Please note that information within these updates may have changed since the date it was published. To ensure you have up to date information on all programs, benefits, and announcements discussed in these daily updates, please visit official Government of Canada web pages.
August 12th update
This week a number of documents were distributed in our riding calling into question the safety of vaccines. This is misinformation at its worst. Vaccines for COVID 19 that have been approved for use in Canada are safe and effective. Getting vaccinated is not only to protect you. It is to protect your family, friends and community. If you have not gotten both doses of vaccine and you are eligible to be vaccinated please do it ASAP. Over 82% of eligible Canadians are fully vaccinated and over 71% fully vaccinated but we need to keep improving those numbers. Please see my Facebook video reacting to the false information that was distributed:
It has been nice to be outside this summer meeting people in parks and resuming my door to door visits that were stopped when COVID hit, early last year. While I have resumed doing door to door this summer, I only am doing so outside wearing a mask. Therefore, if you live in an apartment or condo building, I will not be able to meet you at the door. As such, if you are part of a condo association or tenant’s association and would like me to speak to your residents please email us and we would be pleased to arrange it.
Although not in federal jurisdiction, I was profoundly troubled to hear from tenants in Cote Des Neiges about being convened to the rental board and receiving unfair eviction notices. As I have often said, there are things that are not in federal jurisdiction that relate to the rights of my residents and I will not stay silent. I want to reassure everyone that I am working with City Councillor Marvin Rotrand and other elected officials on this issue.
I also want to state that along with all of you I am profoundly upset about the unfair detainment and conviction of Michael Spavor. I join the rest of our caucus in condemning China’s conviction and sentencing of Michael Spavor in the strongest possible terms. Canada is grateful to the many countries that have joined the call for the release of Canadian citizens arbitrarily detained in China and we will continue working wit the USA and others in exploring all avenues to secure his release and that of Michael Kovrig.
Also, as I continue to receive numerous questions surrounding Glyphosate residue, I would like to reiterate a couple of things. Canada has a world-class regulator, and the pandemic has showcased its commitment to the health and safety of Canadians. Canadians have concerns about pesticides. I have concerns about pesticides. When I was a Hampstead Town Councillor, I proposed Hampstead’s first bylaw regulating the use of pesticides. I have no desire to see levels increased and I am pleased our government has paused the regulator’s ability to increase the use of pesticides, including glyphosate, and is investing $50M to strengthen oversight in Canada and help scientists get independent data for such decisions. Our government will never put Canadians’ health and safety at risk.
Finally, one of my priorities has been to push our government to rebuild Canada’s vaccines, therapeutics and biomanufacturing capacity. We have already invested $1.2 billion to do so and this week we reached a major milestone in that strategy. We’ve established a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with leading COVID-19 vaccine developer Moderna, Inc. to build a state-of-the-art mRNA vaccine production facility right here in Canada.
Canada has an impressive history in biomanufacturing and life sciences. However, a decades long decline in the sector left Canada without the large scale and flexible biomanufacturing capacity necessary to quickly produce a COVID-19 vaccine when the pandemic hit. This is why our Government has worked tirelessly to rebuild Canada’s domestic biomanufacturing sector by focusing on both quick strategic actions and a long‑term vision.
The purchase of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines – including 44 million doses of Moderna mRNA vaccines so far – has saved Canadian lives, helped to enable the lifting of pandemic restrictions, restored livelihoods and allowed us to start to get back to normal. Moderna’s plans to establish an mRNA vaccine production facility in Canada align with the objectives of the recently announced Biomanufacturing and Life Science Strategy: the move will help strengthen the biomanufacturing and life sciences sector’s entire value chain – from research and development, to talent acquisition and retention, to increased clinical trial capacity – and make Canada’s overall industrial capability stronger.
Now on to some questions and answers:
What funding was announced in our riding this week?
I am proud to announce that $1,214,681.48 was awarded to 19 organizations in the riding, recently. The funding was made available through the Communities At Risk – Security Infrastructure Program (SIP).
The following Mount Royal-based organizations received funding:
Ahl-ill Bait Islamic Organization
Chabad Zichron Kedoshim Community
Congregation Bais Menachem Chabad-Lubavitch
Congregation Beth Chabad C.S.L.
Congrégation Sépharade Or Hahayim
Les Ecoles Juives Populaires Et Les Ecoles Peretz Inc.
Congregation Sepharade de Hampstead Nahar Chalom
Académie Yéshiva Yavné
Adath Israel Poale Zedek Anshei Ozeroff Congregation
Beth Israel Beth Aaron Congregation
Beth Zion Congregation
Congregation Shomrim Laboker, BethYehud, Shaare Tefilah, Beth Hamedrash Hagadol, Tifereth Israel
Congrégation Tifereth Beth David Jérusalem
Hebrew Academy Inc.
Jewish Community Council of Montreal
L’Academie Beth Rivkah pour filles
Rabbinical College of Canada
Yaldei Developmental Center
About the Communities at Risk–Security Infrastructure Program:
The SIP Call for Applications is currently open and accepting applications until September 22, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time (PT).
Funding is available to private, not-for-profit organizations that are at risk of being victimized by hate- motivated crime. It helps with the cost of security infrastructure improvements for:
Crown corporations, publicly funded institutions, for profit organizations, and individuals are not eligible for funding.
For the purpose of the SIP, a hate-motivated crime is described as a criminal offence motivated by hate towards an identifiable group. Some groups, by virtue of their color, race, ethnic and/or national origins, sexual orientation, religious affiliation or some other attribute are at risk of being the victims of hate-motivated crime.
To apply or learn more about the program, please visit the website: https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/cntrng-crm/crm-prvntn/fndng-prgrms/scrt-nfrstrctr-prgrm-gd-en.aspx
What progress has been made to confront systemic discrimination, unconscious bias, and anti-Black racism?
We launched Canada’s first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program and through FES 2020, we invested an additional $50 million in anti-racism initiatives. We also invested $28.6 million for Community Justice Centres to help decrease the over-representation of Indigenous peoples and Black Canadians in the criminal justice system and provide solutions to systemic issues. Additionally, we invested $200 million for the establishment of a new Black-led Philanthropic Endowment Fund; and $100M to the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative and $6.7 million into improved collection and use of disaggregated data. Finally, we have announced a review of employment equity legislation to see the weaknesses in the lumping together of existing groups including Black Canadians which buries the data employers have about one group versus another.
How is our Covid recovery advancing this week and what consultations are going on with EI?
Canada is currently facing a fourth wave of infections, making it more important than ever for people to be vaccinated. So far, 62,688,508 vaccine doses have been delivered to Canada and 82.2% of eligible Canadians over 12 years old have received one dose. A total of 71.3% of all eligible Canadians are fully vaccinated, with our government having secured enough doses for every single Canadian. The science is clear, vaccines approved for use in Canada are safe and effective, but we must remain vigilant and continue respecting physical distancing rules.
The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized some pre-existing gaps in access, adequacy and efficiency within the EI program and the ability for the EI system to act as an economic stabilizer during economic events. That's why our government is launching consultations on modernizing the Employment Insurance program, as announced by Minister Qualtrough, this week. The online survey is currently accepting replies until Friday, October 8, 2021.
These consultations will help establish a roadmap to help Canadians transition out of the pandemic and into a recovery focused on building back a more inclusive and resilient economy. This EI consultation process will be key in ensuring the government truly understands the needs of workers and employers who will be directly impacted by any future changes to the EI program.
What was announced this week related to support that Canada will provide our ally, the Philippines?
We are committed to helping other countries combat the COVID-19 pandemic and to supporting their economic recovery and resilience. The Philippines continues to face high COVID-19 rates, and a range of restrictions remain in place, affecting livelihoods and access to education and health care, as well as increasing the strain on the advancement of peace and development on Mindanao.
This week we announced that Canada will provide $18.9 million over the next 5 years to support 7 new projects in the Philippines.
These initiatives focus mainly on the country’s COVID-19 pandemic economic response, improving access to education, empowering women and girls and improving their access to health care, and assisting people living in underdeveloped areas on Mindanao, including in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
To ensure these projects meet the needs of the most marginalized people, they will be implemented in partnership with Canadian, local and international multilateral non-governmental organizations and in close coordination with the Philippine government.
On August 10 and 11, Parliamentary Secretary Sidhu met virtually with partner NGOs working in the Philippines to discuss progress and challenges in advancing the health and empowerment of women and girls, as well as the ongoing peace and development work in the BARMM.
How is our government tackling the labour shortage in Quebec?
As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour, I am happy to see businesses once again reopening their doors to clients. Already, we are seeing the economy returning to its pre-pandemic levels, and employers on their path to recovery are hiring in increasing numbers. For several years, Quebec has been experiencing workforce recruitment challenges, and even though the pandemic had a significant impact on unemployment in the province, worker shortages remain a problem.
That is why, the Government of Canada is announcing an agreement with the Government of Quebec that will allow for the introduction of new flexibilities for Quebec employers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. This new initiative, which is a collaborative effort between the Government of Canada, the Government of Quebec and Quebec labour market partners, will allow Quebec employers to benefit from the following measures:
These flexibilities will be part of a pilot project that will run until December 31, 2023. At the pilot’s conclusion, the Government of Canada will evaluate these measures to help inform its future decisions.
The agreement will also see the implementation by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada of new measures under the International Mobility Program that would allow for an additional 7,000 work permits to be issued annually to holders of a Certificat de sélection du Québec. This will allow the Government of Quebec to give more new immigrants opportunities to contribute and to establish themselves, helping alleviate the workforce shortage.
How many jobs were created last month?
It was very encouraging to see the July 2021 Labour Force Survey released, as it showed Canada’s strong recovery from the pandemic. The last month has seen economies reopen, creating 94,000 jobs, bringing us with 246,100 of our target of 1 million jobs restoring employment to its previous levels. As more and more Canadians are vaccinated and jurisdictions across the country begin to reopen, we will continue to be there to provide support to those who need it by:
What is our government doing to support Residential school survivors and their families?
Residential schools have created a legacy of enduring trauma and intergenerational harm. For many, recent confirmation of burial sites has brought up difficult memories and impacted their mental health. For decades, Indigenous families, survivors and organizations have called for actions and answers to this chapter in our history.
This week, , we announced $321 million in additional support for Indigenous-led, Survivor-centric and culturally sensitive initiatives and investments to help Indigenous communities respond to and heal from legacy of residential schools.
These resources are in addition to the $33.8 million committed in Budget 2019 to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action 72 to 76, bringing the Government of Canada’s commitment to $116.8 million to support this important work. Specifically, a further $83 million will supplement existing investments for community-led processes to research and locate burial sites as well as to commemorate and memorialize the children.
Additionally, work is underway by Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada to establish a National Advisory Committee to advise communities and the Government of Canada on the job of locating burial sites. In consultation with National Indigenous Organizations, the Committee will consist of knowledge holders and experts in areas such as archaeology, forensics, pathology and mental health.
Canada will continue to support community plans to manage former Residential school buildings —whether those plans include demolition, rehabilitation, or the construction of new facilities on reserve. Activities currently taking place in these buildings can continue providing $100.1 million over two years to support this work. To access this support and support for location, commemoration and memorialization, communities can apply through the Residential Schools Missing Children - Community Support Funding program.
The Government of Canada remains committed to ensuring that residential schools' tragic history and ongoing legacy are never forgotten. To make this possible, $9.6 million over three years is being provided in addition to the $13.4 million over five years already announced in Budget 2021. The funds will support initiatives that commemorate the history and ongoing legacy of residential schools, including events and activities marking the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which will be observed for the first time this year on September 30th. Furthermore, $20 million in new funding will be set aside to build a national monument in Ottawa to honour Survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada announced the Government’s intention to select a Special Interlocutor who will work with Indigenous Peoples and communities to identify needed measures and make recommendations relating to federal laws, regulations, policies and practices surrounding unmarked and undocumented graves and burial sites at residential schools. The Special Interlocutor and the National Advisory Committee will collaborate and draw from each other’s expertise.
To ensure that Survivors have emotional and cultural support during this time, Canada made a three-year investment through Budget 2021 to renew essential mental health, culture and emotional supports for residential school Survivors and their families and those impacted by Federal Day Schools. Canada is also investing a further $107.3 million in 2021-2022 to support expanding these services to ensure that those affected by intergenerational traumas will have access to these supports. Investments through Budget 2021 also support the continuation of the Indian Residential School Crisis Line for Survivors and their families.
Canadians have recently awoken to the impacts of residential schools and the many children who never returned home. While this may be a new revelation for many Canadians, these are truths First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities have lived with for many generations. Addressing the legacy of residential schools will take time, and Canada will undertake this work in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and communities.
How is our Liberal Government strengthening childcare in Quebec?
Nearly 25 years ago, Quebec understood the importance of building an early learning and childcare system that provides affordable, quality childcare for all children and supports the labour force participation of their parents, particularly mothers. It is now time for the rest of Canada to follow Quebec's pioneering practices.
Everyone deserves an equal and fair chance at success. Social purpose organizations (SPOs) play a fundamental role in helping communities across Canada tackle a range of pressing social issues. However, many need support to expand their capacity and acquire new skills that would allow them to deliver innovative solutions, address emerging challenges and access new sources of investment.
We recently announced the first round of calls for proposals under the renewed Investment Readiness Program (IRP). The IRP is a two-year, $50 million program that builds on the work already accomplished during its pilot phase. Through the IRP, the Government of Canada supports SPOs in building capacity to become investment-ready so that they can participate in Canada’s growing social finance market.
P We also announced an agreement that provides a federal transfer of nearly $6 billion over the next five years, a significant portion of which will be used to strengthen Quebec's network of early learning and child care services and improve working conditions for educators.
The agreement follows the Government of Canada's plan announced in the last federal budget to provide parents across Canada with early learning and child care spaces for an average of $10 per day for their children under the age of six. Today’s agreement allows the Government of Canada to support Quebec families, while recognizing that Quebec must set their priorities for early learning and child care, a jurisdiction that is exclusive to Quebec and in which it has a proven track record.
This investment will be divided into two different streams of funding.
(Stream 1) to expand support and funding opportunities to diverse SPOs in urban, rural and remote communities, including those led by or serving: Indigenous Peoples; Black Canadians and other racialized communities; women; Official Language Minority Communities; people with disabilities; and other underrepresented groups within social innovation and social finance,
and (Stream 2) to invest in projects that help grow and strengthen the larger social innovation and social finance ecosystem.
There will be two rounds of calls for proposals. The first round opened on August 5, 2021, and organizations have until September 15, 2021, to submit a proposal. To allow for the continuity of the momentum from the pilot IRP, identified organizations that meet the criteria will be invited to submit their proposals during Round 1. However, other organizations that meet the criteria for this process can also choose to submit a proposal during Round 1. They are also able to express an interest in submitting a proposal for Round 2, which will be launched at a later date.
Should organizations wish to submit a proposal, express interest in submitting a proposal for the second round of funding, or if they have questions or feedback on this process, they can send an email at [email protected] before September 8, 2021, at 3:00 p.m. EDT.
In addition to this, we launched a call for applications for a National Advisory Council on ELCC. The purpose of the Council will be to provide expert advice and a forum for consultation on issues and challenges facing the ELCC sector in Canada.
Applications are open until September 28, 2021. We are looking for individuals with knowledge and experience in ELCC from a variety of fields. If you are interested or know someone who would be, please follow this link: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/early-learning-child-care-advisory-council/call-interest.html
About the Advisory Council
The Council on ELCC will be a forum for information sharing and discussion. Its members will bring a diverse range of perspectives and will provide expert advice to the Ministers on ELCC-related issues and challenges. Council members will be asked to serve a 3-year term. Members must be available and willing to participate over the entire period of their appointments.
The Council will have 12 to 14 members:
What is the Zero Emission Transit Fund (ZETF)
Through the Zero Emission Transit Fund, the Government of Canada is investing $2.75 billion over five years, starting in 2021, to support public transit and school bus operators plan for electrification, support the purchase of 5,000 zero emission buses and build supporting infrastructure, including charging infrastructure and facility upgrades.
There are two Zero Emission Transit Fund components under which projects are eligible for funding:
Eligible recipients under the Zero Emission Transit Fund include provinces and territories; municipal or regional governments; transit agencies; public bodies (e.g., school boards); private-sector school bus operators; and private accessible transit transportation providers (e.g., paratransit services).
Of note, Infrastructure Canada is in ongoing discussions with the government of Québec with respect to the program's implementation in the Province given the Loi sur le ministère du Conseil exécutif (M-30).
Infrastructure Canada will review submitted applications, and applicants will be selected based on their eligibility as well as the assessment against the merit criteria established for the Zero Emission Transit Fund. Further details are provided within the Applicant Guide.
Of note, Infrastructure Canada is in ongoing discussions with the government of Québec with respect to the program's implementation in the Province given the Loi sur le ministère du Conseil exécutif (M-30).
The Zero Emission Transit Fund is a separate fund that builds on existing programming such as the Public Transit Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. Infrastructure Canada will continue to work directly with provinces and territories to review and approve funding for prioritized projects under Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
Infrastructure Canada and the Canada Infrastructure Bank will work in collaboration in order to support the transition to zero emission buses. Through the Zero Emission Transit Fund, Infrastructure Canada provides funding contributions to support planning and capital projects that will reduce the barriers to procuring zero emission transit and school buses in Canada. Through its $1.5 billion Zero Emission Bus initiative, the Canada Infrastructure Bank provides flexible financing solutions by leveraging forecasted lifecycle operational cost savings to help offset the higher upfront costs of zero emission buses. Project applications submitted as part of the application process will be assessed by both Infrastructure Canada and the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
The Zero Emission Transit Fund will help remove key barriers impeding the deployment of zero emission buses through providing funding for planning, the procurement of buses and ancillary infrastructure required to support zero emission buses.
August 5th update
As we see increased infections from the Delta variant impacting countries around the world, including a significant increase in hospitalizations in many parts of the US, we need to ensure that everyone in Canada who is eligible, gets vaccinated. If you have not received both vaccine doses and you are eligible to do so please get vaccinated and if you have friends or family members that have not done so please speak with them. While over 81% of eligible Canadians have received one dose and 69% are fully vaccinated, we need to convince the others to do so. Getting vaccinated protects not only the health of the person vaccinated but their family, friends and community.
Along with many Members of Parliament in the Liberal caucus I had reached out to our Minister of Immigration asking him to quickly move forward with the relocation of Afghan refugees who had assisted us in our mission in Afghanistan together with their families. I was very pleased that yesterday the first flight carrying these refuges landed in Toronto. The Minister has confirmed that, “More flights will be arriving in the coming days and weeks. We committed to do right by the Afghans who supported Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. With the arrival of the first resettled Afghan refugees in Canada, we are taking the first steps on making good on that promise.”
The Government has been seized with the urgency on the ground and is working as quickly as possible to resettle Afghan nationals who put themselves at great risk to support Canada’s work in Afghanistan. We have been working around the clock to identify individuals eligible to come to Canada under this special immigration program. This work is well underway, and a team has been on the ground in Afghanistan, including support staff who are assisting clients in submitting their applications and requested documentation. We are doing everything we can to get every Afghan refugee out as swiftly and safely as possible, but we recognize that the security situation can change rapidly.
“All those arriving under this special immigration program have met Canada’s requirements concerning eligibility, admissibility and security screenings. The Afghan refugees were tested for COVID-19 on arrival and will follow all quarantine and testing requirements to protect the health and safety of those in Canada.”
“These refugees are coming to Canada as government-assisted refugees. To help the Afghans adjust to life in Canada, service provider organizations in communities across Canada are preparing to welcome them. Settlement organizations will help them to find permanent housing, language training, a job and connections with established immigrants and Canadians and provide them with the information that they need about life in Canada, and the community in which they will settle. All of these services will help Afghans settle into their new home. To protect the safety of those being evacuated and the security of this operation, further operational details will not be released, including information on where Afghans will be resettled in Canada.”
On another note, I wanted to pass on a request from Montreal Public Health that all of us clean our shower heads thoroughly and check to make sure that the temperature of your home hot water heater is maintained over 60 degrees C. This is the best way to prevent Legionnaires’ Disease.
I also wanted to pass on a few highlights of recent announcements that are not dealt with in the Question and Answer section below:
Many of you contacted me about the process that the Pest Management Regulatory Agency was conducting on maximum residue levels. While this is an independent agency following a legal framework, the threat of such an increase was disturbing and many of my colleagues joined me in reaching out to the relevant Ministers. I was pleased that on Wednesday Ministers Hajdu, Bibeau, and Wilkinson announced that our government is putting a pause on proposed increases to Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs), including for glyphosate until at least the spring of 2022. Meanwhile, we will review the framework underlying the review process of the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) and strengthen its capacity to conduct those reviews. In addition, the Ministers announced $50 million in investment in the PMRA and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's pest management research, to be supported by Environment and Climate Change Canada.
As you know, I have been at the forefront of efforts to deal with online hate in Canada and around the world. Through events like the National Summits on Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, our government is committed to doing its part to protect Canadians. I am pleased that this week Ministers Guilbeault, Blair, and Lametti launched a public consultation on a proposed approach for promoting a safe, inclusive and open online environment. Aiming to help create an online environment that is safer and more inclusive for all Canadians, we invite people to submit their comments before September 25th, using this link: Have your say: The Government’s proposed approach to address harmful content online - Canada.ca
Additionally, we announced over $32-million to install 853 electric vehicle (EV) chargers across the country. This comes in addition to the 16,000 chargers we’ve announced since 2015. These historic investments are making electric vehicles more affordable and more accessible for Canadians, helping us meet our climate goals.
Finally, this is the last weekend of the Olympics and Team Canada continues to make us proud. We have seen incredible efforts by our Women’s Swim Team and track stars like Andre De Grasse and Damian Warner and let’s all be inspired by these athletes and improve our fitness levels! Let’s also join together to cheer for our Women’s Soccer Team in the Gold Medal Game tonight.
What is the latest Covid-19 news?
With 81.6% of eligible Canadians having received their first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, and nearly 69% having received both doses, Canada continues to outrank the world in COVID-19 vaccinations. As of this week, we have administered 48.7 million doses across the country! While it's clear that we're getting closer to our goal of ending the pandemic, recent modelling shows that we are on the start of a Delta variant driven wave of the virus, with younger unvaccinated people particularly at risk of severe illness. I continue to urge all the residents in my riding and Canadians across the country to get vaccinated. Vaccination has proven to be a clear path out of this pandemic, but it’s a team effort. Please, make your vaccination appointment today if you haven’t already done so.
The Government of Quebec is currently hosting a vaccine contest across the province. For all the details on how to enter and what can be won, please visit this website: https://www.quebec.ca/en/health/health-issues/a-z/2019-coronavirus/progress-of-the-covid-19-vaccination/being-vaccinated-a-win-contest
What was announced concerning Covid-19 benefits, this week?
Last Friday, we announced that we will be extending COVID-19 recovery benefits to deliver critical supports to workers and businesses in sectors that are slower to recover from the impact of COVID-19. These extensions include:
Our Liberal Government will continue to do whatever it takes to support workers and their families, grow our economy, create jobs, and ensure a stronger and more inclusive recovery from COVID-19 as we build back a better Canada for everyone.
What is the National Active Transportation Fund?
The Active Transportation Fund (ATF) is a national, merit-based contribution program intended to support projects that improve active transportation infrastructure across Canada. Announced in March 2021, the Fund will make available $400 million over five years to help build new and expanded networks of pathways, bike lanes, trails and pedestrian bridges, as well as support Active Transportation planning and stakeholder engagement activities.
Late last week, I was happy to see Minister McKenna and Parliamentary Secretary Andy Fillmore announce the launch of the intake for this program. To find out more about who is eligible or to apply, please visit this website: Infrastructure Canada - Canada's First National Active Transportation Strategy
How is the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) changing?
Attention parents! Our Liberal Government knows that throughout the pandemic it has been increasingly hard for families, be it with daycare or after-school program costs and respite for parents working from home. The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) has been of great help to children across the country including 20,800 children in the Mount Royal riding, alone. As of July 30, families with children already receiving the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) will receive their next installment of the young child supplement (CCBYCS) payment. This one-time payment will provide an additional $1,200 per child under 6, supporting more than two million children and helping about 1.6 million families put food on the table, find alternatives to childcare, and pay for at-home learning activities. The first payment went out in May, and this week, parents will receive another payment of up to $300, with an additional payment on the way on October 29.
Last week, we also announced the indexation of the CCB to help Canadian families keep up with the rising cost of living. Together, these increases will lift even more families out of poverty while growing our economy, creating jobs, and giving kids across Canada a better start in life.
How are we making post-secondary education more accessible for our youth?
Sadly, throughout the pandemic, young people have been among the hardest hit, experiencing more job losses than any other age demographic. Since the beginning of the pandemic, our Liberal government has implemented a number of measures to ensure students and recent graduates have access to the financial assistance they need to help support their post-secondary education, including by providing income support through the Canada Emergency Student Benefit.
Under the new Canada Student Financial Assistance Program (CSFA Program), Minister Carla Qualtrough highlighted $4.5 billion of funding for students to access direct financial support through the Canada Student Grants (CSG), Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans.
As of August 1, 2021, the doubling of the CSG for an additional two years will be extended to July 31, 2023.
We are also:
What settlement was reached with First Nations communities this week?
Minister Miller with Tataskweyak Cree Nation, Curve Lake First Nation and Neskantaga First Nation, announced that an historic Agreement in Principle has been reached in partnership to resolve national class action litigation related to safe drinking water in First Nations communities. This settlement brings the total committed funding for clean water in First Nation communities to $8 billion.
This Agreement in Principle addresses important concerns identified by First Nations represented in the class action lawsuits. The agreement includes the following:
Our government is firmly committed to providing reliable access to safe drinking water in First Nations communities. We are looking ahead to long-term investments to ensure no other generation will grow up without clean drinking water.
As of July 30, 2021, First Nations, with support from our government, have lifted 108 long-term drinking water advisories since November 2015. In addition, 186 short-term drinking water advisories have been prevented from becoming long term. Since 2016, the Government of Canada has committed over $4.2 billion to First Nations to build and repair water and wastewater infrastructure and support effective management and maintenance of water systems on reserves.
To learn more about this, please read this article:
What were the announcements about the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy this week?
As you know, Budget 2021 is an historic investment to address the specific wounds of the COVID-19 recession; it puts people first, creates jobs, grows the middle class, and sets businesses on a track for long-term growth. To provide affordable financing, increase data, and strengthen capacity within the entrepreneurship ecosystem, Budget 2021 is delivering up to $146.9 million over four years, starting in 2021-22, to strengthen the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), a now more than $6-billion initiative to support diverse women entrepreneurs over the long term.
Announcement #1: Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH)
As part of Budget 2021 commitment to increase its funding by $5 million over three years, Minister Ng has announced a top up funding of $800,000 for the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH) for this fiscal year. This new support will provide affordable financing, mentorship and training for women entrepreneurs.
The Minister also announced the release of the WEKH annual report "the State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada 2021". This year's report found that women entrepreneurs were disproportionately affected by the pandemic. They experienced a greater loss of revenue and talent compared to their men counterparts. Our government's continued investments in the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy aims at bridging the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19, namely by developing research, tools and resources to support diverse women entrepreneurs.
Announcement #2: Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund (WELF)
While progress has been made since the launch of the WES in 2018, access to capital, remains a significant barrier for many women entrepreneurs seeking to start or grow their businesses. To help address this barrier, our government allocated $55 million in Budget 2021 for the creation of a new national microloans fund. This new program will seek to provide smaller amounts of affordable financing to women entrepreneurs, particularly for start-ups, underrepresented groups or sole proprietorships which may experience more difficulty in accessing financing.
Last week, Minister Ng announced the launch of the call for applications seeking to select one or more not-for-profit led organization(s) to deliver this program nationally. The second stage of this program will start once third party organizations will be selected to deliver the program. Once this is completed, women entrepreneurs will be able to apply for loans of up to $50,000 to start or grow their businesses.
What was announced this week regarding the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative?
Minister Hussen highlighted a historic federal investment of up to $96 million through the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative (SBCCI). This includes $82 million for approximately 1300 projects to improve Black-led organizations’ workplaces and community spaces. This funding will be made available in 2021–2022 to assess and fund additional renovation/retrofit and equipment projects from existing applications from an initial call for proposals announced in January 2021.
Additionally, the three SBCCI intermediaries—Black Business Initiative (BBI), Groupe 3737 and Tropicana Community Services are receiving additional funding of up to $14 million to fund community grassroots organizations for capacity-building purposes.
Our Liberal Government created the SBCCI with the goal to increase the capacity of grassroots non-profit organizations serving Black communities in Canada. We recognize the contributions of Black Canadians, and acknowledge the significant and unique challenges faced by their communities. In order to continue to support the work of community organizations that empower, advocate for and lift up Black Canadians, we also committed an additional $100 million through Budget 2021 to this initiative.
Organizations looking to apply can start their applications here: Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative (smapply.ca) Do not hesitate to contact my office with additional questions.
Lastly, I want to make sure these updates are accessible to as many people as possible. If you know someone who would like to receive my weekly updates but does not have a computer, please contact [email protected] for a paper copy.
July 29th update
I was so pleased to see Her Excellency the Right Honourable Ms. Mary Simon installed as Canada’s first Indigenous Governor General at a ceremony held at the Senate of Canada, last Monday. As you may know, the Governor General’s role in Canada is to be the Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s representative. Ms. Simon has dedicated her life to advancing social, economic, and human rights issues for Inuit and Indigenous people. Through this appointment, we are ensuring that Canada is represented by someone who exemplifies the very best of our country. I’m confident that she will serve Canadians and promote our shared values with dedication and integrity. As someone who believes very strongly in both of Canada’s official languages, I am very happy she has committed to learn French as quickly as possible.
We also saw the start of the Tokyo Summer Olympics this week. One of the most important, and sometimes most challenging, responsibilities as a Member of Parliament is to support constituents that are seeking assistance with immigration issues. I am so pleased that my office was able to help Javad Mahjoub, a refugee who will compete at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Javad, is a mixed martial artist who escaped Iran and came to Canada. His family was granted refugee status, and in spring 2020 the International Judo Federation confirmed that Javad was part of the International Judo Federation Refugee Team. The obstacle was that he did not have a travel document that would allow him to attend tournaments, overseas training and the Olympics in Tokyo. My office helped Javad obtain the travel document and he is now in Tokyo. I wish him all of our Canadian Olympic Team the best of luck at the Games.
I have been reaching out to a number of the athletes I know from swimming, field hockey and locally to wish them luck on behalf of our riding and our Liberal caucus filmed a Go Team Canada Go video! You can check it out at:
How is our vaccination strategy coming along?
Last Tuesday, the Prime Minister announced that with its most recent shipment, Canada has now received more than 66 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, enough to fully vaccinate every eligible person in Canada. This is great news and comes two months ahead of the original goal of September. I am proud that since the beginning of this pandemic, our government has remained focussed on ensuring Canadians health and the healthcare system. As vaccines were authorized by Health Canada, we remained engaged with vaccine suppliers to speed up delivery schedules and get as many doses into the country as quickly as possible.
Canada ranked first in the G7 and G20 on vaccination rates. As of today, 81.02% of eligible Canadians over the age of 12 have received at least one dose, while 65.45% of eligible Canadians over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated. In total, 58,507,418 doses of COVID-19 vaccines (including Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca) have been delivered to the provinces for administration, including more than 12.3 million in Quebec.
Lastly, my office continues to receive questions around boarder restrictions, and I wish to reiterate that our boarder measures are working. Only .6% of all travellers have tested positive for Covid-19 since the implementation of these measures. Fully vaccinated Canadians, who have been vaccinated for 2 weeks or more, do not need to quarantine upon arrival, though it is crucial that you upload proof of vaccination and negative test result into ArriveCan before entering Canada. I note this as people who have not uploaded proof of vaccination and negative test result have difficulty when they reach the border.
I continue to work on the issue of children of those here on work visas, to try to resolve the current paperwork required to gain approval for them to enter the country and, of course have continued to push all different Ministries on the issue of ensuring consistent international rules for recognition of vaccines so that Canadians traveling abroad are recognized as fully vaccinated if they follow our local rules for vaccination.
How does the one time payment for those born before June 30, 1947 work?
People born on or before June 30, 1947, who are eligible for OAS in June 2021, will receive a one-time payment of $500 the week of August 16, 2021. This one-time payment will provide immediate support until a permanent 10% increase to the OAS pension for seniors aged 75 and up is implemented in July 2022.
Why is it limited to seniors in this age group?
There was a 2019 election promise to increase pensions for seniors 75 and over by 10%. The justification for this is that older seniors often need more support and are more at risk of outliving their savings. As seniors age, their health and home care costs rise, all while they are more likely to be unable to work, have disabilities or be widowed. But I would note that I have previously advocated for and will continue to advocate for this 10% OAS increase to also apply to those seniors between 65 and 74.
Do you have to apply for the one-time payment?
No. You do not need to take any action. OAS pensioners will automatically receive the $500 one‑time payment if they meet the eligibility criteria.
Is the one-time payment taxable?
Yes. The one-time payment is taxable. A separate tax slip will be issued to you for this payment.
Will this payment affect your GIS?
No. The one-time payment is exempt from the calculation of income for the GIS.
What other things have you done for seniors?
Health and well-being
Support during the COVID-19 pandemic
How Can I have input into what more should be done for Seniors?
You can attend the town hall that Minister Schulte and Parliamentary Secretary Stéphane Lauzon, will be hosting on seniors’ issues on August 11 at 1:30 p.m. EDT. The town hall can be viewed here: www.facebook.com/SeniorsinCanada
What investments is our government making in biomanufacturing?
Wednesday morning in Vancouver, Ministers Champagne and Hajdu launched Canada’s Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy. This new initiative is supported by more than $2.2 billion over seven years to continue growing a strong and competitive sector and prepare Canada against future health threats.
A 30-year decline in the sector left Canada without the large scale and flexible biomanufacturing capacity necessary to quickly produce a COVID-19 vaccine when the pandemic hit. Our Government worked tirelessly to rebuild Canada’s domestic biomanufacturing sector by focusing on both quick strategic actions and a long‑term vision and has already invested over $1.2 billion to re-build Canada’s vaccines, therapeutics and biomanufacturing capacity right here at home.
Through strategic investments, informed by experts, we are strengthening Canada’s biomanufacturing and life sciences sector, improving economic growth and ensuring pandemic readiness for years to come.
The strategy consists of five pillars:
Together, the Strategy’s five pillars will achieve meaningful results for Canadians by building strength across the sector’s entire value chain, from research and talent, to clinical trials, to industrial capabilities, and finally to the regulatory environment supporting all of these areas. The Strategy will solidify Canada’s pandemic preparedness for years to come, while creating good quality jobs for Canadians right across the country. It will also establish an enduring, coordinated framework for working in alignment across federal departments and agencies responsible for the discovery, development, production, and deployment of critical medicines for Canadians, while continuing to rely on the advice of experts.
What is CanCode and what was this week’s announcement?
Today, Minister Champagne announced the launch of the third phase of CanCode. Launched in 2017 and renewed for the first time in 2019, CanCode is a program that provides K-12 students the opportunity to learn in-demand digital and STEM skills. It also supports teachers by providing them with training opportunities to incorporate new digital skills and technologies into their classrooms.
To date, the first two phases of CanCode have provided nearly 4 million learning opportunities to students from across Canada, as well as their teachers.
Thanks to an $80M investment in Budget 2021 (on top of the $50M in Budget 2017 and the $60M in Budget 2019), CanCode will be able to reach 3 million more students and 120,000 teachers across the country. Additionally, Cancode 3.0 will have an enhanced focus on reaching groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM, such as girls and Indigenous youth.
Applications are open to Canadian non-profits with at least three years of experience delivering education-related programs to young Canadians. The last day for organizations to apply is August 30, 2021.
Keep enjoying the summer!
 Statistics Canada, Canadian Income Survey 2019
July 22nd update
July 16th update
I hope everyone is having an active beginning to the summer season! One of our goals is to always try to make these updates more user friendly. Since a significant majority of the people receiving the updates use English as a preferred official language we always include the English on top and the French version below. However, we have now decided to create a second version where the French version will be on top for those who prefer to read the updates in French. If you wish to be added to the list of people receiving the French version on top please email us at [email protected] and we will add you to that list.
As many of you know, last fall, I helped found the InterParliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism. It is a bipartisan group consisting of parliamentarians from Canada, the US, the UK, Australia and Israel. On Wednesday evening we held a press conference to release our Interim Report and initial recommendations. To watch the press conference please click here.
The press conference was extensively covered by the Canadian media. To read the CTV story in English please click here:
To hear my interview in French on Tout un Matin on ICI Radio Canada FM, please click here.
I also spoke on Thursday at a worldwide summit on antisemitism and have been busy working with Minister Bardish Chagger and our Special Envoy on Antisemitism, Irwin Cotler to plan the national emergency summit on antisemitism which is taking place next Wednesday. On Thursday we will be holding the national emergency summit on Islamophobia which I will also be attending.
On Wednesday, in my role as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour, I joined Minister Filomena Tassi at a virtual press conference to announce the Employment Equity Review Task Force as part of our efforts to review the Employment Equity Act to advance equity, diversity and inclusion for women, LGBTQ2+ Canadians, Indigenous Peoples, Black and racialized Canadians, persons with disabilities and other under-represented groups. The Chair of the Committee is Professor Adelle Blackett, who was a classmate of mine at McGill Law School and I know that she and the accomplished members of the Task Force will listen carefully and craft excellent recommendations to us.
You can read more about this announcement here:
How are vaccinations coming along in Canada this week?
As of July 15th, 52,965,698 doses of approved Covid-19 vaccines have been delivered to the provinces.
79.5% of eligible Canadians have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
53.6% of all eligible Canadians have been fully vaccinated.
This is great news! We are first in the world in initial doses and are moving toward first place on people being fully vaccinated. As more people get vaccinated and regions start to reopen, our government will continue to closely watch hospitalization and vaccination rates while working with communities to combat vaccine hesitancy, particularly amongst vulnerable populations, including those experiencing homelessness and newcomers to Canada.
I thank all the courageous frontline healthcare workers across my riding but also across the country. You have worked so hard over the past year and a half to keep Canadians safe. Also, thank you to our constituents who did their part by getting their first and second doses. Vaccinations are the clear path towards getting back to our normal lives. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter, and we’ll get there together but make sure you get vaccinated.
Are mRNA vaccines safe for use as a second dose for those that received their first shot with the AstraZeneca vaccine?
Yes. After a thorough, independent review, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization has found mRNA vaccines to be safe for use as a second dose for those that received their first shot with the AstraZeneca vaccine. All vaccines in Canada are safe and effective. With these updates, provinces and territories will be able to provide more vaccination options to Canadians.
What is being done to provide even more support to provinces and territories for vaccines and health care?
Fighting COVID-19 is a Team Canada effort, and our government will continue to do whatever it takes to finish this fight, create jobs, and support Canadians and Canadian businesses as we work together to build back better.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, announced the payment of $5 billion through the Canada Health Transfer to the provinces and territories, distributed equally per capita.
This funding will further support vaccination campaigns, ensure our health care systems remain resilient, and help provinces and territories in their duties to deliver care for Canadians through this pandemic and beyond. It will also help provinces and territories address immediate health system pressures, including clearing the backlog of medical procedures, patient care, and access to primary care, put on hold due to the pandemic. This amount is on top of the $43.1 billion in health transfer funding that we already committed to for 2021-22
What percentage of the spend on the pandemic response has been from the federal government?
To date, our Liberal government has spent more than 8 out of every 10 dollars spent in Canada to fight the pandemic
How is our Liberal government helping countries around the world combat Covid-19?
This week, Ministers Gould and Anand announced that our government will be donating an additional 17.7 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX). This contribution is possible because of the government’s work to secure enough vaccines to fully vaccinate all Canadians. The ministers also announced that we will be matching, dollar for dollar, donations made by individual Canadians to UNICEF Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination fundraising campaign up to a maximum of $10 million. Those interested in donating to this important cause can do so by going to www.unicef.ca/giveavax or by texting VACCINES to 45678 to donate $10.
What announcement was made around National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships this week?
I am thrilled that my colleagues Ministers Champagne, Blair, and Hajdu released new National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships, developed in collaboration with the Government of Canada-Universities Working Group. I believe that Canada’s research needs to be properly safeguarded while remaining collaborative so it benefits Canada, Canadians, Canadian businesses and the global good. These guidelines help Canadian research, knowledge, and intellectual property because they are protected while continuing to advance the discoveries necessary for Canada to remain a global research and innovation leader. Canada’s researchers are world leaders and their world-class research is made possible by collaborative domestic and international partnerships between other researchers, the private sector, and research institutions.
The Government of Canada–University Working Group was established in 2018 with a mandate to collaboratively identify, share and promote best practices to minimize security risks, while protecting Canadian research data and intellectual property.
You can read more about it here.
How is our government planning to help small businesses recover from this pandemic?
Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, announced that applications are now being accepted for the Canada Digital Adoption Program’s, Grow Your Business Online stream, a $4 billion investment to give SMEs the tools and resources needed in this digital age. Grow Your Business Online will award funding to regional and national not-for-profit organizations that can support small businesses in developing and implementing new technologies, as well as hire, train, and place young people as youth digital advisors in small businesses. The program will offer microgrants and 0% interest loans as well as advisory services to help more small and medium sized businesses adopt digital technologies.
This investment will support 160,000 businesses going digital and taking advantage of e-commerce opportunities, ensure no business is left behind in the economy of the future, and create nearly 30,000 jobs for young Canadians.
Following the Call for Applications, a network of service providers will be established. They will be responsible for reviewing applications from individual businesses and providing advisory services and micro-grants. I encourage all eligible businesses in the riding to apply to this program
How is our government helping the tourism industry bounce back from this pandemic?
Our government is committed to finishing the fight against COVID-19 and ensuring a resilient economic recovery that creates jobs and growth for Canadians. Businesses in our riding that rely on tourism have suffered greatly during the pandemic and will have a longer recovery than most other businesses. I am pleased that our Liberal Government just announced a $500 million Tourism Relief Fund to enhance the over $15.4 billion in direct support that has been provided to the tourism sector during the pandemic.
Minister Joly announced that businesses and organizations across Canada can now submit applications through the new Jobs and Growth Fund. With $700 million over 3 years, the Jobs and Growth Fund will support the transition to a green economy, foster an inclusive recovery, enhance competitiveness and create jobs.
Budget 2021 committed an additional $1 billion to help the hard-hit tourism sector prepare to welcome domestic travellers and reposition Canada as a world-class destination. Minister Joly announced that one of the key measures of this support package—the Tourism Relief Fund, is now open for applications. This important program will support businesses and organizations as they adapt their operations in line with COVID-19 restrictions while investing in products and services to ease future growth.
Read more about how to apply for these funding opportunities here.
How is Budget 2021 helping Canadians across the country?
I know that the last year and a half has been extremely difficult, which is why its important for our government to ensure Canadians do not get left behind and we all recover together. This is why I am proud of Budget 2021 as it aims at:
The COVID-19 pandemic saw many Canadians file for EI as countless businesses cut back on operations or shut down completely. Our government stepped up to the plate with targeted benefits for workers, families and businesses, and our broad suite of supports has helped Canadians and protected millions of jobs throughout this crisis.
Budget 2021 also provides substantive funding for the regional development agencies to deliver an Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative, which will boost competitiveness and continue the greening of Canada’s aerospace sector as travel resumes and our innovation economy recovers.
Last Friday, Statistics Canada reported that Canada’s labour market gained 231,000 jobs in June, bringing us within 340,100 of our target of 1 million jobs to restore employment to pre-pandemic levels. While this is encouraging news, we still have much work to do and I know we will do it together.
July 9th update
I was pleased to see that on July 6, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that on his recommendation, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II approved the appointment of Mary Simon, an Inuk leader, as the next Governor General of Canada. Ms. Simon’s appointment is an important step forward on the path to reconciliation. She will be Canada’s 30th Governor General since Confederation, and the first Indigenous Governor General.
I have long advocated for a high frequency and faster train line for the Quebec City to Windsor corridor. This week, our Liberal Government announced the launch of a procurement process to build dedicated passenger lines. This will allow for more trains, faster arrival times and cleaner technology.
In local news, we work a great deal with local businesses and this week I announced $150,000 in support for Elkimia, Inc. based in TMR from the Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions. The company’s CEO is Elie Khalil and he and his innovative team develop and market products used in sun protection, cosmetics and textiles. I have also been a frequent visitor to the Kraft Heinz plant in our riding and this week, I was very pleased to see that it has resumed producing Ketchup at its plant in our riding, to serve the Canadian market.
As many of you know, I was a co-founder of the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism. I have worked closely with legislators from multiple countries to produce our first interim report and we will be holding an online event next Wednesday July 14 at 6PM EDT to talk about our initial recommendations. I will be joined by elected officials from Canada, the US, the UK, Australia and Israel. Please join us on Facebook Live, Wednesday July 14 at 6 p.m. EDT.
Confirm your attendance here: Inter-Parliamentary Task Force Releases Roadmap to Address Anti-Semitism Online | Facebook
We are doing really well on the vaccination front.
Over 50,500,000 doses have been delivered to the provinces and 41,553,000 have been administered.
78.7% of eligible Canadians have had their first dose, leading the world in first doses.
46.5% of eligible Canadians are fully vaccinated.
Based on current rollout we will lead the world in second doses by late July and have 75% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated by early August and then further restrictions can then be lifted.
What is the latest news from our local CIUSSS?
In addition to the existing vaccination locations operating daily:
On Friday and Saturday, July 9 and 10, 6767 Cote-des-Neiges will be operating as a vaccine walk in centre. People 12 years of age and over are welcome to walk in between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. either day to get their first or second COVID vaccine. Second vaccines require a four-week gap from the first.
What Changes to Travel Restrictions took effect July 6?
As of July 6, fully vaccinated travellers, eligible to enter Canada and who comply with the specific eligibility criteria will not be required to quarantine, stay at a government-authorized accommodation or complete a day-8 test. These changes apply to both land and air travellers. Travellers must enter their information into the most recent update of the ArriveCAN app (updated July 5th) in order to enter Canada.
Those who are not fully-vaccinated and/or entered the country before July 6th must continue to follow current travel restrictions including:
What was the new announcement on Pay Equity this week?
As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour, I am so proud of the work of my Minister, Filomena Tassi and our whole department on the pay equity file. Our Liberal Government proposed, and Parliament adopted the Pay Equity Act to address the fact that women in Canada were earning 89 cents for every dollar a man earns. We appointed Pay Equity Commissioner Karen Jansen to help develop pay equity regulations and to help educate and train federally regulated employers and groups representing employees. This week, the final Pay Equity Regulations was published and will come into force on August 31,2021. I am happy to have played a role in creating fairer workplaces in years to come.
When will the one-time payment for seniors born on or before June 30, 1947 be made?
This week, Minister Deb Schulte announced that eligible seniors born on or before June 30, 1947, will receive the $500 one-time payment in the week of August 16, 2021.
While the Canadians did not win the Stanley Cup, their run through the playoffs definitely united Montrealers and Canadians and I want to thank the team for their work. I wish everyone a happy and active week.
July 2nd update
Yesterday was Canada Day and it was really nice to finally get to greet many hundred people face to face. Even though it was not the thousands that I would usually meet or shake hands with on Canada Day we see real progress in some outdoor events being possible and real live conversations occurring. It was a day where we could celebrate the fact that we live in one of the greatest countries in the world but also reflect on the wrongs of our past, in particular the mistreatment of Indigenous peoples and the terrible legacy of residential schools. It was a day where we confronted the flaws of our past, recognized what we need to do to improve in the present and also celebrate the greatness of a people who work together to overcome all obstacles. Please find the link to a couple of videos below. One was my Canada Day message to everyone and another is my speech to the residents of Saint Patrick Square in Cote Saint-Luc yesterday, where Canada Day celebrations were held virtually. Keeping up with tradition, the Dramatic Society hosted an event, which can be viewed here: https://fb.watch/6uU8sELNk7/
View my Canada Day message here: https://fb.watch/6uUV1QdzeV/
View my Saint Patrick Square speech here: https://fb.watch/6uUT2sVs3y/
This week I was deeply saddened by the passing of Rabbi Reuven Bulka, who I have worked closely since becoming an MP but also knew him as my parents’ neighbor in Florida. He definitely left the world a better place, may he rest in peace.
You can read more about his life here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/rabbi-bulka-dead-age-77-1.6082227?fbclid=IwAR2ynEnWONsyAqC79RZuwZOiw6kSUivXqrmSDNQBUGX_bMN8bJPDPq3j1_c
Also like many of you, I was shocked by the collapse of a building in Surfside, Florida. I reached out to Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to convey my deep sympathies and I also want to convey my deepest sympathies to all family members and friends of those killed or missing in the tragedy.
This week I had the pleasure of joining host Shawn Apel and QCGN President Marlene Jennings on CBC Radio Noon Quebec. I would like to thank Marlene for her advocacy and kind words about my work on minority language rights. To listen to the clip, please click here: https://bit.ly/3w0cuuw
We continue to lead the world in first vaccine doses administered. As of yesterday 77.65% of the eligible Canadian population has received at least one vaccine dose and 37.017% are fully vaccinated. We have now moved into second place in the G20 in total doses administered and I am very confident we will be the first country in the world to reach 75% of the eligible population vaccinated.
What was the announcement made this week about an additional investment of $1.5 billion in housing?
Since 2015, we’ve helped more than a million Canadians find a safe place to call home. But for far too many, home ownership is still difficult to obtain, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made the housing crisis worse. This is why on June 30th, Prime Minister Trudeau alongside Minister Hussen, announced the creation of 4,500 new affordable housing units across the country with an additional investment of $1.5 billion through the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI). Combined with funding for the RHI announced in October, this investment will support a total of over 9,200 new affordable housing units for vulnerable Canadians across the country, tripling our initial target of 3,000 homes. Montreal is one of the target cities. It will also help to create jobs, grow the middle class, build stronger communities, and ensure that every Canadian has a safe and affordable place to call home. With the creation of at least 25 per cent of this funding going towards women-focused housing projects, and units will be constructed within 12 months of when funding is provided. I look forward to working closely with the municipalities and organizations on the ground to ensure the RHI has a wide range of positive impacts.
I invite you to consult the Minister’s announcement here:
What can we do to signify our opposition to the use of the notwithstanding clause in Draft Bill 96?
As you know I have been speaking out against the use of the notwithstanding clause. But you can also do the same. I encourage all of you who oppose its use to join the QCGN in its letter writing campaign Say No to the Notwithstanding Clause, which allows Quebecers to voice their concerns directly to Premier Legault and Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette. The process is simple: visit the website, enter your postal code and choose your form letter. The letters will automatically be directed to not only the Premier and Minister but also to your local MNA, MP and PLQ leader, Dominique Anglade.
Did the Budget receive Royal Assent?
Budget 2021 received royal assent and became law this week. This is our government’s plan to finish the fight against COVID-19, create jobs, support businesses, and build back better for all Canadians.
The budget includes extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, and Lockdown Support, and supports Canadians with additional weeks for the Canada Recovery Benefit and Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit.
