Thursday 14 April 1994

Residents' Rights Act, 1993, Bill 120, Ms Gigantes / Loi de 1993 modifiant des lois en ce qui concerne les immeubles d'habitation, projet de loi 120, Mme Gigantes


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

*Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Daigeler, Hans (Nepean L)

Arnott, Ted (Wellington PC)

Dadamo, George (Windsor-Sandwich ND)

*Grandmaître, Bernard (Ottawa East/-Est L)

*Johnson, David (Don Mills PC)

Mammoliti, George (Yorkview ND)

*Mills, Gordon (Durham East/-Est ND)

Morrow, Mark (Wentworth East/-Est ND)

Sorbara, Gregory S. (York Centre L)

*Wessenger, Paul (Simcoe Centre ND)

White, Drummond (Durham Centre ND)

*In attendance / présents

Substitutions present / Membres remplaçants présents:

Carter, Jenny (Peterborough ND) for Mr Mammoliti

Cordiano, Joseph (Lawrence L) for Mr Sorbara

Gigantes, Evelyn, (Ottawa Centre ND) for Mr Morrow

Mathyssen, Irene (Middlesex ND) for Mr Dadamo

Wilson, Gary, (Kingston and The Islands/Kingston et Les Iles ND) for Mr Morrow

Winninger, David (London South/-Sud ND) for Mr White

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:

Ministry of Housing:

Gigantes, Hon Evelyn, minister

Douglas, James, policy adviser

Dowler, Robert, manager, planning and building policy

Levitt, Jeffrey, senior solicitor

Clerk / Greffier: Carrozza, Franco

Staff / Personnel: Gottheil, Joanne, legislative counsel

The committee met at 1015 in committee room 1.


Consideration of Bill 120, An Act to amend certain statutes concerning residential property / Projet de loi 120, Loi modifiant certaines lois en ce qui concerne les immeubles d'habitation.

The Chair (Mr Michael A. Brown): The purpose of the meeting this morning is to continue the clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 120. At the conclusion of last Thursday afternoon's meeting, we were discussing Mr Cordiano's amendment, which you will find numbered as 81.2. Number 6 is the number at the top of the page, so that all members know where we're at. At the conclusion of Thursday's proceedings, Mr Johnson had the floor, and I have Mr Cordiano on the list.

Mr David Johnson (Don Mills): The never-ending story.


Mr David Johnson: You never know. You might be thankful if it was.

Since Mr Wilson, the parliamentary assistant, has been kind enough to offer his observations here this morning, let me pose a question to him, or he can deflect it to staff.

Between last Thursday and today, my staff has had the opportunity to talk with another one of the fire chiefs, Chief Hare, who did make a deputation to the committee. We are getting different versions of the fire chiefs' right to go in and to inspect apartments, so we've been kind of busy, but we tried to put in a couple of phone calls and we were able to talk to Chief Hare.

I'll tell you some of the comments he made to my executive assistant. Chief Hare says that he wants clarification from the Solicitor General with regard to the right of entry. As I understand it, the fire marshal reports to the Solicitor General, so unfortunately we're talking about a different ministry. Mr Wilson is representing Housing here today, but it's really the Solicitor General who has responsibility over the fire marshal.

What Chief Hare says is, "The fire marshal's office has advised fire services such as Mississauga that they are not to force entry in situations where a person refuses entry to a premise." For example, they can't kick in a door. What Chief Hare is saying is that if they come to a house and wish to inspect, even if somebody has indicated to them that there may be a danger but they can't visibly see that danger, then the fire marshal's office has advised Chief Hare not to force entry.

The only alternative, if they feel they should persist, is to get the search warrant. We've discussed the difficulties of obtaining a search warrant. There have to be reasonable and probable grounds. The difficulty is, if you come to 99% of these houses, they look absolutely normal. You can't see smoke coming out; you can't see the effects of a bomb or anything like that. There's no reason to believe that there's any dangerous situation as you're standing on the outside of these properties.

Mr Gary Wilson (Kingston and The Islands): Right. They're the same as any other dwelling place, in fact.

Mr David Johnson: That's right. It's the same as any other place.

Mr Gary Wilson: I think that's one of our points. We want to treat them the same as any other.

Mr David Johnson: But the question has come up, will the fire departments be able to inspect to ensure safety? I thought and I was hoping that one of the main purposes would be to install a higher level of safety.

The fire chief from the city of Mississauga says that the fire marshal, and the fire marshal is using the Fire Marshals Act, I guess, which I had in my pile of paper here somewhere -- I can't lay my hands on it right now. There's a section in it that has been quoted to us on a number of occasions that allows entry to the fire departments. That has been quoted to us. I have it here now. It's chapter 17 of the Fire Marshals Act, clause 18. It has been said to grant entry, but Chief Hare is saying that the fire marshal is telling them, no, they are not to force entry. If the person who answers the door does not allow them in, they cannot get in, and their only recourse is to go through a search warrant. Everybody I talk to says that's a near impossibility. When I last talked to East York, it's been turned down, in the very recent past, three straight times on the search warrant.

I just wondered if the parliamentary assistant could clarify why, on one hand, we're being told that the Fire Marshals Act, clause 18, is power for the fire departments to get in and inspect and ensure safety and, on the other hand, we have the fire chief of one of the largest municipalities in Ontario, Mississauga -- and I can also say that the fire chief in my own municipality of East York is saying exactly the same thing -- that the fire marshal's office is telling them no, that this chapter 17 of the Fire Marshals Act does not give them the power to go in and inspect and consequently to ensure safety.

Mr Gary Wilson: Just to be clear about this, Mr Johnson, do you mean in all circumstances, including one where the risk of fire poses a threat to life?

Mr David Johnson: If there is an obvious, visible threat, then I get the impression that in those circumstances they would be more firm. I don't know if that means they'd break in. Obviously, if they saw smoke rising, I'm sure they would break in the door or break a window or do something to get in.

Mr Gary Wilson: Or fumes.

Mr David Johnson: Or fumes or something like that, but in I would say 99.9% of the cases, that's not going to be the situation. The situation is going to be that they're trying to do an inspection. Somebody has told them that there may be a basement apartment there. They don't know for sure. They're trying to make sure that there's safety. We want these apartments to be safe. Unfortunately, we've had two or three fires, I think, even since we've started the discussion on this bill.

I had thought we all wanted the fire departments to get in to inspect, and we're being told by the minister that with this bill and with chapter 17 of the Fire Marshals Act, indeed the fire departments across Ontario could get in and could do that inspection. But I'm being told by two of the fire chiefs that unless there's a fire that's evident or smoke or fumes, which will be in very, very few of the cases, then they can't get in.

Mr Gary Wilson: But that's the abstract. What in practice is happening -- from the submissions that we got during the public hearings, it appeared that there very, very few cases where they were ever denied entry. So I'm just wondering, in your conversation with Chief Hare, did you ask him that? What's the latest? Did this spring out of a concern that they're being denied entry in a lot of places? I must say on that point, we're suggesting that with legalization people will be on a much surer basis. If there's a hazard, both the owner and the tenant would want it investigated to see what it is, to get it cleared up, once it's legalized. Whereas, when it's not legal, there's the powerful disincentive that comes from revealing that they have an illegal unit. So by legalizing again, it's going to invite people. But the main point I want to clarify is just how many fire officers are being refused entry.

Mr David Johnson: Well, I'll certainly go back. I didn't talk to the fire chief myself. I was doing the Ottawa-Carleton bill yesterday afternoon when the conversation took place. You can't be in two places at the same time. But first of all, do I sense at least the recognition that if the person who answers the door denies the fire department the right of entry, and if there isn't some obvious threat, indeed the fire department does not have the right to barge in and do an inspection?

Mr Gary Wilson: Yes, and again this is like any other residence. I think you'd agree, you'd want that kind of protection, that if the resident, for whatever reason, refuses entry, then you'd want some procedure to gain that access. After all, just think of your own place, Dave, and somebody came to your house and said that a neighbour or somebody has reported a fire hazard. You might want to think about that before you'd invite them in unless you smelled the fumes or saw the smoke. So again, it's treating these residents like any other. I think the right to privacy is a major issue here. That's why we have this procedure of the search warrant.

Mr David Johnson: Okay, I hear your message. Now, I'm not so sure that's precisely the message that was conveyed to us in previous sittings.

Mr Gary Wilson: By whom?

Mr David Johnson: By the minister, for one. I'll have to go back and check all the records, but I thought that certainly the minister, if not in this committee, in the House indicated that her interpretation of the Fire Marshals Act was that it permitted fire departments to go in and to inspect. Now I'll go back and check, but Chief Hare is saying it does not.

Mr Gary Wilson: I don't think he's denying what's in the act, is he; that in an emergency -- what's called an emergency where the risk of fire is a threat to life -- they have access, or they can gain access.

Mr David Johnson: So now how we should have interpreted what was being said by the minister was then if there's smoke coming up through the roof, or if there are fumes that everybody can detect, then the Fire Marshals Act gives the right of entry, but under other circumstances, it doesn't.

Mr Gary Wilson: Well, I think we just want to say, too, I don't want to lose sight of the practical application here in that in the public hearings we heard virtually nothing as far as fire officers being denied entry. It's just doesn't appear to be a pressing concern in practice. However, we can get a legal opinion on this if you'd like, Mr Johnson, as far as what the act does provide and what circumstances there would be.

Mr David Johnson: Sure.

Mr Robert Dowler: Jeff Levitt is here from our legal branch.

Mr Jeffrey Levitt: My name is Jeff Levitt. I'm a solicitor with the Ministry of Housing, legal services branch.

As was mentioned, the Fire Marshals Act is under the authority of the Solicitor General, so these comments will be, I guess, from a general perspective rather than from the perspective of the actual ministry.

The first clarification I'd want to make is that if you look at subsection 18(1), which you quoted, it doesn't say that there is a right of entry at any time; it says at reasonable times. Although this provision in particular and these types of provisions haven't been under direct scrutiny for constitutionality with the Charter of Rights, all indications are that our aspect of reasonableness is a necessity for entries to private dwellings, given the privacy interest. So the fact that someone may say no when someone comes to the door, it may in fact not be a reasonable time. That's number one.

The second issue is the issue which you had said, what to do when someone, for whatever reason, does say no. I gather what you're really talking about there is the extent and the applicability of the use of force in executing an entry for inspection purposes. I'm not aware of any right of entry for inspection, search, or any purposes, even where they specifically deal with force where the force to be used is always limited to the minimum force required. As a practical matter, I understand from people using these inspection powers it's sometimes difficult for them to know right on the spot, if someone says no and they're contemplating using force, how much force is justified in the situation, particularly given the fact it may later come to the scrutiny of a judge who may disagree.


In particular, the consequences for the individual inspector are very severe. If the inspector should use more force than is necessary against things and enter, that inspector is personally liable for a trespass. Even worse, should that inspector use more force than is necessary against a person, that inspector may be possibly liable for assault. I have several cases where that's been alleged.

So, I guess it's even where force is specifically allowed, the force is only the minimum allowed in the circumstances. It's often a difficult judgement call at the door of the house to decide how much that is, particularly where the consequences for the individual inspector are very severe should the inspector make a wrong decision. What started out as an inspection ends up either as a trespass or an assault.

Mr David Johnson: If you were to begin a new career next week as a member of the fire department -- I don't know where you live -- where do you live?

Mr Levitt: In Toronto, east end.

Mr David Johnson: Toronto. Okay -- the Toronto fire department, knowing what you do and what you've just said, and you were to come up to a house that it had been reported to the fire department that there may be some problem. There may be a zoning violation, there may be fire hazards, there's reason to believe -- no real physical evidence, but hearsay evidence -- that this property is somehow being abused and is a danger not only to itself and its inhabitants but other people in the area and you're assigned from the Toronto fire department, went up to the door and knocked on the door and were told that you couldn't have entry into the property, what would your response be at that point?

Mr Levitt: I guess, as has been mentioned, it always comes out, the first and foremost consideration always seems to be whether there's an immediate threat to life, health and safety.

Mr David Johnson: There's no smoke, there's no visible evidence. It looks like a house, but neighbours have reported that in their view very suspicious things are happening and they've heard rumours that there are fire dangers. There are no fire extinguishers; I don't know, other problems -- the construction, maybe, of the unit is not proper, maybe just thin wood or something, very flammable materials. But you can't see that from the outside. When you're standing at the door, all you see is a normal house.

Mr Levitt: Not having personal experience as a fire inspector, I can only answer that from the perspective of what I, as a lawyer, see how that situation comes out in the courts. And the first question that the courts always seem to answer is: Was there any alternative to the use of force? One that comes to mind is applying for a warrant if the danger you suspect is unlikely to manifest itself in the next couple of days. Another one is a charge of obstruction, where it's appropriate.

But I guess the way I would answer that from the point of view of a lawyer is, what were the alternatives to the use of force?

Mr David Johnson: Chief Hare is saying that under those circumstances, the fire marshal's office has advised his staff not to use force to gain entry and that they would have to seek a search warrant. I don't know if you'd be prepared to answer, but in a case like that I doubt you'd get a search warrant. From experience in East York, certainly with other departments, without physical evidence -- we're talking about hearsay evidence -- hearsay evidence that could well be correct, but still hearsay evidence, no judge would give you a search warrant in a case like that.

Mr Levitt: That's very difficult to comment on in the abstract because, of course, whether or not you get the warrant depends on how much evidence you have. So it's difficult to make a blanket response.

Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): What we're really saying, I think -- if I'm following this correctly -- what I would say is that there are not likely to be very many situations where there is hard physical evidence where you have a perfect scenario where there is no doubt that there is a danger.

The fact of the matter is that these things, as has been pointed out repeatedly, look like normal homes. There's not anything from the exterior of the building that would indicate that there's likely to be a danger. You would have to have some sophisticated equipment that would view the inside of that place from a satellite, for God's sakes, to be able to determine that --

Mr Gary Wilson: Photo-radar.

Mr Cordiano: We'd have to use AWACS planes to determine that the inside of this place is not up to standard.

Furthermore, you would also have to get someone who understood the building code changes or the standards that are being applied who is the average citizen who happened to be a witness who might have seen what was inside that particular apartment, or the tenant himself would have to be a near expert on what changes were made to the building code or safety standards, the features of which he would comment on, knowing that full well this was not a unit that was up to standard.

Mr Levitt: Excuse me. As far as the tenant's concerned, if the tenant is concerned, he can, of course, just invite the person in, so I think if the tenant is the one involved, we wouldn't be having this kind of problem.

Mr Cordiano: Right, but you'd have to assume that after Bill 120 passes and made it legal, the tenant knew, the tenant, we have to assume, would understand the requirements for meeting safety standards.

Mr Levitt: I guess I'm not following that argument because I understood that what we have in mind is a fire inspector who knocks at the door and says: "I would like to come and tell you if your unit meets safety standards. Can I come in?"

Mr Cordiano: That makes it worse. I'm granting you what you've said, that the tenant has called for an inspection. Obviously, that is not a problem when the inspector arrives at his or her door. He's been invited to enter.

Mr Levitt: Right.

Mr Cordiano: No problem, but then --

Mr Gary Wilson: There's no problem in the other case either.

Mr Cordiano: In the other case, the inspector arrives without any evidence and would have to assume that there is a problem and the tenant would wonder: "Should I let this person in or not, because I don't have a problem. This unit's been made legal. How do I know there's a problem here? Why should there be a problem?" This tenant's going to wonder what's going on here.

Mr David Johnson: I think this was raised to illustrate that I personally felt --

Mr Gary Wilson: On a point of order, Mr Chair: I thought we were rotating supplementaries.

The Chair: I don't know. Mr Johnson has the floor and he agreed for Mr Cordiano to have a supplementary.

Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): That was a supplementary to Mr Johnson.

Mr Gary Wilson: I know, but then it's our supplementary now.

The Chair: If you wish to be on the list, Mr Wilson, I'd be pleased to put you on.

Mr Gary Wilson: Excuse me, though, Mr Chair --

The Chair: I put you on the list, Mr Wilson.

Mr David Johnson: The point I was trying to make was that I certainly, and I think other members of the Legislature, was left with the impression that under the Fire Marshals Act, the fire departments in this province would have -- I don't know what the word is -- easy entry to inspect all of these units. I have to say, that is not so.

Obviously, if the tenant or somebody consents to come in, then certainly the fire inspector, the building inspector, the property standards inspector, the health inspector, anybody can come in under those circumstances. The history, though, has been that this is not the case. You can say, "Okay, as soon as we make all the apartments legal, that will all change, and everybody will be invited in," but there's --

Mr Gary Wilson: I was going to say that's not the history.

Mr David Johnson: If you've worked with municipalities, you will know that it's increasingly common for entry to be denied, not only to the fire department -- I'm prepared to talk about our fire department because I know that when they do home inspections, first of all, they run into a number of cases where people simply aren't home, there's nobody there and they certainly can't get in if there's nobody there, and they increasingly come across properties where people do not want them in for whatever reason.

People are concerned about their own privacy or they don't want to be bothered or it's not convenient or they don't want government people poking around for whatever purpose. They feel that they're fairly enlightened themselves and they just don't want the government in, or they may have something to hide, who knows, but it's increasingly common that fire staff are denied entry, that property standards people, zoning inspectors, for sure, are denied --

Mr Grandmaître: Building inspectors.

Mr David Johnson: Building inspectors, unless there's a permit up on the wall and they have a right to go in during a building period, but if they don't know building is going on and they're just coming to inspect to see if some sort of new building is going on, then even building inspectors wouldn't have the right to go in and they would be denied the right.


The fire chief for Mississauga says that he would like clarification. His contention is that he would like a statement from the Solicitor General saying when fire departments can enter for inspections and have the support of the province of Ontario in that regard, because in his view it is most unclear. He feels that if they're challenged, and the solicitor for the Housing department has mentioned this, constitutionally they would probably lose. Their inspectors are walking on eggs, and I think the solicitor for the Housing department has put this well, that not only the fire department but the individual inspectors who enter are in jeopardy.

