Greens call on government to urgently address mounting rent arrears crisis by immediately implementing a Residential Tenant Support Benefit

OTTAWA – Green Party Leader Annamie Paul announced today that the Green Party is joining with housing advocates in calling on the federal government to immediately implement a Residential Tenant Support Benefit (RTSB). The RTSB would protect tenants at risk of eviction due to heightened rent affordability challenges caused by income loss during the pandemic. 

In advance of the presentation of the 2021 federal Budget, the Green Party says the federal government must act now to help alleviate a crisis now unfolding across Canada. 

"Women and low-income workers, disproportionately impacted by income and job loss during the pandemic, and who predominantly rely on rental housing, are falling further and further behind,” said Ms. Paul. 

“Housing advocates have said clearly that, while pandemic benefits provided adequate income replacement for some low-income tenants, others have had their income dramatically reduced, are unable to pay their rent, and are falling into arrears and facing the threat of eviction, particularly in areas with relatively high rents.”

Housing advocates have warned that the failure to address the needs of tenants falling into arrears has resulted in “retrogression” toward increasing marginalization and inequality, particularly for women, racialized and Indigenous households, young people, and other vulnerable groups. 

“The federal government has no choice but to intervene to protect these vulnerable renters,” said Ms. Paul. “If the government does not act, many vulnerable Canadians may face eviction and displacement at an unprecedented scale. 

“Canada has recognised adequate housing as a fundamental human right under the National Housing Strategy Act, thus the government has an obligation to address the needs of tenants falling into arrears, and at risk of eviction.  

“The federal government has the jurisdiction to provide financial assistance to tenants in arrears due income lost during the pandemic, and we know that government has intervened in areas of provincial jurisdiction throughout this pandemic. For instance, commercial tenancies also fall under provincial/territorial jurisdiction, but this has not stopped the federal government from providing necessary direct relief to commercial tenants and landlords. It would be logically and morally inconsistent to be willing to create emergency supports for commercial tenants while not also doing the same for residential tenants,” said Ms. Paul. 

How would an RTSB work? 

The Green Party supports the RTSB benefit formula proposed by Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) and the National Right to Housing Network.

Tenants who, even after receiving income support through programs such as CERB or EI, experienced a decrease in rent affordability as evidenced by an increase in their rent-to-income ratio during the pandemic, would qualify for a benefit payment to return them to the same position that they would have been in but for the change to their rent-to-income ratio during the pandemic. 

The RTSB would also provide a retroactive rent subsidy, to ensure that rent would make up the same percentage of income for 2020 as it did in 2019.

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For more information or to arrange an interview contact:

Rosie Emery

Press Secretary