B.C. offers $500 monthly rental rebate, moratorium on evictions, rent freeze

The fountain at the B.C. legislature was lit up in honour of health-care workers on Tuesday night

"The stress is off the charts right now".

The premier said, however, "if you can pay your rent, you should pay your rent".

The Province is implementing a number of additional measures to keep people housed and protect their health.

The rental supplement of $500 per month will be available to anyone on EI or other federal or provincial income support programs and will be paid directly to landlords.

"If you can pay your rent, you should pay your rent".

"The fewer people who access the program, the more opportunity we have to expand it", said Horgan, noting there are about 500,000 renters in B.C.

Since COVID-19 hit British Columbia, 14 people have died, while 64 are now in hospital.

The measures are part of the province's $5 billion COVID-19 response plan - which was announced on Monday - and follow tax and payment deferral options from governments, Crown corporations and banks meant to ease the financial burdens Canadians' may be facing. The federal government had its $107-billion stimulus package approved on March 25.

Landlord will be able to restrict the use of common areas, such as laundry rooms, by tenants or guests, as well. But landlords are restricted from entering people's homes, unless there is a significant threat to people or property.

The province is also ordering a suspension of evictions, including those in progress already - and putting a full freeze on rental increases - until the crisis has passed. It included $1,000 tax free cheques for those impacted by COVID-19.

"People are feeling a lot of fear and anxiety and they need to be able to depend on the comfort and stability of home right now", Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson said. There was no information provided about what happens with the thousands of students who typically finish postsecondary terms at the end of April and then count on paying their rent from May to September by getting summer jobs.

"All across the country, students are being encouraged to move out of student housing with little to no notice, forced to find alternate accommodation". "But they are also times when we may expose those who are most vulnerable in our community - our elders, our seniors, people who have more at risk due to their underlying medical conditions".

AMS VP External Cristina Ilnitchi said the society is developing a web page to connect students to the government support they may be eligible for and providing feedback to the government.

"We're still in the waiting and watching phase", Henry said, though she said she remained hopeful that the serious social distancing measures, restrictions on public gatherings and businesses would have an impact.

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