Letters to the Editor

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Rats, not cats: Minister Stultz's message to assisted-housing residents

New Democrats message to Stultz: apologize or quit

FREDERICTON – New Brunswick New Democrat Leader Dominic Cardy is calling on Social Development Minister Sue Stultz to end her cruel crusade against pet owners in assisted housing.

Cardy said, “Minister Stultz was aware of a rat problem in Parkton Heights in the fall of last year. Months later the rats are still there. Other residents have complained about mould in basements and used needles
littering the common areas.”

Cardy said, “Now the government is taking action. Not to fix the rat problem. Not to fix the mould problem. Not to fix the problems of drugs and crime that can make life in assisted housing difficult. No, Minister
Stultz is spending taxpayers money to make people’s lives even more difficult by forcing them to choose between their pets and the roof over their heads.”

Minister Stultz has sent pet eviction notices to residents of two assisted housing complexes. In one case residents have less than one week to get rid of their pets. Resident Melanie Dennis said, “My son and I have been through a lot of difficult times, and our dog Zane helps him through it. We have so many other problems in our community - why is Sue Stultz targeting our pets?”

On Monday, Minister Stultz said residents in assisted housing who own pets, in some cases people who had previously told her department about their dogs and cats “should be calling [her office] and saying well why
aren't you enforcing this [eviction notice] because we do have a pet.”

Cardy said, “Minister Stultz, don’t ask your tenants to do your job. Fix this problem: You can change the rule that justified this cruel campaign. You can fix the serious problems affecting assisted-housing. And if you’re
not capable of performing your duties you should resign.”

On Tuesday, NB Housing made an exception to the no-pet policy for Mr. Sonier, a man from Parkton Heights with cerebral palsy, and is allowing him to keep his dog Molly.

“I’m happy that Mr. Sonier will get to keep Molly. Now Minister Stultz has shown she has a heart. Why spend tax dollars enforcing a rule that has been ignored for so long? Make the change, and let everyone keep their pets.”

New Democrats are calling for the Minister to focus on problem tenants, not pets, and for the government to amend the Residential Tenancies Act to remove the right of landlords to evict people because they own pets. The New Democrats are calling for protection for all landlords and tenants and to target criminal behaviour and the other serious problems affecting public housing.