COPE Calls for Immediate COVID Action

For Immediate Release

March 17th, 2020

Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories — The Coalition of Progressive Electors is calling on all levels of government to act now to stop the COVID virus.

"If Doug Ford, a Conservative Ontario Premier, can ban evictions and order sheriffs to halt scheduled evictions, our NDP provincial government should be able to do the same," said COPE city councillor Jean Swanson. “People who are isolating themselves to protect others, or laid off because businesses are closing, shouldn’t be hit by the added crisis of eviction."

"The province must also guarantee free health care for everyone, regardless of immigration status," added Swanson. "If people with precarious immigration status feel like they will be charged for health care or COVID testing, or fear being reported to Canadian Border Security, they'll be reluctant to seek the care that they need and that puts everyone at risk."

"The federal government needs to immediately assure all workers that they can get expanded EI payments with no waiting period," said COPE co-chair Nancy Trigueros. "This means workers who are sick, are self-isolating, and also workers who lose their jobs or have reduced hours because COVID is forcing the businesses they work in to close or reduce services and hours."

"We also need a huge effort by all levels of government to help people who live in Single Room Occupancy Hotels, homeless shelters, and people who are homeless on the street,” added Trigueros. "We need better cleaning in the SROs. People in shelters need information and new places to live because the crowded shelters are breeding grounds for illness. People who are homeless need basic sanitation facilities, soap, and good food. And we need places where any of these folks can self-isolate if they are vulnerable or sick.”

COPE also supports calls from the Vancouver Tenants Union and the Vancouver & District Labour Council.

“These are issues I’m working on as a city councillor,” said Swanson, who urged anyone who is threatened with eviction from their home because of this health crisis should contact her at city hall so she can see if it can be prevented.

Please see COPE’s list of immediate required actions below.

Contacts

Jean Swanson: 604-729-2380

Nancy Trigueros, COPE co-chair: 604-724-4580

 

Necessary actions from all levels of government:

Government of British Columbia

  • Enact an immediate moratorium on all evictions, demovictions, etc, in British Columbia until the pandemic COVID-19 declaration is ended, with an ensuing grace period. Landlords must allow reasonable payment plans after the moratorium is lifted.
  • Take direction from community service groups and provide emergency funding for sanitation and food services as well as safe housing for those vulnerable to the COVID 19 virus including the unhoused and those with multiple health conditions. 
  • Freeze payments on all high-interest loans with no penalty. 
  • Enact an immediate freeze on all mortgage foreclosures to prevent working-class people from losing their homes due to decreased wages and the ability to work. 

Government of Canada

  • Provide comprehensive paid sick leave for all workers, including paid leave for all workers who are quarantined or required to self-isolate.
  • Provide full EI equivalent for laid-off workers, regardless of previous contributions and without any waiting period.
  • Increase the income replacement of EI from 55% to 90% for low wage employees. 
  • Provide financial support for precarious gig workers, people who work in the informal economy and contractors who do not have access to employment insurance.
  • Require banks and major lenders to extend the mortgage default period and/or defer mortgage payments.
  • Provide support for small businesses that have to close due to COVID-19.
  • Enact and adequately fund an emergency housing program to end homelessness.
  • Immediate release people who are at risk at immigration detention centers. 

City of Vancouver

  • Immediately offer adequate housing to all homeless people.
  • Use all its powers to ensure that the other levels of government carry out theses demands.

Vancouver Coastal Health

  • Provide free medical treatment and COVID-19 testing to all living in Canada regardless of status.

 

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