Wednesday 9 February 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

Ecuhome general assembly

Forrest Sandberg, chairman

Murtaza Zavery, resident

Ontario Association of Residents' Councils

Mary Ellen Glover, executive director

Marie-Louise Lynch, retirement home resident

Gibson/Munro and Associates Ltd

Deirdre Gibson, partner and social housing consultant

Flemingdon Community Legal Services

Brook Physick, community legal worker

Affordable Housing Committee of York Region

Peter Formica, coordinator

Community Occupational Therapists and Associates

Nancy Sidle, unit manager

Etobicoke Housing Help Centre

Kasia Filaber, board member, Etobicoke North Community Information Centre

John Bagnall, coordinator

Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic

Avvy Go, clinic director

Scarborough Community Residents

Lorraine Katryan

Cecilia, Toni and Renu (last names withheld)


*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)

*Fletcher, Derek (Guelph ND)

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

*Johnson, David (Don Mills PC)

*Mammoliti, George (Yorkview 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:

Miclash, Frank (Kenora L) for Mr Sorbara

Mills, Gordon (Durham East/-Est ND) for Mr Morrow

Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre ND) for Mr Wessenger

Tilson, David (Dufferin-Peel PC) for Mr Arnott

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

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:

Irwin, Terry, senior policy adviser, Ministry of Housing

Marland, Margaret (Mississauga South/-Sud PC)

Clerk / Greffier: Carrozza, Franco

Staff / Personnel: Luski, Lorraine, research officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1005 in the Humber Room, Macdonald Block, Toronto.


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): Good morning. The business of the committee is to deal with public deputations in regard to Bill 120. Our first presentation this morning will come from the general assembly of Ecuhome. Good morning. The committee has allocated one half-hour for your presentation.

Mr Forrest Sandberg: My name is Forrest Sandberg. I'm chairman of the Ecuhome general assembly, which is basically a fledging residents' association. This is Murtaza Zavery, a resident.

Mr Sandberg: The feeling among the residents of Ecuhome is they're concerned about three things under this bill. They're concerned about being able to maintain dry houses. We have a large percentage of recovering addicts and alcoholics and we worry about being able to keep a dry house under the Landlord and Tenant Act.

The other thing we worry about is the definition of "violence." This is a safe house. We have 30% or 40% women. We have a lot of people in recovery. We have a lot of immigrants and minority members. The idea of the place is to make it safe. Our toleration of violence now is very low. The threat of violence, leaning over somebody or making threatening motions, is considered violence. We don't know if that would be considered violent under the Landlord and Tenant Act.

The other thing we'd like is fast-tracking, which is recommended in the report -- I forget the name -- that this bill came out of.

The residents aren't totally opposed to the Landlord and Tenant Act but they are worried about those, because from a resident's point of view, those three concerns -- I don't like to talk for other people. Unfortunately, the woman who was supposed to come here today didn't show up. But I can talk for one group, the recovering addicts. They spend a lot of money. I didn't go to treatment, but most of us head into treatment. What you need is, if you're an alcoholic or have any abuse problems -- I'll give a personal example.

In June, I've been clean and sober five years. We had somebody who came into the house who was actively using. We had another member there who had about six months. This person actively used. Today we don't get rid of them quickly. There's a long process. Finally the other resident left because he didn't pay rent. He wasn't evicted; he just ceased to pay rent because the money was going into the substance. When we lost him, we lost the other roommate, because the use around him just triggered him. If you want to quit drinking, for a while -- after a certain amount of time you can sit next to somebody who's guzzling it down and it's okay, but during that first little period when a lot of residents come into Ecuhomes, you want to be in a safe environment. It sounds foolish, but you want to, at least in your own home, be in a position where you can pretend it doesn't exist. You want to be able to walk through your door and pretend it doesn't exist.

So for the recovering addict, we would like very much to at least have it specified that we're allowed to have dry houses. Unless that's made specific under Bill 120, we're a little bit worried: How can you evict somebody for a totally legal act? Drinking is legal and that means they can come in and drink. All our houses aren't dry, but there's a high enough percentage of them that Ecuhome is known as a safe haven.

I have a letter here from Mark Jackiw. He is a recovering addict.

"Dear Mr Carrozza:

"As a concerned resident speaking on behalf of Ecuhome Corp, I would like to address a number of issues regarding the proposed enactment for Bill 120, to fall under the Landlord and Tenant Act.

"Realizing that this amendment may pass shortly, it has been brought to my attention that Ecuhome Corp and its residents will be affected immensely on disadvantaged grounds once this bill should come into effect. Foreseeing this possibility, I've been appointed to deputize on a residential standpoint an accostment" -- I haven't read this yet and I don't censor what I get -- "of disputes over Bill 120, which if passed, would greatly disrupt the present arrangement which Ecuhome Corp operates under, the Innkeepers Act.

"Ecuhome Corp, a housing organization established to meet the needs of individuals with various (problematic) backgrounds, has up until now, managed to operate such provisions without due constraints among its affiliates. Should Bill 120 pass and likewise interfere with the original plan Ecuhome Corp intended to administer several years ago, not only will our administrative body fall short of its goal, but many of our residents will be afflicted through this change in policy as well.

"Since many residents see Ecuhomes as a presently safe and reliable environment for accommodating a number of life circumstances, certain aspects prescribed under Bill 120 have led to an array of issues over which a majority of residents have expressed concern. These issues of concern range in priority and are based on the mutual understanding of which current Ecuhome residents presently abide to. The three most outstanding concerns stipulating over Bill 120 are issues of (1) sobriety: the need to maintain and provide `dry residences'; (2) violence and/or intimidation: the need for a safe environment with the inclusion of a rapid resident termination system and (3) adequate support system: the need for basic counselling services and staff intervention.

"Under present conditions, Ecuhome Corp currently manifests such requirements under the Innkeepers Act. Concurrently, the smooth acquiescence between these boards has proven itself through a solid track record to be a worthwhile cause towards alternative housing for needy residents. This arrangement has as well demonstrated its benevolence in many regards, right down to the residential level. Should it be altered to such an extent to conform to the Landlord and Tenant Act, our good intentions can only fall short of its intended purpose.

"Among other concerns, should Ecuhome Corp eventually fall under the Landlord and Tenant Act, requests have been set forth to at least amend Bill 120 to compensate for the necessary adjustments in which a lot of Ecuhome residents will eventually have to deal with. The main request here is the application of Dr Ernie Lightman's fast-tracking report which suggests a feasible alternative towards the prompt eviction of any resident whose behaviour does not conform to said guidelines.

"And lastly Mr Carrozza, I urge you once more to take in the considerations of many concerned residents of Ecuhome as well as their staff, the issues brought forth in this deputation. All we ask is for your understanding in which Ecuhome Corp may run freely and purposefully under its present affiliation, and to conduct its current affairs openly with reason to believe, that the Landlord and Tenant Act would be an unsuitable enactment towards our cause. With enough said, we'd like to thank you for your time and considerations -- we look forward in allowing our organization to run as it was originally intended to.

"Mark Jackiw, resident."

Those were his opinions.

I'd like to introduce Murtaza Zavery.

Mr Murtaza Zavery: I'm originally from Kenya. I'm a landed immigrant. Since I've come to this country, I've lived with Ecuhome. I'm going to give a very short presentation from the standpoint of a landed immigrant.

First of all, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for giving us this chance to speak out about our concerns on Bill 120 the way it stands.

What is Ecuhome? It is a non-profit organization partly funded by the Ministry of Housing. It comprises various aspects of society who probably have come to this kind of setting because of one reason or another, be it a drug addiction, financial or just nowhere to go. Ecuhome has provided us with this facility.

The main objective of Ecuhome is to provide us with a safe, affordable and clean environment. As an immigrant, Ecuhome has provided me this stepping stone to enter into Canadian society. It has not only provided me with an affordable, clean environment, but also a very safe one. As a landed immigrant, this is very important to me, because if I come to a country, I would like to be in a very safe environment, to have a very comfortable start.

My concern about Bill 120 is mostly from a standpoint of violence, especially coming from an environment where violence is not as bad as I've seen here. Ecuhome has so far provided me with a very safe environment, almost like, I would say, in a non-violent environment. What I'm afraid of is, what happens if Bill 120 passes and there's no consideration for violence? My recommendation to the committee is that I would rather see Ecuhome stay under the Innkeepers Act, because this way we can have some leverage as to how to deal with violence.

The fast-tracking idea is not bad, but for now I would rather have us stay in the Innkeepers Act. That would be my recommendation to the committee.

Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): Your presentation this morning has been heard by this committee a number of times. I'm not saying you're being repetitious, but we've heard the same concerns over and over again. We all agree with you that some amendments, some changes, are needed to make Bill 120 more accommodating to Ecuhome or any other similar groups as yours.

At the present time we agree with you that we don't have any definition of "violence." You mention the rapid termination process: How can you get rid of or evict people who are causing a disturbance? At the present time, what is your policy with disturbance?

Mr Sandberg: We're residents so our policy within a house is different. Within the house basically we have a lot of very vulnerable people. Most of us, not all -- I can't speak for the immigrants -- of the Canadian-born have come from very dysfunctional families. Very quickly, what you try to do is you get a house. I'm in a very multicultural house. We have one person who, if you yelled at him, would not come home for a week, just for the yelling. When you come into the house and you're the first new one in, you'll get explained that, in this case, stay away from X. In other words, be careful; he's very shy.

I know it sounds very much anti-government, but to a certain extent the houses control a lot of it just from pressure from within the house. If violence does occur or intimidation does occur now, what we'll do presently is that if everyone agrees, all other residents -- in our place it would be five against one -- that there's been violence, we'd probably vote. That constitutes a final warning. A contract is written up with the help of the staff in that case to put it on record. Then if it occurs again, we'd just have to stop and ask that a recommendation be done. Most of us, like I said, the North Americans, have come from dysfunctional families, and actually it's one of our first experiments of trying to form a functional family. I guess we're weird, because it's not a boarding house; it's more like a family where everybody goes their own way. You know, none of us have the same life, but we tend to watch TV together, we tend to know what's going on in each other's life.


Mr Grandmaître: How often do you have to call in the police because of disturbance?

Mr Sandberg: I've lived, I guess, close to two years at this Ecuhome, and when I first started recovery I spent six months at another Ecuhome. I'm from the west end. I'm from Parkdale. My home's in Parkdale. We've never had the police come for a disturbance. The only time the police ever came to our door was when I, on my bike, I got hit by a car and they took me home.

Mr Grandmaître: How would you like to see this new amendment you're asking for, a fast-track policy, work?

Mr Sandberg: That's above me, once you get into the legality, I'll be honest. What we'd like is something that would at least, within a month to a month and a half -- in other words, make a reasonable time. I'm an ex-addict. I've played the game. I went from being an accountant to living downtown and playing the whole addict bit. I've played the game of how long I can stay in a place. We just want to avoid that. Speaking as an ex-addict, and that's all I represent -- I'm sorry Heather didn't show up, because we're missing one large group -- we knew the rules, and addicts will manipulate the rules very well. The difficulty is we just want some way to shorten that so they can only manipulate for a while, because it could take up to six months to evict me when I was in my heavy usage.

I can't quote it now, but I could quote you about how long you have to file an appeal. So you file it on the last day so it will take longer. You can actually flip it over once. We just want to avoid that syndrome. We want at least the right, possibly, looking at the Lightman report, to move somebody out of a house; maybe not to evict them, but maybe to move them from one house to another.

Mr Grandmaître: Maybe you should become the advisor to the minister.

Mr Sandberg: I worked on her campaign once.

Mr David Johnson (Don Mills): I would like to thank you both for your deputations. I think there's a message here of real experience, a practical message, and I certainly hope everybody's listening to what you're conveying today.

I would take it that there are rules with regard to having alcohol or drugs. Are they prohibited?

Mr Sandberg: By the house rules they're prohibited to a certain extent. You're not prohibited from going out and getting drunk. You're prohibited from drugs; that's illegal. So I'll just talk about alcohol. We're in a dry house. It's funny; I'm the only one in recovery, but most of the other five represent five continents, and most of the other residents, although I'm the only one in recovery, prefer a dry environment. The thing we have is that you can go out and you can get falling-down drunk, but we ask that you don't stay in the common area. Our house rule is that if you come in drunk, you go right to your room.

Mr David Johnson: I just wondered, from your experience as a recovering addict, particularly perhaps during your first few months when you were recovering -- you say you've been clean now for five years -- what impact it would have on somebody who's just starting out in the recovery process if somebody in that common area, somebody living in there, was using drugs and if there was no way to get that person out.

Mr Sandberg: There are two ways that triggers. It triggers you very much. It's hard to explain, but again we'll use alcohol, because drugs fall under illegal acts. Very few terminations come over drugs, because nobody can prove it. You know, an addict can spot it, but how do you prove it? But most addicts also drink; that's why you want to have the right to have a dry house, if they start breaking the rules altogether. No, for that first little while, it's a trigger. It's hard to explain. Right now, I don't care; you could all be drinking and it doesn't bother me. Actually, for the first six months I didn't stay away from it. In other words, I'd be around people. But then it took me about two years to be able to go back into bars to listen to bands, because it takes a while to get rid of the hunger. It's hard to explain.

Mr David Johnson: So it's going to be very difficult for you if there are other people there. We've heard other deputations, and you've mentioned too, that drugs are illegal, but can the police handle that? I mean, you say you haven't had to call the police, but I'm just wondering -- we know drugs are illegal, but lots of people use drugs, and in a safe environment like Ecuhome, if people were using drugs and the police were called in, would that solve the problem? I don't think so.

Mr Sandberg: No. You see, violence is as much of a trigger. It's strange; I was an accountant, but before that I was in Vietnam and I was a combat soldier over there. When I went back to the streets, I found the violence fit right in. The quickest way for me to relapse is to be around violent behaviour and participate in it, even in a defensive posture, or around booze. What happens is that most addicts who use, use the attitude and bring in the violence. That's why we need a definition of violence that isn't as strong as you have to hit somebody. They'll bring in the intimidation factor from the street and they'll drink. Once they break one rule, they tend to get on -- addicts are a little bit self-destructive. We're great manipulators, but we also, in our active use, tend to be self-destructive. We tend to want to fail, so we tend to push.

I've never seen anyone kicked out. In my house, when I came into it, there were a lot of drugs. It's a Parkdale house. It got cleaned up. Not one person got evicted for drugs. Basically, they all left because of other things; they wouldn't pay rent or they'd start coming home stone drunk. That's why the dry rule is there.

Mr David Johnson: Again, you indicated the process that you go through for getting people out, and it's not simply a matter of a strict, quick eviction. There's a process, particularly the one you described. In terms of violence, it's my guess that this kind of process, the kind of process you have in place now under the Innkeepers Act, I guess, as you've indicated, is probably one that works. But for violence, for example, if the Landlord and Tenant Act comes in and you can't go through that process, and the Innkeepers Act no longer applies, and you're sort of, "Leave it to the police to be able to sort this out," it's not going to work, is it?

Mr Sandberg: The thing is, if I looked over at Janine and said, "Nice butt," by our definitions in the house, that's violence. That's an ex-roommate. In other words, our tolerance of respecting the boundaries of each other is much lower than could be proven in a court of law. If I leaned up against and just put a hand out like this and stopped her from going somewhere, our house has a definition of that as violence. If she says, "Let me go," and I just put my hand there -- you know what I mean -- I haven't touched her. I don't know how that could go through a court system, but in the house we understand that if I do that to Janine -- our toleration of violence is below what the legal definition is.

Mr George Dadamo (Windsor-Sandwich): As someone looking into the home from the outside, I wanted to explore an area, that where you said, "Like this," with your hand movement. There must be some sort of closeness forged between people who are living in the house. I guess it would be pretty tight-knit. Is there any time when you're able to talk somebody into not staying without having to go through this whole process?


Mr Sandberg: Actually, the houses have developed personalities and you tend to fit into the personality. As far as tight-knit's concerned, none of the people in my house do anything outside together. A couple of residents used to but one of them moved. Basically, it's a friendly atmosphere, and when it ceases to be friendly, without violence, people don't tend to want to live there. We watch TV together; we share the TV. I guess the best word I can put on it, and I can't define it, is respect. In my house we have the three major religions, so you find very little bacon cooked. It's actually a bunch of people learning to live together with respect.

Mr Dadamo: Is there some sort of a buddy system where you tend to take care of each other?

Mr Sandberg: If it's asked for. We also tend to stay out of each other's lives, but if I went home and said I was really hurting -- I remember a friend of a roommate of mine went for a job, got to the second interview and didn't get it. I remember spending some time talking to him and saying, "At least you got this far, which is better," but nothing formal.

Mr Dadamo: You've said that, of course, alcohol and drugs are banned from the home. We all understand that. But when someone comes home intoxicated in the middle of the night, does it once, two or three times, or perhaps more, is there some sort of mechanism where you guys can get this person to stop or to keep it away? How does that affect everybody else, if it's an ongoing thing?

Mr Sandberg: It doesn't happen. It's hard to explain, but it's like the six of us together -- and I'm leaving the office out of it; I'm talking about inner-house dynamics. I don't represent the office. The houses get an atmosphere. It sounds funny, but once you start doing the respect thing -- there's one person in my house I don't like. There's a strong personality clash, whatever you want to call it, there, but still the respect thing means that I remember a couple of days ago walking past the stove -- he'd left the food on -- and going in to tell him. It's not so much that we have to like each other as much as that we have to respect each other and respect the differences.

I've been lucky. In the two houses that I've been in it's worked and there's been a very strong bond of self-respect. Actually, if I went out drinking, I wouldn't come home every night, just because of that. I can only speak for the two houses that I was in. The atmosphere worked in those two houses.

Mr Dadamo: You talked about violence in general terms. Did anything ever happen to you personally?

Mr Sandberg: No. Again, in the two houses I was in, we've never had violence because the verbal and the understood toleration's so low. Murtaza, has violence ever happened around you?

Mr Zavery: No, I have not come across any violence. I've heard of some other houses where it did happen, so I'm kind of leery of that.

Mr Stephen Owens (Scarborough Centre): My question is with respect to the process that you utilize as a house when a decision needs to be made around asking somebody to find accommodation elsewhere. Can you describe that process for me?

Mr Sandberg: Okay. Again, each house might be different but I think this is a general thing. First of all, the person would probably be approached about the behaviour by one person, the one who can approach him the easiest.

Mr Owens: How is that determined?

Mr Sandberg: We know who gets --

Mr Owens: Interpersonal?

Mr Sandberg: Interpersonal. It's like if it was a person I'm not getting along with, I definitely wouldn't approach this person. The closest to him would be approached.

The second step would be a house meeting. Now, this isn't with staff; this is totally within the house. It would be brought up. If it still remained a problem, we'd have another house meeting. The thing is that to terminate somebody like that you need, in our case, five votes out of six.

It sounds dictatorial but, remember, we were all on the street when we came in. Like I said, we're all different, we go our own ways. In our house we've never had an episode where everybody would agree.


Mr Sandberg: Yes. In other words, because we've been on the street, there's no way we want to put somebody out on the street. But our last step would be to go and have the house meeting, say what we're going to do and tell them that all five have voted that this is unacceptable behaviour. It's never gone that far.

The Chair: Thank you very much for coming this morning. We appreciated your presentation. For your information, the committee will be considering this bill clause-by-clause during the week of March 6.

Members would note there's a change in the printed agenda for this morning in that Gibson and Associates are the next presenter. Apparently the Jane-Finch Community Ministry has cancelled at the last moment, therefore we are attempting to move Gibson and Associates up one. Are they here? We'll take a five-minute adjournment.

The committee recessed from 1036 to 1041.


Ms Mary Ellen Glover: I'm Mary Ellen Glover, the executive director of the Ontario Association of Residents' Councils. With me I have Marie-Louise Lynch, who is a resident in a retirement home, Rideau Place in Ottawa.

Both the Ontario Association of Residents' Councils and Rideau Place have submitted written briefs to the committee. I think that since the committee might have some questions they would ask somebody who actually lives in a retirement home, I'll keep my comments short and turn things over to Mrs Lynch.

As an association we have always said that there should be some form of regulation applied to retirement homes. But we participated in the Lightman review and we participated in some work that was done by the Honourable Dave Cooke when he was Minister of Housing, and our association's stand has always been that regulating retirement homes under the Landlord and Tenant Act and rent control will not provide residents with sufficient protection, especially sufficient, adequate, accessible protection.

Residents in retirement homes are generally very elderly, sometimes they're in very frail health and they don't have access to a lot of services. It would appear that residents are being offered a method of recourse against excessive or unfair rental charges that very few would be able to take advantage of. Working one's way through the Landlord and Tenant Act and the rent review process is very complicated. It's difficult to believe that an individual or even a group of frail elderly persons who have limited physical and emotional energy and finite financial resources will be able to work their way through the process without a great deal of assistance.

