Charlottetown, PE – These are times of deep anxiety, particularly for Islanders who find themselves suddenly without financial means for reasons beyond their control. With many Islanders unable to meet their rent obligations, the Official Opposition is calling on the government to bring about an immediate halt to evictions for non-payment of rent, and a freeze on rental rate increases. Additionally, the government should consider extending the existing rental supplement program to support Islanders in financial distress as a result of COVID-19.
“Many Islanders have abruptly become unemployed due to the necessary measures taken to respond to the threat of COVID-19,” said Honourable Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the Official Opposition. “As a result, they are facing the very real possibility of being evicted due to non-payment of rent. This is a concern that I have repeatedly brought forward at the government COVID-19 response situation table that I sit on. Despite presenting policy options to the government, there is still no clear plan to safeguard people who are at risk of losing their safe havens.”
Public health measures have resulted in many businesses shutting down and others drastically scaling back operations. This has brought about significant financial impacts on Islanders and their ability to care for their immediate needs.
“I have often pointed out the desperate situation of PEI’s housing crisis,” said Hannah Bell, Official Opposition Shadow Critic for Social Development and Housing. “The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the concern around this reality. Islanders need to be able to stay in their homes. It would be immoral to put vulnerable Islanders on the street due to their inability to pay their rent on time.”
The Office of the Official Opposition presented options to the government outlining what legislative tools are available and how a balanced approach can be taken to meet the immediate needs of renters and provide assistance to landlords who will be affected by a moratorium.
“There is existing legislative authority and means by which government can protect Islanders who are unable to pay their rent due,” said Bell. “There are also tools it can implement to ensure landlords are paid rent that is due when tenants are unable to pay - for example, through rent supplements. This is not unlike action government took last year in increasing supplements to help Islanders in need.”
Without assistance from government, many Islanders are facing the threat of being evicted from their place of safety during a pandemic that threatens the health and wellbeing of all Islanders. Government must not relinquish their responsibility to reassure vulnerable Islanders that they will be able to protect themselves during this time of significant health risk.
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Policy Options on Eviction Moratorium (Backgrounder on Eviction Moratoriums.pdf)