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New Westminster-Burnaby MP seeks “urgent help” from banks and landlords

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March 31, 2020 03:32 PM

New Westminster-Burnaby MP Peter Julian is urging local financial institutions and landlords to defer mortgages and rents for April 1 for folks who have been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Westminster-Burnaby MP Peter Julian is calling on local banks and landlords to show compassion to those who may be unable to pay their rent or make mortgage payments on April 1.

Julian has written an open letter to bank managers and landlords in New Westminster and Burnaby seeking their “urgent help� in deferring mortgages and rents for April 1.

“April 1st is upon us, and small business owners, landlords and tenants are understandably very worried about how they’re going to pay their mortgages and rents,� he said in the open letter.

Julian said Canada’s six big banks announced on March 17 that they might provide some financial relief to Canadians impacted by the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While it is encouraging that some of my constituents may be eligible for mortgage deferrals, the interest accrued is still added to the mortgage’s outstanding balance. Given these big banks' record level of tens of billions of dollars in profit in 2019 and the substantial level of assistance they have received from the federal government, it is important that Canada’s large financial institutions also contribute to the fight-back against COVID-19,� he wrote. “Renters are worried about how they’re going to pay their rent on April 1st.�

Although the B.C. government has announced new measures to provide a new temporary rental supplement of up to $500 per month, which will be paid directly to landlords, Julian said some renters who have lost their jobs may not be able to pay their rent at all so the $500 top-up from the provincial government isn’t enough to cover April’s full rent.

“This situation is the same across Canada, as people face uncertainty and are looking to the federal government to provide help and guidance during this very difficult time,� he wrote. “The passing of the bill in the House of Commons and the Senate earlier this week and the announcement of the Canadian Emergency Response Benefits were good first steps, but the new emergency benefit is not universal and will not arrive until later in April.�

Julian said the COVID-19 pandemic imposes a huge financial burden that has a direct impact on many people’s physical and mental health.

“Many constituents have approached me about their inability to pay their rent tomorrow,� he said in an open letter dated March 31. “Many small businesses are having difficulty paying their commercial rents.�

Julian said he and his NDP colleagues have been pushing the federal government to take action to provide support for both renters and landlords. Because the federal government has been “slow to act�, Julian is urging local financial institutions to defer mortgage payments for April 1 without interest and penalties for those needing deferment.

“Financial institutions in Canada have been substantially supported through this crisis by decisions of the federal government,� he said. “All Canadians are making sacrifices to get our country through this crisis – one only has to think of health-care workers and public-safety officers who go to work every day on the frontlines of the battle against the virus. Financial institutions, particularly Canada’s six big banks, can play their part by waiving interest fees and charges on bank loans, lines of credit and mortgages for the next two payment cycles.�

Julian is also urging landlords and others receiving rents in New Westminster and Burnaby to forgive and be flexible with rent payments for those who cannot afford to pay. He said many people have lost their jobs and do not have income.

“Like Canadians everywhere, half of our families are $200 away from insolvency in any given month,� he said. “The coronavirus crisis has provoked deep hardship for so many families in our area. I ask for the kindness and compassion and shared sacrifice that has brought us through similar challenges in the past. I thank you in advance for your contribution to our collective efforts.�

© 2020 New West Record

March 31, 2020 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Open letter to New Westminster and Burnaby Financial Institutions and Landlords: Open letter to New Westminster and Burnaby Financial Institutions and Landlords