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The Rental Housing Landscape in Ontario

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Access to Affordable Rental Housing

It seems clear that one of the central causes of the difficulty that many individuals in Ontario have in accessing living accommodations is the lack of adequate, affordable rental housing.

In 1995 the Ontario government implemented a series of housing policies which dramatically decreased both the availability of affordable rental housing options and legal protections for tenants in Ontario. For example, in 1995, the government cut social assistance rates, including shelter allowances, by 21.6 percent. Also in 1995, the government cut approximately 17,000 units of co-op and non-profit housing that were then under development. In addition, it discontinued funding to existing social housing projects, and downloaded the costs and administration associated with social housing to municipalities.[10] The Tenant Protection Act, 1997[11], which the government passed in 1998, eliminated rent controls on vacant units and made it far easier for landlords to evict tenants.

In many instances, the dramatic rent increases that took place during the 1990s have remained inflated despite higher vacancy rates in recent years. There are extremely long waiting lists for subsidized housing, and the creation of new social housing units has been sparse. The private rental supply is further dwindling as rental units in Ontario are converted for non-rental purposes and most private developers prefer the lucrative condominium market to the less profitable rental housing market.[12] Increased levels of immigration, particularly in Ontario’s city centres, have further increased the demand for rental housing.

While vacancy rates for rental apartments across Ontario may have increased in recent years, many continue to face problems accessing rental housing due to affordability issues. Statistics Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (“CMHC”) define “affordability” as “housing that costs less than 30 percent of total before-tax household income.” “Household income” is defined as “all incomes reported by persons 15 years of age and older living in the household.”[13] The term “housing conditions” is used to refer to:

[A] set of specific measures summarizing the circumstances in which individual households live. These measures indicate whether housing is in good physical condition (adequate), whether it is spacious enough for its occupants (suitable), and whether it is affordable. In this framework, housing that is acceptable is housing that meets all three criteria, that is, housing that is adequate, suitable and affordable.[14]

According to a recent report published by Statistics Canada and the CMHC, rental housing that is not affordable is much more common in Canada’s Census Metropolitan Areas than housing that is inadequate or unsuitable.[15] Not surprisingly, renters are much more likely to be in “core housing need”[16] than owners. For example, in Toronto in 2001, one in five households were classified as being in core housing need (20.3 percent).[17]

The average rent for a standard, two-bedroom apartment in Ontario increased by 5.6 percent in 2000 from 1999. This increase amounted to double the rate of inflation in that year.[18] In Ontario’s city centres, it is likely that the average rent for comparable units increased by much greater percentages during this time period.

A strong argument can be made that the decreased availability of affordable and adequate housing options, combined with inadequate social assistance levels, insufficient wages and discrimination against Code-identified groups, has contributed in a very significant way to increasing homelessness in Ontario’s cities. The Golden Report recognized this effect when it recommended that “[a]t least 5,000 additional housing units with support services should be built in Toronto over the next five years, primarily to serve homeless people suffering from mental illness and/or addictions.”[19]

There is less information about housing needs in rural areas.[20] Ownership, rather than rental, is the predominant form of tenure in rural Canada (82 percent rural, compared to 64 per cent in urban areas). However, affordable housing is an important issue. New rental housing is not economically feasible in most rural areas due to small local markets, risky economic conditions and a limited construction industry. The lack of supply or choice affects low income persons, persons who want to move into rural areas and seniors who want to move from homes that they have owned. In addition, the stock of housing in rural areas is older, on average, than in urban areas which presents a challenge in terms of the need for, and cost of, repairs and maintenance. Both owners and tenants face high heating and utility costs in older, poorly insulated buildings. This is more extreme in northern communities. Seniors are an important part of rural communities and may be particularly impacted by these conditions.[21]

The governments of Canada and Ontario have signed an Affordable Housing Agreement which is slated to create more than 15,000 units of affordable housing and provide housing allowances for more than 5,000 lower-income households in Ontario. As of August, 2006, more than 3,400 housing allowances were available in designated Ontario municipalities, and funding was allocated for 6,524 units as follows: Rental & Supportive – 117 projects (5,440 units), Homeownership – 7 projects (884 units), Northern Housing Component – 4 phases (200 units).[22] This is a step in the right direction; however, it appears that monitoring the agreement, including its implementation and continued funding, is an important priority.