Our actual experience has shown that residents have required substantial legal assistance to access this method of redress. Now, we ask the committee, who is going to provide this assistance? Will there be advocates, for instance, specially trained to do this?

The other thing about the landlord-tenant situation is that it's generally not a personal one. The landlord may be a large corporation never seen by the individual. The retirement home situation differs in that relationships between the residents and the staff are often well established and often warm and friendly. Using the Landlord and Tenant Act to resolve disputes may lead to the development of a confrontational atmosphere between the operator and the residents.

Another question we have is, will residents be subjected to extra charges, and can they afford these charges? We understand that by delinking service and accommodation, some or all of the service portion of the package may be subject to the GST and possibly to PST. This could result in financial hardship for some residents. It will increase the residents' monthly cost but will not bring the residents any additional benefits. Because of this, many residents may be forced to deprive themselves of some small comfort to meet extra expenses that they have incurred.

In long-term care reform the government presumed that residents of nursing homes and homes for the aged could pay $38 a day. It's proving that this is not true. In the instance of retirement homes, the government will not be there to take up the slack. The individual will be forced to pay up or move. Again, it would appear that the government is not really aware of the amount of money that is available to frail, elderly persons, most of whom are on fixed, limited incomes.

We also wonder if this legislation will provide residents with the appropriate quality of life, safety and security. Many seniors enter a supported living environment so that they will have peace of mind. They wish to have assurance that help will be at hand should they require it. Regulations under the Landlord and Tenant Act could prevent staff from entering a room to assist a resident in distress.

Many seniors enter retirement homes to be with their peers, people of the same interests with similar physical and mental abilities. They often find it distressing and depressing to be faced on a daily basis with people who are aggressive, confused or severely physically disabled. These regulations could prevent owner-operators from moving a resident who has become disruptive and is detracting from the quality of life of other residents.

Again, many residents want to make their new home their own and ask that the owner make changes to the living quarters to accommodate them. These regulations could prevent the owner from making changes to a resident's quarters to suit that person's wants or needs. As well, under this legislation any changes could be too costly for a resident to afford.

We ask how this legislation will provide the resident with protection from abuse. A main concern of our organization is that regulation under the Landlord and Tenant Act will not provide sufficient or appropriate protection from physical, emotional or even financial abuse to residents who may live in a facility that is not well run. Operators may no longer have the opportunity to throw a resident out on the street with no notice, but this is not the only type of abuse that residents potentially face. Abuse can be more subtle. It can be quite simply brusque, uncaring treatment from the staff. What is to prevent the operator from lowering the quality of the services, for example, providing meals that are not nutritionally suitable or simply not palatable? Will residents have the protection of a bill of rights such as currently is in place in nursing homes and homes for the aged?

Will this legislation prevent inappropriate placements? Unscrupulous operators sometimes may accept just about anyone to fill beds and maximize profits. This is a personal story and it's a true story. About two years ago an elderly neighbour of mine was placed in a retirement home by his family. He did not wish to leave his home of many years. However, he was suffering from a brain tumour and was becoming very forgetful. He did not like living in the retirement home and began making a series of escapes. At first he would make his way back to his old house and one of the neighbours would usually rescue him. As time progressed and his condition worsened, he still wandered. However, he no longer remembered his old home and was found several times in distant parts of the city and returned eventually by police. Finally, one day he wandered for the last time and police eventually found him in the Don Valley, but it was too late for him. He was very obviously not living in a place that could care for him appropriately.

We also wonder how this legislation will ensure that operators maintain staffing at an appropriate level to protect residents. Will there be any guarantee that operators will have the appropriate number of qualified staff available to care for residents? We often see the situation of a home with smokers, people who are on oxygen, and wandering residents all in the same building with only one health care aide on duty at night. What would happen in case of a fire in a situation such as this?

In conclusion, we would like to comment briefly on the consultation process. In the development of Bill 120, this process seems to have been almost non-existent. It does not appear that the government has asked consumers what they want changed and how the system should work. It would appear that the government has depended heavily on Dr Lightman, who made recommendations which he felt would help people. While we are certain he was well intentioned, his report reflects his opinion and the recommendations are his. It does not reflect the consensus of a group and in reality ignores the needs of a good portion of the senior population who live in retirement homes. He has actually put forward recommendations which we feel could harm rather than help these people.


The consumer is coming away with the feeling that this whole process is just a sham, that we are giving but not getting, that the decisions have already been made and this is all simply window dressing.

As an organization we continue to recommend that the government work with the retirement home industry to develop standards to govern all aspects of life in retirement homes and provide appropriate protection to the residents who live in them.

Mrs Lynch, do you have anything that you would like to say now?

Mrs Marie-Louise Lynch: Do you want to ask me some questions?

The Vice-Chair (Mr Hans Daigeler): Yes.

Mrs Lynch: We have submitted a brief, which I'm sure you have seen, which I actually prepared. One of our residents is the Honourable Stanley Knowles and he is very concerned about this. He wanted to make certain that a copy of our brief got to the Premier, so he wrote a letter the other day to the Premier. I have several copies of the letter if any of you would like to see it. He is very happy at Rideau Place and very concerned that the present setup might change.

I think one of the nicest things that Trudeau ever did was appoint him a privy councillor. As you know from looking at the evening news, he's there practically all the time. We have a car service for dental and medical appointments, shopping, banking and so forth, and it takes him up to the House every day at 1:30 and picks him up at 4. He said, "I don't want to lose that."

I have a few copies of that letter if you would be interested in seeing it.

The Vice-Chair: Leave that with the clerk, please.

Mrs Lynch: I am one of the original residents of Rideau Place. I moved in the day before it opened. We give one cheque a month and it's all-inclusive. That includes everything, meals, all these things. They're all factored into the price. Since it's all-inclusive, we don't pay GST on anything. If we come under the Landlord and Tenant Act, their costs will be greatly increased, because they will have to have more people in the office, and some things will come under GST.

I'm in the fortunate position that I have an indexed federal pension, but quite a few of our people are widows whose husbands had very good pensions but they're not indexed. They had GICs and now they're really quite in despair about what's happening. This is a great concern for many of them, and even of course for those of us who have indexed pensions, because I think it was increased this last time 1.8%. All those things are factored in.

There's an old saying, "If it works, don't fix it." Rideau Place works very well. In the original contracts, when we first moved in, it would be increased by whatever the indexed pension rate was by the federal government. That year it was 4.72%, in 1987. They did that for a year or two.

One year, a few years ago, it was 6.8%. The accountant from Metcalfe Realty came to see us and he said, "Our increases weren't anything like 6.8%." I happened to be president of Rideau Place council at the time. He came to the executive and he said, "If you people approve, we would like to know your reaction to this: We would like to increase it just by the increase in our own expenses." He said the year we increased to 6.8%, increases were slightly less than 4%. So ever since then, that's what they have been doing. It's done in August of each year, and in August they increase it by whatever their expenses have been. It has been the last couple of years a few points below what the indexed pensions were.

It's a very good place. We're not unique exactly, but we are a private investment of Metcalfe Realty, which is a real estate company in Ottawa. They don't own a chain of these things; they own just Rideau Place, as a matter of fact.

There's some feeling that if we come under the Landlord and Tenant Act we won't be able to change people around in different categories.

A woman came there about, I would say, a year and a half ago in the early stages of Alzheimer's. It was very sad because the woman was only in her mid-70s, which I consider young. This woman didn't know where she was or anything, but physically she was strong and quite an active and tall woman. Not long ago, her condition worsened very much and she suddenly thought she was back in boarding school. It's a large building. She hated boarding school so she'd been trying to escape. I could never catch up to her. You'd have to run pretty fast to catch up to her. Because of this, not being under the Landlord and Tenant Act, we could get her family together and we were able to get her out for her own safety and everything else. She needed constant care, which of course we don't give.

Recently, about a year and a half ago, we made the first floor into not a nursing home but for people who need a little more care, people who have sitters and this kind of thing. Everything is done really to make us happy. We have very good meals and we have an excellent table d'hôte; à la carte as well, if you don't like what's there. We have about four or five choices, which is really pretty good. I would consider it a very good facility.

I was for 15 years a member of the National Parole Board so I didn't have much to do with luxury places like that, but I certainly have eaten in every penitentiary in the country. You wouldn't dare eat in a maximum, because you don't know what they're going to put in the food.

Rideau Place is really a very good place. I'm sure there are lots of other places like that. I'm fully aware -- and this was something that bothered Stanley; he's fully aware too -- that there are a great many seniors in Ontario who are not in that happy position. As he said, they're victims of greedy, unscrupulous landlords in these rooming- and boarding-houses. They have no security, and they do need security like this.

If I'm running a place like that and you come and offer me a good price for it -- you're going to tear it down and put something there -- I say: "Fine, lads, you get out. We'll give you two days' or a week's notice. Put your possessions in a garbage bag." That of course is not going to happen at Rideau Place.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much for both your presentations.

Mrs Lynch: Does anybody want to ask me a question?

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I have a 90-year-old mother and she considers herself quite young. She has lived in a retirement home in Orangeville which is connected to a nursing home. She recently had some health problems and it was felt best that she move to the nursing home. She didn't want to move. Now if she could find a good lawyer --

Mr Owens: Notice she doesn't ask you.

Mr Tilson: She could hire a lawyer to challenge that move and force her to stay, because she's now a tenant. That's the problem.

Mrs Lynch: That's right.

Mr Tilson: I think the real issue that you're raising and which most of the retirement homes are raising is, when you look at the definition of "rent," it seems to include all compensation. This seems to be your major concern when you look at the housekeeping and the activities and the health care and the personal services which may increase at a different rate than rental accommodation.

Mrs Lynch: Yes.

Mr Tilson: My question to you is, will the residence be able to operate, providing the same service that it has, once Bill 120 is passed?

Mrs Lynch: We don't think so, and it would be more expensive.

Mr Tilson: The law won't allow it to be more expensive.

Mrs Lynch: Yes, that's right. We'll have GST on meals and on all sorts of things and probably on this car we have. This is an all-inclusive package. We pay a quite substantial amount each month. Until very recently when I had a very bad cold, I never saw a nurse, and that's probably the most expensive part of it. Then there are people who never use the car. They don't go out or they're not able to use it. They really have reached the stage where they need Para Transpo. An ordinary car won't really accommodate them. But that is all factored in, so you are paying really for things that you're not using, but it doesn't bother you because you like the comprehensive package.


Mr Tilson: You're paying for crafts, you're paying for entertainment.

Mrs Lynch: Yes. So far, whenever we've had to move somebody who needed a more caring facility, we haven't had any problem. They weren't as independent as your mother. We have a conference with their families, of course. The family of this woman realized that for her own safety -- because we are on the bank of the Rideau River. There is a brick fence, but this woman was pretty agile. She might have been able to get over it even. But there hasn't been one other incident like that. Of course, if you've reached the stage where you need a sitter, that adds to the expense too, because you have to pay the sitter. So rather than do that, they've decided, "Well, I'd rather go to a nursing home where I have complete physical care."

Mr Tilson: In your facility, does the staff enter the rooms to assist people?

Mrs Lynch: Oh, yes, at all times. They just come in any time they want to, just knock on the door and come in.

Mr Tilson: It is my understanding if this bill passes they won't be able to do that.

Mrs Lynch: And there are quite a few people whose medication is controlled. The nurses handle it and bring it to them. Some people are on puffers. Apparently it's very bad to use puffers too often, so they took control of the puffers and they bring them to them four times a day and so forth. We have several RNs on our staff, but we have other people who are nurses' assistants. The nurses bring the medicine around. Then other people need a hot drink and all these things, so that's all included. I'm not in that category yet, thank God, so I don't have anything to do with that, but it's there.

We have maid service. We don't have to make our beds. We have a suite, a room and a bath. We all have a private bath. We have what they call a complete cleaning once a week. The beds are changed, we have fresh towels every day, the bed is made. We don't have to make our own beds. That's done every day.

Mr Gary Wilson (Kingston and The Islands): Thanks very much for your presentation. Unfortunately, our analysis of the bill isn't quite the same as Mr Tilson's. Ms Glover, you raise the issue of, if it ain't broke don't fix it. Unfortunately, it didn't work for Mr Kendall, whose death sparked --

Ms Glover: I didn't say if it ain't broke don't fix it. What I said is that as an association, the Ontario Association of Residents' Councils very much thinks that there should be some kind of regulations governing retirement homes, but we question whether the Landlord and Tenant Act is the appropriate place to do it.

Mr Gary Wilson: As you know, Mr Lightman in his commission strongly recommended the extension --

Ms Glover: We question also whether Dr Lightman is completely correct or not.

Mr Gary Wilson: That's true. He did an analysis though and received over 200 submissions and toured the province.

Ms Glover: We also question how much attention he paid to some of the submissions.

Mr Gary Wilson: He did find not only abuse in homes that were considered to be substandard or at least lacking in care, but also even in luxury retirement homes he found cases of abuse, which the Landlord and Tenant Act can deal with. In fact, the cases that you raise, it's unclear how the Landlord and Tenant Act is going to affect that.

For instance, Mr Tilson seems to think that people are going to have to give 24 hours' notice to come in to give care, care which the people are in the homes to receive. It just doesn't make sense. The Landlord and Tenant Act comes into play only if there is a problem that arises, that is, consent is the order of the day in most of these places. That's why people are in the care homes, to receive the care, and it's well set out.

There have been incidents of abuse, and certainly Mr Kendall's death is a flagrant example of that, a very unfortunate example. This is why we're trying to bring some regulation into it through extending to all tenants the same rights that tenants in other accommodation have.

So as I say, it's not clear to me how the Landlord and Tenant Act is going to affect the daily living in Rideau retirement home.

The Vice-Chair: Did you want to respond?

Ms Glover: No.

Mr Gordon Mills (Durham East): Thank you for your presentation. I've been looking at this presentation. I see that you say there are a lot of army officers in there, and naval officers. I was only a sergeant, so I'm left to wonder if I ever could be admitted in Rideau Place. Having said that, what I'm trying to understand is, supposing I were to gain access to Rideau Place --

Mrs Lynch: It would be much more expensive for us, for one thing.

Mr Mills: Just suppose I got in there, just suppose in my imagination, and I liked it so much, but something happened to me that somehow or another I was not desirable to be there. What's the process that you use to get rid of me now? How do you get rid of me?

Mrs Lynch: How do I get rid of you?

Mr Mills: Yes. I know you might want to.


Mr Mills: They want to know.

Mrs Lynch: The way we got rid of this woman two or three weekends ago, we got her family to come and see us. We told her that we weren't geared to watching her 24 hours a day and that for her own protection she should be in a nursing home.

The Vice-Chair: I'm sorry, Mr Mills, but that concludes the time.

Mrs Lynch: I don't know of the case you were talking about, Mrs Tilson; I don't know about it at all. But there's nobody being --


Mrs Lynch: Oh, that was it, your mother. That was it, yes. Oh, I thought this was somebody who was being abused. Yes, yes, yes.


Mrs Lynch: We've never had that. Nobody has ever been abused in Rideau Place, I can tell you that. I warn you, nobody ever has. That's right.

That's going to be a problem. Which retirement home was your mother in?


The Vice-Chair: Mr Grandmaître would like to ask a few questions. About three minutes.

Mr Grandmaître: I must declare a conflict of interest. Rideau Place is located in my riding, Gord. We can find a place for you.

I had the opportunity of visiting Rideau Place three or four times. Recently, three weeks ago, I had lunch with Mrs Lynch and the executive council. The brief before us today describes Rideau Place to a T. I like this line, "At Rideau Place we have found a satisfactory solution and we all pay in full for the cost of living here, without being subsidized in any way by any level of government -- municipal, provincial or federal." In other words, "Why is the NDP government doing this to us?"

I want to go back to the LTA. As pointed out by Mr Wilson, under the LTA, nurses or attendants can have access to your room 24 hours a day. Under the LTA, I'm sorry to say, they won't have access to your room 24 hours a day. I think it should be resolved now by staff because I've heard this before from Mr Wilson, and I think it should be clarified. Can I ask the parliamentary assistant to clarify this?

The Vice-Chair: No, you can't.

Mr Grandmaître: Can I ask staff?


The Vice-Chair: Could we have some order, please. At this point the questions are to the witnesses, if you'd please direct them through the Chair to the witnesses.

Mr Grandmaître: Mr Chair, I'm sorry. I don't want to be difficult, but Mr Wilson has said something that I'm challenging.

The Vice-Chair: You have every right to challenge Mr Wilson, but at this point you have about one minute left in your questions.

Mr Gary Wilson: You're challenging the Chair?

Mr Grandmaître: I didn't say the Chair. I challenge you.

The Vice-Chair: But at this point you have about one minute left in your questions of the witnesses.

Mrs Lynch: I'm a lawyer. It's true I'm a lawyer from New Brunswick, but I think the Landlord and Tenant Act is the same everywhere. You do have to give 24 hours' notice before you go into an apartment of a tenant. You just can't walk in at any minute. You have to give 24 hours' notice.

Mr Grandmaître: Thank you for your legal advice.

Mrs Lynch: That used to be the law. I haven't practised law for 33 years, but I don't think it's changed that much.


The Vice-Chair: We appreciate your participation, and coming down from cold Ottawa to the warmth of Toronto today. Certainly we will have clause-by-clause consideration of this bill in two weeks, and hopefully some of your concerns will be addressed. Thank you very much.


The Chair: I understand that the next presenters are here, and they are Gibson/Munro and Associates.

The committee has allocated 30 minutes for your presentation. You should begin by introducing yourself, your position within the organization, and then you have the 30 minutes to use as you wish.

Ms Deirdre Gibson: My name is Deirdre Gibson and I am a social housing consultant. I've been working with groups for 13 to 14 years, helping them access both provincial and federal money to build social housing in their communities. Mr Johnson may recognize me. One of my clients is a group that's very near and dear to his heart, Senior Link, and Cecilia Murphy has been one of the people that I've had the honour of working with.

Today, what I'd like to do is take a very narrow focus on two points, garden suites and particularly shared accommodation within social housing. I know that you're having a number of other presentations by people who have a very detailed background for housing where there are support dollars from a support ministry. What I want to speak about is what's happening very quietly within some social housing, perhaps without the Ministry of Housing realizing what its staffing dollars are doing.

In many projects, there are examples of four-bedroom apartments where four unrelated individuals are sharing that unit. Each individual has their own bedroom and then they are sharing a kitchen and a bathroom. What happens now is that there are informal arrangements to make the space work. The staff help the people solve problems; they help them either bring up their life skills or whatever it takes. These people are not in need of services in regard to their health. What they need is some life skills assistance to make sure that they can live cooperatively with three other people whom they've never met before. This is happening quietly in a number of projects in Metropolitan Toronto.

What happens now is, if it doesn't work, if the match isn't good, if someone is too disruptive or too disoriented or maybe just too cantankerous, the group is able to work with that individual, try and find them somewhere else, ask them to leave, work with the family, whatever it is. But they are able to ask them to leave. What's going to be created is going to be a dilemma on the rights of the individual against the rights of the three other people who are trying to share the accommodation.

I understand that the Lightman commission had looked at maybe some kind of fast-tracking or special treatment that could be given in terms of evicting people. What I'm suggesting is perhaps there be consideration given to allowing people to be exempted under special circumstances that would be approved by the government ahead of time. Right now, for example, women's groups can sometimes apply to the Human Rights Commission to be exempted from certain aspects of the human rights code, and this is without denying the validity of the human rights code in all its intents.

I think generally most social housing providers support in principle what you're attempting to do here, which is to protect individuals and not have people standing out on the sidewalk with their belongings in a garbage bag wondering where they're going to go next. But in this very narrow niche within social housing, the amendments that you're proposing are going to create problems, and the solution will be to not take risks. In other words, they will not be reaching out perhaps to some of the very needy people that they have been because they're not going to have the skills and the time to go through lengthy eviction proceedings. The reality of what will happen is that the three residents who have been working well together will probably leave, and the one cantankerous individual will be left. So I just wanted to make you aware of that as a problem.

The other issue I wanted to address was garden suites. A number of senior citizens' groups have been very interested in this as a concept, and to date most of the work that has been undertaken and the number of demonstration projects that CMHC has been spearheading and that the ministries of Housing and Municipal Affairs have been involved in have been looking at garden suites in relationship to senior citizens as an alternative, as an option. The way I understand the legislation that's proposed, it would become as-of-right for all individuals, and I'd just like to suggest that should be looked at again.

