Feds unlikely to provide additional rent support; banks asked to step up

The federal government is unlikely to step into provincial jurisdictions to provide rent support for residential renters across the country, despite announcing earlier a similar plan for supporting small-business rent.

On Friday, prime minister Justin Trudeau referred to existing COVID announcements - such as the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit program and the national wage subsidy initiative - as ways that Ottawa has supported people’s abilities to pay residential rent. The commercial rent relief was also announced with that goal in mind, Trudeau added.

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“From the very first day of this COVID-19 crisis, our focus has been ensuring Canadians who are vulnerable… will be able to pay their rent, pay their groceries and get a reliable source of income,” he said. “We have moved forward with a commercial rent support for businesses because we need them to be able to come back strongly after this pandemic - or this phase of the lockdown - is through.”

Deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland added that it is time for financial institutions and landlords themselves to step up in providing some rent relief for renters in distress.

“It’s… important for landlords to understand these are exceptional times in our country, and now is the time for all Canadians to stick together and support each other,” Freeland said. “So if you have a tenant who has lost income because of the coronavirus, now is the time to be really compassionate. That is the way you support your neighbours and your country in this difficult time, and it’s also the time for banks to be really thoughtful about the mortgages that these landlords have to pay.”

In the meantime, Trudeau added that Ottawa will be looking at its national PPE stockpile policy after the crisis. He noted that while Canada has been able to source PPEs from around the world to meet demand - while domestic manufacturing has also taken a “significant step” - he understands that Canadians are looking for answers after PPE supplies ran into severe shortages on both provincial and federal levels.

“As we have seen through this pandemic both at the national level and the provincial level that we should have had more; we needed to have more,” Trudeau said. “We have been largely successful in meeting the needs of Canadians across the country, but it took an awful lot of effort and scrambling that ideally wouldn’t have had to happen. So there are lessons to be learned moving forward.”

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