As British Columbia moves into Phase 3 of our Restart Plan, and continues to open up, the Government of Canada is focused on ensuring that we are supported through the pandemic and are well positioned to recover from it through our Safe Restart Agreement with the provinces and territories.
The House of Commons recently concluded the meetings of the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic which had been meeting four days a week for the last two months to debate all matters related to COVID-19. This Committee pioneered “hybrid” meetings of the House of Commons, where for the first time in our country, parliamentarians participated both with up to 50 MPs in person and providing the opportunity for the remaining 288 MPs to participate virtually. I look forward to participating in the four more sittings of the House of Commons as well as my committee meetings over the next two months before the regular schedule of parliamentary work resumes in September.
In the meantime, I continue to meet regularly with my caucus, our elected officials, businesses, non-profits and constituents to understand and to advocate for the issues and priorities that matter to you.
In the last few weeks, there have been a number of important announcements and updates:
While more and more jobs continue to come back, many businesses and their workers are still unable to work as a result of COVID-19. We therefore announced an 8-week extension to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit so that those who are involuntarily without work due to COVID-19 have this critical means of support.
Last month, we announced new supports for seniors, and I am happy to relay that the one-time top-ups to Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement will be delivered the week of July 6 to all seniors currently receiving OAS and GIS.
The Canada Student Service Grant was launched yesterday to provide post-secondary students and recent graduates with a grant of up to $5,000 for volunteer work in their communities. I encourage our interested non-profits that are doing the vital work to support our community through the pandemic to register on the I Want to Help portal, and for young people to apply to join their teams. We are also creating an additional 500 green jobs in the natural resources and clean tech space through 6-12 month internships for Canadians 30 years and under.
As we work towards gradual re-opening, our Government announced that we stand ready to contribute $14 billion to the provinces and territories to ensure they and their municipalities have the capacity for a safe and robust restart to our economy. This funding can be used for areas such as testing, childcare, and public transit support.
Previously announced expansions to the eligibility for the Canada Emergency Business Account, which includes many owner-operated small businesses, such as sole proprietors, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll, are now able to apply as of June 26.
In support of the federal government’s Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program, the Government of British Columbia announced additional steps to protect our small businesses. As of June 1, eligible businesses whose property owners choose not to apply for the CECRA program will be protected from evictions due to unpaid rent payments through to the end of June 2020.
Canadian Heritage launched last week the first component of Phase 2 of the COVID-19 Emergency Fund for Heritage Organizations, providing $53 million in support to organizations with heritage collections through the emergency component of the Museums Assistance Program. Eligible not-for-profit organizations such as museums, archives, historic sites, Indigenous organizations, official-language minority communities, or municipal and university museums with separate budgets can now apply through our online portal.
In light of continuing public health risks, the Prime Minister announced that the Canada US border agreement, closing the border to all non-essential travel, will be extended until July 21. We also announced that as of June 9, foreign nationals who are immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and who do not have or exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, will be allowed to enter Canada for the purpose of being with an immediate family member for 15 days.
Transport Minister Garneau announced new safety measures at airports to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Temperature screenings will now be required for all passengers travelling into Canada or travellers leaving Canadian airports for either international or domestic destinations. Face coverings must also now be worn for workers and others involved in the transportation system, including on ferries, with BC Ferries announcing new measures to ensure continued passenger safety during the pandemic, mandating as of June 15th that all passengers on sailings longer than 30 minutes wear a face covering.
Thanks to the dedication of our communities, the Government of British Columbia has been able to announce this week that the province is moving into Phase 3 of our re-opening plan. We are not out of the woods yet, and we must remain vigilant to avoid a resurgence of the pandemic. Phase 3 means that we can now travel within our province for our summer vacations. Please think of visiting one of the many amazing tourist destinations in our riding and province as part of your staycation. Your business will also help support the many SMEs that make these experiences special and who are going through an incredibly difficult time as a result of the pandemic.
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].
Our Constituency Office remains available by phone, virtual meetings and e-mail. For constituents who require face-to-face assistance with me, we are physically open by appointment. Individuals requiring in-person assistance will be able to call to book a time.