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Ontario government proposes legislation to freeze residential rent in 2021

Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark (background) at Queen's Park on Sept. 17, 2020.

Proposed legislation would also extend ban on commercial evictions

TORONTO ― The Ontario government has proposed legislation that, if passed, would freeze rent in 2021 for most rent-controlled and non-rent-controlled residential units.

“The crisis is far from over and the threat of a second wave is real, as are the challenges it will bring. That’s why we need to take the necessary steps now to help families keep a roof over their heads and small businesses keep their doors open,” said Premier Doug Ford on Sept. 17.

The legislation, the Helping Tenants and Small Businesses Act, also proposes to change the Commercial Tenancies Act to extend the temporary ban on evictions for commercial tenants. The current ban was originally in place from May 1 to Aug. 31, aligning with the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses.

If passed, the eviction ban would continue to apply to businesses that are eligible for federal-provincial rent assistance through CECRA for small businesses, but their landlord chose not to apply for the program.

Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing, stated that there are 1.7 million rental households in the province.

“We know that families are continuing to be impacted by COVID-19. We know landlords have worked hard to be accommodating and have made sacrifices. We know that by continuing to work together, we will move past this extraordinary time and get Ontario back on track,” he said.

The proposed legislation, the province says, would also create a single register of voters for municipal and provincial election “which is expected to be more accurate, could mean fewer corrections for voters at polling stations, fewer delays for people on election day, and may reduce costs for municipalities.”