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Dear Friends and Neighbours,
Today is May 1, the day on which workers around the world are celebrated. Today is also National Physicians Day and in Toronto — First Responders Day. Never has it seemed more poignant to be able to take the time to thank our Physicians, especially the leadership of our Medical Officers of Health: Dr. DeVilla (Toronto), Dr. Williams and Dr. Yaffe (Ontario) and Dr. Tam (Canada); the first responders and all the essential workers who are going to work every day and counting on us to stay home and stay safe.
It seems like a very long time ago that we decided to cancel the St. Patrick's Day gathering taking utmost precaution with the emerging information on Covid-19.
Since then we have adapted. We are staying home and washing our hands. When we go out physical distancing is the new normal. We’re calling our friends, cooking, ordering takeout and supporting local businesses.
Easter, Passover and Ramadan have changed. Weddings and funerals, birthday and anniversaries, real estate closings have all changed. Technology is helping. For some celebrations, and even poignant tribute ceremonies such as last Friday night in Nova Scotia, more people than ever have come together... while apart.
Even Parliament has adapted. For the last few weeks the Health Committees and Finance Committees have been meeting online.
This week for the first time in history, Members of Parliament — with the herculean efforts of the technicians and staff at the House of Commons — were able to meet virtually, and Canadians were able to watch via parlvu.parl.gc.ca
Today I was able to appear virtually at the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Committee of Parliament with my colleagues Minister Miller and Minister Vandal as we were able to describe the impressive efforts of First Nations, Inuit and Métis in executing their pandemic plans and keeping their communities safe.
This week I was honoured to participate in the international webinar organized by the inspiring @KehkashanBasu and her Green Hope Foundation - Post-Earth Day: Climate Action- How to Take the Conversation Forward. You can watch the entire panel here.We are proud that Kehkashan leads our Youth Council here in Toronto-St.Pauls
I want to thank my team, Shaun, Anna, Alex and Laura, for their amazing work as they too adapt to working from home but are able to respond to your questions and make sure that your concerns are shared with me and all the relevant ministers. It is so important to us that you are able to navigate your way through all the new benefits and programmes to support you through these unprecedented times.
With your help and suggestions, we are working hard to identify the gaps and respond to the needs of the most vulnerable. We are determined to #BuildBackBetter socially, economically and environmentally.
On this day, we particularly thank those who go to work everyday and are counting on us to stay home. I love the smiles I see from those delivering packages as they see the thank you sign in our window.
Building back better will mean that in the future we will never again take for granted those previously invisible people who we now recognize for their truly essential work.
Stay well. Stay home. Say thank you. We’re saving lives.
As the situation is changing daily, please check the following websites for daily updates in Toronto and across Canada:
or download the Canada Covid-19 app.
MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT
COVID-19 has changed the daily lives of people around the world. During these difficult times, it is critical that Canadians be able to obtain credible information and access services to support their mental health and wellbeing. That's why our government launched a portal dedicated to mental wellness: Wellness Together Canada.
This portal will connect Canadians to peer support workers, social workers, psychologists and other professionals for confidential chat sessions or phone calls, and will make it easier to find credible information and help address mental health and substance use issues.
CANADA EMERGENCY COMMERCIAL RENT ASSISTANCE
Last week we announced that the federal government has reached an agreement in principle with all provinces and territories to implement the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. This program will lower rent by 75% for small businesses that have been affected by COVID19.
CANADA EMERGENCY WAGE SUBSIDY ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS
Our Government passed the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to support businesses that have been hardest hit by the pandemic, and protect the jobs Canadians depend on. This important subsidy will cover 75% of an employee’s wages for employers of all sizes and across all sectors – including not-for-profits and charities. CEWS will help employers keep their staff on payroll, and rehire those previously laid off.
On Monday, CEWS began to accept applications and more than 50,000 businesses have already applied. Eligible employers are encouraged to sign up for direct deposit, and can apply through their CRA My Business Account.
CANADA EMERGENCY STUDENT BENEFIT LEGISLATION PASSES HOUSE OF COMMONS
This week, the House of Commons, in an historic virtual Parliament, approved Bill C-15 to implement the Canada Emergency Student Benefit. This benefit will support post-secondary students and recent graduates with $1,250 a month from May to August. Bill C-15 will also allow for the implementation of the Canada Student Service Grant, which will provide $5,000 for students who work in national service positions.
The Prime Minister also announced that our government will be doubling the Canada Student Grants for 2020-2021, broadening the eligibility of student financial aid, enhancing the Canada Student Loans Program, increasing support for Indigenous students, expanding micro-grants available through the Canada Service Corps, extending federal graduate research scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships, and supplementing existing federal research grants. Taken together, this comprehensive $9 Billion plan will help students and recent grads get through the next few months.
ADDITIONAL SUPPORT FOR CANADIAN FAMILIES ANNOUNCED
The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on everyone and that is why our government is stepping up to support families in need. Earlier this month, we doubled GST payments for low and modest-income earners. To help parents who have their hands full these days, our government will be boosting the CCB payment in May. Eligible families will receive $300 extra per child as part of their regular May 2020 CCB payment. No application is necessary.
OPEN FOR BUSINESS
Now more than ever, local business that make our mains streets vibrant need our help. Find out what stores have moved online, or what restaurants are offering takeout and delivery. The following BIAs have put together lists of businesses that are still open, albeit doing things a bit differently. If you can, participate in takeout Wednesday (or Friday or Saturday)! Let's do what we can to support our local businesses:
FEED THE FRONTLINES
Feed the Frontlines TO is an extraordinary initiative supporting local businesses by feeding our frontline heroes. Amazing to see the businesses of #TOStPauls pitching in. If you can, please help this great initiative: https://twitter.com/feedthefrontto
FIND ORGANIZATIONS THAT NEED VOLUNTEERS
SPARK Ontario is partnering with the Ontario government to connect volunteers with opportunities to support seniors, people with disabilities and other Ontarians requiring assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. All not-for-profit organizations supporting the response to COVID-19 can post volunteer opportunities at sparkontario.ca so potential volunteers can be put to work quickly.
How are you showing your support for our community? We'd love to hear your stories.
In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within communities and across the country, all Canadians are advised to:
The constituency office will be closed to walk-in visits but my team and I are here for you and will continue to serve residents of #TOStPauls.
Our office will continue to be fully operational by phone and by email. You can call us at 416-952-3990 or email [email protected] for assistance in any federal matter.