Mr Levitt: Excuse me. I didn't mean to give the impression that there is something constitutionally wrong with the section; quite the reverse. I said the section as it currently reads, with its built-in requirement of reasonableness of the time of entry, "the time of entry" is objectively, reasonably speaking, not when it suits the municipality. There may be some valid reason why at the time that particular moment isn't right. I guess what I said was the requirement of reasonableness does appear to be constitutionally necessary.

Mr David Johnson: I can only say that Fire Chief Hare is not satisfied that the fire department has clear instructions, and he would like the Solicitor General to clarify that. With that, I'll pass it on to somebody else.

Mr Grandmaître: Mr Chair, can I be helpful to the parliamentary assistant and also to the solicitor? I'm talking about a legal apartment now and I want to give them an example that exists in my riding.

The Chair: I can put you on the list so that may occur, Mr Grandmaître.

Mr Grandmaître: Can I be of service to the solicitor and also the parliamentary assistant?

Mr David Johnson: That's okay by me.

The Chair: No, I think Mr Cordiano has the floor, then Mr Wilson and then you could give your fine example. This room is very difficult in terms of acoustics, so if we can keep the conversations a little lower, it would help.

Interjection: Maybe a little shorter too.

Mr Grandmaître: Yes, I'll be very short.

The Chair: I would like to remind the members of the amendment we are now debating, which is basically about registration. While I understand the germaneness of this course of questioning, there is a section in the bill that is more directly involved. We'll continue on with Mr Cordiano now.

Mr Cordiano: Mr Chairman, I don't mind if Mr Grandmaître wants to give his example as long as I'm still on the list immediately following his example.

Mr Grandmaître: Thirty seconds, Mr Chair.

The Chair: Then Mr Wilson has --

Mr Cordiano: I'm not going to lose my turn, Mr Chairman, if that's what you're saying.

The Chair: If Mr Wilson's agreeable, Mr Grandmaître can have 30 seconds to give --

Mr Gary Wilson: Oh, 30, sorry.

Mr Grandmaître: Yes, 30 seconds. I have a case, Mr Parliamentary Assistant, in my riding where a painting contractor lives in a legal basement apartment. His neighbours were complaining that he was storing paint in his legal apartment, phoned the fire department and advised it of the case, and the tenant asked the landlord, "Should I let those guys in?" The landlord said, "Look, it's up to you; if you don't want them to inspect your apartment, don't let them in," and he wouldn't let the fire department in. That's not an illegal apartment; that's a legal apartment and this guy was storing paint. They wanted to make sure, is this guy breaking any laws? They were prevented from entering the apartment. That's my 30 seconds.

Mr Gary Wilson: Thanks very much, Mr Grandmaître. I assume I can answer that, if you're asking me. I'd like to include Mr Levitt just to make sure that we have this right, because I think it is a genuine point. I understand that the tenant is refusing entry to fire officials when they come.

As I understand the law, and this is where I'd like Mr Levitt's clarification -- he referred to it and it has to do with the obstruction -- the tenant can be charged with obstruction if he refuses entry unreasonably. Is that right, Mr Levitt? Could you clarify that or elaborate on that?

Mr Levitt: The offence of obstruction exists where someone obstructs a public official in the course of their duties. Someone may be inclined to say no to permit an inspection even after being told what the reason is.

Mr Grandmaître: Do you need a search warrant?

Mr Levitt: It depends again upon the reasonableness of the time.

Mr Grandmaître: They need a search warrant.

Mr Gary Wilson: Let's hear from Mr Levitt.

Mr Levitt: It depends upon the circumstances of the entry, but assuming that the fire inspector or the official has the right to enter, then any interference with that would be an obstruction.

Mr Grandmaître: They simply received a phone call saying, "This gentleman is storing paint in his apartment." So they wanted to check it out.

Mr David Johnson: Is that obstruction if they wouldn't let him in?

Mr Levitt: I guess whether or not something is obstruction depends upon two things: It depends upon whether the person who is being obstructed has a right to go in and what the person actually does. But in that case, as I've said, the particular section of the Fire Marshals Act which is under consideration hasn't itself been subject to constitutional scrutiny, but it does talk about the reasonableness of the times. If the times were reasonable, then an argument could perhaps be made. That hasn't been decisively determined yet.

Mr Grandmaître: My point was that it's not easy.

Mr Gary Wilson: Perhaps I could just conclude my answer, please, Mr Chair.

The Chair: The 30 seconds is stretching out.

Mr Gary Wilson: That was his question; my answer might be -- because there's a lot to be said about this that I think is germane, as you say, to what we're discussing here. If that apartment had been in Mississauga, according to what Chief Hare told us in response to a question, they wouldn't have been denied entry. They've never been denied entry when they've gone to inspect a premises.


Mr Gary Wilson: You're an exception to the rule, then, of your constituents, are you, Bernard? But anyway, the point is --

Mr David Johnson: I suspect that it was in cases of a real visible problem they'd never been denied entry. If you ask the chief in terms of when their fire inspectors go out home to home and try to see problems, do a little bit of -- what's the word I'm looking for? -- try to identify unsafe conditions --

Mr Grandmaître: You meant prevention.

Mr David Johnson: -- prevention, their prevention work, they'd be denied entry on lots of occasions; every fire department is.

Mr Gary Wilson: That's not our information, not from the fire marshal's office, that this is a problem. It's understandable that people want to make sure they live in safe premises. Our contention is that as long as they're legal that will only enhance that procedure, because people will then have no fear to have officials come in to inspect their premises.

The Chair: Now we'll go to Mr Cordiano. While this free-flowing conversation is interesting, I'm sure our Hansard reporters are having a very difficult time, so we'll try to conduct ourselves more directly by parliamentary procedures.

Mr Cordiano: I want to go back to a point of view that was expressed both by the parliamentary assistant and the minister some time ago, and that is the notion that we're going to treat basement apartments the same as every other place of residence, every other residential unit. I can agree with that if in fact --


Mr Cordiano: Mr Wilson, are you listening? This is directed at you.

Mr Gary Wilson: Is it new jokes?

Mr Cordiano: It's new. I was going to say that I can agree with treating accessory apartments the same as every other unit, every other residential establishment, but every other residential establishment, when it was built, required there to be a building permit for the construction of that unit. At some point, if it was done legally, and I would imagine that every house that has gone up in Ontario, let's just say the vast majority, 99.9%, have taken out building permits for the construction of those premises.


That having been said, you can't tell me that for every single one of these units that have been created in basements or as accessory apartments, there has been a building permit taken out for the construction of that unit. I think that's a safe assumption. Wouldn't you agree? Yes, you probably would, so let me carry on.

Interjection: You can tell by the look on his face.

Mr Grandmaître: You're doing good, Joe.

The Chair: Order.

Mr Cordiano: That was a very quick response. Thank you.

Now, given that that is the case, it's a leap of logic then to go to the next level of understanding. I'm doing this step by step so everyone can understand. If you have basement apartment units that exist, and we know that they do exist and that they exist illegally, and they are substandard according to the building code, the fire code and any other code you want to throw in there, and furthermore no building permit was taken out for the construction of that unit where in a majority of cases there should have been a building permit taken out for the construction of those units, I think what we're doing here with Bill 120 is saying to people that there's an amnesty around illegal units and that the minister is going to close her eyes and say: "We'll allow these units to exist and we'll worry about whether they're safe or not at some point in the future. For that, we're going to rely on tenants and other parties." I said it would take an AWACS plane to determine what's in that unit, or some other surveillance, observing equipment --

Interjection: Photo-radar.

Mr Cordiano: Photo-radar, yes; there's an idea -- to determine that unit has an unsafe set of circumstances in relation to the building code, the fire code etc.

The point is that the minister has repeatedly said, "We're going to treat these units the same." I fail to understand how you could treat the units the same when in fact they're not the same, when every other unit that was built, or every other residential establishment, required a building permit and was inspected for safety. With these units that exist illegally, you're allowing them to exist without an inspection for safety, so you don't have equal treatment of those units; you have an unequal treatment of units, in favour of those basement units that have been built without due regard for safety.

That's what leads us to conclude that we need this registration to take place and that we need, as a pre-condition of registration, an inspection to be done. It is logical. We've made our case over and over again, and now what we're facing is this wall of shortsightedness and hardheadedness, really. What did I call it before? I've called it many things, but let me pick one out of the hat. The one expression I like to use is "coercive Utopianism" because that describes it best. That's the Minister of Housing. She's a coercive Utopian, and I think she's failing to recognize that there is a real danger.

You have not proved to us yet that there is a logical way for people -- you are making an assumption that people will come forward, that tenants will be highly knowledgeable of what is safe and what is unsafe. I refute that categorically, because there is no proof.

The minister has made allusion to some educational program that will be undertaken. Well, my God, we try to educate people about a number of things and we don't succeed with regard to a great many items. I'll use this as an example: It has taken almost a decade, if not longer, to change attitudes about drinking and driving and it has taken millions and millions of dollars to educate the public about that. I think that's an overall societal concerted effort at achieving that goal and, as I say, many millions of dollars.

This does not rate on the same level, but its safety aspects are as important. It's critical for people to understand that they may not live in safe units. However, the job of doing that is a huge effort that will have to be undertaken.

This is what leads to this question, and perhaps you cannot answer it; if you can't, I hope the minister will do another appearing act this afternoon, if she is available. I'd like to know what you estimate will be the cost of the educational program you will undertake to inform the public, those basement apartment tenants, how much money will be involved in educating them around the question of what is a safe unit, what will constitute safety requirements, what will be in the safety code, both building and fire. How much of an effort are you going to expend to make that a reality? I've heard this repeated several times, that there would be an educational program undertaken so those tenants would know if they live in an unsafe unit.

Mr Gary Wilson: I won't be asking Mr Levitt anything about this one, if he wants to resume his seat. First of all, my impression is that Mr Cordiano has a rather low opinion of even home owners but anybody who wants to put in a second unit or an apartment --

Mr Cordiano: Mr Chairman, on a point of order: I'll try and be as polite as I can --

The Chair: And your point of order is?

Mr Cordiano: You cannot impute motives for what I said and distort what I've said. That would be contrary to our standing orders.

Mr Gary Wilson: I'll try to be clearer about what I was saying.

The Chair: Mr Wilson will try to be more circumspect in his comments.

Mr Gary Wilson: What caused my inference was Mr Cordiano suggesting that people were building these accessory apartments to include unsafe conditions in their apartments, that they had no regard for the safety of their tenants, and I think that is --

Mr Cordiano: I did not say that, Mr Chairman. Clearly I did not say that. I said these units were being built without having taken out a building permit, that someone was just putting them up in their basements and constructing them as they thought was appropriate. At no time said did I say that was done intentionally and without due regard for safety.

Mr Gary Wilson: Okay. Our point is that certainly when apartments are legalized there will be a strong incentive for owners to come forward to take out building permits to put them in, in the future as well as the existing ones, for both owners and tenants to come forward if they have any problems with the safety.

There is a lot of publicity done now through the fine work of the fire departments in all our communities to make sure people are aware, not only in accessory apartments but in houses in general. People are concerned about the safety, and the publicity given to cases where there have been problems will certainly remind people that they've got to be careful with things like electricity and furnaces.

The whole issue here is to legalize them so people don't have that anxiety about being found out or even being thrown out in the street because they are living in an illegal unit.

As to the safety, the registration sets up a duplicate system that would require people, even where the units are safe, to come forward.

Mr Cordiano: We've heard that before. I specifically asked the parliamentary assistant about the educational program, how many dollars the ministry was prepared to spend to educate the public.


Mr Gary Wilson: I'll turn it over to Rob Dowler, who can offer some comments on that.

Mr Dowler: Rob Dowler, Ministry of Housing. Just briefly, the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of the Solicitor General both have mandates for fire safety education. We're in the process of looking at an implementation plan for Bill 120 and looking at specific mechanisms for educating both landlords and tenants as to their obligations and rights post-Bill 120.

We have not yet put a final budgetary number around those estimates. We're still looking at the best way to reach tenants, and different mechanisms will be considered for that purpose.

Mr Cordiano: So you have no idea what you can spend?

Mr Dowler: Not at this time.

Mr Cordiano: I suspect, to do a proper job, it would be in the millions, and of course that won't happen, which gets me back to my earlier point, that you're assuming tenants will be well-informed and knowledgable about what is safe and what is not. You're relying on their knowledge of the building code, the fire code, what's contained in what, I might add, are very complex documents. Most members of the Legislature are not aware of what's in those documents. It's not something you deal with every day. In order to make these units safe you're going to rely on tenants coming forward. First of all, they'd have to be knowledgeable about what's contained in those codes to be able to recognize that they don't have a safe unit. I've got to wonder about this. I'm really baffled about how someone is going to be that knowledgeable.

I am quite amazed that that's what the minister is going to rely on. "We'll worry about it later," is what you're telling me. Once Bill 120 passes and is proclaimed, everyone out there who lives in a basement unit will say, "I'm living in a legal unit now, and therefore I don't have to worry about this unit and where I live and being circumspect and the suspicions around whether I live in a legal unit or not." The landlord will say exactly the same thing: "I don't have to worry any more. I've got a unit that's now legal. I'm entitled to have this unit. Why worry about it?" Everyone will forget about it.

Mr Gary Wilson: Well, wait now, Mr Cordiano --

Mr Cordiano: Let me finish. Everyone will forget about it because that's in effect what you're saying when you pass Bill 120. "They're legal. You're entitled to it. The government sanctions this. Everyone thinks it's marvellous," and everyone will go on with their busy lives.

No one will then concern themselves with some small item such as a smoke detector. There are many homes out there that still don't have smoke detectors, and that's unfortunate. I raised the incident that took the lives of many young children some time ago in eastern Ontario. There you had children who were put in a dangerous situation: There was no smoke detector.

This is what I am trying to tell you, that there are very few incentives after Bill 120 passes for anyone to look into the matter of safety, which requires some detailed probing, which requires great knowledge about what is safe and what isn't, which requires a great deal of effort. I am telling you this will not lead to someone coming forward and saying, "I want my unit inspected." There won't be any reason to do that, not unless the government says, "We're going to suggest or encourage that everyone inspect their unit and we're going to provide for inspection," which is what we're saying. "We're going to make it mandatory that you register and that a unit be inspected."

Mr Gary Wilson: In fact it is much stronger than that, Mr Cordiano. There are rights and responsibilities for both tenants and owners of accessory apartments, and Bill 120 establishes new fire code regulations that, as you mentioned, set out the conditions that will increase their safety, that is, smoke detectors, an exit system that takes into account where they are, as well as a fire separation in the walls. Those are the actual safety features that enhance the safety --

Mr Cordiano: That's fine. Do you remember --

Mr Gary Wilson: Could I just finish? I let you go with your question. The other is what owners are liable for: a $25,000 fine plus up to a year in jail for contravention of anything in the fire code. I think that's a very strong incentive to make sure your accessory apartment meets the standards set out.

I think there is a great willingness to meet that. People do want to have safe units, both for the revenue-generating aspect for the owners as well as the peace of mind that comes from having a safe place, but also for the tenants to make sure they have a safe place for themselves and their families. When you put all that together, you've got a very strong system that will make sure these accessory apartments are safe.

Mr Cordiano: You're relying on the amendments to the fire code, the penalties in the code. We've raised this question before, but I would truly like to have had the fire marshal before us to have asked him whether these illegal units in contravention of the codes that already exist, that are not up to standard as of today -- they're in contravention. They do not meet the safety code. They do not meet the building code. You can't tell me they're meeting the building code.

Mr Gary Wilson: Could we just get some clarification from Mr Dowler on that point?

Mr Dowler: I think the situation that exists currently is that there is no specific fire code regulation for a converted house. Nevertheless, fire marshals and their assistants do have the ability to lay a discretionary order, based on whatever they consider to be a necessary fire safety feature in the house. But that discretionary order can be appealed and they do feel a certain lack of certainty and confidence in placing orders.

As a result of the draft fire code changes that were presented to this committee, the new draft section 9.8 of the fire code that deals explicitly with apartments in houses, the safety standards would become known and the penalties Mr Wilson referred to in the Fire Marshals Act would become applicable to owners with converted houses. Mr Wilson referred to the fact that owners would be obliged under the regulation to conform to the new standards. They would be liable for a fine of up to $25,000 and/or a year in jail if they chose not to come forward and conform to those standards.

Mr Cordiano: Let's examine that for a moment. If the fire marshal were instructed, before any legislated changes, to go out and issue special orders against these units, he could in fact go out and do that under the existing regulations, the existing fire code requirements, if he knew there was a willingness to undertake such a move and if he had the resources necessary to do that. We've heard from fire chiefs that in order to inspect properly, they would require an enormous number of resources. And of course it requires reasonable grounds; we have to go through that entire process.

Just because you put in penalties and have made changes, my argument is, so what? You've made these changes. Who's going to be aware of them? Very few people will be. When you take out a building permit to build something from scratch, you're required to have inspections; it's mandatory. Here you can have a unit that exists and people are not aware of any of the fire code changes -- unless you have a massive publicity campaign to make those landlords and tenants aware of it, they're going to continue to exist without any undertakings by any of those people to go out and make sure they're meeting those code requirements.

I'm trying to tell you that people are going to have to be made aware. To cover all those units you're going to have to spend a fortune to make those people aware. Furthermore, if you were to try to do that on a direct basis, if, for example, you were undertaking a direct mail campaign, if that were one of the options you'd thought of, you'd have to know where these units exist, know who the landlords and the tenants are, and then mail them a package of information -- and hope they would read it, furthermore. Or you could go on a public notice campaign through newspapers or on television or whatever and hope these people would become aware of what's contained in the new code amendments.


I mean, those things are very detailed. What are you going to tell landlords? "Make sure your unit's up to standard"?

Mr Gary Wilson: "Or there's a serious fine if you don't."

Mr Cordiano: You can have a public message campaign: "Make sure your unit's up to standard. There's a serious fine if you don't."

