Ontario Premier Doug Ford described Ontario's unemployment figures as a "punch in the gut" on Thursday, as the province braces for the peak of the virus outbreak.
Ford says the impact is yet to be fully felt, and that what Ontarians have experienced is "just the tip of the iceberg."
Over 400,000 jobs have been lost since the outbreak began, with Ford announcing the "Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee" to be launched with Finance Minister Rod Phillips at the helm. Phillips will be put in charge of ensuring the economy will be able to bounce back after the outbreak.
"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," said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance. "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 plan outlines an added $3.3 billion to health care, with $3.7 billion alocated to support $3.7 billion for job relief. $6 billion will also come in the form of tax deferrals for 100,000 Ontarians.
"This could get worse before they get better," said Ford.
Ontario has also announced that they will be expanding testing guidelines. Yesterday, Ford had stated that he wanted the province to be conducting 13,000 a day, calling the current rate for 3,000 inexcusable.
Care workers, hospital staff, and other emergency services are now to be tested immediately upon any type of symptoms onset.
Ford had also called for the testing of long term care workers and long-term care residents, though that is yet to be implemented.
"As the numbers change, you can adjust the systems. Our goal, at the end of the day is to test all front line workers... There has to be a priority. Our priority is to ensure we target the long term care workers... And then seniors, we have to make sure we're doing everything we can for our senior population."
When asked about a basic income, Ford pointed to a trial conducted by the former Wynne government, saying that he didn't "believe in it." Ford pointed to other tools such as stimulus packages "and other areas that we can support people."
When asked about when economic restrictions might become loosened, Ford said a normal daily life would be up to when the curb would be flattened, and that once that was taken care of, the economy would continue. Ford expressed confidence in the people of Ontario to help with the economic bounce back.