The studies that have been undertaken show that the community acceptance seems very much linked to the fact that the people have some kind of relationship with the family or the individual who's in the main house. It seems to me when there are other good things happening in Bill 120 which are going to generally increase the accessibility to affordable housing by the creation of secondary suites in units, that it would be appropriate to have this special niche in the market, garden suites limited to people of a certain age or a certain ability level; in other words, that they are linked to and are going to be receiving some kind of support from the people in the main house. Since there have been studies that have outlined that this in fact would not be contrary to the Human Rights Code, I'd just like to suggest that this committee look at that and address the issue of, is it appropriate for garden suites to in fact be as-of-right for every individual?

That's essentially what I've said in this longer paper, and those are the two points I wanted to bring forward.

Mr Gary Wilson: Thanks very much for your presentation. It does highlight a couple of issues that we have considered over the course of the hearings.

I guess through the hearings the shared accommodation is one of the issues that we've had to deal with, and it's come from both sides, the residents themselves as well as the people who help run the homes or offer the care, to give us some insight into how the Landlord and Tenant Act will affect it. I guess one of the things that has arisen is what difference the Landlord and Tenant Act will make in the immediate living. That is, you have to deal with the people in the home in a certain way now, and you mention in your example four people, where three have a greater sense of agreement about how things should work and one doesn't, so how you work with that person to have him cooperate more with the other three.

Do I understand you correctly to this point, that without LTA it works that way? Then I guess my question is, how will LTA affect that?

Ms Gibson: Well, it will put a rigidity in the system.

Mr Gary Wilson: Just up to that point, though. Do you see that it wouldn't necessarily affect it? In other words, you could still work with the individual who is not fitting in properly, according to the other three anyway.

Ms Gibson: That's right, and I think most social housing providers are willing to accept that responsibility. In other words, they don't want to just leave someone on the sidewalk. But they can resolve the problem much more quickly now, and if they have to ask someone to leave and say to the family, "You've got to take this person back," then it can happen within the space of a week.

Mr Gary Wilson: Within the space of a week, okay.

Ms Gibson: Let's say they have a licence agreement or they have a written contract; you know, they're both bound by it. The way I read I this, under the Landlord and Tenant Act that would not be allowed. So their only recourse --

Mr Gary Wilson: Well, only the aspects that are in conflict with the Landlord and Tenant Act would be disallowed. The rest of the contract would hold. But of course, as far as accommodation goes, that is significant. There is a process for evicting somebody. The Landlord and Tenant Act would override any contract.

Okay, so the contract now has a week. For instance, you could discuss with somebody who's having a problem and they might leave the next day if they felt that was in their interests. In other words, they would consent to leave and there would be no problem.

Ms Gibson: That's right.

Mr Gary Wilson: The Landlord and Tenant Act would not be drawn into it.


Ms Gibson: That's right, as long as they consent to leave. The problem is going to be, I think, that when groups are thinking about doing this, they won't know who's going to consent and who won't, so they won't take the risk. It's always the one tenant who causes 99% of the problems, so they won't take the risk of having that one tenant, because they won't know ahead of time.

Mr Gary Wilson: Yes, that's another thing we're hearing too, that there are very, very few cases really that do cause a problem or, where problems arise, they're relatively rare. Again, there are processes in place that often deal with them, that it doesn't come to any kind of coercive measures, say, to get them out, calling the police, or having to rely on other measures. Of course, that is where you have highlighted the concerns we've heard, that it will make life difficult.

On the other hand, there is the issue that we are trying to give people a measure of protection here, that as long as you can hold it over them that, say, unscrupulous operators can evict people at a moment's notice, then that's a way of keeping them in line as well, which causes on the part of the residents a certain amount of insecurity.

Ms Gibson: That's why I was thinking of saying let it be done on an exceptional basis. Let there be the general rule and then allow groups to apply -- how they would deal with the exception in a much more expeditious manner but still have a process to try to balance the rights of the individual against the three other people.

Mr Gary Wilson: That's right. Actually, the Landlord and Tenant Act I think amounts to exceptional, that it would only be in exceptional cases. You have the other measures to work with the person. We also have under way long-term care redirection which will provide for more community resources to help people in various ways with the difficulties that they have. There is the Advocacy Act, the Consent to Treatment Act and the Substitute Decisions Act, which are coming on stream now, which will provide greater resources.

Ms Gibson: Which will come first, though, the greater resources or the amendments to Bill 120?

Mr Gary Wilson: Exactly. No, that's right. It's very much an issue that the community has to put its resources to. At least I think we understand what you're saying about that and, as I say, it's something we've heard and we are considering.

On garden suites, though, it isn't as-of-right, it is permissive legislation. Municipalities have the right not to allow them and we think the conditions are quite reasonable as far as putting them in places. I'm sorry. Mr Mills wants to speak to this issue, but I just wanted to say that it is permissive.

Ms Gibson: The way I read it on page 24, I thought it was a definition which did not include the authority to pass a bylaw that had the effect of distinguishing between related and unrelated people.

Mr Gary Wilson: That's when you get to that point. That's true. Once the municipality has agreed to allow garden suites, then you do set up the conditions. But you're right, that does come down to the Planning Act provisions that don't allow bylaws that would discriminate against people who aren't related. Mr Mills wants to speak.

Mr Mills: Thank you for coming. I'm particularly interested in the garden suite portion of this legislation for obvious reasons. I'm trying to convince my daughter down the road to accommodate my wife and I.

Ms Gibson: If you don't get into Rideau Place.

Mr Mills: If I don't get into Rideau Place. That's not likely. Anyway, I've had a lot of people come to me who feel that garden suites should be as-of-right, but I was looking at your concerns here in the bill. I would imagine that the council or the municipality, related to the temporary use of the garden suite -- it's "the council of the municipality considers necessary or advisable" I would think we could get some definition of, when you come before the council to make the application, this is for my mom and dad etc, and then you would go.

I don't quite agree with your concept here about persons of all ages with no relations to the sponsor, because I think today we live in such a changing world. I know personally of very close relationships between older people and they're a totally unrelated group. Right opposite me, for instance, I have a couple there who has no family and there are some young people who come there with a big house and I said to myself, "Crumbs, if they said, `Well, sell the house and come here,'" if this works, they wouldn't be able to come there and I think that is a travesty really under this act that they should be allowed to do that. I think, hopefully, the municipality in its wisdom will be able to consider that. But I see that you really think it isn't within the scope or the concept of the garden suite. How do you feel now?

Ms Gibson: I see some merit in your argument. Maybe they should just declare them to be godparents, define a new relationship.

Mr Hans Daigeler (Nepean): I read your background and what you're involved in. I'm just wondering, is it just a personal interest that brings you before the committee to speak to this issue, or why do you make the presentation actually?

Ms Gibson: What has happened is that a number of my clients are doing the shared accommodation. They have not received additional funding from Health or from Comsoc. They're just quietly doing it. They're volunteers. I shared the material with them and either they didn't want to come down or didn't have the time to come down.

Personally, I can see that it's a problem. I knew that there were other groups that have support dollars from other ministries coming. I just wanted to come, personally, just to talk about this narrow little slice of the social housing. I didn't appreciate that you were going to have so much of a response on this issue of the shared units. I wasn't aware of that.

Mr Daigeler: It's not a narrow issue by any means, frankly. As you just said, we've had many similar presentations expressing very great concerns about this matter. You certainly, as others have, identified a big problem with this bill. We are still hopeful, on this side at least, that the government is going to listen, because it seems rather obvious --

Mr Mills: We're listening. Remember Sunday shopping.

Mr Daigeler: Pardon?

Mr Mills: We're listening.

Mr Daigeler: He kind of derailed me in my thought here.

In any case, this obviously would be an amendment that could be made because it certainly does not in any way, shape or form touch on the basis and the principle of the bill. Of course, I have some ideas myself on that principle.

I just want to thank you for coming before the committee and reiterating, from your viewpoint, that concern that has been brought forward by clients and by the administrators of these various homes and institutions or whatever you may wish to call it.

Mr David Johnson: I would like to thank you for your excellent brief and bringing forward a couple of excellent suggestions and for reminding me of the good old days, as well.

I'm just a little bit unclear in terms of the shared accommodation that you're arranging. What is the nature of the people who are living together? Are they mostly elderly?

Ms Gibson: Right now they are mostly elderly. They don't need any kind of residential care. Sometimes they've had a history of maybe being alcoholic, or older men -- sometimes they're not prepared for a wife to die first and there's a great deal of loneliness and more a need for activation. It's not that they -- in a way it's a very narrow band.

If they need more help then they should be in a rest home or a group home for the frail elderly or something. It is a narrow band. It tends to be people without family.

Mr David Johnson: You're recommending an exemption from the Landlord and Tenant Act under special circumstances that would be defined. The definition I think is a little bit key, though, because if there's a suitable definition that's legal and understandable then something like that may have a chance, but if there isn't, then there may be no exemption.

I wondered if you had any guidance to give us. You mentioned something about the Human Rights Code, but I wonder if you had any other thoughts on what sort of definition would allow for an exemption in shared accommodation.

Ms Gibson: What they would have to outline is how they would have a process that would allow the individuals -- look at their personal circumstances and weigh that against the needs of the other people who are in the unit.

I'm not suggesting we set up another government agency, but just that they have a plan and perhaps agree to have someone external to their own organization, like an appeal process. There should be a structure set up ahead of time that all the residents in the shared accommodation would know that they had access to and that they would agree to abide by the decision. That would bring in the element of consent that Mr Wilson had brought. If you can get everyone to agree when they move in that if there's problems they'll use a process to solve the problem more quickly than could be done under the Landlord and Tenant Act.

Mr David Johnson: Perhaps just the fact that it's shared accommodation to start with, which is different than self-contained units which most tenants would live under.

Ms Gibson: That's right.

Mr David Johnson: So that would be a key. Number two, a key would be that they would have an appeal process. There would be a sort of democratic process internally but then there would be an appeal process somehow. With that kind of framework then perhaps the shared accommodation should be exempt.


Ms Gibson: That's right. In other words, say you've got a building of 100 units and there are only four shared or clustered units, it would only be those four units with four individuals inside of each unit. It would just be specifically for those, not for the whole building; not for the whole organization.

I think in general the principle is we want people to be more predictable. If things don't work out, how do you make it more predictable? The experience of the co-ops that had the co-op act amended -- the Landlord and Tenant Act takes a long time and is intended to be narrow. It was either you weren't paying your rent or you were doing something illegal. What we're talking about here is anti-social behaviour. It's going to be a much slippier fish to grab a hold of.

Mr Tilson: This issue of whether you're talking shared accommodation or special services, people trying to assist people who have alcohol and drug addiction problems, the care homes -- actually, I do understand what the government is trying to do. They're trying to protect individuals in those residences if their rights are being taken away from them. I do understand, although I honestly believe it's causing more problems than not, some of which you've spoken of.

If you took all this out, this specialized assistance, wherever there are examples that you just spoke of with Mr Johnson, where care services are provided or assistance is provided -- if you took all those out and restricted it strictly to what we normally think a landlord and tenant situation, could the problems that the government is talking about for these specialized areas, whether it be care homes for seniors or care facilities for people who are having medical problems, physical or mental -- could that protection be offered in some other piece of legislation that would be more appropriate under health jurisdiction?

Ms Gibson: I don't know.

Mr Tilson: Thank you very much.

Mr David Johnson: I just wanted to get back on the garden suites. I think some of your suggestions make a great deal of sense there. Basically, there seems to be some support for the garden suite concept that also raises some technical issues. I know from your background you might have some thoughts on these. For example, something like the floor space index, that most municipalities guide their planning by: Should the garden suite be considered as part of the floor space index of the whole building structure, if you know what I mean?

Ms Gibson: I would say no, because it's a temporary structure. If it's done properly and it's on wooden foundations, literally when it's gone, it's gone. It is seen as a temporary solution. Temporary can be 10 years or 15 years, if Mr Tilson's mother stays well long enough. I think it should be, let the municipality do it through site plan control exempted from the FSI, but look at -- is it looking directly into the neighbour's backyard, can it be pulled closer to the garage, those kinds of issues, but don't do it on a density issue. You are adding density.

Mr David Johnson: So the municipality would have certain controls over setbacks and placement, that type of thing; is that what you're foreseeing?

Ms Gibson: That's what I would suggest. In the bill, they suggest the issue of security. I think that's probably a legitimate one too.

Mr David Johnson: I'm just wondering, you're talking about a temporary structure, but we may be talking 10 or 15 years, so it can't be too insubstantial in terms of its strength and structure and that sort of thing if it's going to last structurally for 10 or 15 years.

Mr Gary Wilson: Up to 10 years.

Mr David Johnson: Well, 10 years, but then there could be an extension, I guess, beyond that and that sort of thing. Do you see any problems? Again, the concept seems good, but I'm just looking at some of the technical problems. At the end of the period of time, if you have a structure that's too significant, then it's going to be an aggravation to tear it down and it's going to be a problem to tear it down.

Ms Gibson: The manufacturer building association of Canada feels that it can create a unit that can be taken apart. It would be built as two sections that would come on a transport truck and it could be literally taken apart, like a well-designed modular home. The fact that there's more and more movement to manufacturing in offsite, in a separate building, I think technically it is possible.

Mr David Johnson: Perhaps the granny flats should be limited to that kind of construction, where it could be easily taken down if the -- some people may want to build, in effect, a second home back there. There may be nothing wrong with that, very serviceable, but it could be very difficult to take down, other than just to sort of totally demolish it.

Ms Gibson: I think it is like a second home, but you could certainly limit the square footage. In other words, it should be a self-contained unit. It has to fit into the municipal infrastructure; it has to have its own connection to the sewers, obviously, or through the house. I don't know how they'd work that out. Essentially, it's going to be either for one or two people who are related, ie, it would be a one-bedroom unit for two people, so I could see that you could limit the size. If the idea is that you're facilitating social interaction and maybe sharing of food, you don't want it to be so palatial they're going to spend their whole life there. The idea is that there's some interaction with the people who are sponsoring or the people who are in the big house that fronts on to the street.

The Chair: Thank you very much for appearing.

That completes the committee hearings for this morning. We'll see everyone back here same place at 2 sharp.

The committee recessed from 1136 to 1401.


Mr Brook Physick: My name is Brook Physick. I'm a community legal worker with Flemingdon Community Legal Services.

I wish at the outset to indicate the intention to limit our comments to the accessory apartments portion of this bill. Our experience with care homes has been minimal and our comments will reflect this.

I also wish to take a couple of minutes just to give a little bit of a background of our involvement in this issue, which has led to the conclusions for the remainder of our submission.

Flemingdon Community Legal Services is a community legal clinic funded by the Ministry of the Attorney General as part of its legal aid program. We provide legal assistance to people within our geographically defined community, which includes all of East York, the Don Mills, York Mills area of North York and parts of the city of Toronto. Our assistance is limited to "poverty law," and while we're considered to be a generalist clinic, most of our substantive work relates to housing, welfare and immigration matters.

For several years, our clinic has pursued an active interest in the accessory apartments issue. As well as dealing directly with some basement apartment clients through our clinic, we have been involved in a number of activities directly related to residential intensification, and specifically accessory apartments, including the following:

During the late 1980s, we participated in the Committee to Stop Rooming House Closures in North York, an ad hoc group that was formed in response to North York's infamous Dirty Harry campaign. Our involvement enabled us to make contact with several roomers and occupants of basement apartments and to gain access to some of these dwellings. It also afforded us the opportunity to speak with some of the landlords of these illegal units. This committee also took part in councillors' phone-in television shows in which the major issue discussed was accessory apartments.

As a member of the housing committee of the North York Inter-Agency and Community Council, our clinic worked with North York agencies and individuals to develop and distribute a brochure informing North York residents about residential intensification, which included, of course, the legalization of accessory apartments.

This brochure was distributed to approximately 100,000 North York households. In it, we attempted to set out the most common issues relating to the existence of accessory apartments, and in conjunction with this brochure, we established a temporary telephone hotline and requested that residents contact the hotline to express their comments about the content of the brochure, specifically as it related to accessory apartments.

Similarly, as active participants of the housing committee of the East York Community Development Council, we developed and distributed packages on residential intensification within that community, speaking on occasion to various groups and other interested parties on accessory apartments.

These activities have enabled us to make the following conclusions: Accessory apartments are not new. This issue has been around for decades and so has the controversy surrounding it. With an estimated 100,000 illegal accessory units throughout the province of Ontario, it is unconscionable to think that we can accept the status quo on this issue.

Most municipalities have consistently damned the provincial government for promoting province-wide legislation which legalizes accessory apartments. They argue that such legislation detracts from their ability to control this issue at the local level.

Historically, most municipalities have not effectively dealt with accessory apartments. They have created discriminatory zoning bylaws which do not allow for their legal existence. Because of their illegal status, the occupants do not have access to the same kind of municipal protection that other tenants have. Therefore, the conditions of the dwellings are often substandard, with no recourse to appropriate enforcement of local property standards bylaws.

We have heard much about these municipalities' concerns regarding their inability to enforce local bylaws, particularly those relating to health, safety and property standards. Inadequate powers of entry are constantly being blamed for the lack of enforcement capability. The municipalities have demanded that the province provide them with greater powers of entry so that, with easier access, the bylaws can be properly enforced once the apartments have been legalized. The province has acceded to this request by proposing amendments to the Planning Act under Bill 120.

There is some doubt, however, as to whether this is even necessary. It is primarily the tenants and not the landlords who request the assistance of bylaw enforcement inspectors. If accessory apartments were legalized and tenants were aware that they could utilize municipal inspection services, access to their apartments would not be a problem. In the event that there were suspicions of serious illegal activity being carried on within the unit, it is the police and not the property standards inspectors who would get involved in any event. We have to question, then, why there is such great emphasis on increasing the ability of bylaw enforcement officers to have easier access to someone's apartment unit.

Legalizing accessory apartments will enable municipalities to set enforceable standards, which should result in the improved quality of many of these units. Furthermore, it will ensure that tenants residing in accessory apartments will have the same rights and be entitled to the same services as other tenants. It will also ensure a better understanding of the responsibilities of both the landlords and the tenants in these relationships.

Accessory apartments can and do provide numerous benefits to individuals, families and the community as a whole. Obviously, as an income-producing asset, it provides an opportunity for home owners who are having difficulty making mortgage payments to remain in their homes. This includes seniors, the unemployed or those who have been compelled to take lower-paying jobs and for which the loss of income could result in the loss of their homes. They also enable families to assist elderly parents or their young adult children by providing them with an onsite apartment while enabling them to maintain a considerable level of independence.

The opportunity to have someone living in the house with a home owner who may require assistance with household chores or who may feel a greater sense of security by having someone reside in their home is also appealing. Accessory apartments are often more affordable than other forms of rental housing, and opportunities are there for residents of accessory apartments to live closer to their place of employment. All these advantages are real and provide some of the reasons why accessory apartments exist today, notwithstanding their illegal status.

We recognize that problems can and do exist with accessory apartments, just as they do in every other facet of community living, but we cannot use this as a rational argument to deny thousands of people their right to safe and secure housing of reasonable quality in which people can live without fear of somebody closing down their home because of a violation of a zoning bylaw.

Ensuring that owners of single detached, semi-detached and row or town houses have the right to create an accessory apartment within their homes enables them to exercise choice. There are many who believe that the passage of Bill 120 will not lead to a substantial increase in accessory apartments. Indeed, many home owners who have accessory apartments are genuinely unaware of the fact that they're illegal. This suggests that many of the existing accessory apartments were created in the belief that they were indeed legal. Bill 120 does not compel anybody to create an accessory apartment; it simply gives people an option to do so.

The passage of Bill 120 will go a long way to ensuring that the thousands of people who occupy illegal accessory apartments will no longer be considered second-class tenants, thereby correcting a wrong that has been allowed to exist for far too long. We hope this will happen soon.

Mr Daigeler: Frankly, my question relates not so much to Bill 120, but with the numerous presentations from the community legal clinics, I just want to get clear in my mind, you are funded by the Ontario legal aid plan, are you?

Mr Physick: That's right, the Ministry of the Attorney General, as part of its legal aid plan.


Mr Daigeler: At the same time, you are obviously very extensively involved in lobbying campaigns with regard to provincial legislation.

Mr Physick: Some clinics more than others; that's right.

Mr Daigeler: That is pretty obvious, because frankly, I don't know why this hasn't come to my attention before, but I am not familiar with the legal clinics in the area I represent, Ottawa-Carleton, assuming a political function, an advocate's function. Frankly, it raises in my mind the question of whether that is a proper role for the legal aid clinics.

I haven't concluded my view on that matter, but it does raise that in my mind. In my area they do provide, obviously, legal support to those who otherwise cannot afford it, but I have not been at any time approached by a legal aid clinic in favour or against any political initiative, whereas you and all the other clinics that have come before us are obviously doing that. Frankly, it raises a serious question in my mind whether or not that is a function the legal aid clinics should be involved in.

