request a hearing. If the hearing is requested the hearing takes place.

The one matter which I think would cause us to think one more time on this issue is the question where there is a multi-unit application being considered. We are looking for more information about what that would mean in terms of administrative costs. I do not think there is any doubt that, in most cases where there is a multi-unit application, somebody is going to request a hearing. But in the off chance that that did not happen, we are trying to estimate what the administrative cost differences might be.

It is very hard to estimate these things. The original estimate we had made was that if we provided for a hearing in each and every case, we would be increasing the administrative costs in the early stages of the implementation of this bill almost $12 million above what would otherwise be the case, and a mature implementation cost of well over $10 million a year. To provide what? To provide that, in those cases in which neither party requests a hearing, there is a hearing. How valuable is that going to be? That is a judgement we have to make. We also have to make a judgement about whether tenants will feel, for example, obligated to go to a hearing if there is a hearing when they have not necessarily felt the need to request a hearing. That will mean feeling an obligation, oftentimes, to take time off work. But these are questions I am willing to look at again in the situation where we are dealing with a multi-unit application. I propose to try and provide information and a final reading on the situation to members of the committee, perhaps by tomorrow afternoon.

The Chair: So you are looking to stand it down? I have Mr Owens on the list.

Mr Owens: I want to share some concerns I have about not having the right to an automatic hearing. I am wondering if there is some way we could take a look at not beginning with the minimalist approach: Guarantee the right of a hearing but then work your way back in situations where a hearing is not required. I made some comments around the issue of the tenant democracy amendment that the Tories were moving and the issue around communication and ensuring people clearly understand rights and things like that. I am not sure these issues are dissimilar with respect to this as well.

Again, the thing that concerns me is that I understand there are cost implications in this amendment. However, I suggest that if there were some way where we could at least start from a full right and then work our way back, as opposed to beginning with a minimalist approach -- I have not quite heard what the ministry would do in order to have rent review officers take the kind of look that would make me as a person who works with tenants feel comfortable, to ensure that those policy decisions are being carried out and that people's rights are not being abridged simply because it is not a legislated clause but a policy issue within the ministry. If we are going to stand this down until tomorrow, I would be really pleased to work with whomever to do what we can.

Hon Ms Gigantes: This is an interesting question, because Mr Owens speaks about the current wording in the bill failing to provide a right to an automatic hearing. In fact, the wording in the bill provides an automatic right to a hearing. It is not an automatic hearing; it is a hearing that somebody has to apply for within 30 days.

What can we say? We have extended the period of time in which to request a hearing from 15 to 30 days, hoping that would provide all parties involved with a good sense of whether it was necessary to hold a hearing or whether they could find enough information to satisfy their minds one way or the other about the application and decide that they did not need a hearing when in fact a hearing was going to change nothing and the application would either be withdrawn by the landlord or approved by the tenants.

We have tried to provide that flexibility. The tenants will be notified of their right to a hearing. For some tenants, this may be difficult to understand. Certainly I can sympathize with Mr Owens's concerns around that. However, I think he would agree that whatever the failings of administrative review, it is by no means guaranteed that hearings in and of themselves get us to heaven any more directly.


These are questions about which reasonable and caring people can have many different kinds of concerns, where we try and balance out what we believe to be the most suitable ways of meeting the objectives we seek here: clarity, lack of cumbersomeness -- which is a very cumbersome way to put it -- and a reasonable and fair means of delivering a fair decision on behalf of landlords and tenants. I am willing to go back and take another look, ask for advice one more time of the best-informed and most practised administrators in our ministry staff and see if there is some additional kind of elbow room we could provide here for people who may need to be told that the hearing is theirs, that, as Ms Poole puts it, the default position is a hearing. It may be that we can categorize cases where that would make sense. I am not sure of that yet.

The Chair: Do we have unanimous consent to stand this section down?

Agreed to.

Section 57, as amended, agreed to.

Section 58 agreed to.

The Chair: Section 59: We have a government amendment, as printed, and then we have a Liberal motion.

Ms Poole: The only problem with having stood down section 56 is that a lot of the subsequent sections, such as section 59, rely on the government having set up administrative review as the default position, with a right to apply to a hearing. Certainly section 59, to which we have an amendment, would be difficult to deal with if there were a possibility of the ministry changing its mind.

