With the rent due date fast approaching and looming over the heads of Toronto renters who’ve recently lost their income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many are wondering what to do when April 1 arrives.
But according to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, if you simply can’t afford your rent this month, you don’t have to pay it.
Ford was speaking at a press conference at Queen’s Park Thursday afternoon when a reporter asked him about the issue.
“On April 1, that’s less than a week away, there are tens of thousands of Ontarians worried about making rent. Are you considering a freeze on rent or direct payments to tenants to deal with this?” the reporter asked.
The premier responded sympathetically and said anyone that really can’t afford it should simply not pay.
“If you have a choice between putting food on your table or paying rent, you’re putting food on your table. The government of Ontario will make sure that no one gets evicted. We stand by that and we’re gonna make sure we take care of those people,” he said.
“I heard there was a petition going around [saying] ‘Just don’t pay rent.’ That’s wrong. That’s hurting people across the board. We’re standing up for the tenants here so please don’t take advantage of it,” he continued, emphasizing that anyone who still has a job is expected to pay.
“And if you can’t pay rent, and you’re just in absolutely crisis, then you don’t have to pay rent.”
Ford didn’t provide any further details on how the government will protect tenants who can’t and don’t submit their payment at the beginning of the month, but Toronto city councillor Josh Matlow said he’s looking into it.
“Today, Premier Doug Ford said to renters in Ontario: ‘If you can’t pay rent, and if you’re in a crisis, you don’t have to pay rent,'” he wrote on Twitter after the press conference.
“We are seeking clarification on the details of the government’s plan. It’s a stunning and encouraging announcement. Tenants need relief now as the first of the month is quickly approaching.”
Ford announced last week that he would be halting all evictions in the province until further notice to help those concerned about making rent during these trying times, but many have said it’s not enough and that a temporary rent freeze should be introduced in light of the current climate.