Strong majority want government to halt rent, mortgage, and utility payments during COVID-19 crisis

"We need a national housing plan for mortgage and rent relief to protect people from the economic fallout of COVID-19." — Larry Brown,  NUPGE 

Ottawa (01 April 2020) — It's clear that Canadians believe more help is required to ensure no one goes without housing or is financially gutted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Wake up call for governments

Research Co., on behalf of the Natonal Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), its Component, the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) and North99, conducted its first poll on this subject since the COVID-19 crisis began. The results demonstrate that people support new measures to protect them financially:

  • 69 per cent of Canadians expect to lose some income due to the COVID-19 outbreak
  • 72 per cent of Canadians think the Government of Canada should halt all rent, mortgage, and utility payments.
  • 64 per cent think that banks and financial institutions should not be allowed to charge interest on mortgages deferred because of COVID-19

"This poll backs up what we've been saying for weeks: the federal government needs to act now and halt mortgage, rent and utility payments," says Stephanie Smith, President of the BC. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE).

"These results are a wake-up call for governments across Canada. No matter where they live, how old they are, how much money they make, or who they vote for — people want the federal government to guarantee that they won’t lose their homes or be financially ruined because of the pandemic," notes Geoff Sharpe, co-founder of North99. 

Lack of affordable housing increases stress for owners and renters

“This crisis is hurting Canadians financially and many are scared of what could come next, especially with the lack of affordable housing across the country. While the federal government has introduced some welcome initiatives to ease the financial crisis for people, we need another bold step: we need a national housing plan for mortgage and rent relief to protect people from the economic fallout of COVID-19,” says Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). 

The poll, conducted by Research Co., on behalf of NUPGE/BCGEU and North99 is the first poll on the subject the firm has compiled since the crisis began. 

Support for increased measures crosses divides

Support for a halt to mortgage, rent and utility payments is consistently strong across traditional party, demographic and regional divides. This shows that a strong majority of Canadians are united in wanting the government of Canada to take action immediately.

“Public support for a measure that would stop all rent, mortgage, and utility payments because of the COVID-19 outbreak is high across the entire country, but especially in Alberta (79%), Ontario (73%) and British Columbia (72%). Two thirds of Canadians believe the federal government should follow the lead of other European countries and allow residents who are already dealing with the pandemic to eradicate these concerns at this time," says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co.

Two weeks ago, the BCGEU and NUPGE issued a call for all mortgage and rent payments to be halted for sick and self-isolating workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 30, a coalition of groups including North99 and the BCGEU/NUPGE presented a petition signed by 840,000 people calling on the government to halt mortgage and rent payments.

Results are based on an online study conducted from March 30 to March 31, 2020, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.1 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

Link to Data Tables

Link to FACTUM

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE