MONTREAL -- Quebec housing officials are suspending some measures that would allow landlords to evict tenants or reclaim housing during the COVID-19 crisis.

Housing and Municipal Affairs Minister Andree Laforest said in a statement on Wednesday that hearings by the housing board related to those measures will be suspended for the time being.

The Regie de logement will still hold hearings, however, for matters that could risk the health and safety of a person or requires other immediate intervention. Those hearings will be limited until March 23, and held behind closed doors. This measure might be extended as necessary.

"Right now, our priority as a government is to make sure that all the citizens of Quebec are safe, and that is what we are doing. I would also like to reassure tenants and landlords that their rights remain protected. We are monitoring the situation closely," said Laforest in a statement.

Any decision made by the Regie but not applied before March 17 will still take effect.

Anyone who is concerned about the status of their file can consult the Regie du logement website. More details are available on this site, including whether a hearing to which a person has been summoned is cancelled.


Meantime a petition is calling on the federal government to freeze rents and mortgage payments during the pandemic.

As of 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 398,000 people signed the digital petition.

"Cancelling rent and mortgage payments for the duration of the Covid-19 virus pandemic would relieve financial pressure, allow citizens to stay home from work without the added concern of losing their housing and limit the spread of the virus," the petition reads.

Canada's big six banks said on Wednesday they will allow customers to defer mortgage payments for up to six months among other changes.