Supporting Canadians Through COVID-19

COVID-19 has changed our daily lives in significant ways these last few weeks. The pace of change has been swift and it’s not easy to keep up with the ever-changing details.

In order to provide you with a one-stop shop for COVID-19 information, my office has put together a resource library which you can find at tedfalk.ca/covid-19-resources-for-impacted-canadians/.

Here are a few things you should know this week:

Beginning Wednesday, April 1, the Government of Manitoba has announced that all businesses except essential services will be closed until at least Tuesday, April 14. For example, bars and hair salons must close. Many essential services will remain in operation, such as grocery and hardware stores, gas stations, and more. You can find a full list through my website.

To support workers and businesses as they respond to COVID-19, last week Parliament passed emergency legislation. Many Canadians are struggling and those facing hard times should have access to the necessary supports. This includes a temporary increase to the GST credit, a temporary increase to the Canada Child Benefit, RRIF conversion reduction, and a wage subsidy for businesses. It also included $500 million for the provinces and territories for health care system funding.

The new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) has been introduced – a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to four months. The CERB is for those who must stop working due to COVID-19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support, sick or quarantined workers – or those taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, working parents who must stay home without pay to care for a sick child or because of school/daycare closures, workers who remain employed but aren’t being paid due to insufficient work, and wage earners and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance. The CERB will be accessible through a secure web portal in early April.

Business who have seen at least a 30 per cent decrease in revenue because of COVID-19 can also expect support in the days ahead. The new wage subsidy for businesses will cover 75 per cent of each employee’s wages, to a maximum of $847 a week, and will be backdated to March 15. At the time of writing, we are still awaiting the full details of this program. Businesses requiring support can review my website for the most up-to-date information on the wage subsidy and other assistance.