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Hello Neighbours & Friends, 
 

These are incredibly challenging times, like nothing we have seen before. We have all experienced huge changes to the way we live day-to-day since Canada confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on January 25, 2020. 

I am thankful and humbled by the dedication of all the healthcare professionals who have been working extremely hard to keep us safe and prevent the spread of this disease.

Thank you also from the very core of me to every other front line worker who can’t work from home and who is risking their own safety to keep the rest of us healthy, among them: social workers and other homeless healthcare workers doing everything they can to keep COVID-19 from taking hold in shelters and drop-ins; TTC workers; pharmacists; cashiers; drivers; all the folks who are out there making the community as safe as they can for the rest of us.

I know it is easy to be overwhelmed by rapidly changing information. Social distancing is new for many of us, and as we adjust to this new normal it is remarkable to watch the community, province, and country come together. Social media has sparked beautiful acts of solidarity and imaginative ways to stay home, continue to be creative and productive, and remain connected to friends and family from a distance. 

I personally put a call out on my social media accounts for residents to reach out if they or someone they know would benefit from a call — whether to get information or let off steam about COVID-19 anxiety or anything else, because I know this can feel lonely, particularly for those who live alone and are not as connected online. This offer stands: reach out by email or via DMs on social media with your contact information and I will get back to you as quickly as I can. Depending on volume, this may take me a bit of time, but you will hear from me!

The Federal government announced a package of supports yesterday to address the economic implications of Covid-19. While more details are still unclear — in particular, how constituents can start to access the various benefits and when — it is welcome assistance. The faster this assistance is distributed to people, the better. I’ve provided a round-up below. 

The Ontario legislature resumed today for a very short session to pass bills related to allowing for sick leave under provincial law and regarding municipal council quorum. For social distancing reasons, only a small number of MPPs were permitted to be present. More details below.  

Ultimately, we're in this together and we’ll get through this together.


Please do be aware that we are still learning more about how COVID-19 affects humans and is morphing. Let's not be complacent, even if you are young and healthy. Counter to expectations, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that 40% of Americans currently sick enough to be hospitalized are between 20-54 years old, and many of those people did not have underlying health conditions. 

This is a trying time for us all. I know that, and I am asking you please do not engage in racist depictions of the origins of the disease. This virus doesn't discriminate, and neither should we. 

Try to take care of your mental health and to get out for walks or bike rides if you can, to breathe, to remember that we are all in this together and together we will get through it. If you’re able to stop in at a local business to make a purchase and help keep them going, that would also be amazing. (Our local businesses are doing a great job managing social distance and keeping surfaces and door handles clean while still allowing customers in to make purchases.)

Personally speaking, the walks I take with my dogs and the bike rides I take out to Tommy Thomson Park are a big part of taking care of myself, but you don’t need a dog or a bike to get outside and walk around a block or two. Fresh air really helps!

I know our community is strong and caring. I am grateful everyday for your big hearts and compassion. Please continue to support each other, be kind and connected at a distance. Even if all you are doing is adhering to social distancing norms, you are doing enough. You are helping to limit the spread of this disease, which in turn is protecting yourself and your loved ones, as well as the most vulnerable among us. Thank you!

Warmest wishes and stay safe,
Rima


Rima Berns-McGown
MPP for Beaches - East York 

Reminder: For the most up-to-date information and contact information for Toronto Public Health, Ontario Ministry of Health, and the Public Health Agency
 
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Summary: Federal Announcement
Federal stimulus summary:  Summary below, click for more details. 
  • $27 billion in direct support to workers and businesses
  • $55 billion for liquidity for businesses and households through tax deferrals
  • Total $82 billion - 3% of Canada's GDP.
WORKER SUPPORT:
  • The payments from the Emergency Care Benefit will average about $450 a week, being paid bi-weekly, starting around April 1.
    • Application will be online; no medical test to prove eligibility
    • 14 weeks of payments - that puts end to support by late June 2020
  • Emergency COVID Self Benefit will act as a catch all for anyone to whom the above does not apply
    • Similar to the Emergency Care Benefit but details are not yet available
    • Will include self-employment and sole proprietorship businesses 
CBC article: How to apply for EI and COVID-19 emergency benefits

SMALL BUSINESSES:
  • Wage subsidy grants to small businesses for three months equal to 10% of workers salaries.
Resources for Canadian businesses: COVID-19

INCOME TAXES:
  • If you owe after you file your taxes, you have until August 2020 to make payment
FAMILY SUPPORT:
  • 12 million Canadians eligible:
  • Parents getting top up of Canada Child Benefit $300 per child 
  • Low-income Canadians will receive increased GST credit for $400 for single adults; $600 for couples; $150 for every additional child
STUDENTS:
  • 6-month student loan repayment deferral, interest-free
GENDER BASED VIOLENCE:
  • Boosting funding for shelters for those who cannot remain at home
  • 200 million to shelters nation-wide for materials and equipment
FIRST NATIONS AND METIS: 
  • "Indigenous Community Support fund" (no details yet)
BUSINESS SECTORS:
  • Farmers getting “Farm Credit Canada” boost; no details
  • Other business sectors receiving access to Export Development Canada; details to come in further days
Update: Emergency Legislation Ontario
The Ontario Legislature reconvened today, Thursday, March 19 for a very short session to deal with two pieces of legislation:
  1. Amendments to the Municipal Act and the City of Toronto Act to allow city councils to meet electronically, and to suspend municipal noise by-laws to allow heavy trucks to stock grocery stores and pharmacies overnight.
  2. Amendments to the Employment Standards Act to provide job protection provisions for workers who need to miss work as a result of COVID-19 and ban the requirement of doctors notes for COVID-19. 
The NDP supports the job protection provision, and the ban on required doctor’s notes. As you may know, the NDP has been pushing for leave from work to be paid, not unpaid, along with other measures. 

This bill was supported as an important first step, these small changes simply cannot be the only help this government gives to families, tenants, small and medium-sized businesses, and community-based organizations and charities, who are all growing increasingly concerned — and rightfully so.

It’s time for Ontario to step up and do its part by providing direct funding to protect families from missing meals or rent, protect the most vulnerable people and organizations that support them, and prevent small businesses from going under. 

In the face of a global health crisis, governments must act fast and be compassionate.
Image: Siouxsie Wiles and Toby Morris / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
Reminder: For the most up-to-date information and contact information for Toronto Public Health, Ontario Ministry of Health, and the Public Health Agency
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Twitter
Website
Our mailing address is:
MPP Rima Berns-McGown
1821 Danforth Ave
MPP Rima Berns-McGown's Constituency Office
Toronto, ON M4C 1J2
Canada

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