As we take the vital steps to “flatten the curve” of the COVID-19 outbreak, I have been uplifted and inspired by the stories I have heard of how we are coming together to care for each other in this challenging time – shopping for groceries for the vulnerable, offering to share necessities, and even simply calling to encourage isolated friends, family and neighbours. That is the Saskatchewan way, and I am profoundly proud of my Province.
In my previous email, I told you we would be updating you as more information comes out regarding COVID-19 and the steps the Federal and Provincial governments are taking.
In the Riding:
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, I have made the difficult decision to close my offices to walk-in traffic. My staff and I will continue to work for you in our offices and are available via email or phone to help with any Federal concerns you may have. The contact information for my offices is available on my website at https://www.kellyblockmp.ca/contact
The Government of Saskatchewan has declared a State of Emergency. I recommend that you read the entirety of the declaration.
The State of Emergency contains measures including but not limited to:
- Limiting gatherings to no more than 50 people.
- The immediate temporary closure of gyms, fitness centres, casinos, and bingo halls.
- Restaurants and bars are required to limit seating to 50% of capacity or up to 50 people, whichever is lesser, and are required to have a 2 metre distance between customers.
- Crown utilities will implement bill-deferral programs allowing a zero-interest bill deferral for up to six months for Saskatchewan residents whose ability to make bill payments may be impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions.
- Residents of Saskatchewan are advised to limit non-essential out-of-province travel.
The Saskatchewan Legislature unanimously passed a bill to create a “public health emergency leave”. This bill allows those who need to self-isolate to do so without the need for a doctor’s note or risk to their employment, retroactive to March 6th, 2020. If you do need to self-isolate and do not have paid sick leave, please note that the Federal government has waived the one-week waiting period to receive EI.
On Friday, March 20th, schools will begin closing down.
For more information, visit the Government of Saskatchewan COVID-19 response website.
To reach the Public Health Authority, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 811. Please call 811 only after you have completed the self-assessment tool available on the Government of Saskatchewan’s website.
The Government of Canada has closed the borders to all non-essential travel. Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be allowed to re-enter Canada. Those exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to board flights to Canada. If you are currently out of the country, make arrangements to return as soon as possible and register with the Federal government to receive updates and assistance. Upon returning to Canada, you are required to self-isolate for 14 days unless otherwise instructed.
The Government of Canada has introduced an extensive economic support plan with assistance for both individuals and businesses.
I recommend that you read through the plan at the link above.
- Temporary increase in the Canada Child Benefit (CCB).
- An Emergency Care Benefit for those not eligible for EI.
- A one-time increase in the Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC), to be received in May 2020.
- A deferral of the return filing date for income tax to June 1, 2020 (it is recommended that those who receive benefits under the GSTC or CCB not delay their filing to ensure they receive the proper benefits).
- A plan to increase flexibility of mortgage repayment.
- Small businesses may be eligible to receive a short-term 10% subsidy of remuneration paid over a three-month period (Please see link above for details).
- Businesses may defer payment, until August 31st, of income taxes owing from March 18 to the beginning of September.
- The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) will allow the small and medium business to access $10 billion in additional stabilization loans.
The Government of Canada continues to provide daily information at www.canada.ca/coronavirus. The COVID-19 hotline is 1-833-784-4397.
Our Conservative Party remains ready to assist the Government in passing necessary legislation to help Canadians face these challenging times.
We have been advised that we will likely see an increase in cases of COVID-19 in the upcoming days. This does not mean that social distancing is failing. COVID-19 has an incubation period of up to 14 days, meaning many of the new cases were exposed up to two weeks ago. It is important to continue social distancing and taking necessary precautions.
Remain calm and purchase only what is necessary to ensure that everyone has access to food, medication, and other necessities.
I will provide you with important information as it becomes available. Continue to take care of each other.
God bless you all.
Kelly Block, MP