The North Star


Adoption of Bill 31 in Quebec

Housing bill continues to be denounced by unions and housing groups

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Bill 31 was announced last summer by Quebec housing minister France-Élaine Duranceau. Despite numerous protests and criticism from unions and tenants' organizations, the bill that notably allows for landlords to refuse lease transfers without reason was adopted on February 21, 2024. The Minister presented the bill as a mechanism to protect tenants from eviction. However, community organizations do not seem to share this perspective.

Instead, many denounce that the housing crisis is worsening, that the cost of living for workers continues to rise and that this bill will only harm the quality of life of the majority of the population. André Trépanier, a member of the Parc-Extension Action Committee, reflects this concern:

"We're no longer able to live in our own city, in our own neighborhoods. Parc-Extension is one of the poorest neighborhoods in Canada. With one-bedroom apartments at $1,300, $1,400, $1,500, or two-bedroom apartments above $2,000, it's not possible for everyday people to continue living there. All this, in a context where we can't manage to pass social housing projects that would keep the population in the neighborhood."

He also denounces lesser-known aspects of Bill 31:

"There's a lot of talk about removing the right to transfer a lease, but what has also been put in as an amendment to the bill will allow real estate developers to override all urban planning rules so they can do just about anything in neighborhoods. It's another gift to real estate developers."

In addition to representing major losses for tenants' rights, Francis Dolan of Regroupement Information Logement de Pointe-Saint-Charles explains his concerns about PL31's ability to solve the housing crisis:

"First of all, it's the tenants who are caught up in the private rental market, who are always at risk of being renovicted or having their rents increased abusively. [...] At the same time, our other concern is about future developments. Private real estate developers are always telling us that the solution to the housing crisis is to build more condos; more expensive housing. Then, by building, we'll restore supply and demand, and, according to them, regain a kind of balance between the two. We say that's impossible. That's not the way it's going to happen. For us, it really means developing social and community housing. That's how we're going to be able to house people sustainably and in a way that's affordable, accessible and safe."

Clearly, what the ruling CAQ party sees as a step towards solving the housing crisis is seen by tenants as an attack on their rights. Bill 31 seems more like a mechanism to protect the interests of the private rental market, to the detriment of workers who are already having more and more difficulty. Betrand Guibord, General Secretary of the Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain - CSN, explains:

What worries me most right now is that the government is completely insensitive to this reality, and out of touch. It's a government of bosses, a government of the rich. The interests being defended by the CAQ are not the interests of the majority, they're the interests of the owning class, the businessmen and the rich."

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