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Farm Debt Mediation

Second Reading

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (16:28): I rise in support of the bill. The bill will establish a formal framework for mediation in cases where foreclosure is imminent on farm properties. I understand that under the bill, before a bank or financial institution can foreclose on a property, they must give notice to the owner and provide them with the opportunity to request mediation. If a request for mediation is made by the owner, a prohibition certificate may be issued, which prevents any action being taken until mediation has occurred.

The Office of the Small Business Commissioner will assist in setting up the mediation. If the owner requests for mediation to occur but refuses to participate, the creditor can request the Small Business Commissioner to issue an exemption certificate so that action to foreclose can proceed. Given some of the harrowing stories that were presented as part of the federal government's inquiry into the banking system, I do not think there is one person who can say that the banks acted honourably and with respect in all circumstances.

It is clear that there was unconscionable conduct, with some families suddenly losing their homes and livelihoods without even an opportunity to rectify matters. This is disgusting behaviour, and this bill will provide oversight from an independent arbitrator to ensure that these practices do not occur again. I support the bill and congratulate the government on moving this bill to increase consumer protection.