April 17 update to constituents on COVID-19 response
April 19, 2020
Thank you to the community members who celebrated holidays this week, such as New Years, Vaisakhi, Passover and Easter, by staying at home with their immediate families this past weekend. This weekend will be the Orthodox Easter, and Ramadan begins next week. Thank you for continuing to observe the rules of physical distancing during these occasions when, usually, family and friends come together.
We're making these sacrifices to "flatten the curve." What does this mean, and why is it so important? Prime Minister Trudeau has a great explanation in this video.
The changes announced this week to support for individuals and for businesses are the result of feedback that you have shared with me and I have shared with the government. I know that there will still be individuals and businesses that will not be covered; please know that we do hear your voices. Programs are constantly being evaluated, and we are doing our best to help everyone that has lost income due to COVID-19.
Please stay the course. We are making progress together. Be kind to one another. Recognize that these are tough times for many of your neighbours. If you're in a position to help a neighbour, to support the food bank, to order take out from a local business, please do so. And if you're having a challenging time, please know that the community is there for you.
Have a safe and healthy weekend and week to come. My best to you and your families.
I 've now held three Facebook Live town halls to connect with the people of Scarborough Centre and answer your questions about our response to COVID-19. I will continue to hold these town halls weekly, and I invite you to join me. Below you can find a replay of this week's call, and the registration link for next week's.
A few weeks ago, we introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), a taxable benefit of $2,000 every four weeks for up to four months for eligible workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19. To help more Canadians benefit from the CERB, we are changing the eligibility rules to:
Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB.
Extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their usual seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Extend the CERB to workers who recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed particular demands on low-income workers in certain sectors, including those on the front-line in hospitals and nursing homes, those ensuring the integrity of the food supply, or providing essential retail services to Canadians. In recognition that these essential workers' salaries are often less or similar than what they would receive from the CERB, we will work with provinces and territories through a new transfer to cost-share a temporary top-up to the salaries of workers deemed essential in the fight against COVID-19, who make less than $2,500 a month. More details to come on this program.
Last week, we launched the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), which is offering interest-free, partially forgivable loans of up to $40,000. To support even more small businesses, we are expanding the eligibility requirements of CEBA to allow businesses with between $20,000 and $1.5 million in annual payroll to apply.
We know that many businesses are worried about being able to pay rent. In recognition of the challenges facing Canadian businesses and property owners, our Government intends to introduce Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. This program will seek to provide loans and/or forgivable loans to commercial property owners who provide businesses with rent reductions in April, May and June. To do this, we require partnership with provincial and territorial governments, who govern owner-tenant relationships, and we hope to have more to say soon.