Extension on Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
Trudeau confirmed that his government will be extending the CEWS by another three months, to the end of August. The government will also work with labour groups and stakeholders to make additional adjustments to the program and will be reviewing the eligibility criteria, including the 30 per cent revenue decline threshold. “Business owners please take confidence from this announcement,” he said. “You now have actual runway to catch your breath. So please, bring back your employees.” Read the government’s media release here.
The Prime Minister also encouraged Canadians who are able to return back to work as soon as possible. “We need you back,” he said. “We need you in your jobs and in your teams to bring life back into the community.”
To date almost 1.7 million workers have had their wages subsidized.
Canada Summer Job Bank
He also announced that the first set of job postings for students and recent graduates are now up on the jobbank.gc.ca website and also on the Job Bank Canada app, and thousands more will be posted online in the coming weeks. Trudeau encouraged students to check it out as a placement not only means a paycheck, it is also experience for jobs that are key to our fight against COVID-19.
Canada Child Benefit and HST/GST Credit
While everyone should do their best to file taxes before June 1st deadline, the Prime Minister announced that those who are unable to apply in time will continue to receive their CCB and HST benefits until the end of September.
“People are going through a tough time right now but by working together and by being there for each other – we will come out of this,” Trudeau said.
$450M For Non COVID-19 Research Wage Subsidy
Trudeau also announced $450 million to help researchers and research institutions who have seen their labs close or that are facing having to lay off staff. This money is expected to flow through universities and affiliated research institutes that have been affected by the pandemic, and to provide temporary support on wages through federal granting agencies. “Canadian researchers are the best in the world,” said Trudeau. “Every day they make discoveries to keep us safe and healthy and we have to support them.”
An estimated 15,000 health researchers and lab technicians at hospitals and medical institutes across the country have seen their work halted as it’s not COVID-19 related, and are facing funding pressures as the nation prioritizes the pandemic.
While cautioning that a vaccine will take time, Trudeau was optimistic that clinical trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University will ideally result in the vaccine being produced and distributed here in Canada.
Adding to emergency funding already in place, the Prime Minister announced new aid programs, including:
- $100 million for the Canadian Red Cross, which Trudeau acknowledged is facing increased demand for its services at a time of fewer volunteers and declining donations. The new funding aims to help the Red Cross deal with COVID-19 responses as well as preparing for flood and wildfire relief efforts.
- $15 million to support women’s entrepreneurship.
Trudeau also indicated that an increase to the Canada Child Benefit is coming as of July 20 – beyond the usual hike to recognize cost of living increases.
Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)
Trudeau announced that his government will be expanding the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account to include businesses that are sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll. “Business like yours are the backbone of the economy and the life blood of our communities and whether it’s through CEBA or wage subsidy, we are in your corner,” said Trudeau. You can read more about the expanded eligibility criteria here.
U.S Canada Border Closure Extended
The Prime Minister noted that the Federal government has reached an agreement between Canada and the United States to keep the border closed to all non-essential travel until June 21, even as parts of both countries begin gradually re-opening. “This is an important decision which will protect the citizens from both sides of the border,” said Trudeau.
Update on PPE
The Prime Minister also noted that in recent weeks his government has doubled the inventory of surgical masks and face shields and is expecting hundreds of thousands of hospital gowns, face shields and swabs to be delivered to the provinces and territories in the coming weeks. The government has also received orders for ventilators from an American company called ZOLL Medical and has secured 15 contracts from across the country to manufacture hospital gowns. New inventory for hospital gowns is expected to be released from Montreal company Samuelsohn soon.
COVID-19 Support for Canadian Veterans
The PM announced a new support initiative for Canadian veterans including the “Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence” at McMaster University. The centre will focus on national research, training and education for veterans. “To all those who have served Canada – thank you. The entire country supports you and we are grateful to you,” Trudeau said.
COVID-19 Support for Fish Harvesters
The federal government will invest $470 million to support fish harvesters including creating a fish harvester benefit. The new benefit will cover 75 per cent of losses up to $10,000, if their income decreases at least 25 per cent this season. Fish harvesting business owners will also be offered non-repayable grants of up to $10,000 including extension on Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, which will now be extended beyond June.
COVID-19 Support for Farmers and Agriculture Sector
The PM outlined a $100-million Agriculture and Food Business Solutions Fund for farm business in Canada, encouraging all Canadians to buy made-in-Canada products. “Not only will it taste great, but it will help people who put food on our plates,” Trudeau said. The full news release can be found here.
COVID-19 Support for Indigenous Communities
The government is also partnering up with Indigenous and northern communities by providing $2.3 million for food and supplies.
Re-opening National Parks and Heritage Sites
Some national parks will partially reopen at the beginning of June allowing people to access trails and other green spaces where physical distancing can be practiced.
Additionally, new regulations on boating will be imposed as of June 1, restricting pleasure craft operation in Canada’s Arctic coastal waters and coastal areas of northern Quebec and Labrador.
