Renting during COVID-19??

If you are a residential Tenant or Landlord, you know there are a lot of rumours around about changes to rent and evictions during this crisis. Here are three hard facts:

  1. Tenants still need to pay rent.
  2. If Tenant’s don’t pay rent, Landlords cannot evict them during the COVID-19 crisis.
  3. When the crisis is over, Landlords will be able to evict Tenants again, including for unpaid rent during the crisis.

What does that mean? Landlords and Tenants need to communicate and work together to find a way to keep Tenants in their home now and avoid evictions in the future.

Let’s go through this in more detail…

  1. Tenants still have to pay rent

Tenants are still legally required to pay their rent. This has not changed. The Ontario Government has asked Landlords to consider the reality that Tenants who are asked to self-isolate or who can’t work during this crisis may have difficulty paying their rent.  Landlords and Tenants are encouraged to talk to each other and find a fair solution that will keep Tenants in their homes with a plan for Landlords to be paid.

  1. What happens if Tenants don’t pay rent?

Normally, if a Tenant does not pay rent, a Landlord can go through a process to evict them. This process usually has 5 stages:

  1. NOTICE: The Landlord gives the Tenant a Notice of Eviction which gives the reason for the notice, for example, the Tenant has failed to pay their rent. The Tenant is usually given some time to fix the problem, for example, by paying rent.
  2. APPLICATION: If the Tenant does not fix the problem, the Landlord can bring an application to the Landlord and Tenant Board (“LTB”) to evict the Tenant. The LTB is a Tribunal that deals with disputes between Landlords and Tenants.
  3. HEARING: A hearing will be scheduled at the LTB where the Landlord and Tenant can each state their cases and have an LTB Board Member decide whether or not the Tenant will be evicted.
  4. ORDER: The Board Member will make a decision about the eviction in writing which will be sent to the Landlord and Tenant. If the Order is for the eviction of the Tenant, it will give a date by which the Tenant must move out.
  5. ENFORCEMENT: If the Tenant does not move out by the date on the Order, the Landlord can have the Order enforced through the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff is allowed to change the locks to rental unit. After that, the Tenant has 72 hours to arrange to remove their property or the Sheriff may remove the property. Landlords are NOT allowed to enforce eviction orders on their own. They must go through the Sheriff’s Office.

Since the COVID-19 crisis, the Government of Ontario has changed the process to thwart a Landlord’s ability to properly evict a tenant right now.

  1. Can Tenants be evicted right now? In the future?

The evictions process during this crisis has temporarily changed. The goals of these changes are to protect Tenants who cannot pay rent from homelessness, and to protect the community by ensuring people have somewhere to stay so they can socially distance and help decrease the spread of COVID-19.

New Eviction Rules:

No new eviction orders related to unpaid rent will be issued until further notice.  Sheriff’s offices will postpone any scheduled enforcement of eviction orders unless the grounds relate to serious illegal acts or safety concerns. In short, if a Tenant is just not paying rent, they cannot be evicted right now.

If Tenants do not pay rent now, Landlords can evict… later. Landlords can still give eviction notices. This means that, when this crisis ends, Landlords will be able to enforce eviction orders and pursue Tenants for unpaid rent during the crisis..

What does this mean?

The COVID-19 pandemic will be a financial crisis for many Residential Landlords and Tenants alike. Landlords and Tenants should communicate with each other and work to find a fair arrangement that keeps Tenants in their homes and allows for ultimate (even deferred) repayment for Landlords.

How? Tips and Resources:

For both Landlords and Tenants, a main concern right now is how to make sure you have enough money to meet your payment obligations. Like Tenants, Landlords have bills to pay too and often rely on income from rent to meet their obligations.

The Government of Ontario has recently announced some funding sources and other resources for both Landlords and Tenants. Please find some helpful tips and links below.

For Tenants

If you need financial help you can:

The Emergency Response Benefit is in the process of being made available through an online portal. Further information is available at

For Landlords

  • talk to your municipality about help with property taxes and municipal service fees. Information is available through the following websites:


This is a confusing and scary time for everyone. If you are a Landlord or Tenant and have further questions about your legal obligations and rights, please feel free to contact Primeau Law at 613-584-4884 to schedule a free 30 minute consultation.