Mr Owens: With law reform?

Mr Physick: Are you making a statement or are you asking me to respond?

Mr Daigeler: You may wish to respond whether you see that as part of your valid mandate.

Mr Physick: Yes, I think I just heard the term --

Mr Owens: You heard the term "law reform," that's right.

Mr Physick: Exactly. I just heard the term "law reform" mentioned by another member. Clearly that falls within the mandates of the clinics as set out under the legal aid plan through their own regulations.


Mr Tilson: Mr Chair, could we have this babble stopped? I'm trying to hear the delegation.

Mr Physick: Our position on this, in light of the regulations that enable us to do this, is that we represent low-income people and that low-income people, if they aren't doing it themselves, and clearly in many instances they are, will naturally rely on the community legal clinics that represent them to try and find weaknesses within any particular legislation. Clearly it's within our mandate to bring this to the attention of the government bodies that can legislate those changes, whether it's municipal or whether it's provincial.

Mr Daigeler: I appreciate that that's what you're saying. Frankly, I will want further clarification on this. I would say it raises serious questions in my mind as to whether that should be part of the role of the legal aid clinic. But in view of the present approach that is being taken here in the Toronto area, you're certainly no exception. I'm not specifically criticizing you.

Mr Physick: I understand that.

Mr Daigeler: But I am struck by the fact that there have been at least eight or nine community legal aid clinics essentially making the same points. I'm just wondering whether that falls within the mandate, but you answered my question from your perspective.

Mr David Johnson: Brook, I appreciate your deputation here today, and I'm sure we'll look at it closely. You do come down somewhat hard on some of the municipalities in terms of their dealing with this.

I can only say that in East York -- and you may have watched us on TV; I don't know if you've had the opportunity -- when I was in my former capacity, there were deputations that came before council. These would be maybe 10, 15, 20 or a couple dozen people in a neighbourhood bringing concerns to the council about the lack of enforcement on zoning and property standards and that sort of thing.

These would be people who would say: "We live in this neighbourhood. We've lived here for quite a long period of time. It's a stable neighbourhood, and yet there is a house" -- I don't have the numbers here to tell you if it's 80% or 75% or what it is, but more than often than not, it would be a unit that was duplexed or triplexed or fourplexed or whatever, a unit that violated the zoning in some regard and it would cause a great deal of aggravation to the surrounding community, either through noise or parked cars all over the place or junk or just lack of maintenance or fights or you name it, or even some things I wouldn't mention in a public document.

Local councils are required to deal with this. These people would come right to council meetings. The council meeting's being televised and put on the spot, and it was demanded, "What are you going to do so we can get our community back?"

My experience, and I can tell you from talking with other mayors, the experience is that the tools are just not there today to deal with these kinds of problems. In East York, we set up what we called the community action team, CAT. We involved the building inspectors, the fire chief, the police, health. We involved all aspects. Plus the people who would come and make deputations were always there in great numbers as well. We tried to come to grips with dealing with these kinds of things.

You talk about the right of entry. It seemed to come down to, in many cases, you just couldn't get into the properties to do the inspection. Knock on a door and the tenant, the owner, whoever it was, would not let people in. There was very little that could be done and yet people were there in front of councils demanding that some action could be taken.

I just I pose you the question that you've made an assumption that if the apartments are legal, all tenants will automatically come forward and ask for an inspection. I would put it to you that this is very much an assumption, and in my estimation it's a somewhat rosy assumption, because certainly my experience has been that tenants, for a variety of reasons, simply mistrust authority, which would continue before and after Bill 120, for language problems, whatever reasons. There are a number of reasons, even after Bill 120 goes forward, that tenants will not want people coming in to inspect their premises.

I think the municipalities are genuinely concerned, and we're hearing this from coast to coast in our hearings on this. They're still concerned that if they can't get in, they won't be able to deal with these problems and the problems will be even greater. I just ask for your comments on that kind of concern.

Mr Physick: First of all, with respect to the right-of-entry issue, I recognize that there are home owners within communities who are very concerned about some of the apartments that do exist on their street. It does seem to be those complaints that get dealt with.

Our concern as a community legal clinic is that when we have requests coming from tenants residing in those premises and they say that the places are simply in poor condition, we cannot contact the municipalities because we know that they will go and close them down. In these cases the tenants are more than willing to allow inspectors to come into the premises, but to do so would be at their own peril, because they'll lose their home. That's one of the issues we're referring to in there.

Secondly, with respect to the suggestion that all tenants would want inspections in their premises, clearly not. I accept that. Property standards inspectors now don't go out knocking on apartment doors and saying, "We want to come in and inspect the premises." There is no proactivity to any of this stuff. They simply react to complaints. What I'm referring to in that submission is the fact that clearly if the complaints were there, then the inspectors would be able to respond and the tenants themselves, if the premises were legal, would then be satisfied, knowing that they wouldn't have somebody come in and shut down their premises.

I know it has been difficult for municipalities. It has been very difficult for inspectors. When the vacancy rate in Metro Toronto was close to zero, nobody was wanting to go in and close these places down, with the exception of those that were creating serious problems. But what that meant was that there were a lot of people who were simply not getting any assistance at all from the municipal services for which they're paying in their rents. That's not fair.

Mr Tilson: I appreciate your presentation is geared more from a -- maybe I shouldn't assume anything. I come from a rural area. Rural municipalities don't have the budgets that the larger municipalities have. They are concerned that these unplanned units cannot be part of a development charges bylaw and the revenue that stems from that. They're worried about inspections. They're worried about the cost of the fire inspections, the municipal inspections. They're worried about the whole financial impact on the involvement of the municipality and on, I suppose, environmental issues, particularly with privately owned water and sewage systems.


Mr Tilson: That's the issue that the municipalities are coming to with respect to specifically the inspections, which is just a carrying on of these issues.

The Chair: The question is?

Mr Tilson: I may be making a statement. I may ask a question, Mr Chairman. You'll just have to wait patiently.

The Chair: Well, we're not going to wait too long.


Mr Tilson: My comment really repeats a question that has come from many other depositions that have been put forward. Is this really in response to a housing crisis in the city of Toronto, which really doesn't apply out in the rural areas?

Mr Physick: I think it's more a response to the fact that there are an estimated 100,000 units across Ontario where people are residing in those places in a way in which they're not being served as other tenants are. That's unfair to the tenants.

There may be some differences in the rural situation. I'm not familiar with that because I don't involve myself in the rural situation. But from the perspective of simply having tenants be able to reside in the place of their choice in a feeling of security, then I think it's true across the board.

Mr Derek Fletcher (Guelph): Thank you for your presentation. As far as rural communities are concerned, I don't expect you to know everything about rural communities also. I do come from an area that does have a big rural area and their big thing is the garden suites and septic systems, not enforcement or anything else.

I'm looking at your presentation. "The province has acceded to their request by proposing amendments to the Planning Act under Bill 120." What amendments are we talking about specifically?

Mr Physick: The increased powers of entry.

Mr Fletcher: We haven't done anything there, have we?

Mr Physick: In terms of the evidentiary issue, in terms of seizing the evidence, that's what I'm referring to.

Mr Fletcher: We've heard from the municipalities, and I know the other people were saying this. To me, that's a red herring, as far as I'm concerned, from the municipalities that they want to continue to do what they've been doing. It's more of a jurisdictional war than anything, as far as I can see.

Anyway, when you say discriminatory practices by municipalities, do you mean things like no-parking zones?

Mr Physick: Simply the fact that there's one family per household. I mean, North York's definition of the family was clearly a classic example. They used that to discriminate against people contrary to the charter and contrary to their own laws.

Mr Fletcher: Definition of the family?

Mr Physick: Yes, it was a family bylaw that said no more than three unrelated people could reside in the premises and it created all kinds of problems. Subsequently, that's been sorted out, but none the less that was being used for years as a tool.

Mr Fletcher: Yes. Do you see this, if Bill 120 goes through, as a big rush for everyone to go around and get accessory apartments in their homes?

Mr Physick: Absolutely not. There are 100,000 of them there apparently, according to reasonable guesstimates. Over the last few years, we've spoken with a number of groups. We've had this campaign going where we distributed 100,000 brochures to people just in North York alone. I mentioned we set up a hotline. We had about 250 calls responding to those brochures.

The vast majority of those calls related to how they can access affordable housing. It wasn't even the issue of accessory apartments. The remaining were split. Some were in favour, for the reasons that some have pointed out, and some were opposed, for all of the standard reasons. But at no time, when I've spoken with groups of home owners, have I heard, "Well, if they legalize them, I intend to go right out and do this." No.

Mr Fletcher: Yes, not a big rush then. When you get complaints from people with poor English skills -- you do get complaints from people who do have poor English skills -- I hate using that term, you know.

Mr Physick: English as a second language perhaps?

Mr Fletcher: Yes.

Mr Physick: People living in basement apartments?

Mr Fletcher: Yes.

Mr Physick: Yes.

Mr Fletcher: So they know their rights. Well, they know what's wrong.

Mr Physick: They know we exist and they know that there's a place to call.

Mr Fletcher: Right. Thank you.

Mr Physick: Many of those calls, incidentally, relate to maintenance and that really ties our hands.

Mr Owens: Welcome to the committee, Brook. Nice to see you again. Did you bring Marjorie Hiley with you today?

Mr Physick: I left her back at the office.

Mr Owens: Right. Just in terms of the catchment area that your clinic serves, it's a hugely diverse area with respect to cultures, with respect to income levels. You have people all over the map. In terms of the demographics as well, you service a high seniors population, particularly in the Thorncliffe-Flemingdon Park areas.

One of the things that I'd been wondering is in terms of the kinds of education process that this government will need to get the message to both landlords and tenants with respect to rights and obligations. Do you have any suggestions as to how we could do that? Further, if we're dealing with clients who may ordinarily fall under the ambit of the Advocacy Act, how do you deal, through an L and T process, with a person like that who has this newly legislated right?

Mr Physick: With respect to the latter, we've had no dealings at all in that area. With respect to the former, as part of some of our initiatives with the local, for all intents and purposes, the social planning body in North York and North York Inter-Agency and Community Council, we have in fact met on the issue of educational programs, assuming and hoping that this legislation goes through.

What we've done is gathered together people who have varying housing mandates throughout the city of North York to see if there's some way that we could collaborate, not only to provide an appropriate legal education program -- and that may fall on the legal clinics in North York, I don't know, but others have indicated an interest in doing it; that's under the Landlord and Tenant Act -- but also in terms of dealing with the appropriate zoning and assisting people in the areas that they may need to know in the event that either they want to bring their current, existing basement apartment up to standard or they do in fact want to put a new one on stream. We've come up with no final solutions on that, nor have we come up with any final conclusions.

Mr Owens: Are the politicians involved in terms of local politicians, councillors, as part of the coeducative process? There are a lot of myths out there. Coming from Scarborough and it being a 10-year battle, we're still at stage one with respect to attitudes and knowledge level. Are the local politicians participating in a positive way to forward this process, given the reality?

Mr Physick: Clearly, in East York there seems to be a reasonable degree of cooperation.

Mr Owens: That's Michael Prue.

Mr Physick: That's Michael Prue, yes. In North York, that is the case in some instances. North York clearly needs work on this.

The Chair: Thank you for appearing today.

Before we move on to our next presentation, I am in receipt of a release that arrived in the clerk's office at 2 pm. It is on the stationery of Drummond White, MPP. I will read the paragraph that pertains to us. He says: "In consequence, I am resigning from my position as parliamentary assistant within our government effective immediately. I am also withdrawing from caucus."

That would indicate to me that Mr White is no longer a member of the NDP government caucus and that in the future, being tomorrow, we will have some difficulty with substitution in that regard. I will not be able to accept a substitution from the chief government whip on Mr White's behalf, as he is no longer a member of caucus.

Mr Tilson: One less of you to deal with.

Mr Owens: This used to be a friendly committee, till about two days ago.

Mr Daigeler: Don't forget about Margaret, Steve.

Mr George Mammoliti (Yorkview): Mr Chair, I want to hear from the deputant here. I don't want to hear any heckling from the others.

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): And, George, if you don't heckle yourself.

The Chair: We've been getting along fairly well so far.



Mr Peter Formica: I am Peter Formica. I'm coordinator for the citizens for affordable housing for York region.

Mr Chairman, members, for the past seven years the Affordable Housing Committee of York Region has been lobbying and advocating for the provision of more affordable housing choices. We have currently reviewed Bill 120, An Act to amend certain statutes concerning residential property, and believe its implementation will deal constructively with the many affordable accessory units in the region, ensuring that future units are safe and built to the Ontario Building Code.

Bill 120 has many benefits, from housing people affordably and boosting the local economy by the sale of building materials, the employment of building trades, to assisting municipal compliance with the 1989 land use planning policy statement. The legislation will also deal with the approximately 100,000 units in Ontario that are currently illegal through zoning and ensure all apartment houses are safe and built to code. Municipalities who knowingly allowed unsafe apartments to exist have left themselves open to costly lawsuits if a tragedy were to occur.

Many municipalities and groups in York region have worked hard to build affordable social housing units. However, there are still many people without adequate affordable housing. Most of our non-profit housing has been directed to seniors and families. Apartments in houses will help provide housing for singles who do not qualify for the seniors' housing and couples with no dependants. This sector of the housing problem has been sadly neglected. Apartments in houses, by their nature, tend to rent for less.

The Hemson report, which was a housing needs study for the regional municipality of York, stated that York region would require 1,000 assisted units per year over the next five years, for a total of 5,000 units. Approval of apartments in houses could fill some of this need, thus saving the province millions of tax dollars.

Another group who could benefit from the creation of apartments are first-time home buyers trying to get into the housing market. The income from legal apartments can be used to help qualify applicants for mortgages. Seniors can benefit financially from the income of apartments as well as arrange for assistance with property maintenance by their tenants. Retired home owners who spend many months away from their properties might also use the tenants of their apartments to ensure their homes are secure while they're away. Many insurance companies require changes to premiums when residents vacate their properties for long periods of time.

Enclosed is a question-and-answer sheet which we had prepared for Bill 90 but we feel is still appropriate for Bill 120. In order to save the task force time, I am not going to read it to you but include it as general information.

I wish to thank the task force for the opportunity of speaking here today. If there are any questions from the task force, I'll be more than pleased to answer them.

Mr David Johnson: Thank you for your deputation, first of all. I note on the front page that you have indicated, "Municipalities who knowingly allowed unsafe apartments to exist have left themselves open to costly lawsuits," etc. In your municipality where you live, when you've asked the municipal leaders why they have allowed this situation to occur, what sort of response do they give you to that particular question?

Mr Formica: What's happened over the years -- I'm an ex-building inspector as well, so I'm aware of some of the problems. If a municipal official knowingly allows an illegal use to continue, "knowingly" is the word.

We've had thousands of people in basement apartments that many municipalities don't really know about. When they have a complaint on record, if it's a municipal bylaw, they must act upon it. If they don't act upon it and a tragedy were to occur, then they could be liable. There have been losses, I believe, across Canada on this issue.

When you speak to the politicians behind the scenes, they're all gentlemen; they don't want to throw anybody out in the street. They say, "We know there's a problem but we sort of turn a blind eye to it." That's great because they're not throwing somebody out on the street, but if there's a safety issue like no smoke detectors or unsafe exits, they're leaving themselves open. This is one of the areas we should try to clean up, we hope.

Mr David Johnson: Okay, you've told me two things here, though. You've told me, first of all, that there are many, many of these apartments that they don't know about.

Mr Formica: That's correct.

Mr David Johnson: Secondly, you said that where a complaint was registered or something brought to their attention, they're compelled to follow up.

Mr Formica: Correct.

Mr David Johnson: What I don't understand is that you make the statement that municipalities knowingly allowed unsafe apartments, but you've just indicated as a former building inspector that whenever an unsafe condition is brought to the attention of the municipality, the municipality must follow up and ensure the enforcement.

Mr Formica: I'm not trying to take a broad brush and label everybody as ignoring these units. But I'm saying when people know there's a conflict to the bylaw, they have to act or leave themselves open to a lawsuit.

Mr David Johnson: And they do?

Mr Formica: I don't know how much they do. I really don't.

Mr David Johnson: In your capacity as a building inspector, were you aware of any unsafe conditions that were brought to your attention that you allowed?

Mr Formica: No. I haven't been an inspector for seven years and I'm not aware of any.

Mr David Johnson: I'm sure you're representative of all the building inspectors. When anything was brought to your attention that was illegal --

Mr Formica: Anything that was according to code I always acted upon because I not only put the municipality in jeopardy, I also put myself in jeopardy for a lawsuit.

Mr David Johnson: Absolutely.

Mr Formica: You must act.

Mr David Johnson: You must act.

Mr Formica: I'm just pointing that out to municipalities, that they have to act.

Mr David Johnson: On the other hand, I don't know where you worked, but in some municipalities the property standards are separate from the building. Particularly if there is no building going on -- I think this even pertains to building inspectors -- if there's a complaint and you knock on a door and say, "We've had a complaint with regard to this house because somebody thinks there's something illegal going on in this house, and we'd like to come in and inspect," the person who answers the door can tell you to get lost.

Mr Formica: Nobody has the right of entry. That's correct.

Mr David Johnson: Nobody has the right of entry. So what can you do at that point?

Mr Formica: What we're concerned about is that the future units must be built according to code by virtue of applying for a building permit and having them inspected. For the ones that exist now, if a tenant phones up and complains, if this becomes legalized, a tenant can lodge a complaint and have their bylaw infraction rectified.

Right now it exists out there that people live in fear of phoning and complaining because they know that when the inspector shows up, they have a right to ask them to leave the premises because they're not supposed to be there in the first place. What we're saying is, as more units come on the market, there's a possibility that the bad units will be eliminated through market demand.

Mr David Johnson: From your experience as a building inspector, was there ever work done in a house where there should have been a building permit issued but people didn't get a building permit, they just went ahead and did the work without a building permit?

Mr Formica: There's always a certain amount of that going on. You can't stop it. What happens, though, is many times people would apply for permits and they'd call the room a rec room, a milk bar or whatever it is. In your opinion it's quite obvious what it is, but if it's not stated on the plan, you can't enforce something that's not there.


Mr David Johnson: Do you think it's likely or possible even after Bill 120 that people would install basement apartments but not go to the trouble of asking for a building permit?

Mr Formica: Yes, there would always be some of those. There are some probably going on right now which we can't control.

Mr David Johnson: Sure. Absolutely.

Mr Formica: But the very fact that they're legal, you don't have that stigma of the people trying to get away without it because now they can apply through the regular channels. They're entitled to a building permit now. If they don't get a building permit, they can go for a mandamus, which is perfectly within their rights provided they build it according to the Ontario Building Code and the fire code.

Mr Tilson: Do you perceive that with this legislation carrying there will be much of an increase in the construction of basement apartments, garden flats? Do you anticipate there will be that many more new units constructed?

Mr Formica: Right now, in speaking to some of the real estate people out there, in a lot of these areas there's about 5% to 10% out there now. I don't think you'll have a tremendous influx. You will have some a few years down the road. I might even do it when I'm ready for retirement.

Mr Tilson: So I guess the real purpose that we see now at least, the immediate purpose of it, is just simply legalize all these illegal units around the province.

Mr Formica: And clean up the building code infractions.

Mr Tilson: And that gets to my question.

Mr Mammoliti: Almost like dropping the tax for cigarettes, David.

Mr Tilson: That gets to my question. With this law as passed and these apartments legalized, it could, if I listen to the depositions that come forward, require substantial changes, whether it be heights of ceilings or plumbing -- substantial capital expenditures to these units. If the tenants know that, aside from the fact whether they'll complain in the first place -- because some of them don't even know they're in illegal units now. But if they did and the landlord makes it quite clear, "If I've got to do all this, I've got to close it down. I don't have the money to rectify that," do you think that there's much of that where the conditions of these illegal units simply aren't even close to meeting the standards of our building code?

Mr Formica: The ones that are that far in violation of the building code as to be unsafe, exits and so on, if they're that bad, maybe they should be closed down. The idea is we want to get rid of the terrible ones. But for a $30 smoke detector -- most people who die in fires die because of smoke inhalation, not because of the fire. If a $30 smoke detector is put up, then they're aware of it.

An unsafe exit: It's very, very easy if a person's coming out of the basement and there's another unit upstairs. If you have drywall going downstairs and a solid-core door upstairs with a closure on it, chances are that meets the fire code as a safe exit.

Mr Mills: Thank you, sir, for coming here this afternoon. Tomorrow is the last day of these hearings and I must tell you quite honestly that I've heard all there is, I would think, about apartments in houses that one could put through their mind. What I'm trying to wrestle with is that what we're talking about here is making apartments in houses legal to make them safe. Right? I see your brief here, and you've gone through a number of questions. You say they pertain to Bill 90 and they pertain now, quite rightly, to Bill 120.

