The Canadian government should immediately declare a freeze on payments including rent and utilities, a non-profit has said.
Failure to do so amid the economic disaster caused by the COVID-19 pandemic could push people into bankruptcy and desperation, the Canadian Debtors Association (CDA) said.
"With the sweeping number of Canadians abruptly finding themselves with vastly diminished or no income, coupled with the emotional toll of anxiety, fear and uncertainty for what lies ahead, there is very little chance they will be able to cope beyond putting food on the table," said Henrietta Ross, CDA's president.
The organization is calling for “bold” measures to pause payments for housing, loans, utilities, rents, mortgages and more.
It urges the government to do so until three months after the pandemic is deemed over.
Ross added: "Forcing Canadians to individually reach out to their creditors to request payment relief is burdensome and already overwhelming the capacity of creditors to keep up with the demand for relief. This is an untenable process for all concerned and contributes to why a payments moratorium is so important and necessary.
"Canadians with the financial means may continue to make their payments, however, for those thousands and thousands of individuals and families who are experiencing collapse in their household income, a nationally mandated payments pause over the coming weeks and months is a must."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already announced an $82-billion financial aid package in response to the pandemic, but has not mentioned a payment freeze.