MONTREAL -- As the first of the month looms near, causing stress for those who’ve been laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Quebec solidaire is asking the Legault government to let tenants delay paying their April rent for up to 30 days.

In a press release issued on Tuesday, the political party said it’s also calling on the federal government to grant interest leave to homeowners for the same period. 

“Tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs in the past few days and federal assistance will not arrive until mid-April, at best,” said party co-spokesperson Manon Masse. “A record number of people are going to be hard-pressed to pay their rent or their mortgage payment for April.” 

Masse said it would be irresponsible to “leave this to chance,” in response to the idea of letting tenants and landlords to try to work out solutions together. 

Attempting to maintain an impossible deadline could throw people into debt and precarious situations, Masse said. According to the BDO Canada Affordability Index 2019, more than half of Canada’s workers live paycheque to paycheque. 

An official government decree allowing people to delay their rent payments for up to 30 days would protect tenants. They wouldn’t be subject to late fees, and their landlords couldn’t take them to the rental board. Then, when they receive federal assistance, they could pay their rent. 

In Montreal and beyond, some tenants have committed to participating in an April rent strike as many landlords continue to pass along “rent due as usual” notices. 

“The priority is to put money in people's pockets quickly and avoid burying them in debt when the crisis is over,” said Quebec solidaire’s Andres Fontecilla. “With April 1 coming and federal checks not arriving, it's normal to have trouble fulfilling your obligations on time. Quebec is on hiatus, let's also put on hiatus the financial pressure experienced by the laid-off workers.”