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.
There have been some changes from my previous communication.
In the Riding:
My staff and I continue to be available to assist you via email or phone. The contact information for my offices is available on my website at https://www.kellyblockmp.ca/contact.
The Government of Saskatchewan introduced new restrictions to curtail the spread of COVID-19 I recommend reading the entire release.
Some notable highlights include:
- Limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people in a room (exceptions are provided when two-metre distancing between persons can be maintained and in retail locations deemed essential)
- A comprehensive list of critical public services and businesses that are allowed to continue operating https://www.saskatchewan.ca/-/media/news-release-backgrounders/2020/mar/critical-public-services-to-address-covid-19-and-allowable-business-services.pdf
- Closure of a wide-range of businesses and public services, effective March 23 https://www.saskatchewan.ca/-/media/files/coronavirus/public-health-measures/public-health-orders/public-health-order--march-20-2020.pdf
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. https://public.ehealthsask.ca/sites/COVID-19/
The Government of Canada announced 3 new initiatives on Friday, March 27.
- The previously announced 10% wage subsidy for qualifying businesses will be increased to 75%. Eligible businesses will be able to claim up to 75% of the wages of those they keep on payroll. This is backdated to March 15
- Banks will offer $40,000 in government-backed loans to storefront businesses. These loans will be interest-free for one year. $10,000 may be forgivable under certain circumstances
- The GST owed on any imports will be deferred until June.
The Government of Canada has enacted the Quarantine Act, effective immediately. All travellers are now legally required to enter self-isolation for 14 days upon arriving in Canada.
Parliament reconvened in an emergency session on Tuesday, March 24 to pass the Government’s COVID-19 response into law with Bill C-13 (more information on this later).
Bill C-13 has brought in one major change from last week's announcements. The newly-minted Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will combine two previously announced programs - the Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit - into one.
Some highlights of include:
- The CERB is intended to go live in early April
- The CERB is worth $2000/month for 4 months and will be paid out every 4 weeks
- Wage earners, contract workers, self-employed, and other workers not eligible for EI will be eligible for CERB
- If someone is currently on EI they should NOT apply for CERB
- Currently, those who are eligible should still apply for EI
To apply for the CERB, you should prepare by going to http://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency and create a CRA "My Account" or a "My Service Canada Account".
Seniors: We have received multiple questions on assistance for seniors. This is what the Government has announced so far:
- For low and modest income seniors—and other Canadians—the Government will provide a one-time special payment through the Goods and Services Tax (GST) credit by early May. This will double the maximum annual GST credit payment amounts for the 2019-20 benefit year. The average boost to income for those benefitting from this measure will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.
- The government is reducing required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25 per cent for 2020.
- The government is extending the deadline to file your income taxes to June 1 and allowing any new balances due, or installments, to be deferred until after August 31, 2020 without incurring interest or penalties.
The Government of Canada continues to provide daily information at www.canada.ca/coronavirus. The COVID-19 hotline is 1-833-784-4397.
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