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April 8, 2020 message from MP Damien Kurek

Press Release April 8, 2020 @ 4:32 PM

Damien Kurek MP - Battle River - Crowfoot

This message includes the following:

  1. COVID-19 General Information

  2. Employment Insurance

  3. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Including Those Who Would Not Normally Qualify for EI

  4. Immigration/Borders

  5. Travel

  6. Business Resources

  7. Loan and Bank Supports

  8. Tax Deadline/RRSP Changes

  9. Student Loans

  10. Health Product Production

  11. False and Misleading Claims

  12. Provincial Supports


1. COVID-19 General Information

The situation with Canada and Alberta’s response to COVID-19 is rapidly evolving. The two primary links to find out the most up to date info is:


Please ensure that you follow all the most recent health and safety guidelines. This is very important to “flatten the curve” and help protect Canadians who are most at risk. A valuable resource on why this is important is: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator/

2. Employment Insurance

This information is related to people that have lost employment related to the COVID-19 crisis prior to March 15th, for more recent job losses see information on the CERB in the following point.

If an individual meets the EI sickness requirements, they can apply for EI sickness and have the first week waived.  The one week waiting period will be waived for EI sickness benefits claimants for whom a period of quarantine is imposed when the quarantine is: 

  • Imposed on the claimant under the laws of Canada or a province; or 

  • Imposed on the claimant by a public health official for the health and safety of the public at large; or 

  • Recommended by such an official for health and safety of the public at large, and the claimant was asked by their employer, medical doctor, a nurse or a person in authority to place them self under quarantine.

To clarify the last bullet, a person of authority is intended to be inclusive of other orders of “employer”. This would include examples such as a principal or chancellor of a school or a commanding officer.  

In most jurisdictions, the “recommended by such an official for health and safety of the public at large” has been met. Therefore, to be eligible, the claimant just needs to have been asked by their employer, medical doctor, a nurse or a person in authority to place themselves under quarantine.

Again, these individuals need to meet all other EI eligibility criteria, with the only exception of needing a medical certificate if it is in the context of COVID-19. E.g. someone who broke their leg and missed work because of it, may still need to get a medical certificate.

If someone believes they are eligible, they can contact the new dedicated toll-free phone number if they are in quarantine and seek to waive the one-week EI sickness benefits waiting period and be paid for the first week of the claim:


  • Telephone: 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free)

  • Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-800-529-3742

Changes to the EI sickness benefits are as follows: Changes provide claimants with up to 15 weeks of temporary income support if they cannot work due to illness, injury or quarantine. They could receive 55% of their earnings up to a maximum of $573 a week.

The one week waiting period will be waived for EI sickness benefits claimants for whom a period of quarantine is imposed when the quarantine is:


  • Imposed on the claimant under the laws of Canada or a province

  • Imposed on the claimant by a public health official for the health and safety of the public at large, or

  • Recommended by such an official for health and safety of the public at large, and the claimant was asked by their employer, medical doctor, a nurse or a person in authority to place themselves under quarantine.

  • Employers should use reason Code A (Shortage of work) as the reason for separation on the ROE.

Waiving the EI waiting period for EI sickness benefits will provide additional support to those in quarantine. To be eligible for EI sickness benefits, the claimant must have accumulated a minimum of 600 hours of insurable employment in the last 52-week period preceding a claim, or since the start of their last claim whichever is shorter. A Record of Employment from the employer is required.

For more details on eligibility criteria, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-sickness/qualify.html

3. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Including Those Who Would Not Normally Qualify for EI

If you stopped working because of COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) may provide you with temporary income support. The CERB provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.

Applications are now open.

Prior to April 6, individuals who are without work and are eligible for EI can continue to apply for Employment Insurance.

Important! If you are not eligible for Employment Insurance, find out how you can get ready to apply for the CERB through the Canada Revenue Agency.

