April 9, 2020
Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg, MB — The Manitoba NDP and NDP MP for Winnipeg Centre Leah Gazan are calling on the provincial government to implement specific measures to help keep vulnerable families and Manitobans struggling with addictions safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The province has a responsibility to protect the health and wellbeing of every family. This pandemic hits Manitoba’s most vulnerable the hardest—the folks who don’t have the income to bulk buy food or pay a phone bill, or those struggling with addictions,” said Bernadette Smith, NDP Critic for Mental Health and Addictions. “We have to get money into the hands of those who most need it immediately.”
"We know that one of the best defenses against COVID-19 is self-isolation. During this critical time, we need to follow guidelines by the UN special rapporteur on the Right to Housing and ensure all persons have a safe place to reside to support self- isolation,” said MP Leah Gazan. “It is crucial we meet people where they are at without judgment and provide them what they need."
The Manitoba NDP is calling on the provincial government to:
● Follow the lead of other provinces like B.C. by increasing EIA rates for a minimum of three months so that more Manitobans can access grocery stores and relieve pressure on food banks;
● Commit that no Manitoban lose EIA during the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to provide the Rewarding Volunteer benefit;
● Increase RentAssist and relax the qualifying rules, including making it available to low-income homeowners;
● Boost funding for emergency shelters, food banks and frontline community organizations that help vulnerable families access food and supplies;
● Work with Manitoba Housing to safely and quickly make repairs to existing social housing units so that more families can find quality housing; and
● Provide clean needles and safe disposal containers to Manitobans struggling with addictions as part of a harm reduction approach and ensure those detoxing in isolation have access to supports like suboxone.