May 11th, 2021

NDP MPP calls for ban on AGIs during COVID

QUEEN'S PARK — Toronto—St. Paul's MPP Jill Andrew will debate her motion Tuesday for the Ford government to ban Above Guideline Increases (AGIs) to residential rents for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and at least 12 months after.

Andrew held a virtual press conference Tuesday morning joined by local tenant advocates Patrick Plestid and Liza Butcher to address the harm AGIs cause to renters, particularly those who are lower income or marginalized, and paticularly during the pandemic.

"AGIs add undue financial hardship to tenants, and are especially challenging during a pandemic, when many have lost jobs or income, are dealing with illness and the stress of supervising kids' online learning," said Andrew.

"The Ford government continues to give the short end of the stick to tenants, refusing to put in place a comprehensive ban on evictions, or to ban AGIs. Ford's partial rent freeze ends on the arbitrary date of Dec. 31, despite the fact so many Ontarians will still be struggling then, and for some time after, to recover from the financial hits of COVID."

Andrew's motion calls for the Ford government to immediately ban AGIs until at least 12 months after the pandemic is officially declared over.

"I am demanding a ban on AGIs as a necessary step towards an affordable housing strategy that protects renters, especially during the pandemic and its recovery period."

Andrew's motion will be debated in the legislature Tuesday evening.


Liza Butcher, President of 70, 80 90 Heath St. West Tenants Association; Co-Coordinator, Tenants Network Toronto; Executive Member, Toronto-St.Paul’s Tenants Association Network:

"AGIs can result in a tenant paying tens of thousands of dollars more in rent over the course of their tenancy, cause financial strains, and contribute to the displacement of tenants and the loss of affordable rental housing in Toronto.

We need a permanent ban of AGI, but if we cannot have a permanent ban, at the very least we need a ban during COVID-19 and for a year after COVID-19 is over."

Patrick Plestid, Tenant Advocate and Chair of 100 Vaughan Tenants Association:

"Above Guideline Increases are meant to encourage urgent and necessary maintenance work by landlords. But because AGIs are so profitable, many landlords will perform any qualifying AGI project they can. As a result, you have a law that incentivizes landlords to perform more construction work than necessary, so that they can raise rents higher than they're otherwise allowed.

That's a big problem when, because of COVID-19, millions of tenants are either working from home or struggling to find a safe and reliable source of income. Pausing this policy is the sensible, responsible, and humane thing to do, and I wholly support the motion by MPP Jill Andrew to ban AGIs during the pandemic."

Alejandra Ruiz Vargas, Chair of East York ACORN:

"This motion is a dream come true for tenants all over the province. Allowing Above Guideline Increases during this pandemic is absurd for a government that is claiming to have delivered a 'rent freeze.'

The fact is, landlords are using AGIs to continue to increase rents and push out tenants from their homes during the pandemic, and it has to stop. ACORN demands a real rent freeze with real rent control with vacancy control, and fully supports this motion from MPP Andrew.

Video of the press conference: