The spread of COVID-19 is not only a health crisis.
It's also creating an economic crisis for thousands of workers in a wide range of industries, including hospitality and food services.
Today, B.C. premier John Horgan pledged up to $500 per month for tenants who've lost jobs and wages due to COVID-19.
The province has also announced that it has frozen rents and halted most evictions.
“Nobody should lose their home as a result of COVID-19," Horgan said in a news release. "Our plan will give much-needed financial relief to renters and landlords. It will also provide more security for renters, who will be able to stay in their homes without fear of eviction or increasing rents during this emergency.”
The average rent in a purpose-built building in Metro Vancouver was $1,382 for a one-bedroom apartment, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.'s most recent survey.
Horgan noted that COVID-19 is also creating challenges for landlords. They will be paid directly by the government on behalf of affected tenants.
These temporary supplements are only available to renters who do not qualify for existing rental assistance.
The only permissible evictions involve "extreme cases where there are safety concerns".
However, landlords have the right to seek judicial review of a Residential Tenancy Branch decision—and the government cannot defy any court order that follows.
The former chair of B.C.'s Rental Housing Task Force, Spencer Chandra Herbert, consulted with groups representing tenants and landlords in advance of the policies being announced.
Chandra Herbert, the NDP MLA for Vancouver–West End, said in the same news release that the province can't afford to leave anyone behind.
“That’s why I delivered recommendations that address the immediate concerns of both landlords and tenants who are doing their best at this difficult time," he said.