Changes Under the Putting Consumers First Act
Proposed changes to home inspections
If passed, the proposed changes would establish mandatory licensing for home inspectors in Ontario. Having one licensing regime would provide consumers the assurance that they are hiring a qualified professional.
An administrative authority would also be created to oversee and enforce the proposed legislation and any associated regulations. The authority would be an independent, not-for-profit corporation funded by licensing fees collected from industry. Once established, the authority would also be responsible for complaint and enforcement processes, which would include discipline and appeal committees.
The proposed legislation would also provide the regulation-making authority to:
- Establish any additional licensing requirements such as education, experience and examination requirements
- Establish a code of ethics for licensees
- Standardize home inspection reports and contracts to protect and make it easier for consumers to understand what they are signing
- Set a technical standard for home inspections to define what must be inspected and to create consistency in the content of home inspection reports
- Set out insurance requirements that balance risk and costs for both the industry and consumers
If the proposed legislation is passed, the government plans to consult with stakeholders and the industry to develop regulations.
Proposed changes to door-to-door sales
If passed, the proposed changes would ban unsolicited door-to-door sales of certain home appliances such as water heaters, furnaces, air conditioners and water filters. This will give consumers more protection against aggressive door-to-door sales marketers who use high-pressure tactics to sell certain products and services.
Consumer-initiated contracts would still be allowed, for example, if a consumer calls a company for roofing or home renovations. All consumer-initiated contracts signed in the home for prescribed goods and services would also have a 10-day cooling-off period and mandatory disclosures, making them consistent with the current rules that apply to contracts generally. During these 10 days, a consumer can change their mind about a purchase made in their home and, in most cases, cancel the contract without any reason.
Proposed changes to financial services
Proposed changes to the Payday Loans Act, 2008, provide the Registrar of payday loans with authority to inspect unlicensed lenders and provide for a rule-making authority to:
- Set out standards or factors that payday lenders must take into account when determining a borrower's ability to repay
- Restrict high-frequency borrowing
- Provide repeat payday loan borrowers with an extended payment plan option
- Improve and add compliance and enforcement powers to address unlicensed lenders and loan brokers
The Municipal Act, 2001 and the City of Toronto Act, 2006 would be amended to allow municipalities to regulate the number and location of payday lenders through licensing.
Proposed changes to the Consumer Protection Act, 2002, would provide authority to set rules to better protect users of instalment loans and rent-to-own services.Proposed changes to the Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act would broaden the application of debt collection rules to ensure that consumers with debts in collection are protected from harmful debt collection practices. In particular, the proposed changes would help ensure that firms which purchased debt for the purpose of collecting it would be subject to the same rules as collection agencies.