The Chair: In that case, can I have unanimous consent to stand down section 59 and section 60, which I think is also in a similar position? Do we have unanimous consent?

Agreed to.

Section 61:

The Chair: Section 61: Questions or comments?

Ms Poole: I have one comment. I am happy to pass this, with the proviso that in the event something happened to the other sections we might have to reopen this briefly to change some of the numbering. Otherwise I am happy to pass it at this time.

Section 61 agreed to.

Sections 62 to 64, inclusive, agreed to.

Section 65:

The Chair: Section 65: Questions, comments or amendments?

Ms Poole: We are in section 65, right, Mr Chair?

The Chair: You are perfectly correct.

Ms Poole: I just wanted to check, we were whipping through so quickly there. I want to point out that this particular section deals with administrative review and the material that is considered. It makes it very clear here that the only evidence and submissions in support of the applications that the rent officer may consider are those filed with the application or given in reply. This refers to my earlier comment that one of the difficulties in the administrative review process is that it does not allow for this give and take, for the tenant and landlord to have an interaction back and forth. That is not to say I am not voting for this section. It is just to point out that this is one of the advantages of going to the automatic hearing route.

Section 65 agreed to.

Section 66:

The Chair: There is a government amendment, as printed, I believe. Questions, comments or amendments to section 66 as printed?

Hon Ms Gigantes: I am going to make a comment. I hope Ms Poole, having pronounced herself on what happens in administrative review, will take a careful look at section 66.

Ms Poole: I was just about to give the minister my support for this section. Now I guess I will have to take a careful look before rushing in. This section does not change anything that I previously said, because what I referred to was the give and take between landlord and tenant. This is an entirely different matter, because the amendments under subsections 66(4) and (5) provide that the rent officer may view the premises and that the rent officer may direct an inspector to inspect the premises. I certainly support the attempt of the ministry to get the rent officers out of their little cubbyholes and into the real world so that they can actually see what is happening in the buildings. That still does not provide the give and take between landlord and tenant to which I earlier referred. Notwithstanding that, I will support this section.

Section 66, as amended, agreed to.

Section 67:

The Chair: Section 67: Questions or comments?

Ms Poole: This was another matter which actually was raised earlier, the Statutory Powers Procedure Act. It is only if there is a hearing that this particular act applies. As far as rules of evidence -- Mr Winninger could speak to this far more eloquently than I could since I understand he is a barrister and solicitor in this province. One of the concerns I have about administrative review is that the administrator would not be bound by the Statutory Powers Procedure Act. I would see this as one more advantage to going the route of the automatic hearing as opposed to administrative review.


Hon Ms Gigantes: If the sum of civilization is to see the Statutory Powers Procedure Act applied to life in Ontario, God help us.

Ms Poole: Not all life in Ontario, just the Rent Control Act. We are limiting in this particular case.

The Chair: Shall section 67 carry?

Section 67 agreed to.

Ms Poole: At the rate we are going through this legislation, if we do happen to pass all of it before the Conservatives arrive back, can we take the final vote tomorrow?

Hon Ms Gigantes: You are out of order, that was definitely out of order.

Section 68 agreed to.

Section 69:

The Chair: Questions, comments or amendments to section 69?

Ms Poole: I am not sure there is unanimity as to the need for pre-hearing conferences. Certainly, if we were in the situation where hearings were in the default position I would think the pre-hearing conference almost becomes extraneous, one more time-delaying tactic. I am wondering, particularly because my amendment to clause 56(e) specifically deals with pre-hearing conferences, whether perhaps we should not stand down section 69 and see whether section 70 would be affected as well.

Would the ministry be committed to pre-hearing conferences regardless of whether administrative review is in the default position or hearings?

Hon Ms Gigantes: The justification would be the same.

Ms Poole: You would not change your policy about pre-hearing conferences in any event.

Hon Ms Gigantes: That is correct. In fact, if you are going to have a situation where every application requires a hearing, then the pre-hearing conference is going to be your only room to breathe outside the Statutory Powers Procedure Act.

The Chair: Do I have a request to stand down section 69?

Ms Poole: Since the minister has said it will not affect the ministry's desire to have pre-hearing conferences, I think we may as well deal with this section now.

The Chair: Fine, further questions, comments on section 69? Shall section 69 carry?

Mr Winninger: Maybe I will start with a question of clarification. Is it the position of Ms Poole that the Statutory Powers Procedure Act should apply to pre-hearing conferences or did I mishear you?

