Manitoba is freezing rent increases set to come in April 1, and will postpone any non-urgent evictions until the end of may.
Pallister said many landlords are “mom and pop” operations and need the income, but added the freeze and lack of evictions is not permission for people to not pay their rent.
“Taking these steps will help reduce financial uncertainty and worry for Manitobans who face challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Pallister.
“Manitobans who have been laid off, are working less or are in self isolation shouldn’t also have to worry about making rent payments and keeping a roof over their heads.”
A total deferral of rent would have been too hard for many landlords and people are obligated to pay their rent, said Pallister.
“This isn’t a rent holiday,” he said.
However, “we’ve taken nothing off the table, for the longer term,” he added.
He said he understands people are scared. “The facts lately, shake people up lately,” he said. But Manitoba’s economy is more resilient over the long term, he said, and he expects Manitobans to pull through.
“We want to make sure we can do everything we can.”
When asked about a worst-case scenario of cases, Pallister wouldn’t name a number, but said he is being updated constantly and is looking at least 90 days in the future at all times.
“We’re going to try our hardest to work with people,” said Avrom Charach, spokesperson for the Professional Property Managers Association of Manitoba .
“Most of our companies are looking at working with any tenant in a tough situation to try and get through this together.”
Charach told 680 CJOB his organization has been discussing potential programs with all three levels of government to ensure they can collect some rent — whether it’s through a government program or otherwise.
“They talk about homeowners being able to not pay their mortgage… but they don’t talk about us, the people who own those apartment buildings not paying our mortgage, so we need the money to pay our bills,” he said.
Tuesday was Pallister’s second afternoon press conference of the week. Monday he announced the launching of an online portal called helpnextdoormb.ca which connects those who want help with those who are able to help.
Pallister said Tuesday 2,300 people in 100 communities signed up to volunteer.
Manitoba’s current number of COVID-19 cases stands at 21. There have been no cases of community transmission. About 4,500 people have been tested. One person was hospitalized but has since been released.