QUEEN’S PARK — NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling for Wednesday’s financial statement to include a plan 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 would 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.
“People cannot wait weeks for money to come in, and most couldn’t pay the rent and make ends meet with their income cut in half,” said Horwath. “I have asked the provincial government to include in Wednesday’s financial statement a plan to send $2,000 to each household experiencing unemployment or lost income during the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring the payments arrive before April 1, and come up with an ongoing plan to continue providing the support Ontarians need.
“We need to help people before rent is due, before the cupboards are empty.”
The Official Opposition has provided the government with the Ontario Emergency Income proposal, along with a number of other emergency measures it is urging the government to include in Wednesday’s fiscal plan:
- A $250 per child emergency child benefit for households experiencing unemployment or reduced income
- A minimum $1 billion in surge funding for hospitals
- 100 per cent provincial funding for Public Health Units
- A fund to provide child care for health care, public health and essential workers
- A Personal Support Worker (PSW) retention fund
- Interest-free utility bill deferrals and the end of Time of Use hydro billing
- A stabilization fund for the non-profit sector – like food banks
- A wage-fund boost and remote-work set up fund to support small and medium-sized businesses, which face much greater challenges now than large businesses
- A program for ongoing income support for Ontarians throughout the COVID-19 pandemic
“The Official Opposition has told the government we’re ready to help put this plan together, and enact the changes without delay,” said Horwath.