Currently, are you telling me that fire departments aren't concerned about those units, that the message would be, "Don't worry about an unsafe unit"? We've seen the consequences of unsafe units. We've seen fires directly related and directly attributable to the fact that they're not safe. The attitude is lackadaisical right now by fire departments: Is that what you're saying? I don't believe that to be the case. I believe they don't have the powers to inspect and therefore they can't do anything about it. You're going to rely on this public education campaign to bring everyone up to speed, hoping they'll get up to speed in time to save lives.

Even if I were to agree with you, you're still going to have a lag period between the time you proclaim Bill 120 and the time that people do become aware of what's contained in the new fire code amendments. That's a dangerous situation that would still exist, even if I were to agree with your approach, and I don't.

The Vice-Chair (Mr Hans Daigeler): Mr Wilson?

Mr Gary Wilson: Is it my statement now, my time?

The Vice-Chair: Yes.

Mr Gary Wilson: Okay. Following on what Mr Cordiano was saying, it's fair to ask, if people won't come forward to meet the fire code, why would they come forward to register? There still has to be some incentive there, and it's not clear from this amendment where that would be coming from.

We think that by legalizing accessory apartments, there will be an incentive for both owners and tenants to make sure that their units or their residences meet the standards for health and safety and that this is the way to go.

Mr Cordiano: I disagree with you. We're obviously not going to meet with agreement on this. We're going to continue to demand that there be a registration process. As I said to the minister earlier, if I'm a tenant, it would be very simple if there were a registration process in place. I can then make a quick phone call to the municipality, the appropriate department, and check to see if my unit has been registered by the landlord. If that's not the case, I know the unit is not a legal unit. There's the answer. It's much faster and it's reliable. Then you can rely on the tenant, because he doesn't have to know if his unit is safe. He doesn't have to know anything about the fire code, the building code or all these other codes.

Mr Gary Wilson: Mr Chairman, on a point of order. Sorry, Mr Cordiano.

The Vice-Chair: The point of order is to me.

Mr Gary Wilson: Yes. I just wanted to apologize to him because he was on another flight of rhetoric.

I assumed I had the chance to speak. I was next on the list. I was just saying in response to him --

The Vice-Chair: Are you finished with your comments?

Mr Gary Wilson: No, I'm not.

Mr Cordiano: I was speaking and I still have the floor, I believe, Mr Chairman.

The Vice-Chair: I'm sorry, Mr Cordiano, Mr Wilson has the floor.

Mr Cordiano: No, I have the floor.

The Vice-Chair: No.

Mr Cordiano: Wait a minute. I was just speaking, wasn't I? Am I missing something here?

The Vice-Chair: You were just interjecting, Mr Cordiano. You were just responding to Mr Wilson.

Mr Cordiano: Mr Chairman, you came in late. Let me clarify something. This is my speaking turn. Mr Wilson was answering questions I put to him.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Cordiano, you had concluded your comments. That was pretty clear. Then Mr Wilson was given the floor because he was the next on the list, and then Mr Johnson has also asked to be --

Mr Cordiano: No, Mr Chairman. I would ask that you review that. We were debating back and forth, Mr Wilson and I. I had asked him a series of questions. I always understood that when the parliamentary assistant was sitting at the front, the parliamentary assistant would be able to answer questions. This was my time and this was my order in the speaking rotation.

The Vice-Chair: It seemed to me quite clear that you were finished with your remarks, but if you want to get back on the list, you are always free to do that.

Mr Cordiano: I was waiting for a comment and obviously I got one.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Wilson.

Mr Cordiano: The point we were talking about had to do with -- the answer back to me was, what makes me think anyone would --

Mr Gary Wilson: Excuse me, Mr Chair. I'm confused.

Mr Cordiano: This is ridiculous.

Mr Grandmaître: Why is it such a big deal?

Mr Gary Wilson: I just want to finish what I was saying. I think, as I pointed out, that we see, in answer to this amendment put forward by the Liberal Party, that the legalization as we've set it out will do in a much more effective way what is being proposed through the registration scheme and that we've actually had enough discussion on this. I think there's really nothing more that can be said.

Mr Cordiano: Just to finish off my point --

The Vice-Chair: Are you now finished with your remarks?

Mr Gary Wilson: Yes.

The Vice-Chair: Okay, then it's Mr Johnson. Do you want to be back on the list?

Mr Cordiano: Yes, sir.

Mr David Johnson: There may not be much more to be said, but just to follow up a little more in a question to Mr Wilson or the staff, we've heard that you are intending an education program, although the parameters are not determined yet. Could you tell us, in terms of following up and monitoring the success of the program, do you have any thoughts on that? Is there any program in terms of being in touch with municipalities and determining the success of the education program? Can you give us any views on that?

Mr Gary Wilson: Just in a general way, as far as education goes, we all live somewhere and I think we all are aware of the need to make sure our places are safe. We can all understand too that if you're living in a unit that is illegal, you're going to have a strong reason not to come forward even to ask about things that are unsafe. In other words, there is, I think, in most people a strong incentive or push to make sure they live in safe circumstances. I know that, and I would suspect you do and most home owners do. Again, we're looking at these accessory apartments as being no different from other residences, that the people who live in them will want them to be safe, the people who own them will want them to be safe, and the community has an interest in making sure they're safe as well because it provides for safe residences as well as you don't run into problems.

For all those reasons, there is I think a strong system, say, of informing people that they have an obligation to make sure their places are as safe as possible. I'll let Rob, though, add to that in a more technical way perhaps.

Mr Dowler: Just as I indicated before, we are still in the process of refining our communications and monitoring plan for post-Bill 120, but I can tell you that the kinds of things we would be looking at in terms of monitoring the extent to which there is compliance with the new fire code standards would include a pretty close watch of building permits which are issued for the purposes of upgrading or meeting fire code standards -- we do monitor those on a regular basis -- and our regular liaison with enforcement officials, associations, the Ontario association of building officials, local building officials' organizations. The Ministry of the Solicitor General has ongoing liaison with the fire service through the office of the fire marshal and the impressions that they gain from investigating fires and speaking with staff on a regular basis.

I should also point out on that front that it's my understanding that the office of the fire marshal is investigating any fire that does occur in a basement apartment, and has been doing so for the last couple of years since we've actually been in the apartments-in-houses issue. So they are actually out there on the scene looking at causes of fires and that sort of thing when a situation does occur. So I guess looking at fire stats, looking at building permit stats and our ongoing liaison with municipal officials would be our main monitoring mechanisms.

Mr David Johnson: Okay. I'm going to come back to the monitoring in a minute, but just to address a little bit of a comment, in this day and age, if you talk to municipalities, there are many people who attempt to do construction without a building permit, in the first instance, or attempt to go beyond what their building permit has been issued for. So if you think that everybody is automatically going to come forward and ask for a building permit or follow exactly the rules laid down in each municipality, then I think you're going to find you're mistaken, and sadly mistaken.

I think the same sort of logic applies in terms of people who live in apartments, as Mr Cordiano has indicated, that have not been the subject of a building permit in the past. The house has, but the apartment may indeed be put in with flammable material, or it could be any number of violations, but that's not visible from the outside. But the reality is that many people do not want to be associated with government.


Now, if you say, "Will some people come forward and ask to be inspected?" -- absolutely. Some people will come forward; no question about it. I guess the question is, what percentage will come forward, and what percentage will not come forward for various reasons? One may be because they're not aware of their rights, because even though you have a well-intentioned education program, it may not sink in. It definitely won't sink in. I mean, you surely don't have enough money to convey this information to every resident of the province of Ontario. That's a mammoth chore. Even with a lot of free publicity in newspapers, it won't happen. A lot of people will be aware; a lot of people won't be aware.

Even with those people who are aware, a lot of them will choose not to get involved. They don't want the hassle of government. It may surprise you, but in this day and age a lot of people distrust governments of all types. You know, when somebody knocks on the door and says, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you," there is immediate scepticism on behalf of many people, even though you may say: "You're legally entitled to stay here. They can't kick you out." But even if they understand all that, there's still the question that in some cases it may be cheaper to close down the basement apartment and dismantle it where it doesn't comply than to pay the money to make it comply. A lot of that depends on how tough your standards are going to be.

I can tell you that in my municipality in East York there are many senior citizens who are renting out. They live in the house. They live upstairs and they rent the basement. That seems to work out okay. In 90% of the cases I'm sure there's no complaint. The neighbours say, "Live and let live," and no problems. If there's some turmoil in the neighbourhood, then the municipality may be invited in to inspect, but the chances are that many of them don't meet all the regulations.

Those seniors are on a very thin income. They're sort of asset-rich with a house but income-poor, on a very minor pension or with not much money coming in. So if they're going to be asked to pay for an upgrade to meet regulations, my guess is that at their stage in life many of them will say, "I'm sorry: (a) I don't want the hassle and (b) I can't afford it, so close down the apartment." I assume there's nothing preventing them from doing that. We're not forcing them to have a basement apartment if they don't want one, I assume. I don't see it in the act. So that will happen in some cases, and tenants may be aware of that.

But I think, number one, there will be a lot of tenants who don't want to be associated with government, don't want the fire department in, don't want anybody in: don't want municipalities in, don't want provincial governments mucking around in their lives, federal governments, anybody. So you'll find that you'll be turned down.

In terms of the monitoring, we know there are somewhere -- what is the government statistic, that there are over 100,000 or 140,000? What's the number you recognize now?

Mr Gary Wilson: We think it's somewhat over 100,000.

Mr David Johnson: Over 100,000. You know roughly where they are. You know how many roughly in each municipality, to a certain degree, I think, to put that number together.

Mr Gary Wilson: Yes. They're all across Ontario.

Mr David Johnson: They're all across Ontario, but you know municipality by municipality, ballpark.

As part of the monitoring process, have you looked at or have you decided to check with municipalities and determine what percentage of those basement apartments, let's say one year after implementation of Bill 120, have been inspected, just as an example?

Mr Dowler: As I indicated, we would be looking at building permit evidence. So we have a general sense -- and I should qualify that and say it's a very general sense -- as to how many units exist out there today. We would be looking at the number of building permits that are issued for the purposes of upgrading and then we would take a look at what percentage of the total universe is coming in and seeking a permit.

Now, we wouldn't expect 100% to come in the first year. Many units, I think, from the impressionistic evidence that's been offered to this committee and to other proceedings, probably do meet standards today. Most of them have smoke detectors and many have proper exiting and fire separations. So we wouldn't expect 100% of the units to come forward in the first year, but we would expect there to be a significant number coming forward and seeking out permits.

Mr David Johnson: When you're looking at the building permits, how are you going to differentiate between any other sort of activity and the building permit that pertains to a basement apartment? Are you going to be asking municipalities to somehow -- have you done that or are you going to do that? I mean, how would you know one from the other?

Mr Dowler: Municipalities do currently fill out a survey for Statistics Canada on building permits, and in that survey there is a category of construction activity called conversion. Statscan has been trying to refine that category down so that it would include creation or upgrading of a basement apartment. It's not a perfectly clean category, but relative to some of the other numbers that we've got on this segment of the stock, it's a start.

Mr David Johnson: Do I take it from that then, you have no plans at present, other than through the collection of Statscan information and its interpretation of conversion, to directly contact the municipalities to determine first hand from them how many of their apartments have been inspected?

Mr Dowler: As I indicated, our plan is yet to be formulated. We're still in the process of drawing it up, but I think our intention at this time is to liaise on an ongoing basis with municipal enforcement personnel: building officials, fire officials and property standards officers. So, yes, we would want to be contacting them and getting their sense as to whether they think a significant number of people are coming forward and making sure these units are safe.

Mr David Johnson: You said you wouldn't expect them all to come forward within a year.

Mr Dowler: No.

Mr David Johnson: I don't know if this is a staff question or a question for Mr Wilson. What percentage would you forecast and what percentage would you think would be suitable, let's say, after one year or after two years, that would come forward and would be inspected, of the basement apartments?

Mr Dowler: At this stage of the game, I can't answer that question. As I mentioned, we're still in the process of finalizing our monitoring plan. I would think that that particular number would vary dramatically from city to city, depending on the age of the building stock, the type of building stock. In the city of Toronto, where you're dealing with older buildings, smaller lots, constrained exits -- although it's probably a bad example because the units have been permitted there for a considerable period of time -- you might expect more people to come forward than, say, in an area like Mississauga where you have a significant number of raised bungalows, where you can get proper exiting relatively easily. Stock is newer so the chances of there being a construction that involves drywall or some proper fire separation is greater. Use of smoke detectors has been encouraged through a municipal bylaw for a number of years, so you would expect there to be a higher likelihood of proper smoke detection in the unit. So the number that you're asking me for, I think, would vary significantly from place to place.

Mr David Johnson: All right. I'll grant you that. That's quite likely. Across Ontario, as an average, what would you expect?

Mr Dowler: Again, we haven't gotten to the point where we have that number refined. I don't know if we ever will get to a specific number. I don't think there's that level of scientific precision that's really possible in this particular area.

Mr David Johnson: No, I don't think it is, but I'm just wondering, in the mind's eye of yourself and I suspect Mr Wilson would have an answer for this even if staff aren't able to, are we looking at 20% of the apartments, let's say, being inspected after a year, two years?

Mr Gary Wilson: I'm not sure. I would think it would be similar to regular homes with people coming forward, but the point is, now, there's a disincentive to come forward because these are illegal. So once they're made legal, they'll be the same as any other residence. Again, you have to look at the circumstances. All residences are built up over time so they also have varying standards.

Mr David Johnson: The reason I ask is, as Mr Cordiano has pointed out, the vast bulk of these, in all likelihood, have never been inspected because, as you point out, up to this point they're illegal so how could they have been inspected, in a sense? Given that they're not inspected and given your feeling that tenants would come forward, I just wondered if you're prepared to give me a kind of range as to your and the government's expectation of, let's say, within two years, what percentage of the units would be inspected. I don't expect that to be scientific, but I'm just wondering if you're thinking 25% or 75% or 90%, or what kind of ballpark are we talking about here?

Mr Gary Wilson: No, I can't say at this point.

Mr David Johnson: You wouldn't know if it would be over half or less than half, even to that extent?

Mr Gary Wilson: I think there are also the people who will consult with the owner and work it that way, for smoke detectors, for instance. That would be an obvious one, that they'd make sure they were there and check on the walls. Some of this could be done between the owner and the tenant. But no, I can't say how many --

Mr David Johnson: You just seemed so optimistic that tenants would come forward that I'm a little surprised here. I thought you would say for sure that over half would be inspected. Whether it's 75% or 90%, I wouldn't be too sure, but now you seem to be a little more tentative.


Mr Gary Wilson: It's just because, as you say, it's hard to predict what the takeup will be, but the major point, again, is that they now have the security that they can come forward without losing their residence. But just having that doesn't mean they're living in unsafe conditions now. You can say that the way they were built, since they didn't have building permits and never inspected, they are unsafe, but there's nothing to say they are unsafe either. It's just that what can be said is that people are living in illegal circumstances now.

Mr David Johnson: Would you agree with me that --

The Chair: Mr Cordiano, a point of order.

Mr Cordiano: A point of whatever.

The Chair: There aren't points of whatever, but points of order.

Mr Cordiano: It's been stated in this committee that half the units are unsafe, half the existing illegal units.

The Chair: It's not a point of order.

Mr Cordiano: No. I said "a point of whatever." I thought that was stated in committee hearings.

Mr Gary Wilson: If you could bring that forward, we could discuss it as a point of --

Mr David Johnson: If that's true, if there's some --

Mr Gary Wilson: Wait. That's a point of order, not --

Mr David Johnson: I put the word "if" in front of it. Would you agree with me that if, say, only half of the units were inspected, given that we don't know which half are unsafe and which half are safe, or which half meet the regulations and which half don't, but if that were true and only half the units were inspected over a period of time, say, two or three years or something like that, that would not be a successful program, would it?

Mr Gary Wilson: It's into some speculative bog, I would say, Mr Johnson. The point is to make them legal. I don't really see what this has to do with the legalization of them, which is what we're doing through the legislation. What it does is give the residents and the owners security of their being legal, that they now have standards that apply to them. At least they know what they are and they're not going to be, in the case of the residents, thrown out, and, in the case of the owners, that they have a guaranteed unit where they meet the standards.

Mr David Johnson: Maybe this, then, gets to the heart of the reason. You're saying that the reason is to make them legal. I was under the assumption that the real reason driving this was for safety, to promote safety in the apartments. Am I wrong? Is that not the government's hope?

Mr Gary Wilson: That flows from their being legal. That's the idea, that they'll become safer because they're legal.

Mr David Johnson: That's why I'm asking the question about monitoring and inspection.

Mr Grandmaître: On a point of clarification -- no?

The Chair: No.

Mr David Johnson: If you make them legal but they're not inspected, then how does that guarantee any safety, if they're not inspected for safety purposes? You seem very tentative about what number would be inspected. That's what's confusing me.

Mr Gary Wilson: I based it on the experience with other residences. You'd agree that after it'd been inspected, a new place with a building permit, adjustments can be made, alterations, that are going to be unsafe, or batteries in smoke detectors run out. It's something you've got to keep up all the time. At least what this does is make sure that the people who are living in accessory apartments know that the residence they're in is legal and they have access to the kind of inspection that the rest of us enjoy.

Mr David Johnson: Is it your view that even without an inspection from the fire department, because these apartments are made legal through Bill 120, people will upgrade them without any further direction, I guess, or assistance from civic officials such as the fire department?

Mr Gary Wilson: I'm sure that will happen, just as it is happening now, I would think. The important point is that they are illegal and everything that is happening now is done in a cloak of secrecy and insecurity.

Mr David Johnson: I've got a note here in front of me from the honourable member. It says -- is that what the minister is saying?

Mr Grandmaître: Yes.

Mr David Johnson: They're made legal --

Mr Grandmaître: Illegal.

