Archived—Project Summaries 2006-2007 - Consumers' Council of Canada (CCC)

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1. Energy Efficiency and Building Codes

$33,500

The National Building Code includes no requirements for energy efficiency or energy conservation. Energy efficiency provisions in provincial building codes across the country, where they exist, are a patchwork with little in common across provincial boundaries. Provinces have agreed to harmonize standards to the extent possible. This agreement brings into sharp focus all provincial requirements that vary from those included in the NBC. As a consequence, energy efficiency provisions in provincial codes are under constant threat to be deleted in favour of the National approach — or lack thereof.

Consumer representatives on the National Code as members of the Canadian Commission or Building and Fire Codes and on its various standing committees have long argued that Canadian consumers expect their codes to include provisions that deal with energy efficiency, energy conservation and climate change. Unfortunately, their protestations have largely been ignored as they lacked recent primary research evidence to support their positions.

CCC proposes to:

  • Task 1. Clearly formulate the issue. Review existing literature and recent surveys.
  • Task 2. Develop a survey instrument for a National general population survey (5 to 10 questions)
  • Task 3. Circulate questions to CCI, NRCan (OEE), and project steering committee for comments/input.
  • Task 4. Conduct the national survey
  • Task 5. Develop a draft Consumers Council of Canada policy based on survey results.
  • Task 6. Circulate the draft policy to key stakeholders for comments.
  • Task 7. Refer the draft policy to the Canadian Consumer Initiative (CCI) for consideration as common consumer policy. A separate development grant proposal has been submitted and is linked to this research proposal.
  • Task 8. Review CCI comments and integrate into a final Consumers Council of Canada policy.
  • Task 9. Circulate the final policy to all involved stakeholders.

2. Gaps in New Home Warranty Coverage Across Canada

$49,000

Consumers who are faced with building defects must navigate the complexities of not only warranty regulations and the fine points of coverage but also the underlying construction standards imposed by provincial building codes. Nationally, consumer protection is uneven as each provincial or regional warranty plan acts independently of the other. Warranty coverage and customer service standards (where they exist) are not uniform across the country.

This research seeks to identify differences in provincial and regional warranty plan coverage and identify the gaps that exist in consumer protection. The research will measure consumer expectations with regards to warranty coverage. It will document, where available, failures of the various programs to protect consumers.

The methodology selected draws on written documents, recognized experts, warranty plan officials and on the opinions of Canadians in examining new home warranty program coverage and service standards across Canada. It will identify the gaps that exist in the protection available to consumers.

  • TASK 1: Literature Review, National and International Scan. A literature review will be conducted to help to better define the scope of the research and to develop a full picture of home buyer protection across Canada. Key data sources to be examined include published reports, research papers, internet sources, journals, books, government documents, and popular media. The literature will then be critically analyzed and the various sources compared to one another. In addition to the national review, an internet scan of international jurisdictions will be conducted to benchmark coverage in Canada.
  • TASK 2: Service Standards Research. Service standards from each provincial and regional warranty program will reviewed where they exist. The lack of standards will be noted and provide a basis for final recommendations. Where standards do exist, they will be compared to one another again providing key data for final recommendations.
  • TASK 3: Key Informant Interviews. After the completion of the literature review, the researchers will need to assess who the experts are within the community on the particular issue/topic being researched. Industry Canada, Office of Consumer Affairs will be consulted in developing our list of experts. Key informants interviewed will include: real estate lawyers, journalists who have written on warranty program coverage; condominium expert; former president of the Ontario New Home Warranty Program; and officials from each provincial/regional warranty program. An interview guide will be developed prior to the interviews. Once the interviews are complete, the researcher will develop a summary of the information gathered from the interviews. Responses will be analyzed and amalgamated into the output from the other research.
  • TASK 4: Consumer Expectations Survey. A national general population survey will be conducted to ascertain what the public expectations might be with regards to new home warranty programs in general. The survey will attempt to frame whether consumer are indeed aware that these program exist and establish the extent to which exclusions, gaps and service metrics that are identified are important to them.
  • TASK 5: Reporting and Development of Recommendations and Policy. The research will be summarized in a report and further summarized in a research brief. The study recommendations will be presented to the board, and any other groups, organizations or individuals who will be responsible for, or take part in, their implementation.
  • TASK 6: Project Oversight/Project Steering Committee. Project Evaluator/Methodologist — Whipple Steinkrauss will act as project evaluator and chair of the project steering committee. The CCC will provide a steering committee to ensure that conclusions and recommendations are substantiated and supported by the data and analysis presented.