Vishal Chityal, owner of Walnut Manor in St. Thomas, was the subject of discussion in the Ontario Legislature on May 18, 2017. We have focused on the supportive living facility the past couple of weeks and again four years ago when the kitchen was shut down by Elgin St. Thomas Public Health.
Here are excerpts from the Hansard transcript from that day featuring an impassioned presentation from Welland MPP Cindy Forster, author of private member’s Bill 135, an act to establish a framework for the licensing of supportive living accommodation.
More details on Bill 135 in a moment, but first here is MPP Forster’s back story on Chityal.
“In Niagara, there are 19 individual homes that we know of. For the most part, they are operated by a man by the name of Vishal Chityal, who operates under the alias of Charlie Duke.
“I ask, why does somebody need to use an alias?
“He also owns properties in Hamilton and in London. He’s no stranger to city officials — substandard conditions. His tenants are high-risk— they’re usually on ODSP or social assistance; they often suffer from physical disability, mental health issues and have a strong dependency on operators — and Charlie Duke takes advantage. We get calls every day and complaints from them.
“Charlie Duke, the alias — was forcing clients to sign over trusteeship, so he was having municipalities send the cheques directly to him. There were people there who weren’t just getting OW and ODSP; some of them were getting maybe $1,500 or $1,600 a month because they had worked in a job and had a bit of a pension. They were signing it over, and he was keeping all of their money.
“In addition to this, this guy owns pharmacies in Mississauga and he owns a pharmacy in Hamilton. He was actually having those residents who lived in his building and stocked their prescriptions through their local pharmacies and directing their prescriptions through his pharmacies in Hamilton and Mississauga.
“He was denying families the right to actually come in and visit without notice, and the stories go on and on.”
As to her bill, which has passed second reading and is before committee, here is what she envisions.
“Because they’re privately owned and operated and they’re accountable to no one, they are free to operate their businesses however they please. It means they fall into a grey zone, and they’re under enormous risk.
“The City of London has since put a bylaw in place. It was a positive step forward, but it doesn’t do anything for the other 443 municipalities in this province who have no regulation whatsoever. That’s why I’ve put forward the motion today.
“Basically, these homes provide low-rent accommodation to vulnerable tenants, who are considered high-needs a lot of the time. The shared accommodations typically can be room or room and board, with additional levels of support like food and meal prep, physical assistance, personal care, housekeeping and medication.
“This bill just provides a framework for operators and sets minimum standards that must be met so that vulnerable tenants no longer suffer from a broken system.
“The bill defines what a home is, requires home operators to be licensed, similar to retirement homes—failure to have a licence is a punishable offence of up to $1,000 a day—and would set a framework for inspection and complaint protocols.
“I want to be clear: I’m not against these second-lodging or supportive living facilities, but I am against those which do not operate in a safe and respectful manner for the residents who live in them, because in many situations it’s the only home that is available to them.”
City Scope will be visiting Walnut Manor in the very near future and will apprise readers of the conditions and the progress of Bill 135.
Questions and comments may be emailed to: City Scope
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