Whether you apply online or by phone, the CRA wants to provide the best service possible to everyone. To help manage this, the CRA has set up specific days for you to apply. Please use the following guidelines:


Day to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit


Eligibility

The benefit will be available to workers:

  • Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;

  • Who have stopped working because of COVID-19 and have not voluntarily quit their job;

  • Who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and

  • Who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment income.

The Benefit is only available to individuals who stopped work as a result of reasons related to COVID-19. If you are looking for a job but haven’t stopped working because of COVID-19, you are not eligible for the Benefit.

4. Immigration/Borders

As of March 18, 2020: The Government agreed to temporarily restrict non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border. Travelers will no longer be permitted to cross the border for recreation and tourism. Prime Minister Trudeau and US President Trump agreed that essential travel will ensure that critical supply chains between both countries. These supply chains ensure that food, fuel, and life-saving medicines reach people on both sides of the border.

The Federal Government has redirected international passenger flight arrivals to 4 airports:

  • Calgary International Airport

  • Vancouver International Airport

  • Toronto-Pearson International Airport

  • Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport

This measure will not affect domestic flights or flights from the U. S., sun destinations (such as Mexico and the Caribbean), or St. Pierre-et-Miquelon, which can continue to operate on their regular routes and land at current Canadian destinations. The Government is working closely with the airline industry and airports to avoid unnecessarily disrupting operations and to minimize the inconvenience to travelers.

Canada will also implement measures at airports to:

  • strengthen health screening

  • increase presence to conduct further health screening and public outreach

  • increase signage throughout the arrivals area to encourage travelers to follow the latest public health guidance

  • prevent all travelers who have COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of their citizenship, from boarding international flights to Canada

  • airlines will conduct a basic health assessment of all air travelers based on guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada

https://www.international.gc.ca/gac-amc/index.aspx?lang=eng

For information on how COVID-19 affecting immigration, refugee, citizenship, and passport services, please visit:

https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/coronavirus-covid19.html

5. Travel

The Government of Canada has been recommending that Canadians abroad return to Canada by commercial means, however, the government knows that some countries (such as Peru) have already started putting measures in place such as closing land borders and in some cases shutting down their airspace. Global Affairs Canada is actively engaging on these situations - however it’s very possible that Canadians will be prevented from leaving the countries in which they are located - while these border measures are in place.  If this is the case, we strongly recommend they take precautions to stay healthy, and follow the guidance of PHAC and advice of local authorities.

The government has also set up a loan program of up to $5,000 per person to assist Canadians who may need to either book an emergency flight or extend their stay abroad.


If the traveler is in an emergency situation or would like more information on the loan program, they 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 sos@international.gc.ca.


REQUEST EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE

Global affairs directly at 613-996-8885

Travelers should register online with Global Affairs Canada here:

To limit the spread of COVID-19, many countries have put in place travel or border restrictions and other measures such as movement restrictions and quarantines. Many airlines are suspending flights. Many airports are closing, preventing flights from leaving. Exit bans are becoming more frequent. New restrictions may be imposed with little warning. Your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of Canada longer than expected. Canadian travelers should return to Canada as soon as possible.

Contact your airline or tour operator to determine options for cancelling or postponing your trip.

If you must travel despite our advisory:

  • You may have difficulty returning or may be unable to return to Canada

  • You may have difficulty obtaining essential products and services such as food, water, medication and medical services

  • You may face strict movement restrictions and quarantines

  • You may face penalties, fines, or imprisonment if you do not follow the restrictions and orders of local authorities

  • Your insurance may not cover your travel or medical expenses.

  • We may have limited capacity to offer you consular services

You should also:

You can learn more about travel advice and advisories at: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories.

6. Business Resources

There are more resources coming to help small business and we will be sure to update them as they become available. Canada’s Conservatives are working to make sure business have the supports they need during this time.

Providing small businesses with wage subsidies: 75 per cent wage subsidy for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. This will help businesses to keep and return workers to the payroll. More details on eligibility criteria will start with the impact of COVID-19 on sales, and will be shared before the end of March.

