TORONTO – MPPs Tom Rakocevic (Humber River – Black Creek), Terence Kernaghan (London North Centre), Doly Begum (Scarborough Southwest) and Faisal Hassan (York South-Weston) will table legislation Wednesday to improve consumer protection for Ontarians.
The bill would mandate the creation of the Ontario Consumer Watchdog, an independent organization that would oversee all consumer protection matters in Ontario.
“Right now, when consumers get ripped off, they often don’t know where to go to file a complaint,” Rakocevic said. “Depending on the nature of the complaint, there could be a number of different places where it must be submitted, and most often, the response consumers get, is, ‘get a lawyer,’ an option that is unaffordable for most.
“As a result, many consumers have found it more effective to bring their complaint to the media rather than the government that is supposed to protect them.”
In addition to being a one-stop shop to handle all consumer complaints, the Ontario Consumer Watchdog would have the power to investigate businesses or other entities to determine compliance with consumer protection laws or practices, either independently, or based upon a customer complaint.
The Consumer Watchdog would be able to release public reports similar to the Auditor General or the Ombudsman of Ontario, and to level fines or other penalties against businesses that have been found to have not acted in accordance with consumer protection legislation.
“When consumers go up against multi-million-dollar corporations, they often feel the odds are stacked against them, and that no one is there to protect them,” Rakocevic said.
“The government should pass our bill to establish an Ontario Consumer Watchdog, giving Ontarians a protected place to go when they’re cheated by businesses individuals, or organizations, one that has teeth to take action beyond empty words.”
Barbara Captijn, Consumer Rights Advocate:
“The Ontario Consumer Watchdog Act is a light for consumers in the current feeble state of consumer protection in Ontario. The patchwork of legislation, regulations, and legal grey areas in the current landscape is difficult for consumers to navigate.
This bill addresses a much-needed area for modernization, and can help fix injustices and imbalances in the current system, and could help improve the lives of everyday Ontarians.”
Dr. Karen Somerville, President, Canadians for Properly Built Homes:
“Canadians for Properly Built Homes is very pleased to support this legislation for an independent Ontario Consumer Watchdog. Consumer protection related to homes in Ontario has declined to near-non-existence over the last 20 years.
Ontario’s citizens need and deserve better. The purchase of a home is the largest purchase most consumers make, and the current situation in Ontario for both newly built homes as well as resale homes is clearly unacceptable from a consumer protection perspective.”