OTTAWA – As Canada struggles under a devastating third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Green Party of Canada will continue to speak out for people who are being left behind, and to propose the urgent solutions that will better protect them.
“Too many of the people who have been struggling throughout the pandemic still do not have the help they need,” said Green Party Leader Annamie Paul. “Last week’s budget did not contain adequate urgent supports for them. There is still time to fix that.”
“Post-secondary students will be ending their academic year this week. In many parts of the country, the economy is locked down and the summer jobs students rely on are not there. Last summer, the jobs never materialised and youth unemployment was over 40 per cent. Students already struggling under the weight of historic amounts of debt had to borrow more. The federal government needs to reinstate the Canada Emergency Student Benefit as of May 1 and ensure that it matches the existing amount of the Canada Recovery Benefit.”
“Low-income workers, disproportionately impacted by income and job loss during the pandemic, and who also predominantly rely on rental housing, are falling further and further behind. Housing advocates have said clearly that while pandemic benefits provided adequate income replacement for some low-income tenants, these benefits have been insufficient to replace lost income in many regions. As a result, many low-income renters are unable to pay their rent, are falling into arrears, and face the threat of eviction, particularly in areas with relatively high rents.
“The federal government should immediately implement a Residential Tenant Support Benefit (RTSB) to protect tenants at risk of eviction due to heightened rent affordability challenges caused by income loss during the pandemic. The Green Party supports the RTSB benefit formula proposed by the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation and the National Right to Housing Network. The federal government must also instate a national moratorium on evictions, as a necessary public health measure, as has been done in the United States.”
Canada Recovery Benefit
“Last week, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam recommended that restrictions recently put in place continue well into the summer. Given the implications for the reopening of the economy, this summer is not the time for the government to cut the Canada Recovery Benefit as the Minister Finance announced last week. If people in Canada will still need the CRB in the summer, then they will certainly need it to remain at its existing level. As the Minister of Finance knows, $1,200 per month is not a livable income in many parts of the country.”
The Opioid Epidemic
“In several provinces, 2020 was the deadliest year for opioid deaths on record. Border closings, disrupted drug supply chains, an increasingly toxic supply, reduced social services, and closures of safe injection sites caused by the pandemic have led to a record number of opioid-related deaths across the country. The Green Party is calling for the federal government to recognise the link between the pandemic and the spike in opioid-related deaths, and to save lives by immediately decriminalizing the possession of opioids and other illicit drugs and creating a national safe supply program. This should be done within the life of this Parliament, and no later than Canada Day 2021.
“The pandemic is far from over, and while it lasts, the government of Canada and all members of parliament must be focused on delivering the urgent help the people of Canada need right now. The Green Party will continue to offer its voice to advocates and members of the communities that are most impacted in order to draw attention to these issues. We are focused on working with all parties to deliver on the most urgent actions to help people in Canada as soon as possible.”
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