Courtroom vs. Classroom

My kid? A registered sex offender?”

Talking about sex with kids is hard enough. Having the sex offence talk might seem unfathomable.

Still, refusing to think or talk about a problem does not cure it. Ignoring an issue does not dispel it. Paradoxically, keeping students in the dark about sexual offences is exactly what our teachers are supposed to do this year.

On one hand, talking about sex crimes might seem too sophisticated and too dark for children.

However, sexual crimes range in severity. They can seem trivial at first glance. Indeed, many sexual offences have euphemisms:

  • A stolen kiss
  • Surprise butt slap
  • Drunk sex
  • Sexting
  • Peeping Tom

What makes these offences even trickier is that they are not always crimes. Is all sexting criminal? Of course not. Is sex after consuming any alcohol always rape? Nope. Do all students know where the law draws the line?

Does your child?

Here is the problem. Criminal law dealing with sex offences is complex. Sex offences are not just about stranger rape. Sex offences happen online, on phones, in grocery stores, at parties, amongst friends.

Courts and lawyers are still grappling with issues of consent, inebriation and sex, child pornography and texting, and sexual bullying.

All-things-sex are getting more complicated every year. This year, Ontario educators are being told to provide even LESS information on the topic of sex.

Pop quiz!

  1. When Johnny sexts a naked picture of himself to his girlfriend, is he breaking the law?
  2. When a high school senior hooks-up with a junior, is it a sexual assault even with clear consent?
  3. Is the explicit Sailor Moon cartoon that kids googled on the internet “illegal pornography”?

If you fail this quiz in real life, there is no re-test. A failing grade when it comes to breaking the law is a conviction. The punishment? Sex offender registry, minimum jail sentences, probation, prohibition from internet/parks/pools…

Surprised? With proper sex education you wouldn’t be.

Lack of information is a wicked trap. You can easily commit a crime you did not know existed. You can easily be found guilty of a crime you did not know existed. It happens all the time.

In the eyes of the court, the fact that a person did not know what they did was illegal makes them ignorant, not innocent. Ignorance of the law is not a defence to a crime.

Closing our eyes does not stop sexual offences, it abets them. The #MeToo movement aimed to open the public’s eyes to sexual offences we had been blind to. Shutting down reality-based sex education places the blindfold back on.

In every subject, students need to know material before they are tested on it. Educators must have an up-to-date and accurate curriculum to navigate these difficult and complicated issues.

The time to learn about the legal landscape of sex is not in the courtroom – it is in the classroom.

A Costly Cup of Tim’$

coffeeEarly in the morning this summer, I enjoyed a sweet workday start: sitting in my office chair, drinking what’s left of my Tim Horton’s coffee, and browsing Deep River Discussions. One post warmed my heart: “Huge shout out to Cody (not sure of his last name) from Deep River Tim Hortons”, it read, “…some of the friendliest service I’ve ever had.” The post blew-up with Likes, Comments and Shares: locals agreed.

I looked down at my coffee and remembered the smiling face and cheery greeting of the young man that served me. I DID enjoy my experience there. I SHOULD go back tomorrow. No sooner did the thought cross my mind that I realized that Cody from Deep River probably makes Tim Hortons an extra chunk of change, and that my Large Regular would not profit Cody at all.

Apart from our drive-thru run-ins, I have never spoken with Cody. I am willing to bet, however, that he makes little more than minimum wage. Having worked at that same Tim Hortons years ago, I have a small idea of what his workday looks like. He arrives work-ready in his work-mandated uniform at least 15 minutes before the start of his shift. He puts his phone away.

Cody’s work day is packed: he has regular chores that need to be finished before shift’s end, he has additional chores to do if he finishes the mandatory chores (if you can lean, you can clean), he focuses on each person’s experience while simultaneously meeting the corporate time requirements for maximum customer flow, and yet he still probably gets publicly criticized by one customer or co-worker once or twice in the day. His day is strictly regulated with conversation time being limited to 1-2 breaks of 15 minutes, during which he can eat by himself in a small back room. Cody earns every penny he is paid. The smile and cheery attitude is a bonus he throws-in for us.

