LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO
Wednesday 1 December 2021 Mercredi 1er décembre 2021
Private Members’ Public Business
Endometriosis Awareness Month Act, 2021 / Loi de 2021 sur le mois de sensibilisation à l’endométriose
Report continued from volume A.
Private Members’ Public Business
Mr. Chris Glover: I move that, in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should increase the transparency of purchasing, owning and living in a condominium unit by enacting legislation that standardizes legal contracts for pre-construction purchases, specifying the size of the unit, amenities and a penalty to developers for not meeting these requirements and/or cancelling projects; ensures all new owners and tenants receive all relevant information regarding their rights, responsibilities, benefits and obligations of owning or living in a condominium unit; prohibits conflicts of interest, mandates automatic disclosure of condo board minutes, protects condo owners from being locked into long-term contracts, and provides a mechanism for condo owners to share their contact information with each other.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Pursuant to standing order 101, the member has 12 minutes for their presentation.
Mr. Chris Glover: It’s my pleasure to rise about this motion about condos and increasing the transparency for condo buyers and owners. This is an important issue. Condo transparency is an important issue—and the proper management of condos—in my riding of Spadina–Fort York because we have, at last count, over 300 condo towers and over 50,000 units, but it’s also an issue across the province because 104 out of 107 Ontario ridings have residential condominiums, with about 900,000 condominium units in them. And 13% of Ontario households now live in condominiums, and that number is rapidly rising. The CMHC, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., reports that 55% of homes under construction in January 2021 were condos.
I will say that I live in a condo and I love living in a condo. I like my neighbours. We have a good social committee going. I love the location. I love the amenities. There’s a gym that I can use. So it’s a really good space to live in. But there are many problems with condos as well, and this motion is attempting to ask the government to fix some of those problems.
I want to thank my legislative assistant, Pranav, and the legislative intern, Clare, for all the work that they have done, all the research they’ve done and outreach to the community in preparing this motion.
I’ll talk about the challenges, the problems in the condo industry. The first ones have to do with pre-sales. People often buy a unit and they don’t get the size of unit or the amenities they were promised. There are move-in delays and cancellations of contracts without compensation. There are sometimes defects in workmanship that can lead to special assessments that cost condo owners tens of thousands of dollars. The condo boards are not always transparent, and the condo board members may not be owners or residents, or may serve on many boards, and there are many cases of conflicts of interest. There’s also a lack of transparency in fees and what is considered a common element.
I’ve consulted with residents in Spadina–Fort York in preparing this. We’ve also consulted, in preparing this motion, with representatives from the Condominium Authority of Ontario, the Canadian Condominium Institute, the Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario, the Community Associations Institute, the GTA Condo Directors Group and condo owners in Spadina–Fort York. We had a town hall. We had a survey, and in the survey, 50% of the people participating reported that they had a problem with their condo board; 44% had problems with property managers; 36% had problems with condo fees; 37% had problems with accessing condo records; and 24% had problems with pre-construction sales. So this motion is designed to address some of the issues that people are facing when they move in to a condo or they buy a condo.
The first part of the motion is about pre-sales. It’s asking the government to create standardized legal contracts for pre-construction purchases, specifying the size of unit, the amenities and penalties for developers for not meeting these requirements or cancelling the projects.
This recommendation for a standardized legal contract comes directly from the Auditor General’s December 2020 report, and I can tell you that there are standardized contracts in many jurisdictions across this country. Nova Scotia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island all have enacted provisions to include a list of items that must be included in a purchase and sale agreement for a condominium, including the size of unit.
It baffles me that this is not already being done, that you could spend—the average price for a condo now in Toronto is $690,000. In a pre-sale, you put $690,000 on the table and you’re not even sure what size of condo unit you’re going to be getting. That is unacceptable. That’s not fair. We need to level the playing field for the condo buyers in this province.
Tarion, the warranty office, offers no protections for variations in square feet. They suggest that a 2% change is acceptable, and if there’s any more than a 2% change between what you were promised and what you actually receive, then you have to take the developer to court. That’s not a way to deal with things. There should be automatic compensation if your unit is not the size it was promised to be.
The other thing is, contracts get cancelled. Buildings get cancelled. We saw that with PACE last week. PACE is now asking the condo buyers to put another $100,000 down or they will cancel that development. So another $100,000; these people put their money down years ago and now they’re being asked to put down another $100,000 on top just to continue to purchase the unit that they had already been promised in the contract.
The solution we’re proposing is that if a pre-construction project is cancelled, condo purchasers should be given their deposit plus an amount equal to the loss in real estate value for the purchaser. Because right now, what happens is that if a project is cancelled, you get 2% less than the Bank of Canada interest rate. That’s what the developer has to pay you. But the Bank of Canada interest rate since 2008 has been less than 2%, so you effectively get no interest. They can hang on to a deposit of $50,000 or $100,000 or more for years, cancel the project, and you get no interest on that money and you’ve more than likely been priced out of the market. It’s grossly unfair, the cancellation of these projects.
We heard with PACE Developments that people had made sacrifices—and people often do make sacrifices—to buy a pre-construction condo. They delay weddings and other life events. They move in with their families so they can save up. And then when something like that happens, when the developer threatens to cancel the project or demands another $100,000, it’s grossly unfair to the condo buyers.
The second part of the motion is to ensure that “all new owners and tenants receive all relevant information regarding their rights, responsibilities, benefits and obligations of owning or living” in a condo unit. There is a condo buyer’s guide from the Condominium Authority of Ontario, but it’s only mandated that it be shared with pre-sale buyers, not buyers of existing units. We would ask that this guide be shared with the purchase of new and existing condo units, because every condo owner needs to understand their rights and responsibilities, whether the condo is new or old.
At last count, 60% of the residents in the condo buildings in my area are renters, and so we’re asking the Condominium Authority of Ontario to develop a renters’ guide and that it be provided to tenants by the landlord so they know their rights and responsibilities. It should contain information about, for example, the Condominium Authority Tribunal, so that people know where they can take an issue such as noise, smoke, pets, vehicles and storage.
