MPP Rima Berns-McGown (Beaches—East York) will debate her motion in the legislature on Thursday urging Doug Ford to provide rent support to tenants struggling during the pandemic.
Berns-McGown discussed the motion at a virtual press conference held Wednesday. She was joined by Shabana Mulla, a member of the Crescent Town Tenants Union who's been struggling to pay rent during the pandemic; Robert Field, President of the Graydon Hall Tenants' Association (GHTA); and Alyssa Brierley, Executive Director of CERA – Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation.
"I am asking the government to step up to ensure no one is evicted because they lost income during COVID-19 and cannot pay their rent," Berns-McGown said.
"The eviction crisis is dire, and so much of it happens in secret. But the communities hardest hit by COVID-19 – communities of immigrant, Black, Indigenous, and other people of colour – are the same that have lost income due to the pandemic because their jobs are precarious. Many of these tenants have outstanding arrears, and as a result they are at risk of being taken to the landlord-tenant board and evicted in as little as 60 seconds."
Doug Ford has refused to put in place a meaningful ban on evictions. Thousands of families have already been evicted. Many more may follow.
"My bill would ensure that we aren’t pitching families further into poverty or housing precarity during a pandemic," Berns-McGown said.
"Not only is it the compassionate and moral thing to keep people in their homes, but it makes more economic sense for the government to keep people housed than to support them once they are homeless."
Shabana Mulla, a member of the Crescent Town Tenants Union who has been struggling to pay rent during the pandemic:
“Tenants across the province have lost loved ones, jobs, and income throughout this pandemic, this is especially true in working class and immigrant communities. And now we face mass evictions from our homes, due to a crisis that is not our fault. We need an immediate solution. Tenants demand rent relief."
Robert Field, President of Graydon Hall Tenants' Association (GHTA):
"Meaningful rent relief and eviction protection is long overdue, as many Tenants suffering income loss due to the pandemic continue to struggle to make ends meet."
Alyssa Brierley, Executive Director of CERA – Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation:
“Tens of thousands of tenants in Ontario are in crisis and need urgent support from their governments. In March 2020, the Premier promised that no one would lose their home if they couldn’t afford to pay their rent because of the pandemic, and yet no direct support has been provided to tenants to ensure that won't happen. It's time for the Ontario government to provide meaningful financial support to tenants who are at risk of losing their homes because of pandemic-related job or income loss. We urge the Ontario government to establish a provincial rent relief program immediately.”