Ontario Reducing the Cost of Borrowing for Payday Loans

Update:

Australia’s Project Wickenby has collected more than $600 million from cheats using tax havens since 2006. The U.K. has recouped more than £2 billion ($3.5 billion) from offshore tax evasion since 2010. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Ontario is lowering the maximum total cost of borrowing for a payday loan from $21 to $18 per $100 borrowed as of January 1, 2017. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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Ontario is lowering the maximum total cost of borrowing for a payday loan from $21 to $18 per $100 borrowed as of January 1, 2017.

Payday loans are a commonly used financial service in Ontario, and this change will ensure consumers are better protected and able to benefit from lower costs for each loan.

Ontario has also introduced legislation to strengthen protections for consumers who use financial services such as payday loans, instalment loans, rent-to-own services and cheque-cashing services, as well as for consumers who have debts in collection.

If passed, the Putting Consumers First Act, would increase protections for consumers in several new ways, including:

  • A grace period for repayment for consumers using rent-to-own services
  • An extended repayment period option for consumers who are repeat payday loan borrowers
  • Establishing standards or factors that payday lenders must take into account when determining a borrower’s ability to repay
  • Restrictions on high-frequency borrowing
  • Adding and improving compliance and enforcement powers to address unlicensed lenders and loan brokers

Strengthening consumer protection is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

Quick Facts:

  • Alternative financial services are any financial service offered by a party other than a bank or a credit union.
  • There are over 800 licensed payday lenders and loan brokers in Ontario.
  • The majority of calls and inquiries to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services are about debt collection.

Additional Resources:

Bill 47, Protecting Rewards Points Act (Consumer Protection Amendment), 2016

Update:

Image result for Photos of Air Miles Logo
Bill 47, Protecting Rewards Points Act (Consumer Protection Amendment), 2016 received Royal Assent today and became law. This consumer protection amendment will no longer allow rewards points to expire.

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Back in 2011, Air Miles announced an expiry policy. They announced that accumulated points would begin to expire on a quarterly basis.

This forced many consumers with Air Miles to start using them, rather than risk losing them.  Using them in many instances meant redeeming them for things that card holders didn’t necessarily want.

Bill 47 will ensure that Air Miles points that expired after October 1, 2016 will be returned to the consumer.

“The government will consult with the public and business to develop regulations aimed at protecting consumers’ points while maintaining the viability of rewards programs,” Marie-France Lalonde, Minister of Government and Consumer Services, writes in a statement.

Last week, Air Miles announced that it was backing away from an expiration policy that would have come into effect in January.

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Air Miles located at the southwest corner of University Ave and Dundas St. W. @ 438 University Ave, Toronto ON M5G 2K8. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

See the legislation referred to as “Bill 47, Protecting Rewards Points Act (Consumer Protection Amendment), 2016″:

Bill 47                                                          2016

An Act to amend the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 with respect to rewards points

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:

  1. (1)  Section 1 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 is amended by striking out the definition of “consumer agreement” and substituting the following:

“consumer agreement” means an agreement between a supplier and a consumer in which,

(a)  the supplier agrees to supply goods or services for payment, or

(b)  the supplier agrees to provide rewards points to the consumer, on the supplier’s own behalf or on behalf of another supplier, when the consumer purchases goods or services or otherwise acts in a manner specified in the agreement; (“convention de consommation”)

(2)  Section 1 of the Act is amended by adding the following definition:

“rewards points” means, subject to the regulations, points provided to a consumer under a consumer agreement that can be exchanged for money, goods or services; (“points de récompense”)

(3)  Section 1 of the Act is amended by striking out the definition of “supplier” and substituting the following:

“supplier” means a person who is in the business of selling, leasing or trading in goods or services or is otherwise in the business of supplying goods or services, including the supply of rewards points, and includes an agent of the supplier and a person who holds themself out to be a supplier or an agent of the supplier; (“fournisseur”)

  1. (1)  Part IV of the Act is amended by adding the following section:

Rewards Points

No expiry of rewards points

47.1  (1)  Subject to the other provisions of this section, no supplier shall enter into or amend a consumer agreement under which rewards points are provided to provide for the expiry of rewards points due to the passage of time alone.

