Op-Ed from Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan

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  • Over the past month, Canadians have joined together to help in our collective effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, often called the coronavirus. The actions all of us have been taking, such as washing our hands, engaging in physical distancing and staying home except for essential outings, has helped significantly but we know it comes at a cost. For many families, it has meant reduced income. For businesses, it means that many have had to close their doors. We know that these are challenging times, but we want to assure you that the government is here to help.

    On Monday of this week, our government launched the single application portal for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to provide Canadians with the support they need. No one should have to worry about paying their bills during this time when everyone is focused on the health and safety of themselves and their families. The application process is simple and can be done here. If you qualify, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit will provide $2,000 a month for up to 4 months. We are also increasing the Canada Child Benefit by up to $300 to help families. We have taken early steps to support Canadians and will continue to find ways to ensure that we are there to support you.

    Across Vancouver and Canada, small business owners have built their companies over years and potentially generations. You are the backbone of our communities and Canada’s economy. We will be there for you. It is why we are introducing the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to support you to help you get through these times. This subsidy will cover up to 75% of an employee’s wage, up $847 per employee, per week, for employers of all sizes and across all sectors, who have suffered a drop in revenue of at least 15% in March, 30% in April in May. We also have provided additional support such as through the Canada Emergency Business Account that helps deliver interest-free loans to small businesses and not-for-profits. If you are a business owner in need of these interest-free loans of up to $40,000, contact your financial institution to apply. This critical support will allow businesses to take care of their employees, often many who are like family, while making sure that they are in the position to rebound when the outbreak has passed.

    We also know that many of us have loved ones who are overseas, such as in the Philippines, and who are eager to come home to Canada. We know how difficult this can be. Our government is working with our international partners and airlines to coordinate flights across the world, including the Philippines. To make sure that Canadians abroad have access to the most up to date information about our efforts, make sure that they register here. We will continue to do our best to help Canadians and for those who are able to return, you must go immediately into quarantine for 14 days.

    These are challenging times for Canadians, but we can get through it together. Our government will continue to listen to needs across the country and work to deliver programs to support families, seniors, business and communities across Vancouver and Canada. We must continue to take the steps now to protect the most vulnerable in our community from this virus by following the instructions from our public health officials like Dr. Theresa Tam, the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer. We all must do our part. We will get through this tough period, and we will do it together.

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