Mr David Johnson: Oh, illegal -- is that what that word is? -- because of zoning, not safety. What does that mean? I don't even know what that means.

Mr Grandmaître: What the minister has been saying in the House is that most of these apartments are illegal because of zoning. That's what my note said too.

Mr Cordiano: Without any regard for safety or codes.

Mr Grandmaître: Do you agree with me that this is what the minister is saying?

Mr Gary Wilson: In the first place, I'm not sure -- we're getting a bit far from the amendment you were talking about.

Mr Grandmaître: We're talking about safety and zoning and registration of these apartments.

Mr Gary Wilson: That's different from the question you raised.

Mr David Johnson: Then can I get back to another question? I'd like to ask the lawyer, the solicitor, another question pertaining to the registration, if I can. This pertains to a matter I raised earlier this year. There was a response issued by the Ministry of Housing on five questions, I think, that I had raised. One of them had to do with the concern of the association of municipalities with regard to liability.

Part of their concern on liability is that if there's no registration process, and that's the amendment being put forward here today, that we have a registration process, and they're not aware of the apartments yet the apartments are made legal, if there is, unfortunately, another fire and another death, what sort of liability would the municipalities assume?

Putting it from their point of view, these are now legal entities within their jurisdiction. They have responsibility to ensure safety. They have responsibility if there isn't safety, I guess, to inspect etc and ensure that there is, within their jurisdiction, but yet they are saying clearly that they don't have the ability to get in and inspect, and consequently, if there is a fire and a death and if they were sued because they didn't pursue it and ensure there was safety, they're concerned about liability.

The response I got in terms of that question I don't think answered, certainly, my question. I wondered what your response is today.

Mr Levitt: That question is somewhat difficult to respond to because it's a very general aspect of liability. In particular, what makes it difficult to respond to is that the only change as a result of this will be removal of a zoning problem with the apartments. I imagine that currently there are also a number of units like that, that while complying with the zoning, do not comply with the other safety regulations. To my knowledge, there's never been any municipal concern raised about that exactly similar situation in the past, so it's not completely clear to me why the same situation that has existed for quite a while and will exist in a slightly different form should have any larger liability. Because it's not more specific on that aspect, I find it somewhat difficult to provide an answer.

Mr David Johnson: One angle at that may be that the other structures that are in a municipality would have been inspected through the building inspection process, because if you put up a house or a plant or an office building, it has to be inspected through the building code. I would assume that's true in just about 100% of the cases, but these apartments will not have gone through any inspection process up to that point, so that will be one major difference. In the eyes of the law now, both the new house that's been thoroughly inspected by the building code and the new office that's been thoroughly inspected, or a new restaurant or any other building that's been thoroughly inspected, will be on an equal footing now with a basement apartment that has never been inspected.


Mr Levitt: I guess all I would say is that using your example, even before this bill other types of premises that will be unaffected by this bill may also be built without a permit and have been for quite a while, and I would imagine that whatever liability concern is being raised here has existed for quite a while in various ways. It's just not clear, because it's not being specific about how a situation which seems to have existed for quite a while and will possibly exist in another way -- what the difference is. Therefore, it's hard to --

Mr David Johnson: Can I suggest one difference? One difference would be that if there was another structure that was built without being inspected, it would have been built illegally and not sanctioned by the provincial government. This government, through this bill, is not sanctioning all buildings that have been built without a building permit; it's only sanctioning accessory apartments that have been built without a building permit. So those other structures would not have the sanction of this government. That, I would think, would be one difference. Whereas accessory apartments would have the sanction of and would be blessed by the government, and the authority is now down to the municipality to ensure safety, the other units are clearly illegal still in the eyes of this government as well as the --

Mr Levitt: Excuse me. What I was talking about was another use that is legal according to the zoning; for instance, an office building that is zoned for an office and it is an office, and it may have been built with a permit but over time it's deteriorated and now it's turned into a complete fire trap. That has been around for a while and there's some problem with it. I'm not sure what the liability of the municipality would be there, but I'm not sure it would be any different here, if you see what I mean.

Mr David Johnson: All right. There is that little bit of greyness. The municipality does have the requirement to inspect, I guess, and I think all fire departments have some kind of inspection routine, but at least that building that you're describing would have gone through the rigours, originally, of a building code inspection. I suppose the day after that inspection there could be some deterioration, but at least it would have gone through those rigours, whereas this basement apartment or accessory apartment has not gone through any of those rigours. A municipality, knowing that full well, it could be argued, would have an obligation to somehow enforce that original inspection, but if they're not aware of the unit or not able to gain entrance, they would not be able to do that.

Mr Levitt: Again its hard to pin down what the concern is. A similar situation might be a use that's unlawful. The municipality itself amends its zoning bylaw to permit uses which hadn't been lawful before. The municipality amends the zoning bylaw and makes those uses lawful, which probably happens frequently. I'm not sure what the municipality's feeling is towards ensuring the safety of those buildings now, but it doesn't seem to have been that much of a concern.

Mr David Johnson: I guess you would at least agree with me that it's not inconceivable that if there was, in a basement apartment in the future, if Bill 120 went through -- let's say basement apartments and accessory apartments were made legal. It's not inconceivable that there could be a lawsuit, in the event of an unfortunate incident, against the municipality. The question would be whether it would be successful or not.

Mr Levitt: I guess anything is possible, but on the other side there has never been, in those particular types of circumstances, any type of lawsuit, and there recently was one case where a municipality was sued for something it did construction-wise 20 years ago. The landlord was also sued because the condition over the 15 years had deteriorated, but there was no lawsuit against the municipality or really even suggestion that the municipality had any duty over the 15 years. So I guess while anything is possible, there certainly is nothing which indicates any evidence of probability.

Mr David Johnson: I guess we're going around the mulberry bush now, but at least in that case the building was inspected in the first instance, whereas a great number of these apartments would not have gone through a single inspection, ever. I'm still worried about that. I think it puts municipalities in a bad case.

Let's look at the other side of this coin. As Mr Wilson is indicating, although he won't give us any numbers, any percentages, he's still optimistic that a lot of people will come forward and ask for inspections. Chief Hare, from Mississauga, said that in his estimate, I think it was something like 87 person-years would be required to inspect each and every basement apartment in Mississauga. I don't think there's going to be any extra money to assist in that inspection, from what I recall, and I don't see the parliamentary assistant jumping in here to offer any money at this point.

Mr Gary Wilson: We expect there will be some more through the enhanced value of houses, that there should be some --

Mr David Johnson: Oh, I see, a tenuous minor investment.

Mr Gary Wilson: Well, no. The safety of the units too: It is very costly in both human and economic terms to put out fires, so that is one thing that will be saved.

Mr David Johnson: The other aspect of this concern with regard to liability by municipalities is that if a number of people do come forward, and I assume we're probably all hoping this is the case, but they're not equipped, they're not staffed today to inspect them all bang on the spot -- as I mentioned the other day, and I may be wrong on this, my guess is that Mississauga, for example, through the expenditure control program and the social contract probably lost somewhere between $5 million to $10 million right there. They're having to deal with new realities, so they're not going to be able to go out and hire, and indeed if they did hire a whole lot of new people, they wouldn't be trained.

If there is a considerable backlog for inspection, which may represent some significant proportion of these apartments, and the municipalities take quite a while to get through them, inspecting them one by one, and in the interim there is a fire and an unfortunate tragedy in one of the apartments that's in that backlog, but unfortunately just due to limitations in resources the municipality couldn't get around to inspecting, and before it did there was a tragedy in a fire, where would the municipality stand from a liability point of view in that case?

Mr Levitt: Again that's difficult to answer in the abstract, because it depends on factors such as the duty the municipality owes and in particular whether the municipality has taken what's known as a policy decision setting out the nature and extent of its enforcement action.

One relevant factor, though, is that last month the Supreme Court of Canada handed down two judgements which most people look at as somewhat reaffirming the ability of public authorities in appropriate cases to make policy decisions as to how they're going to order and carry out these functions and do it free of liability.

The answer to that question depends on a lot of specific factors, but there is the ability for the municipality to order its own affairs through policy decisions in appropriate cases. We recently had two decisions from the Supreme Court of Canada which, if anything, reaffirmed the ability of the municipality to see what has to be done, to see what it can do and for the municipality to decide the best way to do that.

Mr David Johnson: This liability issue is one that the Association of Municipalities of Ontario has raised. You've said in the abstract it's difficult to comment, which would lead me to believe that there are circumstances where they may be liable and other circumstances where they may not be liable. I wonder, what comfort can we give to the association of municipalities and to municipalities across Ontario? Are there any kind of parameters at all that the Ministry of Housing could provide which would say that as long as you live within these parameters, you will be okay, or you should be okay?

Mr Levitt: Since it's hard to give individual legal opinions to the municipalities, fortunately as I mentioned these two judgements of the Supreme Court of Canada came down just last month. Both are very short. Both look at exactly the issue you're talking about. It was in the context of a different activity, road maintenance, but I would suggest that they look to those judgements and that they provide quite a bit of guidance and that they'd say exactly what the ground rules are.

Mr David Johnson: The Ministry of Housing is not planning to issue any assistance to municipalities in this regard, then, directly?

Mr Levitt: Maybe I'll defer to Bob Dowler for that.

Mr Dowler: Yes, I can maybe answer that. In terms of financial assistance for the purposes of carrying out enforcement activities, no, our ministry doesn't handle that. That would be the Ministry of Municipal Affairs through its conditional and unconditional grants programs.

In terms of information to municipalities, I indicated that through our branch we do actively discuss these matters with enforcement officials and we would continue to provide them with advice and point them in the direction of certain statutes. I think Jeff was indicating that it's very difficult for us from Toronto to dictate or suggest how a municipality in another part of the province might carry out its enforcement program or what level of service it might provide through that program.

We can suggest certain general things that are indicated by the cases; for instance, that a municipality, in order not to incur liability, should make its policy decisions known in public as to what level of service and what level of enforcement it intends to carry out. I think that's the nature of Jeff's information that was provided.


Mr David Johnson: Sorry; I was interrupted a little bit. When you were indicating that it's difficult to dictate policies from Toronto, a smile came to my face because that's what this whole bill is about in terms of dictating accessory apartments right across Ontario. I found that a little bit amusing and then I lost the thread of what you were saying. In terms of the liability issue, I don't think they're looking for anything to be dictated across the province, but they're looking for some guidance. What sort of guidance would you give them? Is there any specific guidance, suggestions, helpful hints?

Mr Dowler: I was not referring to the dictating of policy principles from Toronto. What I was suggesting was that we would not try to offer legal opinions from Toronto as to how a certain municipality's enforcement activities should be carried out, that the case law always depends on the specifics of the municipal circumstance and the matters in which their budgetary policy discussions are carried out.

The kind of advice that we would offer, in response to your question, would be in the nature of suggesting that they look at the case law, and we could certainly, as Jeff has just done here today, suggest that there are relevant cases their solicitor should turn their minds to. But we would not suggest to a municipality that a certain number of staff should be allocated or a certain level of coverage should be provided. That depends on the policy discussions that occur on the floor of council and the extent to which those are made public and made known through due process.

Mr David Johnson: I think it was the Brampton case back many years ago that struck fear into the heart of every municipality, maybe in the world, I don't know, but certainly in Ontario. I don't know if that's being dragged on in the courts now or whether it finally did get resolved, but do you recognize the concern of municipalities with regard to liability?

Mr Dowler: Absolutely. I believe the --

Mr David Johnson: Here we're dealing with lives. When it's unclear how many of these units will actually be inspected for safety, the fire chief of Mississauga, if you look at his quote in his first deputation, and only deputation I guess, to this committee, said if he's not able to get in and there are more apartments that are built, then there will be more tragedies and more deaths. That's almost, I think, a word-for-word quote. So there's a real fear of not only the tragedy aspect but the liability aspect to this.

Mr Gary Wilson: You said he said if he's not able to get in, did you?

Mr David Johnson: Yes.

Mr Gary Wilson: Again that's the whole thrust of the legislation, to set the conditions where they can, and as you know, he also said that he's never known of a case where they were denied entry when --

Mr David Johnson: We've gone around and around on that one. We started out at about 10 o'clock this morning on that, and he still says that he cannot get in unless there is visible evidence of some problem. Other than that, unless somebody opens the door and allows them in, he can't get in.

Mr Gary Wilson: Which is the vast majority of cases. The fire marshal has said that only rarely are they ever denied entry, and we know that there are in the --

Mr David Johnson: That's why I asked you how many would be inspected, and even though you were so optimistic about everybody allowing people to come in, I've been unable to wring an estimate from you of how many of these apartments would be inspected. I would think, with the theory you have on this, that you would think that within the first couple of years well over 50% would be inspected, but you're very tentative in terms of going on the record on that.

Mr Gary Wilson: It is a hard thing to predict, but the thing is that having security of tenure they will know at least that they can be inspected; that is one thing. Then there are things that people can do on their own just like any other home owner. As has been pointed out, buildings decline even after initial inspections and adjustments are made, alterations, rec rooms, for instance, and you can't tell how safe they are. But everyone is intent on living in safe circumstances and to throw in an illegal aspect only gets in the way of making the residences as safe as possible.

Mr Cordiano: I note that there is very little time, but I would like to discuss an area, perhaps this afternoon, that we have raised with regard to insurability of the units. The Insurance Bureau of Canada has -- actually, I would ask first if the ministry has had any discussions with the Insurance Bureau of Canada regarding insurability, in light of the changes to Bill 120.

Mr Gary Wilson: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: Could we vote on this amendment now then, because you seem to be going into a different section.

Mr Cordiano: No, this has to do with accessory apartment registration with regard to the safety features of it. It ties in with the questions Mr Johnson has been putting forward with regard to liability for municipalities.

Mr Gary Wilson: Is that your ruling, Mr Chair?

Mr Cordiano: I think it's pretty much on the subject matter we're dealing with regarding the section we've been talking about with regard to registration. It ties very much into the question of insurability.

We've been told by the Insurance Bureau of Canada that to have a registration and inspection system would certainly go a long way to alleviating the concerns it has around insurability of the unsafe units that now exist, and after Bill 120 is passed, they would I think include in their application forms a section for disclosing the existence of these units.

We've suggested and our leader has suggested that you make this a requirement and I was asking if the ministry had had any discussions with the Insurance Bureau of Canada in that regard. Perhaps we could take it up this afternoon because we've run out of time.

The Chair: Am I hearing a motion to recess?

Mr Cordiano: Yes, it's 12 o'clock.

The Chair: It being pretty close to 12 of the clock, we will continue this episode this afternoon at 3:30 or following routine proceedings.

The committee recessed from 1156 to 1552.

The Chair: The standing committee on general government will come back to order. We are continuing the clause-by-clause examination of Bill 120, An Act to amend certain statutes concerning residential property.

When we completed this morning's session, we were discussing, as members know, the Liberal motion, Mr Cordiano's motion, numbered 6 at the top, 81.2. That motion has been split in half. The first part of it is carried. Mr Cordiano had the floor.

Mr Cordiano: I believe that this morning I had asked the ministry people, regarding the question of insurance, if they had made any inquiries or had any discussions with the Insurance Bureau of Canada regarding the insurability of the units once Bill 120 was enacted. So I might start with that, with regard to the question of insurance, if in fact the ministry has been in communication with the Insurance Bureau of Canada or anyone else in the insurance industry. Would anybody like to answer that?

Hon Evelyn Gigantes (Minister of Housing): Would you like to speak to that? You should identify yourself.

Mr James Douglas: James Douglas, Ministry of Housing. The Ministry of Housing has been in touch with the insurance industry over this issue. Discussions have begun, but nothing has really been worked out as yet. So hopefully we can report back at a future date.

Mr Cordiano: Have you just started discussions with them?

Mr Douglas: That's correct.

Mr Cordiano: Okay. That's very encouraging.

Hon Ms Gigantes: You might report what you've learned.

Mr Cordiano: It's encouraging to know that perhaps our suggestion was taken up and that it is not born out of any interests other than to ensure that we're moving in the right directions.

With regard to insurance, it is certainly a matter that I feel is important to clarify. Will you deal, then, with this matter during the time that you present regulations and will there be some consideration for that process to include whatever amendments you are making in that regard via regulations, or is that something that we will not be able to deal with during the course -- obviously we won't -- of the clause-by-clause consideration? We will not have any further information from you on that matter.

Hon Ms Gigantes: There are two possible points of interest, as I understand it, in your suggestion. One is a point of interest that would connect the process of registration with the verification insurance.

As you understand, we don't feel that a process of registration, in and of itself, is a useful addition to Bill 120, for reasons which we've spoken to before but which I can underline again. We're particularly concerned that blanket illegality, which currently exists for over 100,000 units in this province, be removed as far as zoning is concerned and then reapplied because of a proposal to institute a new system of qualification, which has nothing to do directly with health and safety, called registration. You are trying to connect elements of safety and requirements for safety to approval of registration, if I understand your proposal.

If I could just take a moment, when we look at a situation, for example, in a municipality such as Mississauga, which has often been discussed in this committee, the estimate that seems to be agreed upon is that there may be between 10,000 and 15,000 units of apartments in houses in Mississauga which are currently illegal as far as zoning is concerned.

If the proposal that, as I understand it, you are putting forward -- I haven't seen an amendment to this effect, but if the proposal which was floated by your leader the other day is one which would say that a unit, in order to be legal in all senses of the word, must be registered and, in order to be registered, must be pre-inspected, and associated with that pre-inspection would be the validation of insurance, then we would be in a situation where in that particular municipality there would be a situation in which all 10,000 to 15,000 would be illegal until that total process had been passed through.

If we took an estimate of the current inspection capabilities within the municipality of Mississauga and we estimated how long it would take to pass 10,000 to 15,000 existing units through that process and what it would cost, the length of time would be very long, and the cost has been estimated at somewhere close to $65 million.