In addition, while money has been earmarked for affordable housing, and many municipal governments have created affordable housing strategies[23], a major barrier to the creation of new affordable and supportive housing[24] is the phenomenon of “Not in My Back Yard” or NIMBY opposition.

NIMBY does not refer to legitimate public consultations or concerns about land use and planning, but to the response to affordable and supportive housing because of negative attitudes towards the people who will live there. NIMBY responses are often concerned that such housing will bring down property values, create safety risks or otherwise ruin the neighbourhood.[25]

Municipal requirements and practices are influenced by these responses. As a result, many municipalities have by-laws designed to prevent people with low incomes and disabilities or others such as newcomers to Canada, Aboriginal persons and youth from moving into certain neighbourhoods. A few examples include minimum separation distances between certain types of housing (e.g. residences for persons with disabilities); zoning definitions based on the characteristics of the people who live in the housing; holding development moratoria that prevent social housing providers from developing on residentially zoned land; and planning processes that place more consultation requirements on affordable or supportive housing.[26]

Local politicians and community groups may try to draw out public consultation until funding is lost. Planning decisions may be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) and while the Board consistently finds in favour of the housing project, the delays and costs involved are prohibitive.[27]

All of this means that public funds are diverted to efforts to overcome NIMBY, rather than building more affordable housing itself. Development of housing is delayed and, at the end of the day, worthwhile projects may not be built. In other instances, design compromises that are detrimental to the future occupants of the housing must be made.[28]

Barriers to housing that are based on negative views of the people who live there, raise human rights concerns when those people are identified by Code grounds. Persons identified by Code grounds should not have to ask permission of their neighbours before moving in, where that restriction does not apply to others. Efforts to keep out persons with disabilities (including mental and developmental), persons on social assistance or with low income, newcomers to Canada, Aboriginal persons, youth and so forth call for consideration from a human rights perspective. Preventing racialized persons or persons from certain religions, for example, from moving into a neighbourhood would be universally considered offensive. However, it appears that some Ontarians may still believe that it is acceptable to exclude from their neighbourhood people who are mentally ill, disabled or poor.

Social Housing

Social housing in Ontario is covered by the Social Housing Reform Act, 2000[29] (“SHRA”). When properly funded and operated efficiently, social housing has been one of the most effective ways of providing affordable and adequate housing to Ontarians. Social housing programs have the potential to provide viable housing options to individuals and families who cannot compete in the private rental housing market.

In Toronto, for example, between 1973 and 1995, approximately 50,000 rental units were created, of which 45,000 were new construction. This brought the total number of subsidized units in Metro Toronto to about 20 percent of the total rental stock.[30]

However, the federal and provincial governments have increasingly abdicated responsibility for social housing programs. In 1986, the federal government transferred its supply of new social housing programs to the provinces, although it continued to share the costs with them on a 60:40 basis. In 1993, it discontinued this cost-sharing arrangement, leaving the responsibility with the provinces. In Ontario, in 1995, the newly elected government cancelled new social housing spending. Since then, the province has transferred responsibility for funding and administering social housing to the various municipalities.[31]

Many have expressed the view that government withdrawal from social housing programs has resulted directly in a chronic housing shortage for low-income individuals and families. In Toronto, for example, as of June 2006, there were 66,556 households on waiting lists for social housing.[32] The Golden Report Task Force has concluded that the social housing waiting list is a good proxy for the at-risk population because the research shows that almost all the people on the list are there because they cannot afford housing in the private rental market.[33]

Many applicants for social housing units will be identified by Code grounds. There are several broad categories of social housing applicants: older persons applying for the support, community, and income security offered by older persons’ housing projects; employed, low-wage people experiencing a shortfall in earnings; persons with disabilities; and those who are homeless or have special needs. This latter group includes many people receiving social assistance. There is a strong correlation between low levels of income and Code grounds such as sex, race, marital status, family status, citizenship, place of origin, disability, age and the receipt of public assistance.

