Monthly Archives: April 2012

The silence is deafening

How’s that new home doing for you? Warm enough?  Cool enough?  Feel good about the purchase?  If ONE of the answers to the four questions was a “no” or negative comment you are not alone.  This is something happening that should be a concern for all new home purchasers.

There is a battle happening in Queen’s Park and while opening shots have been fired, the Ontario government is not replying.  The offices of the Honourable Margarett Best, Minister of Consumer Services have said little to nothing about how to help home owners with HVAC issues.  For home owners in the Ottawa area there seems to be very little issue, the large part of complaints are coming from the GTA.  Ellen Roseman of the Toronto Star has been covering this for some time and reading her previous columns will provide the needed background.  Last month CTV W5 aired a piece on the concern that homeowners have with their HVAC systems and lack of action from the Ministry of Consumer Services, Tarion Home Warranty Corporation and new home builders.

The biggest silence comes from the Ministry of Consumer Services; the most noise about this is coming from the opposition desks.  The Ontario PC’s have taken up this cause with Ted Chudleigh, the MPP for Halton, where many of these cases are found, fighting for his constituents.  The riding is the home of massive growth and new home and communities are springing up where fields once lay.  The problem being faced is when only one person swinging then it is not much of a fight.  A letter has been personally delivered to Minster Best from Mr. Chudleigh in the House in February and there has not been a reply from the Minister’s office since, the silence is deafening.

There is too much finger pointing taking place on the government and Tarion’s side with each finding another direction to point the blame to. “ It could be the builder” or “no it’s the inspector” or “no it’s not covered because the defect didn’t show up in the two years since installation” or “sorry you have to deal with the municipality on this one” and “no you are not the original owner – too bad!”  The end result is homeowners are feeling the cold shoulder not from the lack of heat in their homes, but from the people that should be looking after them.

Out of all this a great small organization has sprung up,  www.canadiansforproperlybuilthomes.com, (and on Twitter @CPBH01) since 2004 they have worked to resolve homeowner issues with Tarion and the Ministry of Consumer Services and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.  Just after Queens Park started sitting again (for the 1st time since the October election) in late February 2012, CPBH held a news conference in front of Queen’s park.

What is the next step you can take?  Read Ellen Roseman http://www.ellenroseman.com/?p=1210.  Watch CTV W5  http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/WFive/20120302/w5-cold-comfort-hi-velocity-hvac-systems-investigation-120303/.  Once you have done that, read the CPBH News Release http://canadiansforproperlybuilthomes.com/html/whatsnew/2012/feb/Feb26_12-HVACInvestigation.pdf asking for action THEN you can make some noise!

Contact the Minister Best’s office and ask why Tarion is representing builders more than home warranty purchasers.  Write Premier McGuinty and ask why he is not doing something to get his Minister moving.  Email Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Kathleen Wynne and ask why cities are not training inspectors better on HVAC units.  Write your own MPP and ask them to get the government working to resolve these issues NOW!

The biggest investment any one person makes in their lifetime is the purchase of a home.  A new home should come with the new smell, new hopes and new dreams. Help keep the unnecessary nightmares of home ownership away.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. Please follow me and send your thoughts on this and other postings.

Paying it Forward

I spent a few days last week with a friend who writes a column for Sun Media, we talked about his editorial calendar and what he does to come up with his topics.  As his column will mostly focus on Ontario politics it is a simple task to come up with his weekly column.  He added though that the columns that give him the biggest satisfaction are the one that recognize those that perform heroic duties or give back to their communities with little expectation or want of payback.

I have written in the past of a generous Ottawa, it is time for a follow up

I recently was profiled by Debby Simms for the work that I am doing in the community and hoping to accomplish through my political affiliations.  Through Debby’s post in her blog found here http://debsimms.com/2012/04/06/the-love-you-take-5-minutes-with-rob-dekker/ I have been able to connect with others that believe as I do in community and political activities.    I believe strongly in the ‘what goes around comes around’ theory and I also that we should celebrate and pay forward those that do terrific work in our cities, communities and neighbourhoods.  In Ontario over 800 Million volunteer hours are completed by 5 million Ontarians annually, equally over 400k full-time positions!

Christine Taylor of Ottawa was recently named as a recipient of one of 18 June Callwood Awards in 2012 to deserving individuals and organizations in Ontario for their volunteerism.

Christine was given the award for her seemingly limitless energy in organizing volunteers in the Ottawa area to completing over 4000 hours of volunteer community work through her Year to give campaign (www.year2give.blogspot.ca) where she, as her Twitter profile (@Year2Give) writes “ My goal is to see what impact one person can have and on how many”.

Another Eastern Ontario recipient of the June Callwood Award for 2012 was William (Bill) Countryman of Prescott.  He has been a volunteer with the local fire department for almost 60 years. As truck captain, he is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 365 days of the year. Added up, Bill has given more than half a million hours towards keeping the people of Prescott safe from fires.

For the entire list click here http://news.ontario.ca/mci/en/2012/04/june-callwood-awards-2012-recipients.html

There are many ways to recognize the contributions of your friends, neighbours and colleagues for the hours they pour into their communities.  In Ontario there are many Honours and Awards presented, they are found here http://www.citizenship.gov.on.ca/english/citizenship/honoursandawards.shtml.  In Ottawa Volunteers and community contributors are recognized through the City of Ottawa Civic Appreciation Awards nominations placed through this link on the City of Ottawa website http://ottawa.ca/en/city_hall/volunteerservices/civic_appreciation/.  For my readers outside of Ottawa or Ontario search for ways you can recognize the work of others in your community.

