Federal Update: Reviewing pandemic support programs

Submitted by Catherine McKenna, MP for Ottawa Centre

Dear residents,

Going into the new year with added restrictions in Ontario has not been easy, but has been necessary. Our COVID-19 case numbers in Ottawa spiked significantly over the holidays and it is critical that we continue to follow public health directives and stay home. 

In hopeful news, vaccines have been administered to long-term health care residents and essential public health workers in Ottawa Centre. Our government is focused on supporting provinces and territories to distribute these vaccines as quickly as possible. As the prime minister has said, we are on track to give every Canadian who wants one a vaccine by September. While this is good news, vaccines won’t help anyone who contracts COVID-19 now. We need to continue to follow public health advice, wearing masks, downloading the COVID Alert app and staying home whenever possible. 

Throughout the pandemic, the federal government has listened to Canadians. In speaking with many constituents, I hear your frustration I know how challenging this has been. We developed programs to support businesses, workers, individuals and various sectors to provide support and get us through these hard times.

Federal government programs:

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS): Maximum subsidy rate of 75 per cent and it is extended until June 2021.
Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS): Rent and mortgage support until June 2021. Eligible businesses restricted by a mandatory public health order can receive an additional 25 per cent of rent support through lockdown support.
Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA): Loan of $60,000 in which $20,000 is forgivable if paid before Dec. 31, 2021.
Regional Recovery Relief Fund (RRRF): Provides liquidity in the form of loans for businesses unable to access relief benefits.
Employment Insurance (EI): Program has changed to support more Canadians through the pandemic.
Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB): Income support if you are self-employed or not eligible for Employment Insurance. 
Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit (CRCB): Income support if you must stop work to care for dependents due to closures, high risk and caregiver availability.
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB): Up to two weeks of support if you are sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19.

Please find more information at canada.ca/coronavirus.

Provincial government programs:

Ontario Small Business Support Grant: $10,000-$20,000 grant which will help small businesses that must close or significantly restrict services due to provincewide shutdown.  

Rebates for PPE, property taxes or energy bills: Province will provide grants for eligible businesses to help cover the cost of personal protective equipment, property taxes and energy bills. 

Main Street Relief Grant: Will help small businesses with two to nine employees with the cost of PPE.

Find out more at covid-19.ontario.ca

If you need assistance in accessing these programs, or need further information, please call my constituency office at 613-946-8682 or email us at catherine.mckenna@parl.gc.ca

I want to thank all the healthcare professionals and essential workers, the non-profit organizations and the volunteers who continue to work tirelessly during this unprecedented time. I know our community will continue to come together to help those in need. 

Let’s remember that we need to take care of our mental health. It’s incredibly hard, and many of us are struggling. Check in with your loved ones; call or Zoom a friend; go for a walk. There are resources available in Ottawa Centre such as the Distress Centre, a 24/7 helpline you can reach at 613-238-3311.

Let’s take it day by day. We will meet these challenges with resilience, kindness and by working together to support each other and our community. There is a more hopeful future coming.

– Catherine


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