Tarion review

Consultation dates released for Tarion review

Consumers group raises questions about terms of engagement
Thursday, March 24, 2016
By Michelle Ervin

The Ontario government this week released consultation dates and locations for the Tarion review, following a stretch of silence that, for some, raised questions about the terms of engagement.

Justice J. Douglas Cunningham is scheduled to meet with members of the public and industry stakeholders separately in eight cities across Ontario, starting in Toronto on April 13 and ending in Ottawa on May 31. The ministry of government and consumer services introduced the review on Nov. 5 as a public, independent look at the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act and the corporation that administers it, aimed at identifying opportunities to improve consumer protection.

A government webpage dedicated to the review advertised early 2016 public consultations, with dates and locations to follow. It remained stagnant from Jan. 6 until this week. In the meantime, the webpage provided an email address, TarionReview@ontario.ca, as a way to give feedback to Justice Cunningham as part of the review.

Karen Somerville, president of the Canadians for Properly Built Homes, said that while the non-profit has encouraged consumers to use the provided email address, some have told the non-profit that they will not, citing worries that messages to the Government of Ontario email address would be filtered.

The Tarion review webpage states that all submissions received will be shared with Justice Cunningham in his role as special advisor. A ministry of government and consumer services spokesperson said the email address is a direct line of communication to the reviewer and his team, adding that using an ontario.ca email address is consistent with other government-commissioned independent reviews and is the best way to secure the personal information consumers may be sharing.

Representatives from the Canadians for Properly Built Homes recently requested and got a meeting with Justice Cunningham. Somerville said their goal was to paint the big picture as they see it, highlighting serious problems with shoddy construction in Ontario and the key role of Tarion as industry regulator.

“When we found out that there was this review, we were pleased to hear about it. We think it’s long overdue,” she said. “We’re keen to get a meeting directly with Justice Cunningham to talk about our perspective, what we think needs to happen, and to answer any questions that he may have.”

The Canadians for Properly Built Homes also encouraged Justice Cunningham to schedule some one-on-one meetings with consumers who have concerns about publicly sharing their personal experiences, which the non-profit believes the reviewer needs to hear directly.

“Many of their situations are private,” explained Somerville. “They’re concerned about negatively impacting their property values if they stand up in a public forum and start saying, ‘I’ve got all these building code violations.’”

The ministry spokesperson invited consumers who wished to give input privately to use the provided email address, indicating that time constraints will prevent the reviewer from meeting individually with members of the public.

“The review team heard that some people may be uncomfortable sharing their stories in front of builders, which is why the decision was made to offer separate meetings for the industry and the public,” said the ministry spokesperson.

Industry and public consultations will occur on the same dates, but at different times of day. Builders, consumer advocacy groups, condo boards and associations, as well as engineers, architects and legal professionals, are grouped under “industry/organization” consultations.

Ultimately, the Canadians for Properly Built Homes are hoping to see Ontario end Tarion’s monopoly and have urged Justice Cunningham to weigh whether new home insurance should be mandatory.

However, the Ontario Home Builders’ Association, which is among the industry stakeholders the reviewer is expected to consult with, supports a mandatory warranty program in the province.

In a ministry press release issued at the outset of the review, Justice Cunningham said: “I intend to consult broadly with the public and industry experts on measures that will strengthen Ontario’s new home warranty program.”

The review’s terms of reference set a May 31 deadline for Justice Cunningham’s draft report to Minister of Government and Consumer Services David Orazietti with recommendations. Based on the schedule for consultations, this date is likely to get pushed back.

Michelle Ervin is the editor of CondoBusiness.

20 thoughts on “Consultation dates released for Tarion review

  1. It is true that many homeowners will be unwilling to discuss serious issues like building defects and Ontario Building Code Violations at these public consultations.

    The reality is that Tarion is the only Delegated Administrated Authority that makes their own regulations. Over the years they have watered down the Ontario New Home Warranty Program (ONHWP) legislation making it increasingly difficult for homeowners to get protections. I know this because in our case Tarion conducted over 10 inspections over our home and spent years resolving our claims. Tarion could put us through these hurdles as they argued according to their own regulation they made it was at their discretion how long they took and how many inspections they conducted.

    As a consumer and member of the legal community I hope Mr. Cunningham will shed some light on the serious issue with Tarion making their own regulations and the serious impact it has on the ONHWP providing consumer protection.

  2. To say this news is welcome is a euphemism ! |Unfortunately late in coming but a mandatory step in the process of reforming Tarion. . The workload will be heavy as given our experience with the monopoly, not only are their modus operandi , ethics and direction in dire need of change, they currently do not even implement their own set regulations as stated….too many people have and are still being harmed.