Ms Poole: My comment was in reference to the fact that I am not totally convinced pre-hearing conferences are really necessary, particularly if orders under pre-hearing conferences are not going to have the same effect as a regular hearing. If you are going to have written findings from the pre-hearing conference, if you are going to have orders with all the same ramifications, if they are going to be dealt with under the Statutory Powers Procedure Act, then it seems to me you would be in the position where your pre-hearing conference is just repeating what the hearing is going to do.

Mr Winninger: I think you have answered my question, and if that is your position, I would strongly disagree with it because I know pre-trials and pre-hearings can be quite effective in narrowing issues, identifying issues, bringing the parties closer together and thereby shortening the duration of the actual hearings.

For example, in London Small Claims Court, the pre-trials dispose of 75% of all cases, so if you are looking at keeping the government's cost down -- which I know you are mindful of -- and if you are looking at alternative dispute resolutions -- which your colleague Mr Chiarelli refers to constantly -- then this kind of pre-hearing is ideal and I would urge you to reconsider your position.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I am tantalized, Mr Chair. Has Mr Winninger been through a pre-hearing conference under that legislation? They do not need lawyers there, do they?

Mr Winninger: I cannot remember, quite frankly. It has been over a year.

Ms Poole: And it has been a very long year at that, has it not, Mr Winninger?

Mr Winninger: It has been a challenge.

Ms Poole: I am not terribly comfortable with making any determination on this section because I am just not familiar with pre-hearing conferences and I am not a lawyer. If Mr Winninger assures me that they are useful, that they should be held and that they are going to save time, money and energy and bring people together as one happy group, then until I manage to make it home tonight and ask my husband to verify his opinion, I will go with Mr Winninger's opinion. Unfortunately, if my husband says no, the vote will already be taken.

Section 69 agreed to.

Section 70:

The Chair: Section 70: We have a government amendment as printed. Questions, comments, amendments to section 70, as printed?

Hon Ms Gigantes: This is one of the sections I find most difficult, because it says, if I am reading it correctly, that the only evidence is the stuff that gets filed with the application or is in response to the stuff filed with the application. Then it says that except where a rent officer allows additional stuff -- I do not understand why we do this. Maybe Colleen could tell us.

Ms Parrish: The opening clause of subsection (1) says that except as provided in subsection (2), this is all that counts, and all we are really saying is that if you file evidence with your application, we have to look at it; we cannot direct it or say it is not relevant, we have to look at it. If you want to cough up some new evidence you are going to have to go through a process of having the rent officer permit parties to file that additional evidence, or the rent officer may be directing the party to give additional evidence, such as they find out that there are all these reports the parties have not been disclosing.

It really just says that this is the rule, except where the rent officer is exercising the powers in the statute to require additional evidence to be disclosed, or they have permitted someone who has made a good argument to file additional evidence.

Hon Ms Gigantes: What other kind of information might come? For example, in subsection 70(1) -- you will forgive me, I am just so curious about this.

Ms Parrish: I always forgive ministers.

Hon Ms Gigantes: In 70(1) it says that the rent officer may only consider stuff filed with the application or given in a reply. Then 70(2) says that the rent officer can allow additional filings or request additional evidence. I do not understand what is being excluded in 70(1).

Ms Parrish: Any evidence the rent officer may just happen to have come across that has not been adduced as evidence.


Hon Ms Gigantes: In other words, a newspaper clipping of five years ago that says a landlord was convicted or that the tenant was a perjurer.

Ms Parrish: Yes.

Hon Ms Gigantes: That is irrelevant and cannot be filed.

Ms Parrish: Somebody else might have filed it, but if they have not filed it, I cannot consider it.

Hon Ms Gigantes: It is very confusing to me. I have faith, though, that this is going to work.

Ms Poole: I was just comparing subsection 70(1) to the original one, and it seems the main change has been that the only written evidence in support of the application the rent officer may consider is the material filed with the application, so --

Hon Ms Gigantes: They both say "written."

Ms Poole: The original?

Hon Ms Gigantes: I am sorry.

Ms Poole: I was looking at the original version of Bill 121, and I am wondering if that is the major differentiation, that "written" has been added in so that the rent officer might consider verbal information, but if they are going to get something in, in writing, it has to be with the original application and reply. No?

