Evictions are rising across Ontario impacting both rural and urban communities alike. With our current affordable housing crisis, it is no surprise that we are continuing to see this rise of people experiencing displacement throughout the province. The Social Planning Network of Ontario embarked on a project funded by CMHC’s Community Based Initiative Fund to elevate tenant voices and build leadership and organizational capacity in four communities. In addition, they produced the Many Faces of Urban and Rural Displacement across Ontario report, which examines how displacement happens and how it affects our communities. 

113 semi-structured interviews were conducted aimed at examining displacement in communities across Ontario, to explore how displacement happens, where it is happening and its impact. 

What is displacement?

To begin to understand the complexity of rising displacement in Ontario, we must first explore what displacement means. As cited in the report: 

“Displacement occurs when any household is forced to move from its residence by conditions that affect the dwelling or its immediate surroundings, and that: 1) are beyond the household’s reasonable ability to control or prevent; 2) occur despite the household’s having met all previously imposed conditions of occupancy; and 3) make continued occupancy by that household impossible, hazardous, or unaffordable.” (Marcuse, 1985, p. 205)

How Displacement Happens

Displacement can take place in many different forms, from landlords making ‘bad faith’ complaints to the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB) to more informal tactics including pressuring tenants to leave, without appropriate steps taken. Below, figure 5.1 from the Many Faces of Urban and Rural Displacement report across Ontario, demonstrates how different displacement tactics range from formal to informal.  

Impacts on Tenants and Communities

The impact of displacement on tenants and communities cannot be understated. The Social Planning Network interviewed individuals in both urban and rural communities in Ontario, all who noted significant impacts including health (mental and emotional), stigma and discrimination, disruption of daily life and future economic stability. 

The case studies in the report highlight the devastating and long term impact that eviction can have on individuals, families and communities. One individual interviewed by the research team noted the intense emotional impact she experienced due to displacement and subsequent homelessness, “I run into people who know me. That is humiliating enough. I'm the strong one. I'm the one that can get through anything. And I didn't want them to know that I felt vulnerable. I felt naked.”

Displacement in Rural Communities

Rising evictions are no longer an issue that only affects larger cities. More rural areas across the province are facing the same issues from displacement. Residents of Oxford County, an Ontario county containing both rural and urban municipalities, have noted facing similar impacts to displacement including; discrimination when applying to rentals, a lack of deeply affordable housing, and renovictions. 

Policy Recommendations

  • Rethink our approach to housing
    • Recognize housing as a human right and direct resources to support this goal
    • Centre tenant voices in the policy-making process
  • Protect and expand affordable housing options
    • Introduce rent and vacancy control for all units to de-incentivize displacement and support the development of comprehensive inclusionary zoning bylaws
    • Facilitate the creation of more affordable and deeply affordable units through market and non-market approaches
  • Hold landlords accountable
    • Create policy that requires landlords to find new housing for tenants they displace
    • Create and support a landlord registry to oversee the rental process, and hold landlords accountable through fines and suspensions
  • Prevent displacement and provide support
    • Fund social supports (housing advocacy groups, housing, and homelessness support programs) adequately to ensure that tenants have access to education and resources to navigate being unhoused and find new housing
    • Streamline the Landlord and Tenant Board and provide it with efficient operating capacity to ensure that conflicts are resolved immediately and barriers are addressed

How communities can advance tenant supports and advocacy efforts

The Many Faces of Urban and Rural Displacement across Ontario report outlined three ways communities can help support tenants at risk of displacement and improve advocacy efforts surrounding tenant rights: 

  1. Tenant Peer support networks 
  2. Establishment of local tenant advocacy groups and associations
  3. Knowledge mobilization of our findings through local events/webinars and media


The Many Faces of Urban and Rural Displacement across Ontario report created by the Social Network Ontario, provides us with an in depth look into communities across the province facing extreme impacts of displacement. In their analysis, they outlined the clear ways landlords are both informally and formally evicting tenants and leaving individuals and families without stable and affordable housing. 

The Social Network of Ontario also outlined many policy initiatives that can be taken at municipal, provincial and federal levels as well as community advocacy that can work towards ending displacement. Recommendations that include improved rent and vacancy control, tenant support networks and increased funding of housing supports. The recommendations outline the strong actions every level of government needs to take to end displacement and preserve affordable housing. 

Upcoming Webinar

Join the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and researchers on May 22nd at 12pm for the Prevention Matters! panel discussion that will explore this report in more detail and how it's recommendations can be implemented across the country. Register here. 

About the Social Planning Network of Ontario 

The Social Planning Network of Ontario is a group of community development experts and researchers across 13 communities including those involved in this project:  Social Planning Council Oxford, Social Planning Council of York Region, Social Planning Council of Kingston and District, Social Development Council of Cornwall and District -  all directly involved in achieving the project deliverables, with other organizations providing training, consultation and guidance as part of the project steering committee: Social Development Centre of Waterloo, Canadian Centre for Housing Rights and Brian Doucet, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Urban Change and Social Inclusion in the School of Planning at the University of Waterloo.