Nfld. & Labrador

Renter relief for COVID-19 related issues coming, says premier

Premier Dwight Ball says help will be coming for renters in Newfoundland and Labrador as people prepare to pay rent whether they are working or not during the province's public health emergency caused by COVID-19.

Utility companies also won't cut service

Premier Dwight Ball says help is coming from the provincial and federal governments for renters in Newfoundland and Labrador. (CBC)

Premier Dwight Ball said help will be coming for renters in Newfoundland and Labrador as the first of the month draws closer and people will be preparing to pay rent, whether they are working or not during the province's public health emergency.

"We have programs that will be in place, and this was a topic of discussion on our call last night. The federal government will be there to add support as well," Ball said Tuesday during the province's daily update on COVID-19.

"They are working on measures to be able to put in place. We understand that the application process still could be just a few days away yet."

Widespread layoffs

It's a concern that isn't unique to Newfoundland and Labrador. Advocates in Ontario are already calling on the province to assist with rental agreements, while Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart is calling for British Columbia to do the same.

Several companies have already laid off employees. 

The federal government did unveil the Emergency Care Benefit program as part of its $82-billion aid package announced last week by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The program is slated to provide, for those who qualify, $900 every two weeks for up to 15 weeks. 

Ball also said new legislation will be coming soon which will ensure landlords do not evict tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We'll be making some changes, hopefully this week within the House of Assembly with the support of the opposition parties, to actually put in place mechanisms that, you know, during this time of hardship, not only to address areas like this but other areas as well," he said.

The province's utility companies say they will not be cutting off service to customers for financial reasons during the public health emergency and COVID-19 pandemic. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Both Newfoundland Power and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro have assured customers they will not be disconnected, and have asked those concerned about paying their bills to contact the utilities directly. 

Ball reiterated that Tuesday, but didn't say if those bills will be eliminated or simply deferred.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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