More cuts: Ford scraps rent control leaving tenants vulnerable

The Ontario PC’s fall economic plan was released on November 15th and it has been received with much animosity. By removing rent control for newly built or converted units, Premier Ford has broken his campaign promise to leave the regulated system alone.

Back on the campaign trail, on May 15thto be exact, the Ontario PC party website published Ford’s statement, which said, “I have listened to the people, and I won’t take rent control away from anyone. Period,” Ford continued, “When it comes to rent control, we’re going to maintain the status quo.” It is clear that Ford concealed his motives from the get-go.

The scrapping of this legislation is part of the new Housing Supply Action Plan, which protects existing tenancy agreements but puts potential ones at risk. In 2017, the former Liberal government expanded rent control to all units, including those built after 1991. This legislation ensured that annual rent increases would not surpass the rate of inflation. 

Rent control is a means to protect occupants from superfluous rent increases. Scrapping regulation legislation will only worsen this issue. Landlords and tenants both have responsibilities and neither party should be allowed to take advantage of each other financially.

Increasing rental supply is just as important as ensuring that tenants can afford their rent in the first place. It is understandable why certain neighbourhoods and specific accommodations come with an expensive price tag, but the consensus is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find affordable housing across the province, especially within the GTA.

According to Citynews, 47 per cent of households in Toronto spend more than 30 per cent of their income on rent. Ideally, that number should be 25 per cent in order for people to afford other necessities of life. In the past, rent control exemptions have not been proven to increase rental supply. People need a place to live, a place that they can afford to call home for more than a few months at a time.

Geordie Dent, Executive Director of the Federation of Metro Tenants Associations, said, “I’d like to congratulate our millionaire premier on signing the eviction orders on thousands of tenants going forward.” Having no rent control in new units means that landlords hold the position of power and can potentially evict tenants who cannot afford their ever-increasing rents.

Affordability is a key component of stabilizing our housing supply. Youth, seniors and those living on a fixed income are the most vulnerable when it comes to finding stable accommodations.

The battle for affordable housing and tenant rights goes on, and advocates are ready to defend the cause. Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan is set to be unveiled in spring 2019.

The Municipal Election – Spotting familiar last names

In the races for Public and Catholic School Trustee and for City Council respectively, Christopher Mammoliti, Ida Li Preti, and Deanna Sgro, all children of established politicians, can be perceived to be seeking to leverage their last names in order to get elected. It is not unheard of for the children of politicians to try to win a seat, but three in one area at the same time is very rare. The fact that all three have some controversy around their families makes this circumstance even odder.

Christopher, who is seeking election as a trustee for the TDSB, is running alongside his father, Giorgio Mammoliti. Giorgio, the current Councillor of the old Ward 7, has been no stranger to controversy during his more than two decades at City Hall. Perhaps the more serious controversy that he (as of Aug 25, 2018) is was under investigation by the OPP for his alleged role in a land deal in his Ward that would have had the Toronto Parking Authority, which is fully owned by the City of Toronto, pay $2.63 Million more than the land was actually worth to a developer. While the deal has been cancelled by Toronto City Council, the investigation is still ongoing.

His son is unconnected to this issue and other matters but may face the same electoral fate as his father in the upcoming election. Currently, polls show the latter is second in the race.

The race for Catholic school trustee also contains an offspring of a local politician, the daughter of former Ward 8 Councillor Peter Li Preti. Ida Li Preti has put her name on the ballot.

In 2013, Peter was found by an independent auditor to have accepted $21,000 in corporate donations and to have exceeded his campaign budget limit by more than $3,000 in his failed 2010 bid to unseat Anthony Perruzza from city council. Corporate donations are banned under the Toronto Municipal Elections Act. While Peter has largely kept a low public profile since then, it is not known what, if any effect his last name will have on his daughter’s election prospects.

Last names are important, and Deanna Sgro may be the best example of that. She reverted to using her mother’s name in the last Provincial election, where she was a candidate for the Liberal party and came third. Her mother is the current Member of Parliament for the area, but until last year, she went by her married Deanna Natale. In 2013, Deanna Natale, as she was then known, was “found to have engaged in professional misconduct,” by the Law Society of Ontario while she was working as VP and general counsel of Affinity Global, one of the largest debt collection agencies in Canada.

Whether or not the name change is working is hard to say before the election, but the latest public poll has her fourth in the race for Council in Humber River – Black Creek.

 

 

*See page 3 print edition, vol 9(5)

What do council cuts mean for us?

On July 27th 2018, the last day for candidates to register in the upcoming Toronto municipal election in October, newly elected Premier Doug Ford decided to change the game in the middle of the election. Ford decided to cut council from 47 wards to 25 wards – a decision that has left city officials scrambling to adjust and has left voters confused.

Ford’s reduction of council seats will result in ward populations doubling in size.  Communities like ours will feel the squeeze, as the newly elected councillors will struggle to keep up with the needs of the amalgamated neighbourhoods and to speak to residents who desire to contact their councillor.

While the federal and provincial layers of government are the decision makers on a broader scale, councillors and city staff handle the day-to-day local services that are the lifeblood of our municipalities. Transit, roads, water, parks, housing and social services are all examples of what falls under the City’s umbrella.

The reduction in council has left Toronto with 25 councillors for a population of 2.8 million people – meaning there will be on average 1 councillor for every 112,000 people. For comparison, the city of Ottawa has 23 councillors for a population of 950,000 has on average 1 councillor for every 41,304 people. The difference in representation is staggering – compared to other Ontarian towns and municipalities, Torontonians are going to have the least representation at City Hall.

Ford’s decision was an indication of a personal vendetta against our city rather than a way to find real financial efficiencies. The conclusion of studies conducted by the City itself determined that we needed three more wards in order to serve our population appropriately. A growing city requires greater representation, and anything less would be undemocratic.

Meddling in the midst of an election period wastes the money of taxpayers and candidates alike. Candidates now have had to adapt to sudden changes that they were not a part of, after all, Ford did not publicly promise to change the size of council during the provincial election.

The city clerk’s office was already well underway in terms of planning and paying for the election; the original budget of $17.5 million is now up in the air due to wasted funds and the broadcasted potential spending required to accommodate the changes.  Recalculating spending limits and paying to communicate the new boundaries is a weight on the election period. It is not fair for the premier to have interfered in the election without our permission and to waste our hard-earned tax payer dollars.

Here in our part of the city, Ward 7, 8 and a portion of Ward 9 will merge to match the provincial boundary lines. This means that two longstanding incumbents are competing against each other for the same ward, which is yet to be officially named. Councillor Anthony Perruzza is known as a hardworking, honest and approachable councillor from Ward 8. George Mammoliti is the infamous councillor from Ward 7 known for his boisterous commentary above all else.

In a 25 ward model motions that can be detrimental to marginalized groups and that center profit over people only need 13 votes to pass. This makes it much easier for local interests to be overlooked in the interest of others. It makes city hall a much more easy place to manipulate for those with money and lobbying powers.

As residents, we need to do our research and reflect on what is best for our communities and Toronto. We must remember that the decrease in councillors effects how our city is shaped and every vote and voice in council counts twice as much. On October 22nd, let us make sure that Toronto and our community are not left behind.