NB Media Co-Op COMMENTARY: Reinstate the rent cap, because tenants don’t get vacations from rent hikes
Posted June 16, 2023
NB ACORN’s message to the Higgs PC government is loud and clear: reinstate the rent cap before summer because tenants don’t get vacations from rent hikes. We are tired of the government flip-flopping on the issue of rent control since 2023 started.
Minister of Housing Jill Green stated at the housing summit on May 2 that the rent cap was still on the table. This was reiterated by Premier Higgs a few days later. Yet, we then learned that nothing in the housing strategy, to be released on June 20, will be passed in the Legislature until October and that includes any potential rent caps. The question is why not? The government can reinstate the rent cap now, before their summer break, they just don’t want to.
On May 30, NB ACORN held actions in Moncton and Fredericton to put the pressure on the government because tenants can’t wait until October to be told whether there will be a rent cap in place or not. People are struggling now. People need some relief now, not in October.
About 20 NB ACORN members held a rally outside Moncton East PC MLA Daniel Allain’s office. Allain is also the Minister of Local Government and Local Governance Reform., Allain’s office did not meet with the tenants, but they did call the RCMP. The RCMP made their presence known but did nothing because it was a peaceful protest. Instead of calling the police, perhaps Allain should call for the rent cap to be reinstated.
NB ACORN co-chair Peter Jongeneelen stressed the point that “if you had both the new renoviction legislation and rent control together working in tandem, the incentive for landlords to just push a tenant out for nothing other than financial gain, is going to disincentive them. If it is implemented before the spring legislation ends, Minister Jill Green and the Residential Tenancies Tribunal would have a mostly quiet summer.”
Darcy Wallace, a NB ACORN leader said: “There is an affordability and cost of living crisis in New Brunswick. One tool to address this crisis is a rent cap. A New Brunswick Rent Cap is 100 per cent within the control of the provincial government, unlike the global price of gasoline. But instead of implementing a rent cap we are seeing the Higgs’ Government fighting a culture war against transgendered teens in schools to change the channel on the affordability crisis.”
It is not only in Moncton where people are struggling with their daily lives either. It is right across the province. In Fredericton, ACORN members held a petition and outreach event, where members talked to people on the street. ACORN unequivocally has support from New Brunswickers on this issue.
We spoke to several young people who can’t even afford to move from their parents’ houses because rents have skyrocketed. They simply cannot afford to take that step into their adult life.
We spoke to many tenants who have had issues or know people who have had issues with rent increases. They are living on the edge. They have no choice but to accept huge rent increases because there is nowhere else to go that is affordable.
We spoke to people who have been made homeless because of the current housing crisis in New Brunswick. One lady was made homeless because of a renoviction and she couldn’t find anywhere else to go. She is now living in a shelter.
Have we really lost our humanity to this extent, where profit is always before people? How many other people are homeless because they simply cannot afford the huge rent increases that have blown up all over the province? Without rent control, New Brunswick tenants are left with very few protections. There is no safety net. When they can no longer afford their rent, the streets are their only option. Why is this OK with people? Most importantly, why is this OK with the government, who are there to serve us, the general public, not the other way round?
The government can reinstate the rent cap before summer, they have the power to do that. That can relieve some of the hardships many are feeling because of the cost of living crisis. They can provide that safety net back to tenants so that they are safe from homelessness. Instead of calling the police on innocent protesters who are just exercising their rights as the people of this province, the MLAs should call on Higgs and Green to put that rent cap back into place. While the MLAs are all enjoying their summer break, many of their constituents will be worrying about keeping a roof over their heads. It is not hard to put people before profit.
Send an email to the Higgs government letting them know that a real affordable housing strategy needs to include rent control here.
Authored by Nichola Taylor, Chair of NB ACORN for NB Media Co-Op