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March 24th, 2020

Eight Things the Government Must Do to Help Canadians Through The COVID-19 Pandemic

New Democrats lay out plan to help Canadians now

OTTAWA – On Tuesday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh presented the NDP’s plan to get Canadians through these difficult times with a full package of measures that will make a real difference for people as they try to find a way to get through this pandemic. As more provinces declare states of emergency and shut-downs become deeper and longer-lasting, Singh elaborated on the two urgent measures he announced yesterday and outlined eight initiatives the Liberal government should move on quickly to help Canadians make ends meet.

“The first of the month is a week away and people are understandably worried about how they’re going to pay their rent, pay their bills, and feed their families. While the help the Liberals announced is a good first step, it will only come in weeks, if not months,” said Singh. “People paying their bills this week need help in the next few days, not weeks. People need immediate action today. The government needs to provide direct assistance to all Canadians, fix EI so more can access benefits, and work with all levels of government to put a moratorium on rent, mortgage and utility payments right away.”

The NDP is asking the government to move immediately on these eight measures that will make the difference between making it through or not for most Canadians:

  1. Send immediate and direct assistance to all Canadians with a cheque for $2,000 per adult with an additional $250 per child.
  2. Increase the wage subsidy going to small and medium-sized businesses to above 75%.
  3. Fix EI by waiving the waiting period, decreasing the threshold of working hours to qualify and removing the requirement to be “willing and able to work”.
  4. Help our healthcare system with the resources it needs by using federal powers to spur the production of medical supplies and equipment and recognizing the credentials of health care workers trained outside of Canada, so they can help.
  5. Work with all levels of government to put a moratorium on rent, mortgage and utility payments.
  6. Make banks waive interest fees and charges on credit cards, bank loans, lines of credit and mortgages for at least the next two payments cycles.
  7. Provide a clear plan for delivering the necessary supplies and equipment to Indigenous communities.
  8. Tie any help given to corporations to job and wage protection – the help must not go to CEO bonuses, stock buy-backs, etc.

“Tens of thousands of Canadians have already been laid-off and many more are worried about losing their jobs. Just today there is more news of companies having to stop production, meaning more of our workers will be out of work,” added Singh. “We need to act to not only save these jobs and to make sure workers continue to get paid, but we need to make sure that workers who are out of work are getting the help needed to survive through this uncertain time. We shouldn’t wait for more people to lose their jobs before taking the next steps. Let’s do what needs to be done and implement help for people right now.”

Key Facts:

  • Just a few examples of big job losses last week:
    • Fiat Chrysler – 8,900 workers out of work
    • Cirque de Soleil – 4,769 workers out of work
    • Irving Shipyard – 1,100 workers out of work
    • Casinos in Ontario – 17,600 workers out of work
    • Porter Air – 1,500 workers out of work
    • Ford Canada – 6,000 workers out of work
    • GM Canada – 3,740 workers out of work
    • Air Canada – 5,000 workers out of work
  • What are other countries doing to help their people?
    • Direct assistance – Hong Kong will give $1,200 to every resident.
    • Mortgage holiday – Both Italy and Spain gave their residents a mortgage holiday.
    • Moratorium on rent and utility bills – France suspended rent, taxes and household bills.
    • Wage Subsidy – New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark, the United Kingdom and France have already made a move to implement a more comprehensive wage subsidy to protect their workers.