I recognize that these are challenging and unprecedented times. My heart goes out to all those affected. Our office is here to serve, and my entire team and I are working non-stop every day and night to ensure that we are informed, proactive, and responding to you. We are hearing from seniors, students, families, businesses and not for profits with many questions and situations.
I thought for this column, that I’d go though some of the most frequent questions that I am getting right now.
What are the kinds of things that I should connect with your office about?
As always, for anything federal, but the main categories we are getting the most amount of correspondence on include:
- People travelling, especially internationally trying to get home
- EI and CRA inquiries and issues
- Small business owners trying to help their employees and businesses
When did mandatory self-isolation come into affect and who enforces it?
On March 26th, the Government of Canada put in place emergency measures that require mandatory 14-day self isolation for all persons entering Canada, even if they do not have COVID-19 symptoms. (there are some exceptions such as essential service workers). Previous to this, health agencies and authorities were recommending self-isolation. Enforcement is done by local police service agencies.
I am not applicable for EI, what options do I have?
The new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is for wage earners, contract workers, and self employed who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). The CERB will cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB will be a taxable benefit that will provide up to $2,000 a month for up to four months. This program will be administered through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), not through EI. You will need to have a CRA “My Account for Individuals” in order to apply for the CERB, which will open for application by April 6th.
What help is there for my business?
The government took recommendations from the Official Opposition and added to their initial proposal. There is now a 75% wage subsidy, the ability for businesses to apply to BDC for a business loan, expanded loans from Farm Credit Canada, business deferral of GST/HST, and back business loans up to $40,000.
What can I do to help?
Follow health authority recommendations. Social isolation will be hardest at this time, so call someone you know or reach out in a way so you are distanced. Call local charities to see how you can help as many are changing their service models. Local businesses are the heart of Kelowna-Lake Country and they need our support more than ever. Many small businesses are still operating with social distancing procedures, delivery service or pick up. Maybe buy a gift certificate online to use at a later date, or order products online. Many restaurants are offering delivery and some are even offering cocktails to go! The most important thing is for all of us to have compassion and understanding during this time.
We can provide more details on the mentioned items and any other inquiries, so please phone or email.
In your service,
Tracy Gray, MP for Kelowna-Lake Country