LETTER: Rent relief needed

Letters to the editor

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Dear Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Social Development Minister Minister Ahmed Hussen,

I write to you today not as a Brockville city councillor, but rather as a community activist, and as a residential tenant of a local apartment complex.

I want to take this opportunity to echo the sentiment of Honourable Member of Provincial Parliament and Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing in a letter that he penned to Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen on April 24.

In his letter, Minister Steve Clark appealed to the federal government for a comprehensive residential rent relief program.

He wrote of the importance of establishing a program to assist tenants adversely affected by the economic realities of COVID-19. In the letter, Minister Clark would write: “When families are forced to choose between food and rent, it also impacts Ontario landlords and the stability of our rental housing sector.”

Recognizing how many at-risk tenants are facing significant challenges both paying their rent each month, and providing for their families in these uncertain times, I join the minister in appealing to your better judgment and compassion.

Each week of this pandemic, I receive on average between four to six inquiries from people facing the harsh consequences of being precariously housed. There are limited supports available to renters, and front-line support agencies are already stretching themselves and their dollars to assist vulnerable populations in dire need.

Recent cooperative efforts between the province of Ontario and government of Canada to develop the Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program have been welcomed.

In my role, I am sure that I can’t quite stress enough just how important small business protections are in a time of crisis. However, with that stated, we also now know that these types of programs can be successfully implemented.

As June’s rent deadline looms, I believe it is incumbent upon this administration to collaborate using all effective means to establish a national residential rent relief program immediately. If a national program is not reasonably accomplished, an Ontario-Canada program would be a welcome consideration at a minimum.

Sincerely,

Leigh Bursey
Community Activist, Chartered Housing Professional, Renter

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