Why do we need apartments? We've heard why. Won't apartments overcrowd the population? We heard that they won't; that's a red herring. Won't the bill encourage apartments in every house? Of course it won't. We heard that. Would I want to put an apartment in my house? No, and millions more like me. Can existing water and sewer systems handle it? We heard that they can. Will schools accommodate? We heard that they can because the people who are in apartments mainly are single people or single mothers trying to get their heads above water to get back into society and the children are not going to school yet.

We've heard about the tenants. We've heard that the municipal services will be able to enforce some sorts of charges to help with the taxes. Will property values decline in neighbourhoods? Of course they won't, and we've heard evidence that this won't happen. Will they "change the way my neighbourhood looks?" Of course they won't, because all this is going on inside the four walls, and I defy anyone on this committee now to walk down a street and tell me if the house has an apartment in it, because they can't. Physically they do not change, and the old adage about parking problems, we've dispelled that red herring. That doesn't work.

What keeps coming back to me is "not in my neighbourhood," and that people who live in basement apartments are low-lifers and all that and they're the worst kinds, when in fact they're humans like you and like me and like everyone else. I venture to go as far as to say to you, sir, that I know a lot of people who own houses in my neighbourhood who really are questionable characters and the people I know in apartments are upright. So I don't buy into that.

Perhaps above all, we had the acting fire marshal here yesterday. This has been a big red herring that we've heard from the opposition and goodness knows where about people perishing in fires, about all these terrible things. We had the acting fire marshal of the province of Ontario who came here yesterday and said that he doesn't see any problems with this at all. Statistics also prove that the ratio of deaths in apartments is less than it is in ordinary houses. We heard that.

You keep throwing in these red herrings, and so I say that I've heard nothing, if it's any solace to you, in these weeks that I've sat here on this committee that will end tomorrow to suggest to me that apartments in houses are a bad thing. It's affordable housing, it will meet people's needs and I agree with you. You're in support of Bill 120, are you not?

Mr Formica: Definitely.

Mr Mills: We should get on to it. I was involved with the Toronto Islands bill and they've created a song down there that they sing now, "We Passed the Bill." It's a very nice song and that's what we should be doing here: We pass the bill.

Mr Formica: I've read a lot of these issues and I've read one of the municipal briefs and I've seen the arguments to that side. This is why my brief is very thin, because there's no point in bringing everything up again. But the one point I really want to stress is the fact that the sector of the economy we're not serving is the single people and the young couples who normally don't have children. They don't qualify for a lot of the housing out there. Accessory units are cheap units in comparison to the rest of the market out there.

When I first got married I had an option of trying to find a very cheap apartment or finding a flat somewhere in the city. They were available. But now, with our children growing up, a lot of those units have dried up over the years, and with the population increase the units are not there to serve our children.

These people only need these units for a few years until they get on their feet and then they buy their house and they get on the ladder like everybody else, their first house, and move up the ladder. We've eliminated that status, that plateau, and by creating basement accessory units it gives these young people a chance to find a unit.

I know in one case -- I was working for an apartment owner -- a young engineer had come to the city of Toronto to work and he applied for one of the units. The girl at the desk said, "No, rejected." Because they were the ones renting the apartment, they were trying to rent to the higher-income people; a young engineer didn't qualify for a unit.

This goes on all the time. Because of the difficulty of finding good apartments out there, some of the landlords pick and choose who they're going to rent to. At least, if the person has a chance to pick a one-room somewhere or a little accessory unit somewhere, it gives them hope to get established in the city.

Mr Mills: When I was in the army no one wanted to give an apartment to a serving soldier. Tell me about it. We were blacklisted for years. That's a fact.


Mr Gary Wilson: Again, thank you for your presentation, Mr Formica. It's very solid. I'm really pleased with this issue in number 5, partly because it responds to something Mr Tilson has raised, even though the regulations of the bill will exempt houses that are on private septic systems. So there's no question that they have to --

Mr Formica: I realize that.

Mr Gary Wilson: Yes. Under number 5 here, "Can existing water and sewer systems handle additional units?" you not only say that you think they can because of the situation you've outlined, the changing neighbourhoods, the population declining in some areas, but you also go on to say that they're a perfect place to bring in water-conserving systems. That I think is such a good point.

Mr Formica: You can bring in shower restricters, you can go to a 1.5 flush per toilet. In actual fact, if in subdivisions they switched to the lesser toilets, you would decrease the water supply and the sewage and there would be a tremendous saving on sewage treatment. I don't know who has the legal authority for that, but if somebody came to me, if I was applying for a basement apartment, and they said, "Yes, you can have the basement apartment provided you put in the special toilet. It's about $50 more," I'd say for $50 why not put it in. Not only that, I save money. You get your money back.

Mr Daigeler: In view of what was said just in the previous round I think we have to make it very clear that nobody who came before the committee said that apartments in houses were bad. Everybody, including those who are against Bill 120, said that housing intensification is a good thing and that they want to work on it and in fact they're working quite actively on it.

The question really is whether the provincial government should use its muscle and override the municipal planning authority -- I think that's the question -- and whether the lack of action or perceived lack of action by the municipalities warrants that drastic interference by the province.

Now, obviously there are some who are saying municipalities haven't acted. I guess in Scarborough in particular there seems to be a big fight on, and tomorrow we're going to have the mayor of Scarborough here, so that should perhaps be the crowning event of those hearings. But in your region, in your area, how advanced was the housing intensification?

Mr Formica: In York region it's over 80% single-family. It's a tremendous amount of single-family residential homes. There isn't high intensification.

I live in a residential area. I have two people living in our house. The people next door have five people living in their house; it's a family. What is wrong with three people living in my house even if one's not related? It's still a residential use. Just because their name is different from mine does not change the use of the neighbourhood. But this is what planning says. Planning says, "This is single-family and it's only one family."

If you want to be fair in the tax system, the municipal tax system or any system, then you should say, "Okay, you have a house of so many square feet and in this so many square feet you're allowed to have so many people." Related or unrelated shouldn't make any difference, because then that would be a true statement of how it affects the neighbourhood. But because the person's of a different name than mine it doesn't make it a nonresidential use, and this is how municipalities view it.

Mr Daigeler: I think that's fair and I understand that. I presume you're familiar with the provincial housing intensification policy that was put together in 1989 where the municipalities were encouraged to work towards intensification, including secondary apartments, and that's my question. What has happened on that in your region at the official municipal level? How far have they gone? Have they looked at it? Have they approved the housing intensification policy? Has it not gone far enough? What's the situation there?

Mr Formica: York region does not have an official plan. It is in draft stages now. It has been going on for 20 years. There's hope that it's going to be passed some time this year. The town of Richmond Hill's in the same position. Most municipalities in York region are doing their intensification now and they're all coming up.

Mr Daigeler: So they're on the way.

Mr Formica: Richmond Hill should having their hearing on intensification some time in March.

Mr Daigeler: Then could we not wait and see until they have done their work?

Mr Formica: This is still part of intensification anyway. In most cases, whoever has done the study, whether it has been Clayton research or Hemson, they've all gone along with the idea of some accessory units in their housing statement.

Mr Daigeler: My point is that we're giving up a very important principle. We're saying the province should override a significant power of the municipalities. I'm very, very concerned about the precedent that is being set here because I have other examples where the province is overriding the local wishes. I'm very, very nervous about the Big Brother here taking over at the local level. That's what I'm concerned about. If there is evidence at the local level that they're in fact doing --


Mr Daigeler: Perhaps not in Scarborough, I don't know, but in your area obviously that work is under way. Should we really give those powers to the province to override the municipalities?

Mr Formica: Out of all the questionnaires I've seen out there, and these have shown up in some of the reports, the majority of the residents are all in favour. It seems to be the politicians who are the ones who are standing up and saying, "We don't want it." I understand there are only about five or six municipalities in Ontario that have stood up and said, "Yes, we're in favour of it."

Politically, the local politicians don't want to stand up and say, "Yes, I'm in favour of it," because they don't know what the repercussions are going to be, but when you talk to the people on the street there are not as many against it as there are for it.

Mr Miclash: Thank you very much for your brief.


Mr Miclash: Ignore that over there. I appreciate your questions and your answers in the back of the brief as well. One area that you haven't touched on and I would maybe like some comments from you regarding it, with your experience in this area, is granny flats. What experience have you had with them and what are your feelings towards the location of granny flats in a region such as yours?

Mr Formica: I don't believe we've had any in York region that I'm aware of. I read the clause religiously when it was Bill 90. By putting that clause in the bill, it doesn't hurt a municipality whatsoever. It gives them more authority. Under the old bill they had opportunity of permitting granny flats up to three years. If a municipality wants to pass them now, they can go up to 10 years. It does give them the freedom if they choose. It doesn't hurt them; it only gives them more authority that if they think something is right at least now they have the authority to pass it.

Mr Miclash: In your experience as a building inspector, what are your personal feelings towards the establishing of granny flats in locations such as York region?

Mr Formica: As a building inspector I saw a couple of illegal ones go through years ago in North York. At that time I wasn't an inspector; I was an examiner. A quite prominent person put it through because he wanted to have his mother living with him. By drawing the plans up in a certain way you can call it a children's playhouse or something and they went around it.

There was no doubt about this person putting it in. He's quite prominent and everybody would recognize the name. He wasn't intending to get around any bylaws, he wasn't intending to rent out to everybody who came down the street; he wanted his elderly mother to live there so he could give close supervision.

The Chair: Thank you very much for coming and talking to us today. We appreciated your presentation.



Ms Nancy Sidle: My name is Nancy Sidle. I'm a unit manager with my agency, which is Community Occupational Therapists and Associates, better known as COTA. I didn't mention in my short written presentation that we are a Metro Toronto agency; covering primarily Metro Toronto, that is. I'm a teeny bit on the nervous side, so I'm going to read.

The Chair: Just relax. They don't bite.

Ms Sidle: You're sure they're all harmless?

I just would like to say, and I'll try to not read directly, that we welcome the opportunity to provide input to this committee. I think a lot of what I'm going to say you've probably already heard before, and I apologize for that, but we felt the need to express ourselves to this committee, so I shall go ahead.

We're a not-for-profit community health agency and we have a wide range of community and rehabilitative and support services for people living in the community, including those with mental health problems. We have case management services, a hostel outreach, a network therapy and a housing support program. We've been in the business of providing these services in the community, some of them since 1973, and there are approximately 2,000 clients receiving our services in a variety of community settings.

I'm here today to talk particularly on behalf of the housing support services that I work in. Our program is funded by the community mental health branch of the Ministry of Health and we provide our support services in a variety of housing settings, both in the profit and the non-profit sectors. These settings include two apartment projects, three co-ops and 31 boarding-homes providing housing for over 700 tenants with mental health problems. We work with a variety of partners, including Mental Health Program Services, Supportive Housing Coalition, Community Resources Consultants of Toronto and Queen Street Mental Health Centre.

Our central goal in all of these housing settings is trying to help the tenants to stay housed and to be as productive and independent as they wish. I thought it would be interesting for you to understand a profile of one of the housing settings that we work in. I should add that approximately 80% of the tenants are men, probably anywhere from 70% to 80% have been diagnosed as schizophrenic, the vast majority are on social assistance and, quite a staggering statistic, only about 35% have very much secondary school education.

On top of that, we tend to be targeted as working with -- it may not be politically correct to say -- a hard-to-house population: 40% have a history of aggressive behaviour, 42% a history of having attempted suicide, 36% a history of some legal involvement, 11% a history of creating fire hazards and 10% a history of sexually inappropriate behaviour. To be truthful with you, I don't know exactly what that means, but those are the statistics.

I think the profile indicates that we're serving a group of people who have traditionally had a very difficult time in finding, and particularly in maintaining, housing and a decent place to live. Their vulnerability due to poverty, illness, substance abuse and other behavioural issues has further contributed to their housing problems. As a result of these factors, they've often been forced to live in inadequate housing situations, including the streets, and have frequently been subject to illegal evictions. Our housing program is mandated to work in these settings with the people I have described above.

We at COTA support the right of all tenants to protection under the Landlord and Tenant Act. However, like many others we have serious concerns about this draft legislation as it pertains to housing settings for tenants sharing their living space, kitchens and toilet facilities and where the behaviour of any particular tenant impacts on the safety of others and their enjoyment of their homes. As front-line service providers, we are often faced with the dilemma that the safety of a majority of tenants is being compromised by the threatening or abusive behaviour of a fellow tenant.

Part of our work is to attempt to work with these tenants to help them develop strategies to change their behaviour somewhat. We likewise work with other tenants in the building, community workers and people providing care to help create environments where tenants can respect and help each other and have some kind of a sense of control over their living situation. However, sometimes, despite numbers of efforts, these strategies fail and fellow tenants live in fear of their safety.

I've put down here an example of the kind of situation we faced just recently, and I could give you many more. One of the co-ops that we work in is a three-storey house with 10 single rooms and common living, dining and toilet facilities. The tenants are all former patients of Queen Street Mental Health Centre. One 35-year-old male tenant began to exhibit behaviour very distressing to the tenants. In particular, he began to stalk another tenant. Our staff described that he followed the tenant everywhere.

This tenant happened to be a member of a visible minority and the remarks that were constantly targeted at this gentleman were quite dreadful. At one point he threw the tenant against the wall, at least on one occasion that we know of, and we suspect that there were others. He was verbally abusive and threatening to other tenants.

We contacted the worker and asked him to come and see him in the home. Whenever the worker came, and it was more than once, the tenant retreated to his room and refused to speak to the worker. Our staff attempted to work with the tenant, who would have no part of it. The police were called, came, but stated that this was a domestic matter and they could do nothing. They suggested the two tenants work things out among themselves. Finally, after three or four weeks of incredible disruption to the household, the tenant became so ill that a doctor was finally willing to sign a form and have him committed to the hospital.

However, during this time other tenants were so distressed that some contemplated leaving the co-op, which is very unfortunate since it's been a wonderful living experience for them and among, they would say, the best housing they've ever had.

One of the solutions often suggested in situations like the one I have described is to call the police and involve the criminal justice system. In our experience, this is rarely a satisfactory solution. Criminalizing those with long-term mental health problems is neither a humane nor a helpful approach. Jail is clearly not the answer, nor a housing option of choice. The reality is also that the police are called frequently to intervene in situations that they are unable, reluctant or unwilling to act in, nor do most of them have the training in mental health to do so.

It is clear to us that society and government, and in particular this committee, are faced with many difficult dilemmas in dealing with the complex issues inherent in the legislation you are about to debate. The protection of individuals' civil liberties clashes with the right of fellow tenants to safe and secure housing.

We believe that it is in the best interests of everyone in our society to find creative solutions to this very challenging problem. We also believe that these problems go far beyond the scope of this legislation and this committee and need the combined efforts of many ministries, and in particular those of Housing, Health, Community and Social Services, the Attorney General and the Solicitor General.

We would like to make the following recommendations regarding Bill 20 as it pertains to tenants in shared living accommodation. I know all of these sound easy and I realize they're not:

That there be in place a mandatory mediation process where safety issues arise in a housing setting and that if no positive results occur as a result of this process, temporary relocation be ordered.

That possibly a number of hostel beds be dedicated to providing temporary shelter to such relocated tenants.

That a fast-track procedure under the Landlord and Tenant Act be available to housing providers if temporary relocation does not resolve safety issues. We feel that many housing providers would be more willing to house people with a history of difficult behaviours if such a fast-track process were available should serious safety issues arise. This could lead to more housing opportunities to this group of people and reduce the possibility that many of their numbers may end up on the street.

As an added recommendation, we wish to suggest that an interministerial committee be set up to study various cooperative ventures among ministries which might begin to address some of the complex problems that are inherent in the housing issues we are facing today.

We thank you for the chance to come and speak.

Mr Mills: Thank you, Nancy, for coming here today. I'm also trying to wrestle in my mind some of the problems that keep recurring about incidents that you have pertaining to this legislation. Contrary to what you may have heard, we are here as government members to listen and hopefully do something if there are some concerns here. Is this place where this incident happened subject now to the Landlord and Tenant Act?

Ms Sidle: I think in a lot of these areas we feel probably yes, but in many cases it hasn't been tested.

Mr Mills: I see.

Ms Sidle: So probably yes.


Mr Mills: It begs the question. Folks have come here in those sort of circumstances, with people like you're caring for, complaining that the Landlord and Tenant Act will stop them from coming to grips with someone who's unruly, but you're telling me perhaps that you already have the Landlord and Tenant Act in these cases.

Ms Sidle: I think the reality is it hasn't been tested.

Mr Mills: In what respect do you mean?

Ms Sidle: Nobody has taken leaving to court.

Mr Mills: I see.

Ms Sidle: In places like boarding-homes and co-ops we have a sense that we're covered but, as I understand it, there haven't been very many tests of the legislation. I could be wrong there. There is some question of whether it was under the Innkeepers Act.

Mr Mills: I see that your tenants are all former patients of the Queen Street --

Ms Sidle: In that particular setting, yes.

Mr Mills: I want to relate that to my riding. I have several of these same types of places where the Whitby Psychiatric Hospital goes to the operators of these places and then it comes in and places them. My constituents are saying to me, "We don't need the Landlord and Tenant Act because now we can't evict anyone anyway." If they've got the situation as you describe here, they call up the Whitby Psychiatric Hospital and say, "We've got a problem here." They zoom somebody down, and if this person can't be resolved, they take him back to the hospital. Why isn't that happening with Queen Street Mental Health Centre?

Ms Sidle: That could possibly contravene the Mental Health Act, which says that unless somebody's a danger to themselves or others, and there's a very wide latitude with how people -- that's a very big judgement area and a lot of people, physicians included, are very, very nervous in making that determination about at what point somebody becomes a danger. As I understand it, under the Mental Health Act you have to be fairly secure in your belief that the person is a danger.

In a surprising number of instances people are unwilling -- one of the problems that happens, for instance, is that there's a serious issue and by the time the police or the doctor get there, the person's sitting having a cup of tea in the kitchen. They're saying, "We didn't see anything happen. Everything's fine." Very often people expect to witness the violence. That's not too realistic because often just the sight of a policeman in a uniform will calm somebody down.

Somebody read this in our agency and said, "You're being hard on the police." I don't mean to be hard on the police. I think we as a society are expecting the police to do far too much. Many of them find themselves in extremely difficult circumstances and they're not sure, nor do they feel they have the backup to act. I think that's very tough.

Mr Mills: My last question, before I turn it over to my colleagues, is that what you're really looking for is some sort of fast eviction procedure.

Ms Sidle: I have no easy solution for how that would happen. I think there are things that could be done in the Ministry of Health in terms of crisis management, in terms of educating the police. I think there are a lot of things that need to happen and that's why I was really pushing for various ministries getting together.

Mr Mills: I think it's a difficult issue for all of us.

Mr Gary Wilson: Thank you very much for this presentation. It certainly raises some important issues, and especially from your experience. I'm interested to clarify this issue of whether the Landlord and Tenant Act applies to at least some of the settings that you work in. It appears that it does, doesn't it?

Ms Sidle: I think we act as though we are, under the supposition.

Mr Gary Wilson: In other words, you've never tested it that you're aware of. How long have you been with the agency?

Ms Sidle: I've been with the agency 16 years, but we've been in the boarding-home business, if I could use that term loosely, since 1981, a long time. We have many years. The situations are infinitely better than they were in 1981 in terms of the types of housing that are available, but some of these issues are very difficult ones and they remain. Sometimes these problems happen in very, very nice housing settings. It's not as though they're dumps or anything.

Mr Gary Wilson: That's right. That's what Ernie Lightman found, of course.

Ms Sidle: That's right.

Mr Gary Wilson: Abuse can happen anywhere, which is the reason for extending the provisions you appear to have already, at least in some settings, to everybody who's in this. We are wrestling with the problem of what to do in circumstances where there are emergencies of one kind or another, and that is one that we're still considering.

The idea, though, of an interministerial committee: There was one struck to consider the recommendations of the Lightman report, and that committee is still monitoring the hearings here and considering the same kinds of issues we're dealing with here at the committee. So it's helpful to have your suggestions.

I guess one thing I was interested in was that you say in your first recommendation that there be temporary relocation of the tenant. Just what were you thinking would be --

Ms Sidle: I think sometimes if there was just a place somebody could go and cool out.

Mr Gary Wilson: There's no place now like that?

Ms Sidle: Not really, short of the hospital or the jail.

Mr Gary Wilson: Okay.

