As COVID-19 slashes tenants’ incomes, Ontario needs a residential Eviction Prevention Plan: Analysis

May 28, 2020

TORONTO – Ontario tenants who have fallen behind on their rent because of COVID-19 will need provincial help to stay housed when the current eviction ban is lifted, new analysis from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Maytree says.

“Many renters couldn’t make rent on April 1 or on May 1, and June 1 will be tough, too,” said Ricardo Tranjan, political economist and senior researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. “Once the eviction ban is over, tenants who are in arrears will be at risk of immediate eviction for non-payment of rent. That’s why Queen’s Park must develop an Eviction Prevention Plan now.”

To support tenants to remain housed, the analysis calls for targeted rent relief, a gradual easing of the eviction ban, and a reintroduction of rent controls.

Many tenant households in Ontario were financially insecure before COVID-19, and the pandemic has pushed them to the brink. “Based on the latest figures, 43 per cent of Ontario renters have less than a month’s worth of savings, and 45 per cent are paying more than 30 per cent of their incomes to rent,” Tranjan said. “The Canada Emergency Response Benefit is a good income support plan, but many unemployed workers don’t qualify, and we can't assume it will allow all tenants to pay their rent. It’s not enough.”

“In Canada, adequate housing is recognized as a fundamental human right. Without a concerted public policy response to prevent rent arrears, governments will be enabling large-scale evictions when eviction bans are lifted,” Garima Talwar Kapoor, director of policy and research at Maytree, said. “The human cost will be immeasurable, and the downstream financial cost of supporting unhoused individuals and families will be considerable.”

In analysis published today on the Behind the Numbers policy blog, authors Ricardo Tranjan, Hannah Aldridge, and Garima Talwar Kapoor propose an emergency rent relief support program for low- and middle-income renters that would be tied to local median market rents and support up to 340,000 households.

“Of the four largest provinces, Ontario has provided the least support, as a share of GDP, to households and communities during the pandemic,” Aldridge said. “The province has committed $241 million in support to commercial tenants, but there is no similar initiative for households. There should be.”

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For more information, contact: Markus Stadelmann-Elder at 416-271-5654, [email protected] or Randy Robinson at 416-788-7003, [email protected]