Those who can't afford rent due to COVID-19 will not face eviction, Ontario premier says
Condo buildings downtown Toronto, Ontario on Jan. 9, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg
TORONTO -- No person who cannot afford to pay their rent due to financial concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic will be evicted, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said.
“No one will be kicked out of their home or their rental apartments based on not being able to pay the rent – it’s just not going to happen, we won’t allow it to happen,” the premier said during a news conference held at Queen’s Park on Friday afternoon.
“We have to make sure that we take care of the people and I’ll do whatever it takes to take care of the people of Ontario. I’ll be making sure I have their back – if they can’t pay rent, they aren’t going to be evicted.”
Ford went on to state that during these “unusual times,” people who are still employed should pay their rent, as it is “the right thing to do,” but those who cannot afford to do so right now will not face eviction.
“We’re going to get through this,” he said. “The landlords will get through it, but some people are going to face some tough times, but it doesn’t give a free pass to people just to say they aren’t paying – be responsible, pay if you can, but if you’re down and out and just don’t have the money, food is more important to put on the table than paying rent.”
The premier said those facing financial issues right now should make medical assistance and essential services their top priority, not rent.
“We will make sure they’re protected and that’s the message to the landlords,” Ford said. “I appreciate the job, the investment they’ve put in and I appreciate them contributing, but we are going to take care of the people of Ontario at all costs.”
Ford’s statements come two days after some relief regarding mortgage payments was offered to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The big six banks said they would allow customers to defer mortgage payments for up to six months among other changes.
Toronto mayor to meet with landlords
Speaking on Friday morning ahead of the premier’s news conference, Toronto Mayor John Tory said he is scheduled to meet with residential landlords next week.
“I think the actual power to alter what people do with their rent payments would rest with the provincial government because landlord-tenant law is theirs,” he said, adding that he will be meeting with landlords regardless to make sure they are giving tenants every possible option.
“We are looking at other measures we can take to help those who get in trouble to be dealt with.”
Tory went on to state that he really wants landlords to be “empathic” during this difficult time.
“They have their own bills to pay too but be empathetic about the flight attendants who lost their jobs and don’t have money to pay their rent and that is coming up at the first of the month too.”
Ontario working ‘hand-in-hand’ with federal government
The province announced last week that they will be delaying the release of its full budget and will instead deliver a scaled-back economic forecast on March 25.
On Friday, Ford said his government is working “hand-in-hand with the federal government on their stimulus package” for Canadians while Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips “will be bringing his stimulus package out on Wednesday.”
Finance Minister Rod Phillips said on March 13 that the province’s full budget will be released by the fall.