Posted on Mar 25, 2020
EVICTION CRISIS LOOMS CLOSER AS KENNEY FAILS TO ACT
EDMONTON -- Alberta moved another day closer to an eviction crisis as the province sheds thousands of jobs amid a deadly pandemic and Premier Jason Kenney refuses to ban evictions for non-payment of rent.
“Premier Kenney is creating a crisis by failing to act,” said Rachel Notley, Leader of the NDP Official Opposition. “I am gravely concerned he does not grasp that this is a serious public health issue. People need to stay home, and that means they need a home to stay in. Pushing an Alberta family into an emergency shelter or crowding them into another family’s home is directly contrary to the advice of public health officials, and will harm Alberta’s efforts to slow the spread of the virus.”
Alberta must not turn its back on homeowners and landlords. The Opposition supports the deferral of property taxes and utility bills already announced by the province, and also welcomes moves by major banks to defer mortgage payments. While many Alberta landlords will make the humanitarian choice, there are numerous reports of evictions moving forward, including three Albertans who spoke at a press conference on Tuesday.
Premier Kenney has offered several excuses for his inaction. He has said that Albertans facing imminent eviction are likely either criminals, or haven’t paid their rent for months. He has also said a ban on evictions for non-payment of rent would lead to a “crash” in the housing market.
“Obviously eviction is appropriate for tenants who are putting others at risk or engaging in criminal activity,” Notley said. “That is no reason to fail to protect law-abiding Albertans from homelessness during a pandemic, whether their financial distress started before or after the pandemic arrived. Even if physical eviction may be a few weeks out, an eviction notice and proceedings will create massive new stress on Alberta families already under extraordinary pressure.
“Lastly, governments across North America understand that the housing market can handle an eviction pause during this pandemic.”
Many Canadian jurisdictions are already acting to ban or delay evictions during the pandemic, including British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.
In the United States, the governments of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and major cities such as Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Boston, Washington D.C., and Denver have all banned or delayed evictions. The United Kingdom has also banned evictions during the coronavirus pandemic.
In Alberta, the apartment rental company Boardwalk joined growing calls for a ban on evictions due to non-payment during the pandemic. Meanwhile, the provincial economy is shedding thousands of jobs from both private sector and public sector employers. The interim financial support offered by the government today will not be enough to keep people housed or avoid eviction.
“This should not be an ideological issue. Leaders of all political colours understand this is a public safety issue. Premier Kenney needs to stop admiring this problem and take action,” Notley said.