Following Minister of Seniors and Housing Josephine Pon’s tabling of Bill 78, the Alberta Housing Amendment Act, and the release of the provincial affordable housing strategy, Public Interest Alberta Executive Director Bradley Lafortune issued the following statement:
“Today’s announcement from the provincial government misses the mark and lacks the urgency necessary to adequately address the deepening housing crisis in Alberta.
"We’re disappointed to see a lack of adequate commitments to solving this urgent issue, as well as the strategic plan’s emphasis on the profit-motivated private sector to deliver a basic human right. The bottom line is that every dollar that goes into shareholder profits is a dollar taken from Albertans who need housing support.
“Housing is a human right. After decades of cuts, privatization, and stagnating wages, we are left playing catch-up to a crisis that has only worsened during the global pandemic.
“All residents of Alberta – particularly those most vulnerable to housing insecurity such as immigrants, seniors, and Indigenous people – deserve guaranteed access to accessible, affordable, and adequate housing.
“Working with our Human Services and Poverty Task Force of over a dozen poverty-focused organizations, Public Interest Alberta demands that the government immediately take the following steps to enshrine housing as a human right for all.
“Firstly, the government must immediately implement a rent freeze for both current residents, and for when residents turn over in a rental unit. The government must keep the rent freeze in place until at least the end of 2022. In Alberta, there is currently no limit to how much a landlord can raise rent after a year of tenancy. With massive job losses, precarious employment, and skyrocketing costs of food, Albertans are facing huge financial pressure.
“The government must also institute requirements for rent price control to keep rent prices affordable for working Albertans. Albertans need to keep the money which would be taken by rent increases for other basic needs such as food and transportation. Landlords should also be licensed and rental units be subject to regular public inspection to ensure the safety and affordability of housing, and dignity of all Albertans.
“Furthermore, The provincial government must institute a moratorium on evictions during this crisis – this is not only the right thing to do, but also critical for public health. Like the rent freeze, the eviction ban must extend to the end of 2022, at least.
“We need to do the right thing. We need to demand protections for low- and middle-income Albertans to ensure they have access to accessible, affordable, and adequate housing.”
Public Interest Alberta is a proud endorser and partner of the national Vote Housing campaign.