This letter was first sent as an email to our constituents. To receive regular updates from our office regarding COVID-19, sign up here.
Dear Friends and Neighbours,
This is a week none of us will ever forget …..
Suddenly on Sunday morning we began to learn about the magnitude of the unfolding tragedy in Nova Scotia. Never had it been more important to be together – while apart. Monday night, we solemnly lit a candle and observed two minutes of silence at 8:30 PM, an hour after many were banging pots and pans at 7:30 PM to express gratitude to our health care heroes.
It is a collision of so many emotions. It means we have to pick up the phone and talk to our friends and families; somehow texts and emails aren’t quite enough to really be ‘in touch’.
The public health measures imposed by the threat of Covid-19 are being accepted and adhered to. We are washing our hands, staying home, going out only when absolutely necessary, and when we do, being strict about maintaining a minimum of a ‘hockey stick’ apart.
We are proud that our concrete actions of just staying home have resulted in ‘flattening the curve’ and keeping the outbreak within the capacity of our health care system, our hospitals and ICU’s and ventilators. At the same time, we have been shocked to find out that in our Long Term Care facilities it is a totally different story. Our beloved older persons are dying. Without family members and volunteers able to help, the staff are struggling to provide the proper care for our most vulnerable citizens. Covid-19 has laid bare some of the real weaknesses in our social safety net and health systems.
We must ‘Build Back Better’. The lessons learned from our response to Covid-19 will have to focus on the gaps identified. It will be a huge mistake to think we can just ‘go back to normal’.
Last weekend during the conversation with the Toronto-St. Paul’s Youth Council, the young leaders were clear that we must continue to deal with the ongoing Climate Emergency while we address the immediate challenges of Covid-19. Their Earth Day message produced by the inspiring Kehkashan Basu called upon all of us to Build Back Better, socially and environmentally.
As we celebrate Volunteer Week, never have the volunteers who formally and informally step up to help others been more important. Those of us who can are also trying to give a little more to the charities that are supporting our community. Governments are helping in ways that had never been thought of before. Good ideas are resulting in collective action. Collective action feels good; collective action allows us to see some hope.
I have to admit that the terrible April weather has seemed appropriate. The cold, even the snow, the hail on Earth Day, has been keeping us inside. Our sixteen year old Labrador Marley has regularly gone to the back door and then gone back to bed when the door is opened and she’s confronted with the cold wind. Even when the weather improves, we cannot relax our resolve. We’re in this together. Staying home is saving lives. We all can feel the restlessness. We need to redouble our efforts to reach out and remind one another how important it is to stay home and to stay in touch virtually. Staying home is our job; it is the very best way to thank those on the front lines.
We need to continue to “Stay Calm and Hibernate!” Covid-19 means the ‘spring’ thaw is just going to be a little late this year.
Stay safe. Stay in touch.
As the situation is changing daily, please check the following websites for daily updates in Toronto and across Canada:
- Covid-19 Situational Dashboard
- Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
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.
RENT SUPPORT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
As Canadians take action in the fight against COVID-19, we know that many businesses are worried about being able to pay rent. Landlords across the country have stepped up to the plate, offering relief to their tenants, and helping them get through this challenging time and we commend their leadership.
In recognition of the challenges facing Canadian businesses and property owners, our Government intends to introduce Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses.
This program will seek to provide loans and/or forgivable loans to commercial property owners who provide businesses with rent reductions in April, May and June. More details will be available soon.
SUPPORTING OUR STUDENTS
CANADA EMERGENCY STUDENT BENEFIT (CESB)
We know that many young Canadians were counting on summer jobs or new careers to make ends meet. That’s why our governement announced the creation of the new Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), for students who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The CESB will provide up to $1,250 for students per month from May through to August, and $1,750 for students with dependents or permanent disabilities. Through the CESB, and other supports, we’re going to do whatever it takes to help get all Canadians through these challenging times.
CANADA SERVICE CORPS
We are expanding the number of micro-grants available from 1,800 to 15,000 for people aged 15 to 30. These micro-grants provide youth the opportunity to design and lead service projects that respond to unique needs in their communities in the context of COVID-19.
MORE STUDENT FINANCIAL AID
No young Canadian should have to choose between doing their part in the fight against COVID-19 and their education. In order to ensure that post-secondary students can continue with their studies in the fall, we’re proposing new and significant measures to help with the cost of education, 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
CANADA STUDENT SERVICE GRANT (CSSG)
Young Canadians will play a central role in ensuring that Canada emerges from COVID-19 stronger than ever. We’re going to help young people gain valuable work experience in their communities – even in the face of COVID-19 – by introducing the new Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG).
This grant will provide up to $5,000 for a student’s education in the fall, for students who work in national service positions through organizations within their community. Through the CSSG, our Government will help students develop their skills and give back to their communities during these challenging times.
SUPPORT FOR CHARITIES
For many Canadians who were already struggling, COVID-19 has made life even harder. They are turning more and more to charities and non-profit organizations for help, and those organizations need to know that they have support to continue their work.
This week our government announced an investment of $350 million to create the new Emergency Community Support Fund that will support charities and organizations working with vulnerable Canadians across the country.
NEW COVID-19 RESEARCH FUNDING
Our government is making sure sure that we have the resources right here in Canada to fight the COVID-19 virus. This week, we announced a national medical and research strategy to address COVID-19 and an additional $1 billion in research funding, which included investments in vaccine development, producing treatments, tracking, and testing for the virus. This is in addition to the $275 million that was already announced.
We also announced the establishment of a COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, whose job it will be to track countrywide blood test surveys, collect information about the spread of the virus, and identify vulnerable populations.
SUPPORT OUR COMMUNITY
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:
- What’s open on Eglinton Way / Map of Local Open Businesses
- Mount Pleasant Village – Food Delivery or Takeout
- Mount Pleasant Village – Other businesses
- Midtown Yonge BIA Open/Close Directory
- Dupont by the Castle BIA
- Oakwood Village BIA Open 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.
STAY HOME, STAY SAFE
In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within communities and across the country, all Canadians are advised to:
- stay at home unless you have to go to work
- talk to your employer about working at home if possible
- avoid all non-essential trips in your community
- do not gather in groups
- limit contact with people at higher risk, such as older adults and those in poor health
- go outside to exercise but stay close to home
- if you leave your home, always keep a distance of at least a hockey stick length away from others
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance in any federal matter.