A national tenancy advocacy group has established a New Brunswick chapter.
ACORN New Brunswick will join previously established chapters in British Columbia, Toronto, and Nova Scotia.
Their first goal is to push Blaine Higgs’ PC government toward reinstating the eviction ban that was rolled back last spring.
“There are so many people facing economic pressures in their personal lives, and the government as of now hasn’t really done anything to accommodate that,” said Raven Blue, an organizer with the new chapter.
The newest ACORN chapter has released a petition calling on Higgs’ government to freeze evictions through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Blue says the Higgs government doesn’t understand the issues many New Brunswickers are facing during the Public Health emergency.
“The government has not shown interest in protecting people during a pandemic when you have exceptional market pressures that are causing rent increases to spike,” he said. “People are being evicted, and so my sense is they are not really aware of the issues. They are more interested in enabling gentrification in our communities, rather than helping tenants or people at risk.”
Blue says he’s noticed changes in the rental market provincially and locally over the past five years, and he himself has been evicted under what he called questionable circumstances.
“It’s a widespread issue where housing market pressures are taking advantage of very low tenant protections in New Brunswick,” said Blue.
While many have called for rent control in the province, similar to what Nova Scotia’s government rolled out in late 2020, Blue says it isn’t a cure-all for the issues faced by tenants here.
In provinces like Quebec, Blue says tenants have 21 days to pay off late rent, and then receive a tribunal hearing. But in New Brunswick, tenants can be evicted after just seven days without paying rent with no recourse.
“In New Brunswick it’s among the worst in Canada, the triggers for eviction,” said Blue. “So if you can easily evict a tenant then rent controls don’t really matter a great deal. You can evict somebody and just name your price for the rent.”