  3. The Big Picture!
    First I must give credit to those Fine contractors who have a reasonable code of ethics!
    The bad news is and it is not news it is old hat many all too many home builders
    Are dumping poor quality products, on people that have put their life’s earnings into their home and end up living a nightmare that they may never recover from
    In the last ten years HG/TV have produced hours and hours of heart breaking
    documenters of wrong, Joyce and myself have been reduced to tears many times. Then there is all of the others that go buy the wayside.
    The Big picture is that poor quality is much Bigger than the few examples that make the headline or otherwise get reported.
    The Big picture is the total life cycle cost of the housing accommodations, example 1, On our street proper drainage for most of the whole street is a problem and 5 to 20 years from now the real problem and cost will be known.
    Example 2. improper or no flashing for garden door sills for many units on our street will result in floor and floor joist failure. We had to replace our door and repair wrought at the 3 year mark, the others are installed the same as ours, I watched and have pictures.
    This is but a peek into a very Big and costly problem that affects all of use sooner or later directly or indirectly
    A few of use have been sounding the alarm, it is shameful that there has been little more than lip service
    Is it Wrong to ask for and expect
    Fair and Equitable Ethics
    Joe average Home owner is the backbone of this country
    Why are questionable ethics by the building industry put on the backs of these people and nothing meaningful is being done
    Shame on those elected to serve us and are not!
    The Big Picture!
    Tarion as seen from this vantage point
    The Tail is wagging the Dog
    Government and their employees at all levels are paid by you and I
    (joe average) too represent us, and insure our best well being and freedom
    The reverse is true, all too often we are being enslaved, at a high cost
    With no perceived benefit
    From where I stand it looks like
    Self serving bureaucracy, has burdened us down with philosophical rhetoric, and red tape, and perchance we were able to, because of a dogged persistence over time, get past all of this, They (all levels of Government) have a war chest full of road blocks and hurtles that make the probability of succeeding almost none existent.
    Abused Seniors
    Ray & Joyce

  4. Assuming Mr. Cunningham is not conducting this review out of the goodness of his heart, who is paying him? The Govt of Ontario, one would think. That’s us, the taxpayers. So one would hope that he will conduct it in a way that doesn’t expose people who already have trouble with building code violations to further through public consultations: exposure to legal action by builders and jeopardizing their property values. Indeed, public consultations is a way to conclude that no action on Tarion is necessary…

    One would further hope that Mr. Cunningham will include in his review why and how other povinces got rid of the warranty pogram monopoly, to help inform recommendations for a fair and consumer oriented system for Ontarians.

    Time and again, we have seen that self regulation — and that’s what Tarion is — doesn’t work. The fox is in the hen house and it’s time to put a stop to that.

    Lynn O

  5. Over our more than 10 years dealing with Tarion we have not been able to get anywhere with this.
    We quickly learned that this body were not interested in solving new home owner issues. Instead they looked for loopholes, interpretations, ,time lines & anything else that would allow them to shut the door on our issues.
    Tarion is indeed in line for a major overhaul. Hopefully this process will be a major step in making this happen.

  6. Seems there’s a contradiction in the terms of engagement of this review. The review is “public”, but consumers have told the ministry and the reviewer the information they have to contribute is not public. Some are afraid of litigious builders or Tarion, the litigious warranty corporation subject of the review; many others have been gagged or intimidated by builders from speaking out about construction defects; some homeowners have discouraged others from speaking openly about shoddy construction in their developments which could negatively affect re-sale values. Many consumers have been advised there’s no more time for 1-on-1 interviews with the reviewer. If the objective is truth-finding, then public forums like focus groups and town halls seem a poor way to get at the truth. Tarion is an arms-length monopoly of government with no oversight by the Auditor-General or the Ombudsman of Ont. Anyone who’s followed these arms-length monopolies of government for the last years will see plenty of red flags in the “trust us” model. More time for thorough investigation, confidential 1-on-1 meetings between the reviewer and individual consumers across Ontario is required to get at the truth, if meaningful reform is the objective.

    • so true and given the mere reports and comments contained herein would the authorities not be in a position to not assume BUT CONCLUDE that the snake is still in the basement ????

  7. Tarion is nothing more than a monopoly sheltered by our government, with no oversight and or transparency, and for the most part protecting builders first. The system is too cumbersome for the average person to understand, too many forms and dates. Taron inspectors for the most part are not qualified to recognize warranty issues and root causes of a warranty issue. Home owners need their issues resolved by Tarion and not be refer them to the LAT (License Appeal Tribunal) as they do in most cases. Home owners referred to the LAT don’t stand a chance unless they hire a lawyer, which is very costly. Home owners/ retirees or young people with jobs, and in most cases children, should not have to go through these hurdles to have warranty issues resolved as they do not have the time and or the resources.

