April 9, 2020
Much has happened since I last wrote, from Canada surpassing 20,000 cases of COVID-19, to President Trump blocking shipments of protective masks to Canada (a crisis thankfully now resolved), to the good news that B.C. may be successfully flattening the pandemic curve.
I’ve been working very closely with my Deputy Ministers, whose 8,000 Digital Government employees support our government’s C-19 response efforts. It’s a challenging marathon! Hundreds of thousands of federal employees were suddenly required to work from home; a tsunami of Canadians call Ottawa for information; a million workers registered for the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) - this past Monday alone! So, here’s a shout-out to the dedicated and capable federal public servants who are innovating, supporting, fixing and expanding the critical computer & telephone systems, the software, the connectivity, and the digital equipment that underpin government’s work to deliver emergency help for Canadians.
Various kinds of help
The CERB application process has gone quite smoothly so far (a big thank you also to the front-line employees at CRA!) While wait times can be long, I’ve had many reports of people receiving payment within 2 days! If you can no longer work due to COVID-19, apply for this $2,000 per month benefit at the MyCRA portal online, or by calling 1-800-959-2019.
I’ve heard from constituents in need who are not covered by the CERB (e.g. students, seniors or those with reduced work hours), and I want you to know our government is exploring ways to help those falling through the cracks.
Our popular annual Canada Summer Job program that funds about 70,000 summer jobs for young people each year is being improved and extended. Please contact my office for details about this opportunity if you are a small business or non-profit organization looking for extra help between May and December.
The 75% Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy for struggling businesses, non-profits, and charities has now been expanded to employers facing a 15% (previously 30%) revenue drop in March.
To help tackle homelessness in Vancouver, the Lu’ma Native Housing Society received over $10 million. This is an example of the significant financial help being extended to food banks, domestic violence shelters, and other organizations supporting the most vulnerable.
And speaking of support, my amazing office staff have worked tirelessly to help so many Vancouver Quadra residents who, like tens of thousands of other Canadians, were stuck abroad but are now home. Please contact my office if you have family members still overseas who need help getting back to Canada.
Lastly, I’m finding that physical distancing and staying home has its challenges but also unexpected benefits – how about you? Our family Zoom chats spanning the continent have been a lot of fun; and last night I joined a first-ever “virtual” Seder hosted by friends (see photo below), a memorable way to celebrate the first night of Passover together, albeit apart!
I want to wish you and your family a safe, healthy and Happy Easter weekend!