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Montrealers protest to denounce Bill 31, Quebec’s controversial housing bill

Several hundred people gathered in the city’s Rosemont neighborhood Saturday afternoon to denounce Bill 31, the Quebec government’s controversial housing bill. If adopted it would allow landlords to deny lease transfers.

The demonstration was organized by tenants’ rights advocates who are critical of the bill.

“Bill 31 is still under study at the national assembly of Quebec,” said Cédric Dussault, a spokesperson for The Coalition of Housing Committees and Tenants Associations of Quebec (RCLALQ)

“It’s important to continue to say no to this bill to demand the government revoke completely this bill,” he added.

Organizations are now calling for a rent freeze and demanding that housing minister France-Élaine Duranceau step down.

“It’s important to keep this persistence up,” said Robin Black, a spokesperson for the Villeray renters association.

“We have the biggest housing crisis in 30 years and we don’t seem to have a minister that actually really seems genuinely concerned about how people suffer from a lack of housing,” added Black.

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Tenants’ rights activists say this is the first bill that is removing rights from tenants in 45 years.

“Not only will this not bring solutions for the explosion of rents and all the evictions that are happening in Quebec right now, but it will be worsening the situation of tenants in Quebec,” said Dussault.

One of the major concerns is that the bill gives landlords the power to block tenants from transferring their leases to others.

“Why would the minister think that it is the most important thing to push through even when all the housing committees that work with these people, all the independent researchers are saying the same thing?” said Black.

“What does that tell you about what their mandate is and what their vision is?” he added.

Affordable housing advocates add the city could and should be doing more to protect tenants.

“There are various actions that were done in the past years in the past decades that led us to the current situation that we have been living,” said Dussault.

During a press conference on Thursday mayor Valérie Plante addressed the current housing crisis and Bill 31.

“What we have shared with the minister and what we have shared in a report at the commission is that we don’t think this is a good idea,” said Plante.

She added there are provisions in the bill that she believes will help protect tenants, but more consultation with tenants’ rights organizations is needed.

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