Jessica Bell MPP, University–Rosedale

Government of Ontario

Here's what I said about the Rent Stabilization Act in the legislature

Published on November 29, 2021
  • We have a housing crisis in Toronto

  • 40% of people pay unaffordable rent

  • Wages are not keeping up with housing prices or rent hikes

  • Renters deserve affordable housing and stability



Here's my full speech:

Ms. Jessica Bell: I want to thank the member for London North Centre as well as the member opposite from Peterborough–Kawartha for their presentations.

We have a housing crisis in Ontario. We have a housing crisis in Toronto. Too many people, 40% of people, pay unaffordable rent. That means they’re paying more than 30% of their income on rent, which means that they don’t have enough money for food, for child care, for electricity, for transport, for medication.

My riding of University–Rosedale has some of the most expensive housing and some of the most expensive rent in Canada, where the average rent for all properties is now close to $2,400 a month. You can cover it on a subsidy that’s given to MPPs to rent in Toronto, but it is something that the average person in my riding and across Toronto cannot afford.

What is so hard for renters of these days is that their wages are not keeping up with the cost of housing prices or rent hikes. They watch as the cost of buying a property is getting completely out of reach, where you need to earn $205,000 a year to buy an average property in Toronto right now. They watch as they see homes snapped up by investors, because they are the biggest segment of buyers in Canada’s real estate market today. And they watch when they read the news and see that 1.3 million homes in Canada sit vacant at a time when 235,000 people are experiencing homelessness. They watch that. And they also watch and write their cheque to a corporate landlord—it’s increasingly a corporate landlord these days—and they watch that cheque go to pay off someone else’s mortgage or to pay the profits for some shareholders. That’s what they watch, and they live in fear of an eviction, because the longer you stay in a unit, especially in Toronto and big cities, the more likely it is that your landlord is going to evict you in order to drive up the rent to what market rate is. That is the reality of being a renter today.

Renters deserve affordable housing. They deserve stability. Renters are not second-class citizens, even though the laws in Ontario today make them second-class citizens. That needs to change. It is why I’m supporting this bill: to bring in real rent control to stabilize rent prices, real rent control that exists between a tenancy and within a tenancy so that the increases are stabilized and regular and adjusted to a CPI-based inflation.

Now, the government likes to say, “Oh, look, rent control limits supply.” Okay, but the reality is a lot more complicated than that. This goes beyond what you learn in textbooks in grade 9. The reality is telling us that when the provincial government eliminated vacancy controls in 1996, they did not see a massive increase in purpose-built rental construction. Instead, what they saw is a massive increase in condominium construction. It is not that simple. And to take another example, in Manitoba, where they moved forward with vacancy control measures, their academic studies showed that there was no evidence that these rent regulations had a negative effect on the supply or quality of rental housing. These are the facts. This is what we’re learning from reality, not from ideology but from reality, and I urge you to look at that.

We need a comprehensive approach to making housing affordable, and supply is part of that solution, but so is fair and effective rent control for the 60% of people in my riding who rent, for the 50% of people in Toronto who rent, for the seniors, for the students, for the newcomers, for the young people, for young professionals. This bill is for them. It needs to be passed, and it should be passed by this government tonight.