Minimum wage jobs are extremely difficult. Personally, I have worked in over 20 different workplaces through high school, university, and law school. With the possible exception of articling, I have never found work as draining as when I worked minimum wage jobs – particularly, in the fast service industry.  The pace, the lack of recognition, the monotony of forced routine, the high number of tasks and lack of any real control in your day requires massive amounts of energy and leaves the worker with little to nothing left at the end of a shift. This is not to say that people who work at Tim Hortons do not like their jobs, nor that minimum wage jobs are devoid of reward. This is to say that they are damn tough.

As a capitalist society, we endorse reaping what you sow. The harder you work, the more you stand to profit, right? Not so for minimum-wage employees: they hit the glass ceiling hard, regardless of profit creation or capability. Cody is rocking it from the drive-thru window making even us locals want to buy into the Tim Hortons’ overpriced drip coffee enterprise. Cody realizes almost none of the additional profit he makes for his store. When the minimum wage was $11.25, the average Tim Horton’s employee earned $11.50. That average accounts for seniority! What about Cody’s boss? The Executive Chair of Tim Hortons, Paul D. House (even with credit for working double-double hours), makes approximately $945/hour. Is Paul D. House working 80 times harder than Cody per hour? No way, Housée.

Tim Hortons Corporation is structured so that, after franchise royalties, mandatory costs, mandatory expenses, etc., even our local franchisee will only see a small fraction of any profit Cody makes. Our Deep River Tim’s money is not local. It gets funnelled straight to the Big “Paul D. House” on the top: the CEO and all the coffee bean counters.

The Liberals have made a small change to the minimum wage that impacts us in a big way in Deep River. The minimum wage increased to $14 this January (annual salary of $29K before taxes). Prior to this, those making minimum wage lived on a wage sitting directly atop the poverty line at $22K (below the poverty line if they had even one kid). Since most minimum wage workers live locally and spend most of their time in the area, nearly 100% of their paycheques are funnelled back into Deep River: into town-run community services, local establishments, landlords and taxes. $14 per hour does not land anyone into the lap of luxury, however, it may mean that someone working at Tim Hortons can live (frugally) on one job alone. Minimum wage hike: good news for Cody, good news for Deep River.

Local franchises and businesses, however, may not see the minimum wage increase as all sunshine and ice caps. Minimum wages hit franchisees and small business owners hard: they expose the thin profit margin that differentiates local business persons from Paul D. Houses. The natural inclination is to look at minimum wage workers and blame them for the squeeze. This anger is righteous – but misdirected.

The $14 that goes into a skilled, minimum wage worker is money well-spent: it pays for a loyal employee, working hard under direct supervision, promoting the business locally, being taxed locally and spending their money locally. The tight squeeze in profitability is likely not from Cody’s extra $3 an hour, but rather in the exceptionally high costs of globalization, franchises, and large corporate retailers who inflate the bottom line expenses of Maw and Paw shops.

With the minimum wage hike, Deep River Discussions has seen some angry posts. The brewing rage focuses on how over-paid minimum wage workers are. Some rants directly blame those minimum wage workers for their own unemployment. The out-of-town corporations who regularly price us out of small businesses and franchises somehow avoid all blame.  This logic is backward. The local minimum wage workers are not driving the franchise royalties and mandatory costs. The local minimum wage workers are not relying on out-of-country production and services to drive down their costs and price local vendors out of business. The local minimum wage workers want local businesses to succeed and have a vested interest in their success.

As a small community that relies on local business, on local support, and on a thriving population, we must be thankful. An increase allows our neighbours, who work for the least amount of money, to receive a fraction closer to what they have earned through hard and dedicated work. We need to focus our frustration not on the Codys, but on the Paul D. Houses, Galen G. Westons, and Stephen G. Wetmores. The middle-initial corporate barons not only hold our extra spending money on their Tim’s Card, PC Card, or Canadian Tire Cards, but also the key to the profit handcuffs on our local businesses, and the rightful earned wages of our community members.