To support more than one million Canadians in low-wage jobs, the Canada Workers Benefit will help them return to work and lift over 100,000 Canadians out of poverty, and a federal minimum wage of $15/hour will help hardworking Canadians pay bills and put food on the table. No one working full time in Canada should live in poverty. With the passage of the budget, our government is launching a historic expansion of the Canada Workers Benefit, a refundable tax credit of up to $1,400 for single workers, or $2,400 for workers with families.
How are we further assisting arts and culture and sports organizations still impacted by COVID-19?
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s arts, culture, heritage and sports sectors have been impacted due to closures and cancellations. As more Canadians get vaccinated and as provinces and territories begin to reopen, Canadians are looking forward to safely returning to cultural and sporting events. In order to safely reopen, arts, culture, heritage and sports organizations, and Canadians working in these sectors, need targeted support to continue to weather the impacts of the pandemic and create good jobs for the middle class.
This week, Ministers Guilbeault and Joly announced the Recovery Fund for Arts, Culture, Heritage and Sport Sectors, the Reopening Fund, and Major Festivals and Events Support Initiative to help organizations that are still struggling due to the pandemic. This includes Canada’s festivals, cultural events, outdoor theatre performances, heritage celebrations, local museums, amateur sports events and more. The Recovery Fund for Arts, Culture, Heritage and Sport Sectors, will leverage existing programming to provide $300 million over two years to organizations that are still struggling due to the pandemic.
The Reopening Fund, will help Canada’s local festivals, community cultural events, outdoor theatre performances, heritage celebrations, local museums, amateur sports events and more deliver in-person experiences or events that draw visitors to our communities.
For more information, please see the news release:
How are we going to reach 100% zero emission vehicles?
This week Ministers Alghabra, Guilbeault and Wilkinson announced that the Government of Canada is setting a mandatory target for all new light-duty cars and passenger trucks sales to be zero-emission by 2035, accelerating Canada’s previous goal of 100 percent sales by 2040.
This announcement is coupled with existing measures to support increased zero-emission vehicle adoption – from incentives that help with the upfront costs of zero-emission vehicles, to investments in zero-emission charging infrastructure, to partnerships with auto manufacturers which are helping them re-tool and produce zero-emission vehicles right here in Canada. Taken together, the government is setting the country on a clear path towards Canada’s new 100 percent zero-emission vehicle sales goal and a prosperous net-zero emissions economy by 2050.
Now that summer has arrived and vaccinations are progressing well I hope everyone can enjoy a more social and eventful summer!
June 28th update
As I have mentioned before, one of our government’s priorities has been to ensure that we have the capacity to be self sustaining for any future public health emergency. We need to learn lessons from this first in a century pandemic. One very important component of this is to ensure that we have domestic capacity to produce vaccines.
That is why on Tuesday, I joined our Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Francois-Philippe Champagne and Mitch Davies, the President of the National Research Council to announce the completed construction and fit-up of the Biologics Manufacturing Centre in the Mount Royal riding, a new, end-to-end biomanufacturing facility created with a $126 million investment from our Government, that will be used to manufacture COVID-19 and other vaccines and biologics. This facility will benefit the economy and the health of Canadians in years to come.
This facility will have an initial production capacity of approximately 4000 litres per month, which translates into approximately 2,000,000 vaccine doses per month or 24,000,000 doses per year. This facility is one of a significant number of investments to build our domestic capacity in both biologics and MRNA vaccines.
Please click here to check out pictures from this important announcement:
You can also find more information about the project at the following link: https://nrc.canada.ca/.../
I hope that everyone had a great Saint-Jean Baptiste Holiday yesterday and I want to wish everyone in advance a really Happy Canada Day. We live in the greatest country in the world but over the last few months a number of events have left deep scars.
This week, the discovery of 751 unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school in Saskatchewan is one of those scars. It reminds us of a dark chapter in Canada’s history. One which ripped children away from Indigenous families in an effort to assimilate them. Often forbidden to speak their languages or to practice their cultural traditions, these children were subject to abuse in institutions often run by churches and funded by the Canadian Government.
These types of discoveries bring further pain to communities across our country, and while no victims of this tragedy can be brought back, the Government of Canada remains committed to full reconciliation and providing the resources necessary to find bodies located at other former residential school sites.
I invite you to read the Prime Minister’ statement here:
On the COVID-front. We continue to see rates of COVID drop throughout most of Canada, high rates of second doses administered, and the beginning of the easing of federal and provincial restrictions that have helped curb the spread of COVID and its variants.
As of this writing, over 34.56 million COVID vaccine doses have been administered in Canada, with over 39.4 of vaccines delivered to the provinces. Over 76.58% of Canadians over 12 have received their first dose, keeping us in first place in all of the G20 in terms of first doses administered relative to the population. In addition more and more Canadians are now receiving their second dose with 27.52% of Canadians over 12 having been fully vaccinated.
This week in the House of Commons our Liberal Government’s bill to ban conversion therapy was adopted. Conversion therapy is a disgraceful practice. People cannot change their sexual orientation or gender identity and whatever one’s religious beliefs, this practice is hurtful and destructive. It was heartbreaking to see half the Conservative caucus vote against this bill. I hope it gets swift passage in the Senate.
Our climate change accountability law that imposes discipline on the federal government to ensure we have a real plan to meet emission targets and sets up independent oversight was adopted this week as well, with Conservatives opposing it and trying to stop passage of the bill.
Finally, I have worked very hard for a Bill to better address online hate speech and Justice Minister David Lametti introduced such a bil this week to combat hate speech and hate crimes and improve remedies for victims as well as hold individuals accountable for the harms of the hatred they spread. I will work hard to ensure this Bill is eventually adopted.
What are the new rules for fully vaccinated travelers returning to Canada?
Beginning July 5, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. EDT, fully vaccinated travellers who are permitted to enter Canada will not be subject to the federal requirement to quarantine or take a COVID-19 test on day-8. In addition, fully vaccinated travellers arriving by air will not be required to stay at a government-authorized hotel.
To be considered fully vaccinated, a traveller must have received the full series of a vaccine — or combination of vaccines — accepted by the Government of Canada at least 14 days prior to entering Canada. Currently, those vaccines are manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). Travellers can receive their vaccine in any country, and must provide documentation supporting their vaccination in English, French or with a certified translation.
For these new measures to apply to them, fully vaccinated travellers must still meet all other mandatory requirements, including pre- and on-arrival testing. Continued testing will allow public health experts to keep monitoring positivity rates at the border, monitor for variants of concern, and make further adjustments to border measures as needed.
Fully vaccinated travellers must also be asymptomatic, have a paper or digital copy of their vaccination documentation, and provide COVID-19-related information electronically through ArriveCAN prior to arrival in Canada. They must still present a suitable quarantine plan, and be prepared to quarantine, in case it is determined at the border that they do not meet all of the conditions required to be exempt from quarantine. As with all other exempt travellers, they will be required to follow public health measures in place, such as wearing a mask when in public, keep a copy of their vaccine and test results, as well as a list of close contacts for 14 days after entry to Canada.
For travellers who are not fully vaccinated, there are no changes to Canada’s current border measures. They must continue to adhere to the current testing and federal quarantine requirements, which have been effective in reducing importation and transmission of COVID-19 and variants in Canada, and provide COVID-19-related information electronically through ArriveCAN before arriving in Canada. Unvaccinated air travellers must also book a three-night stay at a government-authorized hotel before their departure to Canada.
Please know that if you are fully vaccinated and arrive in Canada anytime before July 5th at 11:59 PM you will be subject to the current rules in place and will have to follow the same rules that still apply to those non-vaccinated such as quarantining at a hotel if travelling by air, a 14 day quarantine, etc. So, if you are fully vaccinated it might be a good idea to change any flights or travel plans to return to Canada on July 6th or afterwards.
What should I know about the launch Canada Community Revitalization Fund?
The Government of Canada recognizes that Canadian cities and towns flourish when they have community infrastructure to promote social interaction and physical activity, and provide access to recreational programs and facilities. These are integral to our overall well-being as individuals, families and communities.
Our economic recovery is closely linked to the vitality of our local communities and their shared spaces. The new Canada Community Revitalization Fund (CCRF) announced in Budget 2021 provides $500 million over two years to Canada’s regional development agencies (RDAs) to invest in shared and inclusive public spaces, helping to create the conditions and accessibility to stimulate local economies and bring Canadians back together once it is safe to do so.
On Wednesday, the Government of Canada announced that eligible applicants may now submit an application. Applicants that have projects ready to proceed are strongly encouraged to submit their applications by July 23, 2021.
Since the start of COVID-19, Canada’s RDAs have been on the ground providing relief and recovery funding to businesses and business support organizations to help them weather the effects of the pandemic through the $2 billion Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, preserving more than 143,700 jobs.
As public health restrictions ease, the Canada Community Revitalization Fund will aim to further stimulate local economies, create jobs, and improve the quality of life of Canadians by investing in shared spaces to make them safer, greener and more accessible.
For more information on the application process, eligibility criteria and eligible expenses, or to apply for the CCRF, reach out to your regional development agency.
Can you provide more details about the recent authorization for Trikafta?
Last week, after much anticipation and advocacy to see this through, I was very pleased that Health Canada authorized the drug Trikafta for the treatment of Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Trikafta has been authorized for CF patients aged 12 and older with a gene mutation found in 90% of patients.
This authorization follows a priority review of Vertex Pharmaceutical’s Trikafta submission. Recognizing the importance of this new treatment option, Health Canada granted priority review status to Trikafta in November 2020 and received the submission from Vertex Pharmaceuticals in December 2020. The target for completion of priority reviews is 180 days, as opposed to 300 days for non-priority reviews.
This authorization builds on our work to help Canadians with rare diseases get access to the life-saving treatments they need. We remain committed to supporting Canadians with cystic fibrosis and their families.
June 17th update
I remain deeply concerned about the sense of fear felt by many communities in our riding. The combination of various events has made concerned many of my constituents. I have worked hard to ensure that we do even more to combat antisemitism and Islamophobia. Our Government announced last Friday that we will be holding separate emergency summits to tackle each of antisemitism and Islamophobia. It was also announced that my incredible mentor and predecessor Irwin Cotler, our nation’s special envoy on antisemitism will Chair the summit on antisemitism and I look forward to working with him and community leaders on it. My priority remains a bill that will tackle online hate that our Government has committed to presenting.
I know many in our riding remain greatly troubled about Quebec’s Bill 96 and I am working closely with English language organizations and community groups on this issue. Since the Bloc Quebecois chose to present a motion in the House asking us to recognize that Quebec is proposing to amend its own constitution under this Bill, I was able to speak in the House and give voice to the concerns of many in our riding and the wider community about the issues being raised. You can hear my speech at:
You will note that at the end of the speech I proposed an amendment on behalf of the Liberal Party. I moved that the motion be amended by adding the assurances that the recognition of the Quebecois nation was in “a united Canada” and that nothing within such proposed amendment could impact or reduce the rights of the English speaking minority. I proposed to add the following to the motion:
That the House acknowledge adopting a motion, in 2006, stating “That this House recognize that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada” and reaffirm this position; and declare that the rights of Quebec’s English-speaking minority under the Canadian constitution may not be impacted or reduced by such an amendment.
The Bloc refused to allow the amendment to be debated or voted on. As a result I joined 28 other Liberals including 9 other colleagues from Quebec in abstaining when we voted, The motion was accurate on its face so I could not intellectually vote against but I also felt it was wrong to vote yes without my constituents concerns being properly addressed.
The same day all other parties in the House, the Bloc, Conservatives and NDP voted to apply Quebec’s Charter of the French language to federally regulated businesses. Only Liberals voted against it. As a result the Bill was approved at second reading and sent to Committee. This continues a parade of Bills in this minority Parliament that the Bloc proposes which only Liberals vote against. For everyone who wonders how our party is different on language than the others these are concrete examples of our commitment to protecting the rights of all communities. This is the way we have approached the reforms to the Official Languages Act and I will continue to work closely with our Minister of Official Languages to ensure the proposal reflects the needs of both communities.
I would note that I have also been hard at work with Committees and in obtaining grants for community organizations. This week community security infrastructure grants were announced and I am pleased to advise that organizations in our riding received close to $1,000,000 to improve their security.
I want to end this note by thanking the incredible and incomparable Marvin Rotrand, the dean of the Montreal City Council, who announced his retirement this week.He has represented everyone living in Snowdon but also all minority communities in the City of Montreal with incredible passion and distinction and I have learned so much from him. Marvin thank you for your service. We owe you and Jaqui and your whole family a great debt of gratitude.
Can you provide an update on vaccinations in Canada?
As of this writing, over 30.72 million COVID vaccine doses have been administered, with over 33.45 million of vaccines delivered to the provinces. Over 65% of Canadians have received at least their first dose including over 74.84% over 12.
I am pleased to also share that Canada reached an agreement with the United States to receive an additional 1 million doses of the Moderna vaccine. I thank the US administration for their partnership in assisting our government in vaccinating Canadians even more quickly.
When can I get move up my appointment for a second dose of the vaccine?
All Quebecers over 18 will be able to move up their appointment for a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to as soon as eight weeks after the first. You can do this on the site or go to a walk in location such as the Bill Durnan Arena in our riding. As of today, all those 40 and older are able to move up their appointment for their second dose online through the online booking system Clic Santé at the following link: https://portal3.clicsante.ca/.
For all those under 40, here are the dates of eligibility for the remaining age groups to move up their second dose appointment:
Can you provide me an update from CIUSSS West-Central Montreal sent out on June 11?
In order to raise that number even higher, CIUSSS West-Central Montreal is extending hours of operation at CLSC Parc-Extension to accommodate walk-ins, as well as opening a mobile clinic at the Howie-Morenz Arena. We will be offering the Pfizer vaccine.
CLSC Parc-Extension, 7085 Hutchison Street
Monday, June 14 through Friday, June 18
7:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Walk-in FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED
Saturday, June 19 - Sunday, June 20
8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Walk-in FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED
CIUSSS West-Central Montreal has also partnered with the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), using signs at several
Metro stations to provide directions to our vaccination sites:
CLSC Parc-Extension, 7085 Hutchison Street
Parc Metro station
From Saturday, June 12 until Friday, June 25
8:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. on weekends
7:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. on weekdays
Bill-Durnan Arena, 4988 Vézina Street
Plamondon Metro station
As of Monday, June 14
8 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
University of Montreal - MIL campus, 1375 B Lavoie-Roux Avenue
Acadie Metro station
As of Monday, June 14
8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
What was the Government’s recent investment in Canadian science, research and engineering?
On Tuesday, the Government of Canada announced investments of more than $635 million in science, research and engineering to support more than 4,800 lead researchers and their teams.
This funding supports:
In addition to pandemic-related projects, these investments will support emerging and ongoing research in areas of critical importance, such as Indigenous reconciliation, precision medicine, women’s health, particle physics, climate change, citizenship and social justice, chronic pain, and gender, race and inclusive policies. This research will help inform governments, businesses and individuals as they make decisions to grow our economy, protect our environment and ensure the well-being of communities across Canada.
Some of the recipients receiving funding include:
Since 2016, the Government has invested over $13 billion in science and research. This includes more than $3 billion in new funding from Budget 2021 for Canadian researchers and science, including support for cutting-edge life sciences research and biotechnology; for research into systemic racism and gender inequality; and for national strategies on artificial intelligence, cleantech, quantum technologies and genomics.
With continued support from the Government, Canada’s world-class researchers will have the tools they need to address some of our biggest challenges.
June 10th update
Tragedy sadly struck once again, this time in London, Ontario.
As mentioned in my statement on Monday, my heart grieves for the victims and their families impacted by this horrific act of violence. Islamophobia has no place in Canada and there can be no act more heinous than the murder of an innocent family.
In the same way I have recently called on the entire community to denounce acts of antisemitism, I now call on the entire community to denounce this and other acts of Islamophobia. Hate in all forms is cruel and evil.
Canada has to be better than this.
I commit to doing what I can to reduce this rising level of hates we are seeing against minority religious communities across our country.
I am also continuing to do what I can as a federal MP on the issue of Bill 96. In follow up to the letter I sent last week and posted on Facebook, I went on CJAD 800 Montreal to speak with host Elias Makos to talk about the bill and the importance of protecting Quebec’s English-speaking community. You can find a link to the interview below:
Can you provide an update on vaccines?
As the Prime Minister confirmed yesterday, I am pleased to share that Canada will receive an additional 7 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine this month, with shipments starting next week. We’ll also continue to receive more than 2 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine every week until the end of August.
As of this writing, over 27.44 million COVID vaccine doses have been administered, with over 30.55 million of vaccines delivered to the provinces. Over 62% of Canadians have received at least their first dose including over 72% over 12, keeping us in first place in all of the G20 in terms of first doses administered relative to the population.
What are the upcoming changes to the quarantine requirements for those vaccinated?
Over the last few months especially, I have heard from many of you about the current quarantine rules still applying for fully vaccinated travellers.
Through public health measures and continued vaccination, Canada is seeing fewer new cases of COVID-19 and reduced hospitalizations. As the situation improves, we are thankfully able to look at the next steps at our border while keeping the health and safety of Canadians as our priority.
As the first step in a phased approach, Canada will be adjusting the requirements for fully vaccinated travellers who are currently permitted to enter Canada.
Overview of proposed amendments :
I am expecting these measures to take effect in early July when we hit 75% with first vaccine and 20% with both doses.
Until these measures are implemented, all travellers must follow existing travel requirements.
More operational details on the exact requirements and process for these new requirements will be made available in the coming weeks.
When can I get move up my appointment for a second dose of the vaccine?
Last week, the province of Quebec announced that Quebecers over 18 who got Pfizer or Moderna will be able to move up their appointment for a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to as soon as eight weeks after the first. Those who want a second dose of Astra Zeneca can do so after 8 weeks on a walk in basis. As of today, all those 65 and older are able to move up their appointment for their second dose online through the online booking system Clic Santé at the following link: https://portal3.clicsante.ca/.
For all those under 65, here are the dates of eligibility for the remaining age groups to move up their second dose appointment:
Can you provide me with details about the Indian Residential Schools Day Scholar Settlement announced yesterday?
Yesterday, the Government announced that a settlement has been reached with Survivor and Descendant Class Members in the Gottfriedson Indian Residential Schools Day Scholar class action.
This agreement marks an important milestone for Day Scholars.
While Day Scholars were able to seek compensation under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement for physical and sexual abuse suffered while attending residential schools, they were not able to seek compensation for the experience of attending the schools as they returned to their homes at night.
We will continue to work with survivors and Indigenous partners to walk the path of reconciliation, promote Indigenous culture, and support the healing and commemoration of those affected by colonial policies and their intergenerational impacts.
I also want to wish a Happy Pride Month for all those celebrating this June. While I was Chair of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in the last Parliament, I worked hard to ensure we repealed provisions of the Criminal Code which were unfairly used against the LGBTQ+ community including the bawdy house provisions.
I was also proud to have played a role in our Committee and then in Parliament’s addition of gender expression and gender identity as protected grounds under the Canada Human Rights Act.
As we face tumultuous times, we must reaffirm the fundamental rights and dignity inherent to all people. Everyone deserves to be valued and respected, regardless of their gender identity and expression, or who they love.
June 3rd update
As many of you know, last week, the remains of 215 children on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School was discovered.
Our thoughts are with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, as well as with all Indigenous communities across Canada, during this difficult time. The loss of children who attended Indian Residential Schools is unthinkable and Canada remains resolved to supporting families, Survivors and communities and to memorializing those lost innocent souls.
I can assure you our government has been engaging with Indigenous communities impacted by residential schools on how best to proceed following this horrific discovery and will be pushing forward as quickly as possible. I also support the government in its efforts to fulfill our promise to address the important calls to actions found in the Truth and Reconciliation Report. We have moved forward since 2015 on issues such as ending water advisories in First Nations communities and while we have made substantial progress in this and other areas it has not been enough.
With this being National Indigenous History Month, I invite all those reading this today to make an effort to learn even more about the effects of our colonial past, and discover and honour the cultures and experiences of First Nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada. June 21st marks National Indigenous People's Day, a day for us all to recognize the unique heritage, cultures, and Indigenous ways of living and being.
Click on the link below to read more about what our government is doing to mark this important month:
On a very personal note, one of my first political acts as a teenager was calling the office of my then MP, Progressive Conservative Gerry Weiner to thank him for voting against an abortion bill in the House of Commons. Even at that young age it seemed really important to me that women should be able to control their own bodies and be the decision makers not the state. On Wednesday, 30 years later, we voted on yet another bill from a Conservative MP seeking to limit abortion rights in Canada.
I was truly shocked that 82 of my Conservative colleagues, a full 70% of their caucus, voted for the bill. It seems that even in 2021 women’s reproductive rights remain in question and that makes me profoundly sad.
I have been working closely with community associations on grant applications and there is significant information on the Black Entrepreneurship Fund in the Questions and Answers below. I have also been working on the Heritage Committee to dispel the completely false information being put out about Bill C-10. It does not regulate user content and this false narrative is being constantly repeated by some on the right. I have also been working on a consultation on mental health in the workplace in my role as Parliamentary Secretary for Labour. We need to help provide support for those many workers who have been challenged in this pandemic.
June is Filipino Heritage month. I was thrilled to second the bill in the House that created this month and will be attending a significant number of events virtually. To see my video on Filipino Heritage Month please go to:
I will be the guest speaker at the Knights of Pythias on Wednesday June 9th at 7:30 PM. To register for this Zoom event please call 438-836-8960 or email [email protected]. I also look forward to speaking to the members of Adath Israel on Sunday June 6th.
Let me now answer some questions that I have been receiving.
Can you provide me with the news today about being able to move up my appointment for a second dose?
Today, the province of Quebec announced that Quebecers over 18 will be able to move up their appointment for a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to as soon as eight weeks after the first.
Those 80 and over will be eligible to do so starting next Monday, June 7, through the online booking system Clic Santé at the following link: https://portal3.clicsante.ca/
Once the new appointment is made, the previous appointment will be automatically cancelled.
Here is the dates of eligibility for age groups to move up their second dose appointment:
For more information, please visit the following web page:
Can you provide an update on Canada’s vaccinate numbers and shipments?
As of this writing, over 24.77 million COVID vaccine doses have been administered, with over 28.14 million of vaccines delivered to the provinces. Over 59% of Canadians have received at least their first dose, putting us in first place (just ahead of the UK) in all of the G20 in terms of first doses administered relative to the population. I would also note that we are ahead of this pace in Quebec and also note that this statistic relates to the whole population not just the eligible population. Meaning that when we say 59% it includes the number of people 11 and under who cannot be vaccinated yet. So the percentage vaccinated of the eligible population is higher.
What is the latest news for those who are waiting for their CEBA $20,000 expansion application?
As of today, financial institutions will begin contacting all Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) applicants who have been waiting for an update on their $20,000 expansion application with information on next steps. This may take slightly longer with smaller financial institutions, however, constituents can expect outreach to begin in the next week or so.
This will be a two-step process:
The period during which applicants may complete these additional remediation processes will extend past the June 30, 2021 application period end date.
Can you provide a link to your statement in the House of Commons about antisemitism?
Jewish Heritage Month is usually an opportunity for us to celebrate the amazing honours and achievements of members of the community, but, sadly, May was filled with the greatest wave of antisemitism that I have seen in my lifetime.
So while normally I would have made a statement during this month that was more of a positive commemoration, on this last day of Jewish Heritage Month, I felt there was nothing more important at this time than to speak out against the antisemitic acts that have taken place in the riding and across the country.
We will do more to address this issue. You can watch my statement at the following link:
I also suggest you check out my interview on CTV Montreal where I speak about the significant escalation of antisemitism in Montreal, across the country and around the world:
What are the recent changes to the quarantine exemptions for those looking to come to Canada for compassionate reasons?
As of last week, the Public Health Agency of Canada has expanded the exemption eligibility criteria for compassionate travellers.
Travellers who are returning to Canada after travelling abroad for compassionate reasons can now apply for an exemption from the mandatory three-night hotel stay. Travellers must submit their exemption application before leaving Canada as applications will not be processed upon arrival in Canada.
Can you please provide me with the most recent update from our local CIUSSS sent on May 27th?
COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign update - May 27, 2021
We continue to make steady progress with our vaccination campaign.
Walk-in clinic for AstraZeneca
As of last Saturday, the CIUSS Centre West has opened a walk-in clinic at Décarie Square from 8:10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. where we will be offering second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people 45 and older.
Only people who received their first dose before April 3 are currently eligible for a second dose. Those who do not want AstraZeneca as second dose have to maintain their original second dose appointment.
Vaccination campaign for students 12 to 17 years old
We have 58 secondary schools on our territory and approximately 26,755 students eligible to be vaccinated by June 23. We had Zoom meetings with school representatives on Thursday and are ready to launch a comprehensive and multi-faceted vaccination campaign.
Mobile vaccination clinics
Our schedule for the next mobile vaccination clinics is as follows:
Parc-Extension Temple Shri Ramji Mandhata, 8155 Durocher May 28 and 29, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Howie-Morenz Arena, 8650 Querbes June 11 and 12, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
NDG Walkey Community Centre, 6650 Côte Saint Luc Road June 4 and 5, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Can you provide an update on the Canada Recovery Hiring Program and information on the extension of business support programs?
Yesterday, the Government of Canada announced that that the new Canada Recovery Hiring Program would be available retroactively to June 6, 2021.
The proposed Canada Recovery Hiring Program would help hard-hit businesses hire the workers they need to recover and grow as local economies reopen.
The program would provide a subsidy of up to 50 per cent of eligible salary or wages. It would be available to eligible employers who have experienced qualifying revenue declines so they can hire more workers, increase workers’ hours, or increase wages. This support would afford businesses with certainty that they can take on the extra costs needed to rehire and be ready to return to growth.
Like with the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, businesses would be able to access the program through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Support would be available retroactively to this Sunday, June 6, 2021, and businesses would be able to hire workers as their local economy reopens, or as they are ready.
The Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Small Business also detailed the proposed extension of business support programs that have served as a lifeline to Canadian businesses through the pandemic. This includes the proposed extension of the Wage Subsidy, Rent Subsidy, and Lockdown Support until September 25, 2021. These programs are currently set to expire this month. Both the Hiring Program and proposed extensions are part of Bill C-30, the Budget Implementation Act, which is currently before Parliament.
The Hiring Program is designed to interact with the Wage Subsidy. The programs overlap so that, as Wage Subsidy rates gradually decline, eligible employers would still be able to receive the maximum support from the Hiring Program this summer if they hire more workers or increase workers’ hours or wages. This will make it easy for businesses to quickly hire new workers and do so at a pace that works best for them, as different jurisdictions reopen their economies at different paces.
The Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Small Business also announced that the Business Credit Availability Program and Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program are being extended to December 31, 2021. Both programs were set to expire on June 30, 2021. This will ensure, with economies reopening and a path to recovery ahead, businesses will have the liquidity support they need to invest in their recovery.
Through these programs, the government is ensuring that businesses can continue to get the support they need and enabling them to invest in their longer-term prosperity, including businesses in hard-hit sectors like tourism and hospitality, hotels, arts and entertainment.
What was the Government’s recent announcement related to net-zero carbon concrete?
Earlier this week, the Government of Canada issued a joint statement by the Government of Canada and the Canadian cement sector to support a roadmap to net-zero carbon concrete. This partnership and the resulting roadmap will position Canada’s cement and concrete industry to become a global leader in low-carbon cement and concrete production and related clean technologies.
The roadmap will provide Canadian industry with guidance on technologies, tools and policies needed to reach net‑zero carbon concrete by 2050, including on:
The work of this partnership will align with, and inform, the objective of the Greening Government Strategy: having the Government of Canada transition to net-zero carbon and climate-resilient operations.
This initiative aligns with the goals of Canada’s strengthened climate plan—“A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy”—as well as Budget 2021, both of which identify the decarbonization of Canada’s cement and concrete sector as a way to secure our clean industrial advantage and clean-growth future.
Can you provide more details about the National Action Plan to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and the Federal Government’s contribution to it?
Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people have the right to be safe, wherever they live. For decades, Indigenous families, survivors and grassroots organizers have called for an inquiry, action, answers and an end to gender-based violence.
The National Inquiry’s Final Report, Calls for Justice 1.1, asked all governments in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to develop a National Action Plan to address violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. The work to develop the National Action Plan included a structure of over 100 Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ partners, inclusive of federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous governments, Indigenous women’s organizations, and families and survivors.
Today, on the 2nd anniversary of the release of the Final Report of the MMIWG National Inquiry, the 2021 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People National Action Plan: Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People was released. The National Action Plan is intended to form the umbrella under which federal, provincial, and territorial and Indigenous partners, governments, and organizations will contribute their respective components. Together, these components will drive the transformative change needed to keep Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people safe wherever they live.
The National Action Plan is not meant to be frozen in time; it is evergreen, recognizing the urgency for immediate action, but also the importance of continuing to cultivate transformative change over time. It includes: a vision and guiding principles; goals; common short-term priorities; action plans from the National Family and Survivors Circle, Contributing Partners, and provinces/territories; and, a discussion of immediate next steps and advice for monitoring results.
It includes the Government of Canada’s contribution to the National Action plan, the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People. On Friday, June 4th, Minister Bennett, alongside other Ministers, will be holding a press conference highlighting the Government of Canada’s contribution to the National Action Plan.
Can you provide more information about the Black Entrepreneurship Program?
Some great news to share from the federal government in our support for Black businesses owners and Entrepreneurs in Canada!
As of yesterday, that the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, part of the Black Entrepreneurship Program (BEP), is now accepting applications.
This fund has been co-developed in partnership with the Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE) as the loan fund administrator to provide financing of up to $250,000 for Black business owners and entrepreneurs so they can grow their businesses and succeed now and into the future.
The loan fund is an important step in helping Black business owners and entrepreneurs get the financial support they need so they can start up, scale up and grow across Canada and the world.
Please find some key Questions and Answers about the fund in the text below:
What is the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund?
The Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, a component of the Black Entrepreneurship Program (BEP), is a partnership between the Government of Canada, Black-led business organizations and financial institutions. The loan fund is now an investment of $291.3 million to support the success of Black entrepreneurs and business owners.
The first phase of the fund includes a $33.3-million investment from the Government of Canada and $130 million from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). BDC, Vancity and Alterna Savings are the first partner financial institutions in the launch of the Loan Fund.
The second phase of the fund includes an investment of $128 million committed from these financial institutions: the Royal Bank of Canada, BMO Financial Group, Scotiabank, CIBC, the National Bank of Canada, and TD Bank. Additional financial institutions and capital may also be announced in this phase.
The fund will provide loans of up to $250,000 to support Black business owners and entrepreneurs across Canada and lay the foundation for future success and long-term change.
How is the loan fund connected to other components of the Black Entrepreneurship Program (BEP)?
The loan fund is expected to build on the National Ecosystem Fund component of the BEP, connecting with Black-led business organizations to provide business advisory services to Black entrepreneurs and allowing them to increase their existing offerings and grow their businesses.
Over time, it is expected that the loan fund will feed into the Knowledge Hub component of the BEP, gathering relevant and much-needed information to inform the hub's research of understanding and mapping out Canada's Black entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Which entity will administer the Government of Canada's contribution to the loan fund?
The Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE) is the legal entity designated to administer the government contribution to the loan fund. It is a federally incorporated not-for-profit created by a group of Black business support organizations (BBSO) from across Canada.
Which organizations make up the Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE)?
FACE is made up of five prominent BBSOs that joined forces to create the organization. Collectively, the group has more than 35 years of experience serving Black Canadian business communities. The founding members are:
Who will partner with FACE in delivering the loan fund?
The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) has committed $130 million to extend capital to Black entrepreneurs under the loan fund. The BDC is a Crown corporation that has been serving Canadian entrepreneurs across the country since 1944. The BDC plays an active and important role supporting access to financing to underserved sectors, regions and entrepreneurs in Canada. It has the expertise, knowledge and capacity to work with FACE in administering the loan fund.
FACE will seek to work with other financial institutions as partners in due course.
What is the microloan pilot program?
Alterna Savings and Vancity credit unions will be partnering with FACE to deliver a microloan pilot program under the loan fund, administering microloans from $10,000 to $25,000 to Black entrepreneurs in Ontario and British Columbia. Credit unions have long served underserved entrepreneurs, helping them become economically and socially empowered. Credit unions have a deep understanding of community loan funds, and Alterna Savings has done so through its 20-year Community Micro-Finance Program.
The Government of Canada and FACE look forward to seeing the success of this pilot and look forward to welcoming other financial institutions to deliver microloans across Canada.
What is the role of the delivery partners at the outset? What about their future role?
The Business Development Bank of Canada will work with and support FACE in ensuring the initial set of loan products are delivered in a timely manner to Black Canadian business owners and entrepreneurs. It will provide advice and resources and collaborate with FACE on the loan approval model that will serve the Black Canadian business community.
At the outset, the Business Development Bank of Canada will commit $130 million in capital to partner with FACE and act as a fulfillment agent for the loan fund.
Alterna Savings and Vancity will also participate in a microloan pilot program under the loan fund, administering loans of between $10,000 and $25,000 to Black entrepreneurs.
FACE and the Government of Canada look forward to onboarding additional financial institutions as partners in the coming months and will continue to work together to better serve Black Canadian business owners and entrepreneurs.
Why did the Government of Canada create a loan fund specifically for Black entrepreneurs and business owners?
Black Canadian business owners and entrepreneurs make important contributions to the Canadian economy, yet they continue to face systemic barriers in starting and growing their businesses. This has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government of Canada is working to address these long-standing, systemic barriers with its first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program.
The loan fund is an important step in helping Black business owners and entrepreneurs get the financial support they need so they can start up, scale up and grow across Canada and the world.
Who is eligible under the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund?
To be eligible for a loan, an applicant must:
What businesses are eligible under the loan fund?
Eligible businesses may include start-ups and existing for-profit small businesses in Canada. Such businesses can be corporations or sole proprietors and for-profit social enterprises. Businesses must have a business plan, business registration and recent financial statements or financial projections for start-ups.
Any Black business owners and entrepreneurs with questions are encouraged to reach out to FACE for further details.
What businesses are not eligible under the loan fund?
Not-for-profit organizations are not eligible for loans.
What is eligible for financing under the loan fund?
Loans can be used for:
What is not eligible for financing under the loan fund?
Loans cannot be used to finance items such as goodwill, restructuring conventional business-related debts, dividend payout, shareholder loan repayment or issuance, bonuses, stock buybacks, option issuance, or an increase to shareholder or management committee compensation.
This list is not exhaustive. When in doubt, speak with your account manager.
How much can be financed and what is the maximum loan amount I can access under the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund?
The loan fund will offer loans up to $250,000. FACE can provide loans of up to $100,000. Loans above this amount will be risk shared with the Business Development Bank of Canada.
Alterna Savings and Vancity, under the microloan pilot program, will offer loans between $10,000 and $25,000.
Who will process the loan applications?
The processing of loans is shared between FACE and the Business Development Bank of Canada. FACE is the initial entry point for all Black-owned enterprises interested in applying for a loan. Loan applications will be reviewed by FACE, and the underwriting (fulfillment) process will be shared by the Business Development Bank of Canada.
How to apply
Where can I apply for the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund?
The FACE loan portal, accessible at Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE), will act as the electronic and initial intake process for interested applicants. Loan applicants will be able to submit and communicate with a FACE client relationship manager on the progress of their loan request.
When will applications begin to be accepted?
The loan fund will start accepting applications on May 31, 2021.
How long will it take to turn around applications?
FACE is committed to turning around applications in a timely manner. Time for turnaround will depend on the type of applications received and the due diligence that is required by the loan administrator and the Business Development Bank of Canada. As a result, the timelines will vary based on individual circumstances.
How will entrepreneurs served by other BBSOs get access to the loan fund?
The FACE model is inclusive. It is designed in a way to allow other BBSOs from across the country to participate in the evolution of the entity and submit loan applications for consideration. This ensures Black Canadians, irrespective of where they live and which BBSO they may work with, have an opportunity to access loans from the fund.
If I cannot access financing under the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, where can I go for additional information?
FACE intends to refer applicants whose loan application was not approved to corresponding regional FACE member organizations and affiliates for further capacity building to support to their reapplication at a later time.
Another option could be to visit the Canada Business website to explore government funding options that might better suit your needs.
May 27th update
Today, the Prime Minister is delivering a historic apology to Italian Canadians who were interned during the Second World War, solely because of their country of origin. This sad chapter in Canadian history included the internment of Japanese Canadians and even some Jewish refugees from Nazi occupied Europe.
We have previously apologized for those internments and we are finally recognizing the wrongs done to our Italian community. I am pleased to be part of this historic day.
You can watch the Prime Minister’s speech in its entirety at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
I know these last few weeks have been difficult for many of you, and while the current health crisis remains top of mind, please know that I am continuing to work with stakeholders, the Prime Minister’s office, and key officials to develop a plan to further address the rising levels of antisemitism across Canada. The work on this issue is far from finished.
In the meantime, I will continue to use my voice to strongly condemn antisemitism both in the House of Commons and as a member of the Interparliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism, and through other means.
I invite you to read our Task Force’s statement on the disturbing rise of antisemitic incidents worldwide, and my chat with the Canadian Jewish News on their daily podcast, at the following links:
I will be speaking on this issue in the House of Commons on Monday and will be sure to send you all a link to my statement in the next update.
Can you provide an update related to COVID-19 and vaccinations?
I want to thank each and every one of your efforts to continue to follow the public health and safety guidelines, and getting vaccinated. The light at the end of the tunnel has never been brighter than now, and if we keep doing what we need to do, we will be out of this pandemic as quickly as possible.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada's latest survey of the provinces' and territories' capacity to administer shots, as mentioned in previous updates, Canada's vaccine rollout could be completed by August.
As of yesterday, just under 22 million COVID vaccine doses had been injected into Canadian arms, including about 1.7 million second shots.
More than half the country's population of 38 million have received one shot. Of the approximately 33 million Canadians who are older than 12 (the minimum age for which Health Canada has approved COVID vaccines), almost two-thirds have gotten one dose.
If the rate over the last seven days (364,132 shots given per day) can be maintained until the end of this month, just over 24 million vaccine doses will have been given to Canadians by the start of June.
Over the past three weeks, the proportion of Canadians vaccinated each day has approached one per cent. From May 18 to 24 - the fastest seven-day rate of vaccinations - around 0.97 per cent of Canadians a day were getting a shot.
We remain at almost the very top amongst the G20 countries in terms of population who has received at least their first dose of the COVID vaccine.
What did Quebec Announce Today?
Quebec announced that those who received the Astra Zeneca vaccine can get their second shot after 8 weeks. The CIUSS Centre West is setting up a walk-in clinic at Decarie Square on Saturday and Sunday from 8:10 to 9:30 where it will be offering second doses of AstraZeneca only to people 45 and older. Only people who received their first dose before April 3rd can have a second dose this weekend. The walk in will be done on the basis of first come first serve. The CIUSS will have a capacity to do a couple of hundred walk in vaccinations each day. The CIUSS will distribute tickets accordingly with a time frame so people can leave and return at the time of their vaccine. When Decarie Square reaches its full capacity the CIUSS will stop distributing tickets and people will have to come back the next day.
Those who do not want Astra Zeneca as second dose have to maintain their original second dose appointment. We do not yet know the post weekend plans for the CIUSS but will certainly provide it in the next update.
Can you provide me with the most recent update from our local CIUSSS?
Update on the vaccination against COVID-19 campaign
Our understanding is that the Government of Quebec will be announcing later this week that Quebecers will soon be able to advance the date for their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccination. This is logistically challenging, and we are working to ensure all aspects of our operations, from the reservation system to the allocation of vaccines to each of our sites and staffing are effectively addressed in advance of the starting date.
In the interim we wish to reassure you that we remain committed to providing all those who have been vaccinated with their second does within the 112 day deadline established by the Government of Quebec. Furthermore, our aim is whenever possible to offer the same vaccine for the second dose that was administered for the first dose. In other words, people who received Pfizer for the first dose will in principle receive Pfizer for the second dose. While we encourage residents, who received AstraZeneca for the first dose to choose the same vaccine for their second dose, these individuals will have the option of selecting Pfizer or Moderna for their second dose.
We should also point out that people who were vaccinated between March 1 and March 14 were originally offered appointments for their second dose 84 days later. These appointments have been postponed to conform with the government’s 112 day policy. These individuals have been informed of the new time of their appointments by either a phone call or an email via Clic Santé. The new appointments for now are at the same location where the first dose was administered.
We wish to stress that we currently only have vaccines for those who have an appointment in our Clic Santé system. We do not have the leeway to accommodate anyone who shows up without an appointment.
Finally, we wish to advise you that priority in the short term is being given to young people between the ages of 12 and 18. As a result even after June 7th it may be difficult to move up appointments for second doses.
We thank you in advance for your understanding.
What was the announcement today from the Prime Minister about a Canada Greener Homes Grant?
Today, the Government of Canada launched the new Canada Greener Homes Grant to help Canadian homeowners across the country improve the energy efficiency of their homes and lower their energy bills.
Up to 700,000 Canadian homeowners, are eligible for grants of up to $5,000 to make energy-efficient upgrades to their homes and up to $600 for pre- and post-upgrade EnerGuide home energy evaluations. Eligible home upgrades include replacing windows and doors, adding insulation, sealing air leaks, improving heating and cooling systems (e.g., heat pumps), installing smart thermostats and installing solar panels.
Who is eligible for this grant and how can I register for it?
Homeowners can go online to register, plan and document their progress, including applying for their pre-retrofit EnerGuide evaluation, choosing from a list of eligible retrofit options, scheduling a post-retrofit evaluation and applying for reimbursement.
To participate in this new initiative, a homeowner’s primary residence must be at least six months old and eligible for an EnerGuide evaluation. Residences include single and semi-detached houses, row housing, townhomes, all-season cottages, mobile homes on a permanent foundation, permanently moored floating homes, small multi-unit residential buildings (three storeys or less with a footprint of 600m2 or less), and mixed-use buildings (residential portion only).
Retrofits that help protect homes from weather events — such as floods, wind damage and power outages — are also eligible for the grant if they are done in combination with measures that improve energy efficiency.
Buildings, including homes, account for 18 percent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. Retrofitting existing homes is one of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
By helping Canadians make their homes more energy-efficient and more comfortable, the Government of Canada is making it easier for Canadians to lower their energy bills and their home’s carbon footprint. This will reduce energy waste and lower emissions, support a low-carbon economy and create a cleaner, more prosperous future for all Canadians.
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has delivered emergency and recovery benefits to millions of Canadians. With that said, Canadians also expect us to do our due diligence to ensure that those receiving these benefits are in fact eligible.
Canada Recovery Benefits applicants are encouraged to file their 2019 and 2020 tax returns
As announced in October 2020, the CRA has implemented up front verification measures for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) to help prevent fraudulent applications and ensure that those receiving the benefits are eligible.
On May 31, 2021, the CRA will begin to gradually expand these up front verification measures. It is very important to note that, with these expanded efforts, the CRA is focused on identifying fraudulent applications or applications made by individuals who do not meet eligibility requirements.
Starting on May 31, in cases where CRA records cannot confirm that an individual applying for one of the three Canada Recovery Benefits has earned the minimum income amount of $5,000, processing of the application will be delayed, and the individual will be asked to provide additional documentation so that the CRA can verify their claim.
The CRA will only delay application processing for applicants who, according to the information we have on file, did not have or have not reported employment income or net self-employment income of $5,000 in 2019, 2020, or the 12 months prior to the date of application.
Filing their 2019 and 2020 tax returns is the best way for Canada Recovery Benefits applicants to ensure that the CRA has the information we need to verify their eligibility up front.
We would therefore like to encourage all Canada Recovery Benefits applicants who have not yet filed their 2019 or 2020 tax returns to do so in the coming weeks. The CRA wants to remind self-employed Canadians that their tax filing deadline of June 15, 2021 is around the corner.
Applicants who have filed their 2019 and 2020 tax returns and who meet income eligibility requirements will continue to receive Canada Recovery Benefits payments within the usual service standard of 3-5 business days by direct deposit.
The verification process
The Canada Recovery Benefits web pages provide detailed information about the verification process, including the kinds of documents we may request from an applicant. Documents we may ask for include:
For more information, please visit If your application needs validation.
In situations where we need to verify an application, the CRA’s service standard for processing the application is four weeks from the time we receive the documentation we have requested. However, in more complex situations it can take up to eight weeks for the CRA to process the application.
In straightforward situations where an individual proceeds with filing their 2019 and 2020 tax returns or provides clear documentation, such as pay slips, records of employment, or invoices, promptly, the CRA can generally complete the verification and process the application within four weeks.
In more complex situations where the information provided is unclear or cannot be substantiated, or where we need to contact the individual to request additional details, it may take up to eight weeks to verify the claim and process the application. For example, situations where applicants may:
The CRA recognizes that in some cases, applicants are facing financial hardship or may have difficulty getting the requested information. When we request additional information from applicants to verify their claim, we provide a dedicated phone number. We encourage individuals facing financial hardship to call this line and speak with an agent to discuss their application. Our agents will work with the individual on a case-by-case basis to address their specific circumstances.
Once the verification process is complete and the CRA has confirmed an applicant’s eligibility, the CRA will process the applications for any periods for which the applicant was eligible but has not yet received payment. This includes benefits periods during which the CRA was verifying their application.
Supporting Canadians through COVID-19
This year, due to COVID-19, we understand more than ever that individuals might find it difficut to meet their financial obligations, including paying tax debts. We want to help everyone resolve these issues. Our staff will work diligently to address situations on a case-by-case basis and will prioritize those who are in financial hardship.
To further support Canadians, in February the Government announced targeted interest relief for Canadians who received financial assistance benefits related to COVID-19. Once individuals have filed their 2020 income tax and benefit return, they will not be required to pay interest on any outstanding income tax debt for the 2020 tax year until April 30, 2022. This will give Canadians more time and flexibility to pay if they have an amount owing. However, taxpayers must file their 2020 tax returns
We understand that many Canadians have been affected financially by COVID-19, and we want to help them resolve tax issues, including tax debts. Of note:
The CRA has a dedicated and highly skilled workforce committed to serving Canadians during their time of need. We are ensuring our efforts to sustain the tax system and many social programs it supports do not create undue burdens or financial hardship for Canadians as we work diligently to introduce measures to aid in the recovery of the economy.
Tax-filing options for late filers
If Canadians need to make a payment to the CRA, there are online options that are faster, easier, and more secure than mailing a cheque.
Go to canada.ca/payments to see all the options. Or if they need to make a change to their return, we encourage them to make it online to reduce any impacts and delays due to COVID-19.
Canadians can also make a change using Change my Return in My Account, or use ReFILE to make a change using your preferred certified tax software.
For information about the Canada Recovery Benefits including eligibility requirements, how to apply, and eligibility period dates, we encourage Canadians visit the CRA’s webpages.
For information about online filing and how COVID-19 benefits impact your tax return, visit canada.ca/taxes-get-
May 20th update
First, some good news. On the vaccine front 48% of Canadians should be vaccinated as of today. That is over 50% in Quebec. We have been on a pace of vaccinating approximately 0.90% of Canadians per day over the last seven day which is first in the G20. We also will reach a true milestone. As of today we are expected to pass the USA in percentage of people with at least one vaccine dose.
As of yesterday, more than 22,177,544 vaccine doses have been delivered to Canada and 19,444,593 doses have been administered. We expect approximately 4.5 million Pfizer and Moderna doses to arrive in Canada this week. In Quebec, all those 18 and over can now make an appointment to get vaccinated, as can certain individuals between 16 and 18 and I encourage everyone eligible to do so as soon as possible. Our CIUSSS has also advised us that they believe eligibility for 12 to 17 year olds to all be vaccinated will be approved very shortly.
Information can be found at:
Given the high vaccination rate and the declining number of people infected, Quebec has announced a gradual reopening plan starting on May 28th. You can find more information about the plan here:
I join everyone in looking forward to a more relaxed summer and returning to normal by August when we should reach our target of 75% of the population being fully vaccinated. As I have stated in these updates for months, we will likely be one of the first countries in the world to reach that target.
On a less cheery note, over the last week, I have spoken out repeatedly against the antisemitic acts that have occurred in Montreal and across the country. I have been in frequent contact with the Prime Minister’s office and he has released a number of statements as well. You can read about the most recent ones at:
I hate having to do this as an MP. I hate it when people in our riding are scared for their safety in their own country. I recall two other times when I have had to do this. Once, when the introduction of Bill 21 led to a number of Islamophobic incidents and a mosque in our riding was unfairly and falsely targeted and last year when Anti-Asian sentiment was fermented when COVID-19 spread in Canada. No community should ever be targeted. We are all individuals. We are all Canadians and to target people based on sex, religion, language, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other characteristic is deplorable.
You can rest assured that elected officials from all levels of government are engaged on this file.
This morning, my colleague Ya’ara Saks and I organized a meeting with Jewish community leadership from across the country attended by a number of caucus members including cabinet ministers and senior representatives from the Prime Minister’s office to discuss our short term action plan. Representatives from all levels of government and in particular local Mayors and Councils have worked diligently to increase police presence in our riding and to enhance public security patrols. I encourage everyone to continue to do everything you would normally due but with slightly increased vigilance and do not hesitate to call 911 if you see a threat.
But also note that social media tends to cause people to panic. I have received phone calls from people who have been scared by unfounded or false claims they have seen on social media. Please be calm. We live in a country that is one of the best and safest places in the world to live. Remember that.
I also wanted to address questions I have received from a number of people about the place of the English-speaking community in Quebec. I want to assure everyone that I have spent my entire political career devoted to the protection of minorities, including linguistic rights of French Canadians across Canada and English speaking Canadians in Quebec. For those who have forgotten, I helped lead the fight against forced municipal mergers and the adoption of Bill 171 which changed the criteria for municipal bilingual status from majority non-francophone to majority mother tongue English speaking.
As Mayor of Cote Saint-Luc, I led a coalition of municipalities from across the province to stop the PQ Government from removing our bilingual status in 2013. I also pushed bilingual municipalities to put up bilingual signs and provide bilingual services. My views on language have not changed, I have always believed that French is a minority language in North America and requires special protection, including in Quebec where French is the majority language but that has to be done in respect of the rights of the English-speaking community.
French speaking Quebecers have very real concerns about the future of their language and culture and English-speaking Quebecers have very real concerns about the future of their community and the protection of their rights. That is why I participated in the recent House of Commons debate on the future of French in Montreal and was the only member from any party to deliver half of my speech in English focused on the needs of both communities.
Since being elected in 2015, I led a Justice Committee that produced a report that led to the reinstatement of the Court Challenges Program which restored the ability of minority language communities to be funded to challenge laws that they believe violate language rights. Our Justice Committee also produced a report recommending changes to ensure that access to justice is more available in English in Quebec and in French in the rest of the country. I proposed amendments to the Divorce Act requiring people to be able to go through the whole process in English in Quebec and in French in the rest of the country. In the last month as a Member of the Canadian Heritage Committee I have proposed 7 amendments to Bill C-10 that vastly improved the rights of minority language communities, including creators of English content in Quebec, under the Broadcasting Act. I also proposed amendments that would assist original French creators of content in Quebec and in French language minority communities.
