A lot has happened over the last month and we’ve made a lot of progress in our fight against COVID-19. But, I understand that the people of Markham-Thornhill are still worried and anxious about what happens next. The situation around this pandemic is constantly evolving, as is our government’s response. These newsletters serve as a way to assure you that our government is doing everything in our power to help and protect Canadians in this difficult time.
The month of May holds significance for many of us. Whether we’re celebrating Canadian Jewish Heritage Month, or observing Ramadan – this is a time to cherish our communities. While festivities will look different this year as we practice with physical distancing, it is a chance for us to find innovative ways to connect with each other and share our cultures.
MY OP-ED IN THE TORONTO STAR: “Don’t let racism flourish amid COVID-19 crisis” – May also marks the beginning of Asian Heritage Month. This is a time to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of Asian Canadians to our country’s culture and history – but with the rise of racism and hate crimes against people of Asian descent in the face of COVID-19, we can’t let that go unchecked. You can read my op-ed in the Toronto Star addressing this important issue, published yesterday.
Our government continues to have your back in these unprecedented times as we roll out support measures to make sure Canadians are safe and healthy, and are able to keep food on the table and keep up with their bills. As Team Canada, we are in this together.
Please note that my Constituency Office is closed to the public at this time, but my team is still available to help members of Markham-Thornhill by email (Mary.Ng@parl.gc.ca) or by phone (905)-479-8100.
I joined Mayor Scarpitti & hundreds of constituents to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on our local community organizations and businesses. It was great to connect with the people of Markham virtually and I commend Mayor Scarpitti for launching his innovative #MayorsMeetUp Zoom meetings.
Investing in research and vaccine development has been a top priority since our initial response to address COVID-19 on March 11th, 2020.
Researchers and scientists in Canada and around the world are working hard to better understand the virus, and its impacts on people and communities. We need long-term solutions to the virus. That’s why we are investing more than $1 billion in support of a national medical and research strategy to address COVID-19, which includes vaccine development, the production of treatments, and the tracking and testing of the virus.
The strategy also he establishment of the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force that will oversee the coordination of a series of countrywide blood test surveys, to tell us how widely the virus has spread in Canada, and provide reliable estimates of potential immunity and vulnerabilities in Canadian populations. By supporting COVID-19 research, we will be able to better protect the health and safety of Canadians and vulnerable populations around the world.
CERB & SUPPORT FOR ESSENTIAL WORKERS
This past month, millions of Canadians were able to benefit from an extra $2000 in their pockets with our Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). After listening to Canadians, we further expanded the benefit to be more flexible and generous for the diverse employment situations people are facing in these difficult times.
While CERB is for Canadians who have lost income due to COVID-19, we also recognize the incredible work that essential workers are doing to save lives, ensure the safety and integrity of our food supply, and providing essential retail services. We are working with provinces and territories to help provide a temporary top-up to the salaries of workers deemed essential in the fight against COVID-19, which make less than $2,500 a month.
Further details will be announced soon, following further work with the provinces and territories.
HISTORIC ACTION TO HELP SAVE CANADIAN JOBS AND BUSINESSES
I want to acknowledge the contributions of business owners and entrepreneurs in our community who are taking significant steps – like temporarily closing their doors or scaling back their operations – to help us plank the curve. We have been listening to business owners, and we’ve created supports that were in direct response to what we’ve heard.
Our government will continue to ensure that workers in every sector are protected and that Canadian families have the help they need to put food on the table and pay the bills.
Helping businesses with their cash flow and operating costs
April marked the launch of Canada Emergency Business Account to help small businesses and not-for-profits with operating costs through interest-free loans of up to $40,000. As we continue to work closely with businesses across the country, we made improvements to CEBA by lowering the payroll requirement to $20,000. Over 500,000 – half a million – businesses have already been approved for this support.
While businesses are experiencing declines in revenue, the majority of expenses remain the same. In April, we rolled out a number of programs to offer financial assistance programs to help manage operating costs in these difficult times. Guaranteed loans and co-lending programs are now available to businesses through their financial institutions. As well, targeted supports have been introduced to help innovative start-ups and high growth companies through the Industrial Research Assistance Program and Futurpreneur Canada.
