Shomporko Desk:-Canada is ill-prepared for the second wave of COVID-19, says a Senate committee, approaching the federal Liberals to convey an arrangement by Labor Day to help individuals and communities hit hardest by the pandemic.
Seniors, specifically, are a focal point of the report from the Senate’s social affairs committee, from those in long haul care homes to those with low incomes.
Simply this week, the Liberals turned out one-time special payments of $300 to the more than six million people who receive old-age security and $200 more for the 2.2 million who additionally get the ensured income supplement.
The income supports are meant to help seniors facing increased costs as a result of the pandemic, such as more frequent prescription fees and delivery charges for groceries.
Senators on the committee wrote of evidence of “financial insecurity and increased vulnerability” for low-income seniors as a result of the first wave of the novel coronavirus.
A potential second wave, which could coincide with the annual flu season that starts in the fall, would make the situation even worse for these seniors “without concrete and timely government action,” the report says.
Senators say the Liberals should deliver a plan to help low-income seniors, among other populations vulnerable to economic shocks like new immigrants, no later than the end of August, and contain short- and long-term options.
The report also says the federal government needs to pay urgent attention to seniors in long-term care homes where outbreaks and deaths in the pandemic have been concentrated.
The document made public Thursday morning is the committee’s first set of observations on the government’s response to the pandemic, with a final report expected later this year.
The long-awaited economic “snapshot,” as the Liberals styled it, said federal spending is closing in on $600 billion this fiscal year. That means a deficit of $343 billion, fuelled by emergency pandemic aid that the government budgets at over $230 billion.
A federal advisory council last year calculated the cost of a program at over $15 billion annually, depending on its design.
The Senate committee’s report also notes the national emergency stockpile of personal protective gear like masks, gowns and gloves wasn’t managed well over the years, nor sufficiently stocked when the pandemic struck.
Committee members added concerns that military members could be deployed without sufficient personal protective equipment because of “inconsistencies from international procurement.”
Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick
News source: The Canadian Press