Auditor General report reveals new home owners are not protected

For most people, their home is their biggest investment, and their financial future rests on its foundation.

When purchasing a newly built home, Ontario families rely on a system that is supposed to ensure builders meet the highest standards during construction, and that their warranty is respected if things don’t measure up.

A recent Auditor General (AG) report reveals that this is not what has been happening in practice.

Over the 15 long years of Ontario’s past Liberal government, complaints from new homeowners grew. They included numerous minor and major defects in new homes, a lack of information on the competence and integrity of specific builders, warranties not being respected and a complete lack of government oversight.

Many of the complaints were directed at Tarion Warranty Corporation, which is responsible for regulating Ontario’s home building industry. Tarion’s board is controlled by developers.  

While complaints from new homeowners were on the rise, Ontario NDP MPPs were raising concerns at Queens Park about Tarion and the various issues with newly built homes. But the previous Liberal government largely ignored them.

In 2018, a successful NDP amendment in committee finally granted the Auditor General (AG) the authority to audit Tarion for the first time in its 43 years of existence.

In a report released this past October, the AG made some concerning findings, including:

-builders did not honour their warranties in more than half of the cases studied;

-nearly 10,000 claims of new home buyers were denied just because they missed Tarion’s narrow and often confusing deadline periods;

-the Ontario Building Registry, which is supposed to provide important consumer information on builders, often does not provide complete information about past builder performance for buyers to make informed choices;

-builders with bad warranty records and allegations of dishonesty and law-breaking continued to get licenses; and 

-Tarion’s senior management was rewarded up to 60 per cent in salary bonuses for maximizing Tarion’s profits and minimizing claim payouts to homeowners.

For more details, the AG’s report can be found at www.auditor.on.ca.

In August of this year, I attended a packed meeting of homeowners in the highly publicized Cardinal Creek Village development in the riding of Orleans. It gave me an opportunity to visit newly built homes with major structural defects, multiple deficiencies, mould and more.  Needless to say, homeowners were furious at a “perceived conflict of interest, burden of proof on homeowners and a lack of transparency from Tarion.” Homeowners spoke of rejected claims and, at best, severely delayed payouts with many still waiting after two years.

This is simply unacceptable. The former Liberal government failed in its oversight of new home building industry, and the current Conservative government has yet to take action.

The time for action is now, and the AG has laid out a number of key recommendations to help fix this broken system. This is a start, but more must be done to fix the anti-consumer culture that has captured Ontario’s new home warranty system. The NDP will keep fighting until Ontario families have consumer protection they can count on when they buy a new home.

NDP win in Humber River-Black Creek would be historic

This federal election is shaping up to be a tight local race between NDP candidate Maria Augimeri and Liberal candidate Judy Sgro.

A Federal NDP election win in our community would be historic and a major wakeup call to politicians across this country.

I will be voting for change, and will be supporting Maria Augimeri.  As a former City Councillor and Chair of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Maria Augimeri has a strong history of delivering wins in Downsview including new libraries, parks and playgrounds for families.  

She has also taken on big developers, protected important greenspace throughout the city, kept the new state-of-the-art TRCA headquarters in our community, and has created a bold plan for a local seniors’ campus in the William Baker Neighbourhood at Downsview Park.

One of her wins led to my interest in community advocacy.  This happened many years ago when Maria led the community in what is now University Heights in defeating a big developer at the Ontario Municipal Board.  That was an astounding victory because the OMB usually favours developers over the wishes of the community.  

I took part in that fight as a teenager and that win gave me hope that remains to this very day.

In speaking to community members during this election campaign, I continue to hear great disappointment with the federal Liberal government who were voted in so enthusiastically four years ago.

Many people tell me that they do not have prescription medical coverage and struggle to pay out of pocket for rising medicine costs.  

The Liberal government promised to lower the costs of prescription medication, something that is within their power, but instead, they sided with big pharmaceutical companies more interested in protecting their profit margins than the health of Canadians.  