I sit on our caucus’ minority language committee and work closely with my French speaking counterparts and other English speaking members from Quebec to ensure that all of our federal legislation considers minority language communities. I work closely with our excellent Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly as she seeks to reform the Official Languages Act. I was very much involved in the recent effort, which was successful, to defeat a Bill supported by the Bloc and Conservatives that would have said that to become a Canadian citizen in Quebec you needed to have an adequate knowledge of French as opposed to either French or English as it is in the rest of Canada. Had this Bill passed it would have penalized a large number of new immigrants in our riding who are more comfortable in English even though their children will go to French schools and become fluent in that language. My job is at the federal level, not the provincial one, and I can assure you that I will never shirk in defense of the rights of both language communities. I continuously work with the Quebec Community Groups Network and other English language organizations in Quebec to support their important work and to make suggestions related to all their activities. I will answer some more questions I received on this topic in the Q& A below.
Who do you consider to be an English speaking Quebecer?
In my view the English speaking community does not simply mean those who have the right to access English schools or speak English as their mother tongue. For example, in Quebec in the 2016 census there were 718,990 people who spoke English as their mother tongue amounting to 8.9% of the population. However 1,103,460 people, or 13.7% of the population had English as their First Official Language spoken which is how the federal government determines the size of the linguistic minority. This is a very large difference and where service is available, all individual English-speaking Quebecers should be served by any level of Government in their preferred language. There should never be a category of historical English speaking Quebecers that can be served in English and others who cannot.
Do you support the use of the notwithstanding clause?
No. When I was in my early 20s I drafted a resolution that was adopted by the Young Liberals of Canada and adopted by the National Liberal convention calling for the removal of the notwithstanding clause from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I maintain the position that you should never override fundamental rights by a majority vote. The Charter is meant to protect minority rights irrespective of the will of the majority.
What did Prime Minister Trudeau mean when he answered a question about Quebec amending its’ part of the Constitution unilaterally?
There is a great deal of misunderstanding here. The Prime Minister was referencing Section 45 of the Constitution which stipulates that each province has its own Constitution-within the-Constitution that applies specifically to it. In legal terms, Quebec wants to add two new subsections (90Q.1 and 90Q.2) to the portion of the Constitution that governs provincial jurisdiction (Section 90). To do so, Quebec is relying on Section 45 of the 1982 Constitution Act, which says that any province can pass a law in its provincial legislature to amend its constitution. Section 45 says:
“Subject to Section 41, the legislature of each province may exclusively make laws amending the constitution of the province.”
So all the Prime Minister said was that the non-partisan officials in the Department of Justice had reviewed the two changes Quebec wished to make and determined that they fell within Section 45 and the Quebec National Assembly could change them on their own.
But as the Prime Minister and our Justice Minister David Lametti have stated, these unilateral changes cannot impact the rights of the English speaking minority of Quebec granted under the Canadian constitution and the federal government has made clear we will not allow changes to the Sections of the Canadian Charter and Constitution Act that impact the rights of the English speaking minority.
For example, Section 133 of the Constitution is what says that English is equal to French in the Quebec National Assembly and all of the Courts of Quebec. Under the Charter of Rights language rights are found in Sections 16 and following and minority language education rights are in Section 23.
These sections cannot be changed by Quebec alone.
Following the comments, I have personally reached out to the Justice Minister and asked him to make sure Quebec’s suggested addition to their section of the Constitution doesn’t affect in any way other sections of the constitution, including all the sections protecting the rights of the Quebec English speaking community. I also asked him to make sure that this suggested addition through Section 45 cannot be used to interpret any other rights granted in the constitution, including fundamental freedoms under Section 2 of the Charter. I have great confidence in Minister Lametti and know he will review my comments and those of others, including legal scholars carefully as he follows the situation and as the bill is debated in the National Assembly.
As the Prime Minister said, our government will always make sure that the constitutional rights of the English speaking minority in Quebec remain protected.
Can you provide me today’s email update from our local CIUSSS?
COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign update – May 20, 2021
Today we expect to administer our 150,000th vaccine since the launch of our pilot project last December at the Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre. Below is the latest update on our vaccination campaign.
Walk-in vaccination clinic
Buoyed by the success of walk-in vaccination clinics over the past few weeks, we are welcoming the nicer weather with walk-in clinics at Bill-Durnan Arena this upcoming long weekend: Saturday, May 22, Sunday, May 23, and Monday, May 24 from 8:00 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Cousin Vinny of Virgin Radio will be on site on Saturday, and a car with a loud speaker (camion-crieur) will drive around the neighborhood on Sunday and Monday to promote the clinic. Your help in promoting this initiative is greatly appreciated, but we must stress that only people who live on the island of Montreal are eligible for this walk-in clinic.
Mobile vaccination clinics
Appointments are not needed for our mobile clinics. The schedule for the coming days is as follows:
Mountain Sights neighborhood
Park de la Savane, inside the chalet 5111 Paré Street May 21 and 22, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Temple Shree Ramji Mandhata 8155 Durocher Street May 28 and 29, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Howie Morenz Arena 8650 Querbes Avenue June 11 and 12, hours to be confirmed
Walkey Community Centre 6650 Côte-Saint-Luc Road June 4 and 5, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Appointments for our mass vaccination sites can be made at www.quebec.ca/covidvaccine or at 514-644-4545. The hours and location of our sites are as follows:
We are currently vaccinating residents of private nursing homes (RPA) and subsidized housing (HML) with their second dose. The second dose vaccination in RPAs will be completed by May 31, and those in the HLMs by the end of June.
We expect that the government will announce today that Quebecers 12 and up are eligible to be vaccinated. We are currently determining how best to serve our student population. We expect to be in a position to unveil our approach early next week.
Many have asked if we will be offering second doses earlier than originally announced. For the moment, the government policy is unchanged. We will continue to ensure people are vaccinated within the 112 day window that has been established.
Finally, we thought you would be interested in a new web page from the Regional Public Health Department on COVID-19 vaccination data, including an interactive map which shows vaccination rates by city or borough. Our goal remains to have 75% of the residents in our region vaccinated by the end of June.
COVID-19 vaccination data page: https://santemontreal.qc.ca/en/public/coronavirus-covid-19/vaccination/data-vaccination/
What are the current and upcoming vacancies on the National Research Council’s (NRC) Governing Council, and how can I apply?
The Government of Canada has launched an open selection process to fill current and upcoming vacancies on the National Research Council’s (NRC) Governing Council.
The NRC plays a unique role in Canada's science, technology and innovation system, undertaking large-scale, outcome-oriented and collaborative research programs that address science and innovation needs and opportunities for the country. It represents a significant asset for Canada, providing a national network of expert staff and a national system of well-developed research facilities and associated equipment that deliver world-class applied research and commercialization capacity in diverse areas of research and technology development.
The NRC is governed by a Governing Council which consists of the President, the Chairperson, and not more than 10 other members. The Council’s role is to provide strategic advice to the President and senior management. Specifically, members advise on strategic direction for the organization, review annual budgets and financial statements as well as advise on the appointment of senior officers.
The government is applying a rigorous approach to Governor in Council (GIC) appointments built on an open, transparent, and merit-based selection process. This approach reflects the fundamental role that Canadians play in our democracy as they serve on commissions, boards, Crown corporations, agencies, and tribunals across the country. It will result in the recommendation of high-quality candidates who truly reflect Canada’s diversity, and will bolster the confidence of Canadians in these important organizations.
Further information on the new GIC appointment policy and the National Research Council members selection process can be found on the government’s GIC appointments website. Interested candidates must apply online by May 25, 2021.
Can you provide more information on the recent announcement by the Federal Government to help with future pandemic preparedness?
On Tuesday, the Government of Canada announced an investment of $199.16 million in Resilience Biotechnologies Inc.
This investment will support a $401.52-million project that will help develop Canada’s medical countermeasures to COVID-19 and strengthen Canada’s emergency preparedness for future pandemics.
This investment will help Resilience Biotechnologies Inc. increase its manufacturing and fill-finish capacity for a number of vaccines and therapeutics, including for those that use novel technology such as mRNA and that are now being deployed to fight COVID-19. Once completed, the company’s Mississauga facility is expected to allow for the manufacturing of approximately 112 million to 640 million doses of mRNA vaccines per year.
This expansion will further expand Resilience Biotechnologies Inc.’s presence in Canada, with clinical and commercial manufacturing and aseptic fill-finish capabilities for critical vaccines and therapeutics. With this investment, Resilience Biotechnologies Inc. will create and maintain 500 full-time jobs in Canada and create 50 co-op positions.
The government has prioritized growing a vibrant Canadian biomanufacturing and life sciences sector, which is why Budget 2021 proposes a total of $2.2 billion to build on the progress already made toward this goal.
May 13th update
Today is a difficult day for me as May 13 was my dad’s birthday. He was one of the many victims of this pandemic and I share the sorrow and pain of so many of you.
Whether you lost a family member or a friend or actually recovered from COVID yourself, there is a sense of loss made more difficult by the inability to be close to all those we love. Others amongst us lost jobs or their businesses suffered, kids were denied normalcy at school or in extra curricular activities and parents did double duty.
But I have been enormously proud of the solidarity we have shown as a community. Whether our heroic front-line workers, those in essential jobs and many, many volunteers and community organizations stepped forward to help those in need. I am proud of the work of my staff. My office has done our best to answer many thousands of questions and help people find the right government programs and grants and I am grateful to everyone for the solidarity you have shown to your fellow citizens.
There is much out there that can divide us. There are those who through their rhetoric or their actions seek to divide us by language, by race, by religion or by ethnicity and we need to push back. We are one community here in Mount Royal, in Quebec and in Canada and we cannot allow disinformation in Canada, events abroad or legislation or policies we may strongly disagree about to divide us. We can disagree about issues without being disagreeable and while still being friends and caring about one another. We can recognize that while we may disagree about one issue we agree on ten others.
Let’s push back against the polarized politics and we can do so by being accepting and respectful of others views, even while being forthright about our own. I say this today, not to preach, but because I see so many things happening this week that do have the potential to create great friction. Many of us are in great pain about the events happening in Israel and Gaza and are panicked for their relatives and friends, the same is true about concerns about family and friends in India and Afghanistan and so many other places in the world. Locally many are scared about the effect of language legislation being proposed.
Legitimate worries like this stoke division and fear. Leadership to me is sometimes reminding people, including myself that there are others out there that may disagree with our views. We need to be respectful of their views, even as we try to make the case for our own. That is the true marketplace of ideas not what happens on social media where algorithms drive us to views that parrot our own and disrespectful and nasty discourse permeates the debate.
With that said, I want to wish an Eid Mubarak to everyone celebrating Eid Al-Fitr today in Mount Royal and across Canada!
This is a special time that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. As the Muslim community celebrates Eid al-Fitr, this is an opportunity to reflect on the principles of peace, forgiveness, and unity and recommit to the core values of charity and helping those in need. Wishing you a happy and joyous time.
What are your thoughts on Quebec’ Bill 96?
Today Quebec tabled comprehensive new language legislation. I am going to take the time to study it and I recognize that it will be up to the National Assembly to debate it and the leaders in this debate will be our Members of the National Assembly, David Birnbaum and Pierre Arcand. But I wanted to reaffirm my guiding principle as I look at the legislation.
The French language is and always will be a minority language in North America and needs protection. Government has a legitimate role to play in this area. But the English-speaking minority in Quebec is not a threat to the French language and its rights must be respected and the Canadian and Quebec Charters of Rights and Freedoms must be respected. So while I will not be central to this debate, I will not hesitate to speak out if I determine my role would be useful in protecting the rights of the people, municipalities and boroughs in this riding. One example would be bilingual status of the municipalities of TMR, Cote Saint-Luc and Hampstead.
Bilingual status is at the core of the values of these cities. The right to communicate with residents in both languages equally, the right to bilingual signage, the right to require bilingualism in many staff positions and that right must remain in place.
The original rule related to bilingual status was that a municipality was granted this status if a majority of its population spoke a language other than French. In 2001 when Quebec forced the mergers of municipalities it changed this statistic to mother tongue English speaking. This is the most limiting statistic, one that ignores people who have spoken English their entire lives, who speak English at home and went to school in English if their mother spoke to them in another language as a baby.
To illustrate, the federal government uses First Official Language Spoken. According to this statistic in the 2016 census there are 1,103,475 English speaking Quebecers or 13.7% of the population. If you look at the way the Quebec Government counts for bilingual status, there are only 718,985 English speaking Quebecers or 8.9% of the population. As it relates to bilingual status in a city for example one can look at Cote Saint-Luc. In that city the federal government would say it is close to 70% English speaking, while Quebec would say it was only 43% English speaking, even though close to 70% speak English at home.
At this point on first reading it appears that the bill says that the Government will advise the City after each census that it does not meet the requirement but the City can adopt a resolution within 120 days saying that it wants to keep the status and that would allow it to remain bilingual. So while, there was no need to change the law in this way it is not as bad as it could have been. I thank the CAQ at least for allowing the City Council to adopt a resolution to protect the status, thus leaving the decision in the City’s hands. If this is still the case and the bill is adopted, I will myself ensure that I work with our local Mayors and the Association of Suburban Municipalities to advise all bilingual cities across the province in writing how to protect their status each census and provide them with a draft resolution.
What are your thoughts on the Situation in the Middle East?
First my thoughts are that I give my deepest sympathies to everyone on both sides of the conflict who have lost loved ones or who have been injured. Civilians on both sides have been harmed and every human being, Israeli or Palestinian is of equal worth and should be mourned. I pray for a quick end to the violence and de-escalation must be pursued.
Second, nothing whatsoever justifies the terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad launching indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza against civilian populations across Israel. The people that Hamas is killing, injuring and scaring are Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and others that live in the pluralistic and democratic state of Israel. Just like any other country that has rockets launched against it, Israel has an unequivocal right to defend itself from these attacks.
I pray that we reach a quick peace and eventually a two state solution with both sides living in peace and within secure borders and I hope that Canada can join with the United States and other allies to play a constructive role in that regard.
What is Happening on Line 5?
As folks know, I sit on the Canada/US Special Committee and we issued a unanimous report about the importance of the continued operations of Line 5. I have spoken about the issue in previous updates. One recommendation we made was for Canada to file a friend of the court brief in the case in the Western District of Michigan brought by Enbridge to make clear that we deemed the Governor of Michigan’s attempt to terminate the easement illegal and we did so yesterday. I was very pleased with the brief.
What is Happening on C-10?
As many of you have heard there is a great attempt to disinform the public about C10 an Act to Update the Broadcasting Act.
As I have previously mentioned I sit on the Heritage Committee that is studying the Bill and have brought numerous amendments that were adopted on official languages and minority language communities. A clause was removed from the Bill that said that social media platforms could never be broadcasters. The effect of removing that clause was not to have the CRTC regulate social media content posted by users but the Conservatives have made the claim that somehow it did and that the rights under Section 2 (b) of the Charter were at risk. They then filibustered the clause by clause at Committee.
I tried on several occasions to block the impasse and a motion I put forward asking for a revised Charter statement and testimony by the relevant departments was adopted at our last meeting. We just received the revised Charter statement from the Department of Justice and as I anticipated it makes clear that there is no threat to Section 2(b) made by the amendments made to the Bill. I hope this will allow our work to continue.
What new role did you accept through World Jewish Congress?
On Wednesday, I was pleased to officially be appointed by Ambassador Ron Lauder and World Jewish Congress as North American Co-Chair of the International Conference of Jewish Parliamentarians.
It will be an honour to serve under the leadership of International Chair US Senator Jacky Rosen and alongside my co-chair, my good friend Congressman Ted Deutsch from Florida. I also had the opportunity to speak with members of the World Jewish Congress about our experiences as Jewish Parliamentarians and how we saw our roles. You can watch my remarks below:
What did you do to Create Jury Appreciation Week?
Last Parliament, the Standing Committee on Justice which I chaired delivered a landmark report on improving the juror experience in Canada. Today it gave me great pleasure to make a Member’s statement saluting the work of Canadian jurors and to move a unanimous consent motion to establish Jury Appreciation Week in Canada. Please check out my statement by clicking below:
What is happening on the COVID front?
On the COVID-19 front, cases across Canada are continuing to decline at a positive rate, but we are by no means out of the woods just yet.
We also continue to see strong progress on vaccinations, with Canada in second place in rolling 7-day average of vaccinations per 100 people in the total population. Over 17.1 million doses have been administered, and over 40% of the population with at least the first dose. As I have said many times, with 2 million doses arriving each week in May, and even more in June, we are on track towards everyone getting one dose by summer and everyone fully vaccinated by fall.
Who is now eligible to get vaccinated?
As of tomorrow, everyone 18 and older will be able to book an appointment for COVID-19 vaccines. Until then, it remains everyone 25 and over.
Can you please provide me with CIUSSS West-Central Montreal’s most recent update on May 7?
Our public vaccination campaign is moving into full swing with the progressive lowering of the age of eligibility. As of May 14, Quebecers aged 18 and over will be able to make appointments for vaccination.
The good news is that we are fully booked in our mass vaccination sites for the next two weeks!
On Monday, we will be reopening our vaccination site at CLSC de Parc-Extension. The hours and location of our sites are as follows:
Mobile vaccination clinic
Our mobile clinic has now visited seven sites on our territory. This initiative has without a doubt been a success. It is clear that many residents prefer our walk-in options. The clinic will return to the Centre William-Hingston in Parc-Extension on Thursday, May 13, and then will take a brief hiatus before it is relaunched in June.
Private seniors' residences
We currently have teams visiting the RPAs and RIs on our territory to offer second doses to residents. This program should be completed by mid-June.
Last week, we administered second doses to clients of the following homeless shelters in our area: Chez Doris, Resilience Montreal, and the Open Door. We also offered first doses to clients who missed out when we were there the first time.
The Government of Quebec’s policy is that second doses must be administered within 112 days of the first dose. We are strictly adhering to this. We appreciate that some residents received their first doses at vaccination sites that are no longer open such as CLSC Metro. Please rest assured that representatives of our CIUSSS will be in contact with these individuals to schedule their appointments.
Vaccinations to date
The good news is that about 33% of the people on our territory have now been vaccinated, as well as 74% of our staff. While we are encouraged by our overall results, we need to redouble our efforts in three neighborhoods in our territory where the vaccination rate is lower than we would like it to be: Parc-Extension, Northern Côte Saint-Luc, and the Walkley area of NDG. Ideas on how we can improve our vaccination rate in these neighborhoods are welcome.
The Government of Quebec has asked that snowbirds and others who have been vaccinated outside Quebec register the details of their vaccination in the records of our healthcare system.
This is important for contact tracing and for keeping track of the number of Quebecers who have been vaccinated. Residents who have received one or both doses should bring proof of vaccination and their health card to any of the following vaccination sites: MIL campus of Université de Montréal, Décarie Square, or the Bill-Durnan Arena.
This past week we have been celebrating the professionalism and commitment of our staff. They are the backbone of our CIUSSS, and we are indebted to them for their passion and compassion throughout the pandemic. We thought that you would be interested in viewing the videos below. The first is a montage of faces of the pandemic – portraits done by Isabelle Dubé, a photographer in our Audio-Visual team. The second is about an art class project of Secondary 2 students at École internationale de Montréal in honour of the healthcare "superheroes" of our CIUSSS.
I have doubts that Canada is in a good fiscal spot based on our level of debt, should I be concerned?
I have heard from many of you who are concerned about Canada’s fiscal health, specifically related to our debt levels. And while numbers in the billions may seem concerning on the surface, we remain in a strong fiscal position in the short and long term.
I invite you to the read a few quotes from financial experts on Canada’s fiscally responsible recovery plan:
Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings, April 26, 2021
“We are affirming our 'AAA' long-term and 'A-1+' short-term sovereign credit ratings on Canada . . . Canada's public finances were well positioned entering the pandemic, enabling a strong policy response to contain its negative effects without weakening sovereign creditworthiness. We expect the Canadian economy will post a strong recovery in 2021. . . Although fiscal and debt metrics are weaker, we believe that the government's use of its policy flexibility moderated the economic and labor market effects of the pandemic. This deviation from the government's fiscal profile does not offset Canada's structural credit strengths, in our view.”
CIBC Economics, April 19, 2021
“Federal debt-service costs, a better measure of what future taxpayers have to cover (since the debt itself can be rolled over), are low relative to other developed economies and are targeted to remain there. Finance’s decision to lock in low long term rates by extending the average term of its debt, and the fall in bond yields since 2019, have kept the outlook for debt service costs contained, and nowhere near where they stood decades ago.”
TD Economics, May 3, 2021
“Despite elevated debt burdens, expectations for continued low interest rates are projected to keep a lid on debt service costs. . . This deficit spending, which builds on previous commitments made by governments earlier in the pandemic, will add significantly to economic growth this year and next. . . . In an international context, Canada’s federal debt burden remains relatively low.”
Trevin Stratton, Chief Economist at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, April 19, 2021:
"I think that what a lot of businesses and people in the business community were looking for was a plan to manage the fiscal situation ... and so certainly we welcome seeing the plan and also welcome seeing the deficit will be declining year-over-year. And that's specifically, I think, because of the focus on growth... That focus on growth over the longer term is very much welcome by the business community."
Centre for Future Work, April 19, 2021
“The improvements in employment and GDP growth arising from the plan are likely to be far greater than the cautious estimates cited in the budget.” – Dr. Jim Stanford, Economist and Director of the Centre for Future Work
David Macdonald, Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, April 19, 2021
“For anyone concerned about debt, get a load of this! Despite fighting a once in a generation pandemic and a $100[billion] bill rebuilding in #budget2021, we're still paying less in interest than at any point in modern Canadian history. Where's the fire, or smoke or hint of smoke? @ccpa”
Craig Alexander, Chief Economist, Deloitte Canada, April 19, 2021
“Federal government delivers massive investment in early learning and childcare -- critical economic and social infrastructure. It is good for children, parents, economy and society. Over the next decade, it will raise government revenues by more than the cost of the investment.”
Pedro Antunes, Chief Economist at the Conference Board of Canada, April 19, 2021
"When you look at the budget fundamentals, they are all really what economists would term as supply side initiatives. So they are all focused on lifting investment, increasing productivity, increasing labour force participation and there is an awful lot of initiative and focus on retraining and investing in youth ... economists like these kind of supply side measures."
Clement Gignac, Chief Economist , iA Financial Group, April 20, 2021
“This is not a budget for Bay Street, this is a budget for Main Street. . . It would have been premature to release a balanced budget . . . It is probably better to invest in the GDP potential in Canada."
May 6th update
I first want to wish all those in our riding of Mount Royal and across Canada a happy Jewish Heritage Month! As mentioned in my Facebook post on Monday, this is the fourth May since I seconded legislation that was unanimously approved in both the House of Commons and Senate.
Canada has had a rich Jewish history with approximately 400,000 Jewish Canadians and their ancestors having been an important part of this country. One just has to look at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of Montreal in our riding, founded over 250 years ago in 1768 to understand just how long our history in Canada has been.
The Jewish community has produced Supreme Court Justices, cabinet ministers, artists, musicians, athletes, scientists, doctors, lawyers, educators and so many others that have contributed to Canada. We have fought in each of Canada’s wars, patriotically serving the country we love.
I encourage everyone to take this month to celebrate the contributions of Jewish Canadians. Please find Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth Bardish Chagger’s statement on Jewish Heritage Month: https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/news/2021/04/statement-by-minister-chagger-on-canadian-jewish-heritage-month.html
On a related note, I work hard behind the scenes on many issues and am pleased to confirm that Canada announced on Thursday that we will not be participating in Durban IV. The Durban process has and continues to be used to push for anti-Israel sentiment and as a forum for antisemitism and I pushed hard for this decision to be announced quickly. So far Canada, the US and Australia have announced they will not participate, and I hope other countries will join us.
Our Liberal Government will continue to fight antisemitism at home and abroad. We will also continue to oppose initiatives at the UN and other multilateral forums that single Israel out and target it for criticism.
On a related note, it was great to take part in a roundtable event yesterday afternoon with Canada’s new Ambassador in Israel Lisa Stadelbauer alongside national Jewish organizations across the country. I look forward to working closely with her in the same way I worked with our former Ambassador Deborah Lyons.
Last week was a very busy week for me working on the Port of Montreal legislation and I am pleased to say it was adopted by the House and Senate within a week and the Port resumed full operations on Saturday. It was one of the rare times I got to work closely with the Senate and very much appreciate the cooperation of Senator Marc Gold and many other colleagues who helped with the swift passage of the Bill.
Last evening I spoke in the House on Line 5 and the importance of its continued operations. This 645 mile pipeline transports petroleum products from Wisconsin through Michigan to Ontario and then on to Ohio, Quebec and Pennsylvania. Please check out my speech here.
I have also worked closely with French language communities outside Quebec, the English speaking communities in Quebec and the producers of original French language content across Canada to amend Bill C-10. At this point 8 of my amendments to enhance the support for minority language communities and original content created by French speaking producers in Canada have been adopted.
This includes an amendment that says an overriding principle of the Broadcasting Act is the recognition of the role of Government to support the vitality of both official languages and minority language communities. Another amendment I proposed requires consultation with minority language communities before the CRTC takes any action that would impact them. I believe this means the Broadcast Act would have more protections for our official language minorities than any other law I am aware of outside the Official Languages Act. My presence on the Canadian Heritage Committee studying the Bill has made a huge difference and I will keep you advised as clause by clause progresses.
Finally I have also been frustrated by some confused messages from NACI coming out this week and let me reiterate. Each and every vaccine entering Canada is safe and effective and the right vaccine for you is the first one that you are offered.
What is the latest data on vaccinations in Canada?
As of this writing, Canada has administered 14,924,694 million vaccine doses and the federal government has delivered 17,981,822 million doses of vaccines to the provinces. This week we have received or will receive a total of 3 million covid vaccine doses, including 2 million Pfizer doses and 1 million doses of the Moderna vaccine (arriving a week earlier than originally expected).
Canada continues to be a global leader in vaccinations, with over 36% of Canadians having received the first dose, a number which is even higher in Quebec. We remain third in the G20 in vaccinations per capita and continue to inoculate at a faster pace than almost any other country. If you have yet to get to your vaccine, please read below to find out if you are eligible and how you can yours and where.
Who Can Get Vaccinated and Where?
As mentioned last week, everyone 18 and older will be able to book an appointment for COVID-19 vaccines by May 14.
As of today, all those 35 and up are able to get their vaccine, and below is the following schedule of when the remaining age groups can book their first shot:
Additionally, the schedule for this week’s mobile clinic is as follows:
By appointment – reserved for residents of Milton-Park and surrounding neighborhoods
Centre communautaire Galerie du Parc 3590 Jeanne-Mance, Montreal
Appointments for this mobile clinic can be booked online at quebec.ca/covidvaccine or by phone at 514-734-9912.
Mass vaccination sites:
Can you provide information on Health Canada’s recent approval of use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to more adolescents?
As of Wednesday, after reviewing clinical trial data submitted by Pfizer last month, Health Canada has determined the company’s COVID-19 vaccine is safe to use in people 12 to 15 years of age. The previous age cut-off for the vaccine was 16. This is currently the only vaccine approved for those at this age.
While Health Canada is responsible for approving its use for different age groups, it remains up to each province to decide who can get the vaccine. As soon as Quebec announces when those between 12 and 15 can also get vaccinated, I will provide this information in a future update.
I got vaccinated outside of Canada, how and where can I register that I did so?
Unfortunately, registration for any vaccination abroad has to be done in person. In order to do so, please bring proof of vaccination and your Medicare card with you at one of the following vaccination sites:
I hope to see the provincial government and the local health authorities make it easier for people to register their vaccinations abroad, including through providing the necessary documents by email or filling out a form online.
If there is any change to how to register, I will include it in a future update.
I got my census form, why is it so important to fill out?
As of Monday, Canadians could officially begin filling out the 2021 Census online after receiving their code in the mail.
A question I get asked all the time is why is it so important to fill out? Aside from the legal requirement to do so, the reason the Census is so important to fill out is that it is used to gather key socioeconomic trends and analysis that can then be used to make important decisions that directly affect our families, our neighbourhoods and our businesses.
For example, the number of people who identify as mother tongue English speaking Quebecers determines whether your community can qualify for bilingual status under Quebec law. The number of people who say they speak English at home helps determine funding under certain programs.
This was an issue in the 2016 census when the number of Jewish Canadians was dramatically undercounted because no question on religion was asked and the one on ethnicity did not suggest the use of Jews so people did not include that heritage. And so many other communities could be undercounted in a similar way if people fail to complete each question they are asked.
So please fully fill out the form when you get it, which you can also do online, by clicking here: https://census.gc.ca/index-eng.htm
And if you get the long form please fill it out completely.
Can you please provide details on the record number of jobs through Canada Summer Jobs program?
As of last week, more than 150,000 Canada Summer Jobs opportunities are now available at jobbank.gc.ca/youth. There, young Canadians can look for and apply for jobs in a wide variety of fields, including community and charity work, food industries, recreation and fitness, marketing and public relations, landscaping and farm labour, and many others.
In response to the ongoing pandemic, the Government is giving employers the flexibilities to hire youth to work on a full-time or part-time basis, as well as beyond the summer months, with some placements extending to February 2022.
This year’s record-breaking number of job opportunities will help young Canadians discover different careers, gain meaningful experiences, and save up for school.
Supporting youth and ensuring their participation in all aspects of the economic recovery takes a collaborative and government-wide approach. Through Budget 2021, the Government is proposing to invest an additional $5.7 billion over the next five years to help young Canadians pursue and complete their education, acquire new skills and access more work opportunities. This is on top of the $7.4 billion already invested in young Canadians during the pandemic. Thousands more young Canadians will be able to benefit from the following historic Government actions:
Taken together, the Government of Canada’s response to the current crisis represents one of the largest youth support packages in the world.
Can you provide me with the supports prepared by Health Canada?
There is no question that this last year has been tough on the mental health of too many. If you feel like you need more support during this difficult time, I invite you to visit Wellness Together Canada, an online mental health platform that allows you to access assessments, exercises, peer-support, and connect with mental health professionals around the clock, for free, and from the comfort of their own home. To do so, please click on the following link: https://wellnesstogether.ca/en-CA
When should I submit my study permit to the IRCC so that I can attend school in fall 2021?
If we receive your complete study permit application by May 15, 2021, you’ll get a decision by August 6, 2021, in time to attend the fall semester. If you are planning to study in Quebec, you can submit your study permit application with proof you have applied for a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ).
We may not be able to process your application by August 6, 2021, if you’re unable to submit a complete application because of COVID-19 restrictions, such as reduced service at
If you submit a complete application after May 15, 2021, we will process it as quickly as possible—but you may not get a final decision before the fall semester begins.
April 29th update
Great news. With the number of vaccines rolling into the country, today, the Government of Quebec announced that everyone 18 and older will be able to book an appointment for COVID-19 vaccines by May 14.
On the vaccine front, we remain a leader in the G20. We are third in vaccination per capita and second in the 7-day average rate per capita. Over 14.5 million vaccines have been delivered to the provinces and 12.8 million vaccines administered. Over one third of Montreal island residents have already received their first vaccine.
Yesterday, 300,000 doses of the Janssen vaccine (from Johnson & Johnson) officially arrived in Canada.
Between this shipment and the shipment of Moderna’s vaccine that also arrived yesterday morning, almost 1 million doses arrived on Wednesday alone. We will also receive another million Pfizer doses this week.
In May, we will be receiving 2 million Pfizer doses a week, double what was originally planned. In June, we will receive 2.5 million Pfizer doses a week for the entire month. This means that, in total, we will receive between 48-50 million doses of Pfizer alone.
This is of course incredible news and will help ensure we deliver on our efforts to get everyone their first vaccine by June and their second shot before end of summer.
You will find more details about today’s announcement immediately following the end of this introduction.
As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour, most of my time over the last week has been spent working with Minister Tassi on the labour issue at the Port of Montreal, where a general strike has been ongoing since Monday.
With immediate as well as long-lasting impacts to thousands of jobs, Canada’s economy and reputation as a reliable global trading partner at stake, we had no choice but to act quickly and tabled back to work legislation that sought to resume operations at the second-largest container port in Canada.
Following debate on both Tuesday and Wednesday, at nearly 2AM Thursday morning, the House of Commons passed this legislation, which has now been sent to the Senate. We are hopeful that the bill can be swiftly passed through the Senate and receive royal assent in the coming days so the Port of Montreal can resume operations. I have spent much of the last few days briefing members of the House of Commons and the Senate on the legislation and that work continues today with more Senators.
I invite you to watch my speech in the House of Commons, that was spread over two days, where I further explain the need and importance of this legislation at the following link: https://www.facebook.com/anthonyhousefather/posts/5363126780395034
Before getting into the usual question and answers to the main issues of the week, I also want to congratulate my dear friend and Montreal City Councillor Marvin Rotrand on the city council's unanimous adoption of his motion to name the new park in the Le Westbury development after Ellie Weisel.
This is a fitting honour for such a great man and another high mark in Marvin’s long legacy of good work in city politics, I'm so glad to have been able to lend my support this excellent initiative. Thanks so much for everything that you do, Marvin.
Can you provide more details about today’s news about vaccinations in Quebec?
As mentioned above, the Government of Quebec announced that everyone 18 and older will be able to book an appointment for COVID-19 vaccines by May 14.
Registration will open for different age groups three times a week starting Friday. Here is the new schedule for when people in designated age groups can book their first shot:
How has the Government of Canada secured vaccine supply beyond 2021 if we need boosters or further vaccinations?
Many experts believe additional booster shots are going to be necessary, either to remind the immune system what it needs to do, or protect against some new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.
That is why, last week, the Government of Canada has secured COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer for 2022 and 2023, with options to extend into 2024.
The agreement guarantees access to 65 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, with access to up to 120 million more if all options are exercised. In addition to providing booster vaccine doses, the agreement provides flexibility to procure future COVID-19 vaccine formulations from Pfizer, such as those to protect against variants of concern and vaccines developed for children.
Importantly, these doses are in addition to the 48 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine arriving before the end of September 2021 as part of Canada’s existing agreement.
The Government of Canada will continue to follow scientific and expert advice to pursue future access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Can you provide information on the recent change related to the second on-arrival COVID-19 test?
Since the measures were put in place, I have heard from many constituents returning to Canada that the they had to wait longer than their mandated 14 days of quarantine to get their second COVID test on the 10th day back in Canada. It has been completely unacceptable to see people being required to remain in quarantine beyond the 14 days because they have not received the negative test results from Switch Health. I have been working with the Health Minister’s office on this matter and am happy to see the second test will now be taken on day 8 and not day 10 to ensure that the results actually come back before the 14 day quarantine period ends.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is also working with Switch Health, the test kit provider, and our federal government partners to improve access to test kit registration, telehealth services and courier servicers for both day 1 and day 8 tests.
The testing requirements for international travellers, in combination with other measures including a 14-day quarantine, are necessary to protect Canadians. COVID-19 variants have been detected in every province and we must be vigilant in preventing new travel-related cases.
All travellers are still required to remain in quarantine until they receive a negative test result on their day 8 test AND they have completed their 14-day quarantine period.
Can you provide the update from CIUSSS West-Central on April 23rd related to their vaccination campaign?
The CIUSSS update is as follows. Please note it is from before Quebec’s announcement of today which opened up vaccination appointments to the entire adult population:
COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign update – April 23, 2021
The decision to allow Quebecers 45 to 79 years old to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine has proven to be very popular.
Our mobile clinic was at Saint-Raymond Community Centre in NDG earlier this week and was also at the Centre de Ressources Communautaires Côte-des-Neiges until April 24. Thanks in large part to the support of our community partners, it is operating at capacity and allowing us to reach a broad cross section of residents of our territory. The mobile clinic will be moving to Mountainview School in Côte Saint-Luc from April 30 to May 1.
While we are encouraging residents of the neighbourhood where the mobile clinic will be located to make appointments, we are also offering a limited number of walk-in appointments. Appointments can be booked at quebec.ca/covidvaccine or by phone at 514-734-9912. As of today, people with certain chronic illnesses are eligible to be vaccinated. Please refer to the Government of Quebec’s COVID-19 web page for information on who qualifies: https://bit.ly/3gAoJK4.
We started administering second doses this week to residents of our CHSLDs as well as to residents of the RIs in our territory.
This process will be continuing over the coming weeks. In addition to pharmacies and the mobile clinic, we are currently offering vaccinations at the following sites:
Entrance is located at the back of the arena. Please follow the arrows.
The Government of Quebec has asked that snowbirds and others who have been vaccinated outside Quebec register the details of their vaccination in the records of our healthcare system.
This is important for contact tracing and for keeping track of the number of Quebecers who have been vaccinated.
Residents who have received one or both doses should bring proof of vaccination to the MIL campus of Université de Montréal’s vaccination site, open every day between 8:00 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Do you have questions or concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine?
Dr. Susan Kahn, Director of the Centre for Excellence in Thrombosis and Anticoagulation Care at the Jewish General Hospital, was recently interviewed on this subject for our podcast Your Health. The video is available in English only. You can click here to view the video:
What are people saying about the Budget?
I am pleased to see so much support and positive response from stakeholders and organizations across Canada since Budget 2021 was tabled last week! Please check out below to read some of the reaction that has already come in:
- Canada Chamber of Commerce (LINK)
- Dan Kelly, president and CEO Canadian Federation of Independent Business (LINK)
- Canadian Franchise Association (LINK)
- Retail Council of Canada (LINK)
- Jean Vincent, Chair of the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (LINK)
What are the details of the Government’s recently announced support for Air Transat?
Today, the Federal Government announced that, through the Canada Enterprise Emergency Funding Corporation (CEEFC), we will provide financial support to Air Transat to protect jobs in Canada's airline sector.
Air Transat will receive loan financing through the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility ("LEEFF") totaling $700 million. As a condition of the loan agreement, Air Transat has agreed to provide refunds for all pandemic-related cancellations to eligible customers—$310 million of the total financing will be a repayable loan to finance these refunds. Customers will be able to request their refunds by May 31, 2021 at the latest. Air Transat has also committed to maintaining active jobs as well as honouring collective agreements and pension benefits.
LEEFF loans provide bridge financing to Canada's largest employers whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through private market financing. The program provides large Canadian employers with access to credit to preserve jobs and continue operations during this challenging period. Among other key principles, the terms of LEEFF, including the financing provided to Air Transat, impose limits on executive compensation and restricts the payment of dividends and other distributions by a recipient.
Other applications for LEEFF financing are currently under consideration. To protect the financial interests of taxpayers, rigorous due diligence and the collaboration of existing lenders is required.
CEEFC maintains an updated list of approved LEEFF financing, which can be found at https://www.ceefc-cfuec.ca/approved-loans/.
Key terms of LEEFF can be found at https://www.ceefc-cfuec.ca/leeff-factsheet/.
April 22nd update
As mentioned in my Facebook post yesterday, Wednesday was the first day my age group could be vaccinated with Astra Zeneca, and I was thrilled to get my first shot.
The vaccine, like all others approved by Health Canada, is safe and effective. Please get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible. I was vaccinated at the Bill Durnan arena and was in and out in less than 45 minutes. Thanks to CIUSSS West-Central Montreal for the great service!
This week, the Government of Canada tabled Budget 2021, and there are many proposed investments and policy measures included to be proud of.
The budget contained a number of measures I have been working hard to advance. such as ensuring our domestic capacity to produce vaccines and investing in the creation of jobs, better support to working parents, students and seniors.
The budget also provided money to help ensure provinces and territories can deliver a high standard of care in their long-term-care homes, announced a consultation aimed at addressing the dangerously high maximum rates of interest in the Criminal Code, and dealt with a number of issues I have been tackling in my capacity as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour such as a $15 federal minimum wage and protecting workers rights when there is a retendering and increasing EI sickness benefits from 15 to 26 weeks. Given the importance of the budget, this update will deal solely with vaccinations, budget and a new CRTC decision that would be of interest to many in the riding.
Who is eligible to be vaccinated in the Montreal region?
All those 45 years or older are now eligible to get the AstraZeneca vaccine and get one without an appointment.
To find out which vaccination sites in Montreal are taking walk-ins, and which require an appointment click on the following link:
All sites are open from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
Those older than 59, those under 60 years deemed at high risk of complications from COVID-19, essential workers settings deemed at major outbreak risk, health and social services workers targeted in Phase 2 Vaccination, are all also eligible to book an appointment to get vaccinated.
To book an appointment, got to https://portal3.clicsante.ca/ or call 514 644-4545.
Can you provide an update on vaccinations in Canada?
On the vaccine front, Canada upkeeps its pace as being a leader in the G20 for vaccinations, with more than 300,000 Canadians vaccinated yesterday alone. We have been consistently second after the United States over the last several weeks in number of doses given daily on a per capita basis and are third after the US and UK in number of doses given per capita.
We have surpassed 11 million vaccine doses administered and 13.7 million doses have been delivered to provinces, and over 27% of Canadians have now received at least one vaccine. In Quebec, vaccination is at approximately 30.2 doses per 100 population with rates even higher on the island of Montreal.
We will continue to ensure this momentum continues, and our government is working hard to speed up the timeline every day. Just last week, we signed an agreement with Pfizer for 8 million more doses of their vaccine which will arrive in May and June. This is on top of what we have already purchased.
With the new deal, Canada will receive 4 million additional Pfizer doses in May, another 2 million in June, and 2 million more in July. For next month alone, this will come out to about double the Pfizer doses we were originally expecting.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister spoke with President Biden and the President announced after the call that he was looking to find ways to help provide additional vaccines to Canada so in addition to the approximately 50 million doses already scheduled to arrive in Canada by the end of June, hopefully this will lead to even greater numbers arriving.
Can you provide the most up to date information sent out by CIUSSS West-Central Montreal related to vaccinations?
The CIUSSS West-Central Montreal recently got the mandate to organize mobile vaccination sites to come closer to the population and to increase the vaccination rates on our territory.
Thus, a by appointment vaccination clinic will take place at the:
Centre de ressources communautaires de Côte-des-Neiges
6767 Chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges
Friday, April 23: 10 am to 2 pm
Saturday April 24: 10 am to 2 pm
The vaccine that will be administered at the site is the AstraZeneca.
What are the criteria to receive the vaccine?
Please note that people aged 45 and older can also get the AstraZeneca vaccine without an appointment at the:
Bill Durnan Arena, 4988 Vezina (Plamondon metro).
People can drop in without an appointment during the opening hours of the clinic: every day between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm.
Can you please provide some of the highlights from this week’s budget from the Federal Government?
On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland made history by being the first Female Finance Minister to table a federal budget in the House of Commons. I want to congratulate her on the amazing job she has done and continues to do as we work to get through this pandemic.
In Budget 2021, the Government of Canada aimed to address the specific wounds of the COVID-19 recession, put people first, create jobs, grow the middle class, set businesses on a track for long-term growth, and ensure that Canada’s future will be healthier, more equitable, greener, and more prosperous.
Here are some of the top highlights from the budget:
Strengthening Long-term Care
To protect seniors across Canada, Budget 2021 proposes to provide $3 billion over five years, starting in 2022-23, to Health Canada to support provinces and territories in ensuring standards for long-term care are applied and permanent changes are made.
To keep seniors safe and improve their quality of life, the federal government will work collaboratively with provinces and territories, while respecting their jurisdiction over health care, including long-term care. This work would ensure seniors and those in care live in safe and dignified conditions
Increasing Old Age Security for Canadians 75 and Over
After a lifetime of hard work, they deserve a secure and dignified retirement. That is why the government is committed to increasing Old Age Security (OAS) benefits for seniors age 75 and older. The government plans to implement this commitment in two steps. Budget 2021 proposes to meet the immediate needs of this group of seniors by providing a one-time payment of $500 in August 2021 to OAS pensioners who will be 75 or over as of June 2022. Budget 2021 then proposes to introduce legislation to increase regular OAS payments for pensioners 75 and over by 10 per cent on an ongoing basis as of July 2022.
This would increase the benefits for approximately 3.3 million seniors, providing additional benefits of $766 to full pensioners in the first year, and indexed to inflation going forward. This would give seniors more financial security later in life, particularly at the time when they face increased care expenses and greater risk of running out of savings.
Next Step Towards High Frequency Rail in the Toronto-Quebec City Corridor
High frequency rail has the potential to transform passenger rail service in the Toronto-Quebec City corridor, offering faster, more reliable service, and helping to encourage the shift to rail from more polluting modes of transportation.
In 2019, the Government of Canada established a Joint Project Office to explore VIA Rail Canada’s high frequency rail project.
This effort is critical to making this project a reality for Canadians.
To continue this work, Budget 2021 proposes to provide $4.4 million in 2021-22 to Transport Canada and VIA Rail Canada to support their work with the Joint Project Office in order to advance due diligence and to de-risk the project. In addition, Budget 2021 proposes to provide $491.2 million over six years, starting in 2021-22, to VIA Rail Canada for infrastructure investments that would support the overall success of the high frequency rail project.
These investments will help reduce bottlenecks, improve fluidity and connectivity, and allow VIA to take an important step towards high frequency rail in the corridor.
Extending Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits to Better Support Canadians Suffering From Illness or Injury
When Canadians are facing illness or injury, they should feel confident that they are supported and that their jobs are protected as they recover. However, for some Canadians, the 15 weeks of sickness benefits available under EI is simply not enough.
Workers receiving cancer treatments or requiring a longer period to recover from an illness or injury can face a stressful income gap between the time they exhaust their EI sickness benefits and when they are healthy enough to return to work. Budget 2021 proposes funding of $3.0 billion over five years, starting in 2021-22, and $966.9 million per year ongoing to enhance sickness benefits from 15 to 26 weeks, as previously committed to in the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion’s mandate letter.
This extension, which would take effect in summer 2022, would provide approximately 169,000 Canadians every year with additional time and flexibility to recover and return to work. Budget 2021 also proposes to make amendments to the Employment Insurance Act, as well as corresponding changes to the Canada Labour Code to ensure that workers in federally regulated industries have the job protection they need while receiving EI sickness benefits.
Helping Youth and Students Build Job Skills and Connect with Employers
Young Canadians have seen more job losses due to COVID-19 than any other age demographic. This not only deprives them of income that could be used to pay for schooling, build their savings, or cover basic living expenses, but can also lead to long-term consequences by disrupting important experiences in the crucial early years of their working lives.
These impacts are often more severe for youth facing multiple barriers to employment such as Indigenous youth, racialized and Black youth, and newcomers to Canada. To ensure youth and students can access valuable job skills and experience, Budget 2021 is proposing to invest $721 million in the next two years to help connect them with employers and provide them with quality job opportunities.
Budget 2021 proposes to invest $239.8 million in the Student Work Placement Program in 2021-22 to support work-integrated learning opportunities for post-secondary students. This funding would increase the wage subsidy available for employers to 75 per cent, up to $7,500 per student, while also increasing employers’ ability to access the program. This is expected to provide 50,000 young people (an increase of 20,000) with valuable experience-building opportunities in 2021-22. Youth Employment and Skills Strategy
Budget 2021 proposes to invest $109.3 million in 2022-23 for the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy to better meet the needs of vulnerable youth facing multiple barriers to employment, while also supporting over 7,000 additional job placements for youth. This builds on funding announced in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, which is expected to result in over 30,600 new placements in 2021- 22.
This will make it easier for young people to get good jobs. Canada Summer Jobs Budget 2021 proposes to invest $371.8 million in new funding for Canada Summer Jobs in 2022-23 to support approximately 75,000 new job placements in the summer of 2022. This is in addition to 2020 Fall Economic Statement funding for approximately 94,000 additional job placements in 2021-22. In total, the Canada Summer Jobs program will support around 220,000 summer jobs over the next two years.
Preparing Canada’s Aerospace Sector for Recovery
In 2019, aerospace contributed more than $28 billion to Canada’s GDP, directly and indirectly supporting 234,500 jobs. As one of the most research intensive manufacturing industries, aerospace is an important driver of Canada’s innovation economy. Highly dependent on purchases from airlines hit hard by the pandemic, the sector is facing reduced demand and a longer path to recovery, relative to other sectors of the economy.
To help position Canada’s aerospace sector once restrictions on travel are lifted and the industry begins to recover: Budget 2021 proposes to provide $250 million over three years, on a cash basis, starting in 2021-22, for the regional development agencies to deliver an Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative, which would support small and medium-sized firms in improving productivity, strengthening commercialization, and greening their operations and products.
This is in addition to the $1.75 billion in the Strategic Innovation Fund, outlined in section 4.6, providing a combined support of $2 billion to help this innovative sector recover and grow out of the crisis.
In #Budget2021, I am also pleased to see so many important measures that align with the priorities of the Jewish Community and many other community organizations representing other communities in our riding, including:
What came from the CRTC’s review of mobile wireless services in Canada that could have an impact for me?
Last week, the CRTC released the findings of its review of mobile wireless services in Canada. You can read the release in its entirety here and while there are a number of findings within it, several regulations the CRTC is putting forward are of note:
April 15th update
I first want to wish Israel a happy Independence Day as it celebrated its 73rd anniversary of independence yesterday. It was great to attend Montreal’s virtual rally to celebrate this year and hopefully next year we will be able to gather again in person.
I want to thank the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for sending special greetings to our Montreal community for Yom Haatzmaut, where he reaffirms our government’s commitment to be a strong ally to Israel and stand up to antisemitism. Please watch his excellent video below and share:
I also want to wish all those observing the month of Ramadan a Ramadan Mubarak! Ramadan marks a sacred time of year for the Muslim community here in Mount Royal and around the world. I know that for the Muslim Canadian community in our riding, the month of Ramadan will be very different than usual. During this pandemic, Muslim Canadians have stepped up to give charitably to their neighbours and those most in need.
Thank you especially to those who work on the frontlines of combatting COVID-19 as essential workers and medical professionals, all while fasting. Click on the link below to watch the Prime Minister’s greetings on this special occasion:
On Friday, I had the pleasure of helping to announce that the Government of Canada will contribute $1,972,050 to the refurbishment and improvement of Edward J. Kirwan Park in Cote Saint-Luc. This will be done through the through the Community, Culture and Recreation Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada Program. The Government of Quebec will also be contributing $1,972,050 and I was pleased to be joined by my colleague David Birnbaum MNA-député D’Arcy McGee, Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, District 5 Councillor Mitch Kujavsky, District 3 Councillor Dida Berku and former Councillor Allan J. Levine at the announcement.
I was Mayor of Cote Saint-Luc when the chalet at the park burned down and we faced a lot of challenges in finding the money to properly renovate the park. One of the joys of being a federal MP is assisting our local municipalities in applying for grants and chasing down those funds when they do apply. Thanks to this funding, residents of the City of Côte Saint-Luc will have access to an updated park facility that will have modern, safe and secure facilities to promote active, healthy and inclusive lifestyles.
The project aims to repair and develop Edward J. Kirwan Park including the Allan J. Levine playground. The work consists of building a new playground for 2- to 5-year-olds, renovating the playground for 6- to 12-year-olds, installing new water games, building an athletics track, installing exercise equipment, redeveloping the trails with lighting, building a new main chalet, building a new ice rink, building basketball courts, and developing a dance floor.
You can watch the press conference about this announcement at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKPbIzTgOE8
A number of riding residents have contacted me with concerns about increased noise levels in the CP yards. I recognize the frustration of shunting and idling waking people up at night and the fact there is increased operations in the yards. I joined some of my municipal colleagues today on a call with CP to discuss this issue and to try to find solutions that reduce noise particularly at night.
