Kill the Mass Eviction Bill: Ford Escalates Threat of Mass Evictions
On July 2, the Ontario government voted to amend Bill 184, the Eviction Bill, in a step towards ensuring mass evictions for Ontario tenants who have been unable to pay rent in full during the COVID-19 crisis. All tenants who have been unable to pay full rent, whether they have signed repayment plans or not, will be affected by this predatory bill. Now heading into its third reading, the amended Bill could be passed into law as early as next week.
The original version of Bill 184 was a direct threat to tenants. The amendments approved in committee today go even further in their attacks.
The government’s proposed changes would allow the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) to make quick eviction orders against tenants who were pressured into unmanageable rent repayment agreements by their landlords. The LTB could turn those private agreements into legally binding documents that enable fast-tracked evictions against tenants unable to fulfill them.
The changes would also direct the LTB to favour landlords in eviction cases where the landlord had “attempted to negotiate” a repayment agreement. No burden of proof is placed on the landlord to show that a meaningful negotiation took place or what the content of a repayment plan should be.
At the beginning of the lockdown in March, Premier Ford promised Ontario tenants that they would not face eviction if they had to choose between putting food on the table and paying rent. With the amended Bill 184, Ford shows he had no intention of keeping that promise. His actions betray his own words and demonstrate a complete disregard for thousands of tenants in Ontario who will soon face eviction and homelessness.
The Ford government has aggressively pushed landlords’ eviction agenda behind Ontario’s back. These laws increase landlords’ already massive profits by exploiting mass unemployment and the ensuing rent crisis during a pandemic.
Most ominously the amended Bill 184 is now back-dated to March 17th, the very day that a state of emergency was declared in Ontario. Due to COVID-19, tenants have been forced into a game of Russian roulette of possible infection, job loss, poverty, unmanageable debt, hunger, and homelessness. With the amended Bill 184, the Ontario Government will fill all the chambers and hand the gun to landlords.
While tenants have waited for any kind of support from any level of government, we are now faced with the likelihood of thousands of tenants in Toronto being dragged from their homes by Sheriffs. If this mass eviction bill is passed, it will allow landlords to unilaterally set terms of repayment and potentially crippling debt for tenants with the full knowledge that if their terms are not met they will easily get eviction orders from the courts with the full consent of the Provincial Government.
This is nothing short of an attack on the health and safety of thousands of tenants and families across Ontario. Any politician that votes in favour of this Mass Eviction Bill is part of that attack. The hardship it will unleash on tenants will be the responsibility of each MPP who chooses to prioritize full payment of rent to landlords over the lives and homes of tenants.