Today, the government presented the Financial Statement designed to support Ontarian families and workers get through this COVID19 crisis.
The government’s financial statement included the following promises:
- Substantial funds for hospitals and the healthcare sector.
- Funds to be increased for ventilators and for testing equipment and supplies.
- Public Health units will not face further cuts and will see increases.
- There will be more funds for low income seniors and for people on Ontario Works.
- $200 million in new supports for low income programs - for municipalities and service providers - for food banks, emergency shelters, church programs.
- There will be support given to parents- $200 per child payment to parents to offset the cost of childcare and school closures, $250 for children with special needs
- Around the clock childcare for front line health care workers.
- Suspension of OSAP payments until September.
The press release is available here: news.ontario.ca/mof/en/2020/03/ontarios-action-plan-responding-to-covid-19.html
Over the next 24 hours we will be assessing this initiative and I will fill you in on the details as they emerge.
The bill can be found here: https://www.ola.org/en/legislative-business/bills/parliament-42/session-1/bill-188
The bill lacks immediate direct funding to workers whom are fearing the loss of their homes and ability of to put food on the table. Ontario families need assistance now.
I would like to see improvements to the bill that addresses the challenging situation small businesses and self-employed people are currently facing. I will post more on the governments proposed steps, and where I would like to see improvements to the bill. My priority is to ensure that benefits reach the hands of workers in need as soon as possible.
I have attached Andrea Horwath's preliminary statement below, and it can also be found here: https://www.ontariondp.ca/news/horwath-financial-statement-leaves-out-help-people
Notwithstanding our concerns, we voted with all parties to pass the bill and the financial package. We will now focus our attention on the gaps in the government's plan and propose improvements to ensure adequate support and funding is accessible as soon as possible.
The designation of essential businesses list was released yesterday. Today a toll free number 1-888-444-3659 was set up to provide support to Ontario businesses and employees who have questions about their workplace. Help is available from Monday to Sunday, from 8:30am to 5:00pm.
The designations have been controversial. I have received a number of inquires asking for clarification from the government as to why some designations are not stricter and deemed essential/non-essential. The construction industry was of particular concern for workers. I will continue to seek clarity from the government.
The Community Legal Education Ontario did an excellent job explaining legal rights and responsibilities in Ontario. You may find it useful to check out their site if you have legal questions with respect to work, family law etc. Information can be found here: https://stepstojustice.ca/covid-19?fbclid=IwAR0AL5nYx4a3wViC5QECeul6Fe29le3V2r6gaDWvaw9EMeYVn9MV0Z6xnlU
I want to close off by thanking my staff Jody, Patti, and Nolan. They are working long hours to respond to an unprecedented volume of calls and emails. Dealing with medical, bureaucratic and housing emergencies they have been working from home and just trying to ensure that no one feels forgotten and that we can solve their problems on top of the COVID19 demands.
They deserve a lot of thanks.
Take care and wash your hands,
Horwath: Financial statement leaves out help for people
NDP says direct support is needed to help people and small businesses make it through COVID-19
QUEEN’S PARK — NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is concerned the provincial government’s financial statement lacks the direct financial assistance many Ontarians and small and medium-sized local businesses will need to get by during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Far too many workers, families and small businesses were already struggling to stay afloat before the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Horwath. “Now a lot of folks have seen their incomes cut or eliminated altogether, which means they’re now laying awake at night, worried about how to keep making ends meet. They can’t wait weeks for federal support to come in, and most can’t get by with their income cut in half.”
The NDP will vote in favour of the financial statement bill, and allow it to pass immediately. But Horwath said the province needs to do better to stop some people from finding themselves in dire financial straits, and preventing some businesses from going under.
“I am urging the government to regroup, and put together a direct financial support package for people, and for small and medium-sized businesses,” said Horwath. “Many Ontarians are at their financial breaking point. Rent and mortgage payments are coming due, and people’s credit card charges are piling up. Folks are worried about how they’ll avoid eviction, and avoid racking up debts that will dog them in the months ahead. And small businesses can’t use a tax credit if they have no cash coming in.”
Prior to the financial statement, Horwath and the NDP called for the provincial government to send $2,000 Ontario Emergency Income cheques to households experiencing unemployment or lost income during the COVID-19 crisis.
The direct payments would bridge the weeks-long wait for federal support payments, and help top-up the Employment Insurance and Emergency Care Benefit payments, which alone only replace about 55 per cent of a person’s income. Horwath’s proposed Ontario Emergency Income payments would be available immediately and automatically to those enrolled in Ontario Works, the Ontario Disability Support Program, Employment Insurance, and the federal Emergency Care Benefit, and distributed to everyone who needs them by April 1.