I want to thank Mitsumi Takahashi for having me on her show on Tuesday to talk about the issue of social media platforms paying local news publishers for content shared on their platforms. Click here to watch the interview:
I am pleased to continue seeing Canada rise in the global standing of vaccinations. We are now 2nd in the G20 for the rate of vaccine administrations. Despite not having local vaccine production we have now passed the European Union on cumulative COVID-19 vaccinations per 100 people.
We are at 23.58 and the EU is at 23.02. Europe as a whole averages 22.07 (source Our World in Data). As I stated when we had the four week lag when Pfizer and Moderna were ramping up their European plants and vaccine supply was lagging, we would soon catch up and we have done so already by April 15). We will not be able to compete with the US and the UK and their domestic production or very small countries that can vaccinate with limited supply but we are now doing very well versus our G20 comparable nations and almost everyone else.
Our diversified portfolio of vaccines will continue to serve Canadians and allow to continue this pace and vaccinate Canadians faster than almost all other countries.
Please check out the graph below which shows the 7-day rolling average of the number of administered doses of vaccines daily in the G20 per 100 people. As mentioned above, you will see that Canada is now second amongst these countries:
In total, we have 40 million doses of Pfizer coming, with 1 million per week arriving in April & May & 2 million per week through June. We will have 44 million doses of Moderna, with 12.3 million doses arriving in Q2, and an additional 22 million doses of Astra Zeneca and 10 million doses of Johnson and Johnson. While on Tuesday U.S. health officials are recommending a "pause" in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots, I must reiterate that there remains no clear causal relationship established between these rare events of 6 individuals out of the over 6.5 million doses of the vaccine administered which Canada is expected to receive shipments of starting in the next month.
Having said this, Health Canada has asked Johnson & Johnson to provide information on any cases of these rare blood clotting events and I will provide any further information about this issue in future newsletters.
In a similar vein, yesterday Health Canada confirmed that Astrazeneca remains safe, and with the risk of hospitalization and death still much greater than the risk of developing clots following an AstraZeneca shot, which is approximately 1 in 250,000, the benefits of this vaccine clearly outweigh any risks.
Who is eligible to be vaccinated in Montreal region?
I understand there has been lots of confusion as to who is currently able to be vaccinated, and with the ever-changing eligibility, it is certainly understand. Please find attached the fact sheet outlining who is currently eligible to be vaccinated in the Montreal region.
Can you provide details on the Government of Canada’s investment of additional $150 million for better ventilation in schools, hospitals, and other public buildings?
This week, the Government of Canada announced $150 million for better ventilation in public buildings to help reduce the risk of aerosol transmission of COVID-19.
These investments will help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission by funding projects to assess, monitor, and improve indoor air quality and ventilation, including upgrades or conversions of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, as well as community-based solutions in Indigenous communities.
Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada will deliver $30 million of the funds to projects that directly benefit First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities to help address the unique challenges they face. The balance of the funding, $120 million, will be available to provincial, territorial, municipal and local governments (and Indigenous communities via respective provincial and territorial governments) as a top-up to the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Resilience stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
The COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure stream, announced in August 2020, was introduced to help flow more funding to provinces and territories faster so that work could begin quickly and safely, protecting jobs and supporting communities across Canada. Under this stream, the federal government is investing up to 80% for projects located in provinces and up to 100% for projects located in territories or with Indigenous recipients. The COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure stream is being extended by two years to allow more time for provinces and territories to benefit from an increased federal cost-sharing. This will allow for a broader range of vital infrastructure projects, such as health facilities, shelters and emergency services buildings. Projects must start construction by September 30, 2023.
Through the COVID-19 Resilience stream, over $3 billion is available to provide provinces and territories with added flexibility to fund quick-start, short term projects. Several ventilation improvement projects have been funded under the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure stream, such as the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Prince Edward Island, which is receiving more than $870,000 in federal funding to improve the air exchange system and energy efficiency in its post-surgical and pediatric unit.
Infrastructure Canada is working with its provincial and territorial government partners to amend Integrated Bilateral Agreements to ensure that funds flow quickly and help protect the health of Canadians.
How is the financial support for Air Canada being provided by the Government of Canada?
The government's financial support to Air Canada is being provided under the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF). The Canada Enterprise Emergency Funding Corporation (CEEFC) has committed to provide $4 billion in repayable loans and an equity investment in Air Canada of $500 million in newly issued Class B Voting Shares at a 15 per cent discount to their recent trading price. CEEFC will also receive warrants on Air Canada stock in an amount equal to 10 per cent of the loan commitments (CEEFC's news release contains detailed information regarding the warrants).
As a condition of the agreement with CEEFC, Air Canada has committed to maintain jobs at current levels, to respect collective bargaining agreements, and protect workers' pensions. Air Canada currently has 14,859 active Canadian employees.
As required more generally under LEEFF, Air Canada has also agreed to restrictions on dividends, buying back shares, and executive compensation. The company will also provide climate-related financial disclosures, including how its future operations will support environmental sustainability and national climate goals.
Negotiations continue with other airlines.
Who eligible to get a refund for any pandemic-related flight cancellations?
The agreement with Air Canada ensures that customers who had their flights cancelled, or took action to cancel a flight because of the pandemic, are not financially disadvantaged. Under the terms of the financing agreement, Air Canada has committed to offer refunds to any passenger who wants a refund for certain pandemic-related cancelations by the carrier that CEEFC will finance. Air Canada has committed to providing customers with their refunds as soon as possible – beginning April 30, 2021 at the latest. CEEFC will provide additional loan financing of up to $1.4 billion for Air Canada to provide these refunds. Travel agents may assist in the processing of refunds for tickets the travel agents sold but will not be required to refund their commission to Air Canada.
How does this agreement impact domestic travel options?
The terms of the financial support will ensure that Canadians and communities retain air connections to the rest of Canada, through the restart of service at airports temporarily suspended by Air Canada. For seven airports where Air Canada had permanently canceled service, the airline will seek interline agreements with other carriers with a view to ensure those Canadians continue to have convenient access to their preferred airports and the flights they need.
Service will resume by no later than June 1, 2021, at the following suspended airports based on public health advice:
What about other Canadian air carriers?
Negotiations continue with other Canadian carriers on financial support and any agreement reached in those negotiations will include a requirement that the airline also refund pandemic related-cancelations. In the event that an airline does not need liquidity support from the government, the government remains open to helping all airlines provide voucher refunds to their customers.
How can I participate in the Government of Canada’s right to disconnect and gig work consultation?
As mentioned before, in my role as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour, I have been working with the Minister on ongoing consultations on the gig economy and the right to disconnect. I am pleased to share that we have begun public consultations on this issue.
On the issue of gig work, we would especially like to hear from anyone with experience as:
We are also interested in hearing from anyone who has contracted with such workers.
On the issue of the right to disconnect, we are particularly interested in hearing from federally regulated employees and employers. Federally regulated workplaces include, among others, the following sectors:
In order to address today's workplace realities, the Government wants to better understand:
*Gig workers: Workers who enter into short-term contracts to complete specific and often one-off tasks.
Over the next few weeks, we want you to tell us what it is really like to work in Canada today. We want to hear from both workers and employers:
How can I participate?
Here are several ways to participate in the online consultation:
You can participate at any time until April 30, 2021.
I want to end by saying that I know there are a lot of things out there that are frustrating. As we wait for everyone eligible to have access to a vaccine dose (hopefully by June 24 in Quebec) restrictions continue to be placed on our lives. Some are very understandable and others are less clear as to rationale. But all governments are guided by public health experts and making the best decisions they can in light of the facts and circumstances. I encourage everyone to stay safe and respect all the rules in place and we will soon emerge from the unusual life we have led since last March.
April 8th update
Let’s start with the good news. There have been 10,243,470 doses of vaccine delivered to the provinces and this week more than 2 million are expected. The provinces have been able to use 7,000,000 doses which means that 31.8% of the doses that have been delivered have not yet been administered. In Quebec, approximately 25% of those living on the island of Montreal have received a vaccine dose and 75% of those 60 and over have received their first dose or booked an appointment for one.
Quebec has announced that as of today everyone born in 1966 and before is eligible to get an AstraZeneca dose without an appointment. The local site to go to is the Bill Durnan Arena at 4988 Vezina Road between Decarie and Victoria. The site is open 7 days per week from 8am to 8pm. There are also other locations where this vaccine can be obtained and the link to find the other locations is in the questions and answers below.
Quebec has also announced that certain categories of essential workers can book vaccine appointments as of Friday and that the chronically ill being treated as outpatients or who are hospitalized can also be vaccinated through their own doctor.
There is a great deal of confusion over this announcement as the list of those eligible was included on the Quebec Government website yesterday but then removed and Quebec has indicated a detailed list of those eligible will soon be published.
As this is from the provincial government I will not be able to answer questions people ask about whether they are eligible. I encourage everyone with a chronic disease to contact their own physician or their local CIUSSS for details.
But at the same time as we are seeing great progress with vaccinations, we are also seeing increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases, largely driven by more transmissible variants. Ontario has seen its numbers climb to over 3000 per day and has gone into lockdown. Quebec has seen a smaller increase but the numbers are worrying and Quebec has introduced new measures in red zones including the closing of gyms and returning to the hybrid model for high school.
We only have a few months left before everyone will be vaccinated and until then I strongly encourage everyone to respect public health measures and to stay safe.
Another piece of good news is that tomorrow I will be joining Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein to announce funding for an infrastructure project in Cote Saint-Luc. I will share details of that announcement in my next newsletter.
This week, I have been working hard with the members of the special committee on Canada/US relations to write our report on Line 5 and I have been proposing amendments to Bill C10 on the Broadcasting Act including substantial amendments related to our linguistic duality. I look forward to proposing them at Committee next week.
Sundown last night marked the beginning of Yom Hashoah, a time we remember the more than 6 million Jews and millions of others who perished at the hands of the Nazis.
As I mentioned in my Facebook post yesterday, antisemitism has by no means left our world, and, sadly, we are seeing a resurgence of it, especially online.
As the Prime Minister notes in his statement on Yom Hashoah, our government has taken important steps to address the issue of antisemitism, including by adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism. We also named Irwin Cotler as Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism to help strengthen Holocaust education and be a global voice against this type of hate.
On a personal level, this year, I have had the opportunity to take on the issue of online antisemitism through the creation of our Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism with elected officials across the world. We have made important progress on areas of action and a way forward to further fight this hate on a global level, and look forward to releasing our task force’s interim report shortly.
There is still much more to do to address this type of hate, and we will continue working hard to combat the rising scourge of antisemitism everywhere we see it.
With the House of Commons returning next week, it was a pleasure to speak to a number of groups in our constituency and talk about the pandemic, vaccine progress, federal government programs and policies and answer many important questions.
I want to thank the Cote Saint Luc Women’s club and the Beth Zion congregation for inviting me to speak with its members. If you are interested in watching my townhall on Wednesday with members of the Beth Zion synagogue, click here:
I also want to thank the Lord Reading Law Society for being invited to introduce my colleague MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh on Tuesday. I look forward to returning to speak to that group in the future.
What are the Province of Quebec’s changes to vaccine eligibility for the Montreal region?
The provincial government is opening up access to vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine for those born in 1966 and afterwards. As mentioned above vaccinations do not require an appointment and locally can be obtained at the Bull Durnan Arena 7 days per week between 8am and 8pm. There are also other vaccination sites that will have walk-ins for those born in 1966 and before:
In addition, starting Friday at 8:00 a.m., the province also announced that Montreal essential workers will be able to book vaccination appointments online, and should be able to book an appointment that takes place as early as next week. Quebec has defined as essential workers for the moment: elementary and high school personnel, daycare staff, police officers, firefighters, prison guards, slaughter house workers, temporary foreign farmhands, miners in remote areas and community workers who assist those suffering from mental health issues.
Please note that I fully understand there are others who are essential and this is an initial group defined by the Quebec Government and I cannot change it. Other groups will be allowed to be vaccinated at future dates.
It is my understanding that people will need to bring proof of employment as an essential worker to get a vaccine. They also need to be not only living but working in Montreal.
As I mentioned above, the chronically ill who are being treated as outpatients and hospitalized and also those who need the supervision of an allergist for the vaccination can be vaccinated by their own physician as of Monday but the list of who is eligible has not been published yet so please consult your own doctor or CIUSSS.
For essential workers and others eligible to book an appointment, please visit https://portal3.clicsante.ca/ or call 514-644-4545
I am concerned about the Astra Zeneca vaccine. Do you have more information?
I have attached to this email 2 documents published today by our local CIUSSS explaining why this vaccine is safe and effective. Please read them carefully.
What are the new restrictions imposed by the Province of Quebec to curb the spread of COVID-19?
As many of you know, beginning today, the Government of Quebec has imposed new measures in the Montreal region to try and help reduce the spread of COVID and its variants. You can read more about the new measures, including the provincial government’s decision to reduce maximum capacity in places of worship from 250 to 25, at the following link: https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/quebec-backtracks-on-loosening-measures-in-montreal
As this information outlined above is entirely within provincial jurisdiction, I would highly recommend you reach out to your MNA if you have any questions about the new restrictions and changes to vaccine eligibility by the Government of Quebec.
Can you provide me with the information related to the Prime Minister’s recent announcement on the Safe Restart Agreement?
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister announced the final instalment of the over $19 billion Safe Restart Agreement, to help provinces and territories safely restart the economy, and provide continued support to Canadians.
The final instalment of $700 million will help provinces and territories to further increase their testing capacity and support Canadians through this crisis.
Since the Agreement was reached last summer, this federal funding has been used to support the capacity of our health care systems, secure personal protective equipment for essential workers, and protect the most vulnerable in our communities. This funding has also supported safe and affordable child care, and assisted in the operating needs of municipalities and public transit.
Testing, screening, and contact tracing play a critical role in helping to fight the pandemic and curb transmission, particularly in shared spaces such as workplaces, long-term care homes, and shelters. In February, we exceeded the goal of having the capacity to undertake 200,000 COVID-19 tests per day across the country, which was a key objective of the Safe Restart Agreement.
Eight of every ten dollars spent in Canada to respond to the pandemic have come from the federal government, and we will continue to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to ensure Canadians are safe and supported. Together, we will continue to build on the Team Canada approach to fight and beat this virus, and build back better for all Canadians.
Can you tell me how to learn more about IRCC processing times?
The IRCC now offers the following link where you can find out which applications are being finalised based on their reception dates: Check your application status – Immigration and citizenship - Canada.ca
The information is available for the following categories of application:
The webpage helps applicants to better understand how the delays created by the pandemic have impacted processing times and can guide them in terms of what to expect for timelines.
While there are lots of other important issues we are tackling, with COVID19 still at the forefront of concerns I have limited the scope of this week’s edition and will cover more next week.
April 1st update
This weekend is Easter. I want to wish everyone celebrating, a wonderful holiday. With Holi having just passed, Passover coming to an end and Ramadan approaching, this is a season of holidays. I understand the desire to celebrate with family and friends but also encourage everyone to understand that variants are circulating in our community and everyone needs to continue to be prudent. With vaccines being delivered, we cannot let down our guard. This is a critical period. Ontario is going back into lockdown with over 2500 cases today. Quebec has added further restrictions in certain areas. Please continue to be careful as the light on the horizon is approaching.
With vaccine doses entering the country on an ever increasing basis, we have caught up to most of the European Union on vaccinations. We have already delivered more than 7 million doses to the provinces and by the end of the week that number should exceed 9 million. By the end of today over 6,000,000 doses should be administered representing about 14% of the population. But in Montreal, we are doing better. We have over 20% of the population vaccinated and in some parts of our riding the numbers are even higher. Over 40% of the population of Cote Saint-Luc has received a dose of the vaccine, the highest rate of any municipality on the island.
I understand the frustration from mixed messages people are getting. We are being warned about variants yet seeing restrictions lifted. We hear contradictory things about Oxford Astra Zeneca which I will deal with below. None of this is helpful in the least. But my message is clear and continues to be. All vaccines approved in this country are safe. Please get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible with any vaccine you are offered. Currently only those 60 and over can book appointments, together with those who are part of the pilot project. However I am confident that the next group will soon be offered appointments given the rate of vaccines entering the country and we will let you know as soon as that occurs.
Of course while, COVID 19 is first in most people’s minds and understandably so, my work as a legislator continues on other issues. This week I am working on completing a preliminary report from our antisemitism task force on online disinformation and hate. I have also been working with Minister Guilbeault and his staff to provide my recommendations for the bill that we will soon be tabling on online hate and revisions to Bill C10 on the Broadcasting Act. I intend to table amendments to promote Canada’s linguistic duality among other things. I have also been working with the Canada-US Special Committee on Line 5 and Buy America provisions.
On Monday, Facebook officials appeared before our heritage committee for us to question them over their temporary measure that restricted the sharing of news and media articles in Australia. Since this decision was ultimately made by the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, and not Canadian officials for the company, our Heritage committee voted to summon Mark Zuckerberg to appear at committee to answer for this decision.
As expected, Mr. Zuckerberg did not appear. Much as I respect the representatives of Facebook in Canada, they could not answer some of the questions we wanted to ask Facebook. Please watch my first and third round of questions about their inability to answer my questions directly nor even provide the total revenue their company generates in Canada. Please share with all those who would be interested in listening.
Can you provide an update on vaccine deliveries in Canada?
As of today over 7 million doses have been delivered to the provinces and by the end of the week the federal government will have delivered over 9 million doses to the provinces and this faster flow will continue.
Indeed this week, Pfizer has also now confirmed that they will be moving up 5 million doses from later in the summer into June and Johnson and Johnson confirmed that their first deliveries should come by the end of April.
A total of at least 44 Million doses are expected to arrive prior to the end of June from approved suppliers, enough for every adult to get their first dose of the vaccine.
Can you provide an update about the Health Canada’s recommendation related to the use of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine?
On March 24, 2021 Health Canada issued a label change and guidance on the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, following European reports of extremely rare but serious cases of blood clots associated with low levels of blood platelets immunization with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
It should be noted that this condition has been observed in only a few dozen people (mostly women under 55) and the risk has been estimated to be between 1 in 100,000 and 1 in 1,000,000. It also should be noted that no such adverse effects have been seen in Canada or the UK that has provided millions of citizens of all ages with the vaccine. But in the interim and out of an extreme abundance of caution, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has recommended an immediate pause in the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in all individuals less than 55 years of age in Canada.
Quebec has followed this recommendation and is no longer providing this vaccine to those who fall in this age group. This is entirely an interim step while the regulator completes its updated risk/benefit analysis of the emerging data.
Health Canada will be issuing additional terms and conditions requiring AstraZeneca manufacturers to conduct a detailed assessment of the benefits and risks of the vaccine by age and gender in the Canadian context. This information, along with further international evidence, will be used to determine if additional regulatory actions are necessary.
This decision is part of the vaccine safety monitoring and response approach that has long been established in Canada and used to monitor all vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines. We are responding to this safety signal with the information we have at this time and we will be reviewing new information to inform any changes in our position in the days ahead. Chief Medical Officers of Health are aligned and working closely together to review and act on the latest evidence on safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. We will continue to work together to adapt our approaches as the science and situation evolves, and provide clear and evidence-informed guidance in order to keep everyone in Canada safe and healthy.
Since the group impacted (those under 55) are not yet on the list to be eligible to be vaccinated (except for exceptional cases) it is likely that this issue will be resolved with additional guidance prior to that age group receiving the vaccine as new evidence is expected in the coming week.
Can you please provide me with the most recent update from CIUSSS West-Central Montreal that was sent on March 27?
CIUSSS West-Central Montreal
Re-opens Parc-Extension Vaccination Site
In order to ensure local residents have ready access to COVID-19 vaccinations, CIUSSS West-Central Montreal is re-opening the COVID-19 vaccination site at the CLSC de Parc-Extension, located at 7085 Hutchison Street. The site will be open as of Tuesday, March 30. Hours of operation are Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
The neighbourhood is already served by a vaccination site at Université de Montréal, MIL campus (1375 Thérèse-Lavoie-Roux Avenue; Metro Acadie). A number of local pharmacies are also serving as vaccination sites.
“Vaccinations are the best way to prevent the spread of the virus, and we urge everyone to be vaccinated as soon as they are eligible,” says Francine Dupuis, Associate CEO of CIUSSS West-Central Montreal. “Our strategy is to offer residents within our territory a variety of vaccination site options. By providing an additional vaccination site in the heart of Parc-Extension, we hope this will make vaccination as easy and accessible as possible for the residents of the neighborhood.”
Re-opening the site at the CLSC de Parc-Extension is part of a larger campaign to encourage residents of the area to be vaccinated. “We are working with local community groups to provide information in a host of languages and last week we went door to door in an effort to answer questions that local residents may have. Along with our partners, we are also active on social media,” notes Ms. Dupuis.
Making an appointment
Quebecers who were born in 1961 or before are currently eligible to be vaccinated.
Appointments for vaccinations can be made at www.quebec.ca/covidvaccine or at 514-644-4545 between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
In the event that ClicSanté is not working when you seek to book, there are spots open for vaccinations at Bill Durnan Arena on Sunday and Park Extension CLSC on Monday.
The CIUSSS has advised that if you are eligible and wish to book a spot please send an email to Jonathan Goldbloom at [email protected]
To meet public health requirements and ensure physical distancing, residents are asked to arrive only 10 minutes before their scheduled vaccination time.
To make an appointment, a healthcare card is not required, but it is recommended. Vaccination is free for everyone.
What was the Government Announcement of new legislation for additional pandemic support for vaccines, health care, and municipalities?
In recognition of the extraordinary pressures faced by all orders of government and First Nations communities during the ongoing pandemic, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance introduced Bill C-25. This legislation would provide an additional $7.2 billion in support for urgent health care needs across the country, the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, and for local infrastructure projects in our cities and communities.
The proposed funding includes:
To date, more than eight out of every ten dollars to fight the pandemic has been provided by the federal government. This announcement will build on the substantial investments made to support provinces and territories.
Can you provide me information on the Government of Canada’s historic investment yesterday to strengthen Canada’s biomanufacturing sector?
Yesterday, the Government of Canada announced an investment of up to $415 million to support Sanofi Pasteur Limited (Sanofi) in building an end-to-end influenza vaccine manufacturing facility in Toronto, Ontario. This new facility will ensure drug product formulation, fill-and-finish and inspection. As part of this project, Sanofi will invest more than $455 million as well as create and maintain 1,225 highly skilled jobs in Canada. The Government of Ontario will also invest $55 million, making this a $925-million project. In addition, the company will also invest at least $79 million a year to fund Canadian research and development.
After a global search, Sanofi has chosen Canada as the home of its international production and distribution centre for their high-dose seasonal influenza vaccine, FLUZONE® High Dose Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine (FLUZONE® HD QIV). In addition to creating jobs and funding Canadian research, this facility means better pandemic preparedness for all Canadians. In the event of a future flu outbreak, Sanofi will be able to manufacture pandemic influenza vaccine at population scale at its new Toronto facility. It will have the capacity to produce enough vaccine doses to support the entire Canadian population within approximately six months of the World Health Organization (WHO) identifying a pandemic influenza strain.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for a strong domestic biomanufacturing sector. Today’s announcement will not only reinforce Canada’s biomanufacturing capacity but also strengthen our country’s pandemic preparedness.
Over the last 12 months, the government has made investments of more than $1 billion to advance industrial research and development in vaccines and pharmaceuticals as well as expand biomanufacturing capacity. It will continue enhancing pandemic preparedness today and in the future by making Canada more self-sufficient while reducing exposure to possible future economic impacts and supply chain challenges.
Can you provide me an update related to the National Long-Term Care Standards?
I have worked very hard to have our government announce in the Throne Speech that we would be working on National Standards in Long Term Care and indeed this week I and other caucus members interested in this issue had a meeting with Ministers Hajdu and Schulte to follow up on this issue. We recognized the importance of these standards being developed by national organizations with experience in this area which will increase the chances of obtaining cooperation and agreement of the provinces.
A big step forward happened yesterday when the Standards Council of Canada (SCC), Health Standards Organization (HSO), and the CSA Group announced the launch of their process to create new national long-term care standards. The new national standards will take into account lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, and will address issues related to the quality and safety of care, including ventilation and multi-bed rooms, recruitment and retention of staff, low wages and lack of benefits, insufficient training, inadequate infection prevention and control measures, and low ratios of staff to residents.
HSO has launched a comprehensive survey to help shape what an optimal state of LTC ought to look like in Canada. In the spring of 2021, HSO will launch a series of cross-country town halls and additional activities to capture the diverse perspectives of residents, families, health service providers, clinicians and policy makers from coast to coast to coast. HSO invites Canadians to follow its standard development process, apply to the Technical Committee and provide their input at www.longtermcarestandards.ca.
Our government is supportive of this work and we will continue to work with our provincial and territorial partners to advance our long term care commitments.
I wish everyone good health and happiness during this long weekend and please celebrate safely!
March 26th update
This weekend Passover begins. Next weekend is Easter. I want to wish everyone celebrating a very happy holiday! Thursday March 25th is also Greek Independence Day and I participated in a video with other Liberal caucus members celebrating our Hellenic community that you can find on my Facebook page at:
Whether it be for a holiday or a joyous occasion we still need to respect public health rules and this means we still cannot celebrate with our family and friends in the normal way. But it also gives us the opportunity to celebrate virtually with those far away. My family’s virtual Passover Seder this year will include people from across North America that would normally never be at our table and I hope everyone is using this opportunity to do the same.
But we are moving forward. This week 2,000,000 vaccine doses have arrived or will arrive in Canada. To date we have received 5,868,590 doses and 4,529,895 have been administered. We will not only exceed the forecasted 6,000,000 doses by the end of the quarter, we will greatly exceed it. It looks likely that by March 31 over 9,000,000 doses of vaccine will enter the country. Here in Montreal more than 17% of the adult population has been vaccinated. Across Canada over 11% have been. We have continued to increase the rate of vaccination to well over 150,000 per day and this will continue to climb.
While variants continue to pose threats, brighter days are ahead. But I continue to encourage people to be cautious. While I know that many who attend church or synagogue or mosques or other religious institutions will be pleased by Quebec’s announcement that up to 250 people can attend subject to social distancing measures, there are variants circulating that are very contagious so please continue to exercise caution in your choices.
On Wednesday, executive members of the Canada-Israel Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group met to elect a new chair. With the unanimous support of my colleagues across party lines, I am honoured to have officially been elected the new chair of this incredible group of Senators and MPs. I want to thank my dear friend and former MP for York Centre Michael Levitt for his work as the former chair of our group. I look forward to building on his work and further strengthening the relationship between our two countries. On Thursday I joined Jewish leaders from across the country including from CIJA, Federation CJA, B’Nai Brith in a meeting with the Prime Minister. I look forward to more excellent exchanges on issues important to all communities.
In my role as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour, I have been working with the Minister on ongoing consultations on the gig economy and the right to disconnect and obviously am very much involved in the situation at the Port of Montreal. The Port is critical to the economy of all Eastern Canada and I am pleased that the parties are back at the bargaining table and are negotiating with the help of mediators that the Minister of Labour has appointed. We are watching the situation carefully.
I have also been working on the Canadian Heritage Committee with respect to amendments to the Broadcasting Act and will be putting forward amendments in a number of areas including those to ensure Canada’s linguistic duality. On Monday, Facebook will be returning to our Committee and I look forward to asking questions to them in a number of areas. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been summoned by our Committee and we will see if he attends. I also assisted my colleague Han Dong and provided notice of motion for a study on Anti-Asian Racism that we will ask the Committee to undertake. The horrible incidents that have targeted members of the Asian community in both Canada and the US remind us every day that we have to do more to confront racism.
I was very pleased that this week we joined our allies in imposing Magnitsky sanctions against various Chinese state actors and we did the same later this week against Russian officials involved in the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. I was pleased to be in Parliament to advocate for the Magnitsky Law we adopted in 2017 and strongly support its use in such cases.
I was also very pleased the Supreme Court upheld our carbon pricing scheme as a price on pollution is necessary for a green future. More information on the decision is included in the question and answer section below.
One of the most important things my office works on is helping local municipalities and organizations obtain federal grants. I do not usually mention them here but was very pleased to announce a grant of $1.2 million this week to the Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal to support local professional arts organizations including $664,309 going to the Segal Centre for Performing Arts. These organizations serve residents way beyond our riding and bring joy to many.
Finally, before we go to the question and answer section, I want to talk about Philippe Roy, who announced this week that he will not seek re-election as Mayor of Town of Mount Royal in November. I have worked with Philippe both as a Mayor and as an MP over the last 15 years and he has become a great friend as well as a colleague. His announcement that his decision not to seek re-election was, at least in part, due to the nastiness on social media should be a reminder to all of us that while we might disagree, we should do so in a civil way. We can disagree without being disagreeable.
I continue to watch social media and am constantly dismayed over the nasty comments and allegations that people make against others. We are one community. Canadians, Quebecers, residents of our respective cities. Whatever race, religion, language, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, gender we happen to be, we need to treat people with the same level of respect and judge people as individuals not as communities. Whether someone attacks Asians as a group, Quebecers as a group or anyone else as a group it is equally wrong. And when someone attacks a political leader or their family on a personal basis, we go one step too far. Philippe has been a wonderful public servant and I wish him all the best in whatever endeavors he takes on.
What age groups can now get vaccinated in Montreal?
As of last week, appointments for vaccinations in Montreal are now open to those born in 1961 and before! So those born between 1957 and 1961 can now register. I encourage everyone eligible to get vaccinated right away.
To book your appointment, please visit https://portal3.clicsante.ca/
Moreover, in our constituency there is a pilot project to vaccinate parents and staff in schools and daycares in three postal codes. If you have the opportunity to get vaccinated in this way the school or daycare would have informed you and I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity and do so right away.
Why is Merton Elementary School excluded from the local health authorities recent vaccination pilot project?
While this is entirely a decision of the provincial government and the local health authorities, the exclusion of Merton Elementary School is something that I am concerned about and I can assure you that I have written to the local CIUSSS about this issue and asked for Merton to be included. I am working with Mayor Brownstein and MNA Birnbaum on the issue and we are all hoping that the local public health authorities will reconsider this decision.
Can you provide an update on vaccines and vaccination in Canada?
This week a total of approximately 2 million vaccine doses have arrived in Canada, 1.2 million Pfizer and 846,000 Moderna doses. This is the largest delivery of vaccines since we started receiving doses since December, with millions more that will continue to be received each week. In total, we expect to receive 9.5 million doses in total by end of March.
Should we be concerned with the European Union’s Potential Restrictions on Exports of Vaccines? What about India’s temporary hold of major exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India?
As Canada receives a vast majority of its vaccines from Europe, we are certainly concerned but have received reassurances from the highest levels that Canada's supply of vaccines is not in danger nor will shipments be interrupted. We do not obtain our AstraZeneca vaccines from Europe and the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines we do obtain from Europe do not appear to be at issue.
Regarding our vaccines from India, at this point we have no indications that the two million doses we will be receiving from the Serum Institute over the coming two months will in any way be affected and we will continue to work on this issue to ensure that that continues to be the case.
What was today’s announcement on funding on health care to fight COVID19 and provide infrastructure to municipalities and first nations communities?
Can you provide the update sent out by CIUSSS-Centre West?
The latest email received from Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, the head of our local CIUSSS follows. Please note that this is from a few days ago so numbers are already vastly higher than those mentioned:
There’s a feeling of real excitement in the air—and I’m not just referring to the approach of spring. Ever since CIUSSS West-Central Montreal began administering doses of the COVID‑19 vaccine to the public, we’ve been playing a leading role in Montreal in the speed and efficiency of our vaccination program.
Our latest milestone came late last week with the launch of our third public site, which has 12 vaccination stations on the MIL campus of the University of Montreal in Park Extension. This is a significant addition to our public site at Bill Durnan Arena, which opened on March 10 and has had more than 5,677 doses administered as of March 21. In addition, at our Decarie Square site, over 22,441 doses have been given at 20 stations since February 26.
When you factor in the doses at our three temporary sites (the Jewish General Hospital, CLSC Metro and CLSC Park Extension), plus our campaigns to vaccinate the residents and members of staff of our long-term care facilities, we administered more than 51,404 doses between December 14 and March 21, including more than 34,454 to members of the public.
What does this all mean? As of mid-March, we had administered at least one dose to about 16 per cent of the people in the area that we serve—more than any other CIUSSS on the Island of Montreal. This is an achievement to be truly proud of, which is why I’d like to congratulate everyone on our staff for making such a concerted push in safeguarding the health of as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.
While we’re looking at the numbers, let’s consider a few more. So far, we’ve vaccinated approximately 86 per cent of residents in long-term care centres; 82 per cent of those in private, for-profit seniors’ residences; 80 per cent of people over the age of 80; 73 per cent of those between the ages of 70 and 79; and (since March 12) 32 per cent of people between the ages of 60 and 69. The percentage in the last of those categories is bound to increase, as more people book appointments and as the age limit continues to drop for those who are approved for vaccination. As well, I would strongly encourage everyone over the age of 60 to get vaccinated as soon as they can.
How much can we handle? A lot: Our capacity at this point is 50,400 doses a week (7,200 per day), spread over a total of 60 vaccination stations that are open 12 hours a day. Whether we actually reach this number will depend on how much vaccine is allocated to us. Rest assured that if we receive it, we’ll be in an excellent position to administer it.
I’d like to remind you that despite our encouraging progress, this is not the time to relax our vigilance. Until a substantial majority of the population has been vaccinated, all of us—even those who have already been vaccinated—must continue to wear a mask, maintain a physical distance, wash our hands frequently and refrain from inessential, long-distance travel.
When is the federal government tabling a budget?
I am pleased that Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland announce this week that a budget will be tabled in the House of Commons on April 19. I look forward to reviewing our governments plan to a path towards recovery as we continue to get through this global pandemic.
What is your and the government’s reaction to the Supreme Court ruling reaffirming the constitutionality on the price on pollution?
Today the Supreme Court of Canada reaffirmed the constitutionality of the government’s national price on pollution and determined that the matter is critical to our response to an existential threat to human life in Canada and around the world. Since 2019, we have ensured pollution isn’t free anywhere in Canada.
Today’s decision means we can continue to put a price on pollution and put more money in the pockets of families in provinces that aren’t taking climate action.
This decision is a win for the millions of Canadians who are demanding climate action, and for families who will continue to receive more money in their pockets in pollution pricing rebates.
We have a comprehensive climate plan that is creating good jobs, growing our economy, and strengthening the middle class.
Climate change is real, and doing nothing has an economic cost.
Can you provide me with details about the governments announcement on the extension to apply for the Canada Emergency Business Account?
I am pleased to let you know that the government officially announced that the deadline for new Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) applications is being extended from March 31 to June 30, 2021.
This deadline extension applies to any new applications for CEBA loans of $60,000 or to new applications from businesses that have already received the $40,000 loan and intend to apply for the additional $20,000.
The extension will allow more businesses to access the support they need as Canada’s economy continues to deal with localized public health restrictions and, for a number of businesses, reduced opening hours or reduced demand for services. Extending the application deadline to June 2021 also aligns CEBA with the timelines of other federal government support programs for business.
The extension of the application deadline and other adjustments that the government has made to CEBA, such as introducing the non-deferrable expense stream and increasing the loan amount from $40,000 to $60,000, demonstrate the government’s commitment to stand by small businesses.
Can you please provide all Information you have from the CRA to support me during this tax season?
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is working hard to assist people during these difficult times, as this is a tax season like no other.
So far this year, more than 5 million Canadians have filed their 2020 income tax and benefit returns. While millions of Canadians are filing without challenge, we understand that many are still dealing with the impact of COVID-19 and that our government continues to support Canadians through the current public health crisis.
We encourage all Canadians to file their income tax and benefit return on time. This is especially important for people who receive credits and benefits such as old age security payments, the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax credit, the Canada child benefit, and payments from provincial and territorial programs. Filing online is the fastest and most secure way for Canadians to do their taxes.
For anyone who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), or Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) payments, these are considered taxable income, and must be included on their tax return. They have received a T4A (for benefits issued by the CRA) and/or a T4E (for benefits issued by Service Canada) tax slip in the mail with the information needed for the return.
Filing before the deadline, and including all tax slips, will ensure that the CRA is using the most accurate information for calculating a person’s benefit and credit amounts. This will also help ensure that your payments are not interrupted.
What is the deadline to file and pay this year?
The deadline for most individuals to file their 2020 taxes and pay any amount owing is April 30, 2021. To avoid late-filing penalties and interest, individuals should ensure that their returns are filed by April 30, 2021, and their payments are made by April 30, 2021.
The deadline for self-employed individuals and their spouses or common-law partners is June 15, but any amount owing is due by April 30.
Qualifying individuals can make a payment arrangement. Interest in 2020 will not be charged until April 30, 2022 for individuals who received COVID-19 benefits and whose income is under $75,000.
For more information on deadlines, go to CRA and COVID-19: Income tax filing and payment deadlines for the 2020 tax year.
What happens if benefit and credit payments are interrupted?
Individuals may have their credit and benefit payments interrupted if they file their return after April 30, 2021. These individuals will receive retroactive payments for credits and benefits they are eligible for after their returns are filed and assessed by the CRA.
When will I receive my T4A slips from the CRA?
Most people who received COVID-19 emergency and recovery benefits from the CRA should have their T4A slips by now. They are encouraged to file their 2020 income tax and benefit return on time. Those who received these payments and are waiting for their T4A slip may be able to get a copy through My Account or by contacting the CRA. Individuals should also check to see if they received other tax slips. For example, if someone received emergency benefits from Service Canada, they will get a T4E slip.
If someone is expecting a tax slip and doesn’t want to wait to file their return, they can use information they have on hand to estimate their income and any income tax withheld from COVID-19 emergency and recovery benefit payments. They can file using that information. If, however, the initial information provided was incorrect, amendments need to be filed.
You can find more information in the recent CRA tax tip that answers common questions about T4A slips.
Has your CRA user ID and password been revoked?
Some may receive a notification telling them that their user ID and password for CRA online services has been revoked. Below are the steps for them to regain access to their CRA account.
1. Use a different login method:
After they register, the CRA will mail them a security code to give them full access to online services. While waiting for their security code, they can still file their income tax return online using NETFILE certified software and apply for COVID-19 benefits.
Please note that you may not be able to use these options if your account is locked or their address on file is incorrect. If so, you should wait until after March 22, 2021, and try logging in again. If you are still unable to access your account after this date, you should call the CRA.
Where can I find tax help from the CRA?
So far this filing season, Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) volunteers have helped eligible Canadians file over 40,500 returns as of March 6, 2021. You may be able to use this program to have your returns completed for 2020 (and previous years) and filed for free. Again this year, volunteers may be able to do their taxes virtually by videoconference, by phone, or through a document drop-off arrangement. Those who cannot file electronically are encouraged to seek a CVITP clinic through the national CVITP directory.
People with self-employment income are not eligible for the CVITP. However, this tax season, the CRA has liaison officers available across the country to help small business owners and self-employed individuals with their tax-related questions, explain business deductions and common tax errors, provide an overview of helpful tools, and offer help with setting up an effective bookkeeping system. For more information, go to canada.ca/cra-liaison-officer.
As of March 12, 2021, the CRA Benefits Outreach Program has delivered over 85 sessions, in all provinces and territories, since the start of filing season to community organizations looking for information on taxes, credits and benefits. If you are aware of any community organizations in who want to help people with their taxes and benefits, a CRA outreach officer can meet with them. To set up a meeting, go to canada.ca/cra-outreach.
As you are aware, every year during tax season, the CRA receives thousands of calls each week from Canadians looking for help. Although CRA call centre agents are doing their best to provide quality service, call volumes to the CRA are up 111% over last year due to COVID-19, and Canadians are experiencing longer call wait times. To serve Canadians better, the CRA has implemented phone service enhancements for 2021 that include increasing the number of available agents, extending hours of operation, and providing a new automated callback service.
Even with these changes, wait times can be long during the tax season. We encourage Canadians to check telephone wait times before they call: estimated wait times are now provided in real time on the contact information web page. This will help callers decide the best time to call. Or, instead of calling, you can try these suggestions:
Can You Please Provide the Message Shared From the the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat?
On occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat providing the following message regarding:
· A new funding opportunity launched by the Public Health Agency of Canada
· Newly available disaggregated data from Statistics Canada
Vaccine Community Innovation Challenge
During various town halls organized by the Federal Secretariat, many of you have told us about the need to support organizations serving Indigenous Peoples, Black, Asian, racialized communities and religious minorities so that they can share up-to-date information about the pandemic. To that end, the Public Health Agency of Canada has launched the Vaccine Community Innovation Challenge. The Challenge calls on individuals and/or groups to propose innovative communications campaigns that use creative ideas to reach diverse audiences. Submit a proposal and the Agency will select 20 finalists who will each receive $25,000 to develop and implement their campaign over 12 weeks. At the end of the campaign, one finalist will receive a grand prize of $100,000 to reinvest in the protection and promotion of public health in their community. Please visit the webpage for more information on the Challenge. Help us spread the word! Know someone who would be a great fit for this Challenge? Share this information with them! Ready to apply? Have questions? Please e-mail phac.cgc.solicitations-csc.
We would also like to inform you about a new Statistics Canada report offering a snapshot of the impact of COVID-19 in Canada. Among many issues, the data demonstrates that racialized populations are overrepresented in essential healthcare professions. Marking International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21, 2021, Statistics Canada has shared additional data products with disaggregated data, such as:
I wish everyone a very Happy Passover and Easter.
March 18th update
How is the Government Dealing with the Canada Revenue Agency Issue of Locked Accounts?
In February, an analysis revealed evidence that some user IDs and passwords used to access CRA accounts may have been obtained by unauthorized third parties. We wish to reiterate that these user IDs and passwords were not compromised as a result of a breach of CRA’s online systems, rather they may have been obtained by unauthorized third parties and through a variety of means by sources external to the CRA, such as email phishing schemes or third party data breaches.
Out of an abundance of caution, and to prevent unauthorized access to these accounts, the CRA took swift action to lock these accounts. Impacted individuals, with email addresses on file, were notified that their email was removed from their account on February 16th.
The CRA continues to conduct routine checks and analyze user IDs and passwords for any unauthorized access. Through this ongoing work, additional user IDs and passwords have been identified as being available to unauthorized individuals. Like the accounts that were locked in February, these user IDs and passwords were not compromised as a result of a breach of CRA’s online systems, rather they may have been obtained by unauthorized third parties and through a variety of means by sources external to the CRA.
Locking accounts in this manner is part of normal CRA operations. However, as tax season has begun we wish to make sure Canadians are properly informed on this matter.
As a preventative measure, these additional CRA user IDs and passwords, along with those associated with locked accounts in February, will be revoked and instructions will be made available to impacted individuals on how to re-gain access to their CRA account.
If they attempt to login to their CRA account with a user ID and password that has been revoked, impacted individuals will receive an error message to inform them that their CRA user ID has been revoked. The error message will link them to information on how to re-gain access to their account
Impacted individuals who have signed up for CRA My Account email notifications will receive an email with instructions (this email is attached for your information). Otherwise, they will receive the same instructions by mail.
Individuals can re-gain access to their CRA account by going to the CRA login page to create a new CRA user ID and password or by using a different login method.
An individual can have more than one login method associated with their CRA account. If one user ID and password is revoked, it does not necessarily mean the other login methods can’t be used. For example, other log in methods used to access a CRA account could include using a different CRA user ID and password, your banking login or through BCID, (using your BC Services Card).
If individuals are unsuccessful in their attempt to use online options to re-gain access to their CRA account, we ask that they attempt to access their online account again after March 22, 2021. If they are still unable to access their account, they should call the CRA after this date.
It is important to note that impacted individuals can continue to file their income tax return online using NETFILE certified software, and can apply for emergency benefits once a different login method is used, or a new CRA user and password is established.
COVID-19 has created an environment that is ripe for fraud and cyber criminals are using the pandemic as an opportunity to profit. Canadians, including seniors, rely on the digital marketplace more than ever—using online services for groceries, banking and everyday shopping—and it’s important that you have the tools and information you need to protect yourself from fraud.
How Can I Protect Myself From Fraud Online?
Protecting yourself from fraud – stop and think
Slow down, scrutinize and stay informed to reduce fraud.
Stop and think, it could be a scam. Don’t click links or open attachments from unknown senders. Don’t share personal information with them, like banking or credit card information. If you’re not sure, ask someone you trust for help.
Resources to help recognize fraud
If you have been a victim of fraud or cybercrime, contact your local police. If you want to report an instance of a scam, fraud or cybercrime, whether you are a victim or not, use the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s Online Reporting System. When you report a scam, authorities will be able to warn Canadians, which may limit it from spreading.
March 11th update
We remain in the midst of a pandemic, but with a total of four vaccines now approved and shipments and deliveries continuing to be expedited, we are well on our way to taking an important turn. As we pass the one year mark since COVID-19 began to have devastating impacts on the world, I thank each and every one of you for your continued patience and following public health guidelines as the vaccination process continues.
As you will find below, we have made serious progress since last week to accelerate the progress of vaccinations, and we could see complete vaccination before fall even begins.
Please find below some answers to the pertinent questions about COVID-19 and other government announcements.
Who can get vaccinated as of today?
If you are 70 or over (born in 1951 or before) now is the time to sign up for your vaccination! The Quebec Health Minister has indicated that vaccinations may be opened to people born between 1952 and 1956 shortly so if you are born in 1951 or before please take advantage of available appointments right away!
To book your appointment, sign up online through www.quebec.ca/covidvaccine or by telephone at 514-644-4545 between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
CIUSSS West-Central Montreal is also pleased to announce that a few hundred vaccination spots at the Bill-Durnan Arena mass vaccination site and Decarie Square are now open.
Another mass vaccination site at the MIL campus of Université de Montréal will be opening later this month.
What to know Before Your Vaccination Appointment
To meet public health requirements and ensure social distancing, residents are asked to arrive only 10 minutes prior to their vaccination appointment.
This will avoid unnecessary line-ups and help ensure vaccinations are administered efficiently and effectively.
A health care card is not required to make an appointment but recommended. Vaccination is free for everyone.
How do I help the CIUSSS Centre West with its vaccination campaign?
The CIUSSS is looking for volunteers 65 and under to work at our three mass vaccination sites. If you know anyone who may be interested, please have them send an email to [email protected] or call 514-340-8222, extension 25983.
Can you provide an update on the progress of our vaccines?
This week, Canada is set to receive close to 1 million vaccine doses. By the end of the week we should have received approximately 4.5M total doses and we will receive 3.5 million additional doses by the end of March. That is 2 million more doses than the Prime Minister originally promised within this time frame. This occurred because Pfizer has agreed to deliver an additional 1.5 million doses in March that were originally not anticipated and we received our first 500,000 AstraZeneca doses.
We are expected to receive at least 36.5 million vaccine doses by the end of June and 117.9 million by end of summer.
The progress of vaccinations is moving quickly as doses flow into the country and each week more and more people in our riding will be vaccinated. I am confident that we will actually get every adult who wants one, their first vaccine dose well in advance of September. .
Can you provide more information about the recently approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine?
With Health Canada’s approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the Government of Canada is in the process of agreeing to a delivery schedule for the 10-million doses we have secured. While we have received notice of some manufacturing issues with the supplies, deliveries are hopefully still able to begin in the second quarter of this year and all 10-million doses will be delivered by the end of the third quarter. It is important to remember that you only need ONE shot of this vaccine, making it much easier to vaccinate our population in comparison with the other vaccine which require two shots.
The vaccine can be stored and transported at refrigerated temperatures (from 2˚ to 8˚C) rather than at sub-zero levels, reducing the logistical difficulty of transporting and holding the vaccines.
What About the Johnson&Johnson’s Vaccine’s efficacy? Isn’t It only 66%?
As with the other three already approved vaccines, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is safe and effective in combatting the most severe symptoms of COVID-19. The efficacy exceeds the standards of Health Canada, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the World Health Organization.
As explained by Health Canada’s chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma, of the roughly 45,000 people in the vaccine’s worldwide stage 3 trial—in which half got the shot, half got a placebo—464 people developed moderate–to–severe COVID-19 symptoms, Health Canada explained when announcing its approval. Of those 464 cases of COVID-19, 348 had received the placebo with 116 having received the vaccine. And there were five deaths, all from the placebo group.
Its efficacy on higher-risk populations appears to be comparable with other vaccines. Dr. Sharma says there were zero hospitalizations after the 28-day endpoint for trial volunteers who got the vaccine. All good news.
Can you provide me with the details about the appointment opportunity with the Court Challenges Program Official Language Rights Expert Panel?
Important positions are now open within the Official Language Rights Expert Panel of the Court Challenges Program (CCP) for mandates of two to four years.
A pool of qualified candidates will be established and may be used for future appointment opportunities.
To be considered, your cover letter must clearly demonstrate, with concrete examples, how you meet the following criteria:
If you are selected for an interview, the following criteria will be assessed:
If you move on to the next stage of the selection process, we will contact your references to confirm that you meet the above selection criteria and that you possess the following personal attributes:
In your application, it will be important that you demonstrate that you meet the following requirements:
Before being appointed, you must demonstrate that you have no conflict of interest related to the position and you must complete a declaration of interests to that effect.
The application must be submitted by March 26, 2021. Applications must include the following information:
All documents can be submitted in English or French.
Send your application by email to: [email protected]
How is the Government of Canada investing to electrify transit systems across the country?
The Government of Canada is working to secure the health and safety of Canadians, rebuild businesses, and promote jobs and growth as we build toward economic recovery and a net-zero emissions future.
Better public transit helps people get around in faster, cleaner, and cheaper ways. Helping communities invest in zero-emission transit options ensures cleaner air for our kids, creates jobs and supports Canadian manufacturing.
Last week, the Government of Canada announced $2.75 billion in funding over five years, starting in 2021, to enhance public transit systems and switch them to cleaner electrical power, including supporting the purchase of zero-emission public transit and school buses.
This funding is part of an eight year, $14.9 billion public transit investment recently outlined by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and will also support municipalities, transit authorities and school boards with transition planning, increase ambition on the electrification of transit systems, and deliver on the government’s commitment to help purchase 5,000 zero-emission buses over the next five years.
This investment will create more well paying jobs in Canada’s robust and growing electric vehicle manufacturing sector. Nova Bus in Saint-Eustache, Lion Electrique in Saint-Jérôme, GreenPower in Vancouver and New Flyer in Winnipeg are great examples of innovative companies that have been delivering zero-emission transit solutions.
Infrastructure Canada will ensure coordination between this investment and the Canada Infrastructure Bank commitment to invest $1.5 billion in zero-emission buses and associated infrastructure as part of its three year Growth Plan.
To date, Infrastructure Canada’s funding programs have already supported the purchase of over 300 new zero-emission buses, and we expect this trend to accelerate. Today’s announcement is another step forward for smart public transit funding that delivers triple bottom line results: jobs and economic growth, a cleaner environment, and more inclusive communities. Canada has global leaders in clean technology and supply chains, and public transit investments will help promote confidence in a scalable and stable domestic market.
