Updated - April 20th at 5pm.
The following are updates from service providers in the City of Toronto that often provide tenant or housing services:
Landlord and Tenant Board:
Eviction orders have been postponed: No new eviction orders will be issued until further notice in Ontario due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eviction order enforcement has been postponed. As of March 19, the Premier of Ontario has announced that all eviction orders will be suspended until further notice.
Please read this article for more information.
COVID-19 Policy – Postponing Hearings
Tribunals Ontario is implementing a new policy to postpone in-person hearings and reschedule to a later date. Where feasible, alternative hearing options such as written and telephone hearings will be considered to minimize disruption to hearings across the organization.
In addition, all front-line counter services will be closed as of March 16 until further notice.
March 31, 2020
Tenants can contact their local community legal aid clinic for summary advice, legal information or possible representation. You can find you local clinic by entering your postal code here: https://www.legalaid.on.ca/legal-clinics/
Ember Law is offering free legal services to renters in the GTA and surrounding area who are currently unable to afford their upcoming April rent due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. If you or someone you know is struggling, and unsure on how to approach their landlord, please contact Ember Law to correspond with them and advocate on your behalf. Feel free to email email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-486-0850 for more information.
City Apartment Repair and Public Health Enforcement
Emergency bylaw enforcement and investigation services continue for emergency orders and in response to unsafe conditions, including:
- no heat
- no water
- boarding of vacant properties
- illegal dumping
Non-emergency building and bylaw inspections and enforcement have been suspended
To make an emergency complaint, residents should call 311. Routine inspections may be suspended as the public health situation evolves.
March 20 - Toronto Public Health has suspended Home visiting services and bed bug and other insect identification.
Housing Support - RGI Rent Payments
Updated March 19
Some Housing Stability Services continue, including payments to service providers and landlords, and processing of Housing Allowance applications.
Access to Housing (Housing Connections) offices at 176 Elm St. are closed. Clients are encouraged to submit applications by fax, online, or by mail. Information on Rent-Geared-to-Income Housing is available at toronto.ca/accesstohousing or by contacting Housing Help Centres.
Shelters and Supports for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness
March 18, 2020 - Shelter, Support and Housing Administration (SSHA) has announced 200 spaces within City facilities by the end of the week to allow the City to move people within existing programs, particularly the 24-hour respite sites and 24-hour drop-ins.
The City is also creating additional isolation spaces for people identified through screening and assessment processes that are awaiting test results. Toronto Public Health’s recommended screening questions are being used at all points of entry by phone or in-person for all those seeking shelter.
People who are experiencing homelessness who are being tested for COVID-19 will be isolated in separate spaces at a designated program location.
March 24th, 2020 - A new Rapid Housing Access Initiative is helping to prioritize access to housing for existing shelter clients in Toronto Community Housing. Fifteen households have been matched with housing and will be moving in this week. An additional 50 units have been identified for move-in in the coming weeks
March 16, 2020 - Updates from members of the Social Housing and Justice Network can be found on facebook.
- 30 motel rooms are being used to self-isolate people without housing coming across the border
- a new shelter location will open by Wednesday March 18th and an additional 3-4 shelters will open with a total capacity of 200-250. Their purpose is to receive high risk individuals who are homeless that might be in the 24-hr respites or overnight drop-ins for example (such as seniors).
- an isolation site for up to 50 homeless people has opened. Once tested, the individual would be transported to the site to await results. It will be staffed 24/7, have food and medical staff on call. In addition they are working out how to provide harm reduction supports.
- the City has developed a symptom screening tool that will be provided to shelter staff to begin implementing. There will also be means to isolate a symptomatic person until they can be further assessed.
Dixon Hall has opened a 24/7 single site at their Carlton Street address for approximately 45 people to replace the now 10 Out of the Cold (OOTC)locations that have shut down.
Ongoing - All City-operated shelters, respites and 24-hour women’s drop-ins remain open and support activities continue. Streets to Homes outreach is ongoing.
