Members of the Social Democratic Party (SDE) parliamentary group introduced socially-oriented proposals on Wednesday that would allow for people in Estonia to more smoothly overcome the coronavirus pandemic-induced crisis. One option they have introduced is the possibility of partially halting home loan payments.
The Riigikogu's SDE parliamentary group formed a working group in March which over the course of two weeks drew up a 25-item package of social crisis measures.
"In addition to economic measures, we also need a strong and effective package of social crisis measures that would directly support the people of Estonia," said MP Raimond Kaljulaid, who led the work group.
The Social Democrats have proposed granting families who have ended up in financial distress the option to defer home loan payments, including both principal and interest payments, for a period of up to one year. MP Lauri Läänemets said at Wednesday's press conference that due to the crisis, real estate prices may fall, and there are people who would be capable of making loan payments but cannot do so without that collateral.
The party also proposed abolishing kindergarten fees. MP Jevgeni Ossinovski noted that some local governments have already halted the collection of kindergarten fees during the ongoing emergency situation, but as general and higher education are already free in Estonia, he believes that kindergartens should be going forward as well. Local governments, however, should be compensated by the government for kindergarten fees they did not collect during the crisis.
Another cited concern was the reduction of care home fees to a sum affordable with a pension, at a cost of €30 million to the state. Also proposed was the payment of support to pensioners living alone on a twice-yearly basis, in October and May. This would cost the state €9.1 million.
The party likewise proposed extending the payment of wage compensation to people working under authorization agreements and contracts for services as well as one-person companies as well.
The party also finds it important to increase awareness of mental health-related issues that can accompany the current crisis. According to MP Riina Sikkut, more mental health specialists need to be trained, and it needs to be made clear to people where they can find help if they need it. The party likewise finds that the volume of help available needs to be increased as well.
The Social Democrats have also proposed paying extraordinary support in the amount of €500 per child to families with school-aged children to help cover the costs incurred in the process of switching to distance learning during the emergency situation.
Editor: Aili Vahtla