The Chair: Legislative counsel may be helpful here.

Ms Baldwin: Maybe we can clear it up relatively quickly; I hope so. You notice subsection 70(2) is talking about filing additional evidence. That would suggest also that it is in writing. As I understand the two subsections as a whole, the idea is that the rent officer considers what was filed in the proper way, as it was provided earlier, but in subsection 70(2) the rent officer is given discretion to add further evidence if, for example, a party comes along and says, "Gee, I didn't file this with my application, but I think it is really important and ought to be considered." At that point, since it is going against the general rules of the game, it does not automatically go in, but it is not automatically utterly excluded. Discretion is given to the rent officer. I do not think this is an uncommon sort of provision in the statutes.

Hon Ms Gigantes: What got me, I guess, was that in the subsection -- I am really going to stop, Mr Chair -- the rent officer was not allowed to look at any other written evidence, and I could not imagine what other written evidence might be there to create this prohibition.

Ms Baldwin: For example, in the case of the applicant, the earlier provisions say the applicant has to have all his or her or its written evidence in the application itself, so this would give leeway to a rent officer in what he or she considers appropriate circumstances to add other evidence.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I can understand that in subsection 70(2), but I cannot understand in subsection 70(1) what it is that the rent officer might have in front of him or her in written form but would not be allowed to look at under subsection 70(1)?

Ms Baldwin: This section makes it clear that if, in the case of administrative review, it was not in the application, they cannot look at it. They might have something in front of them about which the party is saying, "Consider this," that is coming up in subsection 70(2). They might have sent something in three weeks later and said, "I want you to use this, too."

Hon Ms Gigantes: These are process steps. All right, I think I have got my head around it. Thank you so much. Obviously I could not be a rent officer.

Ms Poole: I think I have this now. Is the type of situation you are trying to avoid one where the applicant submits written information, on day two comes back with more stuff, and then four days later is back with another slew of it. The rent officer really wants it all in at the beginning and has discretion in certain circumstances to say "Fine," but in cases where it is almost harassment because they keep getting bugged every day with something new, they can say, "Hold it, I already have all I am going to get."

Hon Ms Gigantes: Is that it?

Ms Baldwin: Sure.

Hon Ms Gigantes: It sounds good.

Ms Poole: Okay, I think we can go for that.

The Chair: I am glad that is clear. Shall section 70, as printed, carry?

Section 70, as amended, agreed to.

Section 71 agreed to.

The Chair: Questions, comments or amendments to section 72?

Ms Poole: I have just one question. Are the recommendations of the rent officer from the pre-hearing conference not binding on the rent officer handling the final determination at the full hearing?

Ms Parrish: If you look at subsection 73(4) of the reprinted version, it indicates that a preliminary order is binding. The preliminary order would deal with procedural issues only. It is not binding as to the issues in the hearing, but they could have a binding procedural order that says, "The hearings will be held in this location; These will be the parties that start out the hearing." You could still entertain additional parties during the course of the hearing, but those would be the initial parties.

Any other procedural orders, such as orders to divulge certain information or agreement to sit in the evening, agreement that, when you have five or six issues joined together and several applications, you will hear them in a certain order: Those are the kinds of things you might get out as procedural orders, related to the order in which the parties will adduce their cases and so on. Procedural orders are binding, but as to any matters of substance that were discussed in an effort to come to some sort of accommodation or agreement between the parties, that is simply a form to try to work that out. If it does not work out, you are into a hearing or administrative review, depending on what the parties have chosen at that stage.

Ms Poole: So the recommendations would not necessarily be considered to be findings.

Ms Parrish: They are definitely not findings. All you can have is a procedural order related to the kinds of issues I indicated before. There are no findings of fact or findings as to any matters of substance. It is only procedural things, the order in which the cases will be adduced, or whatever.

Mr Winninger: Why then is the word "procedural" not in section 73? I foresee parties coming to a pre-hearing conference wanting to settle the issue between themselves, perhaps making admissions without prejudice in terms of a future hearing, and the rent officer having this authority to actually make orders arising from what he or she has heard at the pre-hearing conference. Might it not be suggested that this be restricted explicitly to procedural orders?

Hon Ms Gigantes: That sounds so reasonable to me. There must be a reason why it has not been done.

Mr Winninger: I am sure there is.