In addition to the enhanced Infection, Prevention & Control (IPAC) and cleaning measures in City-owned facilities, Toronto Public Health (TPH), Support & Housing Administration (SSHA) have provided sector partners that operate shelters, respites, and drop-ins with interim guidelines to respond to COVID-19.
Community partners are being asked to:
- increase routine IPAC practices, including frequency of disinfecting commonly touched surfaces
- inventory personal protective equipment
- initiate planning groups that will work with the SSHA planning team
- post signage from Toronto Public Health with information on COVID-19 and speak to clients about the virus
- SSHA is providing additional funding to support increased cleaning and purchase of supplies in shelters, 24-hour respite centres, and drop-ins.
Central Intake asks screening questions of people calling for shelter access. Callers are being asked to provide details on their current health and recent travel history.
The City has acquired additional hotel space for use by healthy people in need of emergency shelter to create isolation space at shelter sites, if needed. The City will have some limited ability to isolate and quarantine persons experiencing homelessness under investigation or diagnosed with COVID-19.
Central Intake (416-338-4766) asks screening questions of people calling for shelter access. Callers are being asked to provide details on their current health and recent travel history.
Refugees & Asylum Claimants Experiencing Homelessness in the City of Toronto:
March 18 - Toronto is asking the federal government to screen and quarantine anyone who has entered the country in the past 14 days at the border, particularly those who have nowhere to go through their own means where they will be able to self-isolate.
In the meantime, for people who have entered the country within the past 14 days who present themselves in Toronto seeking temporary shelter, the City is in the process of setting up 200 beds for self-isolation purposes.
Normal shelter referral will occur once individuals pass the 14-day isolation period and exhibit no symptoms.
Out of the Cold:
Although the closure is a bit earlier than usual, March/April is the month when the Out of the Cold programs typically wind-down for the season. In the meantime, an alternate location that would be operated by Dixon Hall:
- On March 15 – St. Luke’s (353 Sherbourne St ) – 40 beds, for one night
- March 18 – 188 Carlton St. – 45 beds, ongoing for the rest of the out of the cold season
If required, the City would activate Metro Hall in the case of an extreme cold weather alert.
Street Needs Assessment
The Street Needs Assessment has been postponed.
Toronto Community Housing and Affordable Housing Tenants
Added March 20
Toronto Community Housing Corporation offices are open, but closed to walk-in visits until further notice. Staff will meet with tenants by appointment.
Community rooms, recreation rooms and amenity spaces are closed to social gatherings.
Laundry rooms remain open and will be cleaned several times a day.
Emergency repairs will continue, but all other requests will be completed at a later date.
In-suite capital work is suspended until further notice, except for repairs to fire life safety equipment and window air conditioner exchanges. Vendors doing this work will wear personal protective equipment for your protection.
All 2020 Tenant Election activities and all public meetings are suspended.
March 24th, 2020 - Housing providers have been directed to be flexible, exercise discretion, and to work with households whose employment-related income is affected by the current emergency.
Ontario Works - Employment and Social Services
Updated April 20th
Ontario has made additional resources available to enable Ontario Works administrators and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) staff to provide additional assistance for those currently receiving social assistance, who are facing additional costs related to the COVID-19 outbreak. This funding can be used to meet a broad range of needs, for example: cleaning supplies, transportation, food or clothing that individuals and families may require due to COVID-19.
Ontario Works and ODSP recipients can access emergency benefits by calling their caseworker.
Emergency benefits for COVID-19 related expenses are the same for both programs: up to $100 for single individuals and up to $200 for families.
Ontario Works Clients will continue to receive their monthly payments (via direct bank deposit, payment cards or mailed cheques).
Applications for Ontario Works financial assistance will continue online and through the City’s Applications and Support Centre from Monday to Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The Applications and Support Centre will be accessible by phone only:
- 1-888-465-4478 (toll free)
Three Toronto Employment & Social Services (TESS) locations will be providing critical financial benefits from Monday to Friday between 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
- Metro Hall, Main Floor, 214 Wellington Street West, 416-392-2600
- Scarborough Village, 3660 Kingston Rd., 416-392-2800
- York-Humber, 605 Rogers Rd., 416-392-6200
All client contact will be provided by telephone. Only on exceptional circumstances will clients be seen in-person. Clients are requested to call the relevant office to receive services over the phone.
