In My Opinion: Federal government is there to support residents as we all work together to deal with COVID-19 crisis

Beaches-East York MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith wants residents to know the federal government is working to help them deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

By NATHANIEL ERSKINE-SMITH

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented, and we need to work together to stop the spread of the virus and to address its serious and negative economic impact.

As individuals, we need to listen to the advice of public health experts. That means staying home and social/physical distancing as much as possible, and regularly washing our hands. For the most up-to-date information, visit canada.ca/coronavirus.

As a federal government, we pledged an immediate $1 billion to assist provincial health efforts and to further research and vaccine development. We have also closed all borders, including with the U.S., to non-essential travel. All travellers returning from out-of-country must self-isolate for 14 days. Small loans have been made available for travel assistance, and urgent consular services can be reached at (613) 996-8885 or sos@international.gc.ca.

The provincial government has called a state of emergency and ordered schools, childcare facilities, and crowd-friendly businesses and organizations to close. Restaurants can only provide take-out and delivery service. Essential services, like grocery stores and pharmacies, will remain open.

We need to continue to work together to scale up testing and take aggressive actions to stop the pandemic. But we also need to address the serious economic fall-out of this crisis.

With this in mind, our federal government committed $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses, and will defer both personal and corporate income tax payments until August 31 to keep another $55 billion in the economy. The tax filing deadline for individuals will be deferred until June 1. 

For individuals and families, we will increase basic income supports, including a $2 billion temporary boost to the Canada Child Benefit, and a $5.5 billion special top-up to the GST tax credit. 

For affected workers, we will create a new Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks to provide income support to workers who must stay home and do not have access to sick leave, up to $10 billion overall. We will also create a new Emergency Support Benefit for workers who are not eligible for EI and who face unemployment, up to $5 billion. If you have questions about eligibility, contact Service Canada at 1 833 381 2725.

For businesses, in addition to interest-free income tax deferral, we have activated $10 billion in loans through BDC and EDC to help with any short term cash crunch, and we are providing a 10% wage subsidy for small businesses up to $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.

Additional funding has been committed to support students, Indigenous communities, women’s shelters and sexual assault centres, and the needs of homeless Canadians.

As we keep our physical distance from one another, we must stay calm and keep the needs of our family, friends, and community in mind. Check in on our neighbours, especially seniors, to make sure they have supplies and to guard against loneliness in isolation. Donate blood, if we can. Buy only what we need. Go out for fresh air but keep our distance. Wash our hands. 

It remains to be seen how long the serious and negative impact upon our economy will last, and additional measures may well be necessary. If you have questions or suggestions, you can always contact me and my team at Nathaniel.Erskine-Smith@parl.gc.ca.

We’re working from home, but we won’t stop working for you. We’re all in this together.

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith is the MP for Beaches-East York.


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