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance
We are continuing to work hard with provinces and territories to implement the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance to lower rent by at least 75% for small businesses. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation released more details last week. It is expected that this support will be operational by mid-May, and further details will be announced soon.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
In order to help employers keep their staff on payroll, rehire those previously laid off, and ensure workers can access a decent income, we introduced and implemented the CEWS to cover up to 75% of employee wages. This program will help businesses of all sizes and across industries position themselves to rebound when the outbreak has passed.
Canada Summer Jobs
After hearing the concerns of students, youth, and employers on the status of the 2020 program and given current circumstances, the Prime Minister announced changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program this year to help employers adapt to the realities of COVID-19, and support young Canadians as they begin to look for summer employment.
For successful applications from February, they will be eligible for up to 100% wage subsidy for their youth employee, can extend the end date of employment to February 28, 2021, and can hire youth on a part-time basis.
Canadians across the country are continuing to face challenges during this difficult time, particularly those who are most vulnerable to the health, social, and economic impacts of COVID-19. Since more Canadians are looking to charities, non-profits, and community groups for support, we have included efforts to better assist these organizations in our COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.
Emergency Community Support Fund
We have introduced a $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund to support charities and non-profits in their important work and to help Canadians through the new realities and difficulties brought on by the pandemic. Whether it’s training volunteers, increasing at-home deliveries for seniors, or driving people with disabilities to appointments, this fund can help maintain the good work these organizations are doing.
We are disbursing funds through the following national partners: United Way Centraide Canada, the Canadian Red Cross, and Community Foundations of Canada. Community organizations are encouraged to visit their websites to earn more about how and when they will be able to apply.
Food banks have also seen an increase in need from Canadians – which has been felt in Markham-Thornhill, As many organizations in our community have started food drives and bundling food packages for those in need, our government wants to support these efforts. That is why on April 3rd, the Prime Minister announced $100 million in support of organizations who are on the frontlines making sure people get essential food support in their time of need.
Food Banks Canada will receive $50 million, while $20 million has been evenly divided between Second Harvest, Community Food Centres Canada, the Breakfast Club, and the Salvation Army. Where gaps in service are identified, the Government of Canada has allocated a further $30 million to go towards other local-level organizations.
SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS
This week, I had the honour of participating in voting for our government’s measures to help students through COVID-19. As we wait for it to pass through the senate, I take great pride in being part of a huge step to better support post-secondary students through these uncertain times.
The measures proposed for students include a range of programs from monthly financial aid, an incentive for COVID-19 related volunteering, to improved loans and grants for the next academic year.
Whether you’ve recently graduated and were looking forward to starting your career, or you’re still in school and counting on summer employment to pay tuition, or pursuing a national service opportunity – our government has your back.
A huge thank you goes out to the countless organizations and groups in Markham—Thornhill that are taking the time to donate supplies, offer expertise and volunteer their time. It is in difficult times that we must come together as a community and ours is a shining example of that.
You can get involved in their efforts by reaching out to:
- Through the Markham Cares campaign, the City of Markham is looking for donations of food supplies or personal protective equipment
- Parya Trillium Foundation is putting together food packages for international students and families in the GTA.
- The Islamic Society of Markham is running a food relief drive to support local families and seniors through bags of essential food.
The Government of Canada is working with provincial and territorial governments to respond to COVID-19. We are seeking volunteers to help in the following areas:
1. Case tracking and contact tracing;
2. Health system surge capacity;
3. Case data collection and reporting.
We are building an inventory of volunteers from which provincial and territorial governments can draw upon as needed. We welcome ALL volunteers as we are looking for a wide variety of experiences and expertise. You can register here.
Download the Canada COVID-19 Support App
Download the new Canada COVID-19 Support App for free on your mobile devices to receive the latest updates, trusted resources, and self-assess your symptoms.
Local COVID-19 Assessment Sites
In Markham—Thornhill, local resources and assessment sites are still being finalized. Local public health agencies are asking that only those showing symptoms of COVID-19 and/or have reasonable grounds to believe that they have been in contact with the virus should pursue testing.
Below, you will find the details of the closest hospitals to my constituency, as well as details regarding their assessment sites and links to their web pages for locations and protocols of COVID-19 assessments. Please review these instructions or call ahead before visiting a facility.
Mackenzie Health (Major MacKenzie Drive West between Yonge and Bathurst)
- COVID-19 Assessment Centre located in the Medical Urgent Care Clinic
- Assessments are available by appointment only
- Monday-Friday: 11:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M.
- Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 A.M. to 08:00 P.M.