Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday May 12, 2023
Housing Arbitration by Neglect
Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé’s recent report has accused Doug Ford’s government of neglecting the Landlord and Tenant Board, which is responsible for resolving residential landlord and tenant issues, and acting like a slum landlord. As of January, the backlog of cases had reached 38,000, an increase of 13,000 cases in just one year. The board’s inefficiency has been worsened by aging technology and the COVID-19 pandemic, causing immense negative impacts on both landlords and tenants.
The report highlights that tenants are waiting much longer than landlords for resolution, with the average landlord filing taking 221 days to resolve, compared to 427 days for tenants. The ombudsman has called for an “aggressive” strategy to address the issue, including reappointing board adjudicators and prioritizing the longest-waiting tenants.
Although the recent government’s steps are a positive move towards addressing the issue, they have come too late. If the provincial government had taken responsible action to adequately staff the system critical to the health and safety of Ontarians in a timely manner, the crisis could have been prevented or significantly reduced.
Doug Ford’s efforts to promote home ownership may earn him the title of a champion for the middle class, but his government’s failure to protect renters paints a different picture. Tenants and landlords both deserve timely justice when they face issues, and the provincial government should work tirelessly to ensure that they receive it. More needs to be done to guarantee that tenants and landlords are provided with the justice they deserve. (AI)