While the Commission has most often heard reports of discrimination with respect to the private rental market, concerns have also been raised regarding allocation and administration of social housing.[34] For example, frequently, social housing providers lack adequate internal complaint mechanisms for responding to issues of discrimination in the selection of tenants. As well, social housing projects that are aimed at persons less than the age of 65 or at a particular community of persons (e.g. housing limited to persons from particular ethnic or religious groups) are often beneficial but may sometimes raise human rights issues where they do not comply with the requirements of the Code.[35]

In the family status consultation held by the Commission, CERA identified specific concerns with regard to discrimination in social housing. For example, the organization noted that the waiting lists at social housing organizations are often divided into two separate lists: there is one list for individuals who are on social assistance and another list for individuals who can afford the market rent. These waiting lists are in chronological order and have a negative impact on young adults and families. For example, waiting lists for subsidized housing with City Home in Toronto is between 7 and 8 years long; thus the chronological waiting list effectively bars young people and families with young children from accessing affordable housing in a timely fashion.

Larger families may be similarly disadvantaged in the allocation of social housing. For example, in subsidized units, larger families may be required to apply only for larger units which are in short supply and are difficult to obtain, and may be disqualified altogether for eligibility for subsidy by their family size if there are no subsidized units large enough. This may be the case even where the family could live in a smaller unit without contravening municipal occupancy standards (specifying the number of people who can occupy the space).

Those in receipt of public assistance may also encounter difficulties with social housing policies. Individuals and families living in subsidized arrangements pay a rent amount that is related to their income. However, subsidized housing costs may become problematic if an Ontario Works participant begins a new job. As his or her income rises, so does the rent and thus, the household does not benefit from the additional employment income.[36] Instead of a dollar-for-dollar rent increase, a phased in approach to increasing rent might better enable such a person to transition into employment, which often results in new expenses, and to achieve financial stability.

During the Commission’s family status consultation, the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO) raised the issue of the lack of external appeal procedures under the SHRA from decisions of social housing providers to deny or revoke housing subsidies. Revocation of subsidies may lead to evictions, as rent falls into arrears. ACTO stated that:

Social housing tenants, many of whom are sole support mothers, disabled people and immigrants, risk homelessness because the only appeal is an ‘internal review’. These internal reviews are conducted by the same housing provider that made the decision under review. Social housing providers rarely overturn decisions on internal review. When the review is unfair, the only process potentially available is judicial review.[37]

As well, concerns were raised about the administration of the requirement, under the SHRA, for occupants to report a change in income or household size. Managers have the discretion to extend this timeline; however, not all do, so that families that fail to quickly report the addition of a child to the household may lose their subsidy.

It seems obvious that social housing that is in good supply, good condition[38], properly funded and run in accordance with human rights principles has the potential to ease considerably the shortage of affordable housing options for many individuals identified by Code grounds. There appear to be issues with the current state of social housing in Ontario that require further consideration from a human rights perspective.

Co-op Housing

When it is available, co-op housing can be an attractive source of quality accommodation for Ontarians who cannot afford adequate options in the private rental housing market and/or who wish to live in a more community-oriented setting. Unfortunately, however, new co-op developments are rare in Ontario, and the extremely lengthy waiting lists for most of those that do exist can be a major barrier.

The Ontario Co-operative Corporations Act[39], (the “CCA”) outlines how all Ontario co-ops, including housing co-ops, are to be formed and run. The bulk of the legislation sets out how co-ops may be incorporated, their powers and governance, handling of shares and finances, meetings, record-keeping, financial statements, and so on.