What was the Government’s Announcement About New investments to support research and science across Canada?
Last week, the Prime Minister announced more than $518 million in research infrastructure funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). The funding will support 102 state-of-the-art projects at 35 post-secondary institutions and research hospitals across the country, and will help Canada remain at the forefront of exploration, innovation and discovery.
Some of the projects the CFI is supporting with research infrastructure funding include:
March 5th update
This past week brought great news on the vaccine front. Between last week and this week I am confident that almost everyone who is 70 years of age and over who is reading this has either received their first dose or booked the appointment to receive their first dose. This is amazing news and as vaccines flow into the country more and more groups will become eligible to book appointments. I will keep you updated.
This week, we will see a total of 944,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines enter Canada. 444,600 from Pfizer and 500,000 from Astra Zeneca. Next week we will again see close to 1,000,000 vaccine doses enter the country and this will be ramping up. Health Canada also approved the Astra Zeneca vaccine for all adults last week and today approved the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
All approved vaccines are safe and effective in providing close to full protection against the virus’ most serious effects that could lead to hospitalization or worse. I will answer some questions about this below and provide more details about Johnson and Johnson in the next update.
We have also improved the system for booking hotel stays for those flying into the country and we will answer questions about that below as well.
I want to also thank all those from the CSLMC for having me at your townhall on Wednesday to answer all your pertinent questions related to COVID. We had over 230 homes tuned in and I was able to answer 30 questions in 2 hours. Not bad! If there are any other groups that want to organize a town hall with me please email us at [email protected].
In the last week we have held our first meetings of the Special Committee on the Economic Relationship between Canada and the United States and today I will be questioning our Minister of Natural Resources on the Line 5 pipeline and Canada’s ambassador to the United States.
Our Canadian Heritage Committee continues to work on Bill C-10, amendments to the Broadcasting Act and I will be proposing amendments to further protect minority language communities.
In my work as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour I was very pleased to propose amendments to my colleague Matt Jeneroux’s private members bill that were unanimously adopted at the HUMA Committee. The bill will now extend bereavement leave for federal workers by 5 days (so it will now be 10 days) and extend bereavement leave to those on caregiving leave.
Finally, I was very pleased that the Liberals and NDP managed to defeat a Bloc Quebecois Private Member’s Bill, strongly supported by the Conservatives, that would have stated that in Quebec you would need an adequate knowledge of French to become a citizen of Canada as opposed to French or English which is the case across our great country. This bill would have penalized numerous hard working permanent residents in our riding and I was very forceful in my opposition to the Bill.
As always, please find below the Questions and Answers related to COVID-19, vaccinations, and other federal government announcements and information.
What Were the Economic Measures related to the Wage and Rent Subsidy Amounts Announced this week?
Yesterday, the government announced it intends to extend the current rate structures for these subsidies from March 14 to June 5, 2021. Specifically:
These extensions would provide certainty and continued support for workers, businesses and other affected organizations in the face of ongoing challenges presented by the pandemic. With regard to furloughed employees, the government intends to continue to align the wage subsidy rate structure with the benefits provided through the Employment Insurance program from March 14 to June 5, 2021. This means employers who qualify for the wage subsidy would be able to continue to claim up to a maximum benefit of $595 per week per employee to support remuneration of their furloughed workers.
Through the pandemic, applicants have demonstrated revenue declines by comparing revenue to the previous year. Given that we are approaching a full year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government is today announcing that applicants would be able to continue to use a pre-pandemic 2019 reference month, effective for the upcoming periods from March 14 to June 5, 2021.
Who Can be Vaccinated In Quebec?
The Regional Public Health Department has now confirmed that residents 70 years and older living in the Montreal region can now book appointments to be vaccinated. Clic Santé has already been updated to allow appointments for people 70 years and older at Montreal vaccination sites.
Given the urgency of this information I wanted to advise everyone as soon as possible. The way to book appointments is to go to www.quebec.ca/covidvaccine and book online or phone 514-644-4545 between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
What about Caregivers?
There has been confusion with respect to caregivers. The Quebec Government has originally established 70 as the age for caregivers to be vaccinated. This changed to 60 and was then changed back to 70.
Since everyone 70 years old and over can now get an appointment to be vaccinated, there is currently no special arrangement for caregivers. For those caregivers between 60 and 69 who registered and received an appointment when the rules allowed those between 60 and 69 to register, you will need to check with the local CIUSSS if your appointment will be honoured.
When should I arrive to get vaccinated?
To meet public health requirements and ensure social distancing please arrive only 10 minutes prior to your vaccination appointment at Decarie Square and other sites. This will avoid unnecessary line-ups and help ensure vaccinations are administered efficiently and effectively.
Should I worry about what vaccine I receive? I heard that Oxford AstraZeneca was less effective or was not recommended for those 65 and over?
Last week Health Canada approved the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine for all people over the age of 18, including seniors.
Canada's chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said the three vaccines authorized in Canada so far offer excellent protection.
There has been some confusion on this issue as the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI) on Monday said there isn't enough clinical trial data available to determine how effective the vaccine is in preventing COVID-19 infection among people 65 and over . They are not saying the vaccine is not safe or that they have any knowledge it would not work. They are simply saying that the original trial Oxford did was not using a sufficient number of seniors in this age category.
At a briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said the NACI is prepared to update its guidance as it "see[s] more and more … real-world data accumulating." Health Canada did look at real life data from the UK which has used Oxford AstraZeneca in hundreds of thousands of seniors and the results are compelling. It appears from various studies that Oxford AstraZeneca is more effective than the original trials indicated and equally effective in seniors as other vaccines. As a result of these studies France changed its position and started offering the vaccine to seniors. One BBC news article that talks about findings of a recent study is attached:
In the end it will be up to each province to determine whether or not Oxford Astra Zeneca is offered to seniors and Quebec, at this time has not said what it will do. I am not a doctor but having read all the evidence my view is that even if I was a senior I would be perfectly happy to get any of the three vaccines as all appear to work very well in real world examples and if we want to vaccinate our most vulnerable populations as soon as possible we should be using every possible vaccine we get that is approved by Health Canada.
What is the story on getting the second shot, why have the dates now changed to up to 120 days?
The original studies done by vaccine companies had a certain number of days between shots, namely 21 or 28 days. As a result vaccine manufacturers can only recommend the periods they actually used to obtain approval. The longest period used by the manufacturers was 42 days so that was the NACI’s original guidance. But in the real world due to vaccine shortages worldwide, governments chose to delay the second dose and in real world examples found the first dose to be very much effective and in some cases even more effective with a longer delay between the first dose and the booster. A few days ago both BC and Manitoba announced they would go to 120 days and the NACI changed its guidance to set a maximum of 120 days. Quebec has now said that it will also use the 120 day period. This allows many more people to get a first dose in a faster period. I emphasize again that this is a decision made by the Government of Quebec.
I would like to volunteer to help the vaccination campaign how can I do this?
To combat COVID-19 quickly and effectively, the Human Resources team of our CIUSSS Centre West is looking for anyone who is available and interested in assisting in the vaccination campaign.
You can be part of their volunteer squad at the following COVID-19 vaccination sites:
You will receive training to help: - greet clients and safely guide them to the vaccination area, disinfect chairs, assist the Pharmacy Team.
Available shifts: 7:45 to 11:45 a.m. | 11:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. | 3:45 to 7:45 p.m. 7 days a week Commitment: One shift a week for a minimum of two months
If you are interested, please email [email protected] or call 514-340-8222, ext. 25983.
* Volunteers must be between 18 and 65 years old. Those who are immunocompromised, suffer from a chronic illness or are pregnant will not be permitted to volunteer.*
Can you provide any new information on the vaccination campaign from CIUSSS West-Central Montreal?
CIUSSS West-Central reports they are now on track to vaccinate more than 10,000 people at their four sites this week.
They will be opening their second mass vaccination site at the Bill-Durnan Arena on March 10, and expect their third site to be open in the eastern part of our territory before the end of the month. Over the course of the month, they will also be closing their temporary sites at CLSC Métro and CLSC de Parc-Extension on March 12 and the Jewish General Hospital on March 14.
CIUSSS will be administering the second dose for residents, caregivers and staff who were vaccinated as part of the pilot project in December starting next week. They will be vaccinated at the Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre.
People who were vaccinated as part of the public vaccination program have been given appointments for their second dose, and at this stage they are not planning to change them.
Appointments for second doses for others who have been vaccinated including health care workers, residents of senior’s homes and low-rental and non-profit housing, members of religious orders, Indigenous residents of our territory and clients of homeless shelters will be scheduled within the time frame established by the Government of Quebec.
I am coming back from Florida and got all of your information on hotels and I had trouble booking at the original government number. There was too long a wait. What do I do?
The original waiting times were unacceptable. I asked for immediate changes as did many members of the Liberal caucus and now in addition to the original booking system which has added numerous personnel you can call the hotel and book directly and I recommend doing this. The four hotels in Montreal you can book at are:
Aloft Mtl Airport- 514-633-0900
Crowne Plaza- 514-344-1999
Holiday Inn Express 514-422-8080
Airport Marriott 514-636-6700
You need to call, advise them you will be a returning traveler and ask all the questions you have and can shop around and determine which one you wish to book at. As most people get their negative test results after one night one question I would ask is for a commitment to refund your monies for the other nights of the stay in the event you get a negative test prior to the three days minimum booking.
If I want to get an exemption to the hotel stay what do I do?
If you do not fall into the clear exemptions (more information is set out below about those), all exemption requests must be made to the following email:
Below is the minimal information that should be included in the request:
To ensure a thorough analysis of your request can be carried out in a timely manner, please include the following information, at minimum:
Can you provide me again with the information on the COVID-19 Border Measures
Booking government authorized accommodations
Upon arrival in Canada
Air travellers vs. land travellers
Please note that final decisions on exemptions are made by border services offices (BSOs) on a case-by-case basis, using the criteria set out in the OIC. There is no guarantee of receiving an exemption, and no mechanism for receiving an exemption in advance. Travellers must demonstrate that they explicitly meet the criteria for an exemption.
Receiving an exemption from federal quarantine requirements does not automatically mean that travellers are exempt from provincial quarantine requirements. If your province has separate quarantine requirements, then your constituent should be directed to contact their provincial representative.
Workers who can demonstrate a regular cross-border pattern of work may be exempt from the three night hotel stay, fourteen day quarantine, and post-arrival testing.
If arriving by land, they may be exempt from 72hr pre-arrival testing. If arriving by air, they will not be exempt from 72hr pre-departure testing.
Yes, individuals travelling regularly for essential medical reasons may be exempt from the pre-departure testing, three night hotel stay, fourteen day quarantine, and post-arrival testing. In order to be granted an exemption, travellers should bring:
Yes, asymptomatic Canada Citizens, permanent residents, or persons with status under the Indian Act, who accompany an individual residing in Canada who received essential medical services or treatments in a foreign country can be exempt pursuant to section 6(1)(i.1) of the Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Quarantine, Isolation, and Other Obligations), if the individual is either:
No. Both the driver and the university student should prepare to adhere to the travel measures.
For more information on land border requirements: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/covid-19-testing-travellers-driving
In general, international students are not exempt from the travel measures. However, unaccompanied minors and unaccompanied dependent children are exempt from the three night hotel stay.
This applies to both Canadians attending school in another country and foreign nationals attending school in Canada.
For more information on international students: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/coronavirus-covid19/students.html
Yes, cross-border students may be exempt from the new requirements. Cross-border students are Canadians who attend school in the United States (and vice-versa) but who continue to reside habitually in their home country. For example, a Canadian who attends elementary school in the United States, and returns home to Canada every day. This exemption would also apply to individuals driving students to and from school, as long as drivers do not leave their car except to escort students to or from the school.
For more information on cross-border students: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/operational-bulletins-manuals/service-delivery/coronavirus/temporary-residence/study-permit/travel.html#sec1.4
Yes, unaccompanied minors will be exempt from the three night hotel requirement. They will not be exempt from pre-departure testing, fourteen day quarantine, or post-arrival testing.
For more information on exemptions for testing: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice/mandatory-hotel-stay-air-travellers.html
No. Canadians living abroad with expired visas should prepare to adhere to the travel measures.
No. At this time, regardless of whether you have been vaccinated or not, you should be prepared to adhere to the travel measures. Vaccination should prevent a person from developing symptoms associated with COVID-19 and serious illness, but there is not enough scientific evidence to show that vaccinations prevent people from carrying the virus and infecting others.
For more information on vaccines: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/vaccines.html
Temporary foreign workers (TFWs) are generally not exempt from the three night hotel requirement. However, workers arriving as a part of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program and related groups in the agriculture and agri-food sector have been granted a delay from having to stay at a GAA until further announcement. ESDC and IRCC will be providing more information on the requirements in the coming weeks. For the time being, these workers are required to quarantine in a suitable place for the full 14 days.
For more information about temporary foreign workers and COVID: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/campaigns/foreign-worker-rights/covid19-guide.html
No. Travellers coming to Canada for the purpose of family reunification should prepare to adhere to the travel measures.
No. Parents travelling to take custody of their adoptive child should prepare to adhere to the travel measures.
The final decision will be made by border services officers (BSOs) at the airport, based on information provided to the BSO by the traveller. There is no guarantee of receiving an exemption, and no mechanism for receiving an exemption in advance.
For more information on hotel exemptions: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice/mandatory-hotel-stay-air-travellers.html
If you receive a limited release from quarantine for compassionate reasons, then you will be exempt from the three night hotel stay. You will need to follow the quarantine requirements included in your letter of exemption.
You can find details on how to apply for a limited release from quarantine here: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice/compassionate-entry-limited-release-from-quarantine.html#Apply.
If you are crossing into Canada by land, you will require evidence of a negative COVID-19 molecular test done in the United States or a positive test taken at least 14 days and no more than 90 days prior to arrival at the land port of entry.
You can find a list of testing facilities here: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/flying/covid-19-testing-travellers-coming-into-canada#getting-tested.
Foreign nationals without a valid molecular test performed in the US or with symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed into Canada.
Canadian citizens, persons registered under the Indian Act, and permanent residents without a valid molecular test will be directed to a federal designated quarantine facility for their full fourteen day quarantine period.
For more information on pre-arrival testing at land borders: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/flying/covid-19-testing-travellers-coming-into-canada#getting-tested
If the person is a paid professional medical escort, they are exempt from the requirement to stay at the hotel. If the accompanying person is a personal companion, then there is no exemption at this time. However, if you travelled together, you may choose to stay in the same room.
For more information about traveller responsibilities: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice/mandatory-hotel-stay-air-travellers/traveller-expectations-hotel-stay.html
Travellers can book directly with their desired hotel and should identify that they require accommodation for the COVID-19 mandatory three-night stopover. Some hotels offer direct online booking. The phone numbers of the Montreal hotels are set out above and I strongly recommend travelers contact them directly by phone.
Travellers can also reserve and pay for their mandatory three-night hotel stopover through GB Travel Canada Inc.:
Regular hours of operation: 8 am to 11 pm ET, 7 days a week. Calls received after hours will be limited to emergencies.
More information on hotel bookings is available here: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice/mandatory-hotel-stay-air-travellers/list-government-authorized-hotels-booking.html.
Yes if the service is available. Some hotels can book on line. The Public Health Agency of Canada website provides links to all hotels and they can confirm if they accept online bookings.
More information on hotel bookings and links are available here: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice/mandatory-hotel-stay-air-travellers/list-government-authorized-hotels-booking.html
Yes. One of the requirements to become a government-authorized accommodation is that the venue must be able to follow Canada's Food Guide and accommodate dietary restrictions (allergies, religious, and dietary needs).
For more information about dietary requirements: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice/mandatory-hotel-stay-air-travellers/apply-listed-hotel.html
Yes, those who have travelled together may share accommodation. Room rate will include base room rate plus an additional fee for each additional person staying in the same room. Please note that the Government does not set the hotel price.
For more information about hotels: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice/mandatory-hotel-stay-air-travellers/traveller-expectations-hotel-stay.html
Yes, family members who travelled together may stay together. Room rate will include base room rate plus an additional fee for each additional person staying in the same room. Please note that the Government does not set the hotel price.
For more information about hotels: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice/mandatory-hotel-stay-air-travellers/traveller-expectations-hotel-stay.html
This will depend on the hotel's policy. Some hotels do accept pet and this information is available online.
For more information about pets: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice/mandatory-hotel-stay-air-travellers/traveller-expectations-hotel-stay.html
The Government of Canada has put in place the Quarantine, Isolation and Other Obligations Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act. All travellers arriving in Canada are subject to the Quarantine Act and the Quarantine, Isolation and Other Obligations Order. Its purpose is to slow the spread of COVID-19 and its variants in Canada.
The purpose of this Act is to protect public health by taking comprehensive measures to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases. The Act authorizes the Minister of Health to establish quarantine facilities anywhere in Canada, and to designate various officers including quarantine officers, environmental health officers, and screening officers. The Act authorizes measures that can be taken in respect of international travellers, or other persons at an entry or departure point, for the purpose of preventing the introduction or spread of a communicable disease (one that poses a risk of significant harm to public health). It also authorizes measures that can be taken in respect of conveyances arriving in or departing from Canada, and cargo on those conveyances, which could be the source of a communicable disease.
For more information about the quarantine act: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/corporate/mandate/about-agency/acts-regulations/list-acts-regulations.html#emergency
No, the airline will not refuse to board you. However, you may be subject to fines upon arrival in Canada for non-compliance if you do not meet one of the exemptions outlined in the Emergency Order.
A person who enters Canada by aircraft and cannot provide evidence of pre-paid accommodation is subject to a fine for non-compliance on arrival. After the three night mandatory stay in a Government Approved Hotel, travellers unable to quarantine must follow the directions of a screening officer or quarantine officer to go to a federal designated quarantine facility.
Unless exempt, travellers need to take tests on day one and day ten of their quarantine after arriving in Canada.
If arriving by air, you will take a test at the airport on day one and will be given a self-swab kit for day ten.
If arriving by land, you may take a test at the border crossing or you may be given two self-swab kits for day one and day ten.
For more information on testing if arriving in Canada by air: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/flying/covid-19-testing-travellers-coming-into-canada
For more information on testing if arriving in Canada by land: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/covid-19-testing-travellers-driving
As of February 22, 2021, travellers entering Canada at the following five Points of Entry will be required to take their test at the border crossing, unless exempt:
As of March 4, 2021, testing will be conducted at an additional eleven Points of Entry:
Travellers at all other land Points of Entry will be provided with a self-swab kit to take after arriving at home. All travellers will be given a self-swab kit to take on day ten.
No. Travellers must remain in quarantine for the full fourteen days and can only leave when they receive a negative test result from their day ten test. If a negative test is not received by day fourteen, travellers must remain in quarantine until they receive a negative result, or up to a maximum of an additional fourteen days (twenty-eight days total).
For more information on testing requirements for travellers entering Canada by air: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/flying/covid-19-testing-travellers-coming-into-canada
For more information on testing requirements for travellers entering Canada by land: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/covid-19-testing-travellers-driving
In your test kit, you will receive instructions on how to send the test kit to a government-contracted lab.
For more information on testing requirements for travellers entering Canada by air: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/flying/covid-19-testing-travellers-coming-into-canada
For more information on testing requirements for travellers entering Canada by land: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/covid-19-testing-travellers-driving
Can I get more information on the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative (CHCI)?
The first intake period for the Canadian Health Communities Initiative (CHCI) will close on March 9 at 8:00pm EST. This program, which is being delivered at arms’ length by Community Foundations of Canada (CFC), will provide $31 million over the next two years for small-scale community-based projects that put in place novel solutions to need brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic in the short term.
Projects funded under the CHCI will respond to one of three main themes:
Details on project eligibility and how to apply for project funding are available on CFC’s website: https://communityfoundations.ca/initiatives/chci/
You can also find more information on Infrastructure Canada’s website here: https://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/chci-iccs/index-eng.html
February 24th update
In a follow up to my message yesterday, please find below our Q&A about the upcoming vaccination process in Quebec, answers related to additional COVID-19 topics, as well as information on other federal announcements and moments from this past week.
I want to give a special shoutout to Jason Magder at the Montreal Gazette for posting a Q&A about the vaccination process where answers to the most pertinent questions about the immunization plan in Quebec are outlined very clearly. Most of the questions and answers I have posted below about getting vaccinated are from his article. Thanks very much Jason! I also want to thank Jonathan Goldbloom and the CIUSSS Centre West for other information we have used in the Question and Answers below.
While the vaccination process will remain top of mind, please also check out my interview with CTV Montreal’s Mutsumi Takahashi about how we should deal with online disinformation and the Uighur motion that was passed unanimously in the House of Commons on Monday. Click here to watch:
Yesterday we also saw the first bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Trudeau and President Biden and their cabinets. It was the first bilateral meeting done by the new United States administration with any country and it is amazing to return to our standard close relationship. Many important topics were discussed, including plans to work together revitalize and expand ties between our two countries. I have provided extended details about the meeting further down in the newsletter.
I also want to note that I have been named to a new Special House of Commons Committee that has been formed to work on our economic relationship with the United States.
This is in addition to my functions as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and my work on the HUMA and Canadian Heritage Committees. I enthusiastically accepted this appointment because our work with the United States on the issues set out below in this newsletter are incredibly important and I believe my experience having worked as the General Counsel of a US based public company will be very helpful to the work we do in this area.
How is the vaccine delivery ramping up?
This week, we are receiving 643,000 vaccines doses from Pfizer and Moderna combined. To date, we’ve delivered 1,846,340 vaccine doses to the provinces and territories, and we remain on track to receive 6 million Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by the end of March, 23 million between April and June, and over 84 million doses by the end of September. Even if no other vaccines get approved by Health Canada, every Canadian who wants a vaccine will have access to one by the end of September.
I understand the frustration people experienced when we had the four week slowdown as Pfizer and Moderna ramped up production in Europe and we fell on the per capita list of vaccinations but we have jumped over the last couple of days to 4.21% of the population and you will see us continue to rise on the per capita list each week going forward as Pfizer and Moderna deliveries ramp up and hopefully the other vaccines in the Health Canada pipeline get approved.
Indeed, in addition to the doses coming in this week which I have mentioned above, there are 444,600 doses of Pfizer scheduled to arrive in each week of March and the Prime Minister confirmed in the House of Commons today that we will receive 460,000 doses of Moderna in the week of March 8th and 840,000 doses of Moderna during the week of March 22nd, which will exceed the promised 2 million doses of Moderna in Q1.
The Prime Minister also confirmed that we will also receive 1.5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine during the first two weeks of April.
With each new approval by this independent agency, the roll out will accelerate.
How soon can I get the vaccine and how do I book an appointment?
Quebec has now stated that vaccines will be administered to people born in 1936 and before starting Monday. People in that age group can book their appointments online starting Thursday, Feb. 25 at 8 a.m. using the site quebec.ca/vaccincovid, or by calling 1-877-644-4545.
If I provide care to someone in the at-risk group, can I also get vaccinated?
Quebec’s website for vaccine information, which is also available in English, states that anyone who provides care to someone in that age group for at least three days per week and is 70 or older can also be vaccinated. Only one person can be vaccinated in this capacity per person who is 85 and over. I have reached out to CIUSSS-Centre-West to see exactly what this means and who it will cover. I have not received an answer yet and it remains unclear to me. If you are 70 and over and provide care to someone over 85 I recommend you reach out to the local CIUSS to see if you can be vaccinated as well. When I get clarification on this it will be provided in the next update.
I live alone and have reduced mobility. Will someone come to visit me to give me the vaccine?
Unfortunately not. For now, the vaccines must all be stored in the same spot and can’t be moved around very much due to the need to be stored at very cold temperatures. That’s why those who have mobility issues are urged to find a caregiver or family member who can bring them to one of the mass vaccination sites. The local health authorities are also trying to figure out other ways to bring people with mobility issues to the vaccine sites and a number of local community organizations are involved to see if they can help provide transport.
If you are have reduced mobility or are caring for a loved one with reduced mobility and need assistance to transport them to be vaccinated please contact our local CIUSSS for information on how you can be assisted. My office would not be able to assist on this issue.
If I’m not in the first at-risk group, when will I get vaccinated? When can I make an appointment?
There are about 200,000 Quebecers who are 85 or older and don’t live in CHSLDs or private seniors’ homes. It will take approximately two weeks for that age group to be vaccinated. After that has been completed, other at-risk groups will be vaccinated according to the following priority list:
My feeling is that Quebec is likely using the group born in 1936 or before to test its system with a limited group. This allows it to make sure its phone lines and online system and vaccination process can make appointments without being overwhelmed. Quebec has advised it will update each week who can make appointments and in my view it is very likely that reservations will open for the next group within the next 10 days so please watch Quebec’s announcements and I will certainly include that information in each new update I send.
Is the vaccine safe, and how effective is it?
The vaccine is considered to be safe, though some mild side effects are possible, including redness or pain at the injection site, fatigue, fever or chills. The vaccine is considered to be 80 per cent effective with the first dose, according to the most recent observations by the province’s health authorities. Pfizer and Moderna both claim a 94 to 95 per cent immunity level when two doses of their vaccines are administered. The province plans to immunize as many people as possible with the first of two doses, and those who receive a first dose will get a second dose within 90 days.
Once I get the vaccine, can I go back to normal life and disregard sanitary measures?
Unfortunately, you will have to keep your mask handy, even after getting the shot, for two reasons: firstly, because the vaccines are so new, there is no way to know for sure if you can still carry the virus and pass it on to others after being immunized. There’s also the matter of the 80 per cent immunity on the first dose, which means that until the general population is immunized, there’s still a chance you can be infected even after being vaccinated. Immunity seems to kick in about two to three weeks after the shot is administered.
Is it mandatory to be vaccinated against COVID-19?
It isn’t mandatory, but the province strongly recommends as many people as possible get vaccinated and I agree. I call on everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.
Where are the vaccination sites located?
As confirmed by the Government of Quebec, mass vaccination of people 85 years and older will begin as of Monday, March 1, 2020. The following sites will be open as of March 1:
Mass vaccination sites
Note as mentioned in previous updates there will be two other mass vaccination sites for our CIUSS on Vezina and Parc Avenue. They are not included on the list yet as being open but should open soon.
Additional vaccination sites located in CIUSSS West-Central Montreal’s territory
Medical electrophysiology technologists
Dietitians or nutritionists
Medical imaging technologists
You haven’t answered all my questions about vaccinations . Where can I go to get more information about the vaccines and COVID-19 in general?
More information is available at the public health department’s COVID-19 site, quebec.ca/coronavirus. Other information may be best obtained from the local CIUSSS.
Snowbirds and Non-Essential Traveler Returning Travellers Information
I have received a number of questions from non-essential travellers returning home. Most are about exemptions and about problems accessing the phone line to reserve hotels. Please see questions and answers below.
For minors traveling alone, will there be an exemption from the hotel stay? Can others be eligible for an exemption?
Yes, minors travelling alone may request an exemption from the mandatory hotel stay by emailing the address below and explaining their situation.
There may be a limited number of other exemptions, for example for someone with health issues or significant handicaps. All exemption requests must be made to the email address set out below.
Where do I send requests to be exempt from the hotel requirement of the quarantine?
For now, exemptions are being processed through the same email that was previously used, which was [email protected]. If anything changes, I will include any information in a future update.
Below is the minimal information that should be included in the request:
To ensure a thorough analysis of your request can be carried out in a timely manner, please include the following information, at minimum:
From experience a response to your request takes 10-14 days so please make the request long before you travel.
Please visit the Government of Canada’s website (www.canada.ca/coronavirus) for the latest guidance.
What are the New testing and quarantine requirements for international travellers?
As explained in previous updates, all non-essential travellers arriving by air as of Monday will now be required to book a 3-day stay at a government approved hotel at their cost. Please note that as previously mentioned travelers can leave once their COVID test comes back negative and the prices per night vary by hotel but the ones I have seen reported range between $200 and $380 per night.
We are aware of reports of long wait times. Along with other caucus members I have advised the Ministers responsible and their departments that we need to fix this issue As a result we have added more information online (Traveller Expectations, Hotel Responsibilities etc.) , increased operators to answer basic questions, as well as agents to book hotels. I have requested that we have an online system set up soon as well.
But the process is ramping up and the major problem experienced was that in the initial days about 27,000 people daily were contacting the line, including those returning several months from now. For now, I recommend that only travellers with flights within the next few days should call the booking line.
On non COVID-19 related issues:
What are the details about the Government’s document on official language reforms and how were you involved?
Over the last several months one of the most important things I have been doing behind the scenes was working on issues of great importance to the minority language communities of Canada, including the English speaking community of Quebec. We have seen the comments of the Quebec Government that Quebec alone should determine what support is provided to English speaking communities in Quebec.
More disappointingly, over the last several months, the Conservative Party under Erin O’Toole has joined the Bloc Quebecois in supporting measures to stop permanent residents in Quebec from becoming citizens without a sufficient knowledge of French. The Conservative Party has joined the Bloc and NDP in asking that Bill 101 apply to federally regulated businesses in Quebec.
The Conservative Party has joined the Bloc in demanding that the Official Languages Act become asymmetrical providing fewer rights for English speaking Quebecers and its leader said that the English-speaking community in Quebec was not threatened and that only French should be protected.
I believe very strongly that French should be protected and promoted across Canada, including in Quebec and that we must take special measures to protect French but it should not be done at the expense of the rights of English speaking Quebecers and fortunately in the Liberal caucus we have a strong group of MPs from both language groups in Quebec and across Canada who have worked together with my friend, our Official Language Minister, Melanie Joly on a reform that ensures the vitality and development of both official language minority communities and support for the majority communities as well.
This document speaks to all Canadians.
Please click on the following link to read it in full:
I was also very pleased that my colleague Patricia Lattanzio raised the issue of the rights of Quebec’s English speaking community in the House yesterday and am also very pleased that my colleague Melanie Joly, the Minister of Official Languages answered emphatically and clearly about the Government’s obligation to protect the rights of English speaking Quebecers and all official language minority communities.
You can watch that clip at the following link:
I heard that President Biden and members of his cabinet held his first bilateral meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Trudeau and members of his cabinet. What came out of it?
The top priority of the President and the Prime Minister is to end the COVID-19 pandemic. They agreed to strengthen comprehensive and cross-sectoral efforts to control the pandemic, collaborate on public health responses, and build resilience against future outbreaks.
The President and the Prime Minister recognize coordinated border policies remain central to controlling COVID-19 and new variants while promoting economic growth and recovery.
Building Back Better
The Prime Minister and the President share a vision for a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery that strengthens the middle class, creates more opportunities for hard working people to join it, and ensures people have good jobs and careers on both sides of the border. They also recognized the opportunity for clean growth driven by workers, communities, businesses, and innovation.
Accelerating Climate Ambitions
The President and the Prime Minister expressed their commitment to strengthened implementation of the Paris Agreement, including by working together and with others to increase the scale and speed of action to address the climate crisis and better protect nature.
Advancing Diversity and Inclusion
The Prime Minister and the President discussed their shared commitment to addressing systemic racism, unconscious bias, gender-based discrimination, barriers for persons with disabilities, and all other forms of discrimination and exclusion.
The two leaders expressed their shared determination to implement more effective, equitable, and inclusive approaches to community safety, criminal justice, and law enforcement. They will direct their agencies to focus on modernizing approaches to community safety and addressing issues of systemic racism and discrimination, including through meaningful engagement with civil society and community leaders. The work will also consider innovative approaches to implementing institutional and community-based prevention, intervention, and diversion initiatives, including prioritizing the provision of adequate support and services to individuals facing mental health challenges or addiction.
The leaders agreed that promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls is the most effective approach to eradicating poverty and building a more peaceful, more inclusive, and more prosperous world. They also committed to ensuring that women are not left behind by COVID-19, including by addressing the she-cession caused by the pandemic through investments and policies to support women’s full participation in the workforce. They agreed to exchange best practices in feminist public policy and the advancement of gender equity. They will do so by engaging policy actors from Canada and the United States, within and outside of government, to consider child benefits, early learning and childcare, pay equity, and women’s entrepreneurship, among other issues.
The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to combat systemic racism and discrimination, and agreed to work together to share best practices and promote diversity and inclusion within both public and private sectors.
Bolstering Security and Defence/Defense
The President and the Prime Minister agreed that collective security is a shared responsibility.
Canada and the United States will increase cooperation to strengthen cybersecurity, and to confront foreign interference and disinformation. As part of their efforts to protect critical infrastructure in North America, the two countries will implement a Framework for Collaboration on Cybersecurity in the Energy Sector to enhance the security and resiliency of our cross-border energy infrastructure.
Building Global Alliances
The Prime Minister and the President affirmed their shared commitment to addressing global challenges, and reiterated their firm commitment to the United Nations, G7 and G20 as well as NATO, the WTO, and the Five Eyes community.
What were the proposed increase to number of weeks for recovery benefits and EI regular benefits announced by the Government of Canada this week?
This week, the Government of Canada announced its intent to introduce regulatory and legislative amendments to increase the number of weeks of benefits available for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) and Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits.
As some workers could begin to exhaust their benefits in late March, this increase would ensure continued support as Canada’s economy and labour force recovers. It would also provide additional access to the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, so that Canadians do not have to make the choice between going to work sick and putting food on the table.
The proposed changes would:
To ensure employees in the federally regulated private sector can access the proposed additional weeks of CRCB and CRSB without the risk of losing their jobs, the maximum length of the leave related to COVID-19 under the Canada Labour Code would also be extended.
Provincial and territorial governments will determine whether they need to amend their job-protected leaves in order to facilitate employees’ access to the proposed additional weeks of CRSB and CRCB benefits.
Subject to the legislation receiving Royal Assent, in addition, self-employed workers who have opted in to the EI program to access special benefits would be able to use a 2020 earnings threshold of $5,000, compared to the previous threshold of $7,555. This change would be retroactive to claims established as of January 3, 2021 and would apply until September 25, 2021.
By increasing the number of available weeks for these important benefits, the Government is giving certainty to workers in hard hit sectors and their families, and better positioning our economy to recover.
What is the deadline to file and pay this year?
For most, the deadline to do their 2020 taxes is April 30, 2021. However, individuals can file online as early as February 22, 2021. For those who owe a tax debt, the deadline to pay is also April 30, 2021.
Individuals who have never filed a return before, haven’t filed in a while, or would like to file for previous years, have several ways to do so. To get started, individuals should be directed to the step-by-step guide for filing a return.
Can you still file on paper?
Filing online is the fastest and most secure way to do your taxes, but the CRA will continue to support those who chose to file on paper or by phone.
Constituents who filed a paper return last year should be mailed the 2020 Income Tax Package by February 19, 2021. It may arrive late due to COVID-19 delivery delays and it may take 10-12 weeks to process. The CRA encourages taxpayers to file electronically, where no processing delays are anticipated. Those who choose to file by paper are encouraged to file as soon as they have their slips and any other documents needed. This will help avoid interruptions to any benefit and credit payments.
Where can I find tax help from the CRA?
Through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) volunteers may be able to complete and file individuals’ taxes virtually by videoconference, by phone, or through a document drop-off arrangement. Since May 2020, the CVITP has assisted more than 170,000 people with the filing of their income tax and benefit returns. Those who cannot file electronically this year are encouraged to seek a CVITP clinic through the national directory.
Those who have self-employment income are not eligible for the CVITP. However, the Liaison Officer service helps small business owners and self-employed individuals with their tax-related questions, explains business deductions, common tax errors, provides an overview of helpful tools, and offers advice and help with setting up an effective bookkeeping system. For more information, go to canada.ca/cra-liaison-officer.
The CRA Outreach Program provides support to community organizations that want to help your clients with their taxes and their benefits. A CRA outreach officer can meet with them to provide information and answer questions on benefits and credits. To set up a meeting, go to canada.ca/cra-outreach.
As the CRA strives to put people at the centre of everything we do, we are also making it easier for constituents to get answers to their questions on the phone. New service enhancements for 2021 include increasing the number of available agents, extending hours of operation, and a new automated callback service. Further, the CRA is improving the user experience of the Personal income tax section of their website, which will allow constituents to more quickly and easily find answers to their questions without having to call the CRA.
The Problem Resolution Program (PRP) will continue to be available to further support you this tax season. To ensure the CRA’s ability to give you timely service, the PRP contact list for your office is only for use for Members of Parliament and their constituency office.
What changes have been made to the home office expenses deduction?
Due to COVID-19, more Canadians than ever are working from home. The CRA made the home office expenses deduction more accessible and easier to claim. To simplify the process for employees and employers, the CRA introduced a new Temporary flat rate method to calculate the deduction.
The temporary flat rate method allows eligible employees to claim a deduction of $2 for each day they worked from home in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, up to a maximum of $400 for the year. This method can only be used for the 2020 tax year.
Employees with larger claims for home office expenses can still choose to use the existing detailed method to calculate their home office expenses deduction.
How do I report emergency and recovery benefit income related to COVID-19?
To assist Canadians facing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic, a number of COVID-19 benefits were introduced last year. Income from these benefit payments are taxable. Some provinces or territories may have sent out pandemic related payments that are considered taxable income. These amounts should be included on an individual’s tax return.
Canadians who received COVID-19 recovery benefits payments from the CRA should have received a T4A slip. The CRA recently released a statement on how to report these amounts on a return to help constituents. Those who have questions about the slip, including if they think there may be a mistake or they have received it in error, should contact the CRA.
How is the CRA helping people with tax debt this year?
Many individuals have seen their financial situation affected by COVID-19 and will find themselves owing money to the CRA, possibly for the first time. The amount of tax owing depends on personal circumstances, benefits received, and other sources of income, deductions and credits.
Newly announced on February 9, 2021, targeted interest relief is being provided to Canadians who are facing income tax debt for the 2020 tax year as a result of having received COVID-related income support benefits. These individuals will not be required to pay interest on any outstanding income tax debt for the 2020 tax year until April 30, 2022. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will automatically apply the interest relief measure for individuals who meet these criteria.
The Government of Canada is also taking steps to allow self-employed individuals who applied for CERB based on their gross income from self-employment to keep their payments, provided they met all other eligibility requirements. The same approach will apply whether the individual applied through the Canada Revenue Agency or Service Canada.
Some qualifying self-employed individuals whose net self-employment income was less than $5000 may have already voluntarily repaid the CERB. The CRA and Service Canada will return any repaid amounts to impacted individuals.
Even if constituents do not qualify for these new measures, the CRA has made it easier than ever to make a payment arrangement so individuals may have more time and flexibility to repay based on their ability to pay.
Even if a constituent cannot pay all of their balance owing right away, it is important that they file a return by the deadline to avoid potential interruptions to their credit and benefit payments.
While we are more flexible with individuals and small businesses who may be facing financial difficulties because of the pandemic, we remain firmly committed to fighting tax evasion and maintaining the integrity of the tax system.
How can people protect themselves from scams and fraud?
The CRA is taking fraud prevention measures and encouraging individuals to be scam smart with information about how individuals can protect themselves from fraud – you may have even seen our ads on TV. The CRA has a robust system and tools in place to monitor, detect, and neutralize potential threats when they occur.
Typically, scams target the most vulnerable taxpayers, including seniors and newcomers to Canada. If a constituent notices suspicious activity in My Account, they should contact the CRA immediately.
Also, Service Canada can support constituents who suspect that someone is using their social insurance number (SIN) fraudulently.
Victims of fraud will not be held responsible for any money paid out to scammers using their identity. We will work with affected Canadians to provide them with the support that they need. This includes offering credit protection if that is necessary.
Sorry for such a long update but hopefully all this information was interesting and relevant.
February 18th update
Thank you for all the feedback on last week’s new format for the newsletter. We will continue the Q&A style. In the same way as last week, please find below answers to common questions related to COVID-19 and information related to other Government announcements.
Is there any update on from CIUSSS-Centre West on Vaccination Since Last Week?
As we know, the CIUSSS Centre-West has set up three vaccination sites and will shortly be launching a phone number and website to book appointments for those over 80. We know they were doing testing on the phone system this week but we do not yet have the number or the “go live” date. As soon as we have it we will immediately send it out to everyone as a special update, in the event it comes out before next Thursday.
I am going to be coming home by plane after February 22nd when the new measures are in place, where will I be allowed stay? What about dietary restrictions?
The government has created a website which lists the hotels that have been selected to be a location for quarantining for all air travellers to Canada. You can check out which options are available in Montreal for your potential quarantine stay by clicking the following link which is supposed to go live before midnight tonight: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice/mandatory-hotel-stay-air-travellers.html#a3
When it comes to food, I was in touch with both the health and public safety ministries and confirmed that we have contracts with different vendors to ensure there are food options available for those individuals that want kosher, halal or vegetarian food or have allergies etc.
It is my understanding that travelers will simply have to specify the kind of food they want when they book their room and should be able to then contact the hotel to see what menu there is.
I will be travelling back to Canada either by land or air, what do I need to do before travelling and what I will have to do upon return?
As mentioned last week, for travellers arriving to Canada by land, all travellers, with some exceptions, will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test result taken in the United States within 72 hours of pre-arrival, or a positive test taken 14 to 90 days prior to arrival. In addition, as of February 22, 2021, travellers entering Canada at the land border will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival as well as toward the end of their 14-day quarantine.
All travellers arriving to Canada by air, as of February 22, 2021, with some exceptions, will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test when they arrive in Canada before exiting the airport, and another toward the end of their 14-day quarantine period. With limited exceptions, air travellers, will also be required to reserve, prior to departure to Canada, a 3-night stay in a government-authorized hotel. When your negative test comes in you will be able to leave and quarantine at home. Travellers will be able to book their government-authorized stay starting February 18, 2021. These new measures are in addition to existing mandatory pre-boarding and health requirements for air travellers.
Finally, at the same time on February 22, 2021, all travelers, whether arriving by land or air will be required to submit their travel and contact information, including a suitable quarantine plan, electronically via ArriveCAN before crossing the border or boarding a flight.
I have attached two very helpful infographics to this newsletter that more easily lay out the New testing and quarantine requirements for international travelers.
What are Canada’s near-term projections recently updated by the government?
Today, the federal government has released an updated COVID-19 vaccination timeline. Based on the new projections from the Public Health Agency of Canada, at least 14.5 million Canadians will be able to be immunized by the end of June with the approved Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna shots.
These figures are based on each person receiving both their first and second shots.
Should additional vaccine candidates be approved by Health Canada, including the AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the number of Canadians able to be vaccinated in this timeframe will increase considerably, up to 24.5 million Canadians by the end of June.
As scheduled, we received the 403,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine as I mentioned in my newsletter last week, and we remain on track to receive the 475,000 does of the Pfizer vaccine and 168,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine next week.
This continued uptick in vaccinations will continue, and in the more long-term, we remain confident that, with just the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines along, everyone that wants to be vaccinated by the end of September will be able to. Should other vaccines be approved this timeline will move up.
Please find below the graphic published by the Public Health Agency of Canada on the estimated COVID-19 vaccinations based on supply:
Can I get More Details About the Government’s New Gun Control Legislation?
Earlier this week, The Government has introduced new firearms legislation to keep Canadians safe and guns out of the hands of dangerous people. I know these measures have strong support in our constituency as many people have raised this with me both before and after the last election.
Through legislation and other actions, the Government will:
This legislation builds on previous measures to keep guns out of our communities, including prohibiting assault-style firearms and providing $327.6 million through the Initiative To Take Action Against Gun and Gang Violence to support provincial, territorial and community-level prevention and enforcement efforts to tackle the increase in gun-related violence and gang activity.
How is the Government of Canada investing in training to help Canadians become certified in the skilled trades?
In order to help maintain a robust workforce and better position our country for a strong economic recovery, the Government of Canada is investing in the skilled trades to ensure that Canadians have the training they need to access good, well-paying jobs.
The Government is making targeted investments, so that key groups facing barriers—like women, newcomers, Indigenous people, persons with disabilities, and Black and racialized Canadians—can better find work in the skilled trades through projects led by unions and their partner organizations.
Yesterday, the government announced $63.5 million, over five years, for 68 projects as part of the Union Training and Innovation Program (UTIP) 2020 call for proposals. This investment will help certify skilled tradespeople and prepare them to fill available jobs as the economy restarts.
This initiative will help more than 500 apprentices—including more than 300 from key groups facing barriers—successfully enter and complete their training through programing focused on skills improvement. The college will also work to eliminate barriers, such as accessibility and distance to training, and build partnerships with community stakeholders that will lead to better apprenticeship outcomes.
The UTIP supports union-based apprenticeship training and works to reduce barriers to participation and success in Red Seal trades. The first stream, Investments in Training Equipment, helps unions across Canada improve the quality of training through investments in equipment and materials. The second stream, Innovation in Apprenticeship, supports innovation and strengthened partnerships to address challenges that are limiting apprenticeship outcomes in Canada.
Can you advise where the COVID-19 response figures stand to date?
PPE Shipped to PTs (past 30 days)
February 12th update
I want to wish all those celebrating a very happy Lunar New Year! Given all the issues out there, I wanted to try to make the newsletter more user friendly. As such I am using a question and answer format. I have tried to deal with as many of your questions as I can.
When and Where will I be vaccinated?
As you will see below, this week is the last week of the Pfizer slowdown and vaccines will once again be entering the country in greater numbers next week. So vaccination in the community starting with those 80 and over should start shortly. Please consult the following website for the most up-to-date information on start date:
The CIUSSS West-Central Montreal serves our entire riding. It will be performing public vaccinations at the Decarie Square Shopping Centre in Cote Saint-Luc, the Bull Durnan Arena on Vezina Avenue between Decarie and Victoria and at 7101 avenue du Parc. In total, between 3,600 and 5,700 doses per day will be given at these three sites. These sites, chosen for various reasons including their accessibility and capacity, will be open seven days a week, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Residents should plan on a visit lasting 30 to 45 minutes, which covers time for registration, the vaccination itself and post-vaccination observation.
Public vaccinations will be carried out in the following order of priority, as determined by the Government of Quebec:
Is there information yet from CIUSSS West-Central Montreal on how I can book an appointment to get a vaccinated?
Members of the public will soon be able to make appointments online through the Clic Santé platform or by telephone. The CIUSSS is setting up a call centre at Decarie Square for this purpose.
My office contacted CIUSSS West-Central Montreal yesterday to get an update on the appointment process. Unfortunately, there are no further details at this time, but as soon as their website and telephone number to call is live, or we know when it will be, we will provide that information in an update.
Why have we fallen so far down on the per capita list of vaccinations? Is this temporary or permanent? Why has there been a delay in vaccine delivery and when does Canada expect the number of vaccines delivered to Canada to pick up?
This is temporary. There was a four-week retooling at Pfizer’s plant in Belgium and they reduced deliveries over this period. The goal was to increase their capacity. This week is the last week of the slowdown and the Pfizer vaccines start entering the country in greater and greater numbers starting next week. We have stated from the beginning that there would be 6,000,000 doses in Canada by March 31st and as you will see from the numbers below we are on track to meet this committed number.
Today, the Prime Minister provided an update on Canada’s purchasing of vaccines, and on Thursday Major-General Dany Fortin, the military commander leading the country's COVID-19 vaccine logistics, hosted a press conference conference on topic as well.
Here are the main points from both:
Everyone who wishes to be vaccinated will be vaccinated by the end of September. Many of you will be vaccinated over the next month or two if you fall in an earlier priority group.
While we have fallen on the per capita list due to the month long slowdown we will rapidly climb the list again as more vaccines come in and I encourage you to wait to see the list at March 31 and once again at the end of each following month and you will see us climb each month and be much higher up on the global list.
What is happening with other vaccine candidates? Will the dates above move forward if we approve other vaccines?
Yes they will. We have at least three vaccines in approval phase at Health Canada and indications are the Oxford vaccine is in the very last stages of approval. We have 20,000,000 doses of Oxford that have already been purchased and the first shipments should arrive soon after approval.
Given the amount of misinformation circulating on so many issues I suggest everyone read the interview with the non-partisan co-chair of Canada’s vaccine task force who explains the history of their work and counters a number of rumours circulating:
I am a snowbird and confused as to what the new rules on air and land return will be. Can you explain?
As of February 15, 2021, all travellers, with some exceptions, arriving to Canada by land, will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test result taken in the United States within 72 hours of pre-arrival, OR a proof of a positive test result within 14 and 90 days prior to arrival. This is consistent with the requirements already in place for air travellers. Essential workers such as truckers and emergency service providers, as well as cross border communities, will be exempt from this requirement. Further information on exemptions will be available in the coming days.
The list of acceptable molecular tests are found at:
In addition, as of February 22, 2021, travellers entering Canada at the land border will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival as well as toward the end of their 14-day quarantine. The Government of Canada will run 16 testing sites at point of entry across Canada. Five ports of entry will initially be available (see below) with 11 additional as of March 4 (see below). The Government of Canada is also working to supply all other ports of entry with test kits for travellers to take to meet these requirements.
For travellers arriving to Canada by air
As of February 22, 2021, all air travellers, with some exceptions, will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test when they arrive in Canada before exiting the airport, and another toward the end of their 14-day quarantine period. With limited exceptions, air travellers, will also be required to reserve prior to departure to Canada, a 3-night stay in a government-authorized hotel. Travellers will be required to stay at their reserved hotel , at their own cost, while they await the results of their arrival test. This could be up to 3 days but test results will hopefully come in faster.
Hotel booking information will be available online as of February 18, 2021. Travellers will need to book a hotel in the city in which they first arrive in Canada. If they receive a negative result on their arrival test, they will be able to take a connecting flight to their final destination. There will be a number of hotels to choose from near each of the four international airports accepting international flights, in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. Costs of these hotel stays may vary slightly at each location. It is up to the traveller to choose where they wish to stay and book in advance of departure. The price will include costs associated with the room, food, cleaning, infection prevention and control measures, and security as well as transportation.
These new measures are in addition to existing mandatory pre-boarding and health requirements for air travellers.
Finally, at the same time on February 22, 2021, all travellers, whether arriving by land or air will be required to submit their travel and contact information, including a suitable quarantine plan, electronically via ArriveCAN before crossing the border or boarding a flight. All travellers arriving to Canada must also continue to submit COVID-related information electronically daily throughout the quarantine period. For a quarantine location to be deemed suitable, travellers cannot stay with at-risk subpopulations including people who work in hospitals or long-term care facilities, adults over the age of 65, or those who are immunocompromised or at risk for more severe disease outcomes. In addition, travellers must avoid all contact with other in their household with whom they did not travel.
Five Land Ports of Entry with onsite testing as of February 22, 2021
Douglas, British Columbia
Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
St. Bernard de Lacolle (Highway 15), Quebec
St Stephen 3rd Bridge, New Brunswick
Additional 11 Land Ports of Entry with onsite testing as of March 4, 2021
Ambassador Bridge, Windsor, Ontario
Blue Water Bridge, Point Edward, Ontario
Emerson West Lynne, Manitoba
Fort Erie (Peace Bridge), Ontario
Huntingdon, British Columbia
Lansdowne (Thousand Islands Bridge), Ontario
Pacific Highway, British Columbia
Rainbow Bridge, Niagara Falls, Ontario
Stanstead (Route 55), Quebec
Windsor-Detroit Tunnel, Ontario
I was a self-employed individual who applied for the CERB based on my gross income (rather than net) being $5000+ and was sent a letter stating I might have to pay back the funds. What was announced this week?