I would also like to speak in favour of my colleague the MPP for University–Rosedale, who proposed a motion to expand the condo authority tribunal’s power. She wrote that the government of Ontario should expand the jurisdiction of the condo authority tribunal in 2022 so the tribunal can hear and rule on the issues that impact condo residents, including condo board governance and elections, condo rules, property management performance, condo fees, maintenance and repairs, reserve funds and short-term rentals.
The purpose of this is, currently, if you have issues with any of those things, your only recourse, if you can’t work it out, is to go to court, and that’s extremely expensive. So if the condo authority tribunal could deal with these matters, it would save a lot of people a lot of time and a lot of money.
Patrick Quealey from my riding says, “The condo act has nearly nothing that outlines the rights of owners related to protecting them from bad behaviour or management or that mandate more transparency in decision-making by boards to owners/ residents.”
The third part of my motion “prohibits conflicts of interest, mandates automatic disclosure of condo board minutes, protects condo owners from being locked into long-term contracts, and provides a mechanism for condo owners to share their contact information with each other.”
On prohibiting conflict of interest, currently, condo board members are required to complete disclosure statements and recuse themselves from meetings where discussions or votes are held on an issue which they have a conflict on, but there is no oversight or enforcement of this requirement.
This is where we get into trouble. We saw it in the news. The Canadian Press reported in March 2021, and the headline was, “Competition Bureau Lays Charges in Alleged Bid-Rigging Scheme at Toronto Condo Project.
“The Competition Bureau”—a federal law enforcement agency—“says it has laid criminal charges against four companies and three individuals in connection with an alleged conspiracy to commit fraud and rig bids for condominium refurbishments in the Toronto area.
“In a news release, the federal law enforcement agency says the alleged offences took place between 2009 and 2014 and targeted condominium corporations and owners of condos through bid-rigging schemes that ... resulted in higher prices.”
These condo owners were absolutely getting ripped off by this scheme. We must put in further measures to prevent those kinds of conflicts of interest.
What we’re proposing is at the beginning of every condo board meeting, directors should be asked to disclose any new or potential conflict of interest, and that the board minutes record that disclosure. Then, the next step in that is that people need to have access to those minutes, so we’re asking that condo board minutes include details on important discussions, ranging from the budget, condo corporation contracts, general operations of the condo and changes to condo fees, and that they automatically be disseminated to all of the members of the co-op.
Gill Seale, a condo owner, says, “Condo board directors should be moving into the digital world, and all documents except those belonging to particular suite issues should be made available to all owners, free of charge, at any time.” This is not only preventing the conflicts of interest, but actually increasing transparency.
The other thing that we’ve asked for is to protect condo owners from being locked into long-term contracts. I’ve talked to condo owners in my riding who bought a condo. Unbeknownst to them, they are locked into a three- or a five-year telecom contract, and they’re paying two to three times the market value to get Internet service in their condo. It’s absolutely inexcusable that this is allowed to happen. That’s one of the other recommendations we’re making.
The final recommendation is to allow condo owners to share contact information with each other. I’ll talk more about that in my wrap-up.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Further remarks?
Hon. Ross Romano: I am very pleased to be able to rise today in the House to speak to motion 18, which has been brought forth by the member for Spadina–Fort York.
I am proud to be a member of a government that believes that every Ontarian deserves a place to call home. Unlike the opposition, we are actually taking action to make home ownership a reality for people across this province.
Whether you’re renting an apartment in Toronto or you live in a townhome in London or a house in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontarians in all corners of our province expect their government to have their backs when it comes to finding a place to live. Ontarians can count on this government to stand up for them and make housing accessible for all.
Our government has introduced legislative, regulatory and policy changes to tackle the housing crisis. Under the leadership of Premier Ford, we are building Ontario and making life more affordable for people. We are fixing the barriers to building new homes. These changes are critical to the creation of more housing supply, which is desperately needed in our province.
Mr. Speaker, my colleague the member from Leeds–Grenville–Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, has been leading the charge on this front, bringing in the most comprehensive pro-housing bill in a generation. Our More Homes, More Choice Act, passed in 2019 by this government, is helping to tackle this issue every day and is creating more housing of every variety across Ontario. Through a broad range of measures, it addresses the speed of development approvals and encourages a mix of housing types, helping unlock housing options for Ontarians of all walks of life.
While the opposition loves to talk, we are actually delivering results for the people of Ontario. We’re working hard so that many Ontarians are able to realize their dream of home ownership, while renters see lower costs and a mix of housing types to choose from.
Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to say that our approach is working. The housing supply action plan has helped more homes start construction in 2020 than in any year in the past decade. Construction of rental units has also surged in 2020 to the highest it has been since 1992. In the greater Toronto area alone, there are over 100,000 purpose-built rental units proposed or currently under construction, and that is over 22,000 more than only one year earlier. These strong trends have continued through 2021, despite being in the midst of a global pandemic. This is great news for Ontarians, be it our young people looking to find the first place of their own or growing families looking to settle down in a new community.
Seeing these positive results, it’s that much more of a shame that the opposition is so determined to just sit idly by and make the problem worse. The NDP are the party of no. They have voted no on Bill 108, the More Homes, More Choice Act, and they have voted no on Bill 184, the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act. That means no to more affordable housing, that means no to more tenant protections, and that means no to making housing more accessible for Ontarians.
All the while, the Del Duca Liberals, supported 99% of the time by the NDP, don’t fare much better at all, I’m afraid. We will take no lessons from the members opposite when it comes to affordable housing. Their legacy on housing speaks for itself, having presided over runaway home prices and rents.
But we don’t have to look that far in the past or at the voting record to see the true colours of this Del Duca-led opposition coalition of the unwilling. Just this week, the leader of the NDP proudly stated that, if elected Premier, she would slow down developments on new housing in our communities. And the leader of the Liberal Party, Mr. Steven Del Duca, announced that if he were elected Premier, he would curb the government’s ability to speed up critical housing projects.
One thing is crystal clear, Mr. Speaker: There is only one Premier who walks the walk and who talks the talk, and there is only one Premier who stands shoulder to shoulder with Ontario workers, and that is our Premier, Premier Ford.
Hon. Ross Romano: Indeed. Indeed he is, Mr. Speaker.