The CCA also addresses issues that are specific to non-profit co-operative housing, such as housing charges, creating by-laws, the obligations of members and the co-op to each other, and processes for evicting members.[40] Housing charges are set by the members, and the board of directors may establish subsidies, subject to the by-laws and to procedural fairness. Co-op housing members may be evicted if they have either ceased to occupy a member unit, or failed to meet an obligation set out in the by-laws, as long as the by-law is not unreasonable or arbitrary. Both membership and occupancy rights of a member must be terminated at the same time, requiring a majority vote of the board. Members must be given 10 days’ advance notice of such a meeting, stating the proposed eviction date, and receive a written notice within 5 days of the decision. Members may appeal the decision to a meeting of the members, and may appear and make submissions at both the board and the member meetings. The member meeting must be held at least 14 days after the appeal is requested, and the appeal decision is made by a majority vote.

Section 171.7 of the CCA stipulates that the RTA does not apply with respect to member units[41] of co-operative housing. However, this subsection indicates that if a legal claim was made under the RTA (such as if the co-op was formed subsequent to initiation of proceedings, or if a matter arises relating to a non-member unit), the court may continue to address it as a landlord and tenant matter.

The Commission has heard concerns about policies and procedures occurring in the housing co-op context. For example, human rights complaints have been filed regarding the practice whereby a housing co-op charges as rent the entire shelter allowance of a tenant on public assistance, which obliges the occupant to make additional payments for utilities, even though the shelter allowance was intended to cover the cost of utilities.[42] As well, by-laws, such as requirements that co-op members participate in co-op activities, have raised issues around accommodating disabilities. In a recent decision, the Ontario Divisional Court has considered this situation and has confirmed that the Code applies to co-ops as well as to courts deciding whether to evict a person under the CCA.[43]

General Law Governing Residential Tenancies

The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (“RTA”) took effect on January 31, 2007 and replaces the Tenant Protection Act, 1997 (“TPA”), in effect in Ontario since June 17, 1998.

The TPA covered landlords and tenants of most residential rental units, including mobile home sites and units in care homes. It established the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal, a quasi-judicial agency that resolved disputes between landlords and tenants about rights and responsibilities under the TPA, including issues such as rent increases, evictions and maintenance. A landlord and tenant were given the option of mediation to reach their own resolution of a dispute. The TPA granted the Tribunal certain specified powers despite anything contained in the legislation or in a lease, such as the power to make orders where a housing provider obstructed, coerced, threatened or interfered with a tenant, and the discretion to refuse, delay or order evictions of tenants.

Under the new RTA, the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal has become the Landlord and Tenant Board. The RTA contains provisions to encourage landlords to maintain their buildings and provide more remedies to tenants living in poorly maintained buildings. The RTA grants tenants more protection against evictions, in many instances. For example, every tenant facing eviction has access to a mediation or hearing without having to first file a written dispute. Further, the Board is required to automatically consider a tenant’s circumstances before permitting an eviction. This includes, where applicable, considering the Code in its decisions. In a 2003 decision[44], the Ontario Divisional Court found that the exercise of discretion granted to the then Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal required application of the Code. In that case, the landlord sought to evict a tenant with schizophrenia who the landlord alleged was disruptive when she ceased to take her medication. The tenant argued that the Tribunal ought to refuse to grant an eviction order as the landlord could accommodate her disability without undue hardship. The Court agreed. This has been reinforced by the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Tranchemontagne v. Ontario (Director, Disability Support Program)[45] which found that an administrative tribunal empowered to decide questions of law should apply the provisions of the Code in rendering its decisions.
Some controversial aspects of the TPA have been retained in the RTA and some of the latter’s provisions may create new concerns for tenants. For example, landlords will continue to have the discretion to set rental rates on vacant units without restrictions. Where a tenant is found to have caused a disturbance in a home cohabited by a landlord (e.g. playing loud music late at night) or caused “excessive or wilful damage” to a unit, the eviction process has been shortened, with the notice period to the tenant being reduced to 10 days from 20 days. In some cases, the Board will have the discretion to order an immediate eviction of the tenant. A landlord will continue to be permitted to require last month’s rent as a deposit before a tenant moves in. However, landlords will not be allowed to require automatic debiting of bank accounts for rent payments.

