The Ontario Housing Corporation owned some high-rise apartments which were leased at low rates to persons with low incomes. Webb and her family became tenants in 1970, however in 1973 the company managing the building recommended to the Corporation that her lead be terminated due to problems with her children. The board of directors of the Corporation agreed and her lease was terminated under the Landlord and Tenant Act. Webb applied for review of the decision of the board but her application was dismissed, which she appealed to the Court of Appeal.
- What level of procedural fairness is owed to the decision to evict Webb from subsidized housing?
MacKinnon, writing for a unanimous court, held that there was no judicial or quasi-judicial quality to the action taken by the board such that the decision attracted the audi alteram partem principle. Thus dismissing the first two grounds of appeal, he turned to the "grayer" area of fairness.
He held that the decision to grant Webb subsidized housing was one which did not attract any duty of procedural fairness, however once that (substantial) benefit was bestowed, the Corporation was obliged to treat her fairly by giving her a chance to respond to any complaints. He did not extend the principle so far as to require formal notice or procedural restraints, simply that she be allowed to give an answer. In the facts of the case at bar, she had been advised by the building manager about complaints and the risk of her lease being terminated, which met the fairness due to her. In the result, the appeal was dismissed.
- The scale of procedural fairness varies with the nature of the interest at stake.
- Once a benefit has been bestowed, there is a minimum level of fairness required before that benefit can be taken away.