This week, the Government of Canada announced that self-employed individuals who applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and would have qualified based on their gross income will not be required to repay the benefit, provided they also met all other eligibility requirements. The same approach will apply whether the individual applied through the Canada Revenue Agency or Service Canada.
This means that, self-employed individuals whose net self-employment income was less than $5,000 and who applied for the CERB will not be required to repay the CERB, as long as their gross self-employment income was at least $5,000 and they met all other eligibility criteria.
Some self-employed individuals whose net self-employment income was less than $5,000 may have already voluntarily repaid the CERB. The CRA and Service Canada will return any repaid amounts to these individuals. Additional details will be available in the coming weeks.
I am very pleased about this decision as I had constituents in this situation who made a good faith error based on information they were initially given by CRA and I had advocated for this solution.
What are the details of the Government’s announcement about interest relief on 2020 income tax debt due to COVID-19 related income support?
The Government of Canada recently announced we will provide targeted interest relief to Canadians who received COVID-related income support benefits.
Once individuals have filed their 2020 income tax and benefit return, they will not be required to pay interest on any outstanding income tax debt for the 2020 tax year until April 30, 2022. This will give Canadians more time and flexibility to pay if they have an amount owing.
To qualify for targeted interest relief, individuals must have had a total taxable income of $75,000 or less in 2020 and have received income support in 2020 through one or more of the following COVID-19 measures:
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will automatically apply the interest relief measure for individuals who meet these criteria.
Additionally, any CRA-administered credits and benefits normally paid monthly or quarterly, such as the Canada Child Benefit and the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax credit will not be applied to reduce individuals’ tax debt owing for the 2020 tax year. Canadians are strongly encouraged to file their tax returns by the filing deadline to ensure that their benefit payments continue without interruption.
I heard from some politicians that provinces do not have the tools for rapid testing. Is this true?
This is actually not true. Testing and screening are among the most important tools we have to respond to COVID-19.
Health Canada is working around the clock to review and approve new testing technologies. We’ve already authorized 8 of these tests and we can expect more as the technology develops.
We’ve deployed over 20 Million tests to provinces and territories, and shared guidance on how they can be used effectively, including recommendations from the COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel. The figures are below:
Provincial testing data as of February 9, 2021:
What does the Health Canada label change authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine mean?
This week, Health Canada issued a label change authorization to Pfizer-BioNTech to reflect that each vial of its COVID-19 vaccine contains six doses, rather than five. This follows an independent and thorough scientific review of a submission received from Pfizer-BioNTech on January 22, 2021. In its review, Health Canada determined that six full doses can be consistently obtained from vials with the use of low dead-volume syringes.
Health Canada had previously acknowledged that with the right technique and syringe it is possible to obtain a sixth dose from the vial. Health Canada and other international regulators require vaccine vials to include a certain amount of overfill to ensure there is sufficient vaccine in each vial to yield the expected doses. Health Canada has determined that there will still be an acceptable amount of overfill following the label change.
While the label change comes into effect immediately, shipments of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to provinces for this week have already begun and are calculated at five doses per vial. Future shipments of the vaccine to Canada will reflect the newly approved monograph. The Government of Canada will continue working with provinces to ensure they have the support and supplies they need to ensure effective implementation.
As part of this label change authorization, Health Canada has issued terms and conditions to Pfizer-BioNTech. The manufacturer is required to provide continued educational support to vaccine administration sites in Canada, if needed, to facilitate implementation of the six dose per vial label change, and to work closely with Public Services and Procurement Canada to acquire syringes, if required. A detailed list of terms and conditions is available here.
We understand that testing for foreign variants is a provincial responsibility but what is the federal government doing to help them?
We announced today that we will invest $53 million in an integrated Variants of Concern Strategy. This will help rapidly scale up our surveillance, sequencing and research efforts.
The Government of Canada is working with provinces and territories and the Canadian COVID Genomics Network (CanCOGeN) to rapidly scale up sequencing and scientific efforts to detect known and potentially emerging COVID-19 virus variants of concern. This national strategy brings together public health and genomic sequencing along with epidemiology, immunology, virology, and mathematical modelling. Through this partnership, we are leveraging existing laboratories and expertise to drive public health investigations and take public health action rapidly.
This partnership involves the Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC) National Microbiology Laboratory (NML), Health Canada, Genome Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). To implement the Strategy, PHAC’s NML is providing $20 million and CanCOGeN is providing $8 million to increase genomic sequencing and real-time data sharing capacity. CIHR is providing up to $25 million to scale up Canadian research to increase our understanding of emerging variants and provide decision makers with rapid guidance for drug therapy, vaccine effectiveness, and other public health strategies.
Funding will expand upon existing public health networks to establish regional clinical and public health teams to quickly identify and characterize variants of concern. Through the Strategy, we will also standardize data sharing across Canada and facilitate the access of information on the variants from national and international databases. This rapid sharing of information with researchers is imperative to an effective international response to the variants of concern. The funding will also create a research network to complement surveillance efforts and public health actions as part of an integrated team, and provide key information on the biological relevance of the variants to inform public health decisions.
The Variants of Concern Strategy is part of our science and evidence based response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As COVID-19 virus variants of concern continue to emerge, Canada will be prepared to detect, track, and treat these new cases.
To keep each other safe, Canadians should continue to practice public health measures, and should get tested if they experience symptoms.
I heard there was a Public Transit Funding Announcement this week. What does it mean?
This week, our government announced $14.9 billion for public transit projects over the next eight years, which includes permanent funding of $3 billion per year for Canadian communities beginning in 2026-27. This announcement provides cities and communities the predictable transit funding they need to plan for the future, and is part of our plan to create one million jobs, fight climate change, and rebuild a more sustainable and resilient economy.
These investments will:
Investing in public transit infrastructure will build strong communities across the country and deliver a better quality of life for all Canadians. The government will continue to invest in projects that best support our recovery, create middle class jobs and economic growth, and help us reach our climate targets. Together, we can create a Canada that is cleaner, more competitive, and more resilient for generations to come.
The Last Canadian Survivor of Schindler’s List Tells his Story
I do not often promote events in this newsletter but prominent riding resident Roman Lesniak is the last living Canadian survivor from Schindler’s list. As so many survivors have passed away, Roman wants his story to live on with as many young people as possible.
The Shaare Zedek Synagogue is hosting a FREE zoom event on Monday February 15, 2021 @ 7:00 p.m.
Here is the link in order to register in advance for this event (Ctrl+Click to open link)
I encourage you to listen to his fascinating story.
I hope you enjoyed this more user friendly format. I hope everyone has a good weekend.
February 4th update
As many of you know I co-founded an international group of legislators who are working together to tackle antisemitism and other forms of online hate. In my research I have concluded that disinformation feeds the hate and makes the need for regulating social media sites like Facebook and Twitter all the more important.Please check out my op-ed printed today in the National Post co-written with Joel Finkelstein, the Director of the Network Contagion Research Institute on policies to tackle disinformation on social media.Check it out and let me know what you think:
On a similar note, last week I also got the opportunity to question Facebook officials about online hate, terrorist activity, election interference and more. Many people never watch Parliamentary Committees and therefore a number of you have seen me speak in the House of Commons but not question witnesses before Parliamentary Committees. Please watch the video to see my questioning of Facebook and a better understanding of how our Committees work. https://www.facebook.com/anthonyhousefather/posts/4940282152679501
13 new groups including the Proud Boys placed on the Criminal Code list of terrorist entities
Yesterday, our government announced that 13 new groups have been placed on the Criminal Code list of terrorist entities, including four ideologically motivated violent extremist groups: The Proud Boys, Atomwaffen Division, the Base and Russian Imperial Movement.
In addition, Canada has also listed:
Many of you may have heard that we voted unanimously in the House of Commons to ask the Government to list the Proud Boys but that is a political vote expressing politicians will. In Canada, there is a legal framework to deal with who is a terrorist entity that is not determined by politicians alone. You have our security services like CSIS and the RCMP and others that have to determine whether any group meets the legal threshold for listing as set out in the Criminal Code, which requires reasonable grounds to believe that an entity has knowingly participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity, or has knowingly acted on behalf of, at the direction of, or in association with such an entity. Once they have determined that they make recommendations to the Minister of Public Safety. If he feels the standard is met, he gets an opinion from the Justice Ministry and if they agree cabinet can issue an order in council adding the group. This is the reason that some other groups the House has voted to list have not simply been included.
The Criminal Code mandates severe penalties for people and organizations that deal with property or finances of a listed entity. A listing can also support the denial or revocation of a Canadian organization’s charitable status if it maintains connections to listed entities. Furthermore, persons seeking entry into Canada may be inadmissible if they are found to be associated with a listed entity. A listing also helps to facilitate the removal of an entity’s online content.
Our government will continue to identify and target entities that meet the threshold for listing, regardless of their ideology, as a means to apply significant consequences on these groups and the individuals that support them.
New Travel Restrictions and Quarantine Measures
Since the new travel measures were announced, I have received a large volume of correspondence from constituents and non-constituents currently voicing their concerns about the new policy to soon be in place. While I replied to all those who reached out advising them that I would provide any new information in my newsletters, unfortunately as of this moment still not all details on the new policy have been published. But please rest assured that I will do so in any future newsletter once I have more information.
On the issue of the general policy itself, as I said to all those who have reached out so far, I certainly can understand some of the frustrations those who have gone south have about the upcoming new travel restrictions. However, it should be understood that over 86% of Canadians support these measures.
It should be noted that the government advised everyone not to travel for non-essential purposes since last March and told people we could not guarantee their return if they travelled. We also announced new measures could come into place at any time. We started by banning foreigners from entering Canada except essential travelers. We then introduced a 14 day quarantine. We then required masks in airports and on planes. We then required tests from people returning to Canada within the 72 hours of their flight. Unfortunately, even with all of these measures a number of people continued to go on vacation with the danger of returning with foreign variants of the virus that were more contagious and perhaps more serious.
As such the Government has agreed with carriers to suspend all flights to Mexico and the Caribbean until April 30th. This is now in effect. The airlines will be returning Canadians from those destinations over the next couple of weeks. In addition all flights from international destinations can only land at 4 Canadian airports, including Montreal Trudeau. This is also in effect.
In addition, in recent weeks provincial premiers and opposition parties were demanding other tougher measures including ending ALL flights for non-essential purposes (which would mean no flights to and from Florida) and a 14-day hotel quarantine paid by travelers. The policy put forward by the Prime Minister last week is much less burdensome than that. Instead of cancelling all flights to and from Florida or other American destinations and instead of travellers being forced to spend 14 days in quarantine at a government facility, returning travelers are tested at the airport and can leave the hotel if you test negative.
It should be noted that the new policy is not in effect yet but will come into effect in the short term, likely the next week. In order to put it in place we need agreements to have tests, transportation and hotels in place.
The new policy details are still not fully available in writing. My understanding is that for those flying home, a booking will be required for testing and hotel through a centralized system. The testing will take place at the airport and people will then be taken to a government approved hotel until the test result comes back negative. As soon as the negative test comes back, people can finish their 14 day quarantine at home. This may occur in 24 hours but could be as long as three days. All dietary needs (kosher food etc) would be available during the quarantine period. For those who test positive they would be taken to a different hotel and have to remain there for the entire quarantine period. My understanding is that it will be one fixed price but details are not published on this yet.
We also do not know when the new measures will end. I cannot tell you if they will still be in effect at your planned return date but it is very likely it will still be in effect in late March and early April.
At this time those crossing from the United States to Canada through our land border are not subject to these new measures. The drivers will still require a negative test within 72 hours on return and the normal 14 day quarantine measure at home pending approval by the CBSA agent who you speak with. However, this is also still under discussion and should measures for drivers change I will let you know as soon as it is determined.
While currently those who have been vaccinated will be treated the same as everyone else because there has been no scientific evidence that those vaccinated cannot pass on the virus to others and it is not a 100% success rate on vaccination, it is possible that public health will see science advance on this subject in future months as studies come back. As always public health may recommend we adapt policies based on scientific evidence.
Update on COVID-19 Vaccines and Domestic Supply
We have not had domestic production of these type of COVID 19 vaccines or publicly owned production of vaccines in Canada in generations. One lesson of the pandemic has been that we need to build back this capacity. Even if all Canadians are vaccinated by September 2021 there will likely need to be boosters for future variants and potentially new viruses we need to be vaccinated for. Last August I was part of an announcement to build a new facility in Royalmount in our riding. The lab will produce approximately 24 million vaccine doses per year.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the government has signed a memorandum of understanding with Novavax to pursue the production of its COVID-19 vaccine at the National Research Council of Canada’s Biologics Manufacturing Centre located in our riding of Mount Royal.
The memorandum of understanding with Novavax means the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine will be produced at the National Research Council’s Biologics Manufacturing Centre in Montréal, once both the vaccine candidate and the facility receive Health Canada approvals. Novavax recently initiated the rolling submission process for regulatory approval to Health Canada.
The National Research Council’s new Biologics received a $126 million investment in August 2020. Once built, the new centre will be capable of large-quantity, end-to-end production of vaccines – approximately 24 million made-in-Canada doses per year – depending on the vaccine candidate. Construction remains on schedule and is anticipated to be completed in July 2021.
The ultimate timeline for production at the facility depends on reaching a full production agreement with an approved vaccine producer and Health Canada approval of the manufacturing process for the specific product.
There is also progress on the biomanufacturing facilities under construction in Saskatchewan. The University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization received federal contributions of $46 million in 2020 to help strengthen its COVID-19 research and vaccine development as well as complete the construction of its pilot scale manufacturing facility to good manufacturing practice (GMP) standards.
The construction of the GMP facility is on track to be completed by the end of 2021. This facility will be able to produce up to 40 million doses annually depending on the production efficiency of specific vaccines.
The Prime Minister also announced investments to support vaccine, therapeutic, and biomanufacturing projects in Canada. These include:
More information about our Government’s Plan to Secure Vaccines and Therapies for Canadians
Access to vaccines is top-of-mind for all Canadians. Since the outset of the pandemic, our government has been working on all fronts to secure access to the leading vaccines and therapeutic drugs for Canada.
Currently there is a good amount of frustration because of the slow down in Pfizer deliveries. But that will be over by the week of February 15th. Once we reach that week we will see accelerating numbers of vaccines delivered to Canada so that 6 million doses are in the country by March 31, 20,000,000 more by June 30th and 50,000,000 more by September 30th. That is based just on the two approved vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna.
Health Canada has three vaccines in its rolling approval process and we have options to buy all of them. It is very likely at least the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine will be approved shortly. With each vaccine approved these dates will accelerate and people will be vaccinated faster. One way we are accelerating vaccine distribution in Canada is tapping into the COVAX global pool. Up to 1.9 million Astra Zeneca doses could arrive through COVAX by the end of March, if things go well.
So while I understand it is discouraging to see that over the last couple of weeks with the shortages we have slipped out of the top 10 countries per capita, this is temporary and by March you will see Canada rise much higher on the list of per capita vaccines given and I am confident we will be one of the first countries to reach herd immunity. We have secured commitments from the EU that we will not have difficulty with shipments and those seniors in our riding living autonomously should start being vaccinated soon. First it will be those over 80 and then those over 70.
To give a greater amount of background on the issues of vaccine strategy I decided to provide a fuller picture than I have previously provided to counter a lot of the misinformation that is out there. I want to tell you about our strategy on domestic vaccines and therapies, our decision-making process, and the supports that have been put in place to help Canadian companies working to find solutions to COVID-19, are outlined below.
Our Government’s objectives from the early days of the pandemic were threefold:
We knew from the outset, that we needed to rely on the best possible scientific advice to determine which vaccine candidates to pursue and which investments to make.
That’s why, we assembled the COVID-19 Vaccine and Therapeutics Task Forces, made up of leading scientific and industry experts, to guide our decision-making.
The Task Forces are entirely independent and members have volunteered hundreds of hours of their time to provide the best possible scientific advice.
In assessing proposals, the Task Forces asked two basic questions: 1) will it be safe and effective? and 2) will be available to Canadians as quickly as possible to respond to the pandemic?
They provided us with critical recommendations on which international vaccines to pursue, resulting in advanced purchase agreements with six companies, including Pfizer and Moderna, from a pool of over 200 vaccines in development worldwide.
On the domestic front, a call for proposals was launched in April to Canadian researchers and companies working on COVID-19 medical countermeasures. We had a total envelop of $600 million to invest in these projects through the Strategic Innovation Fund.
ISED received funding proposals for dozens of vaccine and therapeutic candidates of different types and at different stages of development.
Over the course of the summer, our expert task forces reviewed these projects, concentrating on:
Companies showing strong scientific data were invited to present this data to the Task Force. This provided an opportunity for members to ask questions and to clarify key issues. Advice was revised if new information came to light.
Based on this information, the Task Force presented and provided its advice to the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry and the Minister of Health. From there, government departments conducted their due diligence and the Government of Canada took action where appropriate.
Based on their advice, we made significant investments through the Strategic Innovation Fund in three Canadian vaccine companies (Medicago, Variation Biotechnologies, and Precision Nanosystems) and three Canadian therapeutics firms (AbCellera, Arch Biopartners, Edesa Biotech Research Inc.) with more to come… (See Annex A for additional details).
Companies whose research was promising, but at a much earlier stage, were transferred to the National Research Council to be funded through the Industrial Research Assistance Program. This program also provides SMEs with advisory services to support their growth.
To date, the NRC has finalized agreements with 10 SMEs working on COVID-19 vaccines and therapies (see Annex B for additional details).
I want to be very clear – ISED, the National Research Council and Health Canada vigorously pursued all leads and made investments in Canadian companies based on the best advice of scientists and experts.
Our strategic investments are paying off. For example, Quebec City-based Medicago, for whom the Prime Minister initially announced funding on March 23rd, are now in Phase III clinical trials and hope to have their vaccine in the arms of Canadians by the second half of this year. We have a purchase agreement for 76 million doses if and when it’s approved.
Ultimately, a number of projects did not receive funding. This would be for a number of reasons including lack of scientific promise, insufficient pre-clinical evidence that their vaccine or therapy would be effective, or too long a timeline.
Finally, it is important to address the topic of domestic biomanufacturing. When this pandemic started, Canada had no flexible, large-scale capacity to manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine. It’s important to remember how we got to this point.
Since the mid-1980s, Canada’s bio-manufacturing capacity has been in decline. During the same period, domestic demand has increased, leaving Canada reliant on imported products.
This shift began in the late 1980s when the Mulroney government decided to privatize Connaught Laboratories, Canada’s crown jewel of vaccine manufacturing.
Within 10 years, the domestic biomanufacturing ecosystem in Canada had eroded. Although companies performed a considerable amount of R&D in Canada, few products were commercialized for public use. Since that time, a number of notable firms and investments have left Canada. A few examples:
We recognized from the early days of the pandemic that we would have to build up our domestic capacity to manufacturing vaccines and therapeutics for Canadians.
Developing this capacity is far from easy. It requires facilities, specialized equipment and highly qualified personnel. It’s also important to note that different types of vaccines require different facilities. A facility that produces a viral vector vaccine like Astrazeneca, cannot produce an mRNA vaccine like Pfizer.
We’ve made a number of key short- and medium-term investments to support these initiatives and continue to evaluate options for a longterm strategy:
The construction of the large scale facility is on track for completion in July of this year and will be able to produce up to two million vaccine doses per month once fully operational.
We have signed an MOU with Novavax to manufacture their vaccine at this facility once it is ready.
Additionally, we recognized a natural partner in the University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization – International Vaccine Centre, or VIDO-InterVac for short.
We invested 46 million dollars to help VIDO-InterVac accelerate the development of its candidate COVID-19 vaccine, and transform its current animal vaccine production facility to meet the standards required for producing human vaccines.
Once their facility is ready at the end of 2021, VIDO will be able to manufacture up to 40 million doses of vaccine per month, effectively supplying Canada.
We also invested $25.1 million in Precision Nanosystems, a Vancouver-based biotechnology company, to expand Canada’s ability to produce RNA vaccines and other genetic medicines.
Finally, as part of the SIF agreements with Medicago and AbCellera, we provided funding for both companies to scale up their biomanufacturing capacity in Canada. Once completed in 2023, Medicago will be able to supply all of Canada, and export vaccines to the world.
As you can see, there has been a tremendous amount of work underway within ISED, the NRC and Health Canada on these issues since last March. This is incredibly complex and technical work and I’d like to thank the public servants who have worked tirelessly to secure access to a vaccine for Canadians.
We have set up a concierge service for SMEs that have questions or are looking for support for their COVID-19 vaccine and therapy initiatives. You can direct them to: [email protected].
SMEs can also connect directly with an NRC Innovation Advisor by calling: 1-855-534-8433.
Annex A: Made-in-Canada Vaccines and Therapeutics funded through the Strategic Innovation Fund
Medicago (Quebec City) – $173 million to support the development of Medicago’s innovative plant-based virus-like-particle (VLP) vaccine development and the construction of a GMP facility for manufacturing.
Variation Biotechnologies Inc (Boston/Ottawa) - $56 million for Variation Biotechnologies Inc. (VBI) to advance pre-clinical studies and clinical trials of their virus-like particle vaccine candidate.
Precision Nanosystems Inc. (PNI) (Vancouver) – $18.2 million to support PNI’s RNA vaccine development using their own vector.
AbCellera Biologics (Vancouver, BC) – Up to $176 million to advance their therapeutic antibody drug discovery platform and construct an antibody manufacturing facility in Vancouver.
Arch Biopartners Inc. (Toronto, ON) - Up to $6.7 million to support the Phase II development of Metablok, the company’s therapeutic drug candidate to prevent organ inflammation and injury in patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
Edesa Biotech Research Inc. (Markham, ON) – Up to $14 million to develop a monoclonal antibody therapy (EB05) as a treatment for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), the leading cause of death among COVID-19 patients.
Annex B: Made-in-Canada Vaccines and Therapies Funded through the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program
Biodextris (Laval, QC) – Up to $1.3 million for pre-clinical development of its nasal COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
Providence Therapeutics (Toronto, ON) – Up to $4.7 million for phase 1 clinical trials of its PTX-COVID19-B mRNA vaccine candidate;
Entos Pharmaceuticals (Edmonton, AB) – Up to $5.0 million for phase 1 clinical trials of its Covigenix VAX-001 vaccine candidate.
Glycovax Pharma (Montreal/Laval, QC) – Up to $4.0 million for phase 1 clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
Symvivo (Burnaby, BC) – Up to $2.8 million to advance its bacTRL-Spike oral DNA vaccine candidate in preclinical and phase 1 clinical trials.
Immunovaccine Technologies (Dartmouth, NS) – Up to $5.4 million for phase 2/3 clinical trials of its DPX-COVID19 vaccine candidate.
Laurent Pharmaceuticals (Montreal, QC) - Up to $4.17 million for the clinical development of their LAU-7b antiviral and inflammation controlling therapy for COVID-19 infections.
JN Nova Pharma (Montreal, QC) - Up to $4.61 million to assist in the development of a proprietary drug to block coronavirus infection, while reducing the impacts of the disease in patients exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms so they may recover faster.
Bold Therapeutics (Vancouver, BC) - Up to $289,032 for a project to prepare preclinical efficacy data in live SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), support preparation for clinical trials, and to support manufacturing of its BOLD-100 investigational therapy to treat patients with viral infections, including COVID-19.
Qu Biologics (Vancouver, BC) - Up to $109,764 for a project to provide proof-of-concept evidence for the safety and efficacy of a preventative treatment as well as therapeutic use of a treatment to protect the lungs and prevent serious COVID-19 infection.
Celebrating Black History Month
As you all know, February is Black History Month. It is a time to honour and celebrate the important contributions that Black communities in Canada have made, and continue to make in all sectors of society.
This Black History Month, I want to highlight Tiffany Callender and the Cote Des Neiges Black Community Association and the incredible work and support that they offer to the constituents of Mount Royal and across the island. Their many contributions and efforts that support youth, seniors and families is creating an even better future for all.
I’d also like to highlight the Jamaican Association of Montreal's great local efforts headed by their new President Mark Henry and Vice-President Sharon Nelson. This association has a long and impressive history in our riding.
There are a number of other organizations serving the black community that we will highlight over the month.
Black History Month reminds us that we must continue to combat systemic racism and keep working to build true and lasting equality that is informed by Black history, Black voices, and Black lived experiences.
Temporarily Waiving the one-week EI Waiting Period
This week, the Government of Canada announced EI regulations will be amended to temporarily waive the waiting period for EI claimants who establish a new claim between January 31, 2021 and September 25, 2021. This includes claimants of regular, fishing and special benefits.
This temporary change will allow people who are applying for benefits to be paid for their first week of unemployment. It will also help ease their heightened financial stress at a time of great uncertainty.
Canadians who are EI eligible can be confident that this temporary measure will not change the total weeks of EI benefits for which they are entitled to, nor the service standard for payment. Claims will be automatically processed with this new waiver, meaning workers are not required to take additional steps to receive the support they need.
This temporary measure means that people who open a new EI claim after January 31, 2021 and return to work before exhausting all of their weeks of entitlement will benefit from an additional week of income support, due to the removal of the waiting period.
To encourage compliance with public health measures, the Government waived the waiting period for EI sickness claims established on or after September 27, 2020 for a period of one year. The waiting period was also waived for all EI claims established between September 27, 2020 and October 25, 2020 in order to avoid creating a week for which claimants may not receive payment as many workers transitioned from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to the simplified EI program.
January 28th update
I know many of you are anxious and want this pandemic to end as soon as possible. I want you to know that I and the government share this urgency to ensure access to life-saving vaccines as rapidly as possible. We are operating with this sense of urgency every single day.
And while no government is perfect, it is important to be aware of the facts and pass over the disinformation that is out there on such an important issue. We all need to be sharing accurate information and not amplify or further spread misinformation about vaccinations. Because of the restrictions we have all been living under and the desire to be vaccinated, it is very tempted to believe exaggerated statements and I would encourage everyone to ask questions to my office if you have them.
Criticism and open dialogue is welcome, but it is not the time for attacks and misleading statements that stoke fears and worry within the country. While we will continue to push the speed of delivery in any way we can, we remain on track to receive 6 million vaccine doses by the end of March and vaccinate all those who want to be vaccinated by the end of September.
That is why, on Tuesday night, when the House of Commons held an emergency debate related to the vaccine, I spoke directly about this issue. To watch my speech, click here:
Over the last week the Prime Minister has spoken with both Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and President Biden of the United States and we have agreed to cooperate with both Israel and the USA on vaccines and COVID. It is obviously a great desire to have the USA change its policy and allow vaccines produced in the US to ship to Canada and I hope the Biden administration changes this policy.
The Prime Minister also spoke to the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyden and confirmed that no measures taken by the EU will stop vaccines being shipped to Canada.
He also spoke with the CEOs of Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford AstraZeneca and obtained assurances that they will meet their contractual obligations to Canada. We are currently in the second week of the four week slowdown of the Pfizer Belgian plant with the main delivery slowdown weeks being this one and next. Pfizer has guaranteed the Minister of Procurement that over the 4 week period all countries served by the plant will be treated equitably on a per capita ratio. Last week for example we got 83% of our contractual doses and some countries got very few. This week we got none while some countries got a substantial percentage of their doses. It will even out over 4 weeks.
With more than 1.1 million vaccines distributed across the country to date, not only is Canada among the top five G20 nations for COVID-19 vaccinations and Goldman Sachs continues to project that we will be second among G7 nations to vaccinate the entire population to her immunity status.
With Pfizer and Moderna vaccines alone, we will have enough doses in this country for 95% of all Canadians by the end of September. But of course Health Canada is actively working to approve the Oxford and Johnson and Johnson vaccines which will increase the number of doses and accelerate vaccine roll out.
It also should be noted that while I appreciate groups approaching me to ask when they will be vaccinated and in what priority, Quebec is the one that sets the schedule and I have previously provided their schedule and planned roll out dates with the next group being those in private long term residences and then those 80 and over. For questions about prioritization, I would suggest the best means to get answers would be to contact your Quebec MNAs.
More facts about Canada’s progress so far on vaccines
Unfortunately, there remains a lot of misinformation out there – so here are some more facts to note:
Some are claiming that Canada was late to negotiate with vaccine companies because we relied on an agreement with China. This is false.
For additional information on our progress, click on the following link: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-services-procurement/services/procuring-vaccines-covid19.html
Travel Restrictions for Non-Essential Travel Coming
As the Prime Minister advised earlier this week, there will soon be new travel measures and restrictions coming. So once again I urge everyone who is looking to travel abroad to cancel or hold off on any non-essential trips abroad. While I cannot say what these restrictions will be until they are announced, I will be sure to provide all details I can in the next newsletter should it be put forward before next Thursday.
I have also reached out to Minister Blair to share the concerns that have been expressed by snowbirds who are currently in Florida.
Government of Canada Announces Launch of Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program
Earlier this week, the Government of Canada announced the launch of the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program, or HASCAP. As first outlined in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, HASCAP will provide financial support to businesses that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.
Businesses across Canada continue to feel the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. Whether they are operating at limited capacity, switching to online-only services or suspending their operations entirely, many businesses have been strongly affected. Just as these businesses have stepped up for the health and safety of their communities, our government is once again stepping up for them.
Through HASCAP, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will work with participating Canadian financial institutions to offer government-guaranteed, low-interest loans of up to $1 million. Hard-hit businesses, like a chain of hotels or restaurants with multiple locations under one related entity, could be eligible for up to $6.25 million. HASCAP will help businesses with their day-to-day operating costs during the COVID-19 crisis and enable them to invest in their longer-term prosperity.
HASCAP is available to businesses across the country, in all sectors, that have been hit hard by the pandemic. This includes restaurants, businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors, and those that rely on in-person service.
To be eligible for HASCAP, businesses need to show a year-over-year revenue decline of at least 50% in three months, within the eight months prior to their application. They must also be able to show their financial institutions that they have previously applied for either the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy or the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy.
Eligible businesses can start applying as early as February 1 at principal financial institutions and more widely by February 15. Interested businesses should contact their primary lender to get more information and to apply.
More information is available at www.bdc.ca/hascap.
Government of Canada Announces Support for An Initiative to Prevent Genocide
With yesterday being International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I am pleased that the Government of Canada took this opportunity to make an important announcement to provide $2 million in support of a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization initiative to prevent genocide. Delivered in conjunction with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, this initiative addresses the rise of antisemitism and other forms of hate and discrimination through education and intercultural dialogue. Our Special Envoy on IHRA and combatting antisemitism, Irwin Cotler wrote an Oped on Holocaust education with the head of UNESCO:
Launch of a Consultation on the National Strategy for High-Cost Drugs and Rare Diseases
Yesterday, Health Canada launched a stakeholder and public engagement process to advance the National Strategy for High-Cost Drugs and Rare Diseases. The purpose of this consultation is to seek out ideas and different perspectives from Canadians, especially patients with rare diseases and interested stakeholders, on what this national strategy should look like. The feedback will inform the design of the strategy to ensure it helps patients get better access to the effective drugs they need.
This public engagement will be open until March 26, 2021.
Alongside this public engagement, we will continue to engage provinces and territories through a dedicated FPT table and work with our Indigenous partners to build a National Strategy that works for all Canadians.
You can find the details on the different opportunities for engagement online here: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/programs/consultation-national-strategy-high-cost-drugs-rare-diseases-online-engagement.html
Please also find the news release regarding this announcement here: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/news/2021/01/canadians-invited-to-share-their-views-on-a-national-strategy-for-high-cost-drugs-for-rare-diseases.html
Reminder - Canada Summer Jobs Deadline is Tomorrow, January 29
It is not too late to put in an application to hire a young Canadian can bring new life, energy and ideas to your organization. Through Canada Summer Jobs you can get funding to hire a young person to help you & your business!
Our office is available to support your application which must be submitted by tomorrow, January 29th.
We are available to answer any questions you might have and to review your application prior to submission. We recommend that you do send any application to us prior to submission so that we can give you feedback.
If you would like support from our office please reach out to Sonny Moroz at [email protected] or by calling our office at 514 283-0171.
For more information, please visit Canada.ca/canadasummerjobs.
January 21st update
I want to first congratulate President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris for officially being sworn-in yesterday. Canada and the United States share a partnership unlike any other in the world, and I know the Prime Minister, myself and all of my colleagues are looking forward to strengthening our relationship and working on some of the biggest challenges facing our two nations, including tackling COVID-19.
The Prime Minister being the first foreign leader to speak tomorrow with the President exemplifies just how special and important our relationship with the United States really is.
While it is of deep disappointment that the U.S. administration has already receded the presidential permit to allow the Keystone XL pipeline expansion project to continue, this was a campaign promise made by President Biden and it was a decision that was unfortunately expected. We had been doing our best to convince the incoming administration to reconsider this position but you have to respect politicians that keep campaign promises. We have a lot of opportunities to work with the new US administration and will do so on issues such as climate change, fighting COVID-19, and growing our economies.
Pfizer Vaccine Delay
This week also brought some difficult news related to the Pfizer vaccine. Let’s be clear what has happened. Pfizer needs to be able to produce much more vaccine to ensure that as many people as possible can get vaccinated more quickly. So they are renovating their Belgian facility to create the ability to produce millions more doses every month. As such there will be a four week period where production is affected. Contrary to some news reports, Pfizer has committed to Canada that all nations will be treated equitably on a per capita basis during this period. This means that our doses will not be more affected than other countries served by the Belgian plant. This was a commitment by Pfizer to Minister Anand. In week 1 of the 4 weeks we received 83% of planned doses. At this time they are saying we will receive none in week 2 and it will ramp up again in weeks 3 and 4. After that we should receive a higher number of doses each week than originally planned and by the end of March we should have received the committed 4 million doses.
However, I want to assure you that we are not simply sitting back. We are on the phone with Pfizer every day asking for more doses more quickly. We are asking the new American administration to allow us to receive some doses from the Michigan facility of Pfizer which is currently serving only the United States. And we continue to engage with countries such as Israel. The Prime Minister had a call with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Tuesday to discuss vaccines and the fight against COVID 19 and to see how we can work together. I have been working with Minister Anand’s office to assist this effort in any way that I can and will keep doing so.
It should be noted that the number of Moderna vaccines entering the country in this period has been unaffected and both Oxford AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson have their vaccines in Health Canada’s rolling approval phase and we wait anxiously to get sufficient data to allow us to approve these vaccines. As soon as they are approved we hope to be bringing doses of those vaccines into the country which will allow us to provide more doses to provinces and move dates forward. We continue to be confident that our goals of vaccinating 20 million Canadians by the end of June and having doses for everyone who wants one by the end of September are realistic.
I know it is tempting to look at statistics and see that we are doing better or worse than other countries. At this point we have distributed about 920,000 vaccine doses and about 754,000 have been administered. But you need to compare apples to apples. There are only about 30 countries in the world actually vaccinating people right now and we are about 10th or so per capita. Some of the countries are using vaccine from China or Russia which would not be recommended. Others like the US and UK have domestic production which we do not have. As I mentioned last week we are now creating lab capacity to produce vaccines in the future. In the end result the real question will be when will countries vaccinate 70 to 85% of their population to create herd immunity and I am confident we will be one of the first to reach that number.
While travel has been the source of only 2% of COVID cases in Canada and the vast bulk is community transmission, this travel puts the person traveling at serious risk. Airports and airplane travel is not a good idea unless you absolutely need to go somewhere. Thus far we have taken a series of measures such as the mandatory 14 day quarantine, requiring masks at airports and on planes and now negative COVID tests to enter the country. But the government has made clear it is considering new and tougher measures that may make it much more difficult and unpleasant for people going on non-essential trips. I have advocated for such stronger measures.
Government of Canada invests in national clinical trials network to address the COVID-19 pandemic
As the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolves, important gaps in research must be addressed to support Canada's response to this global crisis. To ensure that Canadians have access to the latest tests, diagnostic tools, vaccines, and therapeutics, the Government of Canada is investing in a nation-wide clinical trials network to better coordinate these efforts.
Yesterday, the government announced an investment of $6 million in the Canadian Network of COVID-19 Clinical Trials Networks. This investment will expand existing national and international clinical trial networks to coordinate research on tools that prevent, detect, manage, and treat COVID-19.
Led by Dr. Robert Fowler from the Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto, the network will use feedback from citizens and patients to help set research priorities, as well as facilitate collaboration and resource sharing, reduce duplication of efforts, and harmonize clinical trial procedures. The network's diverse and inclusive partnership will maximize the impact of scientific research, build capacity for this research, and provide insight and information for battling future pandemics. With this funding from the Government of Canada, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, our best and brightest will be able to provide evidence to decision-makers across the country and internationally – further solidifying Canada's place as a global leader in research.
The Canadian Critical Care Trials Group is supporting this network of COVID trials networks. The network is partnering with more than 40 networks, groups, and institutions across Canada.
FACTS AND FIGURES – COVID-19 RESPONSE
PPE Shipped to PTs (past 30 days)
Today, our government announced the signing of an agreement pertaining to the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) between Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and the City of Montréal.
Under this agreement, the City of Montreal will receive $56.8 million in federal funding to support the rapid completion of 12 projects on its territory, representing 263 affordable housing units. The housing projects financed will be intended for the most vulnerable clienteles. The support may cover land acquisition, housing construction, conversion or rehabilitation of existing buildings.
The list of projects will be announced later this month
Valentines for Veterans
Each year, Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) invites Canadian schools, individuals and organizations to make Valentines for Vets. VAC then distributes the valentines to Veterans in long-term care facilities across the country by February 14.
Valentines for Vets began in 1989 when the late newspaper columnist, Ann Landers, encouraged her readers to create special valentines for Veterans in care facilities throughout Canada and the United States. Every year, Landers' special "Valentines for Vets" column asked her readers to remember the sacrifices of their nations' Veterans by making them personal hand-crafted valentines.
VAC became involved with the program in 1996, and has been receiving and distributing valentines to Veterans in care facilities across the country ever since.
This year, more than ever, let’s put a smile on our Veterans’ faces and let them know how much Canadians appreciate all that they have done for us.
If you would like to send a valentine thanking a Veteran, please send it by February 1 to:
Valentines for Vets
Veterans Affairs Canada
Commemoration, Distribution Unit
125 Maple Hills Avenue
Charlottetown, PE C1C 0B6
January 14th update
This past week has certainly been a truly difficult one for the world. What happened at the US Capitol last week was an attack on democracy by domestic terrorists. The culmination of a disinformation campaign fueled by the US President and his supporters. While we have been focused on our neighbours to the south, we must all recognize that Canada is not immune to the dangers of division and hate.
Just yesterday, one of our most cherished synagogues on the Montreal island, the Shaar Hashomayim, saw its front doors graffitied with the most vile and anti-semitic symbol of all. As mentioned in my Facebook post last night, I have offered my full support to the clergy, management, staff and trustees of the congregation and Akiva School during this difficult time and am pleased to see that the suspect was caught and that the security system the Shaar purchased with the help of our federal Security Infrastructure Program facilitated capturing the suspect.
And while we are fortunate to see elected officials from across party lines denounce both this antisemitic incident and the domestic terrorism in the capitol last week, too much of our political discourse remains drenched in rage. That is why my Conservative colleague Scott Atchison and I wrote an op-ed in the National Post with on the need for more civility across party lines.
The less “gotcha” politics and focus on making other parties look foolish, the less polarization can grow and fuel hate towards opposing political ideas and politicians.
Please read the op-ed printed in the National Post at the following link:
The French version is copied at the end of the French version of this email.
If we do a better job of working together with less division, we can also be better focused on combatting COVID-19 that continues to have devastating impacts on our health and society as a whole.
Update on Vaccine Progress
As I explained in my previous newsletter, the federal government is working very hard on the vaccine procurement process. We have now vaccinated approximately 420,950 individuals with a first vaccine dose and 20,835 Canadians have received their second dose. Approximately 1.15% of Canadians have now received the vaccine. Approximately 716,655 doses have been delivered to the provinces.
This week, the Prime Minister announced announced we have secured 20 million additional doses of Pfizer to be delivered in the second quarter of 2021. Thanks to the agreements with Moderna and Pfizer, we anticipate having 80 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines arriving from these companies alone.
By the end of June 2021, we believe we will have vaccinated at least 20 million Canadians and we are confident that every Canadian who wishes to have a vaccination will have received one by the end of September 2021. We are working hard every day to try to bring in more doses of vaccine more quickly and these dates will also be expedited in the event other vaccines are approved by Health Canada.
Both the Oxford AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson vaccines have submitted some information to Health Canada and the process of approval has begun. Health Canada is expecting additional information related to Oxford near the end of the month and is expecting further information from Johnson and Johnson in February. Should these be approved, we will be able to start bringing in doses of these vaccines as well.
I had requested last week that we add forecast information to the federal web page in addition to weekly updates on the amount of vaccine already brought into Canada. We have now published the forecasts and you can find them at:
You can see (in addition to other information) weekly expected arrivals of the vaccine. In terms of distributing the vaccine in Quebec, the schedule of vaccinations and communication related to this is the responsibility of the Quebec Government. Quebec is currently vaccinating those living in long term care and front line health care workers. It anticipates offering vaccines to those over 80 beginning on February 15 and those over 70 beginning on March 15. As soon as Quebec provides more information I will provide it to you.
Increase to the Basic Personal Amount
January 1st brought with it another tax reduction from the federal government through an increase to the Basic Personal Amount (BPA). This increase will help millions of vulnerable Canadians and is another important step forward towards further supporting the financial security of seniors in Canada.
The BPA is a non-refundable tax credit that can be claimed by all individuals. The purpose of the BPA is to provide a full reduction from federal income tax to all individuals with taxable income below the BPA. It also provides a partial reduction to taxpayers with taxable income above the BPA.
A non-refundable tax credit reduces what you may owe. However if your total non-refundable tax credits are more than what you owe, you will not get a refund for the difference.
The maximum BPA has been increased from $12,298 to $13,229 for individuals with a net income of $150,473 or less. This will help nearly 4.3 million Canadian Seniors, of which 465,000 will see their federal income tax reduced to zero.
The increase is gradually reduced for individuals with net income between $150,473 and $214,368. If your net income is above $214,368, the change does not apply to you. Your BPA will be $12,298.
In addition, the maximum BPA will be increased to $15,000 by 2023 as follows:
Individuals whose net income is too high to benefit from the increased BPA will continue to claim the existing BPA. This existing amount will continue to be indexed for inflation each year.
Canadians who received COVID-19 emergency benefits to get T4A forms
Starting in early January 2021 and no later than March 10, 2021, Canadians will begin receiving T4A slips from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The T4A is virtually identical to the T4 slips Canadians usually receive, but rather than employment income, it is the amounts of COVID-19 emergency and recovery benefits received from the CRA in 2020. Residents of Quebec will receive both a T4A and RL-1 slip.
Due to the unprecedented financial hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Canadians sought the support of the Government’s emergency or recovery benefits, which include the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), and Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB).
These emergency and recovery benefits are considered taxable income, and recipients must enter the total of the amounts they received last year on their 2020 income tax and benefit return.
How do you use the T4A to fill out the 2020 income tax and benefit return?
2) After filing:
What to do if there is an issue?
4) If you were not eligible for the benefit:
Federal government invests nearly $40 million of additional funding to respond to needs of those experiencing or at risk of homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic
Yesterday, our government announced that additional funding of $39.8 million is being provided to Quebec communities as part of the Canada–Quebec Agreement to support the homelessness sector’s response to COVID-19 under Reaching Home. This funding will enable us to continue our shared efforts to prevent the impact of COVID-19 on people experiencing homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. All Quebec regions that are already receiving Reaching Home funding will have access to additional funds.
Communities will be able to use this funding for various activities, such as housing services, prevention and referral to services provided outside of shelters, medical and health services, client support services, capital investments, and resource coordination and data collection.
With this additional funding, the total amount granted to Quebec communities to prevent the impacts of COVID-19 on people who experience homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless is over $70 million.
Canada Summer Jobs 2021 – Call for Applications
The application period for the 2021 Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program has now been launched and will run from December 21, 2020 to January 29, 2021.
To support applicants, Service Canada - Quebec region will offer 60-minute information sessions.
The purpose of these information sessions is to provide general information on the 2021 CSJ program.
Here is what you need to know to register for a webinar:
Monday, January 11, 2021
10 :30 – 11 :30 AM
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
9 :30 – 10 :30 AM
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
1 :30 – 2 :30 PM
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
11 :00 – 12 :00 AM
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
2 :00 – 3 :00 PM
Thursday, January 14, 2021
10 :00 - 11 :00 AM
Thursday, January 14, 2021
3 :00 - 4 :00 PM
Friday, January 15, 2021
11 :00 - 12 :00 AM
Friday, January 15, 2021
2 :00 - 3 :00 PM
Monday, January 18, 2021
8:30 - 9 :30 AM
Monday, January 18, 2021
1 :30 - 2 :30 PM
Lastly, in order to receive the most of this funding it is important that your organization demonstrate that you will be using this funding to meet the Mount Royal riding’s local priorities as well as our government’s national priorities.
These priorities are as follows:
Local Priorities: Mount Royal
**In Quebec, an official-language minority is an English-speaking population living in the province, where French is predominant.
**Additional points will be awarded to small businesses of 50 or fewer fulltime employees, who have been impacted by COVID-19.
Note: Should your application be approved, your recruitment and hiring plans may be monitored to determine whether they reflect what you stated in your application.
You can find additional information on the Canada Summer Jobs at the following website: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/funding/canada-summer-jobs.html
I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this program and to apply for funding prior to the application deadline of January 29th.
Our office is available to support your application. We are available to answer any questions you might have and to review your application prior to submission. If your would like support from our office please reach out to Sonny Moroz at [email protected] or by calling our office at 514 283-0171.
Should you have any questions about these sessions, please contact Service Canada call: 1-800-935-5555
New policy to allow holders of an expired or expiring Post Graduation Work Permit to apply for an open work permit
International students are an important part of our communities and they bring remarkable economic, cultural and social benefits to Canada. They have been instrumental on the front lines during the pandemic to keep Canadians safe and healthy, and are an essential part of Canada’s economic recovery.
But, like many Canadians, they have not been immune from the impacts of the pandemic. For many holders of a PGWP, the pandemic’s disruption and uncertainty has jeopardized their chances of obtaining the work experience they need to apply for permanent residence.
That’s why today I am happy to announce that former international students in Canada affected by the pandemic, with an expired or expiring post-graduation work permit, will now be able to apply for another open work permit that will be valid for 18 months.
This new policy means that young people who study here can stay longer and not miss out on opportunities, while ensuring that Canada continues to benefit from international students’ many contributions. Our message to international students and graduates is simple: we don’t just want you to study here, we want you to stay here.
Applications will be open from January 27 to July 27, 2021. For more information please consult our website : https://canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2021/01/government-of-canada-announces-new-policy-to-help-former-international-students-live-in-work-in-and-continue-contributing-to-canada.html
January 6th update
I want to wish all of you a very happy New Year and most importantly good health. 2020 was a difficult year and 2021 will start out as a difficult year as well. But with a vaccine now available, hope is on the horizon. I am confident that by late summer we will have returned to a much more normal world. Until then let’s continue to respect public health measures and keep each other safe.
I want to take this opportunity to provide information on the two most frequent topics that I have been contacted about in recent days – the roll out of the vaccines and the issue of non-essential travellers seeking to claim the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit. If you carefully read all the information I have provided below it should help answer and clarify matters related to both topics.
Update and Clarification on the Roll-Out of Vaccines
In order to deal with the issues related to the vaccine it is important to first start from a common understanding of which government is responsible for each element of the process.
So let’s start by an understanding that the federal government is responsible for vaccine approval through Health Canada. We determine whether a vaccine is safe for use. Health Canada moved very quickly and in the month of December 2020 approved two vaccines for use in Canada. These are Pfizer and Moderna.
Other potential vaccine candidates will be evaluated by Health Canada as soon as they provide all the necessary information. We understand that the more vaccines we have that are judged safe for use and for which we have contracted to receive doses, the faster the entire population can be vaccinated.
The approval by Health Canada means that it is safe to receive the vaccine. It should be noted that vaccine trials have not yet been completed on children and adolescents and pregnant women So anyone in those groups as well as those with allergies, should consult with your doctor to make sure the vaccine is safe for you to take. I highly encourage each and every one of my constituents to be vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.
The federal government took responsibility for purchasing the vaccine and all associated equipment needed to store and administer the vaccine. Other than vaccine doses themselves, all associated equipment has been purchased and ready to go.
We originally had not expected to receive any vaccine doses in December but by the end of the month had received more than 420,000 doses. As of today, Quebec has actually administered less than 40% of the doses that it received in December.
This federal information is available at the following web page:
This information currently is updated weekly and tells you how many vaccines have been provided to the provinces.
I have now asked that this be enhanced to include the anticipated roll out of vaccine doses so people would know when doses were expected to be received. I await a response from the department as to the feasibility of doing that.
In the meantime, we have secured up to 76 million doses of Pfizer and locked in 40 million doses of Moderna. The next shipments of 750,000 Pfizer vaccines and 170,000 of Moderna are due to be received in the next few weeks.
We have commitments to receive 6,000,000 doses of Pfizer/Moderna by the end of March and commitments to receive enough doses to vaccinate the entire population of Canada that wishes to be vaccinated by the end of September 2021.
You can rest assured that our Minister of Procurement, her Parliamentary Secretary and the entire specialized procurement department is busy trying to expedite deliveries from both approved vaccine vendors.
The arrival of vaccines can also be ramped up when other vaccines we have purchase agreements for such as Oxford Astra Zeneca or Johnson and Johnson are approved by Health Canada. We are waiting for the necessary information to do this.
It is important to note that we do not have domestic manufacturing capacity to produce vaccines at this time and while we are taking steps to create the ability to produce vaccines (including the investment to construct a lab in our riding on Royalmount that will be able to produce up to 2 million doses in a month), this infrastructure is not yet ready.
Since none of the manufacturers produce in Canada we cannot require them to divert doses domestically like some other countries. This is a weakness in our infrastructure we need to address and are taking steps to do so.
Having said this, many constituents have had questions about the current rollout of the vaccine and the pace of it. It is important to know that, when it comes to who is responsible for all decisions related to who gets the vaccine and how it is rolled out, it is a provincial responsibility and is decided by the Quebec Government and often administered by the associated regional health boards.
In the case of our riding this would be the CIUSS Centre West.
As you see on the federal website I have linked above, we have recommendations as to the sequence in which people would be vaccinated which are as follows:
Priority for early COVID-19 vaccination will be given to the following populations:
As additional COVID-19 vaccine(s) and supplies become available, the following populations should be offered vaccinations:
But these recommendations are not binding and the sequence of who will be vaccinated, where they will be vaccinated and communications related to how to be vaccinated would all come from the Quebec Government and the local CIUSS.
The attached site provides good information on a daily basis on the roll out by the provinces and territories of the vaccines they have been provided by the federal government.
As you can see Quebec is less than 40% as of today.
I can assure you that I understand that there is no issue more important right now than getting people vaccinated so that we can all resume a more normal existence and I promise to continue to provide information as clearly and transparently as I can to you.