The reason that would be necessary is a proposal that everything remain illegal. Having lifted the illegality attributable to zoning, we would now transfer those units into another state of illegality until this whole process had been completed. We have suggested that this is not either a practical or desirable process and that it does not achieve the end, which is to immediately place all existing apartments in a state in which, except for health and safety matters directly, they could be categorized as legal and the question of their status would not be challenged until the standards were challenged.


We believe very firmly -- I firmly believe personally -- that the most efficacious way of achieving the desired goal, which I think we all share, which is to have health and safety standards met in existing units -- because we're not talking here about new units; I think we're finally agreed about the process for new units -- is to have the situation, one, in which we provide both the owners and the tenants with -- how can I say it? -- the freedom, the right, to step forward and say, "I'd like to know what would be required here, if anything, to make sure that we are meeting code standards both in terms of the building code and in terms of the fire regulations."

Any other method, I suggest to you -- well, there are two other possible methods. One is, as I say, to have a situation in which you'd transfer the cause for illegality from the zoning issue which now exists to one of registration which you would create and everything would remain illegal until it goes through the process that you've proposed, or you would do a house-to-house search, in effect. I don't think that's what you're looking for; you're not suggesting that we go house to house. But I suggest to you, unless we do that and unless we immediately provide a process of immediate inspection for each and every unit, what we're doing is maintaining a state of illegality. We've just changed the reason for the illegality. I suggest to you very strongly that this is not going to achieve the purpose that we're after.

Can I add one further thing? I think that through the issue of insurance, what you're trying to engender is a stiff penalty for owners who do not take the steps required to meet health and safety standards. I want to remind members that under the Fire Marshals Act the fire code requirements have very stiff penalties attached to them. They can range as high as fines of $25,000 per day and jail terms.

Mr Cordiano: Let me respond to that by saying, firstly, I'd like to know where the $65-million figure that you threw out with regard to inspection came from.

Hon Ms Gigantes: James could speak to that.

Mr Cordiano: And how that was estimated and whose estimate that was.

Mr Douglas: Point of clarification: The $65-million figure would be for the approximately 100,000 units in the province.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Sorry about that.

Mr Douglas: If you extrapolate to the 10,000 estimate for Mississauga, that would be $6.5 million to inspect 10,000 units in Mississauga. That would be, of course, under a registration scheme, assuming that you could identify the units. If many more inspections were needed to actually identify the units, the figure would be higher than $6.5 million for Mississauga. That $6.5-million figure was developed based upon information submitted by the Mississauga fire chief, that on average it would take approximately two staff days per inspection when you look at the need for an initial inspection, possible follow-up inspections and the occasional prosecution.

Mr Cordiano: So what you're telling me is that each and every inspection would cost on average $650?

Mr Douglas: Approximately two staff days.

Mr Cordiano: Six hundred and fifty dollars, by your figures; $65 million divided by 100,000 units.

Mr Douglas: That's approximately the case, yes.

Mr Cordiano: I cannot see why it would cost $650. We would need further elaboration and detail around how you arrive at that figure, because, quite frankly, when we talked to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and they suggested that we have a registration system in place and that inspections could be done on a cost-recovery basis, nowhere was the figure $650 or anywhere near it tossed out.

Mr Douglas: This figure of two staff days did come from Mississauga and reflects the need for follow-up inspections on occasion and, where people do not comply, prosecutions, which would get into the courts and the need for municipal solicitors and other --

Mr Cordiano: I suggest that is not an accurate estimate. So I won't use it in anything that I'm doing. I think that getting into prosecutions and adding that on to a simple inspection that might be done is where the real costs will ensue. That's where your estimates are skewed way out of line. For simply going in and inspecting an accessory apartment, I think that your costs would be somewhere around the $100 to $200 range, which is what we heard as an estimate -- an informal estimate, I would add, but none the less an estimate -- from the various municipalities that I spoke to and the people who were considering this idea. I just don't believe that you're talking about $650 for each and every inspection. That's an unusually high figure.

Anyway, on the other points that the minister brought forward, I think you have continuously --

Hon Ms Gigantes: If I could add to that, I don't wish to in any way suggest that we don't think an investment in inspection is a good idea; we do. It's a question of what resources you have to bring to focus in what period of time and what state you leave apartments in houses in while this whole process goes on. That is a very grave concern to me.

Mr Cordiano: Right, and that's the same concern. At least we agree on something. However, I think you've missed one fundamental point. Because you pass this legislation, in effect making these units legal, I still am not convinced, and it hasn't been demonstrated to me, that these units will be made safe. You've suggested that your imposition of fines, the stiff penalties that are part of the amendments to the codes, is sufficient in order for that to occur, to tell people that they should go out and make their units safe; that it will provide enough incentive -- or disincentive, depending on how you look at it.

I honestly believe that with our suggestion, where you have registration as a part of this process, as I've repeated before, and I'll state it again, I think it would be very simple for someone who is a tenant, knowing that there's a registration in place in their municipality, knowing that all they'd have to do is pick up the phone, to call the municipality and ask, "Is this unit registered?" If it's not, then it's not a legal unit and it could be unsafe. That's the point.

I don't think that I would rather sacrifice the question of legality or illegality for the question of safety. So I'm suggesting that even under your scheme you're dependent on tenants coming forward, knowing that their unit is now legal. I don't believe that's enough, because you're counting on these tenants' knowledge of the fire code and the building code to determine that their unit is unsafe. No question the unit will be legal, but will it be safe? How is a tenant who is not very aware of what constitutes safety -- I mean, most of us in the Legislature would not know what's in the building code or the fire code unless we looked at it and spent a great deal of time studying it to know what the details are of that code. It's a very complex thing.

I know we're talking with reference to basement apartments, but I still believe, however, that the process you would have to embark on of educating people is going to cost a hell of a lot more, if you do the job properly, than the $65 million that you're telling me it will cost for inspections, a figure that I do not agree with. I think it will be far lower than that. As well, it will be a figure that will be recovered because those who have to register these units, the landlords after all, will have to pay for the inspection.


I believe that in the end, by having a registration system in place, it's a quick, easy and inexpensive way of determining that a unit has not in the first instance been registered and therefore not inspected and determining that at least you could ask for that unit to be inspected because you wanted to ensure that the unit was safe. How else, I ask you, in your system will we know that these units are safe?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Under the proposal contained in Bill 120, if you were the tenant, you could call the fire marshal's office, the fire official in your municipality and say: "Has there been a fire inspection in this unit? If there has not, would you be kind enough to come and do an inspection?"

Mr Cordiano: Who is going to pay for that?

Hon Ms Gigantes: The costs can be identified to the municipality. Once any municipal official, a fire official or a building inspection official, or indeed a planning office official under the case with new apartments in houses where there would be an application for a building permit, once any one of those officials has a request, then there is an identification of where the unit is.

Once the identification of where the unit is occurs, the assessment office can be notified, and if there is a unit which is generating revenue in the household and if there has been construction in the household and if there is revenue generation in the household because of that unit, then there can be an assessment increase on the property, and that assessment increase can generate further revenues to the municipality.

Mr Cordiano: In other words, it's acceptable to you if there is a cost recovery for the inspections? Can we establish that principle? Because you're saying that by additional assessment there will indirectly be cost recoveries for the municipality.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, but those cost recoveries are not associated only with an inspection process. Those are continuing revenues, based on increased assessment, which continue to flow to the municipality as long as that unit is in operation.

Mr Grandmaître: If it's legal.

Mr Cordiano: If it's known that the unit exists.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, but you will recall that at the beginning of this discussion I said that the way it gets identified is the same way that you would, as the tenant, call up and say, "Is this unit registered?" You can call up as a tenant and say to the building inspection branch: "Has this unit been inspected? Does it meet the building code?" You can call up the fire officials, and that's the more likely call that a tenant will make, and say, "Has it been inspected to make sure that it meets the fire code?"

Mr Cordiano: So in your system, you would encourage every tenant of every unit to call the building department to ask if a building permit had been taken out for the creation of this unit. At which point then, if it had not been taken out -- and I suspect most units will not have a building permit that was taken out to have those units created, because they were created when they were illegal. Nowhere would there be a building permit registry that would indicate that application was made for a building permit.

Hon Ms Gigantes: That's right. We're talking about the existing units. I agree with you that they won't have building permits associated with them. But a tenant who wishes to assure the safety of the unit can say, "Now what do I do?" The building department can say, "Your best bet is to call the fire department and have one of our fire officials come and inspect to make sure that this unit meets the code."

Mr Cordiano: But by doing that, you're going to burden the fire departments with additional inspections, firstly. Secondly, they won't be able to do the inspections because they don't have the manpower to do the inspections. If you're placing the onus on the fire department to make inspections --

Hon Ms Gigantes: If you're saying that to me, Mr Cordiano, what you are confessing is that your registration system will be a system in which all units will be maintained in an illegal state because they haven't made it to the registry system.

Mr Cordiano: No, I'm suggesting to you that it is a much more logical, efficient way of doing this because it gives the tenant the ultimate freedom to check to ensure that the unit was registered. It's a simple phone call to the municipality. The municipalities have already agreed that they will set up these registries. It's simply a record of what --

Hon Ms Gigantes: How do you get on the registry, Mr Cordiano?

Mr Cordiano: How do you get on the registry? You're required to do so.

Hon Ms Gigantes: How do you qualify to be on the registry?

Mr Cordiano: You have to have an inspection.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Ah. Then how do you avoid an inspection which you're accusing my system of requiring?

Mr Cordiano: No, I'm suggesting that you don't avoid it and you've suggested to me that it will cost $65 million to do these inspections. I'm suggesting to you that be made known to everyone and that we all agree inspections are required. Therefore, we recognize there has to be a cost associated with that and that the cost be recovered.

Hon Ms Gigantes: What is the priority of the inspections?

Mr Cordiano: The priority is to make safety the number one factor in all this.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Certainly.

Mr Cordiano: That is the priority. Whether you make these units legal or whether they're illegal at this point really isn't the priority. The priority is to ensure that these units are safe; that's the priority. You haven't assured me that in your scheme, in Bill 120, at the end of the day these units will be safe. I'm not convinced of that; we're not convinced.

Hon Ms Gigantes: It depends how long your day is. Mr Chair, Mr Douglas had another piece of information that he wished to add to the discussion.

Mr Douglas: Under a registration scheme all second units would be inspected, presumably even those where there has been no complaint, no concern about health and safety, perhaps units that have even been installed with a building permit. Without registration the only units subject to inspection would be cases where either the tenant or the property owner wishes an inspection or where the fire department has undertaken some kind of proactive inspection scheme. So the total number of inspections conducted likely would be considerably less than the 100,000 which would be needed to identify all units which are currently illegal.

Mr Cordiano: Sure, there'll be less. I submit to you that there will probably be few, if any, inspections done at all. That's entirely my point. That's what concerns me. Is it the intention of the ministry then to ensure that there are few inspections done? It's a zero-sum game we're playing.

I'm not trying to go off on a flight of rhetoric here, because I think there's a real, crucial issue and a real difference of opinion. But I think the difference is borne out in that ultimately whether these units are made legal on a mere passing of Bill 120 does not rectify the situation with respect to safety. You need those inspections to ensure that each of those units meets the safety requirements; otherwise you're guessing, you're hoping. You're suggesting that it will happen because somehow miraculously tenants will come forward.

I've broken down your argument on that and suggested to you that tenants will not be knowledgeable enough about the changes you've made to the fire code and the building code to ensure that they will blow the whistle on the landlords. That's not going to happen. That's what I'm concerned about.

Mr Douglas: With a public education campaign, I would suspect that the public would have enough information to make the basic decisions: Is there an operating smoke detector in the unit? Is there a safe means of egress? Certainly they won't know the details about fire separation, but a lot of them were basic things they will have an understanding of and that can indeed prompt inspections.


Mr Cordiano: You're telling me that the money it will cost for an education campaign -- by the way, I've asked for an estimate of that and I haven't heard anything. This morning we asked for it, and I would hope you could come up with some figure that is easily or readily available, because I think what we're talking about are tradeoffs.

In our registration system, we start with the basic premise that if you are operating an accessory apartment, then it's an income-producing property or an income-producing unit and you should pay for these additional inspections, that you should pay to have the privilege of being in business, to have that additional income coming in.

We do that for everything. I mean, God, your government just imposed a $50 registration fee on every corporation in the province. That's mandatory; each and every year that has to happen. So the principle has been long established.

When someone is setting up an accessory apartment, they have become a landlord; they are a small business person at that point. So I don't think this is foreign to anyone, the fact that you have to pay for that unit to be registered. I think it's something that's reasonable, and at the end of the day that will provide for cost recoveries to the municipality -- municipalities, I might add, which have said they are more than pleased to undertake these responsibilities.

I've also indicated, if I just may finish --

Mr Grandmaître: Just a follow-up here; you can continue after.

Mr Cordiano: Okay, go ahead.

Mr Grandmaître: Madam Minister -- no, I think I should be addressing this to your adviser. I think you told my colleague that you'll be spending quite a bit of money on educating people about this new bill.

Hon Ms Gigantes: We said we would undertake an education campaign. Now, don't put extra words on it.

Mr Cordiano: Or extra dollars.

Mr Grandmaître: I know you've got lots of money. Anyway, this government and, I think, all previous governments have spent millions of dollars trying to educate people as to their rights as tenants under the Landlord and Tenant Act. I bet you that 5% of the population of Ontario, 5% of our tenants, are, let's say, aware of the LTA.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Aware of? I'm sorry.

Mr Grandmaître: Of the Landlord and Tenant Act. Ninety-five per cent don't even know it exists.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I'm sure that most people would not know the title of the act.

Mr Grandmaître: Well, their rights then; call it their rights. They phone your office and my office and everybody else's office and they say: "Look, my landlord is doing this to me. What can I do?" So it proves they don't know what's in the Landlord and Tenant Act.

Hon Ms Gigantes: They know that there is legislation that provides them with rights.

Mr Grandmaître: So I'm telling you that your campaign will fail, just like everybody else's campaign has failed in the past, to spread the good gospel word about this Bill 120.

The Vice-Chair: And the question is?

Mr Grandmaître: I don't think it's going to work.

Hon Ms Gigantes: The question is, do I think it's going to work?

Mr Grandmaître: Yes.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I think this is the best approach we can use, and I think that if we institute yet another system of requirements which is arbitrary, which is not based on the health and safety of the existing apartments --

Mr Grandmaître: Madam Minister, you can't --

The Vice-Chair: The minister has the floor.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Then what we are doing is putting yet another impediment into the regularization and the increase in safety of apartments that exist now and whose health and safety status both you and I are concerned about. I put it to you, Bernard, that we cannot say to owners and to tenants, "Until now you've been in an illegal situation because of zoning," then pass the bill and, "You're in an illegal situation now because you're not registered," and expect that that's going to produce the effect you want. That's not going to do it.

Mr Grandmaître: We realize this is not going to do it. We realize this. When an illegal apartment is found by accident by a building inspector or a plumbing inspector, electrician or whatever, and this building inspector makes a report at city hall, then this person -- the landlord -- and the tenant are notified that they must appear before the committee of adjustment, and the committee of adjustment will give these people 60 days, 90 days, up to 12 months to upgrade that illegal apartment.

Why can't you do it instead of saying, "Well, tomorrow morning you're legal," even if it's unsafe? Why can't you do this?

Hon Ms Gigantes: The status is not one, after the passage of Bill 120, where existing apartments will be deemed legal. They are not legal until they are legal, but they are not deemed to continue in illegality until they get registered and go through another process.

Mr Grandmaître: How will they be identified?

The Vice-Chair: Mr Grandmaître, we should really go back to Mr Cordiano or to Mr Johnson.

Mr Grandmaître: Yes. That was a supplementary.

Mr Cordiano: Well, let's just follow up on that. What you're saying then is that, if we were to somehow allow for Bill 120 to make all units legal --

Hon Ms Gigantes: As far as zoning is concerned.

Mr Cordiano: -- as far as zoning is concerned, on the day of passage, on proclamation, if we were to require, following that, a registration and an inspection within a given period of time, you would find that acceptable?

Hon Ms Gigantes: No, because what you're doing is you're putting another process in place which assumes that unless people go through this process, then the situation continues to be illegal. We have got to get rid of the blanket illegality of the situation in which the apartments are operated. Once we get rid of the blanket illegality, then we can begin a realistic focus on how we get work done in those units which are not safe. And there's lots of work to be done, as you know and as I know.

Mr Cordiano: But you, by saying that, have said to me that your priority is to make these units legal as regards zoning, and that supersedes any questions around safety and has a far greater priority than the question of safety.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I think it's a necessary first step and I think that if you substitute for the existing zoning problem which creates a situation a priori of the illegal nature of those apartments -- if you substitute for that situation a situation in which you say that unless you're registered within such-and-so a time, having met these qualifications, we're back to square one and we haven't advanced.

Mr Cordiano: I don't understand how that could be the case, because once you pass this bill, these units have now been made legal with respect to zoning. That will not change.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, and you're going to make them illegal because of --

Mr Cordiano: With respect to safety, which they will be. Because once someone under your scheme, you would admit --

Hon Ms Gigantes: Not a priori. The thing that would make them illegal is your insisting that they be registered. That says about every unit which now exists, without any other condition, we assume them to be illegal unless they're registered. They may be safe. They are assumed to be unsafe until this process is complete. You know and I know that that process can be wide, can be narrow, can be prioritized. It can be one in which the situation continues to exist where apartments continue to be deemed illegal for a long period of time if we take the approach you're suggesting.

Mr Cordiano: No. What I'm suggesting is consistent, entirely consistent, with what's required of someone building a new unit. You must get an inspection. You must. It is the law.

Hon Ms Gigantes: That's right.

Mr Cordiano: I'm suggesting that we be consistent with existing units, because these units have not been inspected. Therefore, I don't see how you could argue that we should have different treatment for units that have existed in an illegal state as regards zoning and in a state as regards safety which we're not aware of.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Let me explain it to you, if I may. Once Bill 120 is passed there is an obligation on each person who creates a new apartment in a house to follow a certain process, to apply for a building permit. That building permit will not be refused on zoning grounds; the owner will not be refused on a priori grounds. The owner will only be asked to make sure it is a safe unit, that it meets the standards of the province of Ontario, but the owner will no longer be in a position where the owner is refused a priori.