It has come to the Commission’s attention that, in some cases, legislative requirements may create systemic barriers for tenants. For example, under the Tenant Protection Act, a tenant was defined to include “a person who pays rent in return for the right to occupy a rental unit and includes the tenant’s heirs, assigns and personal representatives”. This did not include spouses and family members who ordinarily reside in the rental unit. Therefore, if the “tenant” died or vacated the unit, spouses or family members had few rights. This left many families at a serious disadvantage. During the Commission’s family status consultation, ACTO brought to the Commission’s attention one case where a landlord brought eviction proceedings against a woman and her three children after the husband, who signed the rent cheques, left. Prior to the husband’s departure, he signed a Notice of Termination at the request of the landlord. The woman had been living there for 17 years. This case was eventually settled, with the landlord agreeing to allow the family to stay at the same low rent. The RTA partially addresses this matter by expanding the definition of “tenant” to include spouses.[46]

Other Standards

Municipal occupancy standards, or overcrowding by-laws, regulate the maximum number of persons who may occupy a rental housing unit.[47] They may have an adverse impact on large families (or extended families), newcomers to Canada who for socio-economic reasons are required to share accommodation, or persons from diverse cultural traditions who have different ways of using rental housing. At the same time, there does appear to be a legitimate need to guard against unacceptable overcrowding, for example due to health and safety concerns for residents themselves or neighbours, and also to recognize the increased strains on infrastructures such as electrical systems, plumbing and elevators that widespread overcrowding can cause.

In addition, zoning by-laws that exclude or severely curtail the use of secondary suites (e.g. basement apartments) also raise issues. On the one hand, concerns have been raised about the ability to effectively ensure health and safety requirements in these units. At the same time, it has been noted that such suites can be a major source of affordable housing.

Issues around occupancy standards, how and on what basis they are being set, and how they are being applied, as well as the use of secondary suites may benefit from further discussion in the human rights context.

Discrimination in Rental Housing

While an inadequate housing supply certainly makes it more difficult for all Ontarians to find acceptable housing, this is only part of the problem that many individuals face in the rental housing context. Numerous reports indicate that many individuals have a more difficult time finding acceptable rental housing due to discrimination practised by housing providers. These challenges are present irrespective of rental housing supply, although discrimination against tenants is exacerbated by an inadequate rental housing supply. When rental housing is in demand, housing providers can afford to be highly selective in choosing tenants and have less incentive to treat tenants well.

In other words, where discriminatory attitudes already exist, there is much room for their expression in a landlord’s rental market. One study concluded that discrimination is more likely to occur in a rental market with a low vacancy rate. Further, landlords may be more hesitant to rent to groups that they perceive to be “high risk” when eviction laws are strict and it is difficult to evict tenants. The same study also found that discrimination is more likely to be practised by small-scale landlords, particularly those who live alongside their tenants.[48]

Housing researchers have long reported that the conditions of the rental housing market in Ontario have a disproportionate impact on certain households. Statistics Canada and the CMHC have identified the following groups as being at high risk of housing need:

  • Aboriginal households
  • Lone-parent households, particularly women
  • People who live alone, particularly women and older persons
  • Recent immigrant households[49]

In its 2004-2005 Annual Report, the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (“CERA”) reported that 60 percent of its clients were women, over 50 percent were people in receipt of public assistance, and a significant number were lone parents and people with disabilities. It also reported that in addition to discrimination based on disability, receipt of public assistance and family status, clients frequently reported discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin, place of origin, race and age.[50]

The sections that follow detail different forms of discrimination based on Code grounds or an intersection of multiple Code grounds.