As the minister responsible for various administrative authorities, I am committed to following our Premier’s lead, to standing up for the little guy, to protecting and listening to our condo community, and to improve oversight across our great province. Mr. Speaker, my ministry recently launched a series of consultations with support from multiple partner ministries, including the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, to tackle the top issues. This includes topics like insurance affordability and availability, condo cancellations, as well as completing work in the condo act that the previous government left undone, unnecessarily exposing Ontarians.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I would like to address the specific points in this member’s motion and highlight some of our government’s actions and protections. Firstly, the member’s motion calls for the standardization of legal contracts for pre-construction purchases specifying the size of the unit and the amenities penalties to developers for not meeting these requirements. However, Mr. Speaker, as I’m sure the member is already aware, developers are already required to provide every person who purchases a unit or a proposed unit from them with a copy of the current disclosure statement as well as a copy of the applicable condo guide, which I will get into more later. The disclosure statement must set out information such as a general description of the property, including the types and the number of buildings, units, amenities and all other conditions.
The motion also calls for legislation that provides a penalty for project cancellation. However, Mr. Speaker, my ministry and Tarion have already taken action to address this. Specifically, we updated the Ontario Builder Directory to include information about condominium projects retroactive to January 1, 2018, including cancelled condominium projects and the status of each one, whether they are completed, in progress or cancelled.
In addition, as of July 1, 2021, a new mandatory code of ethics for licensed builders and vendors of new homes will further protect buyers and owners against bad actors in the marketplace. The new code ensures that these builders and vendors operate in a professional manner, with fairness, honesty and integrity towards consumers. As such, complaints received by the Home Construction Regulatory Authority could lead to disciplinary hearings.
Speaker, as the Premier has said time and time again, our government is working to continue protecting the well-being of Ontarians, and we are going to keep pressuring those who would take advantage of them and their families. That is exactly why my ministry continues to work with our partners to make Ontario’s condo real estate market safe and fair for people across our province. And unlike the previous Liberal government, backed by the NDP 99% of the time for 15 years, we are not letting the condo act sit on the shelf to collect dust while families work their backs off to put a roof over their heads.
Our government is taking concrete action to hold bad actors accountable and encourage people to do business in Ontario, instead of bringing forth empty motions that accomplish next to nothing that hasn’t already been done.
Mr. Speaker, as mentioned, this motion calls for legislation that ensures new owners and tenants receive all relevant information regarding their rights, responsibilities, benefits, obligations of living in or owning a condominium unit. I’m happy to say that as of January 1, 2021, we made sure of that by requiring developers to provide a copy of Ontario’s Residential Condominium Buyers’ Guide to purchasers of new or pre-construction residential condos, along with a copy of the current disclosure statement. The guide includes information to better inform purchasers and owners about the process of buying a condo unit or about condo living. For example, it includes general information about the purpose of reserve funds and what is appropriate for the condo owner to repair or maintain. The condo guide is also publicly available on the Condominium Authority of Ontario’s website so that anyone who wishes to access it can, and they can learn about their rights and responsibilities, Mr. Speaker. Additionally, my ministry has worked with the Real Estate Council of Ontario to encourage real estate salespersons, brokers and brokerages to provide a copy of the guide to condo real estate purchasers.
All of this is already enshrined in the legislation. We do not need more talk from the NDP, let alone a motion that brings nothing new to the table, Mr. Speaker. But I can assure you that our government is going to continue to work on protecting the people here in Ontario.
In the interests of time, Mr. Speaker, I’m not going to go into any more detail about the remaining points of this motion, but I will say that for every single one of them, there are already relevant protections or regulations in place. As the minister responsible for this file, Mr. Speaker, it is my duty to tell Ontarians about what their government has been doing to protect them and their investments in the last three and a half years, after the previous Liberal government, supported by the NDP 99% of the time, chose not to act.
Even worse, Mr. Speaker, when our government sought to further strengthen consumer protection by passing the Rebuilding Consumer Confidence Act, the Del Duca Liberals and the NDP once again said no and they voted against it. Again, let me reiterate: My colleagues on this side of the House believe everyone deserves a place to call home, and we are helping more Ontario families realize that dream every day. I can assure you that our government will continue to fight for those families to make the dream of home ownership and rental a reality.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Further remarks?
Ms. Suze Morrison: Condo buyers and owners currently do not have enough protections in Ontario. Buying a place of your own has been getting harder and harder for decades under the crushing weight of the housing crisis, and the lack of rules and protections for condo buying and condo ownership has made the dream of home ownership for too many people a nightmare.
This issue recently came to a head in my riding in Toronto Centre. The Clover condos were supposed to go up in the Church and Wellesley Village in a project by Cresford Developments, but last year Cresford fell into receivership following allegations that it failed to report construction overruns and misallocated expenses among its projects. The project was bought by Concord, a developer who planned to offer buyers the right to continue owning the units they had paid for in 2016. But here is the rub, Speaker: They were offered those units at a rate of $1,300 per square foot, when they had originally bought into the project for their units at $800 to $900 a square foot. This bill would address this problem by standardizing legal contracts of pre-construction purchases by creating penalties for developers who do not fulfill the amenities they promise or if they cancel their projects.
Speaker, developers retain a great deal of power in the development of a pre-construction condo unit, and condo boards and property managers operate with little enforcement for compliance. Most owners, tenants and prospective buyers do not have decent protections in the condo industry or the condominium unit that they live in. There are well over a million condo dwellers in Ontario who deserve stronger rights and protections so that they can live good lives in well-maintained units.
Speaker, in my riding of Toronto Centre, we have no vacant land left. The days of building acres of detached family homes in my community are long gone. Our skyline is a sea of cranes. If you want to buy a home in my community, you’re buying a condo. There are no other choices. But we must ensure that there’s greater accountability, especially for the first-time home buyers who are just trying to start their families in our dense downtown community. They deserve to feel safe and protected as they make the single biggest purchase of their lives.
