As we continue to make strides in the fight against COVID-19 across the country and especially here in British Columbia, it is incumbent upon us all to move forward in a responsible way so we can protect and build on the progress we have made.
The Government of British Columbia announced last week a phased plan to re-open the province, through a series of measures to ensure that individuals and businesses have the guidelines and resources required to maintain physical distancing. The Federal Government will continue to work with all provinces to coordinate efforts as we gradually move into this new normal.
The response to COVID-19 continues to be an incredibly dynamic situation, which is why the Government of Canada is constantly reviewing our support programs to ensure they are meeting the needs of Canadian families, workers, and businesses. We have in the last couple of weeks announced a number of new measures and updates to our programs that will be of interest to our community:
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy has helped nearly 2 million workers across the country. To help businesses continue supporting their workers and rehire people as they reopen, our Government is extending the CEWS by an additional 12 weeks to August 29, 2020. We will also look at potential adjustments to the program to ensure that workers and businesses continue to have the support they need in the long-term.
Our Government announced this week further supports for seniors, including a one-time top-up payment of $300 for those who receive OAS and a top-up of $200 for those receiving GIS, representing up to $500 tax-free to seniors that receive both. We also announced a further investment of $20 million through the New Horizons Program to support community-based projects that will improve the quality of life of seniors by mitigating social isolation.
As part of our $9 billion program to support students and young people, we are creating up to 116,000 jobs and training opportunities for youth. Students that are unable to find work can apply to the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, which opened for applications on Friday, May 15. In order to apply, you must be registered with CRA with your Social Insurance Number.
We are happy to announce that all provinces and territories have confirmed, or are in the process of confirming, plans to cost share wage top-ups for their essential workers. Our Government will provide up to $3 billion in support to increase the wages of low-income essential workers, with each province determining the eligibility criteria for those that will receive support.
I am proud to represent a riding that is home to a myriad of incredible cultural, artistic and sporting organizations who have contributed to the rich cultural fabric of our community. We are supporting these organizations through the pandemic with the COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations.
This week, we announced several programs to continue to support businesses and workers. We announced that we will extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy for at least one more month. We are creating an Industry Strategy Council which will be able to advise the Federal Government on which actions it can take to best support industry to flourish and create jobs for Canadians going forward.
I have heard from businesses throughout the Riding that their business was not eligible for the existing credit we have announced. To fill many of these gaps, we have now launched the details and application process for the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) that will be dispersed through Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Community Futures Network.
We also announced new financial supports to help mid and large-sized companies that employ millions of Canadians. For Canada’s largest employers, our Government is creating the new Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF). LEEFF will provide these companies with access to loans provided that they meet strict limits on executive pay, share buybacks, and dividends, as well as requiring them to meet commitments to maintain jobs and pensions, and contribute to Canada’s climate action. The Business Credit Availability Program has also been expanded to provide up to $60 million in loans or ($80 million in guarantees) of support to mid-sized companies in need.
To further support the fishing industry, our Government announced this week $469.4 million in new measures to support Canada’s fish harvesters, who are economically impacted by the pandemic but cannot access existing federal measures, including the Fish Harvester Benefit and the Fish Harvester Grant.
Many temporary workers with employer-specific work permits lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. As a result, a recent temporary policy has been brought in to vastly speed up the process to permit temporary foreign workers to transition to a new job to help fill some critical labour shortages in our communities.
Our communities remain strong and resilient, and we are making progress in the fight against COVID-19. As we begin the gradual transition to a new phase of this pandemic, let us remember the important work that got us to this point. We are not out of the woods yet, so let’s make sure we continue to follow the advice of our public health experts so that we don’t squander the sacrifices we have made over the past two months.
My office is always here to help in any way that we can. Please do not hesitate to reach out by phone at 604-913-2660 or by email at [email protected].
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