In light of the unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases and testing shortfalls in Saskatchewan, NDP Leader Ryan Meili today called on the Sask. Party Government to extend the rental eviction moratorium and come up with a plan to help landlords and renters.
The government has announced that eviction hearings for non-urgent matters will begin again starting August 4.
“Health Minister Jim Reiter has had months to ensure the availability of proper testing capacity in Saskatchewan, but Saskatchewan remains significantly below the national average for testing and the Minister won’t release data on testing waits” said Meili. “Reiter is leaving families flying blind during a spike in cases throughout the province. We need to extend the eviction ban until at least August 31 to support families and control the spread of COVID-19.”
Meili called on the government to immediately bring together landlords and rental advocates to arrive at a proper process and potential subsidy for landlords who have lost significant revenue due to missed payments, and to prevent abuse of the eviction moratorium.
Meili pointed to the government’s own logic both for the imposition of the eviction moratorium and for lifting it:
- March 26: “Under the circumstances, we want to ensure that tenants facing hardship as a result of COVID-19 can remain in their homes and follow all orders and recommendations from the Chief Medical Health Officer,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan said. “An essential part of flattening the curve is staying home and self-isolating. We want to provide peace of mind that those taking the necessary precautions as a result of this unprecedented situation will still have a roof over their head.”
- July 7: “When the pandemic began, we wanted to ensure tenants facing hardship as a result of COVID-19 were able to take the necessary social-distancing measures,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan said. “With the success of flattening the curve in Saskatchewan, we believe it’s appropriate to lift the moratorium on non-urgent evictions.”
There were 79 new cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan over the weekend, and a doubling of the active case count. The curve is no longer flat.
“A successful re-opening strategy isn’t about getting there first, it’s about getting it right,” said Meili. “Health Minister Jim Reiter has failed to show leadership for Saskatchewan families. We need to start taking steps now to ensure cases don’t spread further in the community as families prepare to send kids back to school in September. Extending the rental eviction moratorium is one action that the government can and should take now to support families and control the spread of COVID-19.”