In accordance with the Stop Unsafe Evictions campaign, the Ontario Alliance to End Homelessness and the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario published an open letter on its website. The letter calls for the re-establishment of a moratorium on residential evictions during these unprecedented times.
The campaign urges Ontario residents to send the letter to their local Member of Provincial Parliament, Premier Doug Ford, and Attorney General Doug Downey.
With Covid-19 cases rising in the province, multiple regions across Ontario are already in or just entering second lockdowns. During the first lockdowns, which took place earlier this year in March, a court-ordered prohibition was established on residential evictions to ensure public health and safety.
This moratorium was rescinded later in the year as the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 decreased over the summer. However, with the second wave taking over Ontario, the daily case counts quickly increased and surpassed the high point of the first wave significantly.
In response to the ever-growing threat of infection, many regions across Ontario—including Peel—went into lockdown to protect residents. While many were disappointed by the news due to the upcoming holiday season, some community members were affected much more severely.
The Ontario courts did not reinstate the prohibition on residential evictions when lockdowns were being established across the province. The pandemic has led to many businesses shutting down and many households to lose their main source of income. With the shortage of affordable housing in the region, the current conditions endanger our community’s vulnerable members as they face unsafe evictions.
“Renters living on lower incomes, racialized communities, lone-parent households, young people, and people living with disabilities are disproportionally affected by this affordable rental housing crisis,” read the open letter.
As a result of the unsafe evictions, many have been forced to seek solace in emergency shelters and care homes. These spaces are designed to be shared by multiple individuals, creating the perfect environment for an infection to spread from one person to another.
In addition to the Covid-19 pandemic, the harsh weather conditions of the approaching winter months are a significant threat to the province’s existing homeless population, let alone those who might lose their homes due to unsafe evictions.
“Nearly seven per cent of renters in Ontario were unable to pay their rent in full after losing their income from the pandemic crisis,” continued the letter. “This means nearly 105,000 renter households are at risk of being evicted into homelessness.”
The University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union is among the many organizations listed that have endorsed the Stop Unsafe Evictions campaign. The UTMSU has promoted the campaign on Twitter and urges students to send the open letter to local and provincial authorities.
“Many emergency shelters are already overwhelmed and cannot increase their capacity, especially as they need to meet physical distancing requirements to keep their clients safe,” read the open letter. “Without a freeze on residential evictions, cities will be unable to contain the spread of the virus during this second wave, putting our healthcare systems at risk of collapse.”
Residents are urged to visit the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario website and use the open letter published there to contact their local legislative authorities.