NDP Seniors and Housing Critic Lori Sigurdson speaks during an NDP OPposition press conference on Wednesday.
by Morinville News Staff
The NDP Official Opposition is calling on the UCP government to provide rental support of $300 per month for eligible households with no dependents, and $500 per month for eligible households with dependents.
The Opposition says their proposed program is similar to British Columbia’s recent programs.
Eligibility would include anyone whose income has dropped by 25 per cent or more due to COVID-19 and whose rent is more than 30 per cent of their income. It would still apply to anyone currently on a waitlist for rental assistance, receiving Employment Insurance, or on the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit.
“A lot of Albertans are suffering right now. Hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs or had wages reduced, and many don’t know how they’ll keep a roof over their heads,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley.
“Throwing people into the streets in the middle of a pandemic because they can’t afford rent will only be detrimental to the health of Albertans and our province. The measures we have put forward will allow Albertans to get through this challenging time and keep them in their homes. This is good for renters, landlords, our economy, and the health of our province.”
The NDP cite Edmonton Social Planning Council info that almost 10,000 people in Edmonton were struggling to pay rent before the pandemic. UCP cuts to the Rental Assistance Program, coupled with job losses in March due to pandemic and the collapse of oil prices have compounded the issue.
Susan Morrissey, Executive Director of the Edmonton Social Planning Council, said underfunding has plagued access to rental assistance programs before the days of COVID-19.
“Nothing less than a full commitment to an emergency rental assistance program to assist those facing housing insecurity is required to remedy this situation as well as the larger housing insecurity problem,” said.
NDP Seniors and Housing Critic Lori Sigurdson said Albertans were already struggling to find affordable housing before the pandemic due to what she says are cruel UCP budget cuts.
“The pandemic has only made the situation much worse for thousands of Albertans,” Sigurdson said. “Housing is the first line of defence against COVID-19 – funding it is the right thing to do.
The NDP is also calling for an extension to the UCP’s eviction ban, announced Mar. 27, until July. The UCP announced a ban on evictions for April after an outcry for help from Albertans and repeated calls from the NDP. The ban was announced on March 27, making Alberta the last province to adopt such measures.