Ms Poole: It is because you are a government backbencher. Nobody listens to government backbenchers.

Mr Winninger: It is different in our government.

The Chair: Order.

Ms Parrish: You are saying you would prefer this to say "procedural" instead of "preliminary."

Mr Winninger: I ask that it be stood down until you come up with wording or phraseology you might feel comfortable with, if indeed you seek to change it.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I would be quite happy to do that.

The Chair: Do we have unanimous consent to stand down section 72?

Agreed to.


The Chair: Section 73: Mr Winninger, is this the same issue? Do we want to stand down section 73?

Mr Winninger: I think that would be advisable.

The Chair: Do I have unanimous consent?

Agreed to.

Section 74, as amended, agreed to.

Section 75 agreed to.

The Chair: Section 76: Questions, comments or amendments?

Hon Ms Gigantes: I believe this section relates to section 59, which we have stood down for the moment, and therefore we should probably stand this one down too. We are going to have a lot of standees in this waiting room.

Ms Poole: I am not sure section 76 will have to be stood down.

Hon Ms Gigantes: We are getting the same advice from counsel.

The Chair: We do not have unanimous consent.

Ms Poole: I am happy to if everybody feels we should, but it says "If there is to be a hearing," and even if --

The Chair: My sense, Ms Poole, is that I have no consent from anybody.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I think Ms Poole is correct.

Ms Parrish: The concern I have is with Ms Poole's amendment to subsection 76(1). Her amendment says: "The chief rent officer shall notify the parties in writing...unless they have agreed under subsection 59(2)" -- which we are standing down to consider this issue -- "to proceed by administrative review."

Ms Poole: I do not think that affects this, because the first line is, "If there is to be a hearing." It does not pre-determine that there will or will not be an automatic hearing, because even if you had automatic hearings, the parties might opt for administrative review. In this section you are just talking about if there is to be a hearing.

Ms Parrish: Yes, but your amendment goes on to say that the parties have agreed under subsection 59(2) to proceed by administrative review. If we do not make the changes you have proposed, then parties will not have agreed; they will simply have defaulted to administrative review. The concern is not with the amendment; it is not with the bill as printed by the government; it is with the amendment to this section you have proposed, because your amendment refers to subsection 59(2), having the parties agree to proceed by administrative review. Unless we make those changes, there is no section in subsection 59(2) that says people proceed to administrative review. The problem with section 76 is not created by the government bill; it is created by the proposed amendment.

Ms Poole: You are talking about the Liberal proposed amendment to subsection 76(1). I am sorry, Ms Parrish. I understood you were saying it was because we had stood down the Liberal amendment to subsection 59(2), not in reference to the Liberal amendment to subsection 76(1).

The Chair: Do I have unanimous consent, then, to stand down section 76?

Ms Poole: I think we have unanimous consent.

Agreed to.

Section 77:

The Chair: Questions, comments or amendments?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Everybody favours this one.

The Chair: Shall section 77 carry?

Section 77 agreed to.

Section 78:

The Chair: Subsection 78(1): questions or comments? Shall subsection 78(1) carry? Carried.

Subsection 78(2).

Ms Poole: The Liberal caucus will not be supporting subsection 78(2). We have deep concerns about allowing evidence to be garnered by telephone. I would certainly like Mr Winninger's comments in regard to this particular section, but it is my understanding that it is extremely unusual to admit telephone evidence, particularly as a matter of course. There is no way of proving you are actually talking to the person to whom you wish to talk. You have no way of verifying that this conversation is not taking place with somebody who is actually on the other side, relating to the application. I am extremely uncomfortable with it. From people I have talked to, I do not think this is normally done in the course of trials and official judicial hearings.

Mr Winninger: I recall there was a provision for this under the Residential Rent Regulation Act which the Liberals passed empowering the hearing officer to make telephone calls. If you look at the RRRA, you will find it in there, so it is basically a continuation. I do not know if the provision under the RRRA was quite as well drafted as ours, which provides that it be done in a way that any parties attending the hearing can hear both sides of the conversation. We may not have had speaker phones or three-way conference calls or whatever in those days. All I can say is that there was a provision in the RRRA and it did not seem to be of great concern then. If the parties attending the hearing can hear both sides of the conversation, that ensures there is fairness, equity and access to what is actually said.

