Oct 15, 2020

Many regulators have the authority to seek a court order to compel people to comply with the law. Recent decisions by the Courts have upheld the breadth and flexibility of these provisions. For example, in the very recent case of Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority v In Touch Retirement Living for Vegetarians/Vegans Inc., 2019 ONSC 3401, http://canlii.ca/t/j0rm4 the regulator obtained an order against an individual who had been operating a retirement home for years without a licence and in contravention of a number of health and safety orders.

In making the order, the Court affirmed that where a public authority brings an application to enforce its legislation and there has been a clear breach of the legislation “only in exceptional circumstances will the court refuse an injunction to restrain the continued breach”. It is no defence to argue that one is as competent or capable as a person who is registered. The Court concluded that assertions of racial discrimination and of religious convictions amounted to “unconvincing, after-the-fact excuses to justify a history of non-compliance and disregard of the applicable law”. Similarly the Court held that the perspective of a family member of one of the residents, that the regulator should assist the person to comply with the rules rather than shutting down the retirement home, did not amount to an exceptional circumstance.

The Court demonstrated the flexibility of the provision by ordering the person to provide all information it had about the residents to the regulator so that it could make arrangements for their continued care and orderly transfer. Clearly such an ancillary order was required as simply closing the facility abruptly was not a realistic option.