DR. PETER SILVERMAN spoke out on this video clip for social media after the Tarion Annual General Meeting. Mr. Silverman is a well-known broadcast journalist, a consumer advocate for 25 years, and has won numerous high-profile awards for service to the Province and the people of Ontario. He hits the nail on the head in his assessment of the problems at Tarion Warranty Corporation.
WHAT’S BROKEN AT TARION?
“There’s a disconnect” as Mr.Silverman points out, between what Tarion’s vast marketing machinery is telling the public, and what consumers actually experience with the new home warranty. Last night’s Annual Public Meeting seemed to leave Tarion’s board numb or dumbfounded by the intensity and sheer number of concerns voiced by consumers. Some board members I talked to seemed unaware of the serious concerns consumers have voiced with their organization.
Its true what Peter Silverman says in this short video clip taken after the meeting: this is a political problem. Karen Somerville of the consumer organization CPBH clearly states this in her message to the Premier, also posted on social media after the meeting.
But with the building industry the main contributor to Provincial political campaigns, there’s no political will to clamp down on builders’ influence or privileges at Tarion. Since neither the Ombudsman of Ontario nor the Auditor General can scrutinize Tarion’s business practices, and since the Ministry of Consumer Services seems to have become little more than a puppet of Tarion, this is a monopoly dominated by the industry it is supposed to be regulating. If it seems Tarion doesn’t really care about consumers, its because they don’t have to. There’s no independent body looking over their shoulders. Do you want to find out what Tarion’s 9 Vice Presidents and Board members earn? Sorry that’s a black box too, they are not subject to the Sunshine List either.
A monopoly without effective oversight is a scary thing. For consumers, not builders.
Many consumers and MPPs support Rosario Marchese’s Bill 139 for Accountability and Oversight of Tarion, and PC MPP Norm Miller’s Bill 190 for the Auditor General’s oversight of Tarion. Both bills have promising support in the Legislature, but will be in limbo if Ms.Wynne calls an election in May/June 2014.
My suggestion, which has been made by many others, on several occasions:
Split up the warranty-providing function of Tarion which is meant to serve consumers, from the regulating and licensing function, which serves builders. You cannot serve two masters at the same time. Tarion is a “walking conflict of interest” in the words of a prominent MPP who has often spoken out about Tarion. Splitting up these two conflicting functions would eliminate the conflicts which are currently causing consumers so much hardship. With all the lawyers, senior accountants, and “corporate governance experts” on Tarion’s board, are we to believe they don’t see this?