With the existing units, what we are recognizing is the fact that the method that has been used to attempt to control the existence of apartments in houses for decades has failed and people have developed an underground economy in apartments in houses. There has been a demand, there has been a supply and there have been apartments established in houses.

Bill 120 will say they are no longer illegal because of zoning. It will not comment one way or other about their status in terms of their safety. It will provide a market situation in which it is to the benefit of tenants to find out. It has not been to the benefit of tenants to find out.

Mr Cordiano: How do they find out?

Hon Ms Gigantes: I've identified the process to you. The tenant might call your office, call a councillor's office, ask his priest --

Mr Cordiano: What are they going to ask when they call?

Hon Ms Gigantes: They will say, "How do I make sure my unit's safe?" Somebody will finally give them the advice --

Mr Cordiano: I'll tell them, "Get it inspected."

Hon Ms Gigantes: -- if it's fire that is their concern, which I would suspect probably will be their concern in most cases, probably not that they're bumping their head because the ceiling's too low but that they're concerned about fire safety, they will end up -- and I hope we will be able to provide some pretty direct information to them too -- at the fire department where they will ask, "Has this unit been inspected?" The answer may be no. It may be yes if it's a new tenant.

Mr Cordiano: Chances are it will be no.

Hon Ms Gigantes: That's possible, in which case the tenant can say: "I have concerns. I would like an inspection. When you come to the door I will be here; I will open the door."

Mr Cordiano: Right, and that will take how many years?

Hon Ms Gigantes: I don't think that will take many years at all, compared to --

Mr Cordiano: We come back to the same problem.

Hon Ms Gigantes: -- compared to a registration system which would require all units, all at the same time, to go through a process before they could be stamped, in your procedure, as legal.

Mr Cordiano: That's where we differ. I do not want to take that chance, that on a mere whim, because a tenant needs to pursue the question of whether his unit is safe, needs to phone the fire department and needs to get an inspection. The fire department, as we've heard repeatedly -- I'll use the example of Mississauga, and I may be wrong in this, but not too far off. It would require 84 person-years to inspect all the units in Mississauga. Quite a number, correct?

All the units are illegal now, remember, and all the units have not been inspected in Mississauga because they are illegal, so I don't know how any of those units could be inspected. That would mean we would come to the same conclusion: that 84 person-years would be required to inspect all those units.

The difference is that under the system we've proposed in our party we would allow for cost recoveries, because a fee would be attached to that inspection. It's a mandatory requirement that you pay the fee and that you register the unit. Under your system, you would depend on knowledgability through an educational program you're going to put forward; you would depend on tenants coming forward and insisting that they have an inspection. The fire department in Mississauga would say, "We don't have the manpower to do these inspections. It's not that we refuse to do them, but we'll put you down on the list and we'll get to it when we get to it." That could take years. Are you prepared to live with that? I have to come back and say that's a real concern.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Can I ask you, have you ever been in the position where you were a tenant and called the fire department because you were concerned about safety? I have. And if I felt that when I called the fire department my landlord was going to get a bill, I'd hesitate. I would hesitate.

Mr Grandmaître: Why?

Hon Ms Gigantes: The situation was one where I was afraid there was backup of gas from the furnace. The fire department came and established that there was none. As a matter of fact, the fire official -- this goes back a long way -- was smoking a cigar when he told me there was none, having inspected our unit. Two ladies in the downstairs apartment passed out the next day, so there was a problem. But I would have hesitated to call the fire department had I felt it was going to immediately put a charge on the landlord.

There are certain kinds of services that are so important that to put a fee on them at the point of delivery inhibits people's use of something which is a health and safety matter, and I would personally be concerned about that.

Mr Cordiano: But you're doing that, in effect. First of all, it was suggested that building permits would be a guide as to whether this unit had been inspected. Building permits will not work.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Building permits work for new units. I've only suggested that for --

Mr Cordiano: We're talking about existing units. That's the biggest concern I have.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Okay, as long as we're clear on what we're talking about.

Mr Cordiano: We're not talking about new units. That is an entirely different matter. I don't have anywhere near the concern about new units because I agree with you: They will take out building permits for new units. I don't see it as a big problem.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Well, they must, or the units will be illegal.

Mr Cordiano: That's right, and under the legislation they would have every incentive to take out a building permit and to do it. The problem is where we lie. To suggest that calling a building department to determine -- that's just not going to happen, because building permits have not been issued for those units. In Mississauga, all of them are illegal.

Hon Ms Gigantes: No, no. There are some tenants who might call the building department, but as with people who call your constituency office or mine, they will be looking for a reference if they don't get an immediate answer there. I would expect a building department, to whom we will be providing information about how to assist tenants in this situation, to do the referral.

I should add that Mr Douglas just did a quick calculation on the 84 person-years that was the estimate provided by Chief Hare for inspections of units in Mississauga. Perhaps you'd like to speak to it, James.

Mr Douglas: I just assumed an average of $65,000 a year, which is what we did in our original estimates. We came up with the figure of $5.46 million for inspecting the units in Mississauga. Of course, we're not exactly sure of the base number of units that was used to develop that 84 person-years of employment.

Mr Cordiano: I'm sorry, the $64,000 was what, salary?

Mr Douglas: The $65,000 was estimated to be salary plus benefits for one staff person.

Hon Ms Gigantes: And multiplied by 84 person-years, it comes out to about five and half million dollars.

Mr Cordiano: What you're suggesting to me is that that will never be a problem in your system because the bulk of the units will not have to be inspected.

Hon Ms Gigantes: But under your proposal, they would all have to be inspected at once, and that means the investment would all have to be made at once.

Mr Cordiano: Of course they have to be --

Hon Ms Gigantes: Under the proposal that would flow out of Bill 120 and the process that I see coming out of Bill 120, the tenants who are most concerned are most likely to call up first, and there will be a sense of priority around this.

Also, I don't expect it will always be tenants. There will be many property owners who will say hallelujah. In fact, I've met them. They say, "When is it going to pass?" They're very anxious to have Bill 120 passed. There will be many property owners who will, given the situation that will exist under Bill 120, take the initiative themselves.


Mr Cordiano: But don't you see you leave all these other units at risk? All these other units for which, for whatever reason, either the landlord or the tenant do not come forward, you leave them at risk. That's what you're telling me, and I'm not prepared to do that.

Hon Ms Gigantes: We all understand that whatever piece of legislation we pass that addresses a situation in which over 100,000 apartments in houses exist in Ontario that are currently illegal because of zoning, the proclamation of any piece of legislation here is not going to tomorrow ensure that each and every unit in the province is up to standard. We know that. You know that.

Mr Cordiano: The question is which one will accomplish it.

Hon Ms Gigantes: There is nothing in your proposal that ensures that. In fact, I firmly believe, I deeply, firmly, at the bottom of my heart believe that the registration system will create an impediment to your goal.

Mr Grandmaître: Madam Minister, can I ask you a question? How many units are illegal because of zoning?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Over 100,000. Our estimate is 110,000 at least.

Mr Grandmaître: How many illegal apartments exist because they are not under the health and safety standards in the province?

Hon Ms Gigantes: I don't know.

Mr Grandmaître: You don't know? I think we should find out. If it's a zoning problem, let's be honest.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Well, you can do a house-to-house search to find out, but otherwise you're not going to find out. You have to be real about this, Bernard.

Mr Grandmaître: I'm trying to.

Hon Ms Gigantes: You know and I know that every time we go door to door in our areas we see apartments that we think are unsafe. If we call now, what it means is automatic closedown of those apartments because they are zoned illegal. Once this bill is passed and you do your door-knocking and you see a situation where you think there's a problem, then you will feel absolute freedom to say to the tenant: "Let me give you the number. Call the fire department."

Mr Grandmaître: I tell them, "I know the Minister of Housing and here's her phone number," and the constituency office will ask, "In what riding? Ottawa East? Call your MPP." That's the kind of referral your office is giving me right now. "Call your MPP."

Hon Ms Gigantes: I beg your pardon.

Mr Grandmaître: I'm not kidding. This is the kind of referral I'm getting from your office. I'm serious, dead serious.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Could you explain what you mean?

Mr Grandmaître: For instance, last week, last Tuesday if I'm not mistaken, a tenant phoned my office and my constituency person wasn't too familiar with the LTA so she referred them to your office. We were told, "Where do you live? In Ottawa East? Phone your MPP."

Hon Ms Gigantes: Why would your assistant refer someone to another constituency office? Isn't the place to refer somebody to the Ministry of Housing?

Mr Grandmaître: Being the minister, Madam Minister, we went to the expert. We went to your office, and we were turned down.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Do you know that there are Ministry of Housing offices and rent control offices in the city of Ottawa?

Mr Grandmaître: Yes, but that's not the answer we were given. "Phone your MPP."

Hon Ms Gigantes: Why would your assistant refer somebody to another constituency office instead of where the person might get an official answer?

Mr Grandmaître: Listen, we could argue on this one.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Well, I'm glad we cleared up what happened.

Mr Grandmaître: Even your constituents from Ottawa Centre phone me, and I have to say, "Look, we'll try and help you, but you should get in touch with your MPP."

Hon Ms Gigantes: The situation is that people who live in your constituency pay taxes, and through those taxes there are services available at the province of Ontario rent control offices, the province of Ontario Ministry of Housing office.

Mr Grandmaître: Everything is being transferred out of Ottawa, as you know, so the office is closed as of December 31.

Hon Ms Gigantes: As you know, that is not accurate.

The Chair: Mr Cordiano actually has the floor.

Mr Cordiano: If I may, getting back to this question of inspections, I think it's fair to say, Minister, that at the end of the day the fire departments and the municipalities will have to fend for themselves, should, in theory, every single unit that is unsafe come forward and require an inspection. There's no way for those municipalities or those fire departments to recover the costs that will be associated with doing those inspections. My view is that they'll simply have long waiting lists for inspections. If the education campaign is effective, if people are encouraged to get a fire inspection to ensure that their unit is safe, there will be a tremendous amount of pressure on those fire departments. What are we doing to alleviate that pressure? Don't you think we should --

Hon Ms Gigantes: Can I use an analogy? Under the Rent Control Act, it is very important to the level of a tenant's rent and to increases in a tenant's rent whether the building is properly maintained and, further, whether there is a work order by the property inspection branch.

There are municipalities, Mr Cordiano, including the city of Toronto, the city of Kingston and, as far as I know, the city of Ottawa, where the standards of municipal property inspection are good, and the effectiveness of those inspection services has been increased because of the operation of the Rent Control Act, which provides that a landlord may not raise the rent, even by guideline, when there is a work order against a building.

The municipalities which have made the investment in good property inspection systems find that the Rent Control Act supports their public purpose, which is to ensure that there is safety and that there is maintenance and that the standards of the building code are being met in buildings within that municipality.

The same will be true of certain municipalities as opposed to other municipalities, unless municipalities come to understand the benefits that can flow to them from a good inspection system for apartments in houses, among other things.

The building permit process will gain some money for municipalities. We all agree that the likelihood is that where owners wish to install new apartments in the future, they are quite likely now to go and get a building permit. That will generate some funds.

The inspection process is one which will identify to officials within that municipality the fact that there can be an assessment increase, that there are extra revenues that can be generated with an assessment increase on this revenue-generating property. There is a mechanism there which, used by the municipalities, is obviously going to be of benefit to them. It will improve the buildings within the municipality. It will approve the assessment within the municipality. It will improve the life, the health and safety of people who live within the municipality. I don't often use the phrase, but it's win-win.


I think municipalities can come to understand this. We certainly will make every attempt to help them understand it, to support them in understanding this and in building up the capability of dealing with what will be, I believe, a backlog. I do believe that. But your registration system wouldn't remove the backlog. What you're saying is you want to attach a fee to the inspection. I suggest to you that that creates a barrier to an inspection.

I think that we are going to have property owners and tenants come forward, ask for inspections. We are going to have municipal officials who are going to understand the benefits that can come from the increased assessment and that can flow into stronger property standards enforcement, and that will be welcomed by the people who live in that municipality.

So I think that this is a positive approach. I think it builds on what we know about people's desire to conform to the law and the benefits that they can see in that from a personal point of view, to say nothing of their conscience, and I think it will also be a system in which municipal officials, elected municipal officials in particular, will see the benefits for developing resources that will deal with what will be an increased demand for inspection services. There will be an increased demand.

Mr Cordiano: In other words, municipalities are on their own and fire departments are on their own. They very much would like to be on their own, but along with responsibility, they would like to have the power to recover their costs. In this instance, as I've said, it is unusual, because we're not talking about a situation that is new, a situation where you can recover revenues. You've suggested that building permits for new units will be few and far between. This we've heard repeatedly, that there isn't expected to be a great rush to create additional units.

Hon Ms Gigantes: No, I don't think there will be.

Mr Cordiano: So that we agree on; there is not going to be a huge revenue source from those new units. As a result, the property standards inspection departments that you've alluded to have been beefed up, but by the same token, they're doing a lot of necessary work, given the new Rent Control Act.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Some municipalities have good property inspection -- we know that from rent control -- and some don't. You know that because you're familiar with many municipalities.

Mr Cordiano: Absolutely, and all I'm suggesting to you is that those that do very much use their inspectors are overburdened as we speak because they're required to do inspections in an ongoing fashion.

Hon Ms Gigantes: No. It's the other way around, actually. It's the municipalities where municipal elected officials don't give high priority to the importance of property standards and to the health and safety of residents where you find the huge backlogs, because the two inspectors in the large municipality have a backlog of 500 units to look at.

Mr Cordiano: No doubt, but what I'm suggesting to you is that there are, all things considered, problems and pressures on these inspectors, by and large because the Rent Control Act has made it necessary, given the new set of standards, to do those inspections as well. I would suggest to you that the new Rent Control Act -- and not to go off on another tangent here too far -- has created a situation in which landlords are walking away from their responsibilities. I see this in my riding; I see this throughout Metro Toronto, where there are buildings that are literally falling apart.

Mr Gordon Mills (Durham East): They're greedy.

Mr Cordiano: It's not a question of greedy. It's a question of recognizing that landlords as well need to recover some of those costs to do the maintenance that's necessary, and I think the Rent Control Act that's in place now does not recognize that. We could be here arguing -- that's for another day.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, let's not.

Mr Cordiano: That's for another day. We will have that debate perhaps in the next election.

To get back to our main point here, I think it's fair to say that the minister is suggesting that the municipalities find the resources, not to mention the impact of the social contract on these municipalities, not to mention the cutbacks that are anticipated.

This year you're going to freeze transfers to municipalities so they will not have additional moneys flowing to them from the province -- or from anywhere else, for that matter. Most of them are under pressure to keep taxes in check and some have even suggested that they're going to have tax decreases. So where oh where are they going to get the additional moneys to pay for these additional inspectors that will be necessary? And the fire departments -- the pressure that will continue to be borne by the fire departments is going to be enormous. We've heard from them and we've heard them complain about the cutbacks, the impact of the social contract on their budgets.

There are many, many reasons why these inspections will not be carried out in a timely fashion, reasons why we should have a cost-recovery system in place to do these. Once you've done it, it's done and over with and you move on from there. There will be a backlog and there will be a period of time. The question is, how long will the time be under your system between when all of the units that have to be inspected -- we don't know what that number is, but they have to be inspected to be made safe. How long will it take for that to happen?

Hon Ms Gigantes: It will take different lengths of time in different municipalities. Some municipalities currently don't have adequate property standards inspection resources. I don't know if the fire departments within those municipalities are better staffed in terms of fire code inspections, but I would suspect it will vary from municipality to municipality.

What I can say and feel confident about is that a municipality which engages in supporting that inspection process associated with Bill 120 will be generating increased assessment for itself. The payback may not be when the inspector arrives at the door, but the payback can be as soon as the assessment is changed.

Mr Cordiano: What you've suggested to me now, and this is occurring to me as we speak, on this question of additional assessment, I think some time ago we asked if there would be changes made to the Assessment Act which would allow I suppose for reassessments to take place and visits for that purpose. That would then necessitate a change in the assessment.

I would imagine in order to do that you need an inspection or you need someone from the assessment office to visit that unit. If that happens, what happens under that circumstance where a municipality needs to gain -- well, it's not the municipality, it's the provincial assessment office that's going to make that assessment. They're going to have to visit that unit to get that assessment made. They can't do it by driving by.

Hon Ms Gigantes: You can look at documents at city hall. Depending on who gave an order for construction, that would be recorded at the city.

Mr Cordiano: So now I'm a landlord sitting there thinking: "To this point, I've operated this unit and I've not had to pay additional assessment dollars in taxation. I've not had to spend additional dollars on upgrading my unit to make it conform to property maintenance standards and safety code, fire code and building code requirements. Now I'm faced with the prospect of increased taxation because of an increase in assessment and I'm faced with the prospect of having to take out a building permit to make my unit conform to the maintenance standards and the property standards."

Hon Ms Gigantes: That's right.

Mr Cordiano: The estimates we've had are that this could cost anywhere between $5,000 and $7,000 on average for every unit that's not safe.


Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, it might.

Mr Cordiano: I look at that and I say, "What incentive is there for a landlord who is now going to have to pay additional tax dollars?" I mean, you've suggested to me that a fee is a great disincentive for anyone to go forward and to get registered. That would prevent them from doing this. I'm hearing from you that a municipality's incentive is to go out and to make reassessments happen through the provincial office --

Mr Grandmaître: Five years behind.

Mr Cordiano: I needed your support on this, because that's an expertise that I don't have. But there's a backlog there, so the municipalities now will have to wait for that backlog, which is five years behind, and once the 100,000 units are added to that roll, there's going to be another five years before they ever recover any costs. I'm sorry, I don't buy this argument about the municipalities having any incentive to do these inspections. It just doesn't wash.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Jeff Levitt might make some comments which would increase our enlightenment on the subject of assessments and how this links up with Bill 120.

