Nova Scotia says it's looking at options to prevent evictions, but short on specifics

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HALIFAX — Nova Scotia's premier says his government is looking at ways to help people access affordable housing following a spate of evictions across Halifax.

Stephen McNeil wasn't specific, however, about what kind of help could be in the offing following a cabinet meeting Thursday. He told reporters any help offered would not include rent control.

"We just don't believe (controls) work," he said. "That doesn't mean the (rent) issue is not real and we will work with our partners to provide other options."

Rent control has not been in place in Nova Scotia since the Liberal government of former premier John Savage eliminated it in 1993.

McNeil said that despite $8.7 million from Ottawa for affordable housing in Halifax and the availability of rent subsidies, more can be done to help people. The province could, he said, add funding to what Ottawa has already contributed for affordable housing.

The premier blamed high housing costs in the Halifax area on landlords who renovate buildings and then jack up rents. But McNeil also said high rents are a consequence of the growth in recent years of the province's economy and population.

"The cost of property is going through the roof," McNeil said. "Landlords are trying to capitalize on that as well."

Housing Minister Chick Porter said his department intends to consult non-profit housing groups and landlords about the issue, although he didn't give any timelines. "We will continue to invest as we are able," Porter said. "We need to ensure that there is affordable housing out there."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 29, 2020.

The Canadian Press