I know a lot has changed in the last two weeks and many lives have been upended due to COVID-19. I encourage you to continue to listen to the advice of our public health officials to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
My staff and I have been working to help those trying to get back to Canada, as well as those who have suddenly lost their jobs or had to shut down their businesses due to the measures being taken to protect the health and safety of our residents.
I have also been on many conference calls, including with Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal and department officials in my role as Shadow Minister for Northern Affairs and Northern Economic Development Agency, as well as with residents and local officials.
During these uncertain times, I thought it might be helpful to answer some of the frequently asked questions our office has been getting.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19 OR BEEN IN CONTACT WITH SOMEONE WHO HAS COVID-19?
The Province of British Columbia has set up an online self-assessment tool to help British Columbians determine whether they need further assessment or testing. The tool can be accessed at: https://bc.thrive.health/.
The BC Centre for Disease Control has more information about testing and isolation here: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/testing-isolation, as well as what to do if you are sick: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/about-covid-19/if-you-are-sick
Northern Health has also set up an online clinic and information line at 1-844-645-7811.
MYSELF OR MY LOVED ONE IS CURRENTLY ABROAD, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
The Government of Canada recommended that Canadians abroad return to Canada by commercial means while they are still available.
A loan program of up to $5,000 per person has been set up to assist Canadians who may need to either book an emergency flight, or extend their stay abroad. More information regarding this program can be found at: https://travel.gc.ca/assistance/emergency-info/financial-assistance/covid-19-financial-help.
If travelers are in an emergency situation or would like more information on the loan program, they can contact the 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 1-613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where possible) or send an e-mail to email@example.com for emergencies or CAN.finances.CV19@international.gc.ca for financial assistance.
Please also reach out to our office if you have any concerns so that we can contact Global Affairs and have someone with consular services get in touch directly.
Remember, anyone returning to Canada from abroad must self-isolate for 14 days and self-monitor for symptoms upon their return.
WHAT SUPPORT IS AVAILABLE WORKERS AND FAMILIES?
Some of the measures the Government of Canada has announced so far to support workers and families include:
waiving the one-week waiting period and the requirement for a medical certificate for employment insurance (EI) sickness benefits to support workers in quarantine
temporarily boosting Canada Child Benefit payments
introducing an Emergency Support Benefit to provide support to workers facing unemployment who are not eligible for EI
extending the tax filing deadline to June 1, 2020
More information on these and other measures: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/business/maintaingrowimprovebusiness/resources-for-canadian-businesses.html
WHAT SUPPORT IS AVAILABLE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES?
These are some of the measures the Government of Canada has announced to support businesses:
CRA is pausing audits for the next four weeks.
Tax payment deadline has been extended until August 31, 2020.
$10 billion in credit is being made available through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada.
A 10 per cent temporary wage subsidy for small businesses.
More information on these measures: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/business/maintaingrowimprovebusiness/resources-for-canadian-businesses.html
I AM A MANUFACTURER OR BUSINESS AND I BELIEVE I CAN HELP MEET THE NEEDS TO FIGHT COVID-19, WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
The Government of Canada has set up a website to enlist the help of our manufacturers and businesses who believe they have the capacity to meet the needs for medical supplies. Please visit the following website to find out more information on how you can help: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/business/maintaingrowimprovebusiness/manufacturers-needed.html
While walk-in visits and in-person meetings remain temporarily suspended at my offices, please contact us by phone or email if you have any questions about your individual situation.
· Fort St. John: 250-787-1192 and Bob.Zimmer.C1A@parl.gc.ca or Bob.Zimmer.C1B@parl.gc.ca
· Dawson Creek: 250-719-6848 and Bob.Zimmer.A3@parl.gc.ca
· Prince George: 250-561-7982 and Bob.Zimmer.C1@parl.gc.ca
· Ottawa: Bob.Zimmer@parl.gc.ca or Bob.Zimmer.A1@parl.gc.ca
Remember, we are all in this together. Let’s continue to do our part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Bob Zimmer is Member of Parliament for Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies.