April 24 update to constituents on COVID-19 response
April 24, 2020
As I begin my latest update, let me say Ramadan Mubarak and Ramadan Kareem to all those celebrating Ramadan this month. I know it will be a very different Ramadan, without being able to go to the Mosque for prayers and gathering with the community for Iftar. Instead, we will be at home with our families. Let us remember the values of empathy and charity that are now more important than ever.
This was a busy week, with announcements from the federal government on major support for students, and a program to help small businesses struggling to pay commercial rent. And the Prime Minister has signalled that they are working on more help for seniors.I know our seniors on fixed incomes are struggling with increased costs, and I have shared this with the government. I hope we will have news here soon.
We have also, unfortunately, seen a worsening situation in Ontario long term care homes. At the request of the province, the federal government has approved a request for the Canadian Armed Forces to come in to help care for residents. With cooperation from all levels of government we will get this under control.
The numbers show that what we all are doing in Canada by staying at home when we can and physically distancing is working - but we're not out of the woods yet. It will be some time before things can begin to return to normal and, even then, it will take a phased approach. We must continue to follow the advice of our health professionals. We cannot let the sacrifices made so far be in vain.
Finally, as the week comes to an end, let us send our love and our thoughts to our friends in Nova Scotia who are grieving a tremendous loss this week. We stand with them as they honour and grieve those lost.
Stay the course, be kind to one another, and help where you can. If my team and I can be of assistance, please do reach out.
Saluting our health care heroes
A parade of physically distant Scarborough residents drove by Scarborough General hospital last night to honk and deliver a thank you to the doctors, nurses, and frontline health care workers who are sacrificing to take care of the community. They're working long hours under great stress, separated from their families, to treat those suffering from COVID-19. Thank you to our heroes!
Weekly town halls
This week I held my fourth weekly Facebook town hall, with special guests Rev. Greg Carpenter from St. Jude's Wexford and Nadeem Sheikh from Scarborough Muslim Association. They provided an update on their community services during COVID-19 and leading a faith community during this challenging time, and I provided an update on recent government announcements. You can find a replay of the town hall below, and the details on next week's event. Hope you can join us!
My team has compiled a list of local resources for those in need, such as food banks, as well as services to assist vulnerable seniors with medication and grocery delivery.
Please see: COVID19: Scarborough Centre community resource
This will be a Ramadan like no other. The principles of charity and empathy that underlay Ramadan mean so much more during this time of COVID-19 and will help us get through this challenge. To all those celebrating, Ramadan Mubarak and Ramadan Kareem.
Support for students
As Canadians take action in the fight against COVID-19, we recognize that many young Canadians are facing an unprecedented challenge. Whether you've recently graduated and were looking forward to starting your career, or you're still in school and counting on summer employment to pay tuition, or pursuing a national service opportunity - our Government has your back.
Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB): Designed for students and new graduates who do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB), CESB would provide $1,250 per month from May through August for eligible students, and $1,750 for students with dependents or permanent disabilities.
Canada Student Service Grant (CSGC): Young Canadians will play a central role in ensuring that Canada emerges from COVID-19 stronger than ever. Our Government will help young people gain valuable work experience - even in the face of COVID-19 - by introducing the new Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG). This grant will provide up to $5,000 for a student's education in the fall, for students who work in national service positions through organizations within their community.
Canada Service Corps: Canada's youth have concerns about financial security, work experience and employment prospects, and personal and community well-being. The Canada Service Corps connects youth with opportunities to serve their communities. We are expanding the number of micro-grants available from 1,800 to 15,000 for people aged 15 to 30. These micro-grants provide youth the opportunity to design and lead service projects that respond to unique needs in their communities in the context of COVID-19.
Tuition support: In order to ensure that post-secondary students are confidently able to continue their studies in the fall, our Government is proposing significant measures to support their financial needs, including: doubling the Canada Students Grants Program, broadening the eligibility for Student Financial Assistance, enhancing the Canada Student Loans Program, increasing support for Indigenous Post-Secondary Education, and extending expiring federal graduate research scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships as well as federal research grants.
International students: Internationals students are not eligible for CESB, but can be eligible for CERB if they meet the program requirements. We have also announced that we will remove the restriction that allows international students to work only a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session, provided they are working in an essential service or function, such as health care, critical infrastructure, or the supply of food or other critical goods. This temporary rule change will be in place until August 31, 2020.
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA): In recognition of the challenges facing Canadian businesses and property owners, our Government has reached an agreement with all provinces and territories to implement the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small business. Delivered by CMHC in partnership with all provinces and territories, this program will provide forgivable loans to commercial property owners who in turn lower the rent of their tenants by 75%. These loans will cover up to 50% of tenants' monthly rent, and will be forgiven at the end of the program. We expect that CECRA will be operational by mid-May, but funding will be provided for the months of April and May, retroactively, as well as for June. Eligible small businesses will be defined as those with less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations. Further details will be shared by CMHC in the near future.
For many Canadians who were already struggling, it's even harder now, and they are turning more and more to charities and non-profit organizations for help. This is putting a tremendous amount of pressure on those organizations.
That's why we are setting up a $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund to support charities and non-profits in their important work and get vulnerable Canadians the resources they need. The money will flow through national organizations like the United Way, Community Foundations Canada, and the Red Cross that can get funding to local organizations and vulnerable people quickly.
This is money for things like training volunteers, increasing at-home deliveries for seniors or driving people with disabilities to appointments. With this fund, we're giving more resources to reflect the new realities and difficulties brought on by the pandemic.
Local charitable organizations should contact one of the national organizations for application details.