In fact, the Liberal government met with big pharmaceutical and insurance companies an astounding 874 times since they have been in office.  That averages four days a week for the last four years!

The NDP, who are responsible for public health care in this country, are pushing for universal pharmacare and dental care, so that a person’s health is not dependent on their income.  This makes solid economic sense, since untreated medical conditions often lead to hospital visits and chronic health issues which ends up costing the government much more later.

While the rising cost of rent is increasingly becoming unaffordable for many and the hope of homeownership and a good career for the next generation is becoming a distant dream, this Liberal government gave away over 14 billion dollars to the richest corporations.

This government is so much on the side of big corporations that the Prime Minister fired his Attorney General because she refused to block criminal charges of a corporation with strong ties to the Liberal party.

And that, as they say, is just the tip of the iceberg.

A vote for NDP here in Humber River – Black Creek will elect a strong and experienced voice to fight for our community in Ottawa and is a clear message to politicians everywhere that action is more important than a name or a brand.

Another senseless and tragic death at the Fiera Foods factory

On Wednesday September 25th Enrico Miranda died tragically on the job at Fiera Foods. He was crushed to dead by a machine while cleaning it. This is the fifth death at Fiera Foods since 1999.  The first victim was , a 17-year old temp named Ivan Golyashov who was killed when a dough mixer was activated while he was inside cleaning it. Then in 2011 it was Aydin Kazimov who was crushed to death by one of Fiera’s trucks. Two years later, Amina Diaby a 23-year-old woman was killed at Fiera Foods when her Hijab was caught in a machine and strangled her to death. In 2016, a man in his 40s was pinned to death at Fiera Foods while getting stuck between a loading dock and tractor trailer. After five horrific deaths Fiera Foods is still operating in North York at 50 Marmora St. 

After Amina’s tragic death a writer for the Toronto Star, Sara Mojtehedzadeh, went undercover as a temporary worker at Fiera Foods to investigate. Mojtehedzadeh found that about 70% of Fiera Food’s workforce was hired through work agencies as temporary workers. This is alarming. In Canada only 14% of workers are temporary. The workers at Fiera Food’s are also not hired for seasonal work which is usually why some companies go through agencies during high-demand seasons. The investigation also showed that temporary workers receive very little training, just a 5-minute briefing, do not get paid for sick days, are discouraged from complaining, are deemed easily replaceable, work long shifts with no paid breaks, and are paid under the table in cash through payday lenders. Workers do not receive pay stubs nor a record of their employment. 

This tragedy hits close to home as both my parents have worked as temporary workers for factories before, as I am sure many people in our community have. Fiera Foods benefits from desperate workers who are just trying to survive in our country and Fiera Foods is one of many companies that prey on immigrants and workers of colour who might be too afraid to speak up because they know it might cost them their jobs. 

No one should go to work and lose their life. The Star found that “Fiera has been slapped with 191 orders for health and safety violations over the past two decades, for everything from lack of proper guarding on machines to unsafely stored gas cylinders.” Yet they still operate. When the Star arrived on the 25th of September, they found that production had not stopped, and workers had not been sent home amidst the tragedy that caused Mr. Miranda’s life. 

On Tuesday October 1st, organizers gathered outside the Fiera Food factory and handed workers pamphlets about unionizing. Security guards asked worked to throw away their flyers at the door. The following day more organizers and over 100 members of the community protested with banners asking for accountability. Workers were asked to not come to the day shift and were not paid for the day. No further details have been given by Fiera Foods regarding the death of Mr. Miranda. They have only stated that “As a company, we are heartbroken and have been focused foremost on supporting the family and our employees through these first few difficult days. At the same time, we are fully co-operating with Ministry of Labour inspectors as they review the accident.”

A GoFundMe Campaign has been started to help cover the costs of the funeral of Mr. Miranda. You can donate at https://www.gofundme.com/f/funeral-help-for-tay?fbclid=IwAR0RKDPR2tuP2ZKQsY3DJNo9EqpzoyAHFn__TV8suPb47_GIddDn6FY1JNs