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OPINION: Holding the government to account during these critical times

Prince Geoerge-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer Credit: Bernard Thibodeau, House of Commons Photo Services
Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer

BY BOB ZIMMER

Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP

During these unprecedented times, it is clear that urgent action needs to be taken to help those who have lost their jobs or have had to shut down their businesses to help protect the health and safety of Canadians.

We, as the Official Opposition, have been flexible in our approach and have remained focused on getting Canadians the help they need. That is why it was appalling when, in a time of crisis, the Liberals tried to include measures in Bill C-13, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, that were nothing short of a power grab. Thankfully, after hours of negotiations, we were able to not only get the government to back down, but also to include substantial accountability measures.

To be clear, we will continue to use every tool in our toolbox to hold the Liberals to account. We will also ask tough questions on behalf of Canadians and put forward constructive solutions to ensure that no one falls through the cracks.

I know many of you have been severely impacted financially by COVID-19. To help residents and businesses who are looking for support, here are some of the measures that are being implemented now that this legislation has become law:

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

This taxable benefit will provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for those who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It replaces the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit.

More information: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/introduces-canada-emergency-response-benefit-to-help-workers-and-businesses.html

To get ready to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, register for a CRA My Account at:https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/e-services/cra-login-services.html

Special GST/HST Credit Payment

The Government of Canada is providing a one-time special payment by early May through the Goods and Services Tax credit for low- and modest-income families. There is no need to apply for this payment. If you are eligible, you will get it automatically.

Canada Child Benefit

The Government of Canada is temporarily boosting the Canada Child Benefit. Those who already receive the Canada Child Benefit do not need to re-apply. 

Registered Retirement Income Fund

The Government of Canada is reducing the required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds by 25 per cent for 2020.

Canada Student Loan Payments

The Government of Canada is placing a six-month interest-free pause on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all student loan borrowers. Students do not need to apply for the repayment pause.

Since the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act received Royal Assent, the Government of Canada has also announced additional measures to support small businesses, including:

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

The Government of Canada has taken the advice of the Official Opposition and announced an increase to the Temporary Wage Subsidy, now called the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, from the originally announced 10 per cent to 75 per cent for up to three months, retroactive to March 15, 2020.

Canada Emergency Business Account

This program will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. Small businesses and not-for-profits should contact their financial institution to apply.

Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program

This program, supported through Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank of Canada, will assist financial institutions to provide credit and liquidity options that Canadian businesses need to meet their operational cash flow requirements. To access these loans, business owners should contact their financial institution.

For additional information on these measures and other support that has been announced for small businesses and individuals, please visit:

https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html and https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/additional-support-for-canadian-businesses-from-the-economic-impact-of-covid-19.html

If anyone requires assistance with their individual situation, please reach out to any of my offices by phone or email.

We are here to help you.

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