Non-Essential Travellers Seeking to Claim the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit
Over the last week, many constituents have reached out with concern over recent reports that some travellers who left Canada for non-essential purposes would seek to claim the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit.
This important measure, adopted unanimously by Parliament allows people to collect up to $500 per week for a maximum of 2 weeks if they need to be off work because they have contracted COVID19, have symptoms and are awaiting test results, or have to self isolate based on public health advice.
The benefit was never meant to apply to travellers who leave Canada for non-essential reasons and are under quarantine. My colleagues and I did not vote for this benefit to reward non-essential travellers and I am pleased that the Prime Minister confirmed in his press conference yesterday that anyone who travelled for non-essential reasons will soon NOT be able to access the Sickness Benefit. I will provide the details for this policy measure once they are available.
You can find quotes from the Prime Minister during his press conference about addressing this issue at the following links:
There is also a good deal of misinformation circulating about people coming into Canada. I want to remind you that since late March only Canadian citizens and permanent residents have been allowed to enter Canada for non-essential purposes. This was expanded in late summer to include some immediate family members. Under our Charter of Rights, Canadians have the right to enter and leave Canada. We cannot stop people from leaving even if we strongly recommend against travel for non-essential purposes. But I want to ensure everyone that since March everyone entering the country is subject to a 14 day quarantine that is indeed strictly enforced. Fines can range up to $750,000 for violation of quarantine. As a result of these very strict measures less than 2% of COVID-19 cases in Canada come from travel. Over 98% is community spread. We are now adding the requirement that anyone who wishes to fly into Canada must be able to show a negative COVID-19 test in the last 72 hours. The quarantine requirement also remains.
December 16th update
As mentioned in my post on Monday, earlier this week, the first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in Canada. I was thrilled to see some of the first inoculations take place in our riding in the City of Côte Saint-Luc at the Maimonides Geriatric Center. As you know, the residents at Maimonides Geriatric Center have suffered greatly during this pandemic as have residents at all our long-term care centres.
While this vaccine came too late for the many dozens of Maimonides residents and the thousands of others in Canada who passed away, I hope and pray it allows for a better quality of life for those who receive it and peace of mind for their families.
Health Canada is in the process of approval for the Moderna vaccine and as soon as it is approved by Health Canada our Government has secured a commitment for the first doses of that vaccine to be shipped as well.
I look forward to the vaccine shortly reaching all our long-term care residents and all our front-line health care providers and then all of the rest of us. The miracle of the Hanukkah and Christmas season is with us. Let us all hope for a better and healthier 2021.
Please note that this will be the final newsletter for 2020. The next edition will come in the second week of January. In the meantime I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a Joyous New Year.
Final Reminder to RSVP for the National Festival of Lights Event on Thursday
A final reminder that Thursday, December 17, I will be co-hosting alongside York Centre MP Ya’ara Saks the National Festival of Lights event at 6:00 PM EST. If you have yet to RSVP, I invite you once again to join me, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, other party leaders, MPs, Senators and Jewish Canadians from across Canada for what should be an amazing event on the final night of Hanukkah.
If you would like to attend, please RSVP to [email protected], preferably before noon tomorrow (December 17). Following your RSVP, a zoom link will then be sent out to you by my office. If you have already RSVPd and have not yet received the Zoom link please let us know and we will resend it to you.
***If you will be attending and have a menorah, please make sure to keep it near as the event will conclude with everyone on Zoom collectively lighting their candles at the same time for what should be an incredible moment of celebration. ***
Update to the Application Process for the Canada Emergency Business Account
As of yesterday, in an effort to improve the customer experience of those applying for the Canadian Emergency Business Account, applicants will be able to visit: https://status-statut.ceba-cuec.ca to obtain real-time detailed information about their application status. This service is in addition to the Call Center, and we urge you to continue guiding constituents to call the hotline for technical questions in regards of their application.
Applicants wishing to get more information on the status of their loan will need to have the following information at hand:
Claiming a deduction for home office expenses
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March 2020, public health officials have asked Canadians to stay at home to help minimize the spread of the virus. As a result, an unprecedented number of employees who would normally work in an office environment are now working from home.
In response, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has made the home office expenses deduction available to more Canadians, and simplified the way employees can claim these expenses on their personal income tax return for the 2020 tax year.
Employees who worked from home more than 50% of the time over a period of a least four consecutive weeks in 2020 due to COVID-19 will now be eligible to claim the home office expenses deduction for 2020. The use of a shorter qualifying period will ensure that more employees can claim the deduction than would otherwise have been possible under longstanding practice.
A new temporary flat rate method will allow eligible employees to claim a deduction of $2 for each day they worked at home in that period, plus any other days they worked from home in 2020 due to COVID-19 up to a maximum of $400. Under this new method, employees will not have to get Form T2200 or Form T2200S completed and signed by their employer.
Employees with larger claims for home office expenses can still choose to use the detailed method to calculate their home office expenses deduction. To simplify the process for employees choosing this method, the CRA has created simplified forms (Form T2200S and Form T777S), and has introduced a calculator designed specifically to assist with the calculation of eligible home office expenses.
Normally, many Canadians look to their Member of Parliament for help with filing returns and getting the benefits, credits and deductions to which they are entitled. We have attached a fact sheet to inform you about the new temporary flat rate method. Feel free to use it as needed to make sure constituents have what they need to claim their expenses and understand the tax-filing process.
For more information about claiming home office expenses deduction, see canada.ca/cra-home-workspace-expenses.
Canada’s investments to support equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines
Since February 2020, the Government of Canada has announced that it will commit nearly $1.6 billion to the global response to COVID-19. This includes more than $865 million in funding for the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator to support equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines.
Canada has been a key supporter of the ACT-Accelerator since its inception as it provides a critical platform to mobilize and coordinate the unprecedented global effort needed for the development, production and distribution of safe and effective COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines. At the core of the ACT-Accelerator framework are 3 partnerships (vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics) with a crosscutting work stream on health systems. Canada joined the ACT-Accelerator as a co-lead on May 4, 2020.
To date, Canada has announced a commitment of more than $865 million to support low- and middle-income countries to access COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments through the ACT-Accelerator. This includes today’s announcement of $485 million for antibody treatments and in support of the ACT-Accelerator’s health systems connector and vaccine pillars. It also includes:
Canada is currently the second-largest financial supporter of the Gavi COVAX AMC, which will enable 92 low- and middle-income countries to access vaccines with the support of official development assistance financing.
By joining the COVAX Facility as a self-financing country and by contributing to the Gavi COVAX AMC, Canada is supporting collective efforts to develop safe, effective and accessible COVID-19 vaccines for 189 participating economies across the world.
All countries participating in the COVAX Facility, either as self-financing or AMC-eligible countries, will have access to a portfolio of vaccine candidates. Distribution will be equitable and based on available doses among countries that have selected specific vaccine candidates.
Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine: Health Canada recommendations for people with serious allergies
What consumers should do
What health professionals should do
What Health Canada is doing
Health Canada will continue to monitor this situation closely.
As vaccines for COVID-19 become available, they will all be closely monitored through Canada’s vaccine safety monitoring system, which involves health professionals, the provinces and territories, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada and vaccine manufacturers.
Under the terms and conditions of the authorization of this vaccine, Pfizer-BioNTech is required to continue providing information to Health Canada on the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccine.
Health Canada will also continue to collaborate with international regulators to share information about these vaccines as they are rolled out around the world.
If any new safety issues are confirmed, Health Canada will take appropriate action, which could include communicating any new risks to Canadians and healthcare providers or changing the recommended use of the product.
Stay safe and happy New Year to you all!
December 10th update
On December 9th, Canada reached a critical milestone in its fight against COVID-19 with the authorization of the first COVID-19 vaccine.
Health Canada received Pfizer's submission on October 9, 2020 and after a thorough, independent review of the evidence, Health Canada has determined that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine meets the Department's stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements for use in Canada. This is not a temporary use approval. This is a full approval. Initial doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive in Canada as early as next week with 250,000 doses set to arrive in the coming weeks.
The initial indication of the vaccine is for use in people 16 years of age or older. Pfizer-BioNTech are running further clinical trials on children of all age groups and the indication could be revised in the future to include children if the data from these studies support it.
Canadians can feel confident that the review process was rigorous and that we have strong monitoring systems in place. Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada will closely monitor the safety of the vaccine once it is on the market and will not hesitate to take action if any safety concerns are identified.
Please find further down in my newsletter some frequently asked questions and answers related to the vaccine.
My Annual Holiday Poem in the House of Commons
With this year being much different than all others, I was still pleased to bring some joy to the House of Commons through the holiday poem tradition that I took over last year after the retirement of MP Rodger Cuzner.
I encourage you to check it out at at the following link and please share it widely:
Happy Hanukkah and Invitation to the National Festival of Lights Online Event Thursday Deccember 17th at 6PM EST
As many of you know, every year I have been an MP I have helped co-host a Hanukkah event on Parliament Hill that brings together leaders from all political parties as well as community leaders and stakeholders from across Canada. In the past I have done this together with York Centre MP Michael Levitt and I am now doing it with his successor Ya’ara Saks.
Like everything else in 2020, we have been forced to pivot to make this an online event to be held on Zoom.
Therefore, it is my pleasure to invite you to join me, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, other party leaders, MPs, Senators and Jewish Canadians from across Canada at our National Festival of Lights online event next Thursday, December 17th at 6:00 PM EST. The event should be completed by 6:40PM EST.
It will take place on the last night of Hanukkah and none of us should celebrate alone. At a time where we will all be looking to celebrate Hanukkah safely, this event will bring you, Jewish Canadians and elected officials from all political stripes and across Canada together to do exactly that.
If you plan on attending and have a menorah, please make sure to keep it near as the event will conclude with everyone on Zoom collectively lighting their candles at the same time for what should be an incredible moment of celebration.
If you would like to attend, please RSVP to [email protected]. A zoom link will then be sent out closer to the date of the event to all those who have indicated their interest to attend.
Whatever you decide to do, I want to wish all those who will begin celebrating at sundown tonight a very happy Hanukkah. This year’s festivities will have to be much different than others, so please make sure to virtually connect with any family, friends, or anyone else that may need that call to help them enjoy the holidays like they normally would.
Please find below the Prime Minister’s Hanukkah video and statement in celebration of the festival of lights:
CEBA Now Extended
I am pleased to provide some important news to the many businesses in the riding and across Canada who are still facing financial hardship and have been anxiously waiting to apply for additional funds through the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA).
Eligible businesses are now able to access a second CEBA loan of up to $20,000 – on top of the initial $40,000 that was available to small businesses.
Half of this additional financing, up to $10,000, will be forgivable if the loan is repaid by December 31, 2022.
This means the additional loan effectively increases CEBA loans from the existing $40,000 to $60,000 for eligible businesses, of which a total of $20,000 will be forgiven if the balance of the loan is repaid on time.
To apply, eligible businesses and not-for-profits need to contact the financial institution that provided their initial CEBA loan and provide the appropriate information and documentation.
In addition, and as announced in the Fall Economic Statement, the application deadline for CEBA has also been extended to March 31, 2021.
For more information, including related to eligibility for the CEBA loan, please click on the following link:
Launch of the Mobility for Good For Seniors Program
TELUS is launching a Mobility for Good For Seniors program. This program provides low-income seniors receiving income assistance with access to a free smart phone and a subsidized data plan.
Seniors receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will be eligible for a:
For more details, click here:
Canada-United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement Tabled in the House of Commons
Yesterday, the government introduced Bill C-18, An Act to implement the Canada-United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement. As the United Kingdom completes its transition out of the European Union, Canadians and Canadian businesses can be assured that our trading relationship will continue with stability and predictability in mind. This transition agreement preserves the main benefits of Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), including the elimination of tariffs on 98% of products exported to the UK.
The Canada-U.K. Trade Continuity Agreement (Canada-U.K. TCA) substantively replicates the main benefits of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) to ensure predictability and stability for Canadians as the U.K. exits the European Union – which is more important than ever amid COVID-19.
The TCA will provide Canadian exporters, entrepreneurs, and businesses of all sizes with continued preferential access to the U.K. market, while upholding all of CETA’s high standards for consumers, workers and the environment.
The TCA includes a few transitional elements, however it is not time-limited. The TCA would be in place until a new Canada-U.K. free trade agreement can enter into force.
Questions and Answers on the Pfizer Vaccine:
Q1. This vaccine was developed and approved in record speed. Can Canadians really be confident that it is safe?
Health Canada received Pfizer’s submission on October 9, 2020. The vaccine was authorized under Health Canada’s Interim Order Respecting the Importation, Sale and Advertising of Drugs for Use in Relation to COVID-19. The Interim Order allows Health Canada to expedite the review and approval of COVID-19 drugs and vaccines, while maintaining Canada’s high standards for safety, efficacy and quality.
Under the Interim Order, Health Canada can accept rolling submissions for drugs and vaccines that have promising evidence and clinical trials underway. This means that we will accept and assess information submitted by the manufacturer as it becomes available during the product development process. This new process still involves reviewing all the necessary data thoroughly to support authorization and conducting any necessary testing of samples.
The authorization was primarily supported by safety and efficacy data from a late stage randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 2/3 clinical trial involving about 44,000 participants. Safety was also supported by the results of an earlier stage trial conducted in Germany and the U.S. that showed participants had an appropriate immune response, and that the vaccine was well tolerated.
Once the vaccine is on the market, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada will monitor for any adverse events after immunization, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, international partners, and the manufacturer. As with all vaccines, Health Canada will take action if any safety issues are identified. This could include warning Canadians about potential side effects, changing the recommended use of the product, or even removing the product from the market.
To further support Health Canada’s efforts to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, the Interim Order provides the authority to impose terms and conditions on any authorization or establishment licence at any time, such as risk mitigation measures and additional assessments of safety information. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was authorized with terms and conditions that require the manufacturer to continue providing specific information to Health Canada on the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccine to ensure the benefits of the vaccine continue to be demonstrated through market use.
Q2. Can you explain what’s changed to allow for the development of a vaccine in such a short period of time?
The safety of Canadians is our first and foremost priority. While vaccines in the past have taken years to come to market, thanks to advances in science and technology, a focused federal response, and an unprecedented level of global cooperation, a COVID-19 vaccine will be available much faster than was previously possible.
Vaccines are complex biological products that require large clinical trials to demonstrate that they are safe and effective, and their manufacturing can be complex, requiring significant investments. Under normal circumstances, only a handful of global companies develop vaccines.
However, since the start of the pandemic, significant investments have been made globally—from vaccine design, to pre-clinical and clinical testing, to manufacturing—in order to efficiently and rapidly respond to the need for a vaccine.
Vaccine development strategies, such as the use of adaptive clinical trial designs that shorten the time between trial phases and the launch of trials in areas most affected by the pandemic, are also helping to expedite the process.
Health Canada is expediting all regulatory reviews for COVID-19 vaccines, whether it be to approve clinical trial applications or authorize products, which is further supporting the faster availability of vaccines.
While Health Canada recognizes the urgent need for vaccines, we will still require all products to demonstrate a high level of safety, efficacy and quality before they can be marketed in Canada.
The extent of scientific and regulatory collaboration to develop vaccines for COVID-19 provides a model for expediting access to needed drugs and vaccines in the future. However, since the Interim Order Respecting the Importation, Sale and Advertising of Drugs for Use in Relation to COVID-19 is only in effect for a limited period, these expedited timelines are not expected to become the norm.
Q3. What about long-term side effects? How can we know Canadians who get the vaccine now won’t experience adverse effects years from now?
Canada has a robust and well-established vaccine surveillance system. Once the vaccine is on the market, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada will monitor for any adverse events after immunization, in collaboration with the provinces and territories and the manufacturer.
Pfizer and BioNTech will be following clinical trial participants for at least two years after receiving the second dose of the vaccine. Health Canada will continue to review all the available safety data from clinical studies and will not hesitate to take appropriate action, if required, to protect the health and safety of Canadians. This could include warning Canadians about potential side effects, changing the recommended use of the product, or even removing the product from the market.
To further support Health Canada’s efforts to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, the Interim Order provides the authority to impose terms and conditions on any authorization or establishment licence at any time, such as risk mitigation measures and additional assessments of safety information.
Canada has a strong post-market safety surveillance system in place to detect any adverse events even years after vaccination.
At this time, safety data from clinical trials show that these new generation vaccines are performing similarly to other vaccines. If safety issues are confirmed, Health Canada will take appropriate action.
Q4. Is the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine really 95% effective, as reported in the media?
The safety and efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is supported by data from a late stage randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 2/3 clinical trial with about 44,000 participants. Safety was also supported by results from an earlier stage trial conducted in Germany and the U.S. that showed participants had an appropriate immune response, and that the vaccine was well tolerated.
Results from the Pfizer-BioNTech phase 3 trial demonstrated 95% efficacy in preventing SARS-CoV2 infection. This means that of the 170 confirmed cases of COVID-19 observed in the study, 162 cases occurred in the placebo group, and 8 occurred in the vaccine group.
The vaccine also showed about 90% efficacy in preventing more severe COVID-19 infection.
The results show that while vaccinated individuals can still be infected, the vaccine greatly reduces the risk of infection and the severity of infection, if it occurs. The effectiveness of the vaccine will continue to be monitored as it is being rolled out across Canada.
Q5. Will this vaccine set the bar for the level of effectiveness Health Canada will expect when reviewing other vaccine submissions?
Each vaccine is reviewed independently, and decisions will be based on the available data from large clinical trials. Some vaccines may be best for certain population subgroups, such as the elderly or children, or may be useful for certain situations, such as for use in remote areas that may not be able to provide extreme low temperature storage.
In all cases, Health Canada will review the evidence thoroughly, and will make a regulatory decision based on safety, efficacy and quality.
Q6. Is the vaccine safe for children and other vulnerable populations?
The Health Canada-authorized indication of the vaccine is for use in people 16 years of age or older. Pfizer-BioNTech are running further clinical trials on children of all age groups and the indication could be revised in the future to include children if the data from these studies support it.
Q7. How is this vaccine made and how does it work?
Most COVID-19 vaccines being developed help the body to develop an immune response against what’s called the spike protein on the outside of the coronavirus. Just like with a natural infection, when the immune cells in the body are exposed to parts of the virus in a vaccine, antibodies are developed and immune cells are primed to respond to prevent infection.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is what’s known as an mRNA vaccine. mRNA vaccines are a new technology where the vaccine is made up of the genetic instructions for the SARS-CoV2 spike protein. The genetic instruction is formulated in small fat particles to protect it from being degraded by the body. When a person is given the vaccine, their cells will read the genetic instructions and produce the harmless spike protein, priming the immune system to attack the SARS-CoV-2 virus if it later infects the body.
mRNA is a type of molecule which is essentially a recipe, telling the cells of the body how to make a protein. The mRNA enters into human cells, which then make harmless copies of the coronavirus proteins. The vaccine does not affect, interact or alter your DNA in any way, rather it utilises your bodies’ natural defense response, which breaks down and gets rid of the mRNA within a few hours after it is finished using the harmless genetic instructions.
Q8. Will this vaccine provide a lifelong immunity or will people need to be re-vaccinated throughout their lives?
Canadians will need two doses of the vaccine. At this time, long-term immunity data is not available. Data will continue to be collected, from the ongoing clinical trials and from real-world use and recommendations will be made based on the evidence collected.
Q9. Now that we have a vaccine, when can Canadians expect to start being vaccinated?
The Government of Canada is working closely with provinces, territories and public health partners to align plans for the timely roll-out of vaccines.
We expect vaccines to become available in mid-December and continue to be delivered in a phased manner, but the initial supply will be limited to 3 million Canadians. That is why we are working to identify priority groups for early immunization. The availability of vaccine will increase throughout the year, providing every Canadian with the opportunity to be immunized.
Q10. Who will get the vaccine first?
Ultimately, each provincial and territorial government is responsible for deciding how to deploy COVID-19 initial vaccines within their jurisdiction. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s prioritization guidance will continue to inform their decisions.
Q11. What are NACI’s latest recommendations on vaccine prioritization?
Q12. How long will it take to distribute an approved vaccine?
The Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada have been and continue to work with key partners and stakeholders to identify anticipated supply chain risks or capacity gaps that may affect mass vaccination campaigns across Canada for the COVID-19 vaccine. This includes working with provincial and territorial partners on potential gaps in the supply chain and procuring additional assets—such as needles and syringes—that will be required for the mass vaccination campaigns for the COVID-19 vaccine in Canada. We have been working to ensure we are ready to get the approved vaccine to Canadians as quickly as possible.
Q13. How will the safety of the vaccines under transport be ensured?
Through the contract process, approved Logistics Service Providers (LSP) are required to detail security measures that are already in place and any plans to enhance these to support the safe distribution of COVID-19 vaccine(s). Canada has contracted FedEX Express Canada and Innomar Strategies Inc., a part of AmerisourceBergen for an end-to-end COVID-19 logistics solution for COVID-19 vaccines. FedEx Express Canada and Innomar Strategies Inc. will provide a variety of services that will assist in warehousing and transportation to provincial and territorial authorities and Indigenous partners to support timely and efficient vaccine administration across the country.
LSPs are also required to adjust these plans and measures in line with the specific capabilities and distribution plans of each province and territory, in compliance with existing regulations related to the importation and safe handling and transport of biological products.
Q14. Is Canada well positioned to distribute vaccines or treatments once they become available?
The Government of Canada has been and will continue to work with the provinces and territories to review the capacity and capability of the existing vaccine supply chain, including the network and product flow, distribution nodes, warehouse capabilities, equipment, cold chain, current service providers, IT platforms and data interchange. Any capacity gaps have been or will be addressed to ensure the safe and timely delivery of vaccines.
It is anticipated that in the early stages of roll-out, supply availability will be limited. The quantity and schedule of availability of vaccines will be the subject of ongoing discussion with provinces and territories to manage plans for delivery.
Ultimately, each provincial and territorial government is responsible for deciding how to deploy COVID-19 vaccines within their jurisdiction. The continued federal, provincial and territorial collaboration that has characterized Canada’s pandemic response will support effective immunization roll-out.
FACTS AND FIGURES – COVID-19 RESPONSE
In last 7 days, the following PPE was delivered to provinces and territories:
Long Term Care Supports
Continue to stay safe and happy Hannukah to all those celebrating this evening,
December 3rd update
This week, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland tabled the government’s Fall Economic Update that included the next steps in our plan to protect Canadians and fight the pandemic.
Eight of every ten dollars spent in Canada to fight COVID-19 and support Canadians has been spent by the federal government, and we will continue to make those investments to keep everyone safe.
To date, Canada has secured up to 429 million doses of seven COVID-19 vaccine candidates, the most extensive and diverse vaccine portfolio of any country. And when a safe and effective vaccine is available, we will ensure every Canadian has access to it, for free. There are currently three vaccine candidates in expedited trials with Health Canada.
The President of Moderna has clarified that contrary to misleading claims made by various opposition politicians that Canada is at the front and not at the back of the pack to receive this vaccine’s initial production:
Until that time, testing and contact tracing continue to be critical in our defence against the virus. That is why we have procured more than 38 million rapid tests – three times the total number of tests performed across Canada since the pandemic began.
More highlights and key points from the Fall Economic Statement can be found further down in this newsletter.
Our Antisemitism Task Force Op-Ed on CNN.com
This week, an op-ed that I co-authored alongside other members of the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism was published by CNN. We discussed the disconcerting proliferation of anti-Semitism through new technology demands, and ways our task force will work to combat it. I encourage you to check it out at the following link: facebook.com/anthonyhousefather/posts/4687531611287891
Highlights from Fall Economic Statement
We will be moving forward with legislation to put in place some critical programs:
Temporary Increase to the Canada Child Benefit for Children under 6
Interest on Canada Student Loans
Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy – Payable Amounts
Increase Maximum Borrowing Amount in Borrowing Authority Act
Replicating CEBA Loan Limits for Gap-filling Programs & RRRF Gap-filling Capacity
Canada Emergency Response Benefit
Investments in Long-Term Care
Supporting innovative approaches to COVID-19 testing
Medical research, countermeasures, vaccine funding and development, border and travel measures and isolation sites
Black Entrepreneurship Program’s National Ecosystem Fund and the Black Entrepreneurship Program’s Knowledge Hub
As many of you may be aware, I worked closely with local black organizations and members of the Liberal caucus to push for new funding for programs for black owned businesses and black entrepreneurs and non-profits that support them.
On Monday, the Liberal Government, announced the opening of applications for the Black Entrepreneurship Program’s National Ecosystem Fund and the Black Entrepreneurship Program’s Knowledge Hub. We hope that as many in our riding apply as possible.
The National Ecosystem Fund will provide funding to Black-led not-for-profit business organizations to strengthen their capacity to provide support, financial planning services and business training for Black entrepreneurs and business owners. Black-led not-for-profit business organizations that serve Black entrepreneurs and Black-owned businesses are encouraged to apply through the National Ecosystem Fund web page by December 21, 2020: https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/150.nsf/eng/h_00000.html
The Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub will gather data on Black entrepreneurship in Canada and help identify critical gaps, barriers to success, and opportunities for growth. It will be jointly run by Black-led business organizations, in partnership with educational institutions. Black-led not-for-profit business organizations and educational institutions are encouraged to come together, develop an application, and apply through the Knowledge Hub web page by January 18, 2021: https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/150.nsf/eng/h_00000.html
For more information on eligibility for the National Ecosystem Fund and the Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, please consult the application guides on the National Ecosystem Fund and Knowledge Hub website, and Canadians may provide feedback on the Black Entrepreneurship Program or ask questions by contacting [email protected]
Call for Proposal to support the Nation Rebuilding efforts of Indigenous groups in Canada.
Application Deadline: Monday, December 14, 2020
The Nation Rebuilding Program was first announced in Budget 2018 with an investment of $100 million over five years. It is an important step to advancing reconciliation and advancing Indigenous peoples vision of self-determination. Currently in its third year of funding, the Nation Rebuilding Program provides support for nation rebuilding efforts that contribute to increased capacity at the larger nation level. $20 million in Nation Rebuilding Program funding has been made available annually for five years starting in 2018-19 and closing in 2022-2023.
Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) - Projects Stream
Application Deadline : Thursday, December 31, 2020
As part of the new Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI), the federal government will invest $1 billion to create up to 3,000 new permanent, affordable housing units across the country. As part of the Projects Stream, $500 million will be invested in projects based on applications from provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous governing bodies and organizations, and non-profit organizations. The RHI will quickly develop new modular multi-unit rentals, convert non-residential buildings into affordable multi-residential homes, and rehabilitate buildings that are abandoned or in disrepair into affordable multi-residential homes. Costs to purchase land and buildings will also be eligible under the new initiative.
Press Release : New Rapid Housing Initiative to create up to 3,000 new homes for Canadians
Website : Rapid Housing Initiative
Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative - Capacity Building Call for Proposals
Application Deadline : Friday, January 8, 2021
In August 2019, in recognition of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent, the Government of Canada announced $25 million over five years for the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative. This initiative supports capacity building, knowledge sharing and the celebration of Canada’s vibrant Black Canadian communities. The second call for proposals under the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative opened. This call will support the capacity building of Black-led non-profit organizations by funding projects that: help them to diversify revenue sources; enhance organizational governance to improve organizational stability; and strengthen the effectiveness of operational management. Three intermediaries—Tropicana Community Services, Black Business Initiative and Groupe 3737—will be disbursing the funds. Interested organizations can visit https://sbcc-acnc.smapply.ca/
Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anti-Racism Initiatives (CSMARI) Program
Application Deadline: Tuesday, January 12, 2021
The federal government introduced the Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anti-Racism Initiatives (CSMARI) Program in 2018 to strengthen diverse communities and support anti-racism initiatives across the country. In 2019, we introduced Building a Foundation of Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy (2019-2022), including additional funding for CSMARI. Since the September 2018 intake, the Government of Canada has funded 679 events and 229 initiatives through this program. The deadline for organizations to submit applications under the Projects and the Community Capacity Building components of the program is January 12, 2021. There is no established deadline to submit a funding application under the Events component, as applications are accepted on a continuous basis. Please note that funding applications under the Events component must be submitted at least 18 weeks prior to the proposed event start date.
News Release : The Government of Canada Launches Call for Proposals for the Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anti-Racism Initiatives Program
Website : Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anti-Racism Initiatives Program
Food Waste Reduction Challenge
Application Deadline : Monday, January 18, 2021
We have launched the first two streams of our government’s Food Waste Reduction Challenge, a $20 million initiative under the Food Policy for Canada. Food waste is a complex issue and needs a variety of solutions. That is why the Food Waste Reduction Challenge will include four complimentary innovation streams that will support a diversity of innovators to establish and grow their solutions in Canada. Funding will be awarded to those who can make the biggest difference in reducing food waste. The first two challenge streams are now accepting applications. Up to $10.8 million will be awarded to innovators with business model solutions that can prevent or divert food waste at any point from farm-to-plate. To receive funding, solutions will need to be innovative, high-impact and transformative and have the potential to make a dramatic and measurable reduction to food waste. The launch of two additional challenge streams focused on technological solutions to food waste is planned for spring 2021.
News release: Government of Canada launches Food Waste Reduction Challenge
Website: Food Waste Reduction Challenge
November 27th update
This week I participated in a special Parliamentary debate on the issue of the French language in Montreal.
During the four hour debate I was the only person that delivered a bilingual speech and spoke to the fears and aspirations of both language communities in Quebec and across Canada. I believe what I said reflected the views of most of the people from both language communities in our riding. Both communities need to participate in discussions about and agree upon federal language policy.
You can watch my speech in its entirety, please click here:
The debate is well summarized in the article below and I encourage everyone to read what Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said about Quebec’s English speaking community and the fact that we should not be protected under the Official Languages Act in the same way as French speaking Canadians outside Quebec:
Irwin Cotler Appointed as Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism
One of my priority issues has always been attacking antisemitism at home and abroad and I have advocated for the naming of a special envoy on this issue. I can assure you that our Prime Minister and Government take antisemitism very seriously and understand it must be tackled at home and abroad and that Canada must play a leading role in doing so. One important component of antisemitism is Holocaust denial.
I was delighted that this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau created a new position and appointed my mentor and predecessor as MP for Mount Royal Irwin Cotler as Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism. Nobody would be better than Irwin at fulfilling this important global role.
Irwin will be tasked with:
- Representing Canada as Head of Delegation at the bi-annual International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) plenary sessions (the next one is early Dec 2020) ;
- Working with other IHRA Member States to advance existing efforts to strengthen and promote Holocaust education remembrance, and research worldwide, and to uphold the commitments of the 2000 Stockholm Declaration;
- Advocating for a broader adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism and work with other international bodies and coalitions to further advance work on combatting antisemitism;
- Supporting efforts to strengthen Canada's implementation of the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, and to combat resurgent antisemitism, through domestic advocacy and outreach;
- Providing recommendations to the Minister of Global Affairs, the Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Youth, and other Ministers engaged in these efforts, on how Canada can meaningfully enhance Holocaust education, awareness, and remembrance, while combatting antisemitism, domestically and internationally to help inform policy and programming
I will be working closely with Irwin on these important issues and I wish him the best of luck in his new role. I know he will do a great job.
Please find below COVID-19 information and other news from this week.
Canada Revenue Agency Applications Opened for the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
I have heard from any businesses in our riding that continue to need help to pay rent. They may be closed or hard hit due to COVID19. Along with many MPs, we heard the concerns expressed about the initial program where monies went to landlords and not tenants.
I am pleased to announce that as of this morning. businesses can NOW apply for the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS). The CERS can help cover up to 65 per cent of the rent to help those who’ve been hit hardest by the pandemic.
Additionally, the new Lockdown Support can also provide an additional 25 per cent for those who have been subject to a lockdown under a mandatory public health order.
Please note that this funding goes directly to businesses – NOT to landlords.
For information on how to apply and eligibility criteria for the CERS and Lockdown Support, click on the link below:
Organizations can apply directly for the subsidy for the period from September 27 to October 24, 2020 through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) My Business Account, or Represent a Client portals. Applications for the second CERS period (October 25 to November 21, 2020) will open on November 30.
In response to concerns raised by stakeholders about the program, the Government is proposing to amend the CERS in order to allow applicants to include eligible expenses in their CERS application before the expense has been paid. This means that organizations can include rent and other eligible amounts already paid in respect of a claim period as well as amounts that are payable for the claim period when submitting their CERS applications. Amounts that are not paid at the time of the application will have to be paid no later than 60 days after payment of the subsidy.
Calculate your subsidy amount
The CRA has launched a CERS online calculator and application form that are designed almost identically to those of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). The calculator guides applicants through a step-by-step process that allows them to determine the subsidy amount they can claim, based on the information they enter. The CERS web pages include detailed information about eligibility requirements, how payment periods are structured, and how the subsidy is calculated.
Processing of your application
The CRA will collect applications over the coming days and, on November 30, process applications received to date. Qualifying organizations whose claims successfully clear the CRA’s automated verification system and that are registered for direct deposit should expect to begin receiving payments starting on December 4. In cases where the CRA does not have enough information on file to process a claim, we will ask organizations to provide us with additional information so that we can verify their eligibility before we process their application.
Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anti-Racism Initiatives (CSMARI) Program Call for Proposals Launch
This week Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth Bardish Chagger launched a new call for proposals for the Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anti-Racism Initiatives (CSMARI) Program.
As highlighted in the Speech from the Throne on September 23, 2020, the Government of Canada will redouble its efforts to combat all forms of systemic racism and discrimination in a way that is informed by lived experiences. Our government’s commitment to working with equity-seeking communities is unwavering which is why we will continue to support racialized communities, religious minority communities, and Indigenous Peoples through improved policies, initiatives, and practices in organizations, institutions, and in society in general.
We introduced the CSMARI Program in 2018 to strengthen diverse communities and support anti-racism initiatives across the country. In 2019, we introduced Building a Foundation of Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy (2019-2022), including additional funding for CSMARI.
Since the September 2018 intake, the Government of Canada has funded 679 events and 229 initiatives through this program.
The deadline for organizations to submit applications under the Projects and the Community Capacity Building components of the program is January 12, 2021.
There is no established deadline to submit a funding application under the Events component, as applications are accepted on a continuous basis. Please note that funding applications under the Events component must be submitted at least 18 weeks prior to the proposed event start date.
Details on how to apply can be found at: https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/funding/community-multiculturalism-anti-racism.html.
Government of Canada announces the new Aging in Place Challenge Program led by the National Research Council
Seniors across the country agree that they want to keep living in their own homes for as long as possible—safely and injury free.
The Government of Canada recently announced the new Aging in Place Challenge Program led by the National Research Council. It will partner with like-minded private, public, academic and other research organizations in Canada and abroad to develop breakthroughs to help older adults and their caregivers to live safe, healthy and socially connected lives while remaining in their homes and communities of choice.
The aim is to reduce by 20% the number of older adults requiring nursing home care across Canada by 2031.
The program will support safe and healthy aging in four areas:
The program is currently seeking researchers from the academic community, the not-for-profit and private sectors, and Indigenous governments to express their interest in collaborating. A panel of experts with lived experience will also be created. Seniors, caregivers and advocates who wish to share their real-world insights and experience are invited to submit their interest.
New Horizons for Seniors Program – Regional Committees Recruitment
The New Horizons for Seniors Program is seeking candidates to serve on Regional Committees, which help ensure that funding decisions take regional needs into account. Members are volunteers who are active in seniors-related issues as well as broader community issues. To help make a difference in the lives of seniors, submit your application by November 30, 2020.
Reminder to Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) recipients who have not filed their 2019 income tax
GIS recipients who have not already filed their 2019 income tax information should contact Service Canada by calling 1-800-277-9914 and provide their income information over the phone. Service Canada will need to have received and processed seniors’ income information by November 29, 2020, to prevent an interruption in benefits in January 2021.
Many of you have asked about COVID 19 vaccines and I wanted to give you as much information as I can about the issue:
Review of Submissions
Logistics related to COVID-19 vaccines will be different as some are novel vaccines with unique characteristics that require specialized capacity and capability like managing ultra-cold shipping and storage.
The Government of Canada is working with provincial and territorial governments and public health partners on integrated planning to support the timely allocation, distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccine as efficiently, equitably and effectively as possible.
We are also procuring materials that may be needed to support domestic manufacturing and packaging, as well as the supplies needed to support vaccination programs such as syringes, needles and alcohol swabs.
Work is underway in collaboration with the provinces and territories to review the capacity and capability of the existing vaccine supply chain, including the network and product flow, distribution nodes, warehouse capabilities, equipment, cold chain, current service providers, IT platforms and data interchange. Any capacity gaps will be addressed to ensure the safe and timely delivery of vaccines.
It is anticipated that in the early stages of roll-out, supply availability will be limited. The quantity and schedule of availability of vaccines will be the subject of ongoing discussion with provinces and territories to manage expectations and plans for delivery.
Ultimately, each provincial and territorial government is responsible for deciding how to deploy COVID-19 vaccines within their jurisdiction. The continued federal, provincial and territorial collaboration that has characterized Canada’s pandemic response will support effective immunization roll-out.
The Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada are currently working with key partners and stakeholders to identify anticipated supply chain risks or capacity gaps that may affect mass vaccination campaigns across Canada for the COVID-19 vaccine. This includes working with provincial and territorial partners on potential gaps in the supply chain and procuring additional assets—such as needles and syringes—that will be required for the mass vaccination campaigns for the COVID-19 vaccine in Canada. We want to ensure we are as ready as possible to get the vaccine to Canadians as quickly as possible.
November 19th update
With the election of Joe Biden as President of the United States we are looking forward to an even closer and more constructive relationship with our closest ally. I was very pleased that a unanimous resolution was adopted in our House of Commons congratulating President Elect Biden and Vice President Elect Harris and inviting President Elect Biden to Canada to address the Canadian House of Commons as soon as possible.
The numbers of COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Canada and while we have had positive news about at least two vaccines which are moving to approval phases we still need to follow all public health recommendations.
Canada has secured options to purchase doses of at least seven different vaccines. We have purchased the millions of syringes, needles, alcohol swabs and other equipment necessary to deliver the vaccine. We have secured more doses per capita than any other country and we are working with the provinces on the best methods to quickly distribute the vaccine we hope to get early next year in the safest most efficient way possible, prioritizing the groups who are the most vulnerable.
Please find below some COVID-19 related updates and other news from this past week.
Statement in the House of Commons on the Passing of Father John Walsh
This week, I had the honour of paying tribute in the House of Commons to the late Father John Walsh, a beacon within Montreal’s English-speaking community who served as a pastor, curate, chaplain, professor and Biblical scholar. He was a champion of bringing communities together and devoted his life to building bridges people of all faiths. He was a member of the Order of Canada, a great Canadian and a true Montrealer. He will be sorely missed. You can check out my statement here:
Kraft-Heinz Moving Its Production of Ketchup Back to Its Facility in Mount Royal
During a time where we all need some more positive news, I am pleased to share that Kraft Heinz Company will be moving its production of their world-renowned ketchup to its facility in our riding of Mount Royal!
This announcement will create dozens of new jobs and maintain 750 more.
Once fully operational next year, the new production line is expected to produce over 100 million pounds of ketchup for Canadian consumers in its first two years alone.
Congratulations to Heinz-Ketchup and thank you for creating and solidifying jobs in our incredible community. Please see my Facebook post about this good news:
Government Tables the Consumer Privacy Protection Act
This week the Government put forward the Consumer Privacy Protection Act in the House of Commons to give Canadians more control and greater transparency over how companies handle their personal information.
The CPPA provides a clear framework of rules that allow Canadian businesses to innovate while protecting Canadians’ privacy. Greater trust and certainty in the digital marketplace will empower small businesses and entrepreneurs to create new jobs, expand their operations and better access the global marketplace.
The CPPA will offer world-leading privacy and data protection and the strongest fines among G7 privacy laws – with fines of up to 5% of revenue or $25 million, whichever is greater, for the most serious offences.
Through this new law, Canadians will be better able to move their information from one organization to another, and the right to have their information deleted.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to increase our reliance on the digital economy, the CPPA will help Canadians embrace this new world, knowing that their personal information is safe.
COVID-19 Facts and Figures
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to intensify in several parts of the country, I wanted to share detailed data with you to give you a better idea of the state of play in Canada.
FACTS AND FIGURES – COVID-19 RESPONSE
• Over 10.3 million COVID-19 tests have been conducted to date.
• Over 5 million Canadians have downloaded the COVID Alert app.
• As of October 27, more than 530,000 Canadians in all provinces and territories have accessed Wellness Together Canada in over 1.5 million distinct web sessions.
• Federal staff are making over 1000 contact tracing calls daily in Ontario.
• Six federal labs are up and running to support provincial lab testing capacity.
• Over 4.2M rapid tests have been sent to provinces and territories to date.
o In Québec, 1,229,896 tests (1 199 200 Panbio, 30 696 ID NOW) have been sent to the province so far.
• 710 Abbott ID NOW devices have been shipped to provinces and territories.
• We have also now established a COVID-19 Federal Rapid Surge Capacity initiative to help PTs respond to outbreaks and mitigate transmission in hot zones where PT capacity has been exceeded. This Surge capacity includes:
o Health care system capacity;
o Testing and contact tracing; and
o Other social services to support Canadians.
• We are currently providing support to Ontario, Quebec and Alberta and Manitoba, and we are in discussion with all provinces and territories on their needs that could be addressed through this initiative. Our current support includes:
o Approximately 150 Canadian Red Cross personnel deployed to support provinces in managing outbreaks including support for testing, and including in long-term care facilities.
o 176 workers in 8 long-term care homes in Quebec.
o Six federal labs are up and running to support provincial lab capacity, with two more opening shortly.
o Processing about 2000 calls a day to assist with contact tracing, with an ability to do more.
o Currently, federal staff are making over 1000 daily calls in Ontario.
o $100 million committed for safe voluntary isolation sites across the country.
o $20M for increased National microbiology lab testing capacity.
Helping Canadians develop the skills they need to find good jobs
Whether in industries shifting services online or small businesses navigating public health guidance, workers across the country have been facing new challenges since the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic. To tackle these challenges, Canadians need access to training and employment supports to develop new skills and find good jobs. That’s why the Government of Canada will continue to make investments to strengthen the middle class, create new jobs, and grow the economy.
The Prime Minister announced the details of an investment of $1.5 billion in the Workforce Development Agreements (WDAs) with provinces and territories. This investment will help Canadians in underrepresented groups and those in sectors that have been hardest hit by the pandemic – such as construction, transportation, and hospitality – quickly access supports to re-enter the workforce. It could include skills training, on-the-job training, employer-sponsored training, financial assistance and benefits, employment counselling and services, and job opportunities. This funding is in addition to the $3.4 billion provided to provinces and territories in 2020-21 under the WDAs and Labour Market Development Agreements (LMDAs).
Today’s announcement is part of the government’s plan to make the largest investment in Canadian history in training for workers. This will help us reach our goal of creating over one million jobs. Working with the provinces and territories, we will support Canadian workers as they build new skills in growing sectors, help them receive education and accreditation, and connect them to employers and good jobs.
As we work toward our economic recovery from the pandemic, the Government of Canada will continue to support Canadians and help them grow their potential. Together, we can build a stronger workforce and a more competitive and more resilient Canada.
November 12th update
This week is what is called a constituency week. It is a week the House of Commons does not sit (although some Committees do) and so I use the week to catch up on constituent files, speak to local schools and organizations and do meetings in my capacity as Parliamentary Secretary for Labour.
For example, this week we held the second meeting of our national task force on the right to disconnect from work email and phone on off hours, which has become a growing problem under COVID19. I also participated in a plenary session at a World Jewish Congress event along with Congressman Ted Deutsch, where we discussed issues of importance to the North Amercian Jewish community.
Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism
On Tuesday evening, our Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism had its first public meeting. As you will recall I helped organize the task force and it is a bipartisan group of legislators from Canada, the United States, Australia, Israel and the United Kingdom.
We will work together to expose the problem of online antisemitism and other forms of hate, hold hearings and following our hearings the goal is to join together to propose a framework of dealing with the issue that all of our countries can use when it comes to dealing with Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.
This week we heard from experts from Canada, the US and Australia and I would like to thank our Canadian presenters; The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), B’nai Brith Canada and the Canadian Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre.
If you weren’t able to watch the meeting live, it is well worth seeing and you can check it out on my Facebook page at the following link:
I also want to thank our incredible local anchor Mutsumi Takahashi and CTV Montreal for having me on the noon newscast yesterday to further discuss the work of the Task Force, the growing issue of antisemitism online, and how we can address it.
To watch the interview, click here: facebook.com/anthonyhousefather/posts/4603293086378411
While the week that Remembrance Day falls on typically includes large commemoration gatherings, this year was of course a little different.
On Sunday, I joined Town of Mount Royal Mayor Philippe Roy and MNA Pierre Arcand at the cenotaph for the TMR Remembrance Day event to honour our troops, veterans and those who perished in Canada’s service.
On Tuesday, I was also pleased to participate in the Town of Hampstead’s virtual Remembrance Day Commemoration Ceremony where I laid a wreath in tribute to our fallen heroes. I missed these annual ceremonies as well as the annual ceremony Cote Saint-Luc has always held as a Remembrance Day ceremony without people of all ages paying tribute to our veterans is just not the same.
As I mentioned in a Facebook post this week, I long for the day when we can all gather again together to thank those who made the supreme sacrifice so that we may live in liberty.
Until then, let us still continue to never forget. Please check out my video in honour of our veterans and the sacrifices they made. Our lives and freedom we enjoy today is because of those who fought for Canada and its allied countries:
Veterans Affairs Canada announces $20 million to support Veterans Organizations
During the week of Remembrance Day, I want to thank Veteran Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay for announcing $20 million in new funding to create a temporary Veterans Organizations Emergency Support Fund.
This will provide financial support to Veterans organizations who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and who are in need of immediate support.
Over $17 million of the funding will go to the Royal Canadian Legion (RCL), ANAVETS, True Patriot Love, and VETS Canada.
To allow funding to flow as quickly as possible, support for local Legion branches will be distributed by RCL Dominion Command. I greatly appreciate our local legion chapters and the work they do every year and am so glad to see support flowing to them.
The remaining funds are available to other Veterans groups by applying here.
Applications should be submitted by November 22, 2020, and all funds will be distributed by December 31, 2020.
I want to congratulate President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris on their victory. The United States is Canada’s closest ally, and I know their administration will allow the relationship between Canada and the US to grow stronger.
As a proud Montrealer, it is an added bonus that the next VP spent many years of her teenhood here in our great city. I know she and the President-elect will bring compassion, competence, and care in all their work to come.
Government of Canada signs another agreement for COVID-19 antigen rapid tests
On Tuesday, Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand and Health Minister Patty Hajdu announced that the Government of Canada has signed an agreement with BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) to purchase 7.6 million rapid, point-of-care, SARS-CoV-2 antigen tests for use on the BD Veritor™ Plus System and up to 2,172 analyzers.
The Public Health Agency of Canada will deploy these tests to provinces and territories to support them in ramping up COVID-19 testing.
COVID-19 testing technologies are advancing as the pandemic continues. On behalf of the Public Health Agency of Canada, Public Services and Procurement Canada continues to pursue additional agreements to secure access to the most promising rapid tests.
Applying Retroactively for the Canada Emergency Benefits
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), have now ended. However, eligible individuals have until December 2, 2020 to apply retroactively for all periods of the CERB (retroactive applications for the CESB are not possible):
• Eligible individuals can apply for periods 1-4 of the CERB (March 15, 2020 to July 4, 2020) by contacting the CRA at 1-800-232-1966. You may be asked to provide additional documentation to support your claim.
• Eligible individuals can also apply for periods 5 – 7 of the CERB (July 5, 2020 to September 26, 2020) through the CRA’s My Account portal or by using the automated toll-free phone lines: 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041.
New Recovery Benefits
If you are receiving the CERB, you may be eligible for one of the new recovery benefits retroactive to September 27, 2020 and available until September 25, 2021:
• the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB);
• the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB); and
• the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB).
Emergency / Recovery Benefits – Main Phone Numbers
You can reach the CRA using two general phone numbers:
• If you are having trouble applying for an emergency/recovery benefit because they haven’t filed a 2019 tax return;
• If you want to make changes to your account (updates to address or direct deposit); and
• If you are having trouble accessing the CRA My Account.
This phone number can be used to obtain general information about the new Canada Recovery Benefits (CRB, CRCB and CRSB):
• Eligibility requirements;
• The payment amount for each period; and
• How and when to apply.
Bills Voted on After Last Week’s Update
As mentioned in last week’s update the House of Commons considered the bill to extend the wage subsidy and introduce the new rent relief package and we passed it last Friday. It is now before the Senate.
For those who do not have a business checking account and that was the only reason you were not eligible for the Canada Emergency Business Account, you are now able to access it. For those waiting for the additional $20,000 amount to become available please keep watching the CEBA homepage and these updates. As soon as it becomes available we will let you know.
We also adopted Bill C-5 at second reading. This bill establishes a National Day of Truth and Reconciliation to remember the survivors of the residential schools system. Please check out my speech on the bill that I gave last week at:
Next week the Bill we be considered by the Canadian Heritage Committee that I sit on.
Passing of Father John Walsh
This week we were all tremendously saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Father John Walsh. I will be making a statement to honour him in the House of Commons next week and will share that on my social media and in next week’s update.
Finally, with the number of COVID-19 cases rising across the country I continue to encourage everyone to stay safe and follow all local public health guidance.
November 5th update
I know that many of you have been carefully watching the US election. I was up until 3AM on Wednesday morning and along with most other Canadians continue to follow the results closely. The United States is our closest friend and ally and biggest trading partner and it is impossible to remain indifferent to what happens there. I also know that many snowbirds are carefully watching events in the US as they determine whether they can travel there at some point this winter. For many of you this will be the first year in a long time that you need winter tires and a warm winter coat. I hope events will allow folks to go south at some point this winter.
I know that you all join me in condemning the terrorist attacks that have occurred in France and Austria and in extending our deepest sympathies to the friends and family of the two people killed in Quebec City and wishes for a quick recovery to the other victims of this disgraceful attack. These murders remind us that even in an age where we are fighting COVID-19 we are also not immune from other attacks.
In terms of COVID-19, with a record number of cases across Europe and the United States we need to be vigilant here to follow all public health measures. We are running between 800 and 1200 cases every day in Quebec and Ontario, Alberta, BC, Manitoba and Saskatchewan are seeing record numbers of cases. In order to avoid further restrictions we need to all follow recommended public health measures. The number of new cases in the areas covered by our riding continue to be too high for comfort so please be vigilant.
I encourage everyone who is able to do so to get a flu shot. I understand that this has proven difficult for many of you. Quebec started distributing the shot later than other provinces and many pharmacies and clinics have limited supply and reservations through the CIUSS system books very quickly. In order to ensure you have the information easily I have re-printed the information from our local CIUSS below:
Where Can I Get a Flu Shot?
As of November 2, CIUSSS West-Central Montreal have begun offering the flu vaccination to residents of its territory at its five CLSCs and the Outremont Point of Service. Appointments can be made either online at clicsante.ca or by telephone at 514-270-1536.
This year, due to social distancing and the need to safeguard everyone’s well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic, the vaccine is offered on an appointment basis only. In order to meet anticipated demand, we have extended our opening hours and hired additional staff.
