Feed Ontario’s Submission on Bill 184, Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020

In Ontario, 90% of food bank users are rental or social housing tenants who spend more than 70% of their income on rent. As a result, many adults and families have no other choice but to go without other basic necessities, like heat, hydro, medicine, personal protective equipment, or food, in order to keep the roof over their head.

COVID-19 compounded many of the challenges being faced by low-income Ontarians, including the ability to access sufficient income for all monthly necessities and the health risks associated with not having secure or adequate housing. Further, while Ontario’s Eviction Moratorium relieved significant pressure on people trying to afford rent while their access to income was limited, the arrears that individuals and families will face when the eviction ban is lifted with put significant pressures on already tight budgets, increasing the demand on food banks and support services, as well as the risk of homelessness.

While Bill 184 introduces a number of positive new measures to help support tenants, there are challenges within the bill that do not advance tenant protection and compromise Ontarians’ access to, and the provision of, safe and affordable housing. Further, as the bill has not been updated to reflect the new reality and challenges that have emerged as a result of Covid-19, it does not address the crisis situation that many tenants now live in, nor the longstanding impact that the pandemic will have on hundreds of thousands of people who were already living at a heightened risk of eviction and homelessness.

Feed Ontario endorses the Bill 184 submission put forward by Maytree, an organization that is dedicated to creating solutions to poverty and working with communities, civil society, and governments at all levels to advance systemic solutions.

These recommendations include that the Government of Ontario:

1. Protect tenants from accruing unsustainable arrears and facing eviction due to the pandemic
2. Prevent homelessness by providing tenants with access to financial and legal support
3. Increase affordability of rental housing through key regulatory changes