The Labour Movement Must Fight Evictions and Demand Housing for All
CUPE 4600 will:
Take action to mobilize our membership and other local unions and their members to prevent the evictions of disproportionately low-income and racialized tenants, many of whom are union members, due to the implementation of Bill 184 by the Ford government, the impact of the current economic crisis, and decades of austerity across every level of government.
Welcome tenant groups and perspectives in the local. Most tenants are working class people and CUPE 4600 should deepen its understandings of how the local labour market impacts people’s housing situation.
Support those groups that are organizing with tenants, such as Legal Clinics, Herongate Tenant Coalition, Tenants of 146-170 Osgoode St vs Renoviction, and other tenant organizations, as well as supportive housing and local anti-poverty coalitions through organizing actions with their tenant members against landlords and different levels of government.
Demand that the government of Ontario repeal Bill 184, implement a ban on evictions, place all units, including vacant ones, under rent control to eliminate the two-tier system, close “renoviction” loopholes, and implement a system of rent-rollbacks so that tenants pay only 20% of their household income on rent. Demand that the government reverse policy on vacancy decontrol, which incentivizes landlords to kick out tenants and hike up rent prices.
Demand that the municipal, provincial and federal governments immediately implement a comprehensive plan to fund and build permanent rent-geared-to-income social and/or public housing (where rent is based on 20% of household income) to meet the needs of underhoused and homeless populations of Ottawa.
Urge the Ottawa CUPE Council, CUPE Ontario and the Ontario Federation of Labour to support this resolution.
Bill 184 weakens tenants’ rights and over six thousand eviction applications began to be processed as of August 1, when the Landlord and Tenant Board was re-opened and the emergency freeze on evictions was lifted
New provisions in Bill 184 overwhelmingly favour landlords in the eviction process, including new provisions that require tenants to be legally savvy or have legal representation. Less than 3% of tenants at LTB hearings have representation compared to nearly 80% of landlords who attend.
The pandemic has led to a doubling of the unemployment rate in Ontario. According to StatsCan, racialized workers had an unemployment rate more than 50% higher than that of white workers across Canada in July.
While Canada has acknowledged that housing is a human right, governments, at all levels, have failed to provide adequate permanent social housing. They have instead developed market-based solutions to increase the housing stock which tend to only incentivize developers to set aside “affordable” housing at 80% of average market rent which is unaffordable for most working families.
Tenant organizing is essential and needs to be done in multiple languages and across the city. Tenants associations need to be created and organized. Tenants need to understand their legal rights and how to seek legal supports from their legal aid clinics. The labour movement has a wealth of resources in terms of organizing with members, financial, supporting coalitions, assisting with mobilization actions and supporting translation needs.
The pandemic, and its disproportionately negative repercussions on low income tenants, racialized members and the homeless, is far from over.