“We’ve Been Lied To”

It’s hard to imagine a more serious critique of a government agency than the report released last week on Tarion “Warranty” Corporation by the Auditor-General of Ontario (link below, Oct. 30, 2019).

The report came as no surprise to consumers who’ve been hammering at the doors of Queen’s Park for over a decade with complaints about exactly the kind of corporate wrong-doing the report documented.

Just a few of the revelations of wrong-doing are:

– Tarion has given disproportionate influence to builders and their industry lobby group on its board and its policy-making;

– Tarion makes its own regulations without sufficient oversight by government;

– Tarion’s senior management was rewarded financially for minimizing financial aid paid to homeowners;

– Their legal department tried to obtain internal confidential information to use against consumers in court;

– Tarion doesn’t do enough due diligence to ensure builders have the financial stability to be licensed and build;

– Tarion keeps secret information on builder’s track records;

– 65% of the time between 2014-2018 builders should have fixed the defects under the warranty, but did not. (pg. 7, Auditor’s report).

– Tarion can’t call itself a “warranty” corporation because they don’t provide a warranty.

Added to this scathing critique of Tarion’s policies is the equally hard-hitting review of Tarion in 2017 by a seasoned judge and Deloitte Consultants, which recommended removing Tarion’s monopoly, opening the field to competition, a separate regulator for builders, and a total of 37 recommendations. Nothing meaningful has been done.

Many consumers have been sabre-rattled into silence by Tarion and some of their builders and lawyers over the years, warned not to use words like “corruption” or “collusion” regarding Tarion’s business practices, warned to stop saying there are loopholes in Tarion’s “warranty”, threatened with defamation lawsuits, spent time in jail for refusing to pay Tarion’s legal fees, (yes, jail), and some sternly admonished by the Chair of the board not to be “disruptive” at its Annual Meetings (see 2015).

Even a quick reading of the Auditor-General’s report shows Tarion has reason to muzzle its critics, block them on social media, and prevent them from speaking out publicly.

Tarion’s laizzez-faire model of oversight was praised by a former Chair of Tarion, (in a 05/15/15 article in the Ottawa Citizen) stating the oversight model “keeps the government’s nose out of doing things”.

Yes, no kidding.

Tarion was given a public trust mandate in 1976, a monopoly to protect consumers and regulate builders. They have clearly too often failed in both of these duties to the public.

Consumers feel they’ve been sent on a fool’s errand by the governing Liberals and PC’s for over a decade, some have lost their life savings and endured family hardships trying to get construction defects fixed in their new homes. This agency set up to protect us has too often failed in its mandate, and been successful in covering it up.

What makes disturbing reading is the “Tarion agrees and accepts” text after each of the serious critiques of their activities. Where has the Tarion CEO been for 10 years? Where have the in-house lawyers been, with their professional code of ethics to act in the public interest?

The Tarion mea culpas seem fake and hollow. As does the well-meaning promise of the Minister of Consumer Services who welcomes the Auditor’s report, vowing to “work together” with Tarion, and better educate consumers.

What needs to be done?

1) The Tarion board and CEO should be asked to step down. They’ve lost credibility. They don’t deserve our trust any more.

2) Our legislators need to bring new legislation to protect consumers against shoddy builders, not builders against consumers.

3) Legislation needs to end Tarion’s monopoly. Other warranty providers will refuse to license bad builders due to their responsibility to manage their own risk. Let Tarion continue to license as many bad apples as they want, let’s see how that works out for them. They may fall on their own sword.

The response from the current PC government to the Auditor’s report is timid. Premier Ford himself has said not one single word. The minister says consumers need to be better educated, a page right out of the builder lobbyist’s and Tarion playbook. Tarion has seen the light, we’re meant to believe, and vows to “work with” the government to fix itself.

Premier Ford’s much-publicized plan in early 2019 to “partner” with the building industry to build more homes, faster, and cut red tape, seems directly opposed to any serious effort to rein in this rogue monopoly and make it accountable and transparent.

Tarion has failed in its responsibility to the public, while too often taking advantage of vulnerable consumers. We’re being asked to trust them. Again. We’re not buying it. They’ve been selling us a product they don’t have, and masqueraded as consumer protectors while protecting builders, their monopoly, and their pocketbooks.

