VTU statement on the appointment of David Eby as Minister Responsible for Housing

***For Immediate Release***

VTU statement on the appointment of David Eby as Minister Responsible for Housing

November 26, 2020

Today, Premier John Horgan has appointed David Eby to the position of Minister Responsible for Housing. The policies of the previous year - in particular the lifting of the eviction ban and the failure to cancel rent debt during a global pandemic and economic depression - have put in jeopardy the lives and savings of renters in the province. The current situation for renters shows 15% of rental households across the province having accrued some amount of rent debt which is fueling an eviction crisis, and the demovictions and renovictions of the housing crisis are continuing full steam ahead.

This appointment takes place one day after BC Federation of Labour, representing over 500,000 unionized workers across the province, voted to endorse the demands of Vancouver Tenants Union’s #NoRentDebt campaign to extend the eviction ban until the end of the pandemic and cancel rent debt.

“We applaud the Premier for choosing a progressive voice and congratulate David Eby,” said VTU spokesperson Mazdak Gharibnavaz. “However, John Horgan also stated that no one would lose their home due to COVID-19. Yet we’re facing the prospect of an eviction crisis, with approximately 90,000 households -- twice as many households than the city of Victoria -- having accrued rent debt. Many of these households have been evicted or are at high risk of eviction due to the rent hikes that have been enforced by the government under its sanctioned repayment plan.”

A newly published paper examining U.S. cities suggests that evictions are likely to increase COVID-19 infection rates, and VTU’s renter survey at NoRentDebt.ca makes clear the dire financial straits of renters in BC.

“In the face of an explosion of new infections, we’re hopeful Minister Eby will demonstrate that the health and financial well-being of renters matters to him by taking immediate action to U-Turn on government policies,” continued Gharibnavaz. “Thousands of renters and unions representing over 500,000 unionized workers have called for the immediate reinstatement of the eviction ban and cancellation of rent debt. And the government must work with renters and their allies to finally address the housing crisis, which is a crisis for renters, not landlords.”