I hope this inspires you to give time and energy to your community.  In Ottawa, Volunteer Ottawa has a volunteer bank of opportunities found here http://www.volunteerottawa.ca/vo-clean/index.php?/eng/.

If you are searching for that perfect way to recognize a volunteer, it may be a simple as saying “Thank you”.

To Christine, Bill and to everyone that volunteers…”Thank you”.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. Please follow me and send your thoughts on this and other postings.

The Love you Take: The 5 minutes I spent with Deb Simms

I recently spent a few minutes talking community involvement and politics with Deb Simms, who has a wonderful blog I love to read.

Here is Deb’s blog post following our discussion.
Enjoy the read and make sure you read more of what Deb has written

http://debsimms.com/2012/04/06/the-love-you-take-5-minutes-with-rob-dekker/

2011 Ottawa report card on Homelessness

The 2011 Ottawa Report Card on Homelessness was presented by The Alliance to End Homelessness (ATEH) April 3rd at the Ottawa Mission.  It was the first time the report has been delivered in such a setting, and it was very appropriate as the men who rely on the Mission are some of the statistics that make up the report.   The report card has been a fixture for housing providers for the past eight years.  For the 1st time since the start of the report card the city of Ottawa received an “A” rating for creating 739 affordable housing units last year, the result of  $14 million dollars being pumped in to the Housing and Homelessness investment plan.  The creation of the 700+ units is expected to deliver better results for 2012.  That is where the good news ends.  More people, longer stays and less money cover the remainder of the report card giving the City a D+, F, A and F.    The full report is here: http://www.endhomelessnessottawa.ca/documents/ReportCardOnEndingHomelessnessInOttawaJan-Dec-2011.pdf

The Ontario budget is not going to help, the freeze on social assistance and delays on the cild tax credit are going to make affordable housing more unaffordable for those that the affordable housing model was built for.  Ottawa has the 3rd highest rental rates in the country, the freezes and delays in benefits will leave less money for food, clothes and other essentials.

I wrote in December (https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2011/12/29/collective-benefits-of-ending-homelessness/) about the need for a National Homelessness strategy  that addresses the growing number of families, women, men and youth that find themselves without enough to live above the poverty line.  We must call on Premier McGuinty to stop the reduction  of social assistance benefits and we provinces must work with the Harper government to continue and expand the At Home/Chez Soi program after 2013.

It is only through this cooperation can the gap be narrowed and that in subsequent report we will see improvements in the ATEH Report Card for Ottawa.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. Please follow me and send your thoughts on this and other postings

The Politics of Dancing, Youthfully

Since the start of 2012, three major national political parties and the Ontario PC Party have had conventions.  The Liberal Party of Canada held its National convention in January in Ottawa, the Ontario PC Party met in Niagara Falls in the month of February, the Conservative Youth Conference took place in Montreal last month and just two weeks ago the NDP met in Toronto to select a new leader.

Conventions have evolved, in the last few years the number of youth involved and engaged in politics has increased.  It is so wonderful to see our next generation become more involved than we as adults may have been at that age.  I am attributing the growth to social media, greater access to information and an enlightened generation of parents that encouraged participation to make a difference and create change.  In “Waiting on the world to change” John Mayer sings about a generation that is waiting for change and not having the power to make the change.  That message could not be farther from the truth from what I have seen firsthand and through the news coverage of the various conventions.  I also believe that the activism that is the Occupy movement is a result of the awareness of the youth of our nation, their ambition to make a difference is commended and encouraged.  

While I hear that some are worried about the leaders of tomorrow, I do not share their concerns.  I do not have personal experience with the youth of the Liberal, Green or New Democratic parties, I have seen the Conservative youth in action supporting their beliefs working on campaigns and taking part in their campus activities and throwing their energetic support behind candidates and policies at conventions. Recently I was able to join both the Ottawa U and Carleton Conservatives at social events they hosted.  Ottawa U hosted a “Super Tuesday” pub night and it was fabulous to see the enthusiasm that everyone had for the candidate they were supporting.  Watching the results come in for the GOP primaries was something I would have done at home, but at the pub it was an enhanced atmosphere, not unlike that of an election night. The Carleton Conservatives held a Meet Rob Dekker night at Oliver’s where I had the opportunity to meet and talk with the university’s Conservative and Love of Liberty groups.  I was joined by fellow PC candidates Fred Sherman (Ottawa Vanier) and Andrew Lister (Ottawa Orleans) that evening and we each had the chance to talk with the many young people that came out that night.  I am looking forward to the students return in the fall and the opportunity to talk, hear their great ideas and feel the enthusiasm that these college and university students have for the future of Ontario and Canada

I think John Mayer has it wrong, the next generation of leaders are making the change happen and it is important that our leaders today embrace the ideas and energy of our next Premiers and Prime Ministers. We need to mentor the next generation to ensure that we will be in as good hands, if not better than we are today.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. Please follow me and send your thoughts on this and other postings.