UCP & Alberta’s Women: Bill 2 and 3 – Booze, Bongs, and Mobile Homes
The Alberta Government was looking to cover topics a little less contentious with the introduction of Bill 2 – The Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Amendment Act, 2020. Bill 3 Mobile Home Sites Tenancies Amendment Act, 2020 addresses a large number of conflicts between mobile homeowners and landlords. And they’re about as exciting as you’d expect.
UCP Talks Booze in Alberta Parks and Marijuana Law Updates
Bill 2 was essentially housekeeping. Aside from updating the act to come into line with current legislation, it also gives parks the ability to decide if they will allow alcohol sales and consumption.
In terms of women, I don’t see this as a bad or a good thing. It could increase alcohol-related domestic violence. It could encourage outdoor activities and be a catalyst for lots of family outings. I would like to see data before I mark this as a positive or negative change.
Mobile Home Park Disputes and the Alberta Courts
Bill 3 gives mobile homeowners and renters the ability to utilize the Residential Tenancies Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS) to help work through complaints with landowners. Knowing how expensive it can be to take these sorts of disagreements to court and how intimidating that process can be, this certainly seems like a step in the right direction. But does this benefit Alberta women?
Who Lives in Alberta’s Mobile Homes?
According to Stats Canada, 16.5% of the homes in Alberta are “others,” which includes semi-detached, row housing, and other moveable housing as well as mobile homes. While they are only a portion of that 16.5%, mobile homes are a substantial source of affordable housing for a large number of women and low-income families. And I’m not playing off the whole “trailer trash” stereotype with my reference to affordable housing. As Al Kemp for Manufactured Home Park Owners Alliance of BC said, mobile homes are often between $50 and $100 thousand, and lot rent averages around $500.
In 2018, Alberta’s median income for individuals in the province was $35,800. This number doesn’t tell the whole story, however. Women in Alberta make approximately 40% less than their male counterparts. You need to consider the effects of the pandemic.
COVID Could Increase Landlord-Tenant Disputes
Job losses, wage cuts, a cut to hours, and lower incomes overall have made it harder to pay rent. And now that the government has lifted the stay on rent increases and evictions, it could get a lot harder. Landlords are also struggling to make repairs and maintenance. Lastly, an increase in domestic violence has pushed more women into low-income housing. These changes are not going to make life easier. Then, consider lifestyle changes.
People are spending more time at home. While this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to run out and buy a mobile home instead of renting an apartment, for example, it does mean there are more interactions between tenants, landlords, and neighbours. It’s more time for people to notice how their homes may not be meeting their needs. And with everyone being stressed and low on patience, I could see an increase in conflicts and disagreements.
Overall, I felt this bill from the UCP helped women. Not overwhelmingly. It was almost a side effect, but it was a win nonetheless. I do want to put a massive caution sign on this decision, however. The UCP tends to pack important positions with UCP members, donors, and well-to-do friends, so this could change in the future.