[10] Information taken from M. Shapcott, The Ontario Alternative Budget 2001: Made-in-Ontario Housing Crisis (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2001) at 10, online: < (date accessed: October 27, 2006).
[11] S.O. 1997, c. 24. The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, c. 17 (the “RTA”) has been proclaimed and came into effect on January 31, 2007. The RTA maintains the ability of landlords to set starting rents, but once the rent is set, it is controlled by provisions of the RTA. The effects of the RTA on the rental housing situation in Ontario remain to be seen.
[12] The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation reported that the completion of new purpose-built rental apartments declined by 44% in 2004 and a further 3% in 2005. See Rental Market Report: Toronto CMA, supra note 7 at 3.
[13] See J. Engeland, R. Lewis, S. Ehrlich & J. Che, Evolving Housing Conditions in Canada’s Census Metropolitan Areas, 1991-2001 (Ottawa: Statistics Canada, January 2005) at 35-36, online: <> (date accessed: October 26, 2006).
[14]Ibid. at 7.
[15]Ibid. at 6.
[16] Households described as being in “core housing need” are households which are “unable to pay the median rent for alternative local housing meeting all standards [i.e. housing conditions] without spending 30% or more of before-tax household income.” Ibid. at 36.
[17]Ibid. at 43.
[18] M. Shapcott, supra note 10 at 2.
[19]Report of the Mayor’s Homelessness Action Task Force: Taking Responsibility for Homelessness (January 1999) (Chair: Anne Golden) at vii [hereinafter Report of the Mayor’s Homelessness Action Task Force].
[20] Statistics Canada defines “rural and small town” as the population living outside the commuting zone of urban centres with a population of 10,000 or more; Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Housing Needs of Low Income People Living in Rural Areas: The Implications for Seniors (July 2003) Socio-Economic Series 03-012, online: <> (date accessed: March 30, 2007).
[22] Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, Canada-Ontario Affordable Housing Program (August 2006), online: <> (date accessed: February 5, 2007).
[23] According to the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association, as of October 2005 Toronto, Ottawa, York, Halton, Waterloo, Niagara, Brantford, Thunder Bay, Peterborough, Stratford, Wellington and Windsor had created affordable housing strategies with housing plans in many other municipalities underway. J. Connelly, The Case for a Systematic Solution to Discriminatory NIMBY Opposition in Ontario, prepared for the ONPHA Mental Health, Special Needs and Alternative Housing Committee (October 2005) at 2, online: < (date accessed: March 2, 2007).
[24] Supportive housing is housing that is accompanied by services to assist residents to live independently. More specifically, the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association defines supportive housing as “housing + support” – the support people need to keep their housing. People who may need supportive housing include the chronically homeless and hard-to-house, frail older persons, persons with physical, developmental or mental disabilities, victims of violence, those living with HIV/AIDS, youth or persons who have substance abuse problems; see Ontario Non-Profit Housing Website: <>. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care states that supportive housing is designed for people who only need minimal to moderate care, such as homemaking or personal care and support, to live independently. It states that supportive housing buildings are owned and operated by municipal governments or non-profit groups including faith groups, seniors’ organizations, service clubs, and cultural groups; see Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Website: <>.
[25] Connelly, supra note 23 at 2.
[26] From information provided by HomeComing Community Choice Coalition. See <>.
[27] A study conducted by the Law Reform Commission of Canada examined all OMB decisions from 2000 to 2004 that involved people with disabilities. The 32 cases involved group homes, supportive housing, homeless shelters, housing for seniors and residential care facilities. The study found that, “despite sometimes significant controversy, the OMB approved all but four of the proposed applications for disability-related housing and services.” L. Finkler, Re-Placing (in)Justice: Disability-Related Facilities at the Ontario Municipal Board, prepared for Law Commission of Canada (2005), cited in the Case for a Systematic Solution to Discriminatory NIMBY, supra note 23 at 7.
[28] L. Finkler, ibid.
[29]Social Housing Reform Act, 2000, S.O. 2000, c. 27.
[30]Report of the Mayor’s Homelessness Action Task Force, supra note 19 at 144-145.
