Ottawa tenant's eviction a symptom of a larger problem, advocate says

·3 min read
Ottawa tenant's eviction a symptom of a larger problem, advocate says

People who tried to halt the eviction of an Ottawa woman this week say her story is a symptom of a larger problem in both the city and province.

Amanda Proulx was forced to leave her home in east Ottawa Tuesday after falling behind on her rent for the past year.

Her partner had a stroke in August 2019 and she quit her job to care for him until his death last month.

"I just thought, you know, I'll be able to catch up … and that never happened," she said Wednesday.

She said the past year and a half has been stressful.

"Caring for somebody 24/7, watching them literally die … it's traumatizing," she said. "I was with him. I held his hand, I watched him take his last breath."

WATCH | Losing a fiancé, then a home:

Her fiancé died the day before her hearing with Ontario's Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) in November, which had been delayed from the spring because of the pandemic.

At the time, Proulx owed about $16,000. Her request for an extension to pay it was denied.

"Sadly, [Tuesday] was the culmination of a difficult situation that has been ongoing since October 2019," her landlord Martin Bertrand wrote in an email to CBC.

He said he attempted to find a resolution to have her catch up on her rent payments, but began the LTB process in January.

"It is my experience that it's difficult for tenants to come of out of mounting arrears, such as hers," he wrote.

Bertrand said he spoke with Proulx Tuesday and offered to pay to have her items moved "in the coming days."

Last-ditch attempts

About a dozen people spent much of Tuesday morning and early afternoon outside Proulx's home trying to stop the eviction.

"We wanted to make sure that somebody wasn't thrown out onto the street in the cold over the winter holidays," said Sam Hersh with Horizon Ottawa, a grassroots advocacy group for progressive issues.

He said governments aren't funding enough affordable housing options to help people like her.

WATCH | Advocates point to lack of government funding:

Proulx does have some money now after setting up a crowdfunding campaign, which has had raised more than $7,000 as of Wednesday afternoon.

She plans to use that money to help pay for the days she's spending at a motel and for rent on a new home.

Ontario's August changes

The Ontario government put a moratorium on evictions in March at the start of the pandemic. That came to an end in August and the LTB has been working through a backlog of cases.

"We are still in the midst of a pandemic, but the moratorium has not been kept at the same level as before. We are still working to change that," said the office of Liberal MPP Lucille Collard, who represents Proulx's former neighbourhood, in a French statement.

Affordable housing has also been an ongoing problem in Ottawa.

In January, the City of Ottawa declared a housing emergency. At that time, there were more than 12,000 people on the wait-list.