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A building manager filed a complaint regarding Régie du logement’s hearing scheduling practices.
The citizen had filed a number of applications to terminate leases for nonpayment of rent, on January and February, 2011, in person at Régie du logement (hereinafter “the Régie”). He was surprised to receive a notice of a hearing for the end of March 2011, for an application filed on February, whereas he was still waiting for such a notice for previous applications filed on January.
This complaint led the Québec Ombudsman to examine
The Régie’s procedure for scheduling hearings in the last quarter of 2010–2011.
The Québec Ombudsman’s investigation showed that
The president of the Régie gave verbal instructions to accelerate the processing of the most recent general, priority, and fixing and revision cases (3 months old or less) to the detriment of petitioners who had submitted similar cases earlier;
This instruction was planned specifically to reduce the waiting times reported by the Régie for 2010–2011;
This instruction was given in disregard of the transparency expected from a public body;
This instruction constitutes an iniquity (tending to undermine the trust people must place in all tribunals and specifically, in the Régie);
The Act respecting the Régie du logement has provisions that apply in the event of such a breach.
The Québec Ombudsman has recommended to Ministre des Affaires municipales, des Régions et de l’Occupation du territoire to apply to Conseil de la justice administrative to conduct an inquiry into the situation described in this report.
The Ministry agreed to act on the Québec Ombudsman’s recommendation.
The Québec Ombudsman has recommended that a notice be added or appended to the Régie’s 2010–2011 annual report to explain to the reader the limitations of declared waiting time data, and that this note also specify the impact of the instruction on reported waiting times, and that this be validated by an auditor from outside the Régie.
The Québec Ombudsman has been assured by the Régie that this unfair schedule management practice ceased on April 1, 2011.
As of September 29, 2011, the Régie’s annual report had still not been tabled.