The rent is too darned high


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/09/2020 (980 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

We’re lucky to live in one of the most vibrant and exciting parts of Manitoba. A big reason why is because there’s the ability for people from all walks of life to move into our area and stay in rental units.

Knocking on doors over the years I’ve encountered people who are medical students, young parents, seniors, folks living with disabilities and everyone in between. Having an accessible neighbourhood with affordable rent has been a key to our success in the past.

That in turn has made for the development of business hotspots such as Osborne Village, Confusion Corner and South Osborne, powered by small businesses paying commercial rents.

The pandemic has clearly turned things upside down for both residential and commercial renters. Tremendous economic upheaval, increasing costs and uncertainty about the future has made things difficult.

We have lobbied hard for supports for renters in residential spaces so that they won’t be evicted over financial hardship and that they won’t face steep rent increases during this recession. On the commercial side, we’ve pushed for a commercial rent subsidy but have been disappointed that the current version of that program is seeing low takeup, so we’ve advocated for it to be improved to go directly to the commercial tenant.

On Sept. 10, the provincial government extended the state of emergency for another seven months. It’s the third time the collection of special public orders, enshrined in the Emergency Measures Act, has been renewed since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Manitoba in the spring.

Not all of the emergency orders were extended, however. Special measures that helped renters in communities like Fort Rouge and across the province will be ending Oct. 1. Starting that day, a ban on evictions for non-payment and rent increases will be lifted. Landlords will be able to immediately increase rent or force families to leave their homes simply because of economic hardship. We should note here that we have worked with landlords who’ve had to evict problem tenants due to safety issues, but there’s a clear distinction there.

It goes without saying that now is not the right time to make rent less affordable or to force people out of their homes because of the recession.

Unfortunately, most economic observers in both the private and public sector expect the downturn to continue for months and the recovery to be slow.

With Manitoba observing a steady increase in the number of daily COVID-19 cases we ought to put in measures such as continued support for renters, to help build a safety net should there be more uncertainty to come.

Of course, this doesn’t just apply to residential renters. Businesses, most of whom consider monthly rent their biggest expense, need supports to be able to stay open and continue to pay staff.

The federal rent relief program, CECRA, has been extended for one more month but its application process has been criticized for pitting landlords and tenants against each other. Once that program runs out, small businesses like those in Osborne Village, Confusion Corner and South Osborne will have no more access to rent supports.

I for one don’t want to see our area lose some of its great restaurants and retailers because various levels of government didn’t design financial assistance in a way that accurately meets the needs out there.

 I will continue pushing both the federal and provincial governments to do more to help families, students, seniors and small businesses in Fort Rouge and the rest of Manitoba.

Do you have thoughts about rent? You can contact my constituency office by calling 204-615-1922 or email

Wab Kinew

Wab Kinew
Fort Rouge constituency report

Wab Kinew is the NDP MLA for Fort Rouge and leader of the Manitoba New Democratic Party.

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