Dear Community Members,
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread rapidly in Canada and globally, SAWRO encourages all community people to make compliance with the protective measures called for by health authorities their highest priority. People should inform themselves about and follow the pandemic guidelines provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) and by Officers of Health at the national, provincial and city levels.
We encourage community people to consider any of the restrictions imposed by government in Canada as the minimum required. To ensure the health of themselves, their families, their communities and the whole society people should maximize protective measures such as social distancing, isolation of seniors and other vulnerable people and self-isolation when symptoms appear. Do more, not less!
All SAWRO workers are now focussed on making a contribution to the local, national and global effort for containment and mitigation of the pandemic. Our social service, cultural/social and advocacy program delivery capacities have been re-organized to address the pandemic crisis. Our highest priority is facilitating community people’s compliance with the necessary protective measures. See our social media or call our office to access the kind of compliance supports SAWRO can provide.
SAWRO recognizes that there is widespread anxiety among community people about the economic impact of the pandemic. Some people have already been hard hit by lost wages and most expect wages losses in the near future. Many people working for industrial temp agencies, at casual part-time jobs and in the fast-food, retail and hospitality sector have been especially hard hit and have little savings to fall back on. Families with young children have lost wages because of school and daycare closings.
But even in the face of this threat to livelihoods and increasing anxiety about economic security , we encourage community people to stay focused on the COVID-19 threat and to make health security their priority. Economic disruption is unfolding on a scale far beyond what individual workers can manage. Governments have a duty to ensure the livelihoods of workers, and in the conditions of the pandemic crisis there is no alternative to relying on government carrying out its responsibility.
A series of measures have been rolled out by the national and provincial governments which political leaders say will guarantee livelihoods of working people impacted by COVID-19. They include income supports for workers who lose wages as a result of quarantine and isolation, including school closures and an expansion of Employment Insurance sick benefits and eligibility.
Most importantly for community people, an emergency income support program for workers in precarious employment who cannot qualify for EI benefits has been announced. Low-income families will receive increased payments through the HST rebate and Child Benefit programs. Regulations have also been changed which political leaders say will increase housing security by suspending evictions of rental tenants and allowing postponement of mortgage payments by home-owners.
SAWRO staff is hard at work gathering information about the livelihood support programs being rolled out. This work has service and advocacy goals:
1) Creating services for informing community people about the benefits they can qualify for; assisting people navigate the application and expediting receipt of benefits
2) Analysing the programs to determine if they provide adequate supports and are accessible to community working people whose livelihoods are disrupted by the pandemic; developing advocacy campaigns to address any shortcomings in benefits, lack of accessibility or obstacles to rapid delivery.
Check SAWRO’s websites and social media as government livelihood support programs and regulations are rolled out. Information about the programs in accessible formats and in mother-languages of community people will be posted. Information will also be posted about services staff workers are developing to assist people apply for the programs.