Thursday was the last in-person meeting for Victoria councillors.
Every decision was focused on mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on the city’s residents and businesses.
Mayor Lisa Helps says the council is doing everything it can. ”
I know it’s really really hard. And I wish I could offer more comfort. But it’s going to take some time to get through these really difficult times. And the only way we’re going to do it is by working together,” Helps said.
The city is now enacting an action plan.
Acting within its powers, it will move to restrict evictions for tenants, temporarily defer fees, taxes and payment to the city for those suffering hardship. It has also called on the federal and provincial governments to provide emergency housing and healthcare for the city’s homeless.
Councillors want income support for precariously employed workers, to implement a moratorium on evictions, foreclosures and fees, support for Indigenous communities, and a deferral of payroll taxes such as Employment Insurance and Income Tax.
The executive director of Together Against Poverty, Doug King, said the provincial government needs to act as well.
“Obviously though, the power here lies with the province. And the voice that we’re missing here is the province. We’re still waiting to see how our housing officers will help the population. We know in Ontario they’ve already taken these steps,” King said.
Councillors directed city staff to immediately develop the steps outlined in the action plan.
“This is a very very worrying time for people. It’s a worrying time for people who have to go to work. It’s a worrying time for people who can’t go to work. It’s a worrying time for seniors,” Helps said.
The province is expected to announce its financial stimulus measures in the next few days.