MPP Hazell Debates Her Bill: The Relief for Renters Act

  • Legislative Review


MPP Andrea Hazell: Madam Speaker, I am so honoured and delighted to debate my first legislation in this House. It means so much to me. I would also like to acknowledge the residents up in the public gallery from Scarborough and my Scarborough–Guildwood riding for your support. I’m here, I’m your voice, I love you, and this is why I became an MPP July 26.

Madam Speaker, renting in Ontario is harder than ever. Renters from across Ontario continue to struggle, especially our low-income renters who are stuck in unaffordable units. And this number is alarming: 87% of households in the private rental market with income of $30,000 spend more than 30% of their income on shelter—unbelievable—and 24.9% of renters are in poor housing. There are 1.7 million renters in Ontario, and guess what? Thirty-eight per cent of renters are paying more than 30% of their income on rent. Fifteen per cent of renters are paying—listen to this number—more than 50% of their income in rent out of those 1.7 million renters in Ontario. A record-breaking 20,541 notices of termination of tenancy were issued over the last six years. So you can imagine parents with young kids going to sleep at night, not sure if are they going to be able to shelter their family for the next month.

And I want to say again, people are struggling every day to make ends meet in Ontario. We hear it every day. Because of the affordability crisis that we continue to pound on families, to me, the situation that we have right now with the affordability crisis and the skyrocketing of rent, we can almost cross-relate it or cross-reference it to the pandemic, because it is a crisis. This crisis will only get worse before it gets better, and I’m hoping—I’m really hoping—that it gets better before 2026 to ease the suffering of single parents, students, young people between the ages of 25 and 35, and our vulnerable seniors and, don’t forget, our low-income earners.

Ontario that I used to—it’s supposed to be a land of opportunity, where people can imagine, where people can migrate, find amazing jobs, raise their families, own their businesses, create generational wealth and assets that can be carried down from generation to generation. That’s the Ontario I came to and met in 1988. However, this is an Ontario that I never thought I would live to see, where every economic growth sector—and if you know the financial industry, every economic growth sector of Ontario is now in shambles. Because of this, I am very worried about my three children. I am worried about everyone that has children here with hopes of becoming financially independent and, one day, to become a homeowner.

Renters are having financial difficulties at the end of the month as they make really tough decisions to pay their rent, to buy food, medicine or child care—let me add this—let alone saving for their post-secondary education or even saving for their retirement. This is leading to families going to the food bank, and it’s not just families that are going to the food bank. These are young people that are in high school, elementary school, showing up at food banks in Scarborough for food, for lunch. I have seen it with my own eyes. I have served those children.

But in good faith, I wish all the best to this government’s efforts to solve the housing crisis, and I would lend my support to such measures because we know the crisis that this is causing on families in Ontario. But in the meantime, my constituents in Scarborough–Guildwood are struggling. I’ve spoken to them last week. I’ve spoken to people in the west. I’ve even spoken to renters in Etobicoke. They all have the same message. They are being squeezed out of living with their family in peace. They cannot have peace of mind.

For example, a one-bedroom at $2,076 and a two-bedroom at $2,503—this marks a 15.6% increase for one-bedroom units and a 16.5% increase for two-bedroom units, and this is year over year. Housing affordability plays a crucial role in career decisions, and this is hurting Ontario. This is going to be hurting our job skills area; it’s going to be hurting our economy, because the latest stat that was put out there is that, due to the skyrocketing cost of rent, we have over 50,000 young people between the ages of 25 and 35 who have left Ontario for better jobs and low rent rates. How do we continue as members in this House to have a brain drain in Ontario?

Urgent relief is needed. It’s not needed later; it’s needed now. That is why I have introduced the Relief for Renters Act. This bill, if enacted, would provide assistance to the 1.7 million renters in Ontario and their families. They need a break. The legislation is simple. It’s very simple. It’s a no-brainer. It’s common sense. And it can be adopted immediately.

First is a one-year rent freeze. This would lock in rents for 2025. No one would receive a rent increase for a whole year. I want to mention this because I hear in the chamber from the members opposite that they love to put money back into the pockets of Ontarians, and this is what I’m asking you to do today—to do that for 12 months until we can get the affordability crisis under control.

The second component would enact new temporary restrictions on evictions on tenants who would rent in good faith. This would permit renters to breathe a sigh of relief as they would not have to face rent increases, especially our vulnerable seniors—and I’m going to come back to our vulnerable seniors—our single parents and low-income earners. This would particularly help renters not covered under rent control—and we’ve seen what happened when rent control was taken off—who often face rent increases of over 20% year over year. That is without rent control. We’re looking at increases year over year at 20%. And keep in mind, salaries are not being increased to meet the skyrocketing rents.

Let us use an example here. Take a family of four with two young children. Their combined family income is $68,627 a year after taxes, which is the median household income in Toronto. I love to show numbers because numbers make you feel the situation. The average rent for a three-bedroom in Ontario is $2,168, although three-bedrooms currently on the market rent out for more than 50% higher than that. For the sake of this example, we will use $2,168. Housing would currently cost this family nearly 40% of their income—nearly 40%. That is unsustainable for a family hoping to provide a quality, middle-class life for their kids. So that 20% increase would be $433 a month for that family—$5,203 a year in rent increase for that family. Numbers do not lie.


It is not just families who are struggling. It is our seniors who are on fixed incomes. Many have had to go back to the workforce. We are asking our 70, 71, 72 to 75s to go back into the workforce to supplement their income. How is that okay?

We’ve got students in college and university, too. They are working around the clock and studying full-time to be able to put a roof over their heads. Our children—well, my children, so I’m going to use myself as an example. We encourage our children to attend school and obtain a higher education, to find work following education, and then to rent, to become financially independent before becoming homeowners and having their own family. This was the Ontario I knew, we all knew, but under the Conservatives, that is not the Ontario my children know.

I remember the feeling of hope I felt moving here for the first time. It breaks my heart that new arrivals don’t experience that same privilege. This issue is even more severe with our international students, lured here by the promise of a best-in-class education. Instead, they’re unable to work full-time, have no family here to rely on and are forced into unsafe, crammed, unlicensed rooming houses for the sake of everyone in our province.

The housing crisis must be addressed urgently. There is a track record for such a measure; this very government introduced a rent freeze during the pandemic. They did it once before, and now I ask them to support this legislation and do it again. For the millions of renters in this province, let’s pass this bill and bring our Ontario renters much-needed relief. Let’s put the money back into the renter’s pocket.