Suze Morrison, Ontario NDP Tenant Rights critic, is calling on Doug Ford to listen to tenants and tenant advocates, and scrap his scheme to fast-track evictions as Bill 184 heads to public hearings today.
Morrison’s call came in a press conference this morning, where she was joined by Chiara Padovani, Organizer, York South Weston Tenants Union, and Benjamin Ries, Staff Lawyer, Downtown Legal Services. York South Weston Tenants Union recently obtained a legal opinion from Downtown Legal Services that casts troubling new light on Bill 184. The opinion indicates that a tenant could be evicted for falling behind on rent without ever setting foot in front of the Landlord and Tenant Board, if they enter into an agreement with their landlord and are unable to meet the terms of a repayment plan.
“It’s terrifying to think that with little more than a signature on a repayment plan, a landlord could toss a struggling tenant out on the street,” said Morrison. “Tenants who have fallen behind on rent due to the pandemic already have landlords breathing down their necks, threatening them with eviction.
“Under pressure from their landlords, tenants may feel helpless to do anything but agree to a bad deal, which will leave them vulnerable to losing the roof over their head if Ford’s eviction bill passes.”
The NDP’s Toronto MPPs, Morrison included, have written to the Premier to sound the alarm about how dangerous this bill is for Toronto tenants, who live in the city at the centre of the province’s housing affordability crisis. The letter also underscores the NDP’s longstanding call to protect tenants who have lost income during the pandemic by providing rent subsidies (of 80 per cent of the household monthly rent, up to $2,500 per month, for four months).
“Not only has the Ford government refused to help tenants stay afloat during the pandemic, but it is making their lives harder by attempting to take away protections,” said Morrison. “The Ford government is going to hear from people like Chiara and Benjamin today about just how bad Bill 184 is for tenants. I urge the government to listen, and scrap its scheme to fast-track evictions.”
Chiara Padovani, Organizer, York South Weston Tenants Union
“In the midst of this global pandemic, rather than protecting tenants, Bill 184 makes it easier for tenants to get kicked out of their homes by denying us the opportunity to defend ourselves. In the context of the widespread economic hardship caused by COVID-19, Bill 184 is a particularly cruel attack on tenants all over this province. York South-Weston Tenant Union firmly opposes this Bill.”
Benjamin Ries is a Staff Lawyer at Downtown Legal Services, a community legal clinic operated by the University of Toronto Faculty of Law
“This Bill allows tenants to sign away their right to an eviction hearing without realizing it, all because those tenants are trying to cooperate with their landlords and do their best to pay the rent. This government should hold large corporate landlords accountable for their dirty tricks, rather than actively helping those landlords sneak even more dangerous fine print into the forms they give their tenants to sign.”