- All national updates can be found at: www.Canada.ca/coronavirus
- All Alberta updates can be found at: https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx
The continued spread of COVID-19 in Canada and around the world has understandably raised concerns for residents of Peace River – Westlock.
As your Member of Parliament, I wanted to reach out to you personally to provide you with an update on the government’s response to date.
The Public Health Agency of Canada notes that COVID-19 is a serious health threat, and the situation is evolving daily. The risk will vary between and within communities, but given the increasing number of cases in Canada, the risk to Canadians is considered high.This does not mean that all Canadians will get the disease. It means that there is already a significant impact on our health care system. If we do not flatten the epidemic curve now, the increase of COVID-19 cases could impact health care resources available to Canadians.
As well, there is an increased risk of more severe outcomes for Canadians aged 65 or over, with compromised immune systems, or with underlying medical conditions. This public health risk is being reassessed as new information becomes available.
As this situation develops, I would encourage you to take the time to read the information provided below and follow the guidance of our health professionals so that we can ensure the safety of our friends, family, and neighbours.
My staff and I remain available to assist you. At the recommendation of the Public Health Agency of Canada, we ask that you call or email instead of coming into the office in person. My office can be reached by phone at 1-800-667-8450 or by email at email@example.com.
GENERAL COVD-19 QUESTIONS
How do I prevent and prepare for COVID-19?
The most important thing you can do to prevent infection is to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face.To help reduce your risk of infection:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Using soap and water is the single most effective way of reducing the spread of infection.
- If a sink is not available, alcohol based hand rubs (ABHR) can be used to clean your hands as long as they are not visibly soiled. If they are visibly soiled, use a wipe and then ABHR to effectively clean them.
- Do not touch your face, eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue or the crease of your elbow when you sneeze or cough.
- Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
- Do not share food, drinks, utensils, etc.
What should I do if I think I have symptoms or think I may have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19?
For people with NO travel history and if you have NO symptoms:
To protect yourself and others while out in public, wash your hands frequently and practice social distancing by maintaining 6 feet (2 arms lengths) between yourself and others.
If you have questions about COVID-19 or novel coronavirus, please visit the following resources:
- Alberta.ca/COVID19 – Learn about COVID-19 and actions being taken to protect the health of Albertans
- AHS COVID-19 Response – Information for Albertans and Health Professionals
- Frequently Asked Questions
What if I have returned from abroad recently?
All travellers returning to Alberta from outside Canada in the last 14 days:
- ALL travellers who returned to Alberta from outside Canada in the last 14 days MUST self-isolate immediately for 14 days after the date of return and monitor for symptoms.
If you have symptoms:
- Anyone who has symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, sore throat, runny nose or nasal congestion MUST self-isolate for 14 days.
- Please do not visit a hospital, physician’s office, lab or healthcare facility without consulting Health Link (811) first.
- If your symptoms worsen, call 811. We are experiencing heavy call volumes and will get to your call as quickly as we can.
- Call 911 if you are seriously ill and need immediate medical attention. Inform them that you may have COVID-19.
ALBERTA – Emergency isolation support
Eligible working Albertans can receive a one-time emergency isolation support payment of $1,146 if they are required to self-isolate or are the sole caregiver of someone in self-isolation and they have no other source of pay or compensation.
- This is a temporary program to bridge the gap until the Federal Emergency Care Benefit is available in April.
- If you are eligible for federal Employment Insurance benefits, you are strongly encouraged to apply immediately.
- More information and application here: https://www.alberta.ca/emergency-isolation-support.aspx
FEDERAL – Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) offers income support for up to 16 weeks to those who lose pay because of the pandemic. A government news release says the “simpler and more accessible” program will cover Canadians who lost their jobs, got sick, are under quarantine or have to stay home because of school closures.
- It’s available to wage earners, contract workers and self-employed people who don’t qualify for employment insurance (EI).
- The online portal to apply for CERB will be available in early April, and people can expect payments within 10 days. CERB payments will be issued every four weeks, and will be available from March 15, 2020 to Oct. 3, 2020.
Other elements of the emergency response plan:
- Canadians who are already receiving employment insurance (EI) regular and sickness benefits as of today will continue to receive benefits and should not apply to the CERB.
- Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed don’t need to reapply. Canadians who are eligible for regular EI and sickness benefits can still access those benefits if they’re still unemployed after the 16-week period covered by the CERB.
Are my Canadian income taxes still due in April?
In order to provide greater flexibility to Canadians who may be experiencing hardships during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Canada Revenue Agency will defer the filing due date for the 2019 tax returns of individuals, including certain trusts.
- For individuals (other than trusts), the return filing due date will be deferred until June 1, 2020. However, the Agency encourages individuals who expect to receive benefits under the GSTC or the Canada Child Benefit not to delay the filing of their return to ensure their entitlements for the 2020-21 benefit year are properly determined.
- For trusts having a taxation year ending on December 31, 2019, the return filing due date will be deferred until May 1, 2020.
The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all taxpayers to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020.
- This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
- In order to reduce the necessity for taxpayers and tax preparers to meet in person during this difficult time, and to reduce administrative burden, effective immediately the Canada Revenue Agency will recognize electronic signatures as having met the signature requirements of the Income Tax Act, as a temporary administrative measure. This provision applies to authorization forms T183 or T183CORP, which are forms that are signed in person by millions of Canadians every year to authorize tax preparers to file taxes.
- For more information: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency.html
Is there Support for Businesses?
For businesses, the federal government announced that they are establishing a Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to support financing in the private sector through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC). Current assistance includes:
- Small Business Loan: Up to $100,000 can be obtained online.
- Working capital loan: For loans over $100,000 and can support everyday operations.
- Purchase Order Financing: Loans to fulfill domestic or international orders.
BDC also has an online assessment tool. For additional information, visit: https://www.tradecommissioner.gc.ca/campaign-campagne/ressources-entreprises-COVID-19-business-resources.aspx
In addition the following support has been announced:
- Supporting Canadian Businesses Through the Canada Account
- Helping Businesses Keep Their Workers
- Flexibility for Businesses Filing Taxes
- Ensuring Businesses have Access to Credit
- Supporting Financial Market Liquidity
Is there Support for Farmers?
Farm Credit Canada will receive support from the federal government that will allow for an additional $5 billion in lending capacity to producers, agribusinesses, and food processors.
All eligible farmers who have an outstanding Advance Payments Program (APP) loan due on or before April 30 will receive a Stay of Default, allowing them an additional six months to repay the loan.
- For more information: https://pm.gc.ca/en/news/news-releases/2020/03/23/prime-minister-announces-support-farmers-and-agri-food-businesses
Are the TFWP & SAWP affected?
Following the letter from Conservatives to Liberal Ministers seeking clarity on the Temporary Foreign Worker and Seasonal Agriculture Worker Programs, the government announced an exemption for the both programs with the following aspects:
- Individuals entering Canada under these two programs must isolate for 14 days upon their arrival in Canada.
- A temporary modification to the Labour Market Impact Assessment process for agriculture and food processing employers, waving the 2-week recruitment period for the next 6 months.
- The maximum allowable employment duration for workers in the low-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is increased from 1 to 2 years.
Sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to stay connected with the Government of Canada in case of an emergency abroad or an emergency at home.
- If you or a family member are a Canadian and stuck abroad, please email my office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Canada has also set up a loan program of up to $5,000 per person to assist Canadians who need to either book an emergency flight or extend their stay abroad. For financial assistance, Canadians abroad can email CAN.finances.CV19@international.gc.ca.
For more information, you can contact the 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where possible) or send an e-mail to email@example.com.