People in Ontario are adjusting to a stark new reality as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts nearly every aspect of our lives.
I want to restate my support for the Premier’s declaration of a state of emergency yesterday. People are doing their part to stay home and businesses are closing, as we all work together to slow the spread of COVID-19.
I support the Premier’s announcement of a plan to ensure workers do not lose their jobs if they cannot work for health or family care reasons. And I support the elimination of the requirement for a sick note.
But we need the provincial and federal governments to work together to help people pay their rent or mortgage, put food on the table and pay the bills. Businesses and nonprofits need financial support to maintain cash flow. Those on social assistance need more support to get by.
While permanent workers can expect protection through EI, huge numbers of workers are worried about how they will get through the coming days and months.
This includes workers in the gig economy, hospitality, arts and entertainment industries, and those who are self-employed, part-time and on contract.
I am urging the provincial and federal governments to work together on an immediate emergency income security plan to provide financial support for people, businesses and nonprofits.
This is not new. Quebec has rolled out a similar system and the Ontario government itself was issuing child-care relief checks to parents affected by school strikes just a few weeks ago.
We have a moral responsibility to do this so that every Ontarian can focus on the health and well-being of themselves, their family and their neighbours during this rapidly evolving situation.
I urge the provincial government in cooperation with the federal government to include the following measures as part of a comprehensive COVID-19 relief plan:
- Basic income security payments for people;
- Cash flow support for businesses and nonprofits;
- Job protected paid sick leave;
- Rent and mortgage payment delays for people, businesses and nonprofits;
- Free childcare for all essential service workers;
- Freeze on OSAP student loan payments and interest;
- Grace period on hydro and other utility bills;
- Emergency response plan for shelters and prisons;
- Emergency fund for First Nation communities; and
- Stabilization fund for food security organizations feeding vulnerable people.