Sask. not suspending residential evictions, but will review on case-by-case basis
'Please do not evict anyone at this time,' Mayor Michael Fougere says in statement at city hall
The Saskatchewan government announced Wednesday that it will not grant a request to temporarily suspend residential evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, but said it will review and approve evictions, if necessary, on a case-by-case basis.
"Saskatchewan Office of Residential Tenancies (ORT) hearing officers are taking additional evidence into consideration when deciding whether to approve an eviction during the state of emergency," said Paula Steckler, media relations officer for executive council, in an emailed statement Wednesday.
"This provides hearings officers flexibility to make decisions on a case-by-case basis in light of circumstances arising from the COVID-19 emergency."
The statement said the government is encouraging landlords and tenants to discuss "mutually agreeable solutions" during the pandemic. People are also asked to call their local housing authority to discuss the options available to them.
People who are in an emergency and cannot cover the costs are asked to call the Provincial Client Service Centre or their local income assistance office.
The announcement came one day after Regina Mayor Michael Fougere announced at news conference that he wrote a letter to Saskatchewan's Minister of Social Services Paul Merriman requesting a suspension.
"This is a critical factor for stabilizing those who will find themselves otherwise on the street with no food. They could be ill, we don't know that, but we certainly want to make sure that they're taken care of," Fougere said Tuesday.
Fougere said it would be up to the province to determine just how the suspension of evictions would be implemented, if the request is granted.
Fougere said he isn't the only mayor in Canada who does not want to see evictions, based on conversations he has had with other city officials at the Big City Mayors' Caucus.
The mayor also reiterated that people should stay home and work from home.
Illness from COVID-19 has been multiplying in Sask., with 72 total cases in the province so far as of Tuesday. Four of those cases have no clear cause of exposure, suggesting community transmission.
Fougere said the city has also requested that the province begin accepting applications from low-income households for the Canada Housing Benefit program.
"This is a general statement," Fougere said. "Landlords: please do not evict anybody at this time."