Due to the COVID-19 crisis, people are facing layoffs and work closures, along with public health directives to stay home, and practice physical distancing. As a result, only 75% of rental households in Canada were able to pay their full rent in April, and 15% of households were unable to pay rent at all. Experts believe this number will grow in May and June.
At $2,000 a month, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) barely covers rent in cities like Toronto and Ottawa. Tenants need money to put food on the table and cover medication and other basic necessities. Without a rent waiver, the CERB only fills landlords’ pockets.
For tenants, it’s all grief and no relief. Premier Doug Ford has said that no one would be evicted for choosing to put food on the table instead of paying rent. Nevertheless, tenants are facing illegal eviction, harassment and intimidation from predatory landlords. We need a provincial government that will stand up for tenants by waiving rent payments during the COVID-19 crisis.
Tenants make up approximately 50% of households in Ontario. And tenants are voters. That is why we need to send a clear message to our elected representatives that if they ignore the plight of tenants now, in this historic time of need, we will not forget the next time they need something from us.