In the NDP’s Homes You Can Afford plan, we have committed to ensuring that condo governance is transparent and effective, as well as strengthening the condominium tribunal and improving rules around condo property management. The bill before us today represents one part of that plan and our commitment as New Democrats to ensuring that people in this province are protected in accessing high-quality, affordable housing, whether that’s safe shelters, whether that’s affordable rentals, whether it’s co-ops, community housing or, in this case, for condo dwellers. I’m so grateful to my colleague the member for Spadina–Fort York for bringing forward this bill today. I’m proud to support it now. It’s a critical step in protecting condo dwellers here in Ontario.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Further remarks?
Ms. Marit Stiles: It’s really a pleasure to stand here today to talk about the condo transparency act. I want to start by thanking the member from Spadina–Fort York for his leadership on this issue.
Davenport, like many ridings in Toronto and many across the province, has a large and growing number of condos, particularly in the southern part of my riding. We hear from constituents living in condos, either as owners or as tenants, who reach out to us for support every day because they have been unable to address an issue through their own condo board or with the developer. These issues can range from an elevator that isn’t repaired to utilities that aren’t reliable, and, of course, massive, massive rent increases for those tenants.
As development in our area has increased, new condo projects have popped up along transit lines and in the rapidly changing area near Sterling Road. We’ve had cases where people have made massive pre-construction down payments, scraping together support from parents and their own savings only to see the project cancelled and their money refunded without interest. By the time that happens, their down payment isn’t enough to afford a different condo, and they’re just out of luck. And then, lo and behold, the same developer announces a new project on the same site for more money once they used the first lot of people to get a sense of the interest. This has happened again and again.
I also want to mention an issue that I wrote to Minister Downey and Minister Thompson about over a year ago, about residents of 170 Sudbury Street, who were taken advantage of by a heat pump company and also their original condo developer. I remember when I wrote that letter to the ministers, I asked them to review, please, the provincial legislation governing those contracts and to take action then to protect buyers, and I really wish we had seen movement from this government.
A common thread in all of these situations is that when it comes to these issues, there’s a glaring lack of oversight and transparency that leaves these condo owners and tenants totally on their own. That’s why I’m so glad that the MPP from Spadina–Fort York, our neighbour to the south of my riding, has put forward this motion calling on the government to implement measures that would increase transparency in the condominium industry for condo unit owners, for renters and for prospective buyers.
We’ve already outlined some of what this bill will do, but it includes standardizing legal contracts for pre-construction purchases; ensuring all new owners and tenants receive all relevant information regarding their rights and responsibilities, the benefits and obligations of owning and living in a condo; prohibits conflicts of interest; and more and more.
We’ve all read the horror stories, including the revelation in the press that con artists were taking positions on condo boards across this city and manipulating the system for their own gain. This approach starts at the earliest points in the development and continues into the ownership structure, and it needs to stop.
If we want high-density, sustainable, truly affordable and livable communities, we need to rebalance condo laws to protect owners and tenants. I think passing this bill is a really great start. Thank you again very much for the opportunity.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Further remarks?
Mr. Mike Schreiner: I rise to speak in favour of motion 18. We are facing a housing affordability crisis in Ontario, which is placing substantially more stress on homebuyers and renters. So it is critical that people are properly protected and feel confident in their purchase.
A home, whether it’s a single-family home or a condo, is oftentimes the biggest investment a person makes. That’s exactly why we need proper consumer protection, and we need to eliminate construction shortcuts, misleading contracts and even developers who cancel projects, because it creates major distress and financial implications for buyers.
That’s why we need to standardize pre-construction purchase agreements and ensure they are comprehensive. It’s why we need to strengthen condo governance and the condominium tribunal to protect new condo owners. And we need to hold developers accountable who fail to deliver for their customers. We especially need to protect young homebuyers, who are having a difficult enough time getting into the home market, and we need to make sure the process is as safe and as easy as possible.
The condominium market has a particularly large share of investors and speculators purchasing them, and so we also need to make sure we do what we can to protect renters in this speculator-dominated and profit-driven market to ensure that renters are aware of their rights. That’s exactly why we need additional speculation and vacancy taxes to control this market.
Speaker, I want to close by saying to many of the condo owners who come to my office with significant challenges—challenges of decisions that are made around renovations that are putting additional fees on them and pricing them out of their home, and other challenges they face—that I will be happy to work with members of all parties to make sure we strengthen the laws and the consumer protections to protect people who own condominiums.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Further remarks?
Mr. Stephen Blais: The cost of housing has never been higher than it is today, and this is one of the most pressing issues facing our community. The cost of both owning and renting a home or a condo or an apartment has exponentially increased and is simply out of control. We need affordable and accessible housing, and we need it today—not tomorrow, not five years from now, not a decade from now.
Today we’re here to speak about a more specific issue facing the housing sector, and that’s the challenges faced by those purchasing a pre-construction home or condo.
Purchasing a home is one of the biggest and most stressful things you will ever do, and it’s the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make—or at least it is for most of us. Imagine spending years and years pinching pennies, getting that deposit ready, only to have your dreams shattered and disappointed.
Unfortunately, some of those who purchase pre-construction homes and condos have been on the receiving end of very unethical behaviour.
In Orléans, we saw a home builder cancel an entire phase of a subdivision after holding deposits for three years, only to re-release it a week later—a week later—and offer no compensation to the purchasers. Imagine putting your life savings down on a deposit, waiting for years to see your dream home come to fruition, only to have your contract cancelled and receive no compensation. Further, they were offered the opportunity to purchase the same home for 10%, 15% and 25% more, and they received no interest or compensation on the years of their lost deposit.
No one should have to live in fear of their life savings going down the drain because of unethical behaviour by some bad actors in home building. Not everyone in the home building industry works inappropriately, but it seems to me that those who do, those bad actors, are really very bad.
If Ontarians, if young people who are saving to purchase their first home or their first condo wanted to play Russian roulette with their finances, they would go to a casino. They would not put a deposit down on a home here in Ontario.
This government needs to take stronger action to regulate the home building industry, to keep them accountable for the promises they made.
And that situation in Orléans I was talking to you about? We spoke to the regulator, and their answer was, “We can’t do anything about it.” That needs to change, Mr. Speaker. Consumers deserve better protection.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Further remarks?
