VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Nearly half of Canadian households report a loss in wages or work as the coronavirus continues to ravage the global economy, according to a new Angus Reid poll.
So far a number of announcements about support have been made but little relief has actually made it into people’s pockets, as renters wait to hear what the province will offer Wednesday.
The new survey found people who have been hit the hardest by layoffs and mass shutdowns because of the pandemic will also be the least likely to absorb the financial losses.
Claire Lomas is a self-employed dog walker who rents a condo in Vancouver’s West End. She is uncertain what the federal benefits package promised for April will bring, as she doesn’t qualify for regular employment insurance.
“I would like to hear blanket policies that are going to cover everybody, at least in the short term, so that people know they’re not going to lose their home, we can self-isolate and we can get this under control,” she says.
Even if she does get some relief from the feds, Lomas, who is also an active housing advocate at City Hall, says those relying on EI to get by are going to struggle.
No one should lose their job for prioritizing their health & safety.
We’ve made a significant change to the law to protect workers – so anyone who cannot work because of COVID-19 can take leave without risking their job.
This is retroactive to Jan. 27.https://t.co/xMlW6z8c8W
— John Horgan (@jjhorgan) March 23, 2020
“Especially for here in Vancouver, they’re not going to be sufficient; they cap out at $1,800 a month. If you look at most people’s rents in the city that’s gonna take most of the money there.”
I’ve spoken with my tenants and told them if they need to defer rent, or pay a portion that is fine by me, I can always go to the bank and ask them to defer my mortgage payment but there needs to be more information ie: will interest be accrued or deferred as well
— Randy (@ranmann82) March 20, 2020
The Angus Reid poll also found about 44 per cent of people have lost work as a result of the virus and at one-third are worried about paying their rent or bills in a few days. Some can’t bear an increase of even $100.
Those who are younger are at a greater risk of losing work, and many will face difficult decisions and trade-offs when it comes to bills, according to the poll.
More than one million people have applied for EI already, according to the federal government and those who don’t fit the regular or sickness EI requirements will be able to apply for a new emergency benefit coming in April.
Lomas says renters deserve to know they have a secure place to isolate so all of Canada can get COVID-19 under control in these critical weeks.
“I know that this is very new in what’s going on but when we’re looking at mortgages we also need to be looking at rent relief in a city where 53 per cent of the population rents,” she explains.
“If 30 per cent of that $1,800 was going towards housing that would be ‘affordable’ but this is just going to affect so many people,” she says.
We want urgent moratorium on ALL evictions in British Columbia. Ontario, Nova Scotia and Quebec have shown the way. BC MUST follow. Tell your elected officials, we also need a RENT BREAK: https://t.co/oormaHrEGr@BC_ACORN
— ACORN Canada (@ACORNCanada) March 24, 2020
Many expected Premier John Horgan to announce a moratorium on evictions or a rental subsidy on Monday after he spoke for the first time in about a week. Instead, they were told a one-time, $1,000 benefit would be provided to those who had lost their jobs.
Finance Minister Carole James says don’t expect that in your pocket until May.