Keeping You Updated on COVID-19
LAST UPDATED: Thursday, September 17 - 12:30 pm
As our country and our community navigate these difficult times, my Ottawa and Toronto offices will continue to provide information and necessary supports and services to residents. As a cautionary step to preserve the health of our constituents, staff, and neighbours, until further notice, my office will be handling all inquiries and intakes by telephone and/or email only. While my staff will remain on duty and we will continue to serve the Spadina-Fort York community, we will not be accepting walk-ins or scheduling in person meetings until further notice.
Please see below for the latest information on the COVID-19 pandemic, including public health resources and government initiatives.
PUBLIC HEALTH INFORMATION
- Practice physical distancing at all times.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze (if no tissue available, use your elbow), then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes before washing your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or clean your hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer).
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces commonly used.
- If you are feeling unwell (fever, dry cough, etc.) stay home.
- Reach out to:
- The Government of Canada COVID-19 hotline: 1-833-784-4397
- Telehealth Ontario: 1-866-797-0000
- Your personal health care professional
- In a medical emergency, please call 9-1-1.
- Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): This Benefit will provide $2,000 a month for workers who lose income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Canadians would begin to receive their CERB payments within 3-5 days if registered with direct deposits (within 10 days by mail). CERB extended from 24 weeks to 28 weeks for workers who:
- stopped working due to COVID-19 or
- are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits or
- have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular benefits or Employment Insurance fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020.
- EI Sickness Benefits: The one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined, so they can be paid for the first week of their claim. The requirement to provide a medical certificate will also be waived.
- EI Work Sharing Program: We are Implementing the EI Work Sharing Program, which provides EI benefits to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hour as a result of developments beyond the control of their employers, by extending the eligibility of such agreements to 76 weeks, easing eligibility requirements, and streamlining the application process.
SAFE RESTART AGREEMENT
As we gradually restart the economy and take the initial steps to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, the Government of Canada continues to work with the provinces and territories to ensure Canadians stay safe and healthy, and have the support they need in these challenging times. The Safe Restart Agreement will help address the key priorities, agreed upon by Canada’s First Ministers, for the safe restart of Canada’s economy over the next six to eight months.
- Safe Return to Class Fund:We have announced up to $2 billion - including over $750 million for Ontario - in support for provinces and territories through the Safe Return to Class Fund. This will provide the complementary funding they need, as they work alongside local school boards to ensure the safety of students and staff members throughout the school year. For example, the Fund will help provinces and territories by supporting adapted learning spaces, improved air ventilation, increased hand sanitation and hygiene, and purchases of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.
- Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS): Applications are now open, and an extension to the program has been announced through December 2020. The subsidy will cover 75% of an employee’s wages for employers of all sizes and across all sectors – including not-for-profits and charities – who have suffered a drop in gross revenues of at least 30%. Companies will have the option of using January and February as reference periods to show a 30% loss, and businesses will only need to show a 15% decline in revenue for March instead of 30% because most of us only felt the impact of COVID-19 halfway through the month. For this reason, they will have the choice to include or exclude government funding when calculating loss in revenue. A calculator for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy can be found here.
- Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA): The new Canada Emergency Business Account will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. 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.
- Business Resilience Service Hotline: This service will help entrepreneurs and small business owners in need of financial planning advice, particularly those who may not have access to an accountant. The service will also be open to not-for-profit organizations and charities. The hotline is a national, bilingual service operated by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. As of today, small business owners with pressing financial needs can call 1-866-989-1080 (toll-free) seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (ET).
- Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA): Applications are now open. The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50 per cent of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship from April through September.
- Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF): The RRRF will be delivered through our six Regional Development Agencies and is open for applications from businesses and communities, specifically targeted towards businesses that need help but haven’t qualified for existing programs. Businesses are encouraged to consult the Application Guide and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) before applying, and can contact FedDev Ontario by phone at 1-866-593-5505.
- National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program: Starting on April 22nd at 7:00am, small and medium-sized Canadian businesses unable to secure funding under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Business Credit Availability Program can apply for financial assistance.
- Emergency Community Response Fund: We are setting up a $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund to support charities and nonprofits 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 funds 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.
- Work Sharing Program: The Work-Sharing program is implementing temporary special measures to support employers and employees affected by the downturn in business caused by COVID-19. The temporary special measures will extend the Work-Sharing agreements by an additional 38 weeks, waive the mandatory waiting period between agreements, and ease the recovery plan requirements.
- Canada Account: There will be new measures to provide flexibility on the Canada Account limit, to allow the Government to provide additional support to Canadian businesses, when deemed to be in the national interest, to deal with exceptional circumstances.