Ms. Peggy Sattler: I’m very pleased to rise in support of my colleague’s motion for greater condo transparency.
I want to speak for a couple of minutes from the perspective of a condo renter and share what’s happening in my community.
We have four condo complexes in south London. Two of them are located in London West; two of them are located in London–Fanshawe. Altogether, there are about 227 units across these four complexes. All of these condo units are rented. Most of the tenants who rent these units are low-income families. They’re paying rent in the amount of just over $1,000 a month, which, as we know, is very, very low in today’s housing market.
Last month, my office started hearing from tenants at the two buildings that are located in London West that they were being pressured to vacate. They were being told that their units were being sold to individual condo owners by the corporation and that these new owners may want to move in. The tenants were faced with very high-pressure and coercive tactics to try to get them to agree to vacate. They were presented with compensation packages and then were told that the compensation would be withdrawn if they did not agree to get out of the units.
My office held a town hall with Neighbourhood Legal Services to let the tenants know of their legal rights and whether they could be forced to vacate, because as this motion points out, there is a complete lack of transparency for tenants of condo units in terms of their rights and protections.
Today I want to thank Andrew Lupton of the CBC, a reporter who talked to tenants last month as all of this was happening. He started doing some digging into what had led to all of a sudden these 227 units—the tenants being told that the units were going on the market and they would be forced to vacate. Andrew Lupton’s story today, his investigation, revealed some very disturbing information about Toronto investors who are forming holding companies and buying these units and going to resell them at almost $200,000 over what they had purchased.
In July of this year, four holding companies with four Toronto investor-directors bought these 227 units at a cost of just under $280,000. The tenants who are being asked to move out of these condo units are being offered the opportunity to purchase them for $460,000. So somebody is going to be making a huge profit, and these very low-income, vulnerable tenants in London West and in London–Fanshawe are going to potentially be facing homelessness. They can’t find anywhere comparable to rent in the city of London at this time.
Another disturbing fact is that two of the investors of these holding companies are also registered on the condo authority of Ontario website as directors for all four of these condo complexes that were sold. Something very disturbing is going on here, Speaker.
It really highlights the importance of a motion like this to provide transparency about the board of directors of these condo corporations to ensure that they are not acting in their own self-interest, and also to provide transparency for people who rent condo units across this province.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Further remarks? Further remarks?
I return to the member from Spadina–Fort York for his final closing of two minutes.
Mr. Chris Glover: As I was giving my main speech, I needed a bit more time just to talk about the third request that—
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): You do have the full minute, plus your other two minutes.
Mr. Chris Glover: Thank you very much.
The third request is to provide a mechanism for condo owners to share their contact information with each other. This is because condo owners need 15% of all owners in a corporation to requisition a board meeting so that they can bring forward concerns.
Maureen, a resident and condo owner in Spadina–Fort York, writes, “Owners often don’t have an efficient way to communicate with each other to requisition owners’ meetings. Some boards resist attempts by owners to form homeowner associations as some boards see these associations as competition or a threat to the boards’ power.”
Elizabeth McGroarty, a condo owner, puts it a different way. She says, “We only have access to knowing our neighbours if we petition the boards through the condo authority, so it’s really tough to raise any objection to things like rule changes unless we sit in the lobby and accost everyone who enters with a petition for them to sign.”
I want to thank the members from University–Rosedale, Davenport, Guelph, Orléans and London West—
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): And now, I return to the member of Spadina–Fort York for his final two-minute reply.
Mr. Chris Glover: Thank you. I want to thank them all for their comments.
I really want to respond to the comments from the member from Sault Ste. Marie. He talked about how this government is making life more affordable for Ontarians and that they are “delivering results.” Well, I can tell you, in the city of Toronto, housing prices were up 13.2% last year, and in the city of Sault Ste. Marie, where this member represents, where he says that his government is delivering results and making life affordable, housing prices were up 44.6% year over year.
Interjection: Nice job, Ross.
Mr. Chris Glover: Yeah. And then, when we asked—you know, I brought forward this motion. We did a year of research on this motion, asking condo owners across the province, what do we need to level the playing field to make condo purchasing a fair and safe purchase? And the member said there is no action that needs to be taken. He’s satisfied with what’s already happening out there. He said the actions that we’ve asked for are already in place.
If the actions that we asked for in this motion were already in place in this province, we wouldn’t be receiving so many complaints. There wouldn’t be so many condo buyers who are struggling with their condo boards. There wouldn’t be so many people who purchase pre-sale condos who have had their contracts cancelled.
This government really needs to listen to this motion and they need to act on this motion for the benefit of the people we all represent in Ontario. The standardized legal contracts—that’s such a basic action that has been asked for not just in my motion; it was asked for by the Auditor General. Surely the government can listen to the Auditor General and create a standardized contract so that people can be safe and confident when they’re purchasing probably the biggest purchase of their life, a condominium.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Just before I proceed, I’ll remind all members that even in interjections you should use the title or the riding of the person you’re referring to.
The time provided for private members’ public business has expired.
Mr. Glover has moved private members’ notice of motion number 18. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.
All those in favour of the motion will please say “aye.”
All those opposed to the motion will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
A recorded division being required, the vote on this item of private members’ public business will be deferred to the next proceeding of deferred votes.
Orders of the Day
Endometriosis Awareness Month Act, 2021 / Loi de 2021 sur le mois de sensibilisation à l’endométriose
Ms. Stiles moved second reading of the following bill:
Bill 58, An Act to proclaim March as Endometriosis Awareness Month / Projet de loi 58, Loi proclamant le mois de mars Mois de sensibilisation à l’endométriose.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): I return the floor to Ms. Stiles from Davenport.
Ms. Marit Stiles: It is really a pleasure to rise today and speak about my bill, Bill 58, a bill to proclaim the month of March as Endometriosis Awareness Month in Ontario. It was a wonderful surprise this morning to learn that the government would be bringing this forward to second reading tonight and that we have, I hope, their support, which I’m looking forward to. I introduced this bill along with my colleague from Toronto Centre, MPP Suze Morrison, about a year ago, at least, with an aim to draw public attention to this very common and yet often misunderstood and misdiagnosed disease.
