I hope you are all keeping well. I have received more information regarding the COVID-19 and, as promised, am passing it on to you.
For previously announced programs, please go to my website.
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy:
The Government has introduced a wage subsidy of 75% of wages on the first $58,700 per employee. This subsidy will be refunded to businesses by the CRA and can be applied for through the My Business Account on the CRA website. This subsidy is retroactive to March 15, 2020. All businesses and non-profits that have lost at least 30% of revenue compared to the same month last year will be eligible for this subsidy. Businesses must attest that they are doing everything they can to pay the remaining 25% of wages and must re-attest each month. The Government has stated that the funds will be available in approximately 6 weeks.
Our Conservative Caucus is pushing the Government to provide the funds more readily and refund the GST paid by businesses in the last 6 months to provide greater assistance to businesses.
Extending the Work-Sharing program:
The Government announced that they are extending the maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program from 38 weeks to 76 weeks. The Work-Sharing program is offered to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers.
Temporary Foreign Workers Exemption:
The Government has made plans to grant an exemption from the border closure for temporary foreign workers in the highly-specialized agricultural sector. As always, employers are required to attempt to find Canadians to fill the required job positions before hiring a temporary foreign worker. All temporary foreign workers will be required to present a Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction at the border crossing, and will be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival to Canada.
The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit:
The Government has provided more details on how to apply and who will be eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The CERB is a $2000 per month taxable benefit lasting for a maximum of 16 weeks which is available to eligible persons, including those who may not eligible for EI. The Government intends to roll it out it beginning April 6th. Payments will be made 3-6 days after application by direct deposit and 10 days by cheque. Any EI claims not processed when the CERB opens, as well as applications made after March 15, will be moved to the new program.
CERB is a taxable benefit, but no deductions will be withheld. Individuals must pay the taxes due on the CERB at the end of the fiscal year.
To be eligible, you must fit into the following criteria:
- Be a resident of Canada
- Be above the age of 15
- Have made $5000 in the previous year (counting from the date of application)
- Not have earned any income in the previous 14 days
At the end of the 16 weeks, you may be eligible to apply for EI
To prepare for the CERB, please go to https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency.html and create a CRA account.
Our Conservative caucus has raised some concerns with the CERB, notably the requirement that the individual not make any money at all in the 14 days before application. This forces people like volunteer firefighters to chose between responding to a call or receiving the CERB. The CERB should not punish good choices.
The Government plans on rolling out CERB in stages starting on April 6, based on the month of birth of the applicant.
- April 6: January -March
- April 7: April - June
- April 8: July – September
- April 9: October – December
Unfortunately, I have some disappointing news.
Despite these challenging times, the Liberal Government has so far refused to even postpone the planned carbon tax increase, which went into effect on April 1. The Liberals raised the carbon tax by 50%, which makes us the first country in the world to raise taxes during the COVID-19 crisis.
It is unconscionable that, at a time when businesses are struggling to stay open and individuals are struggling to pay their bills and feed their families, the Liberals should increase a tax that raises the price of nearly everything.
I joined with my fellow Saskatchewan Conservative MPs in writing to the Minister of Finance, asking him to stop the planned increase. That letter is available on my website.
We will continue to strongly push for this increase to be rolled back.
MP Wage Increase
On April 1, an automatic pay increase for Members of Parliament and Senators came into effect.
While individual parliamentarians cannot refuse this increase to our wages, the Government can introduce legislation to freeze it. During the recession of 2008, the previous Conservative Government placed a 3-year freeze on MP salaries to help deal with the rising deficit.
Our Leader Andrew Scheer has been clear, Conservatives support a wage freeze for parliamentarians. However, it is the responsibility of the Government to table legislation to do this, just as it was up to the Conservative Government back when we were in power to do so.
Should the Government refuse to implement a wage freeze, I will join Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer in donating the increase to help those impacted by COVID-19.
Important Resources and Contact information:
My Office: www.kellyblockmp.ca/contact
Saskatchewan: To reach the Public Health Authority, email [email protected] or call 811. Please call 811 only after you have completed the self-assessment tool available on the Government of Saskatchewan’s website.
Canada: The Government of Canada continues to provide daily information at www.canada.ca/coronavirus. The COVID-19 hotline is 1-833-784-4397.
A review of current economic programs is available at https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html.
I will continue to provide you with important information as it becomes available. Take care of each other.
God bless you all.
Kelly Block, MP