QUEEN’S PARK — Andrea Horwath said people deserve more financial protection than the government is currently contemplating in its emergency legislation, and has reached out to offer help to beef up the bill.
“We are pleased that the government has agreed to provide some job security, and prevent employers from requiring sick notes during this pandemic, but that alone falls well short of what folks need now,” said Horwath. “My office has contacted the premier’s office to offer our help to add additional measures to this legislation. The federal and provincial governments simply have to do better to protect people financially.”
Horwath said her top unaddressed concerns include:
· Protecting people from losing a paycheque, or being expected to get by on inadequate Employment Insurance or Ontario Works payments alone, as a result of taking COVID-19 precautions or because of the illness
· Guaranteeing that no one can be punished in any way for missing a rent or mortgage payment
· Financial support for Ontarians not covered by Employment Insurance — especially those working in the gig economy
· Immediate financial support for small and medium-sized businesses so they can continue to pay employees without becoming insolvent
· Specific supports for vulnerable people, including seniors and those receiving OW and ODSP support, so they can access the groceries and medications they need to self-isolate if need be
Horwath said she’s also urging the government to put together a plan for already-crowded hospitals, and to help health care and public health workers with child care arrangements, since their work will be desperately needed in the days ahead.
“People are doing their part by washing their hands, staying home if they can and practicing social distancing,” said Horwath. “Now, the provincial government needs to do its part by ensuring a safety net is there to save families and small businesses from financial burden."