I want to take a moment early on here to thank the many people who have advocated for endometriosis awareness, treatment and government action over the years, especially the great people at Endometriosis Network Canada, who are leading this fight across the country, representatives from EndoAct Canada and countless others, including Anusha and Erin from Endo Advocates, who reached out and showed their support on our online petition and reached out to me with more information. It was wonderful.
I also want to thank my former OLIP intern, Nikki Romano, who did an enormous amount of work to prepare this and reach out to stakeholders. Thank you, Nikki.
Speaker, endometriosis is an inflammatory disease that affects one in 10 women, trans and non-binary people who menstruate. It can cause debilitating symptoms and conditions, including chronic pelvic pain, nausea, excessive menstrual pain and infertility. As I’m going to discuss in my remarks here, the truth is that we actually don’t know how many more people are suffering from endometriosis, because so many people don’t get diagnosed—particularly folks who might be trans or non-binary—and that number is probably even higher.
With this many people affected, you would think that it would be well known, it would be discussed and that there would be media attention and research and policy around treatment and diagnosis. But this is a disease that is mired in shame and stigma around menstruation. That stigma and shame, something that’s shared by all people who menstruate—including, again, not only women but also trans and non-binary people—means that many, many people with endometriosis suffer for years before they even seek help, and they’re often misdiagnosed or dismissed by the medical system. Often, that goes on, as I said, for years, and unfortunately, some are never diagnosed at all. It’s really unfortunate because the impact of endometriosis on the quality of life of a person, on their self-esteem, is massive. Honestly, if that wasn’t enough reason for us to start taking this disease seriously, the impact on a person’s ability to work, attend school—it is costly to families, communities and, yes, to our economy. In fact, research shows that endometriosis costs the Canadian economy at least $1.8 billion every year, with adult sufferers often forced to miss work due to pain, and youth sufferers often falling behind in their studies due to missing school.
Speaker, this is an issue that is very personal for many people. It’s hard to talk about. I actually have to say that a little part of me has brought forward a lot of bills related to menstruation and stuff because I get great joy out of talking about it here, because it has been something that we have assigned such stigma to for so many years. As elected officials and people in the public realm, we have a real responsibility to try to change that.
I have been contacted by many, many endo sufferers over the last three years, since my election in 2018, and I think the first action I took was bringing yellow ribbons into this House. We received unanimous consent to allow everybody to wear those ribbons in recognition of Endometriosis Awareness Week, I believe. Ever since then, I’ve received a lot of emails and contact from other endo sufferers, people who often have suffered decades in excruciating pain, who have other really terrible symptoms. They’ve talked to me a lot about how those symptoms have gotten worse and worse. Some of them have had difficulty conceiving. They’ve had difficult pregnancies. They’ve had miscarriages. Many had to leave their jobs or had to leave school.
What’s astonishing is not only that there aren’t any real answers out there, that there are no solutions, that there’s no prevention, but that the lack of knowledge and awareness compounds all of those issues.
Indeed, most people who experience the pain and effects of endo find themselves going to multiple doctors, numerous times, and are told to deal with it by using over-the-counter medications, even when they’re dealing with chronic, debilitating pain. The stories I hear are about being brushed off, dismissed. Of course, for most people, they have this pain, and they may not even know what’s normal pain. So when someone says, “Oh, it’s normal. Just pop an Advil,” they think, “Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I don’t have a high-enough pain tolerance.” It’s not just unfortunate that that happens, but it’s actually dangerous because endometriosis, as I’ve said, radically impacts not only quality of life but can also result in very serious conditions, including stroke.
Mr. Speaker, this has been my experience: As a young teenager, it made it almost impossible for me to go to school; as an athlete, it was debilitating—and my condition was not as serious as that experienced by so many. Notwithstanding that, and despite many, many attempts to get care, to find solutions, I wasn’t actually diagnosed until I was 30. It’s not like I hadn’t tried to find help, like so many other people do. The fact is that the average diagnosis takes at least five years, usually more like seven years, and much, much higher, because that’s not even counting the many people who just don’t get a diagnosis. Of course, that can go on for most of their life. Many of these folks often have moms or grandmothers who also had that same intense pain, so people tell them that it’s just normal, that it’s just their lot in life. Well, it’s not.
I have a message for people out there who are experiencing that kind of intense pain, especially young people: Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s normal. Don’t let anybody dismiss that. Painful periods are not normal. It’s not okay. You have a right to treatment and care and to have a health care provider listen to you.
Speaker, it’s time the health care system stopped neglecting this disease. And don’t just take it from me; take it from the experts—doctors, specialists, researchers—who are advocating for more resources. Doctors who specialize have massive waiting lists. I talked to one doctor here who always has a waiting list of at least 500 people who are just looking for first consults—and that’s at Mount Sinai. It’s not just here in Ontario, of course; Canada is far behind other countries when it comes to diagnosing and treating this condition. But the resources and the care needs to come from the province. That’s why, as I said, Speaker, I’m really thrilled for this opportunity, because I think that with awareness can come pressure to take action, and we need to do much more than we’re doing currently.
I just wanted to mention some of the other folks, as I mentioned earlier, who have come to me, who are endo sufferers who are advocating for action from government. A couple of things that they’ve mentioned to me are that we need to put in place a province-wide action plan with actionable targets. We need better OHIP coverage for endo care. These are just a few of the things.
Something else that I feel really passionately about is that we need to expand education of children and youth to include endometriosis and what constitutes a normal period in the curriculum, in our schools. Actually, in BC right now, the BC Women’s Hospital is partnering with one of the school boards to pilot a curriculum course that includes endometriosis, so they’re updating their sexual health curriculum to include endometriosis and what is a normal period. They’re finding that so much learning and awareness is coming.
Remember that for people who have their period, at least 10% of folks are truly suffering with endometriosis in that moment, and it starts young. I mean, it often starts when you’re a young teenager. That’s a really high percentage of the population who could really use this information to improve their lives, and if not their lives, the lives of the people who they care about, their family and their social circle. That also means people who don’t menstruate—boys, right? It means that they might actually benefit from knowing more about this and can help people in their lives.
