Posted on Mar 24, 2020
UCP MUST BAN EVICTIONS, SAY ALBERTANS AT RISK OF LOSING HOME DURING PANDEMIC
EDMONTON – Albertans need legislated protection from being evicted for inability to pay their rent during the COVID-19 pandemic, says both the NDP Official Opposition and residents facing the potential of being kicked out of their homes.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley was joined Tuesday at a press conference by Albertans at risk of eviction. To maintain physical distance, those joining Notley did so via videoconference from the very homes they may soon be forced to leave.
On Monday, Premier Kenney was asked again if he would consider legislating protections for renters. He denied the need for such measures and encouraged landlords to “do the right thing.”
“The Premier doesn’t get it,” Notley said. “This isn’t about who is a bad landlord or who is a bad tenant. This is about making sure not a single person is asked to vacate their homes while people are being asked to stay home and self-isolate. Kicking people out into the cold during a global health pandemic is unconscionable.
“You can’t stay home during a public health emergency if you don’t have a home to stay in.”
Hayden Lewis, a 25-year-old MacEwan student, rents an apartment downtown with his mom. Both have been laid off and are awaiting approval of their employment insurance applications. In the meantime, the upcoming April rent is a challenge.
“If we could work, we would pay our rent but we can’t. It’s not our choice,” Lewis said. “The property management company doesn’t view us as human beings worthy of being protected, we’re just profits to them. An eviction ban would be a good first step toward helping us have the time to get on EI.”
Hannah Stone works in retail at West Edmonton Mall. She was laid off when the mall was closed, and is now staying at her home in Elmwood Park Park to take care of her seven-year-old son. Her landlord is giving her one extra week to pay rent, which he informed her will increase by $400 in June, before he will begin the eviction process. Stone said her family can’t afford April rent, let alone the increase.
The Premier has said Alberta’s major chartered banks are allowing landlords to defer their mortgage payments.
“Our landlord is getting mortgage relief but we’re getting nothing,” Stone said. “We have no choice but to move and uproot our whole life. We can’t be in self-isolation for long because we now have to look for a new place or risk being kicked out of our home. It puts us at risk of contracting COVID-19. We don’t have the luxury of being able to stay home now. That’s extremely stressful.”
Madison VanTassell, 20, is a student at the University of Alberta. She lost three part-time jobs due to the pandemic and doesn’t know if she will be able to pay the April rent. VanTassell said there is “no answer unless the government steps in. We’re hurt the most because we don’t have anything to rely on.”
The Alberta NDP Caucus has heard from many Albertans who are unable to pay April rent and have been told that eviction proceedings will start at that time. The Alberta NDP Caucus is calling for an immediate ban on evictions related to non-payment. Evictions related to criminal activity could still proceed.
British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec have all announced some form of eviction bans or postponements as Canada grapples with responding to coronavirus. Last week, United States President Donald Trump announced the United States government would suspend all foreclosures and evictions.
“Jason Kenney needs to stop grasping for reasons to justify evicting people in a pandemic,” Notley said. “Rent is due in six days. There’s still time for Jason Kenney to do the right thing and work with us to pass a temporary ban on evictions, but he needs to stop blaming renters and start showing leadership.”