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Social Housing (Ontario) Legal Guide
(23 November 2021)

Ch.11 - Reviews (Appeals)

  1. Overview
  2. Procedural Requirements
  3. Reviewable Decisions by Households
  4. Reviewable Decisions by Housing Providers
    (a) Reviewable Decisions
    (b) Excepting Circumstances
  5. Review Decisions
    (a) Review Decision Jurisdiction
    (b) When Effective




1. Overview

In terms of what most people would call 'appeals', the HSA system has a very rudimentary and awkward statutory 'review' system. Most of the 'review' details are left to the local service manager, meaning there are 47 different systems for each of the municipalities and DSSABs that are social housing service managers in Ontario [HSA 155(1)].

The review system serves both 'households' and housing providers [HSA 156-157], and it may be shared with one or more other service managers [155(2)].

This system is very similar to the 'internal review' system under welfare and ODSP law, although - while with social assistance the procedure is just a preliminary step that precedes formal appeals to the Social Benefits Tribunal and the Divisional Court - with the HSA system the review is (normally) all you get.

The basic problem with this 'review' system is, on top of it's desperately confused and inconsistent state that hinders decent advocacy, is it's rudimentary nature. While a normal 'appeal' system has one set of province-wide rules and a further (normally court) appeal upwards, this (one hesitates to call it a system) scheme leaves the household and/or advocate with the much more cumbersome in inaccessible remedy of court-based judicial review.

This make most advocacy a very local affair, with the parties having to explore and document the review system locally before they can hope to engage with it. This present section only addresses the provincial minimum standard basics of it, spelt out in the HSA and it's General Regulation [HSA 155-159, Genl Reg 138-139].

Central to this is obtaining what you can of the service manager's local rules [see "Ch.9: Advocacy"]. Any advocate should do the best they can in this regard, as when the need arises there may not be time to struggle with the task.


2. Procedural Requirements

The statutory basics of the HSA review system are that [HSA 155(3,4), Genl Reg 138]:
  • it must have a "review body, including rules for the appointment and removal of members and their remuneration";

  • it shall have procedural rules that must:
    . "provide for when a review may be requested",

    . "provide for when the decision made by the review body must be made",

    . "require that no individual who participated in the making of the decision being reviewed may participate in the review as a member of the review body",

    . "require that an individual may only participate in a review as a member of the review body if the individual is knowledgeable about the provisions of the Act and the regulations that are relevant to the decision being reviewed", and

    . "require that no individual who previously discussed the decision being reviewed with the decision-maker participate in the review as a member of the review body and that, during such participation, no member of the review body discuss the decision with the decision-maker except in the course of the review."
  • it shall have rules with respect to special priority, for both RGI [HSA 48(1)] and special needs [HSA 63(1)] determinations, that when "that a household is not included in the special priority household category", that require:
    . "a review must be completed and the decision of the review body made within 10 business days after the request for the review is received",

    . "notice of the decision and reasons of the review body must be given within five business days after the decision was made", and

    . "notice of the decision of the review body must not be given to any other member of the household other than the member who requested the review".
  • procedural rules, with respect to housing provider reviews of decisions [under HSA 157], that:

    . "the service manager shall appoint, as the review body, an individual that the service manager and the housing provider select jointly or, if they cannot agree, a single individual from a list of individuals whom the Minister identifies", and

    . "the service manager and the housing provider shall share equally the cost of remunerating the review body for conducting the review".
The Statutory Powers Procedures Act (SPPA) does not apply to reviews [158(4)] (the SPPA is a minimum procedural standards statute that normally applies to Ontario administrative proceedings, it's exclusion is consistent with the rudimentary nature of the review regime).


3. Reviewable Decisions by Households

Households may request reviews of the following determinations [HSA 156]:
  • "that the household is not eligible for rent-geared-to-income assistance [HSA 45(1)];

  • "of the size and type of unit that would be permissible if the household received rent-geared-to-income assistance" [HSA 46(1)];

  • "that the household is not included in a category given priority over other categories" [HSA 48(1)];

  • "of the amount of rent payable by the household" [HSA 50(1)];

  • "that the household is no longer eligible for rent-geared-to-income assistance" [HSA 52(1)];

  • "that the household is not eligible for special needs housing" [HSA 61(1)];

  • "that the household is not included in a category given priority over other categories" [HSA 63(1)];

  • "that the household is no longer eligible for special needs housing" [HSA 65(1)].
These are all Part V ["RGI Assistance and Special Needs Housing"] decisions. When such decisions are made they will be notified to the household (and sometimes to the housing provider) by a Notice of Decision [see Ch.4, s.2(a): "Notices of Decision"].


4. Reviewable Decisions by Housing Providers

(a) Reviewable Decisions

Housing providers may request reviews of the following decisions by service managers [HSA 157, Genl Reg 138.1]:
  • "to discontinue or suspend a subsidy payment to the housing provider" [HSA 85(1)];

  • "to reduce the amount of a subsidy payment to the housing provider" [HSA 85(2)];

  • "to deduct an amount from a subsidy payment to the housing provider" [HSA 85(3)];

  • "to exercise any of the powers or perform any of the duties of the housing provider or act as the housing provider" [HSA 85(4)];

  • "to appoint an operational advisor for the housing provider" [HSA 85(4)];

  • "to appoint an interim receiver or interim receiver and manager for the housing provider" [HSA 85(6)];

  • "to remove some or all of the directors or deemed directors of the housing provider" [HSA 85(8)];

  • "to appoint one or more individuals as directors of the housing provider" [HSA 85(9)].
(b) Excepting Circumstances

However, housing providers may not request a review of a service manager (except one to appoint an interim receiver, or interim receiver and manager) if any of the following circumstances apply [HSA 90(5), Genl Reg 138.1(2)]:
  • the housing provider transfer or mortgages the housing project or the land where it is located without the written consent of the service manager in whose service area the housing project is located [HSA 162];

  • "the housing provider is unable to pay its debts as they become due";

  • "the housing provider has operated a designated housing project in a way that has resulted in:
    . significant physical deterioration of the housing project affecting the structural integrity of the housing project, or

    . danger to the health or safety of the residents of the housing project";
  • "a report of an audit or investigation of the housing provider alleges fraud, criminal activity or a misuse of the assets of the housing provider and the alleged fraud, criminal activity or misuse of assets has been referred to a law enforcement agency";

  • "a designated housing project of the housing provider is subject to a mortgage guaranteed by the Province of Ontario and the mortgage is in default"; or

  • "the number of directors of the housing provider has been less than the quorum needed for a meeting of the board of directors for a period of 90 days and remains less than the quorum".

5. Review Decisions

(a) Review Decision Jurisdiction

A Review decision [HSA 158]:
  • may substitute its decision for the decision that was reviewed;

  • shall give its decision in writing and shall give reasons in writing;

  • shall give notice of its decision and reasons to:
    . the person who requested the review,

    . the person who made the decision that was reviewed, and

    . any housing provider that was previously given notice of the service manager's decision that was subject of a request for review [under HSA 53(2) (RGI decisions), or HSA 66(2) (special needs decisions)].
(b) When Effective

A review decision is effective the later of "the day immediately after the last day for requesting a review" or "the day specified by the review body" [HSA 159, Genl Reg 139].

An exception is that a service manager's decision on the amount of RGI rent "is effective on the day specified by the service manager" [HSA 159, Genl Reg 139].



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