Speaker, I want to thank everyone who’s going to speak today in advance. I want to thank the government House leader for encouraging this conversation. The time that we have here as legislators is really, really precious, and I’ve been honoured to use my role to bring forward issues that affect women and everybody out there who menstruates, be it by advocating to end period poverty in our schools, and also raising awareness about endometriosis. It’s really an important first step and I’m proud to be able to bring this forward. So thank you, and let’s pass this bill.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Further debate?
Mrs. Robin Martin: Thank you to the member from Davenport for bringing forward this important awareness-month piece of legislation about endometriosis. Endometriosis is a very painful disorder in which tissue similar to tissue that normally lines the inside of a uterus, the endometrium, is impacted, and it hurts.
The first thing I would like to say to the member opposite is that endometriosis is something that causes a lot of pain for a lot of people, and I feel that pain, I want to say to people. I suffered from endometriosis when I first started menstruating and for most of my life—until very recently; I think having children seemed to change that. But as a young woman of 13, I remember blanching completely white in a classroom, all of a sudden getting clammy and sweaty from pain, and just about to pass out. If not for an attentive friend taking me to the nurse at the school, the infirmary, I would have passed out that day. My mother had to come and pick me up and take me home, and that happened many times. I had the sense that my mother resented having to come and take me home, as if I could do something about the fact that I was in total pain, but I was in total pain.
Now, as a 13-year-old, you don’t really know what you’re supposed to be feeling. Your body’s changing. You don’t really know what this means, or whether everybody else is just a lot tougher than you are and somehow you’re feeling more than somebody else did or feeling more sorry for yourself than you should. But it’s something that I dealt with for pretty much all of my life until I had children.
Throughout all of that, I had good medical care and raised the issue and got the diagnosis etc., but the treatment was uncertain as to what we could do exactly to help. I was prescribed several different medications over time and given the opportunity to try the new medication on the market, and none of them did anything to help, so it was extremely painful and also had me being a guinea pig for various painkilling drugs that unfortunately didn’t really help. At the end of the day, when I had children, I guess my hormones changed or something, and that seemed to solve the problem.
But as the member opposite pointed out, first of all, it’s something that people don’t talk about, don’t share with other people, and it’s something that we need to take the stigma away from. We need to have a conversation about it, so that people who are suffering can raise it with their family and get support, raise it with their friends and get support and raise it with their medical team—their doctor or whoever is looking after them—to make sure that they’re getting the best possible treatment that is available to them for this incredibly painful disorder.
As the member opposite mentioned, it’s a fairly common disorder. About 10% of people get it. I think estimated worldwide it’s 176 million to 200 million women suffer from this disease, which is a huge number of people. There was an Endometriosis Awareness Month recognized around the world, and it is March as well, which is what this bill proposes. I think the Endometriosis Association in the US began recognizing March as Endometriosis month in 1993.
Just a little bit more about the kind of pain people feel: Another thing we don’t talk about is bowel movements, but sometimes that can be impacted, because it’s all in the same area of your body.
Disabling pain: Many times I was buckled over in pain and unable to do anything. You can’t get comfortable, either buckled over or stretched out; it’s just painful. There’s pelvic pain at the time of your cycle; back or leg pain.
Gastrointestinal symptoms, as I said: constipation, diarrhea or cycling between the two; abdominal bloating.
And it can lead to fertility issues as well, and problems with pregnancy loss or infertility, which thankfully I didn’t have, but those are terrible impacts for people to have to deal with.
As said before, we don’t really know what the cause of it is or who’s going to suffer from it. I know the member opposite mentioned that a number of people have others in their family who suffered from it, but I don’t know of anyone in my family who suffers from it. I think it’s either that nobody did or nobody talked about it. It could be either; either way, it’s not good. And either way, I think it is something we do need to talk about and try to make sure that we are sharing awareness about, even though it’s not a pleasant topic, obviously.
What happens, really, with endometriosis is that the endometrial-like tissue thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. But because the tissue has no way to get out of your body, frankly, it becomes trapped; and, when the endometriosis involves the ovaries, cysts on the endometrium, as well.
It can cause intense pain, as we’ve said, and it’s often really misdiagnosed or lumped together with other things. It’s really a challenge, I think, to get people to talk about it, but more importantly, to take action and make sure that whoever is suffering from it has some ability to get some relief from the pain they’re suffering and do whatever they can to try to make it more bearable for them.
I applaud the member opposite for bringing forward this important awareness-month act, and I think the more that we can talk about these kinds of issues, the better we’ll be. We don’t want to have large segments of our population missing days of school, which I know I did, or missing work because they’re unable to function for a period of time on a regular basis. This kind of thing can be very debilitating and can really have impacts on people’s lives, so I think it’s a great motion and I’m happy to support it. I thank the member opposite for bringing it forward.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Further debate?
Ms. Suze Morrison: Endometriosis is a disease experienced by one in 10 menstruators of reproductive age. That includes women, trans and non-binary folks. Endometriosis causes extreme pelvic pain and nausea, and it can lead to infertility. It often goes undiagnosed because of stigma and shame, leaving those who experience it to suffer in silence.
Speaker, it’s a complex disease that affects approximately a million people in Canada. There is neither a definitive cause nor a known cure for endometriosis. The complex and changing nature of endometriosis is challenging to both patients and clinicians, yet endometriosis costs the Canadian economy an estimated annual cost of $1.8 billion when people who suffer with this condition are forced to stay home from work, or when young people are unable to get through their school day and fall behind on their studies and fall behind at school.
I have a quote from Dr. Kate Wahl, who joined other doctors in a paper published with EndoAct Canada that reads, “Increasing awareness about endometriosis and its symptoms—both in the wider public and in the medical community—is vital to ensuring individuals who suffer get better and faster diagnosis and treatment.
“We need to encourage open conversations and better education around this disease, and around what constitutes a ‘normal’ period.”
