The Ottawa-Outaouais General Membership Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) hereby endorses Keep Your Rent Ottawa in solidarity with all tenants unable to pay rent or are participating in a rent strike for the duration of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the Ottawa-Gatineau region.
As many are aware, the unemployment rates across Ottawa have increased from roughly 4.3% in January 2020 to 6.3% in April. The financial support options available to unemployed and underemployed Canadians in this unprecedented disaster is limited to either a paltry $2000/month payment by the Federal Government—the Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB)—or Employment Insurance (EI), which is paid at approximately 55% of a workers’ income, though applicable only if the worker is determined to be eligible.
The Ottawa-Outaouais IWW would like to take this moment to emphasize that landlords are not our fellow working class. Landlords exploit the hardship of working-class people in a predatory for-profit housing market, on land that they inherited from the theft of unceded territories of the Algonquin Nation.
Despite Ottawa’s growing vacancy rates, landlords have callously hiked rental rates and living costs that continue to push many low-wage workers out of adequate and affordable housing. This bleak situation forces the working class to either choose between buying food, medicine, or saving their hard-earned money for paying off debt or ensuring emergency funds are available in times of crisis such as these times we live in.
Furthermore, we have heard of rent strike organizers successfully taking action against landlords engaging in unsafe practices, such as entering tenants’ units to harass or intimidate them, showing their units to potential renters, and increasing rent prices during the pandemic in the hopes of forcing out their tenants in favour of more profitable clients. We applaud these actions and we anticipate that these stories will spark organized resistance to tenants’ inadequate living conditions.
The IWW is a labour union, and our union internationally has been a leader in organizing fellow workers against the injustices of capitalism, whether it is on the job or in our communities. We encourage renters in the city to talk to their fellow tenants, to support each other day-to-day, and to create a union that fights for rental freezes or reductions and for better living conditions, and that includes keeping rent from parasitic landlords.
When we build a strong and vocal union of tenants, we can collectively take appropriate and effective action and give all Canadians access to the most fundamental of all human rights—the right to shelter.
“An Injury to One is an Injury to All.”
To contact the COVID-19 Ottawa Rent Strike: