By Hailie Tattrie
Across Canada people are struggling to make ends meet as rent increases, the cost of living rises and wages remain stagnant. The COVID-19 pandemic is deepening this crisis for working people and reinforcing the existing inequities in our society.
Nova Scotians are no strangers to these struggles. In fact, when calculating a living wage budget for Halifax, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that the largest inflationary increase was to rent, which saw a 9% increase in the past two years.
The Coast found that “in the last five years the price of a two-bedroom apartment in Halifax has increased 43 percent, but minimum wage in Nova Scotia has only increased 15 percent”. Looking at these stark numbers it is see to understand why so many Nova Scotians are struggling. Is it any wonder that the number of chronically homeless people in Halifax has more than doubled?
Small but mighty victory
With so many Nova Scotians struggling it was welcome glimmer of hope when the provincial government announced more protection for renters and more beds for the homeless. This small but mighty victory for renters, achieved through tireless campaigning, has won changes that include:
- Rents cannot increase by more than 2% per year.
- Landlords will not be able to get an eviction order for renovations.
- The province is also creating the Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Commission.
- The protections for renters will be in place until Feb. 1, 2022, or until the state of emergency is lifted, whichever is sooner. Rental increase protections are retroactive to Sept. 1, 2020.
- An investment of $1.7 million will replace 30 beds that were taken out of the system due to physical distancing requirements under COVID-19 health protocols.
Although these changes do not solve the issue of homelessness, or make protections for renters permanent, the bottom line is that this is a victory.
Social justice work can be a long and tiresome process, with change often feeling out of reach. Which is why I am hoping that you will celebrate this victory with me. It may not solve everything, but it certainly is a step in the right direction. Let this be a reminder that activism works. Rallies work. Protests work. Phone calls, emails, and petitions work. Thanks to Nova Scotians and organizations like Nova Scotia ACORN making their voices heard more renters can sleep well knowing that they will not be threatened with astronomical rent increases and that is a win.
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