Dr. Wahl goes on to add, “After diagnosis,” people struggle to access treatment “for multiple reasons. Many regions of Canada have few or no clinicians trained to treat the advanced stages of endometriosis or to identify and treat contributors to complex pain symptoms. Those living in underserviced areas without resources to travel to visit experts can suffer severe consequences, including debilitating daily pain, or radical surgery such as hysterectomy ... at a young age. Geographic inequalities are not the only issue; Black, Indigenous and people of colour, LGBTQ2S+ individuals, and members of already marginalized groups often face additional barriers to optimal care. From across Canada, we repeatedly hear about the losses that result from diagnostic delays and ineffective treatment: loss of social ties, loss of relationships, loss of jobs, and loss of the ability to have children.
“Clinicians, patients, and patients’ families are keenly aware of the inadequacies of the current system. Patients often resort to accessing care in emergency departments and may see a dozen health care providers before being diagnosed.”
Speaker, I can’t tell you how grateful I am to the member from Davenport for her leadership bringing this bill forward, and for the opportunity to work on this bill with her, as far back as last year. This bill isn’t just about the statistics for me; it’s quite personal. In the summer of 2019, just a year after being elected to this House, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. I was diagnosed by accident. It was something that was caught in another surgery that I was having for an unrelated reason, and they found the tissue.
This was after years of my life going to doctor after doctor, as young as 13, saying, “I’m in so much pain. How is this normal?”, and being brushed off with birth control; “It’s just tough periods. Have some Advil. Have some anti-inflammatories. It’s just a bad period.” For years I suffered. Then I had to go through an entirely unrelated procedure and in my post-op surgical report find out, “Oh, yes, we found some endometriosis when we were in there. Have a good time”—no post-op surgical care, no immediate referrals to a specialist.
It took me another six months of self-patient advocacy after that to even request a referral to a specialist, but then a referral to an OB is not just any OB. No, you have to find one who is actually specialized in endometriosis, and it was an immense amount of research to find a list of doctors that I could even take back to my own doctor and say, “Please refer me to one of these people.” And then I waited, and I waited, and then I got a call and I was told that the doctor at the top of my list had a one-year-long wait-list. She was the best in the city, but if I wanted even just an introductory appointment sooner than a year, I should go to my second or my third choice. So I went to my second choice, and that wait-list was still six months—that wait-list was still six months.
And so, two and a half years after being diagnosed, I’ve had one initial consultation with a specialist, and I will not have a treatment plan in place until at least January—two and half years. This is the story of people who fall through the cracks of our health care system with this disease every single day.
And it has only gotten worse because of COVID, because let’s say I get to January and the day that I’m praying for finally comes where I can get my surgery. How long am I going to wait because of the backlog in surgical availability because of COVID-19? How long am I going to wait to not be in pain anymore? This is the reality of people who live with endometriosis that they’re dealing with every single day—every single day.
Speaker, I just can’t thank the member from Davenport enough for bringing this bill forward, because not only have we been able to work on this bill together, but she has been a friend and a resource to me as I have struggled for the past two years, in so much pain. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve cried in her office, trying to get through the day in this place, as I’ve struggled to stand at my seat and stand in a place of power when I just want to fall over and die.
It is so painful. So many people live with this pain, thinking that it’s normal. Worse, they show up in our health care system and they get rebuffed and they get sent away.
When I finally got to that point of a diagnosis, it was one of the worst days of my life, but it was freeing at the same time. It was like I got to be free of the sense that I was making it up, that I was crazy. My pain was real. It had a diagnosis and it was something I could look at and say, “I’m not making it up. My pain is real.”
Speaker, until endometriosis is better researched, until it’s better understood, my story and the story of so many of the endo warriors who we’ve spoken to to get to this place today in support of this bill—they’re going to keep living in pain undiagnosed. They’re going to keep falling through the cracks of the health care system, because we have a disease that isn’t prioritized for research, isn’t prioritized for funding, and people fall through the cracks.
My husband is a researcher. He has a PhD in cell biology, and I remember he told me a story once about taking a research methods class, I think in his undergrad or his master’s. Part of the project was that you had to go away and pick a disease or a condition to research, and you had to be able to basically do a summary article on your condition, but the requirements of the assignment were that you had to find a specific number of articles from high-tier peer-reviewed journals, so some of the top-tier journals.
One of the young women in his class at the time had to do the project twice, because she suffered from endometriosis and she wanted to go and do her project on endometriosis. She got halfway through it and realized she couldn’t meet the requirements of the assignment, because there weren’t actually enough peer-reviewed articles in high-enough-tier journals for her to complete the requirements of the assignment.
Until conditions that affect women and trans and non-binary people, because we menstruate, are prioritized in our research, in our academic spaces, in our health care system, things are never going to get better. And so this bill is so important, because it is about raising that awareness, and about prioritizing this condition and recognizing all of the people who are falling through the cracks.
When I was preparing my notes for this bill—I only have about a minute left on the clock, so as I’m wrapping up, I wanted to share a quote from a Toronto Sun article about Cassandra Saez. She lives with endo and recently was featured in the Toronto Sun about her experiences. The article read, “Saez has been belittled, scoffed at and told it’s all in her head. Her tears and pain are ignored. ‘Even in times that I had been rushed to different hospitals by ambulance because I was in so much pain that I could not walk, my pain was never taken seriously.’”
Speaker, we must do better, and this bill represents a substantial opportunity to raise the profile of endometriosis, to educate people about the symptoms, to promote further research and to ensure that endo warriors across this province never feel alone. So let’s get to work, let’s get it passed, and again, thank you to the member from Davenport for all you do and for your friendship. Thank you. Meegwetch.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Further debate? Further debate?
Pursuant to the order of the House from earlier today, I am now required to put the question.
Ms. Stiles has moved second reading of Bill 58, An Act to proclaim March as Endometriosis Awareness Month. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Second reading agreed to.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Pursuant to standing order 101(h), the bill is referred to the Committee of the Whole House. I look to the member to see if she has a committee of preference that she would like to send the bill to.
Ms. Marit Stiles: The Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills, Speaker.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Is the majority in favour of this bill being referred to the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills? Agreed. This bill is referred to the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills.
Orders of the day? I recognize the government House leader.
Hon. Paul Calandra: No further business.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): There being no further business, I declare this House adjourned until 9 a.m. tomorrow, December 2.
The House adjourned at 1850.