[31] The Social Housing Reform Act was enacted to devolve responsibility for the administration of social housing programs to the municipal government level.
[32] City of Toronto, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration: Quick Facts (June 2006), on-line: <> (date accessed: November 23, 2006).
[33] The Task Force estimates that the people on the social housing waiting list represent about one third of the at-risk population. See Report of the Mayor’s Homelessness Action Task Force supra note 19 at section 7.1.
[34] Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation, Women and Housing in Canada: Barriers to Equality (Toronto: March 2002), online: <> (date accessed: November 23, 2006).
[35] Section 2 of the Code prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of a number of grounds including age, ethnic origin, place of origin, ancestry and religion. Therefore, housing that contains restrictions based on age, ethnic origin, religion or other grounds there is a potential for a complaint of discrimination unless one of the exceptions contained in sections 14 (special programs), 15 (preferential treatment for people over 65) or 18 (religious, philanthropic, educational, fraternal or social institutions providing housing as part of their services) of the Code applies.
[36] Daily Bread Food Bank, Ontario Works? (2004), online: <>.
[37] See sections 82, 83 of the Social Housing Reform Act.
[38] An August 2006 report notes that there is a looming problem with aging housing stock in the magnitude of $1.3 billion in Ontario. As well, many social housing buildings have low energy-efficiency ratings and require major retrofits to meet more modern standards. The result is escalating utility costs and a mismatch between costs and rents that has the potential to move more social housing programmes into deficit situations. Social Housing Services Corporation, A Brief Summary of Social Housing Issues in Ontario (August 2006), online: < (date accessed: February 6, 2007).
[39]Co-operative Corporations Act, R.S.O. 1980, c. C.35.
[40] Section 171 of the CCA.
[41] Section 171.5 of the CCA sets out circumstances under which a unit may be designated as a non-member unit.
[42] See Iness v. Caroline Co-operative Homes Inc. (No. 5) (2006), CHRR Doc. 06-450, 2006 HRTO 19 in which this situation was found to be discriminatory by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
[43] A co-op sought to evict an occupant for failing to perform the two hours of volunteer work each month required by the co-op’s by-law, despite the fact that she had provided a doctor’s note that she was incapable of performing the volunteer work for medical reasons. The Ontario Divisional Court stated that the co-op had a duty to respect the rights of its occupants under the Ontario Human Rights Code and to accommodate the needs of an occupant with a disability, to the point of undue hardship. The Court applied the Code and the Commission’s Policy and Guidelines on Disability and the Duty to Accommodate and held that it would have been reasonable and appropriate for the co-op to obtain answers from the occupant’s doctor to determine if any of the volunteer tasks could be performed, notwithstanding her medical condition. If so, it could have accommodated her by assigning her tasks she could perform, but if not, the cost of accommodating her by exempting her from the volunteer work requirement would be unlikely to impose an undue hardship. The Court concluded that it would be unjust in all the circumstances to evict the occupant: Eagleson Co-Operative Homes, Inc. v. Théberge, [2006] O.J. No. 4584 (Sup.Ct. (Div.Ct.)).
[44]Walmer Developments v. Wolch (2003), 67 O.R. (3d) 246 (Sup. Ct. (Div. Ct.)).
[45] [2006] 1 S.C.R. 513. This decision was applied by the Ontario Divisional Court in deciding whether to evict an occupant of a co-op under the CCA, see Eagleson Co-Operative Homes, Inc. v. Théberge, supra note 43.
[46]See Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, “Frequently Asked Questions,” online: <http://www/> (date accessed: November 23, 2006).
[47] There are various sources for occupancy standards. For example, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has developed a Canadian National Occupancy Standard as have the province and municipal governments.
[48] S. Novac, J. Darden, J.D. Hulchanski & A.M. Seguin, “Housing Discrimination in Canada: What do we know about it?” Research Bulletin #11 (University of Toronto: Centre for Urban and Community Studies, December 2002) at 6, online: <>.
[49] Engeland, Lewis, Ehrlich & Che, supra note 13.
[50] Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation, Annual Report 2004-2005 at 6, online: <> (date accessed: August 28, 2006).

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