The Prince Edward Island Official Opposition is calling on the government to provide more financial support to Islanders and businesses struggling during the holidays due to increasingly stringent COVID-19 restrictions.
The PEI Green Party calls on the provincial government to provide income support to workers whose hours have been reduced due to new restrictions and to those who must stay home and care for children while schools switch to e-learning until at least January 10.
The opposition also demands better access to rapid test kits.
Opposition spokesperson for economic growth, tourism and culture Trish Altass said it was good to see the the federal government is growing financial support in the event of a pandemic for individuals and businesses, but the provincial government should do the same.
âThe amount of moneyâ¦ which some workers will be able to access is still very small and will put many workers in a difficult position this holiday season,â Altass said.
In accordance with current COVID-19 restrictions in PEI, capacity in public spaces such as restaurants, retailers, gyms and theaters is limited to 50%.
Friday at 8 a.m., the province made temporary social gathering restrictions. Organized gatherings such as church services, wedding and funeral ceremonies, concerts and performances will be limited to 50 people. In addition, weddings, funeral receptions, vigils and visits will no longer be authorized.
Government monitoring of the situation
In a statement to CBC News, the Department of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture said it is monitoring how COVID-19 restrictions and recent changes to federal pandemic benefits affect Islanders. In addition to federal benefit programs, islanders can also apply to the provincial COVID-19 special leave fund, the ministry said.
“As we have done from the beginning, we will launch the necessary programs to fill the gaps in order to support the islanders in these uncertain times,” the statement said.
The government should also provide targeted income support for food insecure students and Islanders in Prince Edward Island, the opposition said.
“Relieve our food banks”
âRight now, you know, when we look at the pressure on our food banks, we know there has been additional pressure on more people in need of support,â Altass said.
Altass said the government could reintroduce the gift card program he implemented last summer. Islanders were given gift cards to redeem at local restaurants, hotels and other businesses.
Looking ahead, Altass said while temporary supports are important, the province should also create more permanent financial assistance, such as a guaranteed basic income and legislate paid sick leave.
âWe need to learn that as we face and manage the immediate crisesâ¦ we also need to plan for the future to strengthen our safety net so that workers and businesses can access supports quickly and efficiently,â a- she declared. noted.