Ontario NDP debuts legislative plan to help get Ontarians through the pandemic
QUEEN’S PARK — With the legislature set to return Tuesday, Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath revealed an urgent legislative agenda to get people the help they need to make it through the pandemic.
“We can take action right now to give people the help they need to make it through this pandemic, and to give everyone hope that this lockdown could be our last,” said Horwath. “This week, we’re going to push for a package of nine solutions to help everyday families, working folks, small businesses, seniors and vulnerable people.
“We’re looking for the support of all MPPs, regardless of political stripe, to get these things all done urgently. Before this house adjourns on Thursday, we could pass these bills and motions to save lives, help stop the spread and give folks what they need to make it to the other side. Ontarians deserve a government that prioritizes people’s health over money and politics. We can get this done.”
At the top of the list is paid sick days. The Stay Home if You Are Sick Act by NDP Labour critic Peggy Sattler (London West) has garnered massive support from physicians, small business owners, unions, everyday families and infectious disease experts.
“Workers without paid sick days are the people we have relied on most during the pandemic. They are caring for our parents and grandparents, keeping the food supply chain going, driving busses and delivery trucks and even working in hospitals. Many of those folks simply cannot afford to miss a shift,” said Sattler. “Until we give all workers the ability to stay home when they are sick, we will not stop the spread of COVID-19.”
The NDP will ask for the unanimous consent of all MPPs in the house – regardless of party – to push nine bills and motions directly through to a final vote during the first week of the sitting. Those nine items are:
Paid Sick Days
Peggy Sattler’s Stay Home if You Are Sick Act will give workers paid sick days during the pandemic, as well as permanent paid sick days
Suze Morrison (Toronto Centre) and Housing and Tenants’ Rights critic Jessica Bell (University—Rosedale) will introduce a co-sponsored bill Tuesday to ban evictions for the duration of the pandemic
Four Hours of Hands-On Care for LTC
Teresa Armstrong’s Time to Care Act will give every nursing home resident 4.1 hours of hands-on daily attention and care
Essential Caregiver Rights
Lisa Gretzky’s More Than a Visitor bill will guarantee that essential caregivers can’t be separated from the loved ones that need their help in long-term care and other congregate care settings
Creating a Seniors’ Advocate
A bill by Laura Mae Lindo (Kitchener Centre) will create an independent advocate for all seniors
A Raise for PSWs
This new bill will create a higher minimum wage for all PSWs, regardless of where they work
This motion from Education critic Marit Stiles (Davenport) will cap class sizes at 15, bring in comprehensive in-school COVID testing, and improve air quality in schools
Save Main Street
A new NDP motion will give small businesses rent subsidies, create an arts sector strategy and implement other supports for small businesses
An equity strategy
A new motion guarantees culturally-appropriate strategies to support disproportionately-impacted communities, from pandemic response to vaccinations