The OHRC’s inquiry looked into whether anyone may have experienced Code-based discrimination as a result of North Bay’s rental housing licensing regime. The inquiry is authorized under clauses 29 (c) and (e) of the Code, which permit the OHRC to “undertake, direct and encourage research into discriminatory practices and to make recommendations designed to prevent and eliminate such discriminatory practices” and to “initiate reviews and inquiries into incidents of tension or conflict.”
The OHRC’s mandate includes protecting the human rights of people who are vulnerable because of their age, receipt of public assistance, disability, family status and other factors. Many vulnerable people rely on rental housing. The inquiry was designed to collect information about these people’s experiences with the rental housing licensing bylaw, and to collect information about the City’s processes and policies related to to rental housing licensing.
2.1 Surveys and follow-up to surveys
The OHRC used surveys to collect information from tenants, landlords and organizations that help people who are looking for rental housing. Targeted outreach for this project included making surveys available on the OHRC website, and emailing them directly to agencies that work with vulnerable people in the North Bay community.
The OHRC did not accept any anonymous submissions, but made a commitment to respect the confidentiality of responses. The OHRC did not disclose surveys to any party.
The survey period ran from March 8 to April 30, 2012. The OHRC received 188 survey submissions from tenants, landlords and organizations in North Bay. The OHRC conducted follow-up interviews with some survey participants via telephone and email immediately after the surveys closed, and again in early 2013.
Our goal was to collect people’s stories about the impact of the bylaw. The surveys were not designed to constitute a statistically representative sample of the community. Instead, the goal was to collect qualitative data. The resulting responses have given the OHRC valuable insight into effects and potential effects of the bylaw and the experiences of the people who did respond.
The majority of tenants who completed surveys identified themselves as students who were attending either college or university full-time or part-time, were between 16 and 25 years old, and were currently renting rooms in houses. The most common sources of income disclosed by the tenants were Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loans and employment.
2.2 Additional comments
The OHRC provided contact information on its website for anyone who had questions or comments about the inquiry. We received five submissions from homeowners outlining their perspectives and concerns.
2.3 Materials disclosed by the City
The OHRC requested, under clause 31(7)(a) of the Code, that the City share documents it had relating to the purpose of the bylaw and its implementation. The OHRC reviewed the materials provided by the City – including documents about public consultations, reports, complaints relating to the bylaw, minutes from City Council meetings, and emails sent to and from City staff.
2.4 Correspondence with the City
The OHRC corresponded with the City and requested more information where necessary to make sure that the City’s positions are accurately represented in this report.
2.5 Other information
The OHRC analyzed the information gathered from the surveys, additional commentary, disclosure materials and discussions with the City, along with data gathered from other sources, including primary and secondary sources and legal and social science research. The report was also informed by the OHRC’s previous work on housing, including province-wide consultations with planners, tenant groups, and a broad range of individuals and organizations in the housing sector.
This report is based on all of the submissions and information that the OHRC reviewed during the inquiry process.