Third reading
01 December 2015
The debate on the third reading of Bill 106 did not take long. The highlights from the debate were few and dealt more with the failings of Tarion than with the Bill itself. The complete procedings are here.

Here are the comments I thought were important:

Mr. Jim McDonell (PC)
In contrast to the Landlord and Tenant Board and all other administrative tribunals in Ontario, the condominium tribunal will be appointed without legislative oversight by an authority beyond public control. The condominium tribunal will have broad adjudicative powers. The members of this Legislature can’t as much as ask whether the appointees to the tribunal have taken an adjudication course or a single law class.

We proposed amendments to balance this situation and bring the tribunal in line with other similar bodies in Ontario. The government side rejected all of them, citing “consolidation risk” and the fact that this isn’t how the Ministry of Consumer Services is used to appointing people. I’m sorry; that just doesn’t wash. This is no reason for someone adjudicating a $1,000 repair dispute for a condo owner to be appointed any less transparently or accountably as the adjudicator for a $1,000 dispute in a rent case.

It would be remiss of me to fail to mention that co-operation between the government and the opposition occurred on three amendments. The government reached out to us regarding two clear stakeholder requests for which we had submitted amendments.

One request was by the Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario, which highlighted that, as currently written, the legislation would make it very difficult for a dismissed manager to complete the necessary regulatory and financial filings arising from the original management contract. Requiring that the manager surrender all documents to the corporation immediately upon termination is a fair demand. However, allowing said manager to keep certain copies, for a specified time, for certain prescribed purposes is a fair balance.

The next amendment we worked on together concerned proxy voting at owners’ meetings. Under the current system, proxies are not tightly regulated and are prone to abuse. We heard stakeholders’ concerns regarding the solicitation of proxies by the board and the condo manager, and the potential opportunities for tampering and placing undue pressure on an owner to proxy someone else.

we followed the principle that some consumer protection is better than none at all

Our original amendments sought to make it clear that board members, board candidates, condo managers and their families would not be allowed to be proxies. The managers would be banned from handling proxies in any way, including soliciting, reviewing or storing them. The government rejected the first amendment, which we found disappointing. On the second amendment, however, the government agreed to a compromise: Managers would be explicitly barred from soliciting proxies from owners. Having witnessed the amendment bloodbath which preceded this agreement, we followed the principle that some consumer protection is better than none at all.

Banning solicitation is the first step. However, we would prefer it if condominium managers were removed even further from the proxy process, in order to maintain the confidence of the owners and avoid conflicts of interest.

We would have preferred that the government listened to the deputations we heard at committee and allowed us to improve the protection of condominium owners, their assets and their equality of life.

As it stands, the bill could have been so much better. I think consumers should give it a C+.

problems with Tarion

Mr. Steve Clark (PC):
Earlier this year, I was contacted by a constituent on behalf of a condominium board in my riding. They wanted me to know about what they had been through since purchasing their condo units with what they thought was the safety net of Tarion. Here’s part of what they told me: “In year 1, the original list of deficiencies totalled 176. This list was prepared by a consulting engineer who did a complete building audit and reported the deficiencies to Tarion.”

The condo board went out and hired an engineer who identified nearly 200 deficiencies and reported them to Tarion. Now, you’d think that with an expert on their side, it would be good news for these folks. Well, Speaker, you know what? You’d be wrong. Tarion would agree that only three of those 176 deficiencies were warrantied.

Even then, the board had to fight to get Tarion to cover them. As they wrote to me, “Convincing Tarion of our claim came with significant cost attached. One warranty claim that was accepted by Tarion cost us $17,000 in consulting and legal fees to prove our case.

“As of the end of this summer, the owners will have spent approximately $1 million fixing an array of major building deficiencies not covered by Tarion.” In addition to what they’ve paid for their condos, they’ve paid about $36,000 each to fix problems not covered by Tarion.

I wrote to Minister Orazietti, who spoke earlier this evening. I wrote to him in August to outline the nightmare they’ve been through and to implore him to use their experience as motivation to make some substantive reforms to Tarion. To say the minister’s response was a disappointment would be a severe understatement. The response was described by my constituent as having “lots of sympathy but very light on solutions.”

But it was quite interesting that the minister’s response actually cited the private member’s bill introduced by the member for Bramalea–Gore–Malton as an example of things being done at Queen’s Park. Of course, the minister didn’t say that he was adopting Bill 60 in government legislation, so it was a bit of a red herring for the minister even to bring it up in the letter.

That’s why I wanted to put it on the agenda as I stood in support of Bill 106. I want to remind the minister the consumer protections he talks about in the bill are just empty words until he gets moving on the reforms to Tarion. I want to put that on the record.

Ms. Catherine Fife (NDP):
The minister of curmudgeonry right there is heckling me, right from the very get-go.

We do agree; we agree that municipal building inspector issues are out of the scope in relation to Bill 106. This is why it’s so very important: We respectfully submit that the matter of Tarion’s responsibility in relation to the Ontario building code and inspections during construction—these are two key, related issues.

I’m going to reflect some of what the stakeholders who came to finance committee said. As the finance critic, I sat on this committee and listened throughout the day to the concerns. Those concerns are going to come to this floor whether you like it or not.

During the committee, it was really interesting. One of the delegations came before the committee and said, “Oh, no. Tarion’s doing a good job.” I asked him, “How do you know? You don’t have any access to their records. There’s no transparency with regard to this agency. You have no way to measure checks and balances as they relate to this agency, so how do you know?” And actually, his time ran out, which I think was really quite fortunate for him.

... So just to be clear, for the entire province of Ontario, Tarion says it had three inspectors for a five-year period, but they did no inspections.

... Last summer, a Maclean’s article said that industry experts refer to regulation in Ontario as the Wild West. Bill 106 doesn’t fix the Wild West.

The vote
The vote took place the next day on 02 December 2015.

Protecting Condominium Owners Act, 2015
Deferred vote on the motion for third reading of the following bill:

Bill 106, An Act to amend the Condominium Act, 1998, to enact the Condominium Management Services Act, 2015 and to amend other Acts with respect to condominiums.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell. The division bells rang from 1149 to 1151.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): On December 1, 2015, Mr. Orazietti moved third reading of Bill 106. All those in favour of the bill, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

The Clerk of the Assembly: The ayes are 89; the nays are 0.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I declare the motion carried.

Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.
Third reading agreed to.

Royal Assent
The Bill passed Royal Assent on Thursday 03 December 2015.

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