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:

Ontario amends laws for Tow Truck Services and Storage Services effective Jan.1/17

Update:

Bill 15, Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act will force approximately 1,200 tow truck businesses and 3,000 tow truck drivers in Ontario to change their practices beginning on Jan.1/17. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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A parking enforcement officer speaking to a tow truck operator, while he is putting a car on the lift. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Ministry of Government and Consumer Services

Ontario is reminding consumers that, as of January 1, 2017, new requirements are in place for tow truck or vehicle storage services designed to increase transparency and strengthen consumer protection.

The new changes will ensure tow and storage providers:

  • Have permission from the consumer or someone acting on their behalf before towing or storing a vehicle
  • Publicly disclose rates and other information such as the provider’s name and telephone number on tow trucks as well as in places of business
  • Accept credit card payments from consumers (and not insist on cash only)
  • Notify consumers where their vehicle will be towed
  • Allow consumers to access their towed vehicles to remove personal property at no charge between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on all business days
  • Give consumers an itemized invoice listing the services provided and costs before receiving payment
  • Disclose if they are getting a financial incentive for towing a vehicle to a particular vehicle storage facility or repair shop.

Protecting consumers is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

Ontario is increasing transparency for drivers using towing and vehicle storage services. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Quick Facts:

  • There are approximately 1,200 tow truck businesses, with 3,000 tow truck drivers in Ontario.
  • Sixteen Ontario municipalities currently have by-laws that license towing businesses.
  • The new rules are being brought forward as a result of changes made by Bill 15, Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act.
  • The province is also taking action to improve the safety of tow trucks and their operators by including tow trucks in the province’s existing Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration system as of January 1, 2017. This change will improve road safety through government monitoring and enforcement measures.

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.

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.”

Toronto road tolls, championed by Mayor John Tory, OK’d at executive committee

Update:

Nathan Philips Square which contains Toronto's City Hall. The parking ticket counter at Metro Hall at 55 John Street will close today and be temporarily re-located to the main floor at Toronto's City Hall at 100 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Tory’s motion to implement the road tolls — which could cost around $2 per trip — was approved, although with some amendments introduced by other councillors, including a potential yearly cap on how much commuters will pay in tolls. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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Hotel and short-term accomodation tax also clears major city hall hurdle after debate.

Mayor John Tory’s executive committee unanimously approved moving forward with road tolls for the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway on Thursday, though not without some fierce debate.

Council voted 24-21 in favour of the so-called hybrid plan for the eastern section of the Gardiner Expressway, which runs from Jarvis Street to the Don Valley Parkway.
Gardiner expressway, east of the DVP. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Council will also consider a tax on hotels and short-term accommodations, like Airbnb rentals. The city won’t, however, seek permission from the province to tax alcohol or tobacco sales, an option that had been tabled at the beginning of the day.

The budget committee, meanwhile, will be asked to look at the possibility of introducing a 0.5 per cent property tax levy that will be directed to the City Building Fund. It will also consider changing the land transfer tax rebates given to first-time homebuyers so they are in line with the new rules unveiled by the province last month.

Motorists entering this ramp from Bay street will now be soon be paying for the opportunity to drive on the Gardiner Expressway or the Don Valley Parkway. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

The city is grappling with how to pay for $33 billion worth of major transit and infrastructure projects.

Tory’s motion to implement the road tolls — which could cost around $2 per trip — was approved, although with some amendments introduced by other councillors, including a potential yearly cap on how much commuters will pay in tolls.

Queen's Park. Tow Trucks in the GTA took their "awareness campaign" to Queen's Park this morning, in an effort to inform the motoring public and other tow truck operators of the government's plans under Bill 15, specifically placing tow truck driver's under the authority of the CVOR. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Queen’s Park. City council would still have to approve road tolls before they come into effect. The city would also need approval from Queen’s Park. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

City council would still have to approve road tolls before they come into effect. The city would also need approval from Queen’s Park tolls in.

Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who represents Ward 34, Don Valley East, introduced the motion calling on city council to cap the amount Torontonians will pay on tolls per year, though he declined to set a specific amount.

“My residents are affected more than any other community in the city,” he said.

“You have to spread the pain of these revenue tools.”

Minnan-Wong’s motion also suggested looking at how the tolls will be collected, suggesting a dynamic pricing model could be put in place.

The executive committee also unanimously approved a motion by Coun. David Shiner that recommends asking the province to exempt any road tolls from the Harmonized Sales Tax.

Drivers may not like paying the tolls, Shiner said, but they’d hate “paying a tax on a tax.”

Budget Chief Gary Crawford, meanwhile, defended dropping the potential alcohol and tobacco taxes, saying the revenue tools the executive committee did approve were the fairest, most affordable and most transparent.

Gardiner Expressway. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Tory wants to impose a toll of roughly $2 on the two major highways leading to Toronto’s downtown core. photo by fightyourtickets.ca.

Some fighting back against taxes

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, who showed up to the meeting with a pair of boxing gloves, told CBC Toronto he is going to fight “every tax and every fee.”

“In a flash, we’ve approved an unprecedented amount of taxes and fees to be looked at without consulting the rest of Toronto,” he said.

Sean Meagher, executive director of the non-profit social justice organization Social Planning Toronto, expressed concern that road tolls would affect the budget years from now, but are not an immediate fix.

“The city manager’s named a bunch of very useful tools — things like harmonizing the land transfer tax, closing some tax loopholes for corporations,” he said.

“Those are things we can have in the immediate term.”

‘A step in the right direction’

Potential road toll revenue is earmarked for transit and infrastructure projects. With this plan, city council is “finally beginning to take action on fighting congestion and building more transit,” Tory said during a midday news conference.

But Tory has previously said that, while road tolls will raise about $200 million annually, the potential revenue would still fall short of addressing all the city’s transit needs.

“It’s a really good start but it’s not going to be sufficient,” said City Manager Peter Wallace during the morning meeting session.

Speaking to CBC Toronto, Coun. Joe Cressy, who represents Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina, said the proposed tolls and taxes are a “a step in the right direction.”

“The city of Toronto doesn’t have the money today to maintain the city we have, let alone the money to build the city we want,” he said.

“And if you’re going to build a strong city, and a fair city, you need to pay for it.”

Tory not backing down

In his news conference, Tory said he’s glad to have a “good, open, lengthy discussion” about the proposed revenue tools.

But he coupled this with strong words to anyone opposing the measures, either at city hall or Queen’s Park.

“If they are opposed to road tolls, and some of these other measures as a means for paying for some of these kinds of things, I think they have an obligation to spell out what they would use instead,” Tory said.

Or, he added, detractors should “indicate honestly to the public that they would have no intention of supporting the measures that I believe are absolutely necessary.