Excerpt from CBC News Website
The Ontario Bar Association has launched a new pro bono legal service to help tenants at risk of losing their homes when residential evictions resume across the province in the coming weeks.
The enforcement of eviction orders was paused in Ontario when the provincial government introduced a stay-at-home order on Jan. 14 to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Evictions have since resumed across most of the province, though the moratorium will remain for Toronto, Peel Region and North Bay-Parry Sound until at least March 8.
Ontario's Landlord and Tenant Board is expected to begin processing a growing backlog of cases as enforcement resumes more widely across the province.
"There will be a wave of hearings," said Doug Ferguson, the bar association's chair of pro bono work.
"And there will be a wave of evictions."
The new service offers 30 minutes of free legal advice for tenants facing eviction hearings.
'Tenants are stuck'
Ferguson said lawyers who volunteer for the program will walk clients through their tenant rights, and help them to negotiate agreements with landlords, such as deferring payments or delaying an eventual move-out date.
The goal, he said, is to better prepare tenants for hearings that have the potential to fundamentally disrupt their lives.
"The tenants are stuck," Ferguson said. "When you don't have the legal training or the information you need, it makes it very difficult to make your point."