158442
157263
Dan-in-Ottawa

Virus problem is spreading

When I first wrote about COVID-19 three weeks ago, there were 33 confirmed cases in Canada:

  • 20 in Ontario
  • 12 in British Columbia
  • One in Quebec.

Last week, those numbers had increased to 93 confirmed cases in Canada:

  • 36 in Ontario
  • 39 in British Columbia
  • Four in Quebec
  • 14 in Alberta.

One death as a result of the disease had also been recorded in B.C.

This week, there are 701 confirmed cases in Canada:

  • 212 in Ontario
  • 231 in B.C.
  • 97 in Alberta
  • 94 in Quebec
  • 12 in Manitoba
  • The rest in other parts of Canada.

There have now been seven COVID-19 deaths in B.C.

One of the health challenges is, for a variety of different reasons, the tests for the virus are all at maximum capacity.

This means that as more capacity is added to increase the tests, numbers may continue to rise substantially.

At the same time, B.C. has declared a state of emergency with Vancouver also proposing similar measures.

A state of emergency is called to allow authorities to have more abilities to fight the spread of the virus.

This week in Ottawa, the Prime Minister announced up to $87 billion in financial assistance to help mitigate the financial impacts that COVID-19 will inflict upon Canadians.

The measures are vast, but include temporarily increasing the Canada Child Benefit and GST credits,
EI entitlements for those who would not normally qualify and a labour payroll subsidy of 10% to small business owners.

Other measures include deferring the due date for individuals on personal income taxes. The return filing due date will be deferred until June 1.

In addition, there will be a reduction in the required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25% for 2020.

The government also proposed two new benefits.

First, the Emergency Care Benefit, which will allow for people directly impacted by COVID-19 to receive up to $900 every two weeks for a maximum of 15 weeks.

This is to support workers, including the self employed, who find themselves in quarantine, looking after a family member such as an elderly parent or those parents with children requiring care due to school closures and are unable to earn employment income irrespective if they qualify for EI or not.

The second is the Emergency Support Benefit and is for Canadians who lose their job or face reduced hours and are not eligible for EI.

Unfortunately, we do not know more, other than they have proposed $5 billion to fund this new benefit and at this time I cannot provide constituents more details.

Both of these new benefits will be available for application only through the internet via a CRA My Account, My Service Canada Account or through a yet to be disclosed toll free number.

This approach may pose positives and negatives.

The Prime Minister has suggested Canadians stay home wherever possible in order to reduce exposure to the virus.

But on the other hand, I am already hearing frustrations that the toll-free numbers for existing programs often result with citizens unable to get through.

While online access works for many Canadians, rural areas lack online access making this option potentially unworkable for some.

Lastly, is speed and responsiveness.

These new benefits will be open for application in April and people are concerned with whether they will qualify or if the payments are issued quickly for those wrestling with rent, grocery and medicine bills.

This is only a partial summary of the many measures put forward.

I will give credit to the government for making efforts to have a comprehensive financial response.

My question this week is:

  • Will these proposed measures help you?

COMMENTS WELCOME

Comments are pre-moderated to ensure they meet our guidelines. Approval times will vary. Keep it civil, and stay on topic. If you see an inappropriate comment, please use the ‘flag’ feature. Comments are the opinions of the comment writer, not of Castanet. Comments remain open for one day after a story is published and are closed on weekends. Visit Castanet’s Forums to start or join a discussion about this story.



More Dan in Ottawa articles

157348
About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the shadow minister of innovation, science, economic development and internal trade, and sits on the standing committee on finance.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

In British Columbia, Dan has been consistently one of the lowest spending MPs on office and administration related costs despite operating two offices to better serve local constituents.

Dan is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories



157181