  8. We are hoping for full-some review with opportunity for all interested persons and communities to provide input, and that all the aspects of Tarion’s mandate will be considered.

  9. Tarion has been getting away with fraudulent and unethical practices for years, protecting builders breaking Ontario building codes and not showing their issues on their website even when Tarion accepts responsibility. In most cases they just consistently decline legitimate warranted issues and won’t pay out. How do I know? I live in one of these houses with various code issues that should have been covered and were declined and we were told to fix ourselves. Builder could not care less as issues covered up by Tarion. When the mold issues were finally dealt with years later, they certainly did not show this on their website so others home owners are aware. Tarion does not care and is not there to protect home owners but their builders.

  10. I will attend, contribute, and I am cautiously optimistic that Justice J. Douglas Cunningham will listen.
    I am cautiously optimistic that the entire process will be transparent and accountable.

  11. Our own ” house ” saga is simply a very similar account of what homeowners have posted on this site. Were consumers enjoying true leadership and genuine protection, these few testimonies would be sufficient to trigger a review of the whole Tarion fraudulent monopoly scenario by those WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE for it …This is not the case; .it takes years of investigation / analysis/ reporting including tons of expenditures by the very people who are deemed to enjoy” protection, ” They are the ones who pay twice and thrice with their pocket books, their health, their emotional fibre… It is a FACT that so many more are out there ….but prefer to remain silent for so many obvious reasons…..

  12. This review of Tarion is long overdue and sorely needed. I can not talk publicly in a town hall meeting due to conflict in my neighborhood, as some neighbors want to keep the problems secret as they are concerned about negatively affecting property values. I know others in the same boat, and they will not speak up at a town hall meeting either.
    I also will not use the government email address as I have no confidence that my information will bet get through unfiltered to Justice Cunningham.
    This ministry seems more interested in protecting builders and Tarion ,than protecting consumers. Minister Orazietti has already stated that he sees very little changes to Tarion as a result of this review.
    skeptical ????? you bet !!!!!!

  13. I do not advise people to buy new condos, (or detached houses). There can be too many problems.

    It is best to wait five to six years and buy a resale. With condos, a board of directors will be in place, major building flaws, if any, will have surfaced and the first audited financial statements are available for examination.

    You will get a feel if the sound proofing between the units is adequate and if there are any signs of major water leaks in your unit and in the underground parking garage.

    A house inspector can help you find any existing problems and you have a Performance Audit and a Reserve Fund Study to help you decide if the building is has serious defects.

    There is a four-year old condo in North York that is preparing to sue the developer, the builder, the contractors and the municipality because of building defects. The lawsuit will suck money, time and energy out of the condo. Values will drop, re-sales will be difficult and the special assessments will shoot up.

    Buying new? All you have is a salesperson’s promises and some slick brochures.

    • your suggestion is very wise and a propos.; the building industry will simply weaken in Ontario and hey they did it to themselves …!

  14. I have my doubts that Justice Cunningham sees our inputs directly without filtering. On March 18, 2016 I asked the “web-address” directly how are inputs from the public processed? No answer yet!

    On the topic of town hall meetings: It is clearly impossible for Justice Cunningham to listen to individual horror stories directly during a public meeting. Attendees at this meeting should hit the key overall problems of Tarion e.g. the Home Information Package has to be redrafted to remove the builder bias; the Tarion Inspectors need to be trained to be in synchronism with a new-not the current- Tarion culture relating to the homeowner, Tarion inspectors should no longer be allowed to hide behind the LAT threat: “You don’t like my assessment?…..go see LAT; there should be a way to escalate complaints with the assessments of inspectors through an internal process. Inspector must not have the right to dictate what happens during an inspection visit. Right now Tarion bets on the impracticality of the LAT process to stop complaints. Kill the internal Tarion Ombudsperson office. Create an ombudsperson Office outside of Tarion control……etc……………….etc.

  15. Am very skeptical about the outcome of this ‘review’ of Tarion by Justice Cunningham with respect to the outcome! Let’s face it….if he actually finds ‘fault’ with the goings-on at and with Tarion, Tarion will be angered – if he finds no fault with their antics, the public will be outraged. Once again, this is a totally political move put in place to try to pacify the public – nothing more nothing less! There’s enough evidence to suggest wrong-doing at Tarion for years now yet nothing has been done to correct or change anything. Once has to wonder why that is. Likely, the fact that these builders serve on their B.O.D.’s and make hefty political contributions might have some bearing on things. So, what sort of wondrous outcome is everyone expecting from this Justice Cunningham and his review?

    • right on Marion …I have analyzed and came to the same conclusion ….there is no ” independent oversight…” where Tarion is concerned so how can we assume a study/analysis will be independent

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