February 9th 2021- Victoria Gibson of the Toronto Star for the Local Journalism Initiative reports that eviction enforcement can resume in three regions of eastern Ontario on Wednesday, with the Ford government eyeing restart dates for the rest of the province in the next two weeks.
The eviction halt was initially tied to Ontario’s state of emergency, which will end Tuesday night for three counties. According to the Star's reporter, as of Monday, the halt on eviction enforcement will last as long as any region is under a stay-at-home order. That order is set to end in Hastings-Prince Edward; Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington; and Renfrew County and District on Feb. 10.
Another 28 regions are set to have orders lifted the following Tuesday. The roadmap would then see Toronto, Peel and York move out of stay-at-home conditions on Feb. 22, when eviction enforcement can resume.
The 2021 eviction moratorium was Ontario’s second during the pandemic. It was declared in early January as modelling data suggested that hospitals could become overwhelmed.
Provincial officials cautioned on Monday that lifting stay-at-home orders wasn’t a signal of a re-opening or “return to normal,” and that an “emergency brake” could be applied if COVID-19 cases surge again.
Geordie Dent of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations argued the moratorium should have been extended. “We are nowhere near out of the water in Ontario,” Dent said, adding that displacing someone could increase the risk of virus spread. “I remain deeply saddened and confused as to why the province keeps doing this.”
Dent suggested provincial officials look to solutions like rent relief, to help lower arrears and keep people housed. Tony Irwin of the Federation of Rental-Housing Providers of Ontario — which represents landlords — said his group has been pressing the province to enact such a program. “We know there are still residents who are struggling and who need help,” he said.
Resuming eviction enforcement is a welcome step, Irwin said. He argued there needed to be an avenue for landlords after all others had been exhausted. “I do think it’s important to be able to access the full system. That doesn’t mean there aren’t still people who have difficulties.”
Jessica Bell, housing critic for the Ontario NDP, urged the government on Monday to introduce a rental subsidy program, to keep tenants from falling into arrears and small operation landlords from struggling to pay mortgages. She called, too, for an extension of the moratorium.
“If you’re a renter, and you’re in a situation where an eviction has been ordered against you, your life is about to be turned upside down,” Bell said. “When you’re looking for a new home, you have to go from place to place … You’re unnecessarily exposing yourself, and it’s not safe.”
Story by Victoria Gibston, The Toronto Star, for The Local Journalism Initiative