Dear Premier Wynne,
This is the third OPEN LETTER you’ve personally received in the last six months regarding Tarion Warranty Corporation, urging you to bring stricter oversight, greater transparency, and accountability to this organization.
None of the consumers, or Tarion employees, or consumer organizations who’ve written these OPEN LETTERS to you have received a meaningful reply. You have refused to meet with consumer groups on these important issues.
Your staff refers consumers to your many successive Ministers of Consumer Services, six of them in a period of five years. This seemingly revolving door of Ministers ensures there is insufficient time for each Minister to fully understand the complex and multidimensional problems with Tarion, and to carry through legislation to remedy them.
As you are well aware, consumers continue to experience hardship with Tarion, a “Delegated Administrative Authority” of your government, whose purpose is to protect new home buyers, and regulate the new home building industry.
You are also aware there have been numerous Petitions and Private Members Bills brought to the Legislature in 2013/14 by Opposition MPP’s urging meaningful oversight and transparency at Tarion.
It is incomprehensible to us that you continue to remain utterly silent on this important issue, and refuse to meet with major consumer organizations.
However, you continue to promise us “transparency and accountability” in your government; you continue to say you are overwhelmingly motivated in politics “to help people”; you continue to say you stand for an open government, listening to the people; and you continue to say there will be no more wasteful spending on your watch.
But we see a disconnect between your words and your actions.
Some of the serious concerns which have been repeatedly brought to your personal attention about Tarion are: lack of understanding and representation of the consumer point of view in policy-making, lack of transparency in builder track records, lack of real consequences for shoddy building practices, the opacity of executive compensation, and the lack of accountability to independent bodies such as the Auditor General or the Ombudsman of Ontario. Consumer protection at Tarion should not be trumped by the narrow interests of the building industry lobbies, whose members occupy 8 out of 15 Tarion board seats. Tarion was created to protect consumers, not builders, and to administer consumer protection legislation on our behalf.
The problems with arms-length, outside agencies of the Ontario government have been recently well-publicized in the media. We trust this wasteful spending will not happen again on your watch. But pre-emptive action seems key to prevention. Independent oversight of Tarion is long overdue. You have read the warning signs repeatedly brought to your attention by consumers, advocacy groups, and even Tarion’s own employees this year.
We are baffled by your continued silence on this important issue for Ontarians. If this silence can be explained by the power and affluence of the building industry lobbies and their control over political agendas, then this is a sad outcome for Ontario’s new home buyers, some of whom – as you know – have lost their homes or suffered severe financial hardship trying to get construction defects resolved in their new homes.
In one of the most important investments we’ll make in our lives, how can you continue your silence on this issue?
Action is urgently required: tougher rules for builders, more meaningful oversight of the warranty fund.
We are relying on you, Premier Wynne, to match your promises to us with meaningful reforms for consumers to Tarion Warranty Corporation. May we have a reply from you?