OTTAWA – Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath is in Ottawa Friday calling on Premier Doug Ford to reimburse workers and small businesses that lost income as a result of the illegal occupation.
The three-week illegal and dangerous insurgency in the capital forced businesses to lock down or close temporarily, along with the Canadian Museum of Nature, the Canadian Museum of War and the National Gallery of Canada. Most of the 175 businesses in the Rideau Centre, almost all of the 40 Sparks Street BIA members and thousands of workers were impacted.
“Rent was due March 1, and for a lot of Ottawa workers and small business owners, that’s come with incredible stress,” said Horwath. “I am focused on who is still paying the price for the insurrection. I’m thinking of the people that had to turn to friends and family to help them pay rent this week. I’m worried for the small business owners who have a crushing debt load on their shoulders, but are still doing everything they can to keep the doors open and their staff employed.
“The occupation in Ottawa was not workers’ fault, but Doug Ford is leaving them to pay a price. That’s why I’m calling on Doug Ford to reimburse the victims of this occupation for their lost income.”
Horwath’s NDP says Ford should match the $20 million fund established by the federal government. That program only supports businesses, not workers, and is capped at $10,000 per company, leaving a much greater need. Horwath says the province must fill the gap and make workers and businesses whole.
“There will be more we need to do in the weeks and months ahead. Trauma takes a very real toll on people — which can have lasting impacts. For three weeks, seniors were afraid to leave their home. Babies were prevented from getting proper sleep. And people were exposed to symbols of hate being marched through their streets. We can’t abandon Ottawa families just because the trucks are gone,” said Horwath.
“Ford had powers and resources to stop the occupation in Ottawa, and for weeks he refused to use them, allowing the situation to spiral out of control, emboldening the insurgents,” said NDP MPP Joel Harden (Ottawa Centre).
“Andrea Horwath and the NDP want to fix this, and put workers and small businesses back on solid ground,” said Chandra Pasma, the NDP candidate for Ottawa West-Nepean.
Alex Harris, a cook at downtown Ottawa’s Milestones
“For me to stay afloat it required that I deplete what savings I had and that I turn to family. Fortunately, I have a supportive family that was able to help me through these times but not nearly everyone is as fortunate, and I know people who were faced with eviction notices; who had their cell or internet service cut off; or defaulted student loans payments. These were preventable.”
Jason Komendat, Co-Owner of the Ottawa Bike Café
“It will be sometime before we know for sure the long reaching impact of the downtown Ottawa occupation. It has without question caused people to avoid our neighbourhood, and they continue to do so — it is more of a ghost town than ever.”