Canadian renters need federal relief to avoid mass evictions amid COVID-19: advocates

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The federal government should consider rent relief for the precariously housed, or risk a wave of Canadians becoming homeless in the wake of COVID-19, advocates told MPs Friday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced this week the federal government would work with the provinces and territories on a program that would help commercial landlords reduce or eliminate the rent for small businesses until June.

Veronique Laflamme, with the Montreal-based group Front d’action populaire en reamenagement urbain, told the House of Commons finance committee Friday that Ottawa should consider similar relief for people who may not be able to afford their housing.

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“Our group is getting a lot of calls from renters who are worried about losing their housing,” Laflamme said. “These very low-income people are having trouble paying their rent.”

Many parts of the country were already in the midst of a housing and homelessness crisis because of a lack of affordable housing options, she said, and now people who were living paycheque to paycheque have lost income because of the economic shutdown.

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While the $2,000-a-month emergency response benefit has helped many people afford basic necessities and rent payments,

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