Ms Parrish: I have certainly seen this provision in many other statutes; for example, in my childhood years spent at the Ministry of Financial Institutions these provisions were very common. Evidence adduced by telephone has to be used with some discretion, but there are some very good reasons why you would do this, such as distance. For these people who are having evidence being adduced there is a procedure under subsection (6) in which there is a report and there can be an inquiry and evidence. It is the case in administrative tribunals that the usual rules related to hearsay or what other people say are not treated the same as in the courts. There is an opportunity in the hearing to test this issue and the rent officer can disregard evidence he thinks may be faulty.

For example, if you are trying to obtain evidence from very elderly people, persons with disabilities or people with young children, you are sort of forcing them to come out of their homes. These people may not be parties to the hearing at all. They may just be people who have evidence in the building, for example.

There is a provision in subsection (6) that the report of the agent or employee can be tested. If there is real concern about the adequacy of the evidence, it can be discounted, it can be challenged, but it is not uncommon to have the ability to obtain evidence through all kinds of mechanisms, and there is the opportunity to test it.

I should say we just recently passed similar provisions in the administrative review section allowing evidence to be obtained by telephone. That is in the RRRA and I have not heard of cases where it has been abused. It is simply trying to reflect the fact that not all people in the province can come out to a hearing and there have to be other ways of collecting evidence for an administrative tribunal.

Ms Poole: There is a very basic difference between dealing with telephone evidence in an administrative review situation and in a hearing. Under the RRRA, it was by administrative review. Obviously there is nothing to prohibit an administrative officer under the RRRA from picking up the phone and saying: "This doesn't add up. Why doesn't it add up? What's happening here?" That is an administrative procedure.

Under the hearings, we are talking about a procedure under the Statutory Powers Procedure Act where there are specific rules of evidence and of obtaining evidence. It is a very formal procedure where I think we should have the highest standards of how evidence is obtained. I would ask the minister or Ms Parrish whether they have developed any procedure to identify the person whom they are asking to act as a witness by telephone.

Hon Ms Gigantes: If I could just begin by commenting that where the protections of the Statutory Powers Procedure Act are applied, as in a hearing, the use of the telephone would seem to be a more guarded procedure than it would be under administrative review, which does not involve that act.

Ms Poole: It is not testimony under administrative review. I think that is a very major difference.

Ms Parrish: I would say that under the RRRA, in subsection 107(2), the board, when conducting an appeal in a hearing under the Statutory Powers Procedure Act, may question any person by telephone or otherwise. That is what we have now. I have to say there tends to be a preference for evidence given in person, but there are cases where that is not practical, given costs, given individuals' personal circumstances, given their disability or their family situation. You still have the ability to test that evidence. There still has to be a report. It can be discounted if there is some concern.

I think your point is well taken that we should have internal procedures to be sure we are talking to the person, and there are a number of procedures. You phone them and then you ask them to phone you back, so you make sure it is that person. There are procedures to ensure that where this occurs, there are safeguards to ensure you are dealing with the right person, that they have notice and so on.

Hon Ms Gigantes: In any case, under the Statutory Powers Procedure Act, there can be people who claim to be other people. It will be governed by the same rules, if somebody claims to be a be a person and is not that person. The protections are the same as they would be if somebody made an appearance claiming to be another person.

Ms Poole: It is just much easier, if somebody is there in person, to tell whether they are the person in question. Not always would somebody be familiar with the person who is testifying, but I think there is more likelihood that they would.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Some of the other methods that have been suggested here probably should be incorporated as part of our operating guidelines, but I think the people who will be involved in this process will want to use all their wit and will to make it work too. I actually look upon this kind of change in the way we proceed as an important step forward. It is a bit of progress to allow people to use those modern means of communication that will give people who would otherwise be shut out of this process access to it. So I think it is important to provide for it in the legislation.

Mr Winninger: I realize the hour is late and much has been said. I certainly can acknowledge that there are people whom the rent officer may seek to question and for whom it may pose a great inconvenience to come down to a hearing. If it can make matters of evidence any easier, I do not see why there would be any objection to having a telephone conversation in the manner contemplated in this section. The parties can hear what is said and can address any questions arising out of what is said. We are now almost in the 21st century, in the global village. Why not use these technological advances to enhance the way in which hearings are conducted?

The Chair: Shall subsection 78(2) carry? Carried.

The committee will adjourn until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning.

The committee adjourned at 1701.