Application and transition

(2)  This section applies to all consumer agreements under which rewards points are provided,

(a)  that existed on October 1, 2016;

(b)  that were entered into after October 1, 2016, but before the day this section came into force; or

(c)  that are entered into on or after the date this section comes into force.

Effect of termination

(3)  Subject to any prescribed exceptions, on and after the day this section comes into force, and upon providing notice to the other party, the supplier or the consumer may terminate the consumer agreement under which rewards points are provided, and if the consumer agreement so provided, the consumer’s accumulated rewards points may expire.

Term of consumer agreement not enforceable

(4)  Any provision or part of a provision of a consumer agreement that contravenes this section or that fails to comply with the regulations with respect to rewards points is not enforceable, but such unenforceability shall not invalidate the remaining provisions in the consumer agreement.

Retroactive effect on expiry of rewards points

(5)  Subject to any prescribed exceptions, within 15 days of this section coming into force, a supplier shall credit back to a consumer any rewards points that expired on or after October 1, 2016 and before the day this section comes into force.

Transition: crediting back, supplier termination of consumer agreement

(6)  If a supplier terminated a consumer agreement under which rewards points were provided on or after October 1, 2016 and before the date this section came into force, the previously terminated agreement shall be deemed to not have been terminated and the supplier shall, within 15 days of this section coming into force, credit back to the consumer all rewards points that expired upon that termination.

No cause of action for retroactivity

(7)  No cause of action arises against the Crown as a direct or indirect result of the retroactive application of this section or any regulations respecting rewards points, and no costs, compensation or damages are owing or payable by the Crown to any supplier, consumer or person as a result of such retroactive application.

Evidence

(8)  In any proceeding under this Act about the crediting back of rewards points mentioned in subsection (5) or (6), despite any contractual provision to the contrary, a court or tribunal may consider records presented by the consumer, determine those records’ admissibility and may give those records whatever weight it sees fit.

Other expiry allowed

(9)  Consumer agreements under which rewards points are provided may provide for expiry due to reasons other than the passage of time alone, subject to any limits that may be prescribed.

No retroactive offences

(10)  Nothing in this section creates a retroactive offence.

(2)  Subsections 47.1 (5), (6) and (8) of the Act, as enacted by subsection (1), are repealed.

  1. (1)  Subsection 123 (1) of the Act is amended by adding the following clause:

(k)  clarifying the definition of “rewards points” in section 1 and specifying things that do or do not constitute rewards points for the purposes of this Act.

(2)  Subsection 123 (5) of the Act is amended by adding the following clauses:

(j)  governing the transfer of rewards points among consumers, including upon death;

(k)  governing the inactivity of consumer agreements under which rewards points are provided and of the rewards points themselves;

(l)  governing the termination of consumer agreements under which rewards points are provided and of the rewards points themselves;

(m)  governing the application of section 47.1 with respect to rewards points and, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, providing for and prescribing anything that that section refers to as being prescribed or provided for in the regulations and governing transitional matters.

Commencement

  1. This Act comes into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.

Short title

  1. The short title of this Act is the Protecting Rewards Points Act (Consumer Protection Amendment), 2016.

EXPLANATORY NOTE

This Explanatory Note was written as a reader’s aid to Bill 47 and does not form part of the law.  Bill 47 has been enacted as Chapter 34 of the Statutes of Ontario, 2016.

The Bill amends the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 with respect to rewards points.

The definition of “consumer agreement” is amended to include agreements under which a supplier agrees to provide rewards points to a consumer.  The definition of “supplier” is amended to include a person who supplies rewards points.

The new section 47.1 prohibits suppliers from entering into or amending consumer agreements to provide for the expiry of rewards points due to the passage of time alone.  Rewards points may expire if a consumer agreement under which rewards points are provided is terminated by the supplier or the consumer and the consumer agreement provides for the expiry of the points.  Transitional and other related matters are provided for.

