Petition calls for provinces to freeze rent, offer more relief during pandemic
HALIFAX -- As countless Atlantic Canadians find themselves out of work because of COVID-19, many are left wondering how they’ll make ends meet – especially when it comes to paying the rent.
Sydnee Blum has found herself in a situation shared by many Maritimers.
“I worked in the restaurant industry for years before going back to school here, and I was using savings and a part-time job to pay for my rent,” says Blum. “Now that the pandemic has hit, both me and my partner are out of work.”
Out of work and left wondering how she’s going to be able to make rent -- not only for the month of April, but for the foreseeable future.
So Blum started a petition calling for a rent freeze for all tenants in the HRM and greater Nova Scotia. The petition has nearly 10,000 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.
“We’ve joined forces with other housing and workers unions and organizations and we have almost a million signatures federally to call for a suspension of the rent,” says Blum.
“Essentially what we’re in now is a housing crisis within a health crisis,” adds Ainsley Kendrick, of Fight for Affordable Housing.
On Prince Edward Island, the government has rolled out a million-dollar temporary rental assistance benefit to help. But the Fight for Affordable Housing advocacy group says a lot of questions remain unanswered.
“You know, we’re thinking $1,200 one-to-two bedroom, is the government going to pay that, or are they going to implement a rent cap and say, we’re only willing to pay this amount?” asks Kendrick.
It’s also been announced that the P.E.I. office of the director of residential property is suspending all rental hearings, including eviction hearings, except for cases they deem urgent, until further notice.
In New Brunswick, the provincial state of emergency means that landlords cannot evict tenants for not paying rent until May 31.
In Nova Scotia, the government has said that for the next three months, no tenant can be evicted because their income has been impacted by COVID-19.