THE SOLIDARITY PLATFORM
The Rent Strike Bargain Campaign's prime objective is to win the right to collectively bargain for renters in BC, but we strongly believe that we win when we fight together; spreading our energies and building capacity. We are thus committed to standing in solidarity with ongoing tenant movements across the province, and to mobilizing around the demands listed below. We are ready and willing to organize alongside communities fighting for these necessary changes, and encourage anyone to reach out to us to see how we can collaborate to strengthen both of our movements together. While our capacity is limited to focussing on collective bargaining for now, we hope to one day be able to run a number of provincial campaigns on behalf of renters.
Collective Bargaining Rights for Renters
Tenants in BC and in other places across North America have been fighting for the right to collectively bargain since at least the 1960s. The idea is very similar to how labour unions bring bosses to the table to negotiate wages above the bare minimum that they can pay. Tenant unions with collective bargaining power will similarly force landlords to price housing appropriately by leveling the bargaining power of tenants and landlords, and thus correcting against landlords’ current ability to price gouge tenants by charging them the absolute most they would pay for a human right. By empowering tenants with the right to form unions that can collectively bargain, go on rent strikes, and bring class action lawsuits against abusive landlords, we can take a huge leap towards creating more just, secure, and less expensive housing.
Home During COVID-19
In order to uphold provincial health orders to shelter in place, BC residents need to be able to actually stay in their homes. Research in the US has tied the end of eviction bans to hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 cases and over ten thousand deaths. In the summer, the BC government recklessly removed its much-needed ban on evictions and has failed to reinstate it despite an explosion of cases across the province. The threat of eviction adds to the mental, financial, and social strain felt by families across BC, only to benefit wealthy elites, lobbyists, and special interests. We stand in solidarity with the call to reinstate the evictions ban.
At a time when supports have been sparse and inadequate for many people, and jobs are precarious, BC cannot allow people's futures and their communities' health to be determined by whether their cash flow remains consistent at the start of every month. In addition to our call to cancel this rent debt, we stand in solidarity with the calls to increase provincial rent support payments to tenants. Monthly payments have been made null by the province's imposition of additional rent debt payments, a de facto rent hike.
Cancel Rent Debt
In addition to the direct health consequences of COVID-19, the pandemic has also caused massive losses in employment & income-generating activities. Those who lost income could not afford to pay their rent during the pandemic and, as a result, have accumulated rent debt. Now, the government’s sanctioned repayment plans have resulted in what’s effectively just a higher monthly rent for those of us that can least afford it. During a pandemic, the landlord lobby has been pushing the BC government to keep money flowing from your bank account into their wealthy members' pockets. This is not normal or necessary, and the cost of the pandemic should not be put on the backs of workers & renters.
We stand in solidarity with the call for the Government of BC to cancel all outstanding rent debt that tenants may owe to their landlords for causes completely out of their control. In addition, we demand that the government make it illegal for organizations like Landlord BC to report non-payment of rent to credit agencies on behalf of landlords in order to permanently damage the credit of tenants who are simply trying to survive.
Vacancy Control for SROs
Vacancy control is desperately needed in privately owned SROs, where low-income tenants are at high risk of both legal and illegal evictions, and in turn, homelessness. Vacancy control would effectively disincentivize renovictions, so that landlords are unable to evict tenants for the purpose of raising rents. Very few SRO buildings that are affordable to those on social assistance remain due to aggressive gentrification and holes in the SRA bylaws. Indigenous people, drug users, sex workers, people with disabilities, and elders are disproportionately represented as SRO tenants and deserve stable and dignified housing. Vacancy control is the first step in protecting these vulnerable tenants from greedy landlords and from living on the brink of homelessness. With this protection, these tenants will be better able to organize and push for improved living conditions.
Did we miss anything?
Have anything you'd like to see added to this platform? Did we miss any campaigns that fit our criteria of being (1) tenant-focussed, and (2) provincially targeted? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!