Mayor’s executive approves discounts for low-income TTC riders

Update:

A TTC Subway/RT Map. photo of fightyourtickets.ca
A TTC Subway/RT Map. photo of fightyourtickets.ca

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Committee unanimously endorsed the plan, which would see the TTC give eligible residents 33 per cent off of single adult fare and 21 per cent off an adult monthly pass.

The mayor’s executive committee has approved a plan to give discounts to low-income transit users, but without the amendments pushed for by anti-poverty activists.

During a late evening session on Thursday, the committee unanimously endorsed the plan, which would see the TTC give eligible residents 33 per cent off of single adult fare and 21 per cent off an adult monthly pass.

The landmark Fair Pass Program has been under development for years and would radically shake up the TTC’s concession system by linking fare discounts to riders’ ability to pay.

More than a dozen anti-poverty advocates spoke at the committee, and, while most lauded the policy, they also urged the mayor’s inner circle to make it more robust.

“We are requesting that the discounts are deeper, the rollout is faster,” said Jessica Bell of TTCriders and the Fair Fare Coalition.

She asked that the discount fare program, which would cost $48 million a year when fully phased in by 2021, not be paid for by reducing concession fares to other groups.

The city currently spends $72 million on discounts for seniors, secondary and post-secondary students and children under 13 years of age.

The mayor has suggested the cost of the low-income discount could be offset by “reviewing” the existing programs.

Under the policy, which still has to be approved by city council, Toronto adults who make less than 15 per cent above the low-income measure would be eligible for the fare discount. The cutoff would be $45,075 for a two-parent, two-child household; $31,522 for a single-parent, one-child household, and $22,537 for a single person.
Under the policy, which still has to be approved by city council, Toronto adults who make less than 15 per cent above the low-income measure would be eligible for the fare discount. The cutoff would be $45,075 for a two-parent, two-child household; $31,522 for a single-parent, one-child household, and $22,537 for a single person.

Several deputants asked that people on social assistance be given free transit passes, and that the Fair Pass program, which won’t start being phased in until 2018, be implemented right away.

“Why keep 193,000 low-income citizens waiting when the need has been identified and the solution is right here?” asked Yvette Roberts, coordinator of Young Parents With No Fixed Address. She said economically marginalized residents are forgoing job opportunities and medical appointments because they can’t afford transit.

“We’re seeking immediate implementation. No more delays. Do the right thing now!” she said.

City staff told the committee that the fare plan couldn’t be implemented until the Presto fare program is in place. The TTC’s full network will be Presto-enabled by the end of the year, but the agency won’t phase out its other payment methods until sometime in 2017.

In a speech to the committee, Mayor John Tory said he understood the deputants’ urgency.

“It’s never fast enough. It’s never enough. The discount is never deep enough. I understand that. We’d like to do a lot more. But, at the end of the day, I think we’re doing something substantial here,” he said.

Under the policy, which still has to be approved by city council, Toronto adults who make less than 15 per cent above the low-income measure would be eligible for the fare discount. The cutoff would be $45,075 for a two-parent, two-child household; $31,522 for a single-parent, one-child household, and $22,537 for a single person.

Slightly fewer than 200,000 transit users would qualify, according to a report by city staff. Residents already receiving provincial transportation supports wouldn’t qualify.

The program would be rolled out in three phases, starting in 2018 with Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Works clients, followed by residents who receive housing and child care subsidies in 2019, and all others in 2020 and 2021. Most eligible transit users wouldn’t get the discount until the third phase.

The plan will be debated at council’s next meeting, scheduled for Dec. 13 and 14.

Ontario lawyers to combat systemic racism in profession

Update:

Justice. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Justice. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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There is a serious problem that needs to be addressed,’ working group chair says.

Larger law firms would be expected to work toward racial diversification and have to report on their progress under recommendations approved without opposition Friday by the profession’s regulatory body in Ontario following hours of emotional debate.

In addition, the Law Society of Upper Canada will look to put measures in place to ensure legal workplaces do more to combat  systemic racism and discrimination in their ranks, its governing body decided.

The recommendations — 13 in all — flowed from a working group that looked at the career obstacles black and other visible minority lawyers face. The group, set up in 2012, spent the last few years coming up with its report based on consultations and submissions from around the province.

