North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney said people across Canada are facing a cash crunch.

The federal NDP member said that’s why her party pushed for a 75 percent wage subsidy for small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Blaney added that the subsidy benefits us in a couple of ways: 

“It means we can support small businesses to support their workers during this time, which is important for them not to lose their workforce, but the other part is, we want to make sure not everybody is applying to the government for resources.”

Among the measures announced by the federal government include:

  • Adjusting the wage subsidy from 10 percent to 75 percent for small businesses to keep employees on the payroll during the downturn in business operations. This will be backdated to March 15.
  • A new loan program for small businesses. This will be an interest-free loan for six months of up to $40,000. A total of $10,000 of that will be non-refundable for qualifying businesses. What businesses qualify will be announced in the coming days.
  • GST remittances are now on hold until June, to keep more cash within small businesses.

Blaney said you can do your part to prop up local business by purchasing gift certificates and ordering takeout from restaurants.

“Support your local business, because we need them here after this is over,” Blaney said.   

Blaney is isolating at home for two weeks after spending time in Ottawa.

She was among 32 MPs who voted on Bill C-13, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act.

From that legislation comes the Canada Emergency Response benefit. It’s for those who can’t access EI, she explained.

Blaney said to qualify, you need to have made $5,000 or more in 2019 or over the last 12 months, and you must have lost your income due to COVID-19.

She added details on how it is going to be rolled out is still to be determined.

The application process is expected to start on April 16th.

Blaney said you can apply on the Canada Revenue Agency site and set up your account on ‘My Account.’

For those without internet access, there will also be a call-in number available.

As for staying indoors, and practising physical distancing, Blaney pointed out that the Quarantine Act is in place. That means if you return from out-of-country, you must self-isolate for 14 days.

She said the act is being enforced.

“When you come back into the country you are advised, and the RCMP is alerted and they sort of monitor and check in with you,” Blaney said. “We’re really trying to keep this under control. At this point, Canada is struggling, but we’re not seeing the number of deaths that other countries are seeing and we really want to maintain that.”

Blaney said not adhering to physical distancing is dangerous.

“This is a very contagious virus and I think that’s the biggest concern. It moves quickly and this is the best way to avoid that,” Blaney said.

“I flew across Canada, (and) been in airports where there was hardly anyone there. People were very well aware of their self-distancing. It was very eerie to be in that situation.”