Posted on May 1, 2020
EXPIRATION OF EVICTION BAN COULD THREATEN ALBERTANS’ HEALTH AND SAFETY
EDMONTON -- The expiration of the UCP government’s eviction ban could see some Albertans without a home in the middle of a global pandemic, putting their health and public safety at risk.
On March 27, the UCP announced a ban on evictions for the nonpayment of rent for April - making Alberta the last province to adopt such measures - after an outcry for help from Albertans and repeated calls from the NDP.
However, the ban expires on May 1. Starting today, renters can once again be evicted for late rent payments. This comes at a time when hundreds of thousands of Albertans have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Kicking people out of their homes after they’ve lost their job due to the pandemic is unconscionable,” said Jon Carson, NDP Critic for Service Alberta.
“Public health officials have told people to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But Albertans can’t stay home if they don’t have a home to stay in. Evicting people now could have a disastrous effect on the health and well-being of our province.”
Under Alberta’s rules, landlords and tenants are encouraged to develop a payment plan for late rent while the public health emergency remains in effect. If a payment plan has been established, the tenant cannot be evicted, but if no agreement is reached, the landlord can begin proceedings to evict the tenant through the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS).
This ability to evict tenants makes Alberta an outlier compared to British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Quebec - all of whom have banned evictions for late payment of rent while the pandemic is ongoing.
In a letter to Premier Kenney, the Edmonton Social Planning Council (ESPC) called for an extension of the eviction ban, as well as financial support for tenants.
“We are requesting the Government of Alberta provide financial support to renters who have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This will allow Albertans to stay in their homes and ensure landlords are able to pay their bills too. This is a win-win for both parties, and our province. We are also urging you to extend the eviction ban, at the very earliest, until the public health emergency is lifted,” wrote Susan Morrissey, Executive Director of the Edmonton Social Planning Council.
In addition to extending the eviction ban, the NDP have called for the UCP to provide rental support of $300 per month for eligible households with no dependents, and $500 per month for eligible households with dependents.
“Housing is the first line of defense against COVID-19, but a lot of Albertans are struggling to make ends meet,” said Lori Sigurdson, NDP Critic for Seniors and Housing. “They need help to stay in their homes during this tough time and the UCP needs to step up to support Albertans so they have a safe place to stay during the pandemic.”