I begin this week’s letter with two inspiring examples of how our community is stepping up in this time of crisis to help those in need and to support our amazing health care workers: Volunteers from Deltassist are delivering groceries to seniors and individuals with mobility challenges, and a local restaurant, Tasty Indian Bistro, is dropping off meals to emergency care providers at the Delta Hospital and at Surrey Memorial. A big thanks to everyone involved in these and other local efforts for your compassion and community spirit.
I also wanted to thank each and every person in Delta who has made the choice to stay at home as much as possible and to self-isolate at the first sign of symptoms. You are contributing in the most fundamental way to getting control of the COVID-19 virus. It is important that you continue to stay home.
This being said, there are very concerning examples in our community of people continuing to gather in larger groups and not practicing social distancing. I implore you to stop this behavior and start to contribute to our collective efforts to end this crisis. Your behavior is unacceptable and is putting at risk the lives of not only your immediate circle of family and friends, but of many thousands of others, as the virus spreads through contact.
We are continuing to do our part as the Government of Canada. We continue to support provincial health care systems and scientific research. We are co-ordinating efforts and working with companies across Canada to ensure our supply of medical supplies and equipment is sufficient. We are confident that we will have the supplies and equipment necessary to keep our health care workers and their patients safe.
We have put in place U.S. border restrictions and an international travel ban, and are assisting Canadian travelers stranded abroad. At the same time, we are ensuring that health care professionals, public safety officers and essential workers can continue to do their very important work.
We are also putting in place measures to help families, workers and businesses. These include an increased Canada Child Benefit payment and GST rebate, income support for both EI- and non EI-eligible workers, and a six-month pause on Canada Student Loan repayments. We are working with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and banks on mortgage deferral options. We have extended the personal tax filing deadline until June 1, and tax payments are deferred until August.
For small businesses and non-profits, we are providing a 10 per cent wage subsidy to a maximum of $25,000 per employer, and are increasing the credit available to businesses experiencing cash flow challenges. Businesses can also defer tax payments until August.
Other specific measures include reducing the minimum withdrawal requirements for RRIFs for seniors in recognition of the impact of market changes on their retirement savings. We are also supporting Indigenous communities, women’s shelters and sexual assault centres, and organizations addressing homelessness.
Please know that all of this is the first phase of our economic measures aimed at ensuring the capacity of our health care system and addressing the economic impacts of this crisis. Additional support is in the works.
In these extraordinary times, please continue to be kind to each other, keep in touch with each other, and do your part by staying home and practicing social distancing.
My team and I are here to support you. Feel free to contact us at any time.
Carla Qualtrough is the MP for Delta and Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion