As you are aware, the COVID-19 virus has impacted a great many things. Certainly efforts to address the virus – both in terms of public health and in terms of cushioning economic impacts – continue to evolve. Many folks in our community have felt these impacts very directly as their families and their businesses are affected in significant ways.
Supports for Individuals and Families
Your federal government has endeavoured to respond to the very economic challenges COVID-19 has created, initially through the development of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
This benefit will provide Canadians who have lost income due to COVID-19 with $2,000 per month for a maximum of four months. We have designed the eligibility criteria to be more inclusive than regular EI benefits, so folks not eligible for EI and folks who need to stay home because they are ill or must take care of family will be eligible. The application process for this will be available in early April, and we are targeting to have the first payments follow 10 days after that.
Eligibility criteria and eventual access to the application portal can be found at the following link:
Additional supports that have been introduced to assist individuals and families include:
- Implementing a top up through the GST Tax Credit, that will double the maximum credit for over 12 million families;
- Waiving both the waiting period and the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI Sickness Benefits;
- Increasing the Canada Child Benefit of $300 per child, benefiting 3.5 million families;
- Reducing minimum withdrawals from RRIFs by 25% for seniors;
- Pausing Student Loans, saving the average young person $160 a month for 6 months; and
- Extending the tax filing deadline to June 1st and allowing all Canadians to defer any payments owing until August 31st.
Supports for businesses
The federal government has also introduced a number of important measures to assist businesses and non-profit organizations. Last Friday the federal government indicated it would introduce a wage subsidy for qualifying employers of 75% for up to 3 months. This is being implemented so that businesses will be able to keep their workers working and on the payroll.
The federal government has also introduced the Canada Emergency Business Account which will provide up to $25 billion to eligible financial instructions so they can provide interest-free loans to small businesses and not-for profits. These loans, which will be guaranteed and funded by the Government of Canada, will provide up to $40,000 to businesses that had $50,000 – $1 million in total payroll in 2019. These loans will be interest-free and up to 25% (up to $10,000) of these loans can be forgiving if paid on or before December 31, 2022. Businesses that are unable to repay the loan by this date will be given the option for another three years with interest. Additional information can be found at the following link.
Additional assistance for businesses that have been announced include:
- Enhancing the Work-Sharing Program to help businesses pay their employees;
- Deferring income tax payments until August 31st, and GST/HST and Duty tax payments until the end of June;
- Coordinating with the financial sector to increase lending capacity from the major banks; and
- Helping farmers by boosting Farm Credit Canada.
More information on these supports and others, include eligibility criteria and application processes, can be found through the following link.
Supports for Communities
Beyond supports for individuals, families and businesses we know that our communities themselves need assistance. Your federal government has thus moved to address a number of key areas of need including:
- For our kids and youth, this has been a difficult time. Not being able to see friends and play at the park and missing out on school. The federal government recognizes the stress that current circumstances may create and has thus provided enhanced funding for counselling services for youth through Kids Help Phone. You can reach out to Kids Help Phone any time of day by texting 686868, calling 1-800-668-6868 or online at kidshelpphone.ca.
- For seniors who may be more isolated during this crisis, we are making additional investments in the United Way. This funding will go towards the Safe Seniors, Strong Communities program that matches seniors with volunteers in their community that are willing to help. The services available include: grocery shopping and delivery, meal preparation and delivery, prescription pickup and delivery and phone and/or virtual friendly visits. Seniors can call 2-1-1 or visit BC211.ca, and
- For those fleeing domestic violence and for those who are homeless in our communities the federal government is providing additional funding for women’s shelters and relief centres and additional support for the homeless in our communities.
Each and every one of us needs to be doing our part. Physical distancing and other measures recommended by Health Canada are essential to combating the spread of the virus.
I know that if we all act with thoughtfulness, follow expert advice and rely on the support of our families, neighbours and loved ones, we will get through these difficult times.
Certainly my thoughts are very much with all North Vancouverites and, in particular, with those in North Vancouver who have been directly impacted by this pandemic. Please ensure that you let me and my office know if you have questions or concerns.
All the best,