Message from Executive Secretary Treasurer, James Barry:
Below is the most recent updates on the federal and provincial governments’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Federal Liberal Government is negotiating with the other parties in the House of Commons to win support for legislation to modify some of the programs it has created to offset the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation looks to extend financial support for people with disabilities that have been affected by the disease.
- Under the truncated schedule of parliamentary sittings agreed to last month, the House of Commons will sit tomorrow in a session that has some MPs in the chamber. The Bill would make changes to the CERB, the program introduced early in the pandemic that pays people who have lost their jobs because of COVID-19 $2,000 a month. Over 8 million people have received benefits from the program, which is scheduled to expire shortly. The Government Bill has a new end date for the program, and will also contain penalties for those who fraudulently claimed the benefits.
- Trudeau said that the Bill is not designed to target people who made simple mistakes in applying for money for which they are not qualified, but rather “the small number of Canadians who collected money unfairly – who deliberately defrauded the system.”
- Also in the legislation are provisions to enact a $600 a month, one-time tax-free payment to people with disabilities who have faced unexpected expenses because of the pandemic. Trudeau announced this program a couple of weeks ago. Additionally, the Bill contains the legislation guaranteeing Canadians ten days of paid sick leave a year. Ironically, the sick leave provision was negotiated by the NDP the last time the Government wanted to get legislation through the pandemic Parliament.
- Reporters also asked Trudeau when the Liberals will present a budget – or at least a financial update – to the House of Commons. Since the pandemic hit in March, something over $160 Billion has been spent by Ottawa alone to combat the effects of COVID-19. Trudeau said the Government has been extremely transparent on all of its spending, and would continue to be so. However, a budget or fiscal update would be of little or no value because the situation going forward is “totally uncertain and any predictions contained in a budget would be completely unreliable.”
- The province announced its plan to reopen child care centres across the province to support the next stage of the province’s reopening framework. The reopening of child care centres is imperative so that as parents start to return to work, they’ll know that their children are being cared for in the safest conditions possible.
- Centres will be required to adopt specific rules, including:
- Cohorting ― putting children and staff in groups of 10 or less day over day;
- COVID-19 response plan ― all child care settings will be required to have a plan in place if a child, parent or staff member/provider is exposed to COVID-19;
- Screening ― all staff and children must be screened prior to entry to the child care setting. Anyone feeling unwell must stay home;
- Daily attendance records ― child care settings must keep daily records of all attendees in order to support contact tracing;
- Cleaning ― child care settings must be thoroughly cleaned before opening and frequently thereafter;
- No visitors ― only essential visitors are permitted entry into the child care setting;
- Implementing drop-off and pick-up protocols in a way that facilitates physical distancing.
- Based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and to the relief of exhausted parents everywhere, the government announced that it is now enabling day camp programs across the province to reopen this summer (with some restrictions) as part of Phase 2.
Executive Secretary Treasurer
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