For months since Premier Wynne appointed yet another new Minister of Consumer/Government Services (the 5th in 6 years), consumer groups have spent hours meeting with the new Minister and his staff to bring them up to speed on serious consumer problems with Tarion and the License Appeal Tribunal.
While doing this, many of us have wondered – where’s all the information we’ve presented to this Minister’s predecessors? Why are we using our precious time as volunteers to constantly re-brief a revolving door of new Liberal Ministers and staff? Isn’t that what public servants get paid for? Where is the record of all our e-mails and meetings on this topic dating back to 2009-14?
I must be very old school, but it used to be that you’d have to read and understand files BEFORE meeting with various concerned stakeholders. I guess this business practice has also gone the route of the dinosaur.
Tarion Warranty Corporation, the Ontario government’s arms-length monopoly and the appeal body, the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT), have failed many consumers who discovered construction defects in their newly built homes.
A surprise to us two days ago was a copy of a letter sent (07/10/2014) to Tarion’s CEO from the Assistant Deputy Minister, Mr. Denton, offering kindly to help Tarion fix several serious consumer complaints (among other things) about their use of the LAT.
It stated the following: (re the LAT legal body for appeals of Tarion’s decisions):
“A less litigious and adversarial process would also address concerns the ministry has heard from homeowners that they are dissuaded from pursuing LAT appeals because the existing processes are not transparent, and are complicated, time-consuming, costly, and unbalanced. The Ministry would be pleased to assist Tarion with …development of a possible mediation process and/or other efforts to improve the dispute resolution process for homeowners. We understand that the Tarion board chair committed to a review of this issue (…) April 30, 2014. “
So where has this letter been for the last four months? Why has the Ministry been playing cat-and-mouse games for months about the nature and seriousness of these problems with consumers and advocacy groups?
Consumers continue to proceed like sheep-to-the-slaughter-house to appeal Tarion’s dismissed warranty claims, losing 83-96% of the cases. The government oversight body of the LAT (SLASTO) admitted in December last year, whoops we really should train our adjudicators in dealing with self-represented litigants, and consumer-ize our “terrible” website.
It appears this Ministry letter has been a well-kept secret at Tarion for months too, where senior executives continue to say the only consumers complaining about Tarion/LAT are a small group of tough-luck cases and perpetual malcontents.
It seems we’ve been played.
Where has this letter been for the last 4 months, and what has become of the 9-month old “commitment” of April 2014 to reform Tarion’s heavy-handed use of the LAT?
Knowing the new Minister has this information, and has had it for several months, we wonder how he could possibly refuse to vote for Bill 60, new legislation to bring accountability and transparency to Tarion.
The governing Liberals have a trust and credibility problem with consumers on this issue. They need to “do the right thing” and protect consumers, not Tarion, not the LAT, and not their comfortable connections to the building lobbies.