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, keeping our physical distance, and regularly washing our hands.
It is our responsibility to our fellow citizens, and especially to our incredible healthcare workers on the front-line of this crisis. 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 are legally required to self-isolate for 14 days. Urgent consular services, including emergency travel loans, can be accessed at 613-996-8885 or email@example.com.
The provincial government has called a state of emergency, closed all non-essential businesses, and issued a moratorium on residential evictions. The city has closed playgrounds, and deferred property taxes.
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 quickly committed $52 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses, and will defer both personal and corporate income tax payments until Aug. 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, there will be 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 and self-employed Canadians who have lost income because of the pandemic, we are establishing the new Emergency Response Benefit. It is effectively a short-term basic income: $2,000 per month for 16 weeks.
If you are eligible for EI, apply to Service Canada, and you will be automatically considered for the Response Benefit. For those who do not qualify for EI, the application portal will be open in early April.
For small businesses, in addition to deferred income taxes, we will defer HST payments to June, provide a 75 per cent wage subsidy backdated to March 15, and establish new $40,000 loans (interest-free for the first year, with up to $10,000 forgivable). We are also activating billions in loans through BDC and EDC.
For more vulnerable groups, additional funding has been committed to support students, Indigenous communities, women’s shelters and sexual assault centres, and the needs of homeless Canadians. And the Prime Minister has announced that more support is coming.
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.
I’m on daily calls with Ministers and caucus colleagues to raise your feedback, and you can always contact us by email, or join our weekly online Q&A at fb.com/beynate every Thursday at 7:30 p.m. We’ve also started a new political podcast at uncommons.ca
We’re working from home, but we won’t stop working for you. We’re all in this together.