The provincial government looks to be taking a step in the right direction economically as Ontario is in the early stages of distributing the vaccine for COVID-19.
Ontario announced it will be releasing a Poverty Reduction Strategy plan that could help the people and the province recover financially from the ravaging that has taken place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Todd Smith, the minister of Children, Community and Social Services, said this could be a solution for the damage this year has caused. “Our new poverty reduction strategy will play a key part in Ontario’s economic recovery and long-term economic growth.”
The strategy focuses on networking for employment, building financial resiliency and job creation. “Employment services and training programs can play a critical role in helping people lift themselves out of poverty and manage through these difficult times”, Monica McNaughton, the minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development said in the release.
There is also a heavy focus on supporting BIPOC families, with $26.4 million is being committed to helping First Nations families, and $1.5 million is being put towards Black organizations. While the numbers for Black families should assuredly be higher, it’s a start.
While COVID-19 negatively impacted just about everything, it is undeniable the economy has been hit the hardest. According to Ontario’s Ministry of Finance, the province’s GDP decreased by more than 12 per cent in the second quarter, the largest quarterly decrease ever. Families that have lost jobs due to layoffs and closings of stores throughout the pandemic have reached high and unacceptable percentages between May and June 2020.
According to Ontario’s Labour Market Report, they reached a peak of 30 per cent this year, for those aged 15 to 24. Full-time jobs reached a low point, and during the lockdown, more than 200,000 positions in customer service and sales were lost, including more than 70,000 in the trades field and another 50,000 in recreation sport.
There is real hope this pandemic is coming to an end as the vaccine is being distributed. But as Ontario begins to figure out what the new normal looks like it must be remembered the economic impacts will be long-lasting, with some businesses never recovering.
There’s now a plan for the next five years, and it is a step in the right direction, where the province can put one foot in front of the other, and eventually get to a place where Ontario can move past the effects COVID-19 had on businesses and communities.