COVID-19 serological tests
Health Canada has now approved the first serological test for use in Canada to detect antibodies specific to the COVID-19 virus. The tests will be used in Canadian laboratories to detect COVID-19 antibodies and to better understand whether people who have been infected are immune to the virus.
Regional Relief and Recovery Fund
Trudeau announced that the nearly $1 billion in emergency regional aid will flow through six regional development agencies. The funding is intended to cushion the financial blow experienced by businesses – especially in rural areas – that do not qualify for other aid programs.
Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)
The Prime Minister confirmed that students and recent graduates will now able to apply for the $9 billion CESB program starting this Friday. He encouraged all students in need to sign up on the Canada Revenue Agency website in advance, noting, “it’s worth doing this now to make the next steps quicker.”
City of Calgary
Facility closures: *Note many City facilities remain closed in response to orders set out by the Alberta Emergency Management Act, but some essential services including the Animal Services Centre are adjusting their hours of operation over the holiday weekend. Please visit calgary.ca/covid19 or contact 311 for the latest information on revised hours and procedures to access City services.
Outdoors COVID Reminder: In order to help maintain physical distancing, Calgarians are asked to avoid the following parks:
- Sue Higgins Dog Park
- Nose Hill Park
- Eau Claire Promenade and Prince’s Island Park Playgrounds remain closed within Calgary.
From more details and what sports and activities are and are not permitted over weekend go here.
Dr. Hinshaw ordered that outdoor gatherings are now permitted to have up to 50 people, as long as 2 meter physical distancing remains in place and all other health guidelines are followed. Indoor gatherings remain limited to 15 people.
Update provided by our Varsity MLA, Jason Copping*
Dr. Hinshaw has provided the following advice to Albertans who are asking about their summer travel plans to summer homes, cabins and cottages within Alberta.
- Responsible travel to these locations is permissible, with consideration to local community guidelines.
- Respect the health and safety of small communities and plan your trip with minimal stops where possible.
- Pack your own food and stop only for gas if necessary.
- And as always, take all the necessary precautions to protect your health and the health of those around you.
- Communities that include private recreational facilities like lakes, sports courts, or trails, may also be wondering whether they can safely resume operations for their members and visitors:
- Operators may choose to do so, but must follow the workplace guidance available on our website.
Utility Payment Deferral Program Act
Government has passed the Utility Payment Deferral Program Act supporting the Utility Payment Deferral Program, which allows Albertans experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 to defer their utility payments until June 18.
- Utility providers are committed to keeping the lights on for Albertans and we in turn need to make sure we are doing what we can to support them if needed.
- This Act enables electricity and natural gas providers to apply for loans, ensuring they have the cash flow to support Albertans through these unprecedented times.
- This Act will also lay out repayment criteria for Albertans who have chosen to defer their payments as part of the program.
- Repayment can occur through regular monthly installments once the program ends, or through a repayment plan agreed to by the retailer and the customer. All deferred payments must be paid back by June 18, 2021.
You can call your local utility provider to arrange for a deferral.
Our education continuity plan is working, and students continue to receive teacher-directed, at-home learning. While in-person classes are cancelled for the remainder of the year, students will continue to learn at home. No decisions have been made on how the 2020-21 school year will resume.
I understand this new way of learning can be a challenge for both students and parents. It isn’t always easy to know where to find supports or what to do, especially for those parents of students with disabilities.
Alberta Education has created a help line for parents and families to call if they have questions or require resources. Staff are available to answer questions or direct parents to resources provided by their school authority.
The help line can be reached at 780-422-6548 (toll free by first dialing 310-0000), or by email at http://firstname.lastname@example.org
AB TraceTogether App
As part of our relaunch strategy, our government has launched a voluntary, secure contact tracing mobile application to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. As protection of personal privacy is crucial to Albertans and to our government this app will not track the user’s physical location and will not use GPS. All TraceTogether data is stored only on the user’s phone, and is automatically deleted after 21 days.
How it works:
- AB TraceTogether uses Bluetooth technology to log interactions as an encrypted “digital handshake”.
- This happens when two phones with the app get within two metres of one another for an overall total of 15 minutes within a 24-hour period of time.
- In the event someone with the app tests positive for COVID-19, they will be asked to allow contact tracers at AHS to use this information to further enhance manual contact tracing and allow other app users to be contacted so they can be informed if they have been potentially exposed.
- Even when app users who may have been exposed are contacted, user identities will not be shared.
- Users will be informed that they have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
- Previously, public health professionals at AHS would have no way to know about the encounters of a COVID-positive patient if they cannot recall them by memory, or if they came into contact with an unknown person.
- Now AHS can contact that person and let them know they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
For more information on Alberta government updates related to COVID-19 please go to https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx
Mental health and Addictions Support
Addiction Helpline at https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/findhealth/Service.aspx?id=1008399&serviceAtFacilityID=1047128
Mental Health Helpline at https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/findhealth/Service.aspx?id=6810&serviceAtFacilityID=1047134
Kids Help Phone at https://kidshelpphone.ca/get-involved/contact-us
Community and Social Services Helpline at Alberta 211 https://www.ab.211.ca/