The Manitoba government is not renewing orders to prevent COVID-19-strapped residential tenants from being evicted or having their rent increased.

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This article was published 10/9/2020 (660 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

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The Manitoba government is not renewing orders to prevent COVID-19-strapped residential tenants from being evicted or having their rent increased.

The province announced Thursday it is extending nine Emergency Measures Act orders "to help individuals, business and government cope with the challenges presented by the pandemic and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19."

However, effective Oct. 1, it is repealing provisions that suspended non-urgent evictions, the collection of late fees for non-payment of rent and frozen rent increases.

"The changes allow landlords to begin proceedings for evictions against tenants for non-payment of rent and other non-urgent issues. They will also be able to begin charging late fees on rent that is not paid on time on that date or later, but cannot charge fees on rent that was overdue while the suspension was in place," a news release said.

Increases cannot be applied or charged retroactively for the period the rent freeze was in place, it noted.

A Manitoba Finance spokeswoman said Thursday they had been temporary amendments made to protect residential tenants impacted by COVID-19 following Manitoba’s declaration of a state of emergency in March.

"It is important to balance the needs of landlords and tenants as part of our gradual and balanced economic recovery plan," Andrea Slobodian said in an email.

"Lifting the suspension, which has been in place for over five months, aligns Manitoba with the recent decisions of Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Ontario to resume non-urgent terminations and eviction hearings."

The provincial opposition was quick to slam the move.

"It’s disappointing the Pallister government would cut off all supports for renters, and lift a freeze on evictions, at the same time that they renew a state of emergency. Clearly, the COVID-19 pandemic is still present in Manitoba and, with thousands of families still feeling its effects, Mr. Pallister is making life even harder," said NDP MLA Mark Wasyliw.

 

The decision to lift evictions is potentially "disastrous," said Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont.

"There could be a wave of homelessness, with families and individuals put out on the street," he said. "I can’t understand the thinking behind this, but it is an inhumane decision."

Renters are not the only ones facing a potential shift in their financial landscape.

The province also announced that effective Sept. 30 it is no longer suspending Manitoba Student Aid loan repayments.

The renewal of the Emergency Measures Act orders includes extending the temporary suspension of the International Fuel Tax Agreement credential provision until Nov. 15. It waives credential requirements for Manitoba carriers traveling to IFTA jurisdictions helping them to bring food, medical supplies and other goods into and out of the province.

Some of the orders are being renewed until the spring of 2021 include:

• Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living: continue to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 by restricting staff from working in more than one personal care home.

• Manitoba Justice: continued use of video conferencing to witness the signing of documents under the Manitoba Evidence Act, the Powers of Attorney Act and the Wills Act.

• Manitoba Conservation and Climate: regulatory change will see the extension of certifications for operators of water and waste-water facilities.

• Manitoba Education: support the use of, and transition to, electronic meetings with the temporary suspension of the requirement for trustees to physically attend a school board meeting at least once every three months.

• Manitoba Finance: allow for the continued use of video conferencing to witness the signing of documents under subsections of the Homesteads Act and the Real Property Act.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.