Landlord and Tenant Board’s “digital first” system harms vulnerable renters: advocate


TORONTO — An Ontario tenant advocacy group says it has filed a human rights complaint arguing the provincial Landlord and Tenant Board’s switch to a “digital first” strategy centred on virtual hearings during the pandemic discriminates against vulnerable renters.

The Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario says the complaint was filed with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal on behalf of a 77-year-old woman in North Bay, Ont. who alleges the board dismissed her application after she experienced issues with the new, digital system.

The organization says Lorraine Peever lives alone in subsidized housing, does not have a computer or cellphone, and has primarily attempted to participate in her hearings with the board through a landline. It says the board did not respond to Peever’s request for an in-person hearing.

The advocacy group says it is also planning to file several more applications on behalf of other tenants whose rights it alleges were violated because of the change.

Tribunals Ontario, which includes the Landlord and Tenant Board, embraced a range of digital tools such as virtual hearings and online document filing in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tribunals then moved to a new digital case-management system late last year in an effort to combat delays and case backlogs exacerbated by the pandemic.

A spokesperson for Tribunals Ontario confirmed the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario received an application from the advocacy group, but declined to comment further, citing the adjudicative process.



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