The Ontario government has issued an emergency order to temporarily pause the enforcement of residential evictions during the province’s State of Emergency and Stay at Home order.
“By temporarily pausing residential evictions, we are ensuring that all Ontarians are able to stay home, stay safe, and save lives,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, in a statement.
“Our government will ensure that residential evictions continue to be paused for the remainder of the state of emergency, as long as it lasts.”
This is the second time in less than a year that the province has paused residential evictions.
According to the province, this emergency order will also protect homeowners who are facing evictions due to court orders for possession of their properties.
Last year, Ontario implemented a rent freeze, meaning the vast majority of Ontario’s residential tenants will not see an increase this year. Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act also require the Landlord and Tenant Board to consider whether a landlord attempted to negotiate a repayment agreement, before resorting to an eviction for non-payment of rent during COVID-19.
“We’re encouraging landlords and tenants to work together – as they have been doing for the last several months – to ensure that we keep Ontarians safe,” said Clark. “We want to remind tenants who can pay their rent that they must continue to do so, to the best of their abilities.”
The latest modelling trends in key public health indicators have “continued to worsen,” forecasting an “overwhelming of the health system unless drastic action is taken.”
The pause on residential evictions is one part of the province’s plan to stop the spread of COVID-19.
MPP Suze Morrison, the NDP’s Tenant Rights critic, said the Ford government “needs to immediately enforce a real ban on all eviction notices, hearings and orders” as Thursday morning’s order still leaves people vulnerable to evictions during the pandemic.
“Thousands of people in Ontario are at risk of being thrown out of their homes, through no fault of their own, after losing income this year because of COVID-19. Calling off the sheriffs at the eleventh hour from enforcing evictions that have already been ordered will not keep folks housed and safe,” said Morrison in a statement.
She also criticized the “overly broad exceptions” that will still allow eviction enforcement to continue under the new directive, despite “widespread complaints that virtual eviction hearings have been rife with procedural unfairness.”