Mr Levitt: I'm not clear exactly what the question was or what information is being looked for.

Mr Cordiano: I just made some comments; I'm not asking any questions.

Hon Ms Gigantes: The process of a municipality achieving an increase in assessment.

Mr Levitt: I'm sorry; I'm not that familiar enough at present to --

Mr Douglas: Maybe I could talk about the general process and Jeff can address some of the legal issues.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Sure.

Mr Douglas: Assessments are generally triggered by building permit applications where the work involved is $5,000 or more, at the determination of the building official. As well, there can be general municipal reassessments of entire neighbourhoods or of entire classes of houses. These assessments can identify units which have been constructed without a building permit. Ironically, in Scarborough, where virtually all second units are illegal, the assessors actually have about 14% of them on the assessment rolls, because people have been in and they have been determined to be two-unit properties for assessment purposes.

Mr Grandmaître: And are being refused access.

Mr Douglas: Assessment officials do have significant powers of entry, and maybe Jeff can discuss --

Mr Grandmaître: Well, I've got news for you.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Jeff, do you have anything to add to that?

Mr Levitt: I don't really have that much to add, other than that I gather that if the assessment people have the additional units on their rolls they must have had some means of finding out about them through the exercise of what their powers of entry are in connection with the statute.

Mr Cordiano: Let's examine that for a moment, if we may, in terms of the additional powers that the assessment officers have. What additional powers over and above, say, the powers that are necessary under Bill 120, which I would -- from that I understand that they are over and above what would be the entitlement of the fire chiefs or the fire department or the building inspectors. Are they additional powers to what building inspectors have? Because under Bill 120, you're required to get a search warrant, as you know. Is that what you're suggesting?

Mr Levitt: The powers of the building inspectors, first of all, would come from the Building Code Act. Under the Planning Act, it's property standards and zoning inspectors, and of course the fire inspectors get their powers from the Fire Marshals Act.

I don't have a copy of the Assessment Act here. I could undertake --

Mr Cordiano: Which act is the stronger? That's what we're trying to get at.

Mr Levitt: One of the strongest is the wording of the Fire Marshals Act, which allows, as was discussed, a warrantless right of entry by the fire marshals' inspectors at reasonable times to all premises.

Mr Cordiano: So you don't have an answer to those additional powers?

Mr Levitt: If required, I could get the Assessment Act and provide that information.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Mr Chair, I'm concerned that because Mr Cordiano keeps saying "additional powers," people may read that, if they bother to read Hansard, as suggesting that there are powers that are stronger or somebody is claiming stronger powers for the assessors under the Assessment Act than for fire inspectors under the Fire Marshals Act, for example. I hope instead that what you mean is additional in the sense of different; another form of inspection.

Mr Cordiano: It was suggested by your official -- and I apologize; I don't remember your name. We should have a name tag for you up there. We all have one. I keep forgetting names these days. Must be because of the kids -- lack of sleep at night and all that stuff.

You suggested that these assessment officials were gaining access to a great number of illegal units in Scarborough and that they were aware -- in fact, 14% of the units were on the assessment rolls. How did they gain access to illegal units?


Mr Cordiano: Unsolved Mysteries. Isn't that a television program? I never watch that.

Mr Douglas: Presumably they knocked on the door and were let in. I believe there is some power to charge a property owner or an occupant with obstruction if they refuse to let an assessor into a unit, but Jeff's information, which will be upcoming, on the powers of entry of assessors will clarify that.

Mr Cordiano: That might enlighten us as to the emphasis that's placed in Bill 120 on building inspectors and their rights of entry or powers of entry and the fire department.

Hon Ms Gigantes: It certainly does suggest that in Scarborough, if municipal officials wish to begin inspecting illegal-because-of-zoning apartments in houses once the passage of Bill 120 is assured then they will have a list that they can begin with. Now, that may not be true in every other municipality.

Mr Cordiano: What they should do is call the assessment office --

Hon Ms Gigantes: We can call it the Scarborough mystery.

Mr Cordiano: -- gain entry that way and then do an inspection. They get in the door. This is what I'm hearing.

Mr Douglas: Fire officials also have the authority to charge somebody with obstruction if they refuse to give entry under the Fire Marshals Act.

Mr Cordiano: Currently, yes.

Mr Douglas: And that is not affected by Bill 120.

Mr Cordiano: What I'm suggesting is, why then, in Bill 120, do we not just use a similar provision to what rights of entry assessment officers have and make it easy for building inspectors and the fire department to get in the building --

Hon Ms Gigantes: Perhaps we should ask you to get in touch with Scarborough and ask how it is that the system works that way in Scarborough. It may be unique.

Mr Cordiano: Well, no, these are provincial assessment officers.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes.

Mr Cordiano: So we can't call Scarborough.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Well, you might find out information.

Mr Cordiano: We can call your ministry --

Hon Ms Gigantes: I don't think you should assume --

Mr Cordiano: -- or the Ministry of Revenue.

Hon Ms Gigantes: -- that Scarborough couldn't explain this.

The Chair: Could we try to have this conversation one at a time?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Sorry, Mr Chair.

Mr Cordiano: I'm sorry. You see, I find that very interesting, that assessment officers have such enormous powers to enter these premises and in Bill 120 we're making it virtually --

Mr Mills: The revenue office has got the forms --

Mr Cordiano: Well, you require a search warrant to enter. I don't think that assessment officers would require a search warrant. Obviously, the evidence suggests otherwise.

Mr Douglas: Maybe I should go over the respective powers of entry of the various officials again, and perhaps Jeff can assist me if I am not totally comprehensive. Under the Building Code Act, building officials can enter properties in emergency situations without a warrant, and the same applies under the Fire Marshals Act. If it is not an emergency situation under the Fire Marshals Act somebody can request an inspection, and if they refuse to let the person in or are unwilling to make alternative arrangements, that person can be charged with obstruction. So the powers of inspectors under the Fire Marshals Act are fairly significant as well.

Under Bill 120, there is provision for inspection powers for zoning and property standards officers. Those powers are less than under the Fire Marshals Act in that if consent is refused, it is necessary to obtain a search warrant and there is no provision for charging somebody with obstruction simply because they refuse entry when somebody does not have a warrant.


Mr Grandmaître: Can I follow up on this, a supplementary on the building inspectors, why they don't need a warrant? They do need a warrant. Let's take a basement apartment, construction that can't be identified from the outside. If there's a garage or an addition to the house, the building inspector does a windshield assessment --


Mr Grandmaître: They're called windshield assessments; you know what I'm talking about, Gord. He stops and looks and says: "This guy is putting up a garage and he doesn't have building permit."

Mr Cordiano: The permit has to be displayed too.

Mr Grandmaître: With basement apartments, assessors just look through the basement window and say, "Oh, they've got a sink." That's what they do; I'm not kidding. They're called windshield assessments.

They send out the assessment report and the landlord says, "How come this guy knows so much about my property and he's never visited?" Here's the door opener. Then the assessor goes in. But if the landlord doesn't complain, he'll never get his house assessed -- never.

Mr Mills: It's fair to say that when houses change hands, there's a process that goes on about reassessment.

Mr Grandmaître: Only when it changes hands. It could take 25 years.

Mr Mills: A lot of houses change hands and a lot of these illegal apartments come to light. That's another process that we perhaps have overlooked. There are all kinds of mechanisms out there that are happening. Many people have come unstuck with illegal apartments through selling it. The new buyer says, "We'll go and check this out."

Mr Grandmaître: But it could happen only in a span of 20 or 25 years.

Mr Mills: I don't have to tell you that the old adage, when people lived in a house for centuries, is not now the case. There's a rapid turnover.

Mr Grandmaître: I'm sorry if I interrupted you. Carry on with the definition.

Mr Levitt: Concerning the Assessment Act, we're attempting to get a copy of that act for comparative purposes. But as indicated this morning, the power of entry, as phrased in the Fire Marshals Act, is extremely broad and it's hard to imagine how it could be much more broadly phrased in the Assessment Act. But we're attempting to confirm that by getting a copy of the Assessment Act.

Hon Ms Gigantes: From what we hear from Mr Grandmaître, the entry may not be the key factor. It's Vanier and Scarborough where these mysteries happen.

Mr Grandmaître: And Mississauga.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Mississauga too?

Mr Grandmaître: Mississauga was the example in 1988. The Ministry of Revenue did a survey.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, and what did they find?

Mr Grandmaître: Well, you've got all the answers through Bill 120. You brought up the assessment problem. Why are you saying there's no problem with assessment?

Hon Ms Gigantes: I thought you were going to reveal another mystery to us, as in Scarborough.

Mr Grandmaître: They're not mysteries. Mr Mills is very much aware of what I'm talking about, very much aware.

Hon Ms Gigantes: He insists on tantalizing us, Mr Chair.

The Chair: There's no rule against that.

Mr Cordiano: Let me ask this, if I can get back to this question of assessment. Do you have estimates of what the potential increase in assessment dollars might be, if and when all these units -- and I imagine the minister contemplates that all these units will be added to the assessment rolls. What additional dollars would accrue in total? I'm not interested in each municipality.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I guess we could take Mr Grandmaître's study from 1988, update it by assessment inflation, and multiply by 110,000 units.

Mr Grandmaître: The 1988 survey that was done in the city of Mississauga didn't talk about dollars and cents. No relation: They were talking to the number of units, not dollars and cents.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Mr Douglas has some information which may be helpful.

Mr Douglas: We've talked to a variety of assessment officials, and the figures we have come up with vary from pretty well no increase to an increase of about $500 for the second unit. The actual increase will vary upon local market conditions. The significance of the second unit in terms of selling price is the revenue potential of that unit, and that of course will vary from place to place.

Mr Grandmaître: And that's about 10% of the value of the basement.

Mr Douglas: The ritziness of a neighbourhood is also important. Probably in Rosedale an additional $500 or $600 a month in income would be less significant to the purchase price than in a neighbourhood where the houses are of a more modest cost.

Mr Cordiano: What I'm getting at is the question of how much a municipality can recoup in terms of revenues -- essentially, that's what we're talking about -- over the years if there's a concerted effort with respect to assessment. The other argument by municipalities is that with additional population, there are additional pressures on services for new units that will go up. The units that are there are already factored into the service equation, and the municipality has every reason to try and go out and get these additional assessments.

The problem, as my good friend Mr Grandmaître has pointed out, is that there's a five-year backlog in terms of updating the assessment rolls. Therefore, every municipality is going to look at that and say, "We can recover our costs in about 10 years." That's the problem.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I can't comment on the updating of assessment rolls. We might be able to bring you further information on how that situation would be affected by Bill 120.

I should, however, draw to your attention the fact that neither I nor the ministry has ever accepted the notion that Bill 120 will require an increase in services by municipalities in the sense of hard services. We know neighbourhood services have been constructed for a higher level of occupation per unit than currently exists, and it's important for us, as members of the committee, to recognize that. That means we do not expect to see further requirements for such services as water or sewers beyond those which were established at a much higher average level of occupancy than exists in most neighbourhoods.

Mr Cordiano: I wasn't referring to that. My suggestion is that these units already exist, have existed for some time, so those additional services would have been factored in already. I would say that services are probably strained as a result of those additional people.

Hon Ms Gigantes: We reject that, for the reasons I've identified.

Mr Cordiano: You reject it, but with respect to additional services, there's really no way of determining that.

Interjection: There is.

Mr Cordiano: No, there isn't. I haven't seen a study that suggests that those kinds of services --

The Chair: Through the Chair.

Mr Cordiano: I'm not talking about water and sewer; I'm talking about recreational services, additional services that come in the form of social assistance agencies, schools. That kind of additional pressure is not factored into this equation. That is probably why, in some communities, there are additional pressures on the existing services. In fact, the additional assessment dollars may alleviate some of those pressures.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Just on that point, if I could, Mr Chair, because I think it's a very important one. I think the best comment that has been made on this issue, and precisely the way you have expressed your views on this issue, was made by Dan McIntyre, who works with the Federation of Ottawa-Carleton Tenants Associations. He said to this committee that Bill 120 does not generate people, does not increase people. What Bill 120 does is provide them with a place to live. It does not increase the number of people in a municipality. It provides them with an affordable place to live. It does not increase the number of children, it doesn't increase the birth rate, it doesn't increase need for schools. We can assume that the population of a city such as Toronto or Ottawa is not going to be significantly affected by Bill 120.


Mr Cordiano: That's on a whole other issue.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Then you cannot associate with Bill 120 or the measures under Bill 120 an increase in the demand for schools, for social services, for social assistance, for family services, for any of the services you've just identified, as being required in increased numbers or at increased levels because of apartments in houses.

Mr Cordiano: No, what I've suggested to you is that any additional units will do that, will cause additional pressures. I think you would agree with that.

Hon Ms Gigantes: No, I don't, for the reason I stated before: 80% of our existing housing was built more than 20 years ago and it was built on estimates of occupancy levels of a household. The number of people in the average household was higher than it is now.

Mr Cordiano: That's not the case in North York.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Within the city of Ottawa, for example, over the last few years we've seen an increase in the number of households and a drop in the population. There are fewer people per household right across this province. The size of families has gone down, the number of single-person households has increased, and everywhere you look our services are overbuilt for the number of people.

Mr Cordiano: Not everywhere.

Hon Ms Gigantes: There are exceptions, and under Bill 120, in areas where services have been inadequate -- and let me point out, they've been inadequate for many years and have nothing to do with apartments in houses. There are areas of Kingston which are a problem, there have been areas in North Toronto which are a problem, where in fact we have said no more development until services are adequate. Bill 120 respects those planning decisions.

Mr Cordiano: How?

Hon Ms Gigantes: There are areas in which Bill 120 does not provide as-of-right apartments in houses. One is in areas that are dependent on individual septic tanks. The second is in an area where, because of the lack of adequate services. there have been planning restrictions, and you know those areas here in the Toronto area better than I do. They exist in other municipalities. Bill 120 will not permit owners of properties to install, as of right, apartments in houses in areas where there are those planning controls because of service lacks.

Mr Cordiano: We're going to get into a whole other area, but that's precisely --

The Chair: We'll try to restrict our comments to the registration issue.

Mr Cordiano: What I was suggesting was that the services have been brought to a level where they've factored in the population base with respect to whether these units existed or not. An area, for example, providing recreational services will make an assessment of the population in that area. In North York, for example, where I live, the pressure for recreational services is enormous.

I will grant you that for those services are being provided, the number of accessory apartments, the population levels, have already been factored into those services. I'm not suggesting that's not the case, but if you get additional units in the same area -- and you will, to some extent -- the pressures increase.

It goes back to the question of assessment dollars. I simply suggest to you that if assessments do increase, and inevitably they will have to, because municipalities, as you've suggested, will have every incentive to do that --

Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, I expect so. I'm not attempting to discourage them at all.

Mr Cordiano: No. In fact, you're going to be encouraging them through what you've just said, so assessment dollars will increase, the assessments will increase, and that will be an additional cost to those landlords who operate these units. It goes back to the same point I made earlier.

Hon Ms Gigantes: If you look upon that as encouragement, my position has been consistent in every discussion I've had with every municipal official of every kind, elected or staff, ever since the precursor to this, Bill 90, was introduced. I just want to assure you of that.

Mr Cordiano: What I'm suggesting is that the additional assessment dollars are very necessary for those municipalities. If you look at a place like Metro Toronto, the population of Metro Toronto has declined somewhat in the last number of years. The infrastructure that exists could certainly hold more population than we have today in Metro. But that's infrastructure: water, sewer, roads etc. It doesn't speak to services that often are provided by municipalities. The additional assessment dollars are very crucial to those municipalities to provide services which at this moment in time, even as the population has declined, are being constrained because of falling revenues to municipalities. I'm sure they'll welcome these additional assessment dollars and will do everything in their power to ensure that these additional assessments are made. What I'm suggesting is that that will be a further disincentive to landlords to seek a building permit. I've said this before.

In the end, if we add up the revenue that's generated from assessments over the long term, those revenues will be essential to municipalities to provide for services which now go wanting as the population base increases in Metro, as inevitably it will, because probably any government, of whatever political stripe, will want to increase the population base of Metro. It's absolutely critical in the future, with that kind of infrastructure expenditure, that we do that. That's a policy of your government's party and it's a policy we would support and have supported in the past. As that happens, you're going to get additional services that are required.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Apartments in houses or no apartments in houses.

Mr Cordiano: You're going to get additional requirements for services, and in the long run --

Hon Ms Gigantes: Apartments in houses do not generate people. Let us agree on that. A child resident in the city of Toronto is a child resident in the city of Toronto. That child may need family services, may need education services, may need park services, but that child is going to need those services wherever the child is.

If you're suggesting that apartments in houses in the city of Toronto -- and you know the city of Toronto has had the most open approach to apartments in houses of any municipality. We have not seen the city of Toronto overwhelmed by a tide of immigrants out of York or out of other areas to come and live in the city of Toronto because there are apartments in houses.

Once we say there can be apartments in houses in York, in Mississauga, in Scarborough as in Toronto, then a person is a person is a person; a child is a child is a child. A social assistance recipient will need the same kinds of service whether in one municipality or another. There won't be an incentive to move one way or the other, and we're not generating new demands for services when we say property owners can place an apartment in a house. We don't increase the birthrate when we do that.


Mr Cordiano: No. What I'm getting at is that the inspection fee, which you seem to indicate is a total disincentive for anyone to register their unit under our approach for mandatory registration, is a small item. I would submit to you that -- and I think we've said enough about this and we're going to move on -- it is nowhere near as much of a disincentive as the additional assessment that will be made because municipalities will want to do these additional assessments.

As has been suggested, it seems to be the case that the powers of entry for those assessment officers are quite large and there would be very little obstruction to their entry.


Mr Grandmaître: I'm not --

Hon Ms Gigantes: Now you're trying to weasel out of it.