Defer all GST/HST payments until June 2020: Allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer all Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) payments until June, as well as customs duties owed for imports. This measure is the equivalent of providing up to $30 billion in interest-free loans to Canadian businesses. It will help businesses so they can continue to pay their employees and their bills, and help ease cash-flow challenges across the country.

Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP): These supports are meant to support financing in the private sector through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC). Current options available include:

  • 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.

If you have specific questions about applying for funding, BDC can be reached at the toll-free number: 1-877-232-2269 Monday to Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time). You can also visit www.bdc.ca for details.

​They also have an online assessment tool: https://www.bdc.ca/en/consulting/pages/financial-planning.aspx

FYI: The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has compiled a set of resources that are helpful: www.chamber.ca/resources/pandemic-preparedness/

7. Loan and Bank Supports

The Government has announced major measures to support homeowners This includes mortgage supports that include payment deferral, loan re-amortization, capitalization of outstanding interest arrears and other eligible expenses, and special payment arrangements. The Government, through CMHC, is providing increased flexibility for homeowners facing financial difficulties to defer mortgage payments on homeowner CMHC-insured mortgage loans. CMHC will permit lenders to allow payment deferral beginning immediately.

Major Canadian Financial Institutions have also announced relief for clients for a range of products from mortgages to credit cards. Make sure to contact your bank for details.

8. Tax Deadline Change

It was announced that instead of an April 30 filing deadline for the 2020 tax season, Canadians will have until June 1 to submit their income tax return to CRA. The deadline to pay off any outstanding balances interest-free will also be extended, this time to July 31.

Businesses will also have more time to pay their taxes without paying any interest or penalties. The new deadline will be July 31 to pay any corporate taxes or make any scheduled instalment payments.

Updates will be made available: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/taxes.html

RRSP Changes: The Government is planning to reduce minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25 per cent for 2020 in recognition of volatile market conditions and their impact on many seniors’ retirement savings. https://pm.gc.ca/en/news/news-releases/2020/03/18/prime-minister-announces-more-support-workers-and-businesses-through

9. Student Loans

The Government has announced they are placing a six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying these loans. More details will follow in the coming days. This period is set to begin on March 31st, 2020.

10. Health Product Production

Health Canada has launched a series of links with new, consolidated “Health Product Industry” web pages. They are directly from the main COVID-19 webpage. These pages include topics related to diagnostic tests, ventilators, and disinfectants and sanitizers. Details can be found at:https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/covid19-industry.html


The Government has also called on suppliers who are able to produce, or retool to produce, health products. Find out details here:https://buyandsell.gc.ca/calling-all-suppliers-help-canada-combat-covid-19


For any questions/requests/applications for medical devices, including test kits, please direct people to: hc.devicelicensing-homologationinstruments.sc@canada.ca


For any questions/requests/applications for other health products, including hand sanitizer, please direct people to: hc.covid19healthproducts-produitsdesante.sc@canada.ca

11. False and misleading claims

We have not approved any product to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19. Selling unauthorized health products or making false or misleading claims to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19 is illegal in Canada. We take this matter very seriously and we are taking action to stop this activity.

Health Canada has published a list of hard surface disinfectants that are likely to be effective for use against COVID-19. This list is updated regularly. Although they do not claim to kill viruses such as COVID-19, cleaners play a role in helping limit the transfer of microorganisms.

We encourage anyone who has information regarding potential non-compliant sale or advertising of any health product claiming to treat, prevent or cure COVID-19, to report it using our online complaint form.

12. Provincial Supports

The Alberta government has provided supports for Albertan affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.You can learn more about financial supports provided by the Government of Alberta from

https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-supports-for-albertans.aspx.

For further information on provincial supports, contact the MLA for your area:

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this information you are encouraged to write Damien at 4945-50th Street, Camrose, Alberta, T4V 1P9, call toll-free 1-800-665-4358, text 403.575-5625, or e-maildamien.kurek@parl.gc.ca. You can also stay up to date by following Damien on social media @dckurek. If you have received this email in error or wish to not be included, please reply to be unsubscribed.

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