Ms Sidle: I think the other thing that's important is, sometimes people think it's the landlord who's trying to evict somebody and very often, particularly in the profit sector, interestingly enough, where we work, with vacancies, they want to keep people. It's the other tenants who want somebody to leave if they're really threatened. It's a very complex issue. Sometimes the landlord is keeping somebody who other people think they're afraid of. It's very complex, the whole situation, and there's not an easy solution; I know that.

Mr Daigeler: It would seem to me, without perhaps oversimplifying what you're saying and what many others like you have said, that your life and the life of the people who are living in these homes who you're looking after are already difficult enough as it is, and really, "Government, don't make it even more complicated." I think that's what you seem to be saying.

All I can say is that Mr Mills has indicated that the government is here to listen and willing to listen, and we certainly hope we will see concrete evidence of this when we come back in two weeks with amendments, because I think this clearly is an area that cries out for some adjustment.

In fact I'm surprised that the minister would not have found a better balance in her original draft of what she's trying to do and the concerns you and many others before you have expressed. With regard to that, I think we have clearly heard it. The government says it has heard it and it has said that it's listening. So we'll look for the evidence.

You did make a comment at the very end of your brief. I presume it doesn't quite relate to Bill 120, but I'm just wondering what you meant by it, that second-last paragraph that you have there where you say, "We wish to suggest that an interministerial committee be set up to study various cooperative ventures among ministries which might begin to address some of the complex problems that are inherent in housing issues."

What did you mean by that?

Ms Sidle: I guess I meant things like I said. One of the things that we think, for instance -- and I know the Ministry of Health is addressing this in its reform -- is the need for crisis management services. If in fact there were more services that could go out and deal with problems in the home before they escalate, that might mitigate some of the problems that happen later on, because what we're trying to do is not dehouse people but get them help, and our hands are tied. I think the Ministry of Health could play a role there.

Working with the police: I'm not sure that people recognize the kinds of situations that police have to deal with, and I think something around looking at training in police colleges around how to handle situations, or maybe, I don't know, mobile units with a policeman and a crisis worker who could deal with some of these issues.

I think there needs to be interaction between ministries on some of the issues, because they're not all going to be solved by the Attorney General or the Ministry of Housing.

The interface between having support services available is another big issue. Very often housing units are supported, but there is not always funding for support services to link up with the housing units. We're all aware of the crunch in terms of fiscal resources, but it's really looking at some of those issues, and they are cross-ministerial.

When you start to write a brief like this, you realize it's very easy to come and give advice; it's another thing to come up with a formula that's going to make everybody happy. We are really concerned that we don't make it harder and harder for the really hard-to-house to find a place to live, because it's not easy to provide a setting where they can manage, frankly, some of them.


We're talking about some of the more difficult behaviours. We're just worried that if it becomes too tight, people just won't take them. The bells will go off and they'll think, "We don't want to give this guy a place." They won't give them a chance in the beginning. I think in order to do that it really involves a lot of planning across government services. As I say, I don't have an easy solution.

Mr Daigeler: I appreciate that point and I think it's a very good point that hasn't really been mentioned so specifically before. I think this is a very excellent reminder of what perhaps could be done.

Mr David Johnson: I'd like to thank you for the deputation. I think it shows some of the real practical day-to-day problems your organization faces. Certainly your organization is giving some excellent support in Metropolitan Toronto, where support is really required, to the hard-to-house.

I wondered, looking at the third page of your deputation, where you talk about one unfortunate circumstance of the person who was being very disruptive and who was abusing one of the other tenants, and I guess you indicated that after about three to four weeks you were finally able to come to a solution on this, but if the Landlord and Tenant Act was in effect on this residence, as Bill 120 would have it, and if you had to go through the eviction process in the Landlord and Tenant Act at that point, which I understand can take three months to a year, then what would happen to your program?

Ms Sidle: What has happened in some instances, which is very upsetting, is that other tenants leave. The problem tenant stays and the other tenants go, which is hardly fair, because they're afraid. Sometimes it's the ladies who leave. We do have only 20% women, but sometimes they feel more threatened in these circumstances, and they just go rather than deal with the situation.

Mr David Johnson: This must have an impact on the overall objectives of your program then, I would think.

Ms Sidle: What I say when people ask me is that keeping people housed is one of our big things, because the people we see have had a history of being on the slippery slope of their housing gradually becoming less adequate, often as their illness progresses.

Mr David Johnson: Your program is funded, as you indicate on the front page, by the community mental health branch of the Ministry of Health. So the Ministry of Health is your primary funder.

Ms Sidle: Yes.

Mr David Johnson: You've just described to us circumstances that certainly, if Bill 120 were brought forward, would make it difficult for you to put forward the program you're supposed to do. Since your main funder is the Ministry of Health, has the ministry expressed concern about the possibility or the consequences of Bill 120?

Ms Sidle: I'm not sure, actually. We're going to the ministry tomorrow. I think their sense is that it's not their bill, that it is a Housing bill, but I think various of us are taking our concerns.

We have an extremely good relationship with the Ministry of Health and it has been very supportive. I think they recognize what the problems are here. In fact a group of us are meeting with them tomorrow to talk about some of the concerns we have. They have been made aware that there are concerns in many housing providers and support providers about the impact of Bill 120.

Mr David Johnson: So your sense is that they may share the concern.

Ms Sidle: That I can't tell you. But they've been very receptive to our plight and I think they, like everybody, recognize -- I mean, it's a balance we're looking at. I think the ministry has been aware of the fact that many of these folks have been dehoused and evicted a lot and they're concerned about that as well.

Mr David Johnson: You indicated at one point that maybe people won't take certain of the hard-to-house. One of the refrains we've heard through some of the other deputations is that if Bill 120 comes in as it's proposed, with the Landlord and Tenant Act, operators of facilities such as yours may have to be more selective in terms of the people they choose.

If there's some doubt as to whether a person could be disruptive and if the Landlord and Tenant Act applies and you really can't deal with them, can't get them out, and if there's no fast-tracking, for example, then certain people may be passed over. Higher-risk people may be passed over. I wonder if you thought that was a possibility.

Ms Sidle: I think that's why we're proposing a fast-track. Our solution is that if you cover everybody, then you make it possible. In our experience, very often if operators think they have a backup to deal with a difficult situation, they're okay. But very often people come from the hospital and they are just sort of left on the doorstep and there isn't support if there's a problem. So I think our solution is to cover people but then have some method of handling -- particularly in settings where you have a whole lot of vulnerable people, that's probably the solution. The working out of it is not an easy one.

Mr David Johnson: It may not be surprising that we've had deputations --

Ms Sidle: A million of them.

Mr David Johnson: Yes, probably about a million of them. Some of the deputations have recommended that all tenants, regardless of shared accommodation, rehabilitation programs, care programs, any circumstances, should be covered by the Landlord and Tenant Act, bar none.

The best I can make of it is that when you raise the kind of problems that you face, the real problems that you face, the response comes back, "It doesn't happen very often," or "It hardly ever happens and it can be dealt with in some fashion, but don't worry too much about it because it's really not much of a problem, it hardly ever happens." What would your response be to that?

Ms Sidle: From what I've heard, I think it does happen, and I always say the fast track may get a little crowded, and that's one of the concerns. If everybody is trying to use the fast track, I realize it can be abused.

We have no illusions about the fact that it's not a simple solution. But to me the solution is to cover people and then provide some options for dealing with something that's a lot quicker, and maybe at the same time do some of these other things. That's why I think its coordination is possible, because if you have police who are better trained to deal with it and maybe crisis management services that can head off some of the problems -- it's all part of a package. It's not just one thing. That way maybe we could keep everybody happy.

Mr Tilson: I have a question on the topic of fast-tracking. This term has been used by many delegations and none have been able to suggest a procedure. I quite frankly can't think of one either and, as you've indicated, I don't think you can either, because it's a very difficult thing to deal with.

I think the committee received a written submission by the Ontario Homes for Special Care Association. I don't know how familiar you are with them. They go much further than what you and some of the other groups are saying. They simply say exempt these places from it. In other words, and they haven't said it, but reading between the lines, I don't think they think fast-tracking is possible.

They also talk of several other things. I'd just like to read a brief paragraph and see whether you agree with them. This is a written submission by Tim Harris, who is president of the Ontario Homes for Special Care Association, which has been filed with the committee, I believe:

"If Bill 120 were passed without excluding the regulated and controlled care giving homes (especially those licensed under the Homes for Special Care Act) but also including second-level lodging homes, CMHA-operated homes, approved homes and self-regulated retirement homes, it will seriously impede, if not totally negate, the fundamental delivery of care. In short, passage of this bill into law as drafted would destroy the homes for special care program and would do damage to other programs which provide care for the seriously mentally ill."

So they go considerably further than what you say.

When you read the wording of the bill, and I've hammered away at this in the committee, and what the bill is called, the bill is called An Act to amend certain statutes concerning residential property. We all understand what that is. Actually, it started off with the term "granny flat" and it has expanded into other things.

That's a whole other argument, but now we're into health matters, mental and physical health matters. You've commented that you're visiting the Ministry of Health. I'd be interested in hearing your comments after meeting with them, because we -- the members on the opposition side, at least -- have been trying to get comments from the Ministry of Health.

I don't think there's been any consultation at all with the Ministry of Health, particularly when such a large part of this bill deals with the people who you are providing care for. Could you comment on the exemption issue, which goes considerably further than what your presentation has made.

Ms Sidle: My sense is that people shouldn't be exempt. That's my own personal bias. I understand where the homes for special care people are coming from, but I don't think in the 1990s that one sort of sails. I think, with proper supports, that one can function under the Landlord and Tenant Act as long as there's a safety valve. Without the safety valve, we're in trouble. I would be less than honest if I said that.

The Chair: Thank you for coming today.



Ms Kasia Filaber: Good afternoon. My name is Kasia Filaber. I am a member of the board of the Etobicoke North Community Information Centre, which is the sponsoring agency for the Etobicoke Housing Help Centre. On my left is Mr John Bagnall, the coordinator of the housing help centre, and on my right is Mr Ahmed Samater, who is one of the workers of the housing help centre. I'll pass it on to John to present to you.

Mr John Bagnall: I want to thank the committee members for this opportunity to address the standing committee on general government in regard to Bill 120. We are here today on behalf of Etobicoke Housing Help Centre to give our strong support for the provisions of Bill 120 that deal with apartments in houses.

Etobicoke Housing Help Centre is a front-line housing service with a catchment area that includes the whole of Etobicoke. The work we do at the help centre involves operating a housing registry that provides a listing service for landlords in Etobicoke and for people trying to locate housing.

It involves helping people with housing searches. It involves providing information and referrals in relation to a variety of housing resources. It involves helping people with housing applications and other aspects of the process for accessing assisted housing. Our work also involves community education to help ensure that tenants and landlords are aware of their rights and obligations under provincial legislation such as the Landlord and Tenant Act.

Staff at our two help centre office locations, in Etobicoke North Community Information Centre in northern Etobicoke and in YMCA ASK in southern Etobicoke, respond to more than 250 requests for housing help each month. While we work both with private landlords and with people looking for housing, the nature of the services that we provide brings us into frequent daily contact with many people who are experiencing severe barriers in accessing housing.

More than half of those listed with us as seekers, that is, people who are looking for housing in Etobicoke, receive social assistance or some other form of government assistance. Almost one third of our seekers are sole-support mothers. Many of our clients are new Canadians and members of visible minority communities that include the Somali community, the Jamaican community, the East Indian community, the Hispanic community and many others. In addition to English, we provide services to clients in Somali, Arabic and Polish.

We support the provisions of Bill 120 that deal with apartments in houses, first and foremost because of the urgent need to provide legislative protection for the rights of tenants in basement apartments and other apartments in houses. We know from our housing work in Etobicoke that basement apartments make up a major part of the relatively more affordable component of the private housing market that we deal with. For many people in moderate and lower-income situations that we help through our services, for new Canadians, for sole-support mothers, for working couples and for young single people, basement apartments represent the only available affordable housing.

Despite this fact, the tenants of basement apartments and other apartments in houses do not have effective protection of their rights as tenants because of the lack of provincial legislation governing these apartments. The fundamental problem here is that the current status of apartments in houses as technically illegal units creates an environment in which many tenants of these units are afraid to assert and exercise their rights in a normal way that is required for a healthy landlord-tenant relationship.

The source of this fear is the threat, which is always present in relation to technically illegal units, that any disagreement with a landlord could potentially escalate into a situation in which the tenant's unit would be closed down and the tenant would be made homeless. The result of this is that in many cases where minor matters between tenants and landlords could be dealt with quickly and easily to the satisfaction of both parties, they are not, and consequently problems are allowed to fester. It also means that if a case arises where a landlord is badly motivated and has no regard for the interests of the tenant, major abuses can occur.

We believe that this situation disempowers the tenants of apartments in houses in a basic way. For many people living in basement apartments -- for new Canadians, sole-support mothers, working couples and young single people -- the lack of protection of their rights as tenants compounds the difficulties they already have to deal with in terms of the problems of poverty, of racial discrimination and other forms of discrimination and of adjustment to different institutions and practices in a new country.

We believe that Bill 120 represents a major step in remedying this situation by helping to ensure that tenants of apartments in houses have effective protection of their rights. At the same time, we believe that Bill 120 will also provide appropriate and needed legislative protection for landlords of apartments in houses.

Many of the landlords of apartments in houses we deal with are small landlords. They include seniors, young families starting out as home owners and, in some cases, single parents. These landlords may depend on the rental income they receive to be able to remain in their homes after retirement or to help pay the mortgage on a new home or for the education of their children.

Bill 120 will help to ensure that the rights and responsibilities of landlords are clarified and that landlords of apartments in houses who conform to appropriate property and building standards will be able to carry on their activities in an atmosphere of reasonable security as law-abiding citizens. This legislation will also recognize the right of home owners, as individual property owners, to decide for themselves, subject to appropriate property and building standards, whether they are going to have an apartment in their house.

While we strongly support Bill 120, we also believe this legislation is only one element of an effective strategy for meeting housing needs in Etobicoke and other parts of Ontario. We urge the Ontario government in addition to maintain and strengthen its commitment to the development of cooperative and non-profit housing as a vitally important means of meeting the housing requirements of a variety of people.

The issue of apartments in houses has been a recurring item on the political agenda for several years, going back at least to the late 1980s. There has been a great deal of debate and discussion on this matter, a great deal of coverage in the media and numerous government studies. From all this, it seems to us that two conclusions emerge.

Firstly, apartments in houses are a reality in Etobicoke, in other parts of Metro Toronto and elsewhere in the province. These apartments represent a significant part of the private-market housing stock that many people depend on to have a place to live, including many new Canadians, sole-support mothers, working couples and single young people.

Secondly, the status quo clearly isn't working. Action is needed now at the provincial level in the form of legislation to ensure that tenants and landlords of apartments in houses are protected and that appropriate standards are enforced. We believe Bill 120 represents a major step in meeting this need and deserves strong support.

Mr Daigeler: Thank you. I think you're quite clear where you're coming from. Do you have any concern about the element where this bill will apply to what one may vaguely call rehab centres or boarding homes, this kind of thing? Do you have any comments on that part?

Mr Bagnall: We're strictly here in terms of the aspects of Bill 120 that deal with apartments in houses. We're not dealing with the other issue of care facilities.

Mr Daigeler: Not the care facilities, but rooming houses, group homes, various housing providers that have an element of care in their services have come before the committee and said that Bill 120 is going to make it very difficult for them to evict certain tenants who are causing problems with the rehabilitation side. I'm just wondering whether, as a housing help organization, you have come across this problem at all and whether you have any comments to make on that particular aspect.


Mr Bagnall: We're strictly here to express views on the section that deals with apartments in houses.

Mr Daigeler: In your municipality, how many illegal apartments are existing at the present time?

Mr Bagnall: It would be difficult to arrive at any exact estimate. If you looked at a proportional basis and you said proportional, let's say, to the number that is estimated for Scarborough, and you assumed there was a proportional correlation in terms of the populations, you could estimate 12,000 for Etobicoke.

Mr Daigeler: Of course you don't know exactly who is illegal and who is not, but could you give us an assessment? Are these landlords coming to you advertising their apartments? Are you at the present time also acting as referral agencies for these landlords?

Mr Bagnall: Yes, we're listing apartments that include basement apartments in terms of our services.

Mr Daigeler: Do you ask if it's legal or illegal?

Mr Bagnall: We don't ask that specific question, no.

Mr Daigeler: Wouldn't there be presently some basement apartments that are legal? Are there areas in Etobicoke where they are legal?

Mr Bagnall: That may be, yes.

Mr Daigeler: So you don't really know whether an apartment is legal or illegal.

Mr Bagnall: I know the vast majority in Etobicoke under the existing situation, are technically illegal, yes.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): Etobicoke is very similar to Mississauga. I'm very familiar with Mississauga and it surprises me when I hear from people who are promoting basement apartments because it's the only affordable housing, to use your own words a few moments ago.

Yet if you look in the newspapers, people are now paying as much and in some cases more for a basement apartment as they are for apartments in buildings. Would you agree that the vacancy rate in apartment buildings is now close to 2.8% in Etobicoke and Mississauga?

Mr Bagnall: I wouldn't agree that's been the experience we've had as an agency that works directly with people who are in housing need. Our experience is that the large majority of the units that are affordable to the people whom we're trying to help are basement apartments or apartments in houses. That's certainly been our experience. I think it probably corresponds to the experience of the other help centre as well that presented before, the Scarborough Housing Help Centre, that those units are the more affordable ones. I can tell you that's been our experience so far in terms of Etobicoke.

Ms Filaber: If I may add, vacancy rates are floating rates and they might be high now, but they will not be in the future and they were not in the past. So apartments in houses quite often are the only available option for people. It also depends on the area where the houses and the buildings are. Quite often it might be very inconvenient for people to go to another part of Etobicoke just because there are buildings there. They would rather live in a different part, closer to their employment.

Mrs Marland: It's also true that some people like to live in single-family home areas. Would you agree?

Ms Filaber: Definitely.

Mrs Marland: So it's rather interesting that those single-family home areas are now going to be changed just by the creation of basement apartments.

Mr Owens: It has already been changed.

Mrs Marland: Well, there is going to be a change because they are no longer single-family homes; they're now duplexes.

Mr Owens: What's the reality now then?

Mrs Marland: Actually, I'll look forward to debating it with you when we get to clause-by-clause, Mr Owens.

Are you saying the tenants have been disempowered of their rights when they live in somebody else's house?

Mr Bagnall: No, that's not it. Because of the situation now where it's a technically illegal unit, that's what disempowers the tenants. It's the fact that they aren't subject to the governing provincial legislation.

Mrs Marland: You're concerned about the supply of affordable space for people to live in. I'm not talking as much about the existing apartments, because none of the existing apartments meet fire code standards, so we don't want any of those to continue the way they are.

What I would like to ask you about is creating new basement apartments which have to meet the fire code. Of course, there will be considerable cost to creating basement apartments which will meet the fire code because of the special wall treatments, the special fire separations, and we've talked a lot about the egress, the methods that are available for egress.

When we're talking about a newly created basement apartment that will meet the requirements of safety in order for people and families and children to live in those basement apartments for accommodation, do you foresee that being an inhibitor for people to create those apartments because they will now be double or triple the cost of the existing illegal ones that don't meet any code?

Mr Bagnall: We don't share your estimate at all in terms of these cost numbers you're throwing out here. We think that, on the contrary, you're going to find in the large majority of cases that smaller, if any, costs are going to be required in terms of the necessary upgrading in terms of meeting standards.

Mrs Marland: Who have you discussed that with?

Mr Bagnall: I think we need to keep our mind focused on the real issue, the big issue, which is the existence of these large numbers of units occupied by people who are disempowered in these ways. We don't foresee that there will be a significant addition in terms of new numbers. We think the main issue is the situation that exists now in terms of these units that are providing affordable housing for these people.

Mrs Marland: Are you not concerned about the safety? My issue and the issue of our caucus is the fact that on the one hand you have these illegal units which do not meet any fire codes and we don't even have the power of entry under this legislation that we need.

We have this situation on the one hand; on the other hand you're looking for affordable housing. What I want to ask you is, who have you been talking to that your opinion is that it's not going to cost very much to bring these existing units up to make them safe in terms of fire and building codes?

Mr Bagnall: I've been involved myself in terms of this issue for quite a while and I've read quite a few government studies in terms of what the implications are in various areas.

Mrs Marland: But have you been talking to somebody about actual building costs and the fire department about what their requirements are?

Mr Bagnall: The estimates I have seen are nothing like what you're talking about. The estimates I have seen are that it would be much more modest in terms of the necessary modifications that we make. But then it gets back to your point, that the existing situation does not allow us to address these issues at all. We're in a situation now where the status quo situation, which you're really implicitly supporting, doesn't allow us to address the safety issues or any other issues.