Mr Grandmaître: I'm not a lawyer.

Mr Cordiano: I suspect that at the end of the day there will be a great disincentive for people to come forward under Bill 120 as contemplated, because firstly they will have to upgrade their unit to make it safe. They will then face additional assessment, which will make it more costly.

Comparing that to the current way in which they operate, they don't have to do any of those things. They can continue to exist, and after Bill 120 is passed they're legally entitled to continue their existence -- and they're not legal according to zoning. Therefore, you could continue to operate in much the same way as you have in the past until someone comes forward.

Hon Ms Gigantes: You could. The risk is high.

Mr Cordiano: The risk is high for knowingly operating this unit in an illegal, unsafe fashion.

Hon Ms Gigantes: We are going to make every attempt to provide property owners with information about their responsibilities, should they choose to be or should they currently be landlords of apartments in houses. If there is not a willingness on the part of property owners to subscribe to the requirements that are associated with Bill 120, which are new fire code regulations, their defiance can be extremely costly.

Mr Cordiano: Let me ask the lawyers this question, whoever would like to answer it. The test that would be applied by the courts with the new regulations, you contemplate that it might be that a landlord would operate this unit knowingly in an unsafe fashion? Because there is nothing in Bill 120 which suggests that the unit obviously needs an inspection for this landlord to seek to have his unit made safe.

If I were landlord X -- I have a nice unit which I just built some time ago. I keep it properly maintained. I may even have a smoke detector. But I don't have all of the other requirements, another exit. Under the new code I'm required to have one but I don't know that.

What will the courts do in assessing that kind of matter that comes before it as to the landlords knowingly continuing to operate that unit in an unsafe fashion? Will the test be that in fact the landlord had no way of knowing that his unit was safe? That's another question.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Do we have a volunteer lawyer?

Mr Mills: Mr Chairman, if I may, is this sort of a one-man interchange for the whole of the time, or are other members allowed to make some comment that realistically makes common sense, along with some of the stuff that I've heard here today?

It seems to me that I've got into a very, I must say, boring situation where the dialogue is between two people. We all sit around here with our thumbs in our ears, and I notice the honourable member across there is having a job to keep awake. This isn't conducive, I don't think, to what this committee is all about, I really don't. We can go on like this for -- crumbs, till Christmas.

Mr David Johnson: On a point of personal privilege.

The Chair: On the same point, Mr Johnson.

Mr David Johnson: He didn't mention the member across there, but he looked in my direction. I'm just deep in thought with the excellent points that the member, Mr Cordiano, is raising. I would simply encourage the member to put his name on the list if he wishes to participate.

The Chair: I would tell members we are conducting the committee according to the way we've been doing the clause-by-clause from the very beginning, in that a member indicates to me he wishes to be on the list. When he has completed his questioning or making his points, we move to the next member on the list. At this point I have Mr Johnson and then Mr Mills. Mr Cordiano.

Mr Levitt: As I understand the question it's, what if a landlord shouldn't know that these requirements exist?

Mr Cordiano: I'm trying to put forward a hypothetical situation, obviously, that contemplates a court dealing with a matter that came before it whereby a landlord was taken to court. I'm just trying to assess what emphasis the court might place in prosecuting this landlord who, there was some suggestion, perhaps unknowingly was continuing to operate a unit that he thought was perfectly acceptable and unknowingly continued to operate it in this fashion.

Mr Levitt: I gather what you're suggesting is whether ignorance of the law would be an excuse.

Mr Cordiano: Well, it's not; in general, it's not.

Mr Levitt: The answer to that usually is no.

Mr Cordiano: Go beyond that.

The Chair: Would you let Mr Levitt answer.

Mr Levitt: In general, if someone pleads they didn't know about the existence of a law, that could go well beyond these types of things, pleads about speed limits and other types of regulations, that generally is not an adequate defence.

As a practical matter, it's my understanding that when someone is in violation of these codes, very often, if not virtually all the time, the first thing that happens is that an order to comply is given. Therefore, it's brought home very clearly to the person what their responsibilities are, and they're given a chance, within an appropriate time, to remedy it. So your question I think is somewhat hypothetical.

In summary, ignorance of the law probably wouldn't be a defence, and it may very well not come up if the fire officials point out what the deficiencies are, issue an order and give sufficient compliance time. Therefore, it's brought home very clearly to the person what they have to do and the time frame.

Mr Cordiano: That issuance of an order would be obtained, obviously, after an inspection was done?

Mr Levitt: Yes, but I imagine so would a prosecution. I assume your question is that somehow this person has gotten to court, so somehow it has come to the attention of the fire officials that there is a problem.

Mr Cordiano: I suppose, then, the real question comes back to, what if the fire department is unable to make the necessary inspections in an appropriate and timely fashion, given that there might be a backlog of some sort, and someone wanted to apply to the courts in advance of that inspection? That wouldn't be possible?

Mr Levitt: Apply to the court for what? The question isn't clear to me.

Mr Cordiano: For violations of the code.

Mr Levitt: You're saying that in a case of a fire department that can't inspect for a given amount of time, you're suggesting that same fire department would, in advance of the inspection, take the person to court. Is that what you're saying?

Mr Cordiano: No. I'm suggesting that a tenant might or someone; it most likely would be a tenant.

Mr Levitt: Should there be a prosecution in connection with a violation of the Fire Marshals Act, it's extremely rare that it would come from other than the enforcement agency.


Mr Cordiano: Okay. So the problem and the bottleneck might occur with the fire department, as I have suggested. In fact if they don't have the additional resources to do all the inspections, they may not be able to get to those inspections, and it's not inconceivable that the backlog might be in numbers in years before these inspections might take place. What responsibility is there at that point for the fire department that has been requested to do an inspection?

What I'm suggesting is that if a year goes by or a year and a half goes by and the inspection still hasn't been done, can a tenant then apply to a court because he or she believes -- let's assume that the educational program really works -- that this unit is really an unsafe place? I mean, he can move, but --

Mr Levitt: It's still not clear, what is the application to court for? To make the fire department have an inspection? It's not clear to me what the tenant would be applying to court for. I guess I don't understand the question.

Mr Cordiano: What recourse would a tenant have? He would have to wait until the fire department issues a work order or does an inspection by request of the tenant. The tenant would go out and request a fire inspection. The department would then put this person on a list. He might have to wait a year and a half, two years. So we're sitting around waiting. In the interim, tenants feel that they're living in an unsafe place. Could they apply to a court to have an inspection done quickly? This is what I'm asking you. Is that totally out of the question? How would a court feel about this? In that case, how would they treat the landlord, if it ever got to that stage?

Mr Levitt: It's kind of hard to answer that, because that type of situation just hasn't been a problem in terms of the municipal services not being able to respond within a reasonable enough time. I guess it doesn't happen often enough for it to go to court. But in general the municipality has a certain amount of discretion to weigh the various factors and make the inspection.

Mr Cordiano: I suppose it goes back to the point Mr Johnson made this morning about liability. I suppose it's all tied in to that. But at the end of the day, obviously, to do anything requires an inspection, and for any issuance of an order, you need an inspection. So really the central point is around inspections, and we haven't gotten any further in terms of facilitating those inspections basically, coming back to the point of revenue and cost recoveries in order to facilitate the timeliness of inspections. Anyway, I'll leave it at that and pass on the baton to Mr Johnson or whoever else is on the list next.

Mr David Johnson: One comment I wanted to make off the top is that the minister is fond of saying that these apartments are illegal because of zoning, and thereby the strong implication is that the municipalities are evil and this is the reason we have this whole thing. They're illegal because they violate the zoning bylaws. That's why they're illegal.

That would be a bit like saying speeding on Highway 401, for example -- if I were caught for speeding, I'd say, because the speed limit is 100 kilometres per hour, I'm justified in speeding, but those who made up the speed limit put it too low. I don't think that would really carry much weight with the courts and I don't think that's going to change anybody's thinking. But municipalities are very irritated when they hear that phrase, "It's illegal because of zoning." It's illegal because the situation violates the zoning bylaw.

I wanted to follow up a little bit on the assessment, because that's an interesting issue. I think the gentleman from the ministry indicated that from the people who had been talked to -- you said you talked to a number of different people in the assessment -- there was a range of zero to $500. Is that what you said?

Mr Douglas: That's correct.

Mr David Johnson: And that would be in terms of additional assessment?

Mr Douglas: That would be additional annual taxes.

Mr David Johnson: Oh, that's additional annual taxes. Okay. So can you give us some further description of why the range? "The ritzy neighbourhood" I think was the phrase you used, but can you describe this a little more deeply? Why zero, for example? What would happen in the case of zero dollars increase?

Mr Douglas: If you have a neighbourhood filled with very rich homes, the additional rental income from the second unit would be of negligible importance to the people who would be interested in living in that neighbourhood. Consequently, the second unit would not be much of a selling feature and would not really add to the purchase price. Taxes are based on assessed value, which is based directly or indirectly upon purchase prices. In a certain neighbourhood, having a basement which is fully finished with a recreation room and a Jacuzzi may be more of a selling feature than a second unit.

Mr David Johnson: So what you're saying is because a chunk of Ontario is on market value assessment, I think -- I'm looking for a head nodding; I don't see a head nodding -- the value of the home in some cases would be increased, therefore the market value would be up and therefore the assessments based on that, so the assessment would be higher. Is that what you're saying?

Mr Douglas: That's correct. If the second unit increases the purchase price of the house, this would lead indirectly to an increase in assessment and consequently to more property taxes.

Mr David Johnson: But you're using the term "purchase price," and really, aren't we talking about market value assessment? Take Mississauga, for example.

Mr Douglas: Property value is certainly not my area of expertise, so I'm just reflecting what we have been told by assessment officials, that depending on the market situation in a given community or municipality, the typical second unit will increase the property taxes between zero and $500.

Mr David Johnson: There's been some discussion that we're going to have a report on this matter. I haven't heard the minister comment on that yet, but I think it would be very useful because the municipalities apparently, according to your numbers, Madam Minister, may be required to find $65 million, I think is what you've said, in terms of a complete inspection of all units. The way that you're suggesting that this would be financed would be through this increased assessment. Is that what you're suggesting? You're not indicating that there'd be any money available to the municipalities to assist in doing these inspections.

I think from your comments you indicated that the way you would see them financed is basically because you would see the assessment increasing and with that extra revenue coming in from the assessment, that would be some sort of tradeoff against this $65 million that your forecast indicates would be the cost of inspecting all of the units. Am I correct in stating that?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes, you're roughly correct.

Mr David Johnson: It then would be very useful to have that report with regard to the kind of discussions being outlined to us here, just to address the fears of the municipalities that they're going to assume a considerable burden, a $65-million burden, because my guess is that they might need some persuasion that indeed that additional assessment would come in to balance off the $65 million. Are you prepared to have that report --

Hon Ms Gigantes: I think that we have to recognize that $65 million would not be an expenditure that would happen tomorrow, once the bill is passed, that there would need to be an increased effort in the property standards fire official inspection process, and that would be an ongoing process. We wouldn't expect it all to happen at the same moment in time. I don't think anybody would contemplate that. I doubt there are enough people trained in the province of Ontario to accomplish it overnight.

I would also like to just put a small caution. When you talk about a report, generally, on the assessment situation, perhaps Mr Douglas could indicate to us what kind of information he felt might be available. I don't know the nature of what he is referring to here, and I don't wish your words to be taken and my silence to be read as an undertaking that we're going to do some huge kind of abstract study on the subject. If we could just clarify what it is that we think is available in terms of information, that would probably be helpful.


Mr Douglas: Because many units are illegal and the assessment people have been less successful in many municipalities than the ones mentioned earlier in actually identifying the units, the information which is available is admittedly of an anecdotal nature. So while it may be possible to do a study, it would not be an easy task simply due to the lack of comprehensive data.

Mr David Johnson: I raise this issue, and it has been raised before, because during the course of this afternoon we have contacted both the North York assessment office and the Scarborough-East York assessment office. The information we get, not surprisingly, in the short period of time, is somewhat conflicting. On the one hand, one of the offices is saying that it's possible the assessment would be increased but it's not necessary. That I guess is in line with the fact that staff have indicated that in some cases the tax increase would be zero.

Hon Ms Gigantes: That's right.

Mr David Johnson: That leaves me at a loss to know how much the taxes actually would increase. In the case of Scarborough or in the case of North York or East York or anywhere, would they be more apt to be zero, would they be more apt to be $500, would they be more apt to be somewhere in between?

Notwithstanding the fact that the $65 million won't be required at any one given point in time, if all of these units are to be inspected over a period of time, and I think we would all hope that from a safety point of view they would be inspected or that somehow safety would be assured, then the $65 million is going to be required at some point in time over a period of years.

Hon Ms Gigantes: Mr Johnson, you would agree with me that it would be ideal if in the province of Ontario we inspected every residential unit and kept our inspection system very much up to date.

Mr David Johnson: My time for a response?

Hon Ms Gigantes: Yes.

Mr David Johnson: We were into this discussion this morning. For all structures that are in place, a vast majority of the structures would have been inspected in the initial stage through the building permit process in the province of Ontario. Very few structures, certainly today, would be put up without a building permit. There's the odd one where a person does that and I guess there're renovations inside, but in the initial instance, the structure would be inspected. However, the difficulty with the basement apartments is that within that overall house that has been inspected, very few of those basement apartments would have gone through that same rigour or that same scrutiny.

Hon Ms Gigantes: As you and I know, the vast majority of the residential units in the province of Ontario were built some time ago, and people have increased use of the electrical system, sometimes in very ad hoc and dangerous fashions across this province. People add all kinds of equipment. They add all kinds of fairly unsafe ways of providing electrical current to equipment. We know that exists and it would be of benefit, there's no doubt about it, to have each and every residential unit in the province of Ontario inspected.

As in other matters, one tries to achieve a reasonable kind of balance, one where the benefits of the increase in costs are going to be reasonably balanced with the benefits that can be generated by those costs.

I suggest to you that in a large number of the apartments which are now called illegal because of their zoning, there may well not be proportionately any more problem with health and safety than there is in a great variety of other residential units in the province of Ontario. I think it's not fair to assume that's true.

I think it is reasonable to propose the way in which we go about providing inspections in those units, where first of all tenants and property owners have questions, which they will not now be afraid to ask, about safety measures within those units, and to suggest to municipalities that to provide the resources to do those inspections is a benefit. It will be a benefit in terms of assessment overall, it will be a benefit in terms of the value of property within the municipality and it will be a benefit in terms of the health and safety of people within the municipality. That process can go forward in a practical, step-by-step kind of way and I think it is as good a process as we can contemplate generating by any other method.

Mr David Johnson: In terms of your assumption about accessory apartments -- we tend to talk about basement apartments more often, because unfortunately that seems to be where most of the tragedies seem to occur -- or basement apartments being no more nor less safe than the main unit or single-family houses that don't have an accessory apartment, you may be right. But there is one basic situation that would indicate that there is a concern that this assumption may be wrong.

Again I get back to the fact that homes in the first instance were inspected. When those homes were constructed, by and large they did not have basement apartments. The basement apartments were put in afterwards. You may say, "Homes have other renovations that are put in," and indeed that may be true, but here we're talking about a whole unit in a basement, what we seem to focus on, that has not been inspected, that has in all likelihood never been inspected. I would say that by itself is reason for concern that there may be a greater safety hazard, plus the fact that if we do focus on basement apartments being located in a basement and the problems associated with that in terms of access, in terms of the smoke problem in a basement, the problem of dissipating smoke and that sort of thing, it seems to raise it as a greater concern.

You've said that municipalities will recognize that in terms of health and safety there'll be benefits. I think you're right on that question and that's one I would support you on. I think that in terms of health and safety to the citizens of municipalities, if the inspections are done, there will indeed be a benefit in those terms. I don't question that. My concern in that regard is that I don't think nearly as many of those inspections will be done as I believe you think will be, but I don't know how many you think will be done so it's hard for me to compare. I'll come back to that question maybe in the future, but if the inspections aren't done then there won't be the benefit.

In terms of the other issue, in terms of the assessment which we started this discussion on, that municipalities will recognize the benefit in terms of assessment, they will if there are some solid statistics. That is what I'm asking in this report, if there's something they can base that decision on or that feeling on. If they can see something that says indeed their assessment will increase by so much, then perhaps they will agree with you, but if they don't see that, I think they'll be very suspicious.

There are many different situations across Ontario. Part of Ontario is on what we call market value assessment; here in Metropolitan Toronto, as I am sure you're aware, we do not have market value assessment.

Hon Ms Gigantes: I've heard that.

Mr David Johnson: Yes. Is that a signal for something else? I can't believe that the Assessment Act would pertain equally in both of those situations. I think the situation that has been described, in terms of the purchase price being increased, pertains to a market value situation, but that's not the circumstance here in Metropolitan Toronto where a large portion of the basement apartments we're talking about actually exist, so I'd like to see how it would work here in Metropolitan Toronto.

I can follow up and contact Carl Isenburg in North York, for example, and the East York-Scarborough assessment officer, but I think that information would be useful to all members of this committee.

I get the impression, for example, and I wonder if your staff knew that this was the case, that in some cases the basement apartment would be assessed as a second unit. Is that what you understand, that in other words in some cases the whole building would be assessed as a duplex? The upper would be assessed and the lower would be assessed as a second unit perhaps, in some cases.

Mr Douglas: I believe that in small residential properties, whether there is one unit, two units, perhaps three units, while the units might be assessed separately, the total assessment for the property would be the same. For example, two properties with more or less the same purchase price, one converted, one unconverted, would pay the same property taxes. It's only when you get to larger residential buildings that other considerations come into play.

Mr David Johnson: You see, there are a lot of --

The Chair: Perhaps at this point, Mr Johnson, we should adjourn for the day, it being 6 of the clock. The government House leader is about to adjourn the House.

Mr David Johnson: In that case, I'll follow your advice.

The Chair: We should do the same. We'll pick this up next Thursday morning at 10 am.

The committee adjourned at 1802.