Raj Anand, co-chairman of the group, who said he’s been the subject of racial slurs, called it gratifying the law society approved the report.

Exterior of Osgoode Hall. This is where the Law Society of Upper Canada is housed,
Exterior of Osgoode Hall. This is where the Law Society of Upper Canada is housed. photo by fightyourtickets.ca.

‘A serious problem that needs to be addressed’

“There is a serious problem that needs to be addressed,” Anand said.

“We now can move forward to implement these important recommendations, which reinforce the special responsibility of lawyers and paralegals to promote human rights in their own workplaces — and in their relationships with the justice system and the public.”

Under measures that are now slated to be put in place, any firm with at least 10 lawyers and paralegals would have to designate someone responsible for implementing a policy that addresses issues such as fair recruitment, retention and advancement.

Companies would also have to do a diversity self-assessment, and send the information to the law society every two years.

The governing body would also keep tabs on the progress law firms with at least 25 lawyers and paralegals are making in promoting diversity by looking at a “demographic data and inclusion index.”

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The Law Society of Upper Canada. The law society, which governs more than 50,000 lawyers and 8,000 paralegals in Ontario, will set up a specialized and trained team to address complaints of discrimination. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Visible-minority lawyers argue professional barriers linger

One lawyer, Sid Troister, sparked passionate discussion by questioning whether one measure should be mandatory as recommended. He called for a separate vote on each recommendation rather than a vote on the package as a whole. His motion was easily voted down and the report then passed with one amendment.

Although the proportion of visible-minority lawyers has increased in the last 15 years, many of them have long complained of the professional barriers they encounter, and relatively few black lawyers practise in large firms.

The working group, struck in response to the complaints, found a culture in which racialized lawyers and paralegals face significant challenges throughout their legal careers. Problems include assumptions of incompetence from judges and clients, denial of opportunities for professional advancement, and colleagues who shut them out of workplace social gatherings.

‘Overt discrimination and bias’

“Overt discrimination and bias are a feature of daily life,” the group found. “Racialization is a constant and persistent
factor.”

Another recommendation is to make it explicit that any systemic discrimination or reprisal for complaints of discrimination and harassment would be considered breaches of professional conduct, which would spell out that members are obliged to promote principles of equality, diversity and inclusion.

The law society, which governs more than 50,000 lawyers and 8,000 paralegals in Ontario, would also set up a specialized and trained team to address complaints of discrimination.

Paul Schabas, the treasurer of the law society, called Friday’s adoption of the report and its recommendations a big step toward ensuring the legal profession is “diverse, inclusive and free of discrimination and harassment.”

Ontario ombudsman launches investigation into use of solitary confinement in jails

Update:

Ombudsman Paul Dubé says he launched the investigation in light of the "serious issues raised in an increasing number of complaints" about the use of segregation in the province's correctional facilities.

Ombudsman Paul Dubé says he launched the investigation in light of the “serious issues raised in an increasing number of complaints” about the use of segregation in the province’s correctional facilities.

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Paul Dubé’s office received over 500 segregation-related complaints in past 3 years

The Ontario ombudsman has opened an investigation into how the province tracks and reviews the placement of inmates in solitary confinement in its jails.

Ombudsman Paul Dubé says he launched the investigation in light of the “serious issues raised in an increasing number of complaints” about the use of segregation in the province’s correctional facilities.

Dubé says his office has received over 500 segregation-related complaints in the past three years, and he wants an end to indefinite solitary confinement.

The Liberal government announced last month it appointed federal correctional investigator Howard Sapers to lead a review into the use of segregation, including the possibility of ending the use of indefinite isolation.

Sapers, who will become Ontario’s independent adviser on corrections Jan. 1, has previously called for legislated caps on the time inmates spend in segregation.

The ombudsman says his investigation into segregation was planned before Sapers was appointed by the province, and will “enhance” his work.

Correctional Services Minister David Orazietti recently announced several changes to Ontario’s policies on segregation, including a plan to lower a 30-day cap on disciplinary segregation to 15 consecutive days.

However, inmates can still be held in administrative segregation — for example for safety reasons —  indefinitely.