Mrs Marland: Sir, I'm not supporting the status quo and it's not implicit in what I'm asking. If I were supporting the status quo, I wouldn't be talking about the fact that I believe this affordable housing, which you support, is actually going to be diminishing because the public will not be able to afford it.

That's why I wanted to ask you, and you haven't answered my question, about where did you get the costs. I'm saying it will cost two or three times as much to create this new basement apartment than it has in the past because there have been no fire requirements in the past, and you're saying, "No, that's not our understanding." But if that's not your understanding, I think you have to give us a basis. Maybe you have a better basis of information than I do and that's why I'm asking you who told you that it's not going to cost very much to bring them up to standard because, I can tell you, the fire chief in Mississauga hasn't yet been in a basement apartment that met anywhere near the fire code requirements. I'm just wondering who your information source is.

Mr Bagnall: From what I have seen, the estimates that I have seen, it just does not correspond with what you're throwing out there, the figures. All I can say is that our experiences are in conflict on this issue.

Mrs Marland: Where did you see the estimates?

Mr Gary Wilson: You might want to know from Mrs Marland what her sources are. I guess she missed the one just before who estimated it could be as low as $38 for a smoke detector that would allow --

Mr Mills: He said $80.

Mrs Marland: The fire department is not going to accept just a smoke detector.

Mr Gary Wilson: And he was talking about $200 for drywall for various things. The point is, I think you're saying they can be relatively low amounts to bring it up to standard. For those that aren't at standard already, there's nothing to say they're not.

Mr Bagnall: Those are the kinds of estimates I'm familiar with.

Mr Gary Wilson: The point that is so important here is, by making them legal at least we are going to have some process to see what are the circumstances there and bring them up to standard, which makes so much sense.

Mr Bagnall: Exactly.

Mr Gary Wilson: I really like your emphasis that it's not only the tenants but also the landlords who have a stake here in making sure that the units can be rented out in safe and healthy circumstances. I would be interested, though, to hear from your ground-level approach, as it were, what the sense is that you have of the community for support for legalizing accessory apartments.


Mr Bagnall: Certainly I know in terms of our own contacts in Etobicoke, we have a housing issues committee that meets regularly to discuss issues in this area. There are a number of community groups and agencies that are very concerned about this issue. The community health centre and the legal clinics as well, of course, have been very active. The women's centre and quite a large number of agencies have been concerned about this issue, the women's shelters as well of course.

It's been an ongoing concern because we're dealing on a daily basis with people who are experiencing difficulty accessing housing and this is something that really impacts on their lives.

Mr Gary Wilson: Have you ever wondered why municipalities have been, say, reluctant or hesitant about legalizing the apartments in their communities since there does seem to be widespread support for it?

Mr Bagnall: It's difficult; there are probably a number of factors involved. It could be a number of considerations that are affecting how they're doing, what they're doing or what they failed to do. I believe fundamentally, though, that this stage we've reached is that it's going to require action at the provincial level, that we've really gone past the stage when we can really talk about any kind of solution in terms of what has been discussed before. We really have to look to the provincial level in terms of action, in terms of addressing the problem.

Ms Filaber: I think part of it is also the denial that we need a larger housing stock. Part of it is also a point that this lady made that people like to live in single-family dwellings. But it's also a denial because apartments in houses already exist. If people like to live in single-family homes, they can; nobody's going to force them to have an apartment. But if they want to, they could open -- what we want is for the apartments to be up to standards.

Mr Fletcher: What you have is a difference of opinion. I'm not going to try and persuade you one way or another as far as what Mrs Marland was saying. The fire marshal was in yesterday. I have the red book here, mauve book.

Section 18.3 is a recent addition -- I'm just reading what he said -- to the Fire Marshals Act in 1991: "If the fire marshal or an officer has reasonable ground to believe that a risk of fire poses an immediate threat to life, he or she may, without warrant, enter any land or premises and, for the purposes of removing or reducing the threat, may" take minor corrective action.

Then he went on to say: "We do agree that in some cases entry may be delayed by, for example, someone not being home or refusing entry. To our knowledge, the latter case would be a rare occurrence." They're not saying it's going to happen all the time, but it may happen.

Once these apartments become known and legal, if there's a problem, tenants are going to start complaining.

Ms Filaber: Exactly. Then we'll make sure that somebody can enter the apartment.

Mr Fletcher: But not all tenants. We're still going to have a problem with tenants not knowing their rights, so the education of this has to be -- are you going to be involved in the education of --

Mr Bagnall: It sounds like part of our work, yes.

Ms Filaber: It's our mandate.

Mr Fletcher: As far as your organization is concerned, when you start your education process, where are you going to start aiming? At the government level? At the local level or at the tenant level?

Mr Bagnall: I think we would be naturally focusing especially on a tenant level, but we also will have the opportunity, because we do work with landlords, to do considerable work in that area as well. But it's going to be especially tenant groups that have been hard to reach in the past in terms of various barriers and so on to make sure they're fully aware of their rights and are able to exercise them.

Ms Filaber: We'll probably need to do some education on the government level too, I think.

Mr Fletcher: I think so.

Mrs Marland: Would you like to see owner-occupied?

Mr Bagnall: No restrictions. No, we don't want that restriction.


Mr Bagnall: It's not in there.

Mr Owens: In terms of disseminating material, I think you've just identified the issue with respect to people being hard to reach and identifying what is a unit and how do you get the educational material out to people when there is this kind of great unknown out there in Scarborough, the area I represent, and we're talking somewhere between 10,000 and 14,000 units.

How do we determine where these units are? What's the best way to get educational information, both into the hands of the landlord and the tenant and in terms of again the cultural diversity that Etobicoke sees, that Scarborough certainly sees? How do you address those issues as well?

Mr Bagnall: I can see definitely the educational stages. It's going to be important to work through the help centres because there are help centres in individual municipalities who deal directly with landlords renting basement apartments. That will be a natural source in terms of distributing information and getting into contact with the landlords.

I can see workshops, I can see mailings in terms of using the mailing list of existing help centres and I can see other efforts to, and perhaps locally especially, draw attention to it maybe using local newspapers and so on.

Mr Owens: What about municipalities setting up a registry, for instance, that would serve two purposes. One, they would identify the units for the purposes of inspection, then again you would have a tangible block to deal with and start with the register tenancy. Do you see a registry as being helpful in that respect?

Mr Bagnall: Yes, I could see that could be a useful thing. I hadn't reconsidered it, but --

Ms Filaber: We haven't talked about this, but then you don't register all the units in apartment buildings --

Mr Owens: That's right.

Ms Filaber: -- so I'm not sure why you would want to register these units. It would add to the cost.

Mr Owens: I'm certainly not looking to set up two standards of law, which some of my friends across the hall there would like to do. I guess my question is in terms of ensuring that accessory units are up to the standard -- we know there's a problem in many of the high-rise buildings meeting the standard -- just as a way to allow tenants or prospective tenants to see the residence has been inspected and, second, as again a method to get information. We do have the rent registry for high-rise private rental that people can check, so there is in fact some level of registration taking place.

Mr Bagnall: I think a lot of it is going to be empowering tenants. Tenants are ones who live in the place so they know what the issues are. I think once they're empowered, then they're really going to come forward and that's going to be addressed.

The Chair: Thank you very much for appearing before the committee today.



Ms Avvy Go: My name is Avvy Go. I'm the clinic director of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic. I submitted a written submission, so I hope members have had the opportunity to look at it.

The Chair: The clerk has informed me that he has not seen that written submission.

Ms Go: I sent it in two or three weeks ago. I have a copy here.

The Chair: The members probably already have it then.

Ms Go: Okay. Anyway, I'll just briefly go through the brief and I'll begin by talking a bit about the clinic. We were formed in 1987, and our mandate is to serve low-income people from the Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laos communities in the Metro Toronto area. Our target are the immigrants, refugees and other Canadian citizens and landed immigrants from these communities who belong to the low-income group. They cannot access other legal services because of the language barriers, so they have the additional language plus class and race barriers that they face.

From my experience, one of the major issues to these communities, especially the immigrants and refugee communities, is the issue of housing. That is why we're here today, because it's of main concern to these communities. Because of the unique position that our clinic plays within the Chinese and the Vietnamese communities, we were invited to sit on the inquiry that was held by the Inclusive Neighbourhoods Campaign, which was held in June 1993 last year.

We heard a lot of submissions and deputants who made presentations to the inquiry about the housing issue and particularly about illegal apartments in houses, issues around that. It is also our experience that as far as Bill 120 is concerned, that was one of the key areas that is of concern to our communities. So my presentation will focus solely on the issue of apartments in houses.

Our position is very simple. We support legalizing apartments in houses. So as far as that is concerned, we support Bill 120. There are several basic reasons why we came to that position.

First of all, we believe that housing is a basic human right. I included in my brief the UN declaration of human rights, and part of that deals with standard of living. The Canadian government is also a signatory to the UN declaration, as we all know. We believe that part of the basic living standard includes housing, and decent housing in particular. So we have a national obligation to provide decent housing to the residents in Canada. Unfortunately, of course, we don't have that situation right now. A lot of people are still very marginally housed, and some of them are not housed at all. Short of any socioeconomic reform and radical changes, we're not going to see any immediate changes to that situation.

However, the least that the government can do, besides spending more money on affordable housing, is to provide a greater supply of housing through encouraging home owners to rent out parts of their houses. If we continue to outlaw apartments in houses, then that's not going to happen, and maybe it will happen but only secretly. That was one of the key issues, housing as a basic human right.

The second reason for our supporting the bill is that it will end discrimination in housing. As we all know, there are over 100,000 illegal apartments in the province. During the inquiry we listened to a lot of presentations made by tenants' groups and environmental groups talking about the situation of tenants living in illegal apartments right now, because at the same time they're not recognized as legal tenants, so they're not, strictly speaking, protected by the Landlord and Tenant Act.

From time to time we have clients asking that question: "Should we take the landlord to court? They didn't give me the water, heat, or whatever." Sometimes when tenants take these cases to court they will be turned away by the court because they're not recognized as living in apartments that are protected under the Landlord and Tenant Act.

But at the same time on a day-to-day basis tenants are being harassed or being denied basic utilities and other basic services that other tenants take for granted. For that reason we think we should not develop two different classes of tenants: ones who are protected by the act and the others who are not. It is simply unacceptable that the government will allow that to happen.

There is another aspect of the discrimination as well which is more subtle and may be intended. One of the exclusionary parts of the bylaws in the municipalities is that it doesn't allow having in a house more than one family unit, and a lot of times it means the nuclear family. But in my community, the Chinese community, and many other immigrant communities we have an extended family network. That is not seen as a family unit. By excluding or limiting a family unit to being one family unit, we are excluding other family networks such as the extended family network.

There is also another part of the discrimination which is that when people talk about, "We don't want illegal apartments or we don't want tenants in our neighbourhood," what they are talking about is, "We don't want blacks, we don't want Chinese, we don't want lowincome people, we don't want single parents," and so on and so forth.

The issue is more or less disguised in the form of a tenancy issue, but really it is an issue of keeping the neighbourhood homogeneous: middle class, white, a nuclear family type of neighbourhood. That is often the basis for excluding or disallowing apartments in houses, and we think we should not condone those kinds of practices by continuing exclusionary zoning and planning bylaws.

The last reason why we think it is important to legalize all these apartments is that it is really a health and safety issue. I think that we are really hiding our heads in the sand if we think that we can just get rid of all these illegal apartments by declaring that they are illegal.

The reality as it stands now is that there are hundreds of thousands of so-called illegal apartments and they would not go away even if Bill 120 is not passed. So tenants will continue to be living in these situations where they don't get any protection and they cannot force the landlord to obey the city's health and safety bylaws and other safety standards, just like this incident that took place in Mississauga over Christmas. I believe that is a direct result of illegalizing the apartments in that situation. For that reason also, we think we have to take immediate action to protect tenants in these situations by recognizing that they are legal tenants.

In terms of implementing Bill 120, we're also very concerned that tenants be made aware of the rights that they are entitled to, because even right now tenants are extremely reluctant to come out and take the landlords to court or take other legal action to protect their own interests. If they do not know that they are entitled to that, then they will never do it.

I think it's important that in implementing Bill 120 the government also starts introducing some kind of public education campaign around Bill 120 and around tenancy issues in general so the tenants are aware of their rights and they can exercise their rights.


Mr David Johnson: I'd like to thank you for your deputation. You've raised a number of issues. You've indicated support for Bill 120. I might say that I actually haven't heard anybody in any of the deputations we've heard up to this date indicate outright opposition to accessory apartments, full stop.

We've heard a number of municipalities that have been in support, and all the municipalities that have come forward in support, but with certain conditions that recognize local situations. I wondered where you might stand on those.

For example, I recall the mayor of Ottawa came forward to us and indicated that there are certain areas in Ottawa, in her city, where there was a great deal of basement flooding, and she expressed concern that basement apartments should be permitted in an area like that. I wondered what your view on that sort of situation would be. Do you think municipalities should have some authority to have a program but have some restrictions, for example, in an area like that?

Ms Go: When we say that we want to legalize the apartments, we are also making it very clear that they have to be up to a certain standard. If it's a situation where the apartment or the location of the house is such that you will never be able to build an apartment within that will meet the safety standards, then of course that should not be allowed.

I think we are concerned that municipalities will have a blanket policy of excluding a certain neighbourhood or a certain district from Bill 120. We would rather see municipalities enforcing health and safety bylaws and other bylaws that will protect or prevent basements from flooding, and maybe it's not basements; it's some other housing situations. I think that can be dealt with without making sort of a district or neighbourhood type of exclusion.

Mr David Johnson: Another issue that has come up is parking. I didn't quite fully grasp your answer but maybe I will on parking. There are certain areas, and I think of my former municipality, for example, in East York, where on some streets there are far more cars than there are parking spots, and even with the permit street parking program many people simply can't get a permit because there are more cars than there are spots. In an area like that, there has been a great deal of concern expressed by allowing more apartments to go in in a situation like that. Is that something that would be of any concern to you?

Ms Go: I remember reading certain studies that show that there's no correlation in terms of the increase of traffic and the increase of tenants because most of the time tenants don't have access to a car. Usually it's the landlords who have the cars. It reminds me also of many other public hearings that I've been to when they talk about, say, co-op housing, low-income housing, even nursing homes. Parking or traffic is often used as a reason for discouraging the building of a nursing home, like in Scarborough, the Chinese nursing home, or some kind of other low-income, affordable housing situation.

I don't think that kind of claim can be supported in reality, given that tenants are usually not the ones with access to an automobile. But I also think that even if there will be an increase in traffic, it still can be controlled with other laws, as opposed to just excluding people from that area.

Mr David Johnson: It's certainly not traffic; it's the parking that is the concern. There's no question that some tenants do have cars.

Ms Go: Right, yes.

Mr David Johnson: If we're making a statement that all tenants don't have cars, I think we're obviously exaggerating.

Ms Go: No, that's not what I said.

Mr David Johnson: The fire chief of the city of Mississauga indicated to us early on -- and you brought up the case in Mississauga -- that in his view the entry rights that are contained in this bill would not be sufficient to ensure that safety could be guaranteed in basement apartments. So I guess we have a situation where certainly some fire chiefs feel that this bill is not going to permit municipalities to ensure that there is safety in apartments.

I wonder, if we go ahead and implement this bill the way it is now and the municipalities still don't have the power to be able to ensure safety, then is that a satisfactory arrangement?

Ms Go: To some extent I also agree with the chief, because even tenants in legal apartment situations sometimes are living in conditions that are simply not safe. There is a very true and real enforcement issue out there, partly because tenants are reluctant to come out to complain and partly because the enforcement is not strengthened enough.

I think if that is the concern, we have to deal with it. Whether it's in the bill itself or whether it is providing more resources to municipalities to enforce safety standards in whatever way, I think that should be dealt with. But again, I don't think that should be a ground for disallowing or illegalizing the apartments, because I don't think that will solve the issue.

Mr Owens: Thank you, Ms Go, for your presentation. Your work in the Chinese community is well known and much appreciated. The issues with respect to parking density, overutilization of services, all the myths that people like yourselves and your colleagues who have presented before you, and we have another Scarborough group coming before us after your presentation, you've exploded quite nicely.

As a matter of fact, I conducted a basement apartment consultation of my own last summer and a question was asked of the opponents with respect to parking. If you have sort of the nuclear family, the white Irish Catholic family, for instance, that has three or four kids and they all have cars, why is that different? Why is that not a parking issue in the same way as an accessory apartment with a singular tenant who may or may not have a car? Why is that an issue?

Dealing with the Chinese community, and I guess I'm becoming a broken record in terms of communication and ensuring that both landlords and tenants are aware of their rights and their obligations, do you have a sense or a suggestion that you could make to the committee that we could pass on to the Ministry of Housing that would be helpful in the educative process?

Ms Go: In terms of the clinic itself, from time to time we conduct workshops, but our target is strictly tenants because of the mandate of the clinic. We also produce brochures. We just had a new one -- we called it Tenant Self-Help -- explaining the whole process of what are your rights and how you go to court and so on and so forth. I think that should be done on a much larger scale and it shouldn't be up to the initiative of the individual clinic, given our limited resources.

Mr Owens: Absolutely.

Ms Go: We just cannot guarantee that everyone in the province will be aware of that. But I think that given and if Bill 120 is to be passed, it is a great opportunity to educate the public around that issue, especially at this point when the bill is new and the people are kind of woken up to the fact that some of them may be living in illegal apartments.

Mr Owens: That's right, substandard.

Ms Go: Yes. So you have to through the media, through print media and TV -- there are a lot of different newspapers in different languages -- and also you may have to spend some money to produce booklets or brochures explaining Bill 120 in all the major languages spoken by the people in Ontario. I think that is a must and that will tie in with the enforcement issues.

Mr Owens: Absolutely. I appreciate your comments.

Mr Gary Wilson: Thank you very much for your presentation, Ms Go. There are of course a number of issues that were raised here, and my colleague Steve Owens mentioned the parking, for instance, as being inaccurate as far as the issues that were raised. It's not only accessory apartments that create added parking. In fact, as you pointed out, they actually have fewer cars per person than do detached homes.

I want to just raise this issue of the way they are generated. For instance, Mr Johnson raised this question that came out of Ottawa of damp basements. Eastern Ontario has lots of damp basements and home owners are concerned about them too and try to find a home that doesn't have one. But if you do have a damp basement, you adjust your living accordingly. That's part of the reason they're called accessory apartments. It doesn't have to be in the basement if you want to create a second unit. The first floor, second floor, attic are all appropriate places for another apartment.


I do want to talk, though, about the widespread support for this. We have surveys that show that the average is between 60 and 75 across the province, yet there's a lot of difficulty in getting municipal councils to move on the issue. I was wondering if you might comment on where you see the problem lying, in that there's strong community support yet councils are reluctant to legalize accessory apartments.

Ms Go: I think the answer to that question really goes beyond the issue of housing. Then we have to start talking about the electoral process and who is voting. In Scarborough, for example, and in Agincourt, a 40% Chinese community there, but less than 5% vote at the municipal level. The municipalities may not be representative, in the population sense, of the people living in that area. Also people carry with them certain prejudices, their agenda, and that may be reflected in the policymaking process as well. I don't know how to answer the question but to point out that there are many people who don't vote.

Mr Gary Wilson: Thank you very much. Mr Mills has a question, Mr Chair.

Mr Mills: Do I get time?

The Chair: I'm sure he could fit it in tomorrow. Mr Daigeler.

Mr Mills: The witness may not be here.

Mr Daigeler: I think there may be some time after I'm finished. If there is, perhaps Mr Mills can ask it.

You mentioned that some tenants are being denied basic utilities. I'd just like to hear from you how often, from your experience, this happens and, if so, what exactly you do. How can you assist these tenants?

Ms Go: I work for a legal clinic and we do landlord and tenant cases, so we tend to see quite a few. I don't know whether it's reflective of the general situation out there, but certainly there are cases from time to time, and it's quite frequent that landlords withhold utilities because the tenant was late in paying rent or landlords are trying to get rid of the tenants, and it happens in legal apartment situations. In that case, we have to take the landlords to court. It will be a waste of taxpayer money that we have to do that every time.

We should try to prevent that from happening by better enforcement or better education, telling the landlords that they shouldn't be doing this because they will face certain consequences, rather than deal with it as it happens.

Mr Daigeler: You've just indicated yourself in your response now that it doesn't seem to be just one side. You said that some landlords may be doing it because the tenant isn't paying rent.

Ms Go: There are processes under the Landlord and Tenant Act that you can evict or deal with your tenants when they don't pay rent, but holding back your utility services is not one of them.

