“There are millions of people across the country who are worried about their health, their loved ones, and how they will pay their bills as we continue to face this pandemic. We must find a way to make sure everyone in Canada can get through these unprecedented times with enough money to pay their bills; a job to go back to; and a safe place to live,” said Singh. “As we have been saying for weeks, the quickest and best way to make sure government help gets to everyone who needs it, is to immediately send direct financial assistance to all Canadians.”
Singh encouraged the Prime Minister to move away from the complicated means-based system and implement a universal direct payment to all. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) – even with changes the government has made – has proven to be complicated and leaves out many Canadians who need support. One study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that one third of Canadians in need are not eligible for the emergency benefit or Employment Insurance and will be left without any government help.
Singh also proposed specific amendments to CERB to ensure people who are currently left out – such as students, those who were unemployed before the pandemic that were not eligible for EI and workers who continue to receive some form of modest income – would also get the help they need.
“The consequences of having a program that excludes the most vulnerable are as tragic as they are human. More people will run out of food, more people will lose their homes, and more people will end up on the street unless we do something. When the House of Commons returns, we have the opportunity to make changes so that all Canadians can get help. Let’s get it right this time,” added Singh. “New Democrats believe in Canadians’ desire to care for each other. And we believe that Canadians should be able to expect their government and all parliamentarians to lead. They want us to do our best and do all we can to help them. By working together, I think we can do just that.”