The message to the public is we’re working with Tarion, and Tarion with the Ministry. Which is what brought us this policy failing in the first place.

This is a political problem, and only our governing MPPS can fix it. Have they already made promises to the building industry and its puppet? The refrain of we agree and we’ll do better is not credible. Too little, too late. Beware of the crocodile who sheds a tear before devouring his prey. Drain the swamp.




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5 responses to ““We’ve Been Lied To”

  1. John Dixon

    This post does not seem to work very well. Correct results though.

    It has probably been tampered with by Tarion. I am serious.

    John Dixon

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  2. David

    Sad that one particular Tarion Rep that I have dealt with lied UNDER OATH about having construction experience!
    Sad that they say ” I can’t climb ladders” to check for building code violations, then say they will get somebody to inspect but never follow up. Sad that they will knowingly and willingly make up ludicrous excuses to not have to warrant and pay for repairing legitimate defects.
    Sad that the only money/revenue that Tarion gets is from the homeowners and so their goal has to be first and foremost is to keep as much as they can in order to pay for their executives damning the homeowner.
    Sad that the first thing out of their mouth upon entry of a home after introducing them self is ” You cannot record me or I have to leave!”
    Why would one say that if one was afraid of admissible evidence in court!
    They obviously don’t know the recording laws in Ontario permit recording without advising the other party called One Party Consent!
    Sad that Tarion is such a fraud.

  3. Jeffrey Ferland

    I think this article lays out the very compelling arguments for Ontario to make meaningful change to the Ontario New Home Warranty Program. I think it is very hard to argue that Ontario cannot do much better than the system that currently exists. We are supposed to be a democracy that makes its own legislation. We should not have to live with a government agency that makes its own regulations that benefit themselves.

    That’s right, this government agency which has been given a monopoly of the new home warranty business in the past has been given the exclusive right to make its own rules. These same rules or regulations continue to exist today. Regulations that exist to deny homeowners reasonable and fair protection like a timeline to get a resolution to resolve a claim.

    Tarion at their own discretion can use an indefinite timeline to resolve a claim for years like they did in our case. When we tried to argue against a timeline we thought Tarion had to resolve the claim Tarion’s lawyer Micheal Doyle stated:

    “You are correct to note the timeline set out at section 5.1(2) of Regulation 892. However, you have not made reference to section 5.10 of the same Regulation, in which Tarion is given express and necessary discretion to extend or abridge timelines in a variety of circumstances. Tarion has done so in your case. Accordingly, contrary to your continued assertions, Tarion is not in breach of its own legislation.”

    How can we give a government agency a monopoly and they fail so badly? Ms. Captijn has been explaining this very well for quite some time now however it is quite simple, no accountability.

    Our MPPs should know that Tarion fought Earl Shumen in court based on a flawed and fraudulent legal argument. They would later admit this and not use it anymore. But why did judges go along with it? Why would Earl still go to jail for not paying legal fees for a government agency complicit with what was going on? Why, because the system is corrupt and it needs to be changed.

  4. Krista

    Barbara, you words and phrases are so descriptive and speak for all of us who have been exposed to Tarion’s rules. ! We applied a label to our roomful of legal files and our fight against Tarion: “The Shuman Test Fraud”. As many other homeowners experienced while seeking help from the warranty program, there was a very palpable prejudice against us as Plaintiffs. I can only hope that, with the developments this year – – finally shoving a big light into an infected institution and actually preparing to excise the abscess – – all will see how hard we’ve fought and how right we were all along.

  5. Jerry-Y

    You are perfectly correct Ms. Captijn, that ‘Tarion has reason to muzzle its critics, block them on social media, and prevent them from speaking out publicly’

    Many victims and critics might try to support their condemnation of Tarion by precise examples of i.e. ‘leaky basements, substituted materials, hidden deceptions, indifference to homeowner complaints, etc.’..
    ……HOWEVER…that is where charges of Slander can be brought against the homeowner or critics. It is immaterial that the Slander action in the courts would fail eventually. Tarion is betting that the homeowner/critic simply does not have the financial resources, legal team or the years to ‘stay in the poker game’…..Not right is it?

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