Mr Daigeler: What is the process there then for the landlord? I'm trying to put myself in the situation of the landlord. Do you also represent landlords? I'm sure there must be some.

Ms Go: No, legal clinics do not represent them.

Mr Mills: The poor.

Ms Go: Wasn't that an issue in Ottawa?

Mr Daigeler: I think these days there are some landlords -- the people who are putting in basement apartments, many of them, are saying they can't afford it because otherwise they can't meet the mortgage payments.

Ms Go: That was an issue raised in Ottawa, I think, a couple of years ago. But in the end it was resolved that given the special situations -- first of all, the limited resources the government is spending in legal clinics; also the needs of the tenants far outweigh the needs of the landlords, and also given that the mandate of the clinic is to serve low-income people who otherwise would not be able to get legal services.

Mr Daigeler: I appreciate and I'm sure there are cases where landlords are acting in a fashion that's not acceptable, but I think from your own witness it's quite clear that there are two sides to this story. That has to be pointed out as well, that not all tenants are acting in a way that is proper either. I think that's a point that needs to be made too.

Ms Go: I agree.

Mr Daigeler: From your experience again, you're saying this is one approach to deal with the housing crisis, especially for the lower-income people. Are you aware of any kind of private rental construction that's under way at the present time? I'm asking that question as a more global strategy. In order to really solve this problem, wouldn't it be best to have more housing and low-income housing provided, including by the private sector?

Ms Go: Sure. I think that in the long run, and if the government is committed, providing affordable housing is really the solution to solving the housing crisis or housing problems in this province. But I don't see any commitment from this or any previous governments that they will ensure everyone in Ontario be given adequate housing. That is not happening, and I don't see that happening in the next 10 or 20 years. So what do we do in the meanwhile, between now and 20 or 30 years later?

We have to ensure that at least those who are living in the housing situation right now and those who are willing to provide housing through building an apartment within houses or whatever arrangement be governed by the law. That's what Bill 120 is doing, strictly to make sure that everyone is doing it right. Until such time, that's the only way we can do it.

The Chair: I think we can accommodate Mr Mills.

Mr Mills: I'm just going to say thank you for coming here, and I appreciate listening to your dialogue, what you said here.

If I hear another word about parking and parking problems -- I've had it up to here about all the rhetoric. I want to share with you and I want to ask you what you think about this idea. I've been looking for an apartment myself this last couple of weeks. I get out the paper like you do, phone the people and say, "La, la, la, la." I say, "Is there parking?" They say, "No, there's no parking here." End of discussion. I've got a car.

Do you not see that the people who develop basement apartments, who have got basement apartments, instead of this horrendous red herring about parking when I called you, you'd say, "I'm sorry, there's no parking"? Doesn't that seem to be so simplistic?

Ms Go: Mm-hmm.

Mr Mills: So you don't want to hear about this any more either. Thank you. Neither do I.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Mills.

Ms Go: I can't say that I don't want to hear it, though. I think parking is an issue, but I think it's an issue broader than housing. It is an environmental issue as well. As we all know, we have a lot of cars. But I don't think that is what this committee is dealing with. Maybe another committee should be dealing with it.

The Chair: Thank you for coming today. We appreciated your presentation.

I'm glad Mr Mills had an opportunity.



The Chair: The next presentation is from Scarborough Community Residents. Good afternoon. The committee has allocated one half-hour for your presentation. You should begin your presentation by introducing yourself and your colleagues for the purposes of our Hansard recording, and then you may begin.

Ms Lorraine Katryan: Thank you. I am primarily here to introduce the other members, who will be speaking with you at length. My name is Lorraine Katryan. The other speakers have requested that their surnames not be used and be stricken from any records because they are currently living in "illegal situations." On my immediate right is Cecilia, a tenant in an illegal apartment. Next to her is Toni, also a tenant in an illegal apartment, and on the end is Renu, who is a home owner with an illegal apartment.

Cecilia: My name is Cecilia and in 18 days I will be 67 years old. I live in a basement apartment. I'm here today as a senior citizen to discuss what we in general require.

Senior citizens have very special needs that must be met. First and foremost is security. Senior citizens on a fixed income must be able to find affordable housing. As many of you know, finding an apartment is difficult at best for a 30-year-old couple let alone a senior citizen. Basement apartments run by home owners are usually affordable. Basement apartments run legally by responsible home owners may be our only hope for affordable, safe and comfortable housing.

With respect to maintenance, such as snow removal, lawn care, this is taken care of by the home owner. In most cases seniors are very well taken care of by the home owners, and respected.

In my particular case, and I speak only for myself, I am an epileptic. I have a few other problems. The home owner, without her I would probably have to be in some sort of senior citizens' home where they would have to look after me. This way I am able to look after myself -- well, 99.75% of the time. I really like where I am and I support the bill.

Last but not least, seniors only want to live comfortably and with dignity, and I do believe that this is one reason why basement apartments should be legalized.

Toni: My name is Toni. I'm a single mom with two young children. I've lived in a basement apartment for about a year. I chose to live in a basement apartment because it is affordable and they did not demand the first and last payment. It is safe and secure for me and my children. My friends have suggested it. They also live in a basement apartment with their children and they've said it was good and it is a supportive environment.

My landlady and I have a good relationship. We're both Polynesian. It has been a nice neighbourhood for me and my children. It has been close to the playground, close to the school, stores. I've always been afraid of my children falling off a balcony from a high-rise. They allow us to use the backyard in the summer so my children can be playing there, and me and my landlady also share babysitting.

The reason I don't like where I'm living is because I don't have enough heat. I have to share a space heater with my daughters, and it's not finished properly. It's cold, damp, has a lot of spiders and huge bugs in the summer. The landlord would come into my unit whenever he felt like it. When the relationship had gone sour, I had no legal recourse. I found out I was living in an illegal apartment. Living somewhere illegally makes me feel insecure. There are no smoke detectors, no fire extinguishers. I don't feel safe any more.

That's the reason why I want basement apartments legalized, so I will know my rights. I can sign a lease. I will be protected under the law. I won't be in an illegal situation. I want more safety. The landlords would have to fix up their apartments properly so they were warm and dry and comfortable. If legal, there would be a clearer relationship with my landlord and myself. My mother, who has a basement and who wanted to rent out her basement, couldn't because she found out it was illegal, but now, if it does get legalized, she'll be able to do so. That's all I have to say.

Renu: I'm Renu. I'm a landlord in the sense that as soon as I came into Canada as a landed immigrant, the money I brought in, I thought of buying a house. Without knowing that these are called illegal apartments, I bought a house which had in fact more than one illegal unit. I have two illegal units as it is divided right now. It was very convenient for me from the beginning to have those two apartments, because otherwise I wouldn't have been able to pay the mortgage, do my studies and make a living, whatever it is. I should have declared bankruptcy long ago if those illegal apartments were not rented out.

According to my knowledge, I'm keeping those units in a very safe way and it is a very good unit. Both units are very good. It has never been left without a tenant. All my tenants are very happy. Right now, I'm having one white tenant and one black tenant and I'm brown. All of us are living very happily in that unit, because everything is separate. We are able to cook separately, ethnically, culturally. We won't be able to manage if there are no separate cooking units.

I would like to recommend that the one-apartment clause must be taken out and it should be three. I have seen my neighbours having more than one family or one tenant with them and all of them are living very happily. I see no reason why there should be just a one-apartment clause in that.

I also feel, being an immigrant, this would help the immigrant families to have the sponsorship breakdown cut off. Now these new laws are coming in to prevent people going on welfare because of the sponsorship breakdown. I'm an immigrant. I have sponsored my family. When they come in, if I can rent out the basement apartment, plus having that family in the other apartment, having another apartment on their own would be very, very convenient for me to manage with the income.

I will be having additional income from the basement. As well, I will be able to support my sister and her family or my mother and that family, provided I have some additional income. Otherwise, I have to declare sponsorship breakdown and push them on to welfare, because the income level is going down, the salary cuts are there. So I strongly recommend more than one apartment.

I also don't want this clause of people entering my house. The right of the municipality to enter my house I think I should oppose, because any time anybody can, just like that, report against me for no reason and they will enter, so my privacy will be denied. I would like some sort of arrangement so that when I register my apartment, it should be inspected and there must be some period for them to come and inspect, unlike what is suggested.

I also feel that this bill would provide more representation of some rights to my tenants. For example, voting rights are now denied. They are not even registered as voters for the municipal elections. I get the right, but not my tenants. So the municipalities and board of trustees for the board of education are not elected democratically. Though it is called a democratic country, all the MPPs are elected and MPs are elected in a better manner, but not the municipalities.

I strongly feel that my tenants' rights are denied in that way. Actually, they are here in Canada longer than myself, but still I vote and they don't vote. So I strongly recommend that the bill should be passed and it should have more than one apartment.


Mr Mills: Thank you very much for coming. I think it has been an enlightening presentation.

When the real estate board came and made its presentation, I suggested to them that apartments in houses was an added bonus when the real estate agent sold the house, because my daughter-in-law has one. This guy came aboard me and said, "Don't you ever suggest that, it's illegal," and he went on in his self-righteous way. Now you're telling me that a real estate agent sold you a house not with one illegal apartment but with two. These self-righteous people who appear before this committee, I hope they could know that, because they shot me down. Anyway, thank you for that comment.

Cecilia, I'm very pleased to listen to your presentation, because on this committee we've always assumed that seniors are the ones who own the houses and want to create the apartments.

Cecilia: Oh, no. There are a lot of seniors, Mr Mills, who don't have them.

Mr Mills: I was very glad to hear that we have some seniors' concerns here. I also appreciate the fact -- it's why I'm supporting this bill obviously, and why you're supporting it -- that the government's committed to keeping seniors out of public health care. You're contributing to keeping the deficit down. Really.

Cecilia: Thank you.

Mr Mills: This is what it's all about. So thank you for bringing that point. I just want to thank all of you and the young lady there, Renu, for coming here. Like you, I came to Canada as an immigrant and I lived in three basement apartments. I know what it's like. I know all the angles. It gives one that stepping stone to catch up and to get ahead in society. I thank you for that presentation.

Thank you, Mr Chair. My colleague has got some more pertinent questions to ask.

Mr Gary Wilson: Thanks a lot, Gord, for that vote of confidence. I'm just going to disagree with you slightly. The point is not to keep the deficit down, which is important, but it's really to provide the housing.

Mr Mills: No, health care.

Mr Gary Wilson: Sorry. I was going to say, because this is a housing bill, it provides the housing that people need.


The Chair: Order. Can we have order.

Mr Gary Wilson: Thanks a lot, Mr Chair, for rescuing me here. I want to say, what we're trying to do is provide the housing that people need. You've so clearly shown in each of your cases how accessory apartments do that, and to legalize them will do it that much better. You've all I think shown how there's a certain amount of deceit involved in this, in that you've got to live your lives differently because they are illegal at this point.

Could you just touch on that bit of anxiety that's caused in your lives and maybe elaborate, if there's anything that you would like to add to what you've already said about the fact that they are illegal and that you could live that much better if they were legalized?

Cecilia: Say the people are not home upstairs who own the house, and if I see anyone who raps at the door and I don't know who they are, I just don't answer. Then you don't get into any trouble. That's the easiest way out for me.

Mr Gary Wilson: Pretend you're not there, in other words.

Cecilia: That's right. You can always get the gas man to put the numbers in for your gas or your water, whatever it may be, because you don't know who's at your door anyway. I have my own entrance, but sometimes they come to my entrance, so you just don't do it.

Mr Gary Wilson: Toni, I was wondering whether you feel different from the other people in your neighbourhood where you are living, that you have to be different because you are in an illegal apartment.

Toni: I didn't know that it was an illegal apartment. Everything was okay. Everything was really good. I felt safe there, because they have the Neighbourhood Watch, so if ever my children were around and something was wrong, they could always run to that house.

But right now, my relationship with my landlord has gone sour. I'm being harassed by my landlord and I don't know where to go. I'm not sure what my rights are, since it is an illegal basement apartment. That's why I want it to be legalized, so that I can have support from the law to fight with him or take him to court.

Mr Gary Wilson: Yes, when you're trying to make your residence better, safer and healthier and you don't get any cooperation from the person who has the capability of doing that.

Toni: Exactly.

Mr Owens: I'd like to thank the group for its presentation today. I think if I was going to take a snapshot of the deputants, I would say that this is the face that represents Scarborough. The deputants have made a good point with respect to legalizing the reality and asking Scarborough council to do a reality check and also to ensure that tenants have rights and a safe standard of housing that, in some cases, just isn't there and there's no ability for tenants to complain.

The Chair: I guess the question is, don't you agree?

Mr Daigeler: I wonder if any of you might know what the price differential would be between a legal basement apartment and an illegal basement apartment. Would you know that?

Cecilia: I'm in a basement apartment and to go into a legal, for the same space that I have now, which is one bedroom -- that's all I need -- there's a difference of $300 a month.

Mr Daigeler: It's $300 a month?

Cecilia: A month, and I'm on a fixed income.

Mr Daigeler: Would you say that would be the average situation?

Cecilia: I would say $200 to $300 per month is average.

Mr Daigeler: What I'm concerned about is that once your apartment is going to become legal, then your landlord will raise the rent to that level.

Cecilia: No, she won't.

Mr Daigeler: What assurance do you have of that?

Cecilia: My basis for it is that if you have a good tenant, you don't raise the rent. In order to keep your tenant, you keep the rent low. As long as they're happy with it, and you're happy, so what?

Mr Daigeler: I hope so.

Cecilia: Yes, I'm sure of that.

Mr Daigeler: Once it's legal and the rent is registered, then it's clear, but in your case all you're going by is the goodwill, I guess, of your landlord that he or she is not going to raise it to that.

Cecilia: No, I'm not going by the goodwill. I told her where I was coming today. I said: "What are you going to do to me if they put this bill through? Are you going to ante up my rent?" She said, "No, absolutely not," and she was the one who said: "If you have a good tenant, you don't increase their rent. When you have a good tenant, you keep it as is." That's how I know and I'm so sure of it.

Renu: I can answer that question better. I'm a landlord who is renting out two apartments, as I've admitted. I have not raised the rent so far. For five years the rent had been the same, whether the tenants were moving out or in. The reason is that if I go on increasing the rent, they are going to look for apartments. My apartment is very attractive right now for them because they can afford it. I know that fact.

I need them and they also need me. That is the arrangement. I have just one child. I can leave the house peacefully if they are there. So I want them. As long as I know my tenants are good, I don't want to just push them out. Only if I don't like my tenants, I want to increase the rent so that they move. Otherwise, I will not do it. I would like to keep them.

Ms Katryan: I think it's also important to remember that when tenants in these apartments are in a legal situation, then they will be fully covered by the Landlord and Tenant Act and the Rent Control Act, so they would have legal recourse if the landlord did try and jack up the rent.

Mr Daigeler: I understand that. I think that's quite clear. But if there's such a tremendous price differential -- and frankly, we haven't asked that before, you know, what is the price differential?

One other point, and I think you brought it up yourself, that even if Bill 120 passes, you may be allowed to have one apartment, but your second apartment will still not be legal. Actually, you are the first one in that regard. You are asking to take away that provision which allows only one unit. Would you have any kind of limit?


Renu: I would say there shouldn't be any limit as long as the fire safety standards are met. Why should there be a limit? You are the landlord and you own the house. You decide how many people. We don't want overcrowded places. We don't want to keep so many people as well. But we want to be reasonable and we want to have everything comfortable. That's all.

Schedules are different. We are almost extended families. There are two families, though they are extended. So naturally, even mother and daughter living together have different diets, they have different timings, they run at one time, and why should other person wash their dishes for the other person if the kitchen unit is the same. I don't know why they should have just one kitchen unit.

Mr Tilson: I have a question which I would like to put to the staff of the Ministry of Housing while this delegation is forward, and that has to do with an issue that was just raised by Mr Daigeler. It doesn't have to be necessarily answered now, but in due course.

If you have an illegal unit, an illegal basement apartment or any other type of apartment, and this bill is passed, and these units are now legalized, subject to standards and fire etc -- I know the answer the delegation has given, but I would like to hear a legal opinion -- these are not legal units now, so therefore can an owner of a building put these new rents on these new units at whatever he or she pleases, notwithstanding the niceness of a particular landlord? All landlords may not be nice nor all tenants nice.

It's a question that I would have concern with, particularly if 100,000 -- and I have no idea where this figure came from -- illegal apartments around this province are now going to be legalized. Can the rent of those 100,000 units be at any rent that the landlord chooses? If they can give a quick answer, yes or no, or if they wish time, that's fine too.

Mr Terry Irwin: Just for Hansard, it's Terry Irwin. I'm a senior policy adviser with the Ministry of Housing.

As far as the Rent Control Act goes, the position has always been that the illegality, as far as zoning goes, is not an issue. If there's a landlord-tenant relationship, if there's a tenancy agreement, that's all that matters as far as the Rent Control Act goes. We would then look to when that unit was first rented, and maximum rent would have clicked in from that date on. The passing of Bill 120 should have no effect on the legal maximum rent under the Rent Control Act for those units.

Mr Tilson: I look forward to hearing that one in the courts, but thank you very much.

A question to all of you -- and I appreciate your anonymity; I understand why you're doing that -- if this bill does pass and become law, it will become quite clear that notwithstanding the bill passing, there will then be a problem of all the violations of the fire code and municipal standards, building code standards and other standards that have yet to be complied with.

As tenants and as an owner, would you be prepared to come forward, particularly Cecilia who described conditions in her apartment, knowing full well that there are rather serious violations to those apartments?

Cecilia: What do you mean by a serious violation?

Mr Tilson: I guess if you know that there are violations, for example, the fire code. Certain fire exits and entrances may not be in a particular unit. The walls of the basement may not meet the building code or the fire code requirements. The plumbing requirements may or may not be adequate, particularly in older buildings, to meet the fire code requirements. There may be inadequate washroom facilities or there may be inadequate kitchen facilities. It may take substantial capital expenditures.

I'm speaking generally, because it may not apply to your specific cases. But you obviously have thought about this or you wouldn't be here today. Would tenants come forward to that next hurdle in trying to rectify these defects?

Cecilia: I think they would. I can only speak for myself. I have my entrance, but I also have windows that I could go through with no problem at all, because I'm small enough that I can squeeze through the windows. Regardless of where the fire was, I'm sure I'd get out.

Mr Tilson: The problem that has come forward, to me at least, particularly from landlords that have these units, is that they may be obliged by yet another law, the fire code or building code, to upgrade these units. In the past they haven't had that pressure, because no one's going to tell. Now that issue could arise. I guess the fear is that because of the substantial capital expenditures that may be required, people won't complain, because they want to live there. Cecilia: I have most of the things, so I can't answer you.

Mr Tilson: Okay, perhaps some of the others might have comments.

Renu: I think I should add that you are talking about the expenditure of the landlord, not the tenant.

Mr Tilson: I'm talking of the expenditure of the landlord.

Renu: The tenant can always complain.

Mr Tilson: That's right.

Renu: The tenant will complain. Of course, if I don't meet the fire standards, definitely my tenant is going to complain. I don't think that tenants are not aware of all these things. They are aware of these things.

Mr Tilson: And if you require $20,000 to rectify your two units?

Renu: That's my problem. If I want tenants, I should meet the standards. That's it.

Toni: I would complain. I want to complain right now. But where do I go? Who do I call for the inspection?

Mr Tilson: We'll now have various pieces of legislation that you'll be able to complain through. You'll be able to complain to your municipality. You'll be able to complain to the fire marshal. There will be all kinds of people you can complain to, depending on what the violations may be and depending on what the inspections may be.

I guess the issue that I'm trying to raise is that substantial expenditures may have to be made. I'm looking particularly at Cecilia -- I hope I'm pronouncing your name correctly -- where you've mentioned --


Mr Tilson: Oh, the wrong person. The lady in red, Toni. I'm sorry. The expenditures may have to be substantial. The landlord may not be able to afford those expenditures and may simply say: "Sorry, I can't afford those things. I'm going to have to close down this unit." Is that fear out there?

Renu: I can answer that part as well. Even with the mortgage right now, I don't have any additional subsidy or allowance, because my apartment, though it is meeting everything, is called illegal. As soon as that is legal, I can get more mortgage and add it on to the current mortgage and get better interest rates. I don't think the expenditure is going to be as high as you are predicting.

Mr Tilson: Oh, I'm not predicting it. I'm just --

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Tilson.

Mr Tilson: I'm not predicting anything yet.

The Chair: Thank you for coming and making your presentation to us today. It's been most helpful. This concludes the hearings for today. Tomorrow we will reconvene at 10 o'clock to do the final day of public presentations with regard to Bill 120. I'll see everyone at 10 am.

The committee adjourned at 1659.