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,
As we approach this truly different Victoria Day weekend, I hope that we will all redouble our efforts to stay safe.
I want to thank the over 10,000 people who joined me and MP’s Mendicino and Oliphant for our tele-town hall on Wednesday evening. It was an important conversation. We were very grateful for the thoughtful comments and questions on the response to date to COVID-19:
- testing and tracing vs screening and serology
- mental health supports
- use of personal masks
- the state of the economy and the needs of cities and the TTC
- stresses on Seniors
- the future of border restrictions
We also heard clearly the need to #BuildBackBetter as we begin the recovery phase of the pandemic – economically and socially – especially with respect to mental health and ongoing support for local businesses.
We were particularly impressed by a young student caller asking about education. Having the participation of young people seemed to be an advantage of the technological solve for the inability of us to have in-person Town Hall meetings and Neighbourhood Checkups. I thoroughly enjoyed the Zoom call with our Toronto-St.Paul’s Youth Council.
As we go forward, it remains imperative that we don’t take chances. We need to stay the course and still do everything in our power to make sure that we nor our loved ones get sick. We owe it to our front-line health care workers to #flattenthecurve.
This week was National Nursing Week. I am reminded of Florence Nightingale and my favourite quote of hers:
Exactly 200 years after her birth, her work as a statistician in tracking infectious diseases laid the ground work for epidemiology and public health. Accurate data, testing, and contact tracing is a priority as we work to beat COVID-19.
This National Nursing Week was particularly special because the WHO has designated 2020 as “The Year of the Nurse and Midwife”. From the bottom of my heart, I want to express my sincere thank you to all nurses for their heroic work on the frontlines nursing the world back to health. You are all heroes and we truly appreciate all that you do, now more than ever.
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.
CRA My Account
Do you have an online CRA account yet? My Account, the Canada Revenue Agency’s secure portal, lets Canadians across the country view and manage their tax and benefit affairs quickly, conveniently, and securely… all online. You can apply for many of the COVID-19 emergency benefits, includng the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, online through your CRA My Account. Don’t have an account yet? Watch this video for tips on how to register:
VIRTUAL TAX CLINICS
Each year, the lives of thousands of Canadians are touched through the generosity of community organizations and volunteers who donate their time towards filing tax returns for people in need. Free tax clinics organized through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) are a vital service provided to eligible Canadians who need help to complete their tax return to receive the benefits and credits designed to support them.
Due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, many community organizations had to close, postpone, or scale back on the free tax clinics they offer. We know how important free tax clinics are to Canadians. This is why community organizations will be hosting free virtual tax clinics in the coming weeks. Volunteers may be able to do taxes for free, by videoconference or phone. To learn more about the program, or to find out if your eligibile to participate, follow this link.
MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT
WELLNESS TOGETHER CANADA
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.
KID’S HELP PHONE
Although we’re far apart physically, our young people must feel help is close. That is why our government announced $7.5 million in funding for Kids Help Phone. Kids Help Phone is a remote mental health service that connects youth with professional counselling, information and referrals across Canada without any face-to-face contact. Contact Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868, by texting 686868, or by going online to kidshelpphone.ca.
SUPPORT FOR ESSENTIAL WORKERS
While many of us are at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, front-line workers are going to work every day despite the risks involved, and despite worrying for their loved ones. We are relying on these workers now more than ever, and that is why our government announced an agreement with all the provinces and territories to provide a wage top up for essential workers. The Government of Canada will provide up to $3 billion in support to increase the wages of low-income essential workers. We are working hard with each province and territory to finalize the details of this agreement. It will be up to them to determine who qualifies for this wage increase.
SUPPORT FOR SENIORS
COVID-19 has been taking a major toll on all Canadians, including our seniors, who continue to be the hardest hit demographic of the virus. Seniors have spent their lifetimes helping build our country, and now they need our help. Since the start of the pandemic, our government has introduced several measures to support Canadian seniors. This week, our government announced a series of additional measures to help seniors get through these difficult and unprecedented times. These measures include:
- Providing an additional support of $2.5 billion for a one-time tax-free payment of $300 to seniors eligible for Old Age Security (OAS), with an additional $200 to seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). Seniors receiving both OAS and GIS will thereby receive an additional $500 to help them offset increased costs.
- Temporarily extending GIS and Allowance payments if seniors’ 2019 income information has not been assessed.
- Investing an additional $20 million dollars in the New Horizons for Seniors Program. This will help support organizations that offer community-based projects that improve seniors’ quality of life.
CANADA EMERGENCY STUDENT BENEFIT OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS
Whether you’ve recently graduated and were looking forward to starting your career, or you’re still in school and counting on summer employment to pay tuition or pursuing a national service opportunity – our Government has your back.The new Canada Emergency Student Benefit will provide students and recent graduates not covered by CERB with $1250 a month (or $1750 a month to those with a disability or acting as a caretaker) from May to August. Students and recent graduates will be able to begin applying for this benefit starting today, Friday, May 15. To learn more about the program or to apply, follow this link.
NEW SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES TO PROTECT CANADIAN JOBS
This week our government announced additional funding to protect our economy and support businesses across Canada so that they can keep their workers on the payroll and get through these challenging times. For mid-sized companies, we are expanding the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to provide up to $60 million, $80 million in the case of guarantees.
Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility
To assist large employers, our government is establishing a Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) to provide bridge financing to companies that are unable to obtain financing through other means. This bridge financing is intended for firms that need it – it’s not low cost lending, nor is it to rescue companies that were already facing insolvency. The LEEFF will support Canadians working in sectors across the economy in a fair and consistent manner.
- We will protect workers by ensuring companies that receive support respect any and all collective bargaining agreements and protect workers’ pensions.
- We will protect taxpayers by putting in strict restrictions on executive pay, share buy backs, and dividends.
- We will protect our environment by ensuring companies commit to future climate disclosures and environmental sustainability goals
- And we will ensure that companies found guilty of tax evasion do not receive financing through the program.
With this important support, our Government is helping Canadian workers, supply chains, and businesses get through this unprecedented challenge.
Regional Relief and Recovery Fund
Over the past two and a half months, our government has implemented a series of concrete, tangible measures to support small businesses and their employees. While these measures are making a difference, some businesses still risk falling through the cracks. And that’s where the new Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) comes in. A national initiative of nearly $1 billion, including $252.4 million for Southern Ontario, the goal of the RRRF is to support businesses not eligible for the other measures already in place.
Businesses who wish to apply for the RRRF can apply online at the following link. 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
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.
Every day we can make an effort to express our sincere gratitude to the heroes on the front lines. We’ve prepared some images you can share on-line, print and put in your windows, or make into signs for your front lawn or balcony.
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 email@example.com for assistance in any federal matter.