The Province of Ontario announced that over 400,000 jobs were lost in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and a committee will be launching to help recover the economy.
On Thursday, Premier Doug Ford announced that the unemployment number of 402,800 was “just the tip of the iceberg.”
“But these aren’t just numbers, these are real people, people who are struggling out there, and it breaks my heart and keeps me up at night,” the premier said.
Ford said that the economy could get worse before it gets better calling the situation a “massive economic fallout.”
The unemployment numbers come from Statistics Canada’s report issued Thursday morning, showing that over one million individuals lost jobs across the country since March.
The premier announced the launch of the Jobs and Recovery Committee to “chart a path to recovery” by focusing on getting businesses up and running and Ontarians back to work after the pandemic is over.
The new committee will be developing a plan to stimulate economic growth and job creation in the weeks and months ahead, Minister of Finance Rod Phillips said.
“While we focus our energy and resources on defeating COVID-19, today’s job numbers highlight why we also need to plan for an economic recovery,” Phillips said.
“At Premier Ford’s request, I have convened the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee. And our first order of business is to prepare for the next phase of Ontario’s Action Plan, which will be ready to launch as soon as COVID-19 is contained. This team will get our economy moving again ― with a focus on job creation, opportunities for growth, and protecting our province from future threats.”
The committee will be consulting with a wide variety of people to assess the impact of coronavirus on the provincial economy and develop an action plan to move forward, including business associations, chambers of commerce, municipal leaders, corporate leaders, small business owners, and entrepreneurs.
To support the provincial effort to deal with this crisis, the government launched a $17 billion package on March 25, with funding targeted to help families and a variety of sectors across the province.
The province said $52 million from the package will better support individuals and families in financial crisis through social assistance.
This funding will support those who are not able to access federal assistance to cover needs such as food costs, rent, medicine and other essential services during this time. Individuals can easily apply online for assistance.
The Ontario government has also worked with the federal government to develop the Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan that will enable up to $40 billion in lending, supported through Export Development Canada and the Business Development Bank.
According to the province, the new program will help businesses meet cash flow requirements through guaranteed loans.
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Other aspects of the $17 billion aid package to assist different sectors of the economy include, $3.3 billion in more health care resources, $3.7 billion to support people and jobs, relief of $6 billion by temporarily deferring taxes for 100,000 Ontario businesses, $1.9 billion to allow employers to defer Workplace Safety and Insurance Board payments, and $1.8 billion to defer municipal education property tax payments.
As of April 9, there are 5,759 total cases with 200 reported deaths.
According to the province’s data projections, Ontario could see as many as 1,600 deaths by the end of the month, with an upward of 80,000 cases.