OFL to Ford Government: Rent relief for residential and small business tenants must be a priority

TORONTO, April 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Governments at every level must do more for workers and their families. When it comes to rent relief, the cancellation or abatement of rent, evictions, and utility payments, are what is needed.

Before April 1, Doug Ford assured tenants that if they could not pay their rent, they shouldn’t. However, the province has yet to implement legislation that would allow for this much-needed rent relief to occur.

“With Ontario’s legislature set to return for a sitting today, the Ford government should be legislating rent relief,” said Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) President Patty Coates. “We are now almost halfway through April, and renters still have no guarantees about how the province will handle the financial strain that rent payments pose to tenants, many of whom have lost significant income due to the COVID-19 crisis,” said Coates.

The OFL joins with our community allies in calling on the provincial government to immediately subsidize household rent, up to $2,500 per home, per month for up to four months, and institute a six-month freeze on rent increases so that workers and their families have protections during the financial recovery, after the pandemic.

It is not only workers who are suffering from the lack of action on rent relief. The Ontario Federation of Labour echoes the urgent call to action of business groups, like the Better Way Alliance.

The Better Way Alliance is calling for rent abatements for tenants to cover commercial rent costs, retroactive to April 1, 2020, and lasting as long as public health officials orders require self-isolation and physical distancing, and considering the time needed for businesses to recover from closures and consumer spending to return to pre-crisis levels; AND/OR government funds allocated to cover the same costs.

Small business owners are also calling for a freeze on commercial rent evictions until the economy recovers from COVID-19.

“Making rent relief a reality requires government intervention. The banks should be mandated to pause mortgages for residential and commercial borrowers, and in turn, that relief should be passed on to tenants,” said Coates. “Further delays in providing this needed support to workers, their families and small businesses will be detrimental to employment stability and economic recovery.”

The Ontario Federation of Labour represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information, please contact:

Meagan Perry
Communications Director
Ontario Federation of Labour
mperry@ofl.ca | 416-894-3456