March 24th - Ontario is providing additional resources and expanding access to Emergency Assistance for those facing a COVID-19 related financial emergency by:
• Suspending the rule that limits emergency assistance provisions to only once in a six-month period for individuals and families affected by COVID-19; and
• Allowing people to receive emergency assistance for longer (48 days) without submitting a full Ontario Works application.
Those who are already on Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), tourists and visitors are not eligible. Individuals can apply for this assistance online at www.ontario.ca/community or through local Ontario Works offices.
Support for Current Social Assistance Clients
The government is making additional resources available to enable Ontario Works administrators to provide discretionary benefits to those currently in receipt of social assistance. This funding can be used to meet a broad range of needs ― including cleaning supplies, transportation, food or clothing ― that individuals and families may be experiencing due to COVID-19.
Individuals can access benefits through the Ontario Works program through online applications such as MyBenefits, contacting their Ontario Works caseworker or online at www.ontario.ca/community.
ODSP recipients are also eligible to receive these benefits and can contact their ODSP caseworker for additional information.
Employment Insurance (EI)
Via Social Planning Toronto's facebook page:
Service Canada has set up a dedicated phone line for inquires regarding EI claims related to the COVID-19 pandemic: 1-833-381-2725.
Call this number if:
1. You need to apply for EI sickness benefits because you are unable to work because you must self-isolate for 14 days (the one-week wait period has been waived for those for whom this is the case);
2. You have been laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic and are looking to initiate a claim for regular EI benefits; or
3. You are an employee or an employer who is looking to apply for financial support through the EI Work-Sharing program due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
March 23rd, 2020
Here are application links with more information from the Government of Canada on each of the benefits:
E.I. Regular Benefits
Apply for benefits if you have lost your job through no fault of your own.
E.I. Sickness Benefit
Apply if you are unable to work due to illness, injury or quarantine.
Emergency Care Benefit
Available in April 2020.
Emergency Support Benefit
Available in April 2020.
Federal Wage and Income Programs - announced March 18th
The new Emergency Care Benefit will be available in April 2020 and provides up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks. This flat-payment Benefit would be administered through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and provide income support to:
- Workers, including the self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
- Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent, but do not quality for EI sickness benefits.
- Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify
A six-month interest-free moratorium has also been placed on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying these loans.
The full announcement can be found at this link: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/canadas-covid-19-economic-response-plan-support-for-canadians-and-businesses.html#Support_for_CanadiansOn
Updated March 24th, 2020
The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has extended the provincially-mandated moratorium on residential disconnection for non-payment until July 31, 2020.
The OEB is also extending the disconnection ban to include all other low-volume customers, such as small business customers for reason of non-payment until July 31, 2020.
In addition, the OEB is calling on distributors to be more flexible on arrears payment arrangements.
Time of Use Pricing Suspended
The Government of Ontario is suspending time-of-use pricing for families, small businesses and farms paying time-of-use (TOU) rates.
For a 45-day period, the government is working to suspend time-of-use electricity rates, holding electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 10.1 cents-per-kilowatt-hour. This reduced price will be available 24 hours per day, seven days a week to all time-of-use customers, who make up the majority of electricity consumers in the province.
This discount will be applied automatically to electricity bills without the need for customers to fill out an application form.
Updated March 26th, 2020
Information on applying to the Rent bank can be found on their website.
Please note that the Toronto Rent Bank Program is available to any low-income household who is not able to make April rent payment as a result of the pandemic. They will provide interest-free loans to eligible
households with a very flexible repayment plan.
To accommodate the changing needs of low-income tenants in this period, the Rent Bank Program has removed the in-person interview requirement. Loan repayments are also deferred for three months.
Tenants who need assistance with April payment, please call 416-397-7368 (RENT) and leave a message. Neighbourhood Information Post's office is closed but staff continue to provide services remotely. Phone messages are returned within 24 hours. Intake will be conducted on the phone. NIP will do its
best to process payments (payable to landlords) as soon as possible.