National Newswatch

Ontario has announced changes for new home warranties, including moving oversight for new home builders and vendors away from the corporation that provides the warranties.

Government and Consumer Services Minister Bill Walker said Wednesday that establishing a separate regulator will address a conflict of interest in the current structure.

Tarion Warranty Corporation has overseen nearly all facets of the home building sector for the past 40 years, and a review found fault with its complex structure and overarching mandate, with both builders and homeowners questioning its objectivity.

"There are many families across the province who have faced difficulties over the years when seeking a solution from Tarion," Walker said in a statement. "For our government one thing is clear, Tarion is broken."

Walker also said he will explore the feasibility of a multi-provider insurance model for new home warranties. The government is also planning legislative amendments that will require Tarion to publicly disclose executive and board compensation.

Ontario has further asked Tarion to work with the Condominium Authority of Ontario to better inform people of the potential risks associated with buying pre-construction condominiums.

Tarion said in a statement it is committed to supporting the government's plan.

"We agree that there are benefits to separating the warranty provider and regulator roles and we will work collaboratively with the government to implement this transformation," it said.

"In the interim, Tarion will continue to seamlessly deliver on our daily responsibilities and operations providing quality service to new home owners and buyers as well as new home builders and vendors."

The previous Liberal government also sought to reform oversight of the home building industry, announcing in 2017 it would set up a stand-alone regulator to take over some of Tarion's responsibilities.

The move came a year after Douglas Cunningham, the former associate chief justice of the Ontario Superior Court, issued a report on consumer protections for new home owners. The report called for dismantling Tarion's monopoly over new-home warranty service and moving to a multi-provider insurance system.

A spokeswoman for Walker said the Progressive Conservative plan draws from Cunningham's report and goes further than what the Liberals proposed to do.

Jessica Georgakopoulos said the legislation on salary transparency is expected to be introduced this spring, while the new regulator could take up to 18 months to set up.

Paola Loriggio , The Canadian Press

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