- Insured Mortgage Purchase Program: We are launching an Insured Mortgage Purchase Program to purchase up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
- Tax Filing: The CRA will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. They will not contact any small or medium (SME) businesses to initiate any post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks. For the vast majority of businesses, the CRA will temporarily suspend audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives. The Liaison Officer service, traditionally available in-person, will be made available over the phone.
- Industry and Innovation: Since the outbreak, many businesses have put their hand up and asked us what they can do to help. We announced a new strategy that will make it easier for companies to help out during this critical time. We launched Canada’s Plan to Mobilize Industry to Fight COVID-19 to ensure that we can quickly produce, here in Canada, the things we need to prevent the spread of the virus.
- Provincial Hotline: The Government of Ontario has launched a hotline for businesses regarding emergency measures and the closure of at-risk workplaces: 1-888-444-3659.
- Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses: CFIB has set up a website that answers some commonly-asked questions regarding COVID-19 relief measures for small businesses.
- Ontario Nonprofit Network: ONN has set up a website that answers some commonly-asked questions regarding COVID-19 relief measures for the not-for-profit sector.
SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS AND YOUTH
- Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB): This benefit will provide $1,250 per month from May through August for eligible students, and $2,000 for students with dependents or permanent disabilities. Applications can be accessed by clicking here.
- Tuition Supports: 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
- Student Loans: A six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada and Ontario Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying these loans will be put into place.
- Kids Help Phone: The Government of Canada will give $7.5 million in funding to Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) to provide young people with the mental health support they need during this difficult time.
- Canada Summer Jobs: We will now give CSJ employers a subsidy of up to 100% to cover the cost of hiring students. We will also extend the timeframe for a job placement until the winter because we know that some jobs will start later than usual, and because many businesses have had to scale back their operations, they will be able to hire a student part time.
- Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement Top-Up: We will be providing additional financial support of $2.5 billion for a one-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension, with an additional $200 for seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). This measure would give a total of $500 to individuals who are eligible to receive both the OAS and the GIS, and will help them cover increased costs caused by COVID-19. It will be distributed to eligible seniors during the week of July 6th.
- Registered Retirement Income Funds: We are reducing the minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25% for 2020 in recognition of volatile market conditions and their impact on many seniors’ retirement savings. This will provide flexibility to seniors that are concerned that they may be required to liquidate their RRIF assets to meet minimum withdrawal requirements. Similar rules would apply to individuals receiving variable benefit payments under a defined contribution Registered Pension Plan.
- Assessments: Temporarily extending GIS and Allowance payments if seniors’ 2019 income information has not been assessed. This will ensure that the most vulnerable seniors continue to receive their benefits when they need them the most. To avoid an interruption in benefits, seniors are encouraged to submit their 2019 income information as soon as possible and no later than by October 1, 2020.
- New Horizons for Seniors Program: We will be expanding the New Horizons for Seniors Program with an additional investment of $20 million to support organizations that offer community-based projects that reduce isolation, improve the quality of life of seniors, and help them maintain a social support network. These services could include the delivery of groceries, medications, or other needed items, or personal outreach to assess individuals’ needs and connect them to community supports.
- GST Credit Top-Up: For low and modest income seniors we are providing a supplementary payment under the GST Credit of close to $400 per adult and $600 per couple.
- Temporary Canada Child Benefit (CCB) Increase: The overall increase for families receiving CCB will be approximately $550 on average; these families will receive an extra $300 per child as part of their May payment.
- GST Credit: For low and modest income families who may require additional help with their finances, the government is proposing to provide a one-time special payment by early May 2020 through the Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC). This will double the maximum annual GSTC payment amounts for the 2019-20 benefit year.
Together, the proposed enhancements of the GSTC and CCB will give a single parent with two children and low to modest income, nearly $1,500 in additional short-term support.
- Payment of Tax Returns: The CRA is allowing all taxpayers, including businesses, to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment deadline of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
- Canada Revenue Agency Support: Effective immediately, the CRA will recognize electronic signatures as having met the signature requirements of the Income Tax Act, as a temporary administrative measure. This provision applies to authorization forms T183 or T183CORP. The CRA also is adapting its Outreach Program to provide support over the phone and through webinars, where possible.
SUPPORT FOR HOUSING
- Mortgage Deferrals: Canada’s large banks have confirmed that support will include up to a 6-month payment deferral for mortgages, and the opportunity for relief on other credit products. These targeted measures respond to immediate challenges being faced across the country and will help stabilize the Canadian economy.
- Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation: The Government, through CMHC, is providing increased flexibility for homeowners facing financial difficulties to defer mortgage payments on homeowner CMHC-insured mortgage loans. CMHC will permit lenders to allow payment deferral beginning immediately.
SUPPORT FOR SHELTERS, INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES, AND PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS
- Shelter Supports: We are supporting women and children fleeing violence, by providing up to $50 million to women’s shelters and sexual assault centres to help with their capacity to manage or prevent an outbreak in their facilities. This includes funding for facilities in Indigenous communities.
- Indigenous Community Support Fund: We will be providing $305 million for a new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities.
- Homelessness: We will be providing the Reaching Home initiative with $157.5 million to continue to support people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak. The funding could be used for a range of needs such as purchasing beds and physical barriers for social distancing and securing accommodation to reduce overcrowding in shelters.
SUPPORT FOR OUR LOCAL COMMUNITY
- Food Bank Funding: The Government of Canada will provide $100 million in funding to national, regional, and local organizations across Canada that are able to reach people and communities experiencing food insecurity.If you are a food bank in Spadina-Fort York that is seeking funding due to COVID-19, the Government of Canada has set up a network where funding can be allocated. Email [email protected] for more information.
- Access to Food Banks: A list of food banks in our area can be found at this link.
- Food Donations: If you are a business in our community that has excess food to donate, FoodRescue.ca has a tool set up for you to ensure that your food does not go to waste.
- City of Toronto Resources: The City of Toronto has compiled a list of resources on their website, including access to city social services, housing supports for tenants, supports for seniors, and volunteer opportunities.
- Volunteer Opportunities to Help Seniors: Spark Ontario is preparing a list of volunteer opportunities in the GTA to assist seniors during the ongoing pandemic.
- United Way: If you are not currently receiving funding from United Way and want to receive emails about upcoming United Way funding opportunities, fill in the contact information on the form linked.
- Cultural, Artistic, Heritage, and Sporting Sector: We have announced funding of $500 million to establish a new COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations. The Fund is an additional temporary measure created to provide financial support to organizations in these sectors, which complements the Government’s existing COVID-19 support measures for wages and fixed costs.
- Supports for Persons with Disabilities: We know this pandemic has deeply affected the lives and health of all Canadians, and disproportionately affected Canadians with disabilities in particular. That is why we announced a one-time payment of $600 for persons with disabilities to address these expenses. This payment will go to valid Disability Tax Credit certificate holders, which includes parents with children or dependents with disabilities, seniors, veterans, and many other Canadians that we know have costs associated with severe and prolonged disabilities. This payment will also go to individuals who are recipients of the Canada Pension Plan disability benefit, the Quebec Pension Plan disability benefit and veterans who receive disability supports provided by Veterans Affairs Canada. This funding will be distributed in Fall 2020.
TRAVEL ADVISORIES AND THE UNITED STATES BORDER
Anyone returning to Canada from any country, including the United States, is legally required to proceed immediately home and self-isolate for 14 days. Violating any instructions provided to you when you entered Canada could lead to up to 6 months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines. If asymptomatic travellers cannot explain a credible quarantine plan, they will be required to quarantine in a hotel.
- Emergency Contacts: Global Affairs Canada has a 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre for Canadians abroad, available by phone at 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where available) or by email [email protected]
- United States Border: A restriction on non-essential travel is in place at all points of the Canada-U.S. border. Essential travel includes the maintenance of supply chains – ensuring that food, fuel, and life-saving medicines can be reached on both sides of the border. Canadians and Americans who cross the border each day for essential work or for urgent reasons will also not be affected by this closure.
- United States Border Exemptions: An exemption to the essential travel requirement for immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are asymptomatic and seeking entry into Canada for a minimum of 15 days has been announced. Public health requirements, such as the mandatory 14 day quarantine will remain in place. An immediate family member refers to a person’s: a) spouse or common-law partner b) dependent child, as defined in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, or dependent child of the person’s spouse or common-law partner; c) dependent child, as defined in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, of a dependent child referred to in paragraph (b); d) parent or step-parent or the parent or step-parent of the person’s spouse or common-law partner; or e) the guardian or tutor of the person.
- Entry into Canada: The Canadian border is open to Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents and their immediate family members (who hold a valid visa to Canada). The definition of an immediate family member includes: (a) the spouse or common-law partner of the person; (b) a dependent child of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner; (c) a dependent child of a dependent child referred to in paragraph (b); (d) the parent or step-parent of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner; or (e) the guardian or tutor of the person.