Advocating to the Prime and Finance Ministers

Our team sitting around our boardroom table with the Prime and Finance Minister.
Discussing stronger tenant protections with the Prime Minister and Finance Minister.

Last week, TRAC was invited to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to discuss the myriad issues tenants across BC are facing.

This meeting – a first of its kind for our small but mighty organization – focused on Federal pre-budget announcements: $15 million in legal aid, a Canadian Renters’ Bill of Rights, and the ability for tenants to build credit on their rent payments.

So far, a focus of the Renters’ Bill of Rights is to require landlords to disclose rents charged between tenancies and finding ways to encourage provincial governments to adopt these requirements. While TRAC agrees that furthering research and collecting data on rent amounts can serve as a step towards implementing vacancy control and other measures that support tenants, we know that this information alone will not enable tenants to bargain for more affordable rents or provide long-term relief for tenants. The issue is not “information disparity” and bargaining power between tenants and landlords, but that landlords want to evict tenants for more money.

Another focus of the Renters’ Bill is to limit “renovictions”: landlord evicting tenants in order to renovate and re-rent at higher rates. In 2021, the process for renovictions was amended in BC to require landlords to apply directly to the Residential Tenancy Branch before giving an eviction notice to tenants. Since then, TRAC has seen a drastic reduction in bad faith renovictions: just 4% of calls to our Infoline about evictions are about renovictions. This legislative change has effectively protected tenants from one type of bad faith eviction and should be expanded – particularly as other eviction abuses continue to ramp up. With more than 80% of evictions in BC now attributed to Landlord’s Use of Property, BC takes the crown for the Eviction Capital of Canada. Tenants know that this isn’t something to be proud of. 

In sharing stories from tenants, trends our advocates are seeing, as well as the particular challenges racialized and Indigenous tenants are facing, our meeting with Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland emphasized two main points: there is no “win-win” market solution for tenants and landlords; and without real policy interventions – like changing the RTA rules around evictions and implementing vacancy control to remove the profit from evicting tenants – there is no waking up from this nightmare. 

Every tenant across BC right now is feeling the pressures of the rental housing crisis, and organizations like TRAC know that it will take meaningful action from all levels of government to come out on top.

In the meantime, we’re continuing to fight for tenants rights, and are looking forward to furthering the conversation with governments at all levels.

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