Saskatchewan to suspend eviction hearings over spread of COVID-19

SASKATOON — Saskatchewan is temporarily suspending eviction hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government said Thursday that the Office of Residential Tenancies will no longer accept applications for missed or late rent.

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The office will only hold eviction hearings for urgent matters where health or safety is at risk.

Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Don Morgan said tenants should be able to stay at home as public health officials have advised without fear of eviction.

"Pay part of it, pay all of it, do what you can," he told a news conference from Saskatoon.

One of the considerations behind the move was a drop in employment and GDP, Morgan said.

"We wanted to do everything we can to try and cushion that and to make it so that people are able to stay home."

The government said tenants who are unable to pay their rent during the province's state of emergency over COVID-19 will be expected to pay once it's lifted.

The Opposition NDP had been calling for the Saskatchewan Party government to temporarily halt evictions. NDP Leader Ryan Meili applauded the government's decision.

Saskatchewan also reported nine new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, increasing the province's total to 95.

The government said three people have recovered from the virus, while five others have been hospitalized. Two of those patients are in intensive care.

The Ministry of Health said most of the cases are travel-related but five have been linked to community transmission, including one from the north.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 26, 2020.

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