As our communities re-emerge from the self-imposed lockdown of the pandemic, we are increasingly looking towards how we recover and build back better. I appreciate all the inquiries, responses and feedback on government programs and suggestions for the future.
While I expect there will be less to write to you about in the coming weeks, there are many developments to share today:
A new online tool has been released to help you navigate the many emergency benefit programs that we’ve announced to address the needs of both individuals and businesses. The Business Resilience Service (BRS) hotline service has been set up to provide free advice to small to medium-sized business, not-for-profits and charities. The BRS provides customized accounting, financial and advisory services – from navigating tax regulations and government supports, to planning their path to recovery.
Earlier this month, we announced funding for a top-up of essential workers’ salaries to ensure healthcare workers and other employees in key sectors have the extra supports they need. This Pandemic Pay Support will automatically provide a wage top-up of $4/hour to eligible essential workers in BC.
Eligibility to the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) has been expanded to include many owner-operated small businesses. The program will now be available to businesses that are sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll. With the expanded criteria, applicants with payrolls lower than $20,000 can also apply for CEBA provided they meet new criteria. More details, including the launch date for applications under the new criteria, will follow in the days to come.
This week we also launched the applications for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance for small businesses. Forgivable loans of 50% of monthly rent are available to participating property owners that reduce the rent of their commercial tenants by at least 75 per cent for the months of April and May (retroactive), and June.
We are also launching a consultation process to seek information and solicit feedback on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to ensure that it serves to maximize employment, reflects the immediate needs of businesses, and supports the post-crisis economic recovery. You can take the short survey on the program until June 5, 2020.
Local charities and non-profit organizations that deliver essential services to those in need can now apply for funding from the Emergency Community Support Fund through our national partners: the Canadian Red Cross, Community Foundations of Canada, and United Way Centraide Canada.
We also announced today new supports for Indigenous families and communities with investments into healthcare, income support, and new shelters for women. Working with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, this funding will support immediate public health priorities and address specific needs through community-led solutions.
As the pandemic evolves, so do the challenges around travel. This week, Transport Minister Garneau announced updated measures for cruise ships and smaller passenger vessels to ensure the safety and security of passengers and crew onboard vessels in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With summer fast approaching, many young Canadians are looking to earn money and build the skills and experience they need for their futures. I encourage all young people to apply through the Canada Summer Jobs program, which connects young people with great summer employment opportunities at www.jobbank.gc.ca. As of May 28th, over 45,000 jobs are available through this site for our young people.
No one should have to choose between their health and putting food on the table. Taking sick leave has for many Canadians meant a difficult choice for those with precarious work. This has in many cases led to the worst outbreaks of COVID-19 in our country. This week, our Government announced an intention to pursue discussions with the provinces and territories on a way to implement 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers.
With British Columbia having now flattened the curve, the provincial government is moving carefully in a phased approach to re-open our economy and ease certain public health directives. In light of this, the BC Centre for Disease Control is seeking your input until May 31st as they develop plans in moving towards the next stage of the pandemic.
Please keep an eye out for local businesses re-opening. Many of these businesses will be in a fragile state as they ramp up and work to recover from the lockdown. Supporting local businesses at this time is essential to help them through this difficult time, and to ensure that they can continue to provide the goods and services that make our communities special.
My office remains 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].
As we begin to relax some of the COVID-19 measures in place, our Constituency Office will remain available by phone and e-mail. In addition, for those constituents who require face to face assistance, the office may soon be physically open by appointment with only one person in the office at a time to respect physical distancing and the advice of BC’s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Please visit my website at www.patrickweiler.ca and social media platforms for more immediate updates.