To consult the list of our CLSCs: https://www.ciussswestcentral.ca/sites-and-resources/clsc/.
Health care professionals at many CIUSSS West-Central Montreal clinics are also offering flu vaccinations. Please ask at your next appointment
Many of you have been asking me about updates to the recovery measures to assist
Earlier this week, our Government introduced Bill C-9, An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy), which would implement new, targeted support to help hard-hit businesses. At his point it looks like this bill will likely be approved by the House of Commons on November 6. As previously announced, the business supports include:
Technical backgrounders will soon be released to provide additional details on the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, the new Lockdown Support, and the extended Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, including details on eligibility.
The programs proposed in this legislation would ensure businesses, non-profits, and charities get through this crisis, stay solvent, and keep workers on the payroll.
Government of Canada announces new mandatory requirements for travellers to Canada
Earlier this week, the Government of Canada announced new mandatory requirements for travellers to Canada.
As of November 21, 2020, air travellers whose final destination is Canada will be required to submit their information electronically through ArriveCAN before they board their flight. This includes travel and contact information, quarantine plan (unless exempted under conditions set out in the Mandatory Isolation Order), and COVID-19 symptom self-assessment. Travellers must be ready to show their ArriveCAN receipt when seeking entry into Canada; a border services officer will verify that they have submitted their information digitally. Travellers who do not submit the required information digitally before boarding their flight could be subject to enforcement action, which can range from verbal warnings to $1,000 fine. Exceptions will be made for those unable to submit documents electronically due to personal circumstances, such as disability or inadequate infrastructure.
Starting on November 4, 2020, air travellers can expect to be reminded by their air carrier of the need to submit COVID-related information digitally through ArriveCAN prior to boarding their flight to Canada.
Starting immediately, travellers entering Canada by land or marine modes are strongly encouraged to continue ArriveCAN by downloading the mobile app or signing in online to provide the mandatory information before they arrive to avoid additional delays for public health questioning and to limit points of contact at the border. Travellers can show their ArriveCAN receipt to a border services officer when seeking entry into Canada.
As of November 21, 2020, travellers who enter Canada by air, land or marine modes, unless exempted under conditions set out in the Mandatory Isolation Order, will also be required to submit information through ArriveCAN or by calling the 1-833-641-0343 toll-free number during their quarantine or isolation period. Within 48 hours of entering Canada, travellers must confirm they have arrived at their place of quarantine or isolation and those in quarantine must complete a daily COVID-19 symptom self-assessment during their quarantine period.
Travellers who don’t use ArriveCAN to submit their information before entering Canada will be required to call the 1-833-641-0343 toll-free number on a daily basis throughout their quarantine or isolation period to provide their post-border information. They will not be able to revert to using ArriveCAN.
Travellers who do not submit the mandatory information required after they have crossed the border will be considered a high priority for follow-up by law enforcement.
This is a significant step in stopping the spread of COVID-19 as traveller information can be shared quickly and securely with provinces and territories to contact travellers for public health follow-up, and with law enforcement to verify compliance with the Mandatory Isolation Order.
Submitting information digitally in all modes of travel will also help travellers reduce their processing time at the border as well as limit physical contact between travellers and border services officers and Public Health Agency of Canada officers. This protects the health and safety of travellers and officers.
Government of Canada announces plan to support economic recovery through immigration
Last week, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino tabled the 2021‒2023 Immigration Levels Plan today, which sets out a path for responsible increases to immigration targets to help the Canadian economy recover from COVID-19, drive future growth and create jobs for middle class Canadians.
The pandemic has highlighted the contribution of immigrants to the well-being of our communities and across all sectors of the economy. Our health-care system relies on immigrants to keep Canadians safe and healthy. Other industries, such as information technology companies and our farmers and producers, also rely on the talent of newcomers to maintain supply chains, expand their businesses and, in turn, create more jobs for Canadians.
Although Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) continued to accept and process applications throughout the pandemic, the global travel restrictions and capacity constraints led to a shortfall in admissions over the last several months. To compensate for the shortfall and ensure Canada has the workers it needs to fill crucial labour market gaps and remain competitive on the world stage, the 2021 to 2023 levels plan aims to continue welcoming immigrants at a rate of about 1% of the population of Canada, including 401,000 permanent residents in 2021, 411,000 in 2022 and 421,000 in 2023. The previous plan set targets of 351,000 in 2021 and 361,000 in 2022.
The health, safety and security of Canadians remain our top priorities. Canada has strengthened health screening at the border as well as monitoring and enforcement, and will continue to closely follow the advice of public health officials as we welcome newcomers.
This multi-year levels plan recognizes the importance of family reunification and Canada’s global commitment to protecting those most at risk through refugee resettlement.
Highlights of the plan include:
The 2021–2023 Immigration Levels Plan will help cement Canada’s place among the world’s top destinations for talent, creating a strong foundation for economic growth while reuniting family members with their loved ones and fulfilling Canada’s humanitarian commitments.
New Rapid Housing Initiative to create up to 3,000 new homes for Canadians
Everyone should be able to find a place to live, raise their families, and build their future. That’s why, since 2015, the Government of Canada has helped more than 1 million people have a safe and affordable place to call home. This work is more important than ever as communities across the country continue to deal with the impacts of COVID-19. By investing in affordable housing, we can create jobs and grow our middle class, build strong communities and fuel our economic recovery, and help reduce homelessness and support vulnerable Canadians.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the launch of the new Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) that invests $1 billion to create up to 3,000 new permanent, affordable housing units across the country.
The RHI will quickly develop new modular multi-unit rentals, convert non-residential buildings into affordable multi-residential homes, and rehabilitate buildings that are abandoned or in disrepair into affordable multi-residential homes. Costs to purchase land and buildings will also be eligible under the new initiative.
The $1 billion in funding will be provided through two streams:
The RHI is part of the government’s plan to create jobs and support economic recovery, while eliminating chronic homelessness in Canada. We will continue to support all Canadians, and especially those most vulnerable, as we work to build a more resilient country that is safer, fairer, and more inclusive for everyone.
October 29th update
As we continue our efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, I urge everyone to remain vigilant and follow the health and safety guidelines outlined by our medical experts.
The second wave has hit Quebec and many other parts of the country quite significantly, but if we keep our guard up, we hopefully can have a chance at gathering together during the upcoming holiday season.
These are certainly difficult times for so many of us, but we can get to where we want to be if we each follow the rules and best practices including frequent hand washing, wearing a mask, and social distancing.
In other news, in the House of Commons yesterday I was thrilled to join my Liberal colleagues and many other MPs in a second reading vote today to criminalize forced conversion therapy and conversion therapy for minors.
The idea that one can change their sexual orientation or gender identity has been thoroughly discredited and conversion therapy is a cruel practice that can lead to lifelong trauma. I am so pleased this Bill is advancing through the House.
You can find my Facebook post about it at the following link:
As always, please find below some new updates and information related to COVID-19 and other recent news from the federal government.
Canada Emergency Business Account Now Open to Businesses Using Personal Bank Accounts
Since the application process for the Canada Emergency Business Account opened, I have heard from small business owners across the riding who voiced their concerns on being unable to apply due to running their business through a personal bank account.
I made numerous interventions on this matter and am thrilled that, as of today, the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) will be available to businesses that have been operating out of a non-business banking account.
I want to thank Small Business Minister Mary Ng and her whole team for working hard to resolve this issue which will allow more businesses to keep their doors open, retain their employees, and help recover quickly when the time comes.
For more details on the announcement, click on the following link: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/10/canada-emergency-business-account-now-open-to-businesses-using-personal-banking-accounts.html
Update on Vaccines
Last Friday, the Prime Minister announced an investment of $214 million for made-in-Canada vaccines. The government has also signed an agreement with Medicago to secure up to 76 million doses of their vaccine candidate, enough to vaccinate 38 million people. This is a progress in our work to strengthen Canada's vaccines, therapeutics and biomanufacturing sector.
The government has also signed an agreement with Medicago to secure up to 76 million doses of their vaccine candidate, enough to vaccinate 38 million people and announced six new projects through NRC-IRAP, which provides advisory services and funding to advance vaccine candidates :
We have now signed agreements with Medicago, AstraZeneca, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Pfizer, and Moderna.
Agreements signed to date will secure access to up to 358 million doses of their different COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
At this time, there are three vaccine candidates currently under review and many others in clinical trials and in development.
Appointment opportunity on the National Seniors Council
The Government of Canada has launched an appointment process for the National Seniors Council seeking applications from diverse and talented Canadians to fill current and upcoming vacancies.
Established in 2007 to advise the Minister of Seniors and the Minister of Health, the National Seniors Council plays an overarching and active role in engaging with seniors, stakeholders and experts in order to provide the Government of Canada with advice on the current and emerging issues and opportunities related to the health, quality of life and well-being of seniors.
The Government is committed to open, transparent and merit-based processes for selecting Governor in Council appointees. Appointees play a fundamental role in Canadian democracy as they serve on commissions, boards, Crown corporations, agencies and tribunals across the country.
Interested individuals are strongly encouraged to apply by November 1, 2020, on the Governor in Council Appointments website (https://www.canada.ca/en/privy-council/topics/appointments/governor-council.html). Applications received after this date will be retained and may still be considered up until an appointment to the position is made.
Find more details here: https://pcogic.njoyn.com/cl3/xweb/XWeb.asp?tbtoken=Z19ZRRgXCG0CZnN3QlUmCFc8BWdEcFdYckggJy4LE2FaLEMeUEoSd2ZwLiUuQC4kXgkbURdTSXYqWA%3D%3D&chk=ZVpaShw%3D&clid=52106&Page=JobDetails&Jobid=J1020-0557&BRID=61495&lang=1
October 21st update
With COVID-19 infection rates, including in Quebec, remaining at alarming levels, governments need to be focused on supporting the health and safety of Canadians and the economic recovery. With the prospect of an election due to a confidence vote now in the rear-view mirror, I am hopeful that we can return to our important work helping our country during this generational pandemic that continues to have devastating impacts here and around the world.
Arrival of Rapid COVID-19 Tests
Canada has received the first delivery of 100,000 Abbott ID NOW rapid tests, with more on the way. We are on track to receive 2.5 million of the ID NOW tests by year end, with first deliveries of the Abbott Panbio rapid antigen tests also arriving shortly.
Canada-US Border Restrictions Extended Another Month
As expected, the current restrictions on the US-Canada border has officially been extended for another month until at least November 21st. Our decisions will continue to be based on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe. I understand that many of you want to make decisions about travelling south for the winter. This is always going to be an individual decision and ties to many factors such as the ability to get insurance and risk of becoming ill in a foreign place but I must reiterate that currently, based on best public health advice, non-essential travel is not recommended. I very much hope that can change soon.
Extension of the Application Submission Deadline for the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP
I am pleased with the decision by the Minister of Seniors Deb Schulte to extend the application submission deadline for the 2020-2021 New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) Call for Proposals for community-based projects until October 23, 2020 at 3:00 PM.
Details on how to apply can be found here: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/funding/new-horizons-seniors-community-based.html.
Pop-up COVID-19 testing clinic
CIUSSS West-Central Montreal is inviting the residents in its territory to a pop-up COVID-19 testing clinic, which is accessible without an appointment.
Location of testing clinic: Abe-Limonchik Community Centre, 6600 Victoria Avenue
Pop-up clinic hours:
To ensure that people who are at greatest risk are tested, priority will be given to those with symptoms and those who have been in direct contact with an infected person.
Please consult and share the poster attached. For a complete list of COVID-19 Testing Clinics located on the CIUSSS West-Central territory, visit this link: https://www.ciussswestcentral.ca/health-alerts/coronavirus-covid-19/covid-19-clinics/
Update on Personal Protective Equipment in Canada
Since the beginning of the pandemic, our government has worked hard to ensure Canada had the Personal Protective Equipment needed. Since March, we have received 800 million masks, gloves, gowns, and face shields to protect front line workers and people across the country.
And this month alone, we’ve distributed over 20 million pieces of personal protective equipment to provinces and territories. We will remain focused on ensuring everyone on the front line has what they need to stay safe.
October 15th update
I cannot thank all of you enough for the kind notes and words of condolence over the last week. It has made this difficult time just a little easier to get through.
While we remain in the midst of a pandemic, I hope you all were able to find some time to connect with family and friends over the long weekend whether by virtual means or respecting social distancing rules.
Facebook Updates Hate Speech Policy to Include a Ban on Holocaust Denial and Distortion
I am pleased with Facebook’s decision last week to update their hate speech policy to include a ban on Holocaust denial and distortion on their platform is an important next step as the fight against antisemitism on social media grows. I look forward to their further cooperation with our Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism.
Earlier on in the week, I also got a chance to speak alongside my conservative colleague MP Marty Morantz and Israeli Knesset Member Michal Cotler Wunsh on CBC’s Power and Politics to discuss the reasons we have formed the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism and the importance of it. I invite to watch the interview through the link included in my Facebook post:
New, Targeted support to Further Help Businesses
The Government of Canada took immediate action to help Canadian businesses affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic, from helping keep employees on the job to increasing cash flow and providing support to help pay rent.
While some parts of our economy are recovering, others continue to struggle with reduced revenues, increased costs, and uncertainty because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That is why Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland announced the government’s intention to introduce new, targeted supports to help hard-hit businesses and other organizations experiencing a drop in revenue. The government plans to introduce legislation to provide support that would help these businesses safely get through the second wave of the virus and the winter, cover costs so they can continue to serve their communities, and be positioned for a strong recovery, including:
Government of Canada and provincial partners support research addressing mental health impacts of COVID-19 on Canadians
As the national COVID-19 pandemic response continues, the Government of Canada and provincial partners are joining forces to address the mental health and substance use challenges facing Canadians, which have increased because of the pandemic.
Last week, Health Minister Patty Hajdu announced an investment of more than $10.2M in COVID-19 mental health and substance use research. This investment will support 55 research teams from across the country to tackle the mental health and substance use crisis that is emerging as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These researchers will address the mental health and substance use needs of individuals, communities and populations, and the effects on health care systems due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They will also develop evidence so that Canadians who need access to mental health and substance use services are able to receive them. Their findings will be used immediately to inform policy and practice to respond to this evolving crisis.
The funding is provided by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation.
Compassionate Entry for Travellers and Limited Release from Quarantine
On October 8th, 2020, the Government of Canada launched a process for those who wish to enter Canada for compassionate reasons, including:
Travellers who wish to enter Canada for compassionate reasons must seek written approval for an exemption from the border restrictions, and when applicable, also for a limited release from mandatory quarantine. If a traveller arrives at the border without written authorization exempting them from border restrictions, they may be denied entry into Canada. Without an approved release from quarantine, they will be subject to all mandatory quarantine requirements.
Travellers will access the application on the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 website (https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html).
Once the traveller has received the signed Letter of Required Support and Site Visit Authorization, they will submit this information along with the Traveller Application via the website. Applicants will receive confirmation of their successful submission, and an e-mail with an application number.
The application will be assessed by the Public Health Agency of Canada to confirm the request meets the requirements for entry and/or limited release from mandatory quarantine for compassionate reasons. It is anticipated that requests should receive a response within 7 days.
It is our sincere hope that this new process will address the difficulties experienced by Canadians and their loved ones during this time.
October 8th COVID-19 Update
As many of you are already aware, my dad David Housefather passed away on Sunday at the age of 88. I want to thank all those who reached out over the past few days with words of support for my family and I. Your emails, texts and calls have truly been appreciated.
My dad was a kind and gentle man, with tremendous knowledge in many areas.
He was one of the rare members of the English speaking community in his generation who went to law school at the University of Montreal, where he excelled. He then practiced as a notary for over 55 years and was excellent at his craft. He was a lover of music, art and literature and was a Past President of the Saint James Literary Society.
We will miss you, dad. Thank you for everything you did to make this world a better place.
Canada remains in the second wave of COVID-19, and in order for us to start to begin seeing promising and decreasing levels of the spread of the virus, we must remain vigilant and follow the public health and safety guidelines, including wearing a mask in indoor spaces and where social distancing is not possible. The less we abide by the rules, the longer the virus continues its devastating impacts on our health and economy.
I understand the red zone restrictions are difficult. Indeed, they impact our lives on a daily basis. But I encourage everyone to please follow them to protect your health and the health of others.
Canada’s COVID-19 exposure notification app now officially available in Quebec
One important advance this week was that the Quebec Government has now allowed us to proceed with the COVID-19 Alert in Quebec. People in Quebec can now receive one-time keys from their health authorities to use with COVID Alert, Canada’s COVID-19 exposure notification app.
The COVID Alert app is free and voluntary, and is another tool to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Users who test positive for COVID-19 will receive a one-time key from their health authority that they can enter into the app.
When the key is entered, COVID Alert will notify other users who may have come in close contact with that person for at least 15 minutes, and direct them on next steps based on their provincial public health advice.
To safeguard the confidentiality and privacy of all Canadians, the app uses strong measures to protect any data it collects, and does not track a user's location or collect personally identifiable information. The Privacy Commissioner of Canada continues to be engaged on COVID Alert, and supports its use by Canadians.
I encourage everyone to download it.
COVID-19 Response Measures
Last week, the COVID-19 Response Measures Act officially became law, allowing the Government of Canada to move forward with making critical benefits and support systems available to Canadians in need. While I supplied most of the details about these new measures in my last update, I have re-provided below the important information and some minor updates now that the law has officially received Royal Assent.
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit
The new Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit will provide $500 per week, for up to two weeks (available in two one-week periods), effective September 27, 2020 until September 25, 2021 for workers who are unable to work because they contracted COVID-19, self-isolated for reasons related to COVID-19, or have underlying conditions, are undergoing treatments or have contracted other sicknesses that will make them more susceptible to COVID-19. This new benefit fulfils the Government’s commitment as part of the Safe Restart Agreement with provinces and territories to provide up to two weeks of sick leave to all Canadian workers in the context of COVID-19. It also encourages Canadian workers to stay home if they are sick or may be sick in order to promote the health and safety of Canadians and workplaces during this ongoing pandemic.
The benefit will be available to residents in Canada who were present for the period in which they were unable to work and:
• Are at least 15 years of age on the first day of the period for which they are applying for the benefit;
• Have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN);
• Are employed or self-employed at the time of the application;
• Earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or 2020, or in the 12 months preceding the day of their application;
• Are not in receipt of paid leave during the period claimed; and
• Are unable to work for at least 50% of the time that they would have otherwise worked or devoted to their work in the week for which they claim the benefit, because:
o They are sick with or may have contracted COVID-19; or,
o They have isolated themselves on the advice of their employer, a medical practitioner, a nurse practitioner, a person in authority, a government or a public health authority for reasons related to COVID-19; or,
o They have underlying conditions, are undergoing treatments or have contracted other sicknesses that, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, person in authority, government or public health authority, would make them more susceptible to COVID-19.
Workers will not be required to have a medical certificate to qualify for the benefit. Workers could not claim the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and receive other paid sick leave for the same benefit period.
Workers will apply after the one-week period in which they are seeking income support and attest that they meet the requirements. The benefit is taxable, with taxes removed at source to reduce the amount of tax owed at the end of the year.
Additional information on the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and its eligibility criteria can be found at Canada.ca.
Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit
The new Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit will be effective from September 27, 2020 to September 25, 2021, and will provide $500 per week, for eligible workers. Households can apply for up to 26 weeks, available in one-week periods.
The closure of schools, daycare and day program facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has meant that many Canadians have been unable to work because they needed to provide care to children or support to family members who require supervision.
The benefit will be available to residents in Canada who were present for the period in which they were unable to work and:
• Are at least 15 years of age on the first day of the period for which they are applying for the benefit;
• Have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN);
• Are employed or self-employed at the time of the application;
• Earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or 2020, or in the 12 months preceding the day of their application;
• Are not in receipt of paid leave during the 1-week period claimed; and
• Are unable to work for at least 50% of the time that they would have otherwise worked or devoted to their work in the week for which they claim the benefit, because they had to care for a child under the age of 12 or another family member who requires supervised care:
o Because their school, daycare, day program, or facility that they normally attend is unavailable, closed or open only certain times or for certain individuals; or
o Because the care services or the person that usually cares for the child or family member is not available due to COVID-19; or,
o Because they are sick and/or have been directed to quarantine for reasons related to COVID-19; or,
o Because they are at high risk of serious health complications if they contracted COVID-19.
A household is entitled to a maximum of 26 weeks of the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit. If two or more persons reside in the same household, the benefit can be shared among eligible workers but only one of them may be paid a Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit for any particular week.
Workers will apply after the one-week period in which they are seeking income support and attest that they meet the requirements. The benefit is taxable, with taxes removed at source to reduce the amount of tax owed at the end of the year.
Canada Recovery Benefit
The new Canada Recovery Benefit will be effective from September 27, 2020 to September 25, 2021. It will provide a benefit amount of $500 per week (available in two-week periods) for up to 26 weeks for those who have stopped working and who are not eligible for EI, or had their employment/self-employment income reduced by at least 50% due to COVID-19. These individuals may still require income support if they continue to be unable to return to work due to COVID-19 or had their income reduced relative to pre-COVID-19 pandemic (attestation-based).
The benefit will be available to residents in Canada who were present for the period in which they were unable to work and:
• Are at least 15 years of age on the first day of the period for which they are applying for the benefit;
• Have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN);
• Have stopped working due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are not eligible for EI or are working and have had a reduction of at least 50% in their employment/self-employment income for reasons related to COVID-19;
• Are available and looking for work, and who must accept work where it is reasonable to do so;
• Had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in 2020, or in the 12-month period prior to their first application for the Canada Recovery Benefit;
• Have not quit their job voluntarily, unless it was reasonable to do so; and,
• Have not rejected a reasonable job offer, rejected a request to resume work or failed to resume work if self-employed where reasonable to do so.
To encourage claimants to return to work, they will be able to earn income from employment and/or self-employment while receiving the benefit, as long as they continue to meet the other requirements. However, to ensure that the benefit targets those who need it most, claimants will need to repay some or all of the benefit through their income tax return if their annual net income, excluding the Canada Recovery Benefit payment, is over $38,000. In other words, claimants will need to repay $0.50 of the benefit for each dollar of their annual net income above $38,000 in the calendar year up to a maximum of the amount of benefit they received.
This means that for a worker who received 10 weeks of the Canada Recovery Benefit in 2020 for a total of $5,000, they will have to repay all of the benefit if their net income exceeded the threshold by $10,000 (twice the benefit payment amount). In this example, the worker will have to repay the full benefit amount if their net income was greater than $48,000 (not including the Canada Recovery Benefit) in 2020.
How to apply for Recovery Benefits
As announced on September 25, 2020, the new Canada Recovery Benefits will be delivered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The CRA will open applications for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit on October 5 and for the Canada Recovery Benefit on October 12. Eligible individuals will be able to apply for recovery benefits online through the CRA’s My Account portal or by phone through its automated phone line. Eligible individuals can get ready to apply by signing up for CRA’s My Account portal, ensuring that their personal information with the CRA is up-to-date, and registering for direct deposit.
The attestation-based application process for the new temporary benefits will have more robust verification measures upfront than the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Applicants will also experience different validation checkpoints to ensure they only receive the benefits to which they are entitled. For more details on how and when Canadian workers can get ready to apply, visit: www.canada.ca/coronavirus.
Payments will be delivered within the CRA’s usual service standard of 3 to 5 business days by direct deposit and within 10 to 12 business days by cheque.
Unlike the CERB, clients will only be able to apply after the two-week period for which they are seeking benefits has concluded. This will help ensure that people are getting the benefits for a period for which they are entitled, and avoid the need to repay benefits.
Of the almost 9 million people who have received the CERB since March, we anticipate close to 4 million people will still require some income support.
A set of temporary of measures were put in place on September 27, 2020 to facilitate access to EI; these measures are complementary to, but not included in, the Act. Approximately 2.8 million CERB recipients will be transitioned to EI regular benefits, including over 400,000 workers who would not have qualified for EI without these measures. These measures include:
• An hours credits;
• A minimum benefit rate of $500 per week, or $300 per week for extended parental benefits;
• At least 26 weeks of regular benefits;
• A minimum unemployment rate of 13.1% applies to all regions across Canada; and,
• An EI premium rate frozen at the 2020 premium rate for two years.
Hours Credits to Enhance Access to EI Regular Benefit and EI Special Benefits
Access to EI benefits is normally based on the number of insurable hours an individual has worked in the year prior to their application, or since their last claim. This is known as their qualifying period. However, the Government recognizes that the pandemic has prevented many Canadian workers from accumulating the number of insurable hours that is normally required, and is taking action to address this. To help individuals qualify with a minimum of 120 hours of work, EI claimants will receive a one-time insurable hours credit of:
• 300 insurable hours for claims for regular and work sharing benefits (job loss); and,
• 480 insurable hours for claims for special benefits (sickness, maternity/parental, compassionate care or family caregiver).
The hours credit will also be made retroactive to March 15, 2020 for claimants who were looking to transition early from the CERB to EI maternity, parental, compassionate care, family caregiver or work-sharing benefits, but could not establish their EI claim due to insufficient hours. For these claimants, the qualifying period will also be extended.
The hours credit will be available for new EI claims for one year, in recognition that labour market conditions remain uncertain and will take time to stabilize.
Minimum EI Unemployment Rate Across Canada
As a first step to help eligible Canadian workers transition from CERB back to the EI system and into the labour force, a minimum unemployment rate of 13.1% is being used for all EI economic regions in order to lower the hours required to qualify for EI regular benefits. This measure is effective for one year starting on August 9, 2020. Individuals in EI regions with an unemployment rate lower than 13.1% will have their EI benefits calculated on the basis of the 13.1% rate, while those in regions with a higher rate will have their benefits calculated using the actual higher rate.
Normally, the unemployment rate in the region in which a claimant resides at the time they file their claim determines:
• The number of hours of insurable employment a claimant needs to have accumulated in their qualifying period to be eligible for EI regular benefits – ranging from 420 to 700;
• The number of weeks of EI regular benefits a claimant may be entitled to – ranging from 14 to 45; and,
• The number of best weeks of earnings that will be used to establish their weekly benefit rate – ranging from 14 to 22.
The EI system uses regional unemployment rates to determine access to EI regular benefits, given that it is generally more difficult for individuals to find new work when unemployment is higher.
In recognition that the pandemic has negatively impacted labour markets in ways that extend beyond traditional measures of unemployment, this measure will set a uniform eligibility requirement for EI regular benefits at 420 hours of insurable employment (before the hours credit is applied), provide a minimum entitlement of 26 weeks of regular benefits, and set 14 as the number of best weeks of earnings used in the calculation of the weekly benefit rate. Combined with the hours credits noted above, individuals can qualify for EI with 120 hours of work.
Minimum Benefit Rate
To further support clients and in addition to the above measures that will increase access to the program, new EI claimants as of September 27, 2020 will receive a minimum benefit rate of $500 per week (or $300 for extended parental benefits), if this is higher than what their benefits would otherwise be. The minimum benefit rate was increased since the August 20, 2020 announcement to align with the weekly benefit rate for the new Canada Recovery Benefit.
The EI benefit rate is typically based on a worker’s average weekly earnings before their EI claim. However, the COVID-19 pandemic may have had a negative impact on a worker’s weekly earnings either because they lost their job or saw their hours of work reduced. The minimum benefit rate of $500 will reduce the negative impact on EI benefit rates for these workers.
EI Premium Rate Freeze
To support Canadian businesses and workers through the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government used its authority under the
Employment Insurance Act
to temporarily freeze the EI premium rate for employees at the 2020 level of $1.58 per $100 of insurable earnings for two years. The rate for employers, who pay 1.4 times the employee rate, will also remain unchanged at $2.21 per $100 of insurable earnings.
Freezing the premium rate ensures that employees and employers do not have to pay increased EI premiums in a time of economic uncertainty, and help support job creation as the economy recovers.
How to apply for EI benefits
Canadian workers already receiving benefits through Service Canada will be transitioned to the EI program once they have received the maximum CERB benefits or on October 3, whichever comes first, if they are EI eligible and continue to need income support.
Canadians who are currently receiving the CERB from the CRA and who believe they are entitled to EI will need to apply through Service Canada after September 26.
Canadians who will need to apply to Service Canada to access EI benefits include:
• 900-series Social Insurance Numbers holders;
• self-employed workers who received benefits through Service Canada; and,
• Canadian workers who received the CERB from the CRA but could have 120 hours of insurable and meet the other eligibility criteria.
Update on travel restriction exemptions for extended family members and for compassionate reasons
In response to COVID 19, Canada has established a multi-layered system, including robust quarantine measures and travel restrictions. These measures have been effective in helping to protect the health and safety of Canadians.
However, the government recognizes that the travel restrictions have been difficult for those who have family and loved ones outside Canada, especially for families dealing with a life-threatening illness, critical injury or death of a loved one. We recognize the importance of being with close loved ones in times of extreme crisis.
The Government of Canada will be introducing a process to allow entry for extended family members of Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents. In addition, we will be creating a process to allow foreign nationals to come to Canada for compassionate reasons in limited circumstances and with limited release from mandatory quarantine. Limited release from quarantine for compassionate reasons will also apply to returning Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
These changes will help families in Canada unite with loved ones while maintaining the integrity of the border measures put in place to protect the health of Canadians. Travellers should not make any travel plans until they have met all requirements and received all necessary authorizations.
New process for extended family members
Under the new process, the following extended family members of Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents would be eligible to travel to Canada:
• individuals in an exclusive dating relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for at least 1 year who have spent time in the physical presence of the Canadian citizen or permanent resident during the relationship and these individuals’ dependent children
• non-dependent children (adult children who do not meet the definition of a dependent child in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations)
• siblings (including half- and step-siblings)
These people will be eligible to travel to Canada and will not need to demonstrate that they are entering for a purpose that is non optional or non discretionary, as long as they
• are staying in the country for 15 days or more
• provide Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) with the required documentation, including a completed and signed statutory declaration, to show they meet the definition of an extended family member of a Canadian citizen or Canadian permanent resident
• meet existing eligibility and admissibility requirements to enter the country
• are travelling to Canada with a valid passport and travel document (visa or electronic travel authorization [eTA], if needed)
• have received written authorization from IRCC to travel to Canada as an extended family member
Like all travellers, extended family members will be subject to all public health measures, including the mandatory 14 day quarantine period upon arrival in Canada. The final decision on who can enter Canada is made by a border services officer at a port of entry.
Detailed information, including the definition of extended family members and the process and requirements to be eligible to enter Canada, will be available on the IRCC website on October 8, 2020.
Extended family members should not make any travel plans until they have met all requirements and obtained all necessary authorizations to qualify to come to Canada under the new rules.
Process to allow for entry to Canada for compassionate reasons
The Government of Canada is working toward introducing a new process to allow foreign nationals to be eligible to enter Canada for compassionate reasons, including being present during the final moments of life for a loved one, providing support to a person deemed critically ill, providing care to a person who medically requires support, and attending a funeral or end-of-life ceremony. Information on how to request entry to Canada and limited release from mandatory quarantine for compassionate reasons will be available on the Public Health Agency of Canada website on October 8, 2020. Provinces and territories may have additional requirements and processes that must be respected.
Information for foreign nationals who receive authorization to travel to Canada for compassionate reasons from the Public Health Agency of Canada and who need a visa or eTA will be available on the IRCC website on October 8, 2020.
October 1st COVID-19 Update
As all of you are aware, the Montreal region has now been listed as a red zone by the Province of Quebec. Our number of COVID-19 cases and associated hospitalizations are on the rise and we all need to follow the public health guidance and new rules set by the Province. Please do your best to stay safe.
Over the course of the last week I have had two major priorities. First was working on Bill C-4 which sets out the new temporary benefits to replace the CERB and provides leave under the Canada Labour Code. You can find a link to my speech on the Bill here:
You can read about the Bill in detail below, including what will be the qualifications and eligibility for each of the three new temporary benefits.
Summary of Part 1: Canada Recovery Benefits Act
Part 1 proposes to authorize the payment of the Canada recovery benefit, the Canada recovery sickness benefit and the Canada recovery caregiving benefit to support Canada’s economic recovery in response to COVID-19; and, it also makes consequential amendments to the Income Tax Act and the Income Tax Regulations.
The Canada Recovery Benefit would provide $500 per week for up to 26 weeks to workers who meet the eligibility criteria. This includes not qualifying for Employment Insurance, not being employed or having a reduction of at least 50% in employment or self-employment income, and being available for and looking for work.
The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit would provide $500 per week for up to two weeks to workers that are unable to work at least 50% of their normal work because:
o they contracted COVID-19, or may have contracted COVID-19;
• they have underlying conditions, are undergoing treatments or have contracted other sicknesses that would make them more susceptible to COVID-19; or
• they isolated themselves on the advice of their employer, a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, person in authority, government or public health authority for reasons related to COVID-19;
The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit would provide $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household for eligible workers. It would be available to individuals who are unable to work at least 50% of their normal work and need to take unpaid leave to care for their child under 12 due to a school, daycare or day program closure or a family member who requires supervised care who is unable to attend a day program, or because the usual caregiver is not available due to COVID-19. The benefit would also be available if the child or family member could not attend their normal school or care facility because they were sick, in quarantine or at high risk of serious health implications due to COVID-19.
The legislation also sets out provisions to support the administration of the new benefits, including the review of decisions and the ability to request reconsideration, the recovery of overpayments, as well as new integrity measures to prevent deliberate fraud.
Summary of Part 2: Amendments to the Canada Labour Code
Part 2 amends Part III (Labour Standards) of the Canada Labour Code (Code) to ensure that employees in the federally regulated private sector can continue to access job-protected leave from work if they are sick or self-isolating due to COVID-19 or if they have caregiving responsibilities related to COVID-19.
More specifically, this Part amends the leave related to COVID-19 under Part III of the Code so that it can be taken:
• for up to two weeks, taken together or in one week intervals, as necessary or as outlined otherwise through regulation, if an employee is unable to work because:
o they have contracted or might have contracted COVID-19
o they have underlying conditions, are undergoing treatments or have contracted other sicknesses that, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, person in authority, government or public health authority, would make them more susceptible to COVID-19, or
o because they have isolated themselves on the advice of their employer, a medical practitioner, a nurse practitioner, a person in authority, a government or a public health authority for any reason related to COVID-19; and
• for up to 26 weeks in total, if an employee is unable to work because they need to care for a child who is under 12 years of age or a family member who requires supervised care, because:
o they have contracted or might have contracted COVID-19;
o their school, day program or other facility is, for reasons related to COVID-19, closed, open only at certain times or open only for certain persons;
o they cannot attend their school, day program or other facility under the advice of a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner due to being in isolation because they have contracted or might have contracted COVID-19, or because they are at high risk of having serious health complications if they contracted COVID-19; or
o the person or the care service that usually provides care is not available for reasons related to COVID-19.
These amendments will allow employees in the federally regulated private sector to avail themselves of the proposed Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit without fear of losing their job.
The amendments also create a regulation-making power that would allow the Government to suspend or modify the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access certain entitlements under Part III of the Code. The existing waiver of the requirement for employees to provide medical certificates when accessing medical leave, compassionate care leave, and leave related to critical illness is scheduled to be repealed on September 30. This regulation-making power would allow the Government to reintroduce the waiver if it is deemed necessary to reduce strain on the healthcare system and make it easier for employees to access the job-protected leave they need.
Summary of Part 3: Amendments to the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act
Part 3 amends the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act to limit, as of October 1, 2020, the payments that may be made under that Act to those in respect of specified measures related to COVID-19, up to specified amounts. Those measures are detailed in the Schedule of the bill, and include a spending cap per measure. The Bill also postpones the repeal of that Act until December 31, 2020.
Launch of the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism
The second priority was the launch of the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism. Eariler this week, I had the pleasure of co-announcing its official launch. The bipartisan task force is comprised of elected officials from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Israel that will aim to tackle online antisemitism by among other things creating recommendations for regulating social media platforms.
To read the task force’s press release in its entirety, click here: https://www.facebook.com/anthonyhousefather/posts/4402643093110079
I also got a chance to speak with a number of media outlets about the new task force, and gave a virtual statement in the House of Commons on its importance. You can check them all out as well additional media coverage at the following links:
Link to my statement in the House of Commons About the Task Force:
Link to Globe and Mail Article:
Link to Radio Interview on CJAD’s Aaron Rand Show: https://www.iheartradio.ca/cjad/audio/countries-unite-to-fight-anti-semitism-both-on-and-offline-1.13615972
Additional coverage from the Canadian Jewish Record: https://canadianjewishrecord.ca/2020/09/30/inter-parliamentary-task-force-to-combat-online-antisemitism/
I am also scheduled to be on CBC’s Power and Politics on Friday and will post the link on my Facebook page once it is available.
Additional COVID-19 Related Information
Summary of Temporary Changes to Employment Insurance:
• 120 insured hours of work required to qualify
• Minimum benefit rate of $500 per week
• At least 26 weeks of regular benefits
The Government of Canada recognizes that the pandemic has prevented many Canadians from accumulating the number of insured hours normally required and is taking action to address this. To help individuals qualify with a minimum of 120 insured hours of work, EI claimants will receive a one-time insured hours credit of:
• 300 insured hours for claims for regular benefits (job loss)
• 480 insured hours for claims for special benefits (sickness, maternity/parental, compassionate care or family caregiver)
The insured hours credit will also be made retroactive to March 15th, 2020, for claimants who were looking to transition early from the CERB to EI maternity, parental, compassionate care, family caregiver or work-sharing benefits, but could not establish their EI claim due to insufficient hours. For these claimants, the qualifying period will also be extended.
As of September 27th, you may be eligible for EI if you:
• were employed for at least 120 insurable hours in the past 52 weeks
• received the CERB, the 52-week period to accumulate insured hours will be extended
• stopped working through no fault of your own
• have not quit your job voluntarily
• are ready, willing and capable of working each day (EI regular benefits)
• are temporarily unable to work while caring for someone else or yourself (EI maternity, parental, sickness, compassionate care, and family caregiver benefits)
If you are eligible for EI benefits, you will receive a minimum taxable benefit at a rate of $500 per week or $300 per week for extended parental benefits.
For more information on the changes to Employment Insurance or to apply, click on the following link: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/notice-covid-19.html
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS):
As a Canadian employer who has experienced a decline in earnings due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for a subsidy to cover a portion of your employees' salaries, retroactive to March 15th. This subsidy will allow small business owners to rehire workers, prevent further job losses and facilitate the transition back to regular activities. The CEWS is currently set to expire on November 21st, 2020. Our government has committed through an announcement in the Throne Speech to put forward legislation that will extend the CEWS into the summer of 2021.
Eligible employers with declining revenues may now be eligible for the wage subsidy beginning with application periods that began on July 5th. For more information on the changes to the CEWS starting with the July 5th, 2020 application period:
We have also provided you with a calculator to calculate your subsidy's amount by entering employee payroll information. Click on the following link to access it:
To apply for the CEWS, please use the following link:
Government of Canada signs agreement for COVID-19 rapid tests and analyzers
The Government of Canada is protecting the health and safety of all Canadians, while moving quickly to have access to a safe and sustainable economic recovery. This includes taking steps so Canadians can quickly and easily access COVID-19 testing.
The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, and the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, today announced that the Government of Canada has signed an agreement with Abbott Rapid Diagnostics ULC to purchase up to 7.9 million ID NOW rapid point-of-care tests, pending Health Canada authorization of the tests.
If authorized, these tests would be deployed to provinces and territories to support them in ramping up surge capacity for COVID-19 testing.
Under the agreement with Abbott, the Government of Canada is also purchasing up to 3,800 analyzers, which are the devices that perform the test and deliver the rapid results.
COVID-19 testing technologies are advancing as the pandemic continues. On behalf of the Public Health Agency of Canada, Public Services and Procurement Canada is actively exploring additional agreements to secure access to the most promising candidates.
Quebec to Join Other Provinces Using COVID-19 Alert App
Thank you to the Government of Quebec for joining Canada’s COVID-19 Alert App initiative. While the Province of Quebec is set to authorize the alert app in the coming days, even before Quebec officially signs on, I encourage everyone in the province to download the app if they can.
While you will not be able to report a diagnosis for now, you will still be notified if you come into contact with someone from a reporting province or territory or when people in your area are able to report a diagnosis
A reminder that your privacy is protected. The COVID Alert does not use GPS or track your location.
It has no way of knowing your location, your name or address, your phone's contact, your health information, the health information of anyone you're near. Nobody will get any information about you or the time you were near them.
The app uses Bluetooth to exchange random codes with nearby phones. Every day, it checks a list of random codes from people who tell the app they tested positive. If you've been near one of those codes in the past 14 days, you'll get a notification.
The app runs in the background and will not interrupt your activities.
Whenever you're near someone else with COVID Alert, both phones exchange random codes every 5 minutes.
The random codes change often and cannot be used to identify you.
What's an exposure?
The app estimates how near people are by the strength of Bluetooth signals.
If you're closer than 2 metres for more than 15 minutes, the app will record an exposure.
Getting a positive test
If someone with the app is diagnosed with COVID-19, they can choose to upload the random codes their phone sent. The codes go into a central server.
The server only gets the codes. It does not get any information about the person.
National Seniors Day
Finally, on this National Seniors’ Day I want to honour all of our older adults and congratulate all the groups representing seniors across our riding which do such excellent work. It is a pleasure to work with you on an ongoing basis.
September 24th COVID-19 Update
I want to wish all those observing Yom Kippur on Monday an easy and meaningful fast.
This will be a very different Yom Kippur with numbers of worshippers permitted in synagogues being severely limited and I know how difficult this is for many observant Jews.
But with COVID19 numbers on the rise in Montreal and all of Quebec and Canada I want to encourage everyone to please stay safe and respect all public health guidelines.
Hopefully next year things will be back to normal.
G’mar hatimah tovah to all!
Speech from the Throne
Yesterday was the Speech from the Throne and I was very pleased with the actions we have announced to tackle COVID-19, create jobs, rebuild the economy and fight against systemic racism.
There was variety of significant announcements unveiled in the speech, including the work we are doing to secure a vaccine and improve testing, the investments to create 1,000,000 new jobs and additional support for Canadians, businesses, and employers.
But as you know one of my biggest priorities was ensuring that we would announce that we would support national standards in long term care and help provide improved home care to let people live in their homes as long as possible. The Throne Speech wording was exactly what I had worked for. It stated:
“One of the greatest tragedies of this pandemic is the lives lost in long-term care homes. Elders deserve to be safe, respected, and live in dignity.
Although long-term care falls under provincial and territorial jurisdiction, the federal government will take any action it can to support seniors while working alongside the provinces and territories.
The Government will also work with Parliament on Criminal Code amendments to explicitly penalize those who neglect seniors under their care, putting them in danger.”
The Government will also:
- Work with the provinces and territories to set new, national standards for long-term care so that seniors get the best support possible;
- And take additional action to help people stay in their homes longer.
The Government will also look at further targeted measures for personal support workers, who do an essential service helping the most vulnerable in our communities. Canada must better value their work and their contributions to our society.
As someone who wants to ensure minority language rights are a priority for the Government I was also exceptionally pleased that the throne speech recognized both the need to support French across Canada and modernize the Official Languages Act and the need to defend the rights of minority language communities including English speaking Quebecers. One paragraph from the speech stated:
“The defence of the rights of Francophones outside Quebec, and the defence of the rights of the Anglophone minority within Quebec, is a priority for the Government.”
We also tackled issues such as climate change and the environment, gun control and multiple other issues.
I look forward to participating in debate in the House of Commons, whether virtually or in-person, and working with my colleagues across the aisle to move our plan forward and provide Canadians the support they need.
Please find below a summary of information included in the Throne Speech:
What we will do and continue to do:
* The federal government will continue to be there to help the provinces increase their testing capacity.
* As soon as tests are approved in Canada, the Government will do everything it can to see them deployed.
* We will also create a federal Testing Assistance Response Team to quickly meet surge testing needs.
* The Government will work to target additional financial support directly to businesses which have to temporarily shut down as a result of a local public health decision.
* We will continue building PPE domestic capacity, while securing supply chains.
* Canada’s vaccine strategy is all about ensuring that Canadians will be able to get a vaccine once it is ready.
* The Government has already secured access to vaccine candidates and therapeutics, while investing in manufacturing here at home.
* We have also made further investments in our capacity for vaccine distribution.
* From the Vaccine Task Force, to the Immunity Task Force, Canada’s top scientific minds are guiding the Government every step of the way.
Helping Canadians through the pandemic
* People losing their jobs is perhaps the clearest consequence of the global economic shock that Canadians – like those in other countries – have faced.
* At the start of the pandemic, we acted fast with the CERB and the CEWS to help Canadians pay their bills and keep their jobs.
* But more needs to be done to get Canadians back to work. That’s why we will:
* Launch a campaign to create more than a million jobs to restore employment to previous levels;
* Create direct investments in the social sector and infrastructure, immediate training to quickly skill-up workers, and incentives for employers to hire and retain workers.
* We will also extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy through to next summer, so workers can remain on the payroll;
* And we will create jobs for young Canadians by significantly scaling up the Youth Employment Strategy.
Supporting workers and their families
* When the pandemic hit and Canadians were asked to stay home, we moved quickly to create the Canada Emergency Benefit so Canadians could continue to pay their bills.
* As we continue to restart the economy, Canadians who are looking for work will now be supported by the Employment Insurance system.
* For those who wouldn’t traditionally qualify for EI, we will create a transitional Recovery Benefit.
* Over the coming months, we will build an EI system that is the sole delivery mechanism for employment benefits, including for those who did not previously qualify and for self-employed Canadians.
Women in the Economy
* Women, particularly low-income women, have been hit hardest by COVID-19.
* To ensure the legacy of the pandemic is not one that rolls back the clock on women’s participation in the workforce or backtracks on social and political gains, we will create an Action Plan for Women in the Economy.
* This plan will be guided by a task force of diverse voices, and help more women get back into the workforce and ensure a feminist intersectional response to the pandemic and recovery.
* We will also accelerate the Women’s Entrepreneurship Strategy, which has already helped women across Canada grow their businesses.
* We will also give parents access to affordable, inclusive, and high quality child care, we will create a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system.
* We been committed to helping small businesses weather the pandemic, through programs like the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and helping provide interest free loans.
* We are committed to helping businesses adapt for the future and thrive going forward.
* This fall, in addition to extending the wage subsidy, we will take further steps to bridge vulnerable businesses to the other side of the pandemic by:
* Expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account to help businesses with fixed costs;
* Improving the Business Credit Availability Program;
* And introducing further support for industries that have been the hardest hit, including travel and tourism, hospitality, and cultural industries like the performing arts.
* This COVID-19 emergency has had huge costs. But Canada would have had a deeper recession and a bigger long-term deficit if we had done less.
* In the short term, we will continue to focus on doing everything necessary to keep Canadians healthy and help them through the pandemic.
* Because the best way to keep the economy strong is to keep Canadians healthy.
* In the long term, we will build back better with a sustainable approach for future generations.
* We will focus on targeted investments to strengthen the middle class, build resiliency, and generate growth.
* That includes identifying additional ways to tax extreme wealth inequality, including by concluding work to limit the stock option deduction for wealthy individuals at large, established corporations, and addressing corporate tax avoidance by digital giants.
* This fall, we will release an update to Canada’s COVID-19 economic response plan and outline the economic and fiscal position, provide fiscal projections, and set out new measures to implement these investments in the Throne Speech.
Addressing gaps in our social systems
* To help and protect seniors, we will:
* Work with Parliament on Criminal Code amendments to penalize those who neglect seniors under their care;
* Work with the provinces and territories to set new, national standards for long-term care so that seniors get the best support possible;
* Take additional action to help people stay in their homes longer;
* And increase Old Age Security once a senior turns 75, and boost the Canada Pension Plan survivor’s benefit.
* We will bring forward a Disability Inclusion Plan, which will have:
* A new Canadian Disability Benefit modelled after the GIS for seniors;
* A robust employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities;
* And a better process to determine eligibility for Government disability programs and benefits.
We will create a more resilient health care system by:
* Ensuring everyone has access to a family doctor or primary care team;
* Expand capacity to deliver virtual healthcare;
* Continue to address the opioid epidemic and further increase access to mental health services
Accelerate steps to achieve national, universal pharmacare through:
* A rare-disease strategy to help Canadian families save money on high-cost drugs;
* Establishing a national formulary to keep drug prices low;
* And working with provinces and territories willing to move forward without delay.
* To keep Canadians safe, we will:
* Continue to implement firearms policy commitments by giving municipalities the ability to further restrict and ban handguns and strengthen measures to control the flow of illegal handguns into Canada;
* And accelerate investments in shelters and transitional housing to better protect women fleeing violence, and continue to advance a National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence.
* To build strong communities, we will:
* invest in all types of infrastructure, including public transit, energy efficient retrofits, clean energy, rural broadband and affordable housing, particularly for Indigenous Peoples and northern communities;
* Accelerate the connectivity timelines and ambitions of the Universal Broadband Fund to ensure that all Canadians, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed internet;
* Work with partners to support regional routes for airlines;
* Focus on entirely eliminating chronic homelessness in Canada;
* Add to the historic National Housing Strategy by increasing investments to rapid housing in the short term, and partnering with not-for-profits and co-ops in the mid- to long-term;
* Move forward with enhancements to the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, including in Canada’s largest cities, so families can afford to buy their first home;
* Continue to work with partners – including directly with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation partners – to address food insecurity in Canada, and strengthen our local food supply chains;
* And ensure that those in Canada’s supply managed sectors receive full and fair compensation for recent trade agreements.
A stronger workforce
* We have an opportunity to not just support Canadians, but grow their potential.
* Working with the provinces and territories, we will make the largest investment in Canadian history in training for workers. This will include by:
* Supporting Canadians as they build new skills in growing sectors;
* Helping workers to receive education and accreditation;
* And strengthening workers’ futures, by connecting them to employers and good jobs, in order to grow and strengthen the middle class.
* Canadians are leading, and they should have government services that keep up.
* We will also make generational investments in updating outdated IT systems to modernize the way that Government serves Canadians, and work to introduce free, automatic tax filing for simple returns to ensure citizens receive the benefits they need.
Taking action on extreme risks from climate change
* Climate action will be a cornerstone of our plan to support and create a million jobs across the country. We will:
* immediately bring forward a plan to exceed Canada’s 2030 climate goal;
* Legislate Canada’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050;
* Create thousands of jobs retrofitting homes and buildings, cutting energy costs for Canadian families and businesses;
* Invest in reducing the impact of climate-related disasters, like floods and wildfires, to make communities safer and more resilient;
* Help deliver more transit and active transit options;
* Make zero-emissions vehicles more affordable while investing in more charging stations across the country;
* Launch a new fund to attract investments in making zero-emissions products and cut the corporate tax rate in half for these companies to create jobs and make Canada a world leader in clean technology;
* Transform how we power our economy and communities by moving forward with the Clean Power Fund, including with projects like the Atlantic Loop that will connect surplus clean power to regions transitioning away from coal;
* Support investments in renewable energy and next generation clean energy and technology solutions;
* Support manufacturing, natural resource, and energy sectors as they work to transform to meet a net zero future, creating good paying and long-lasting jobs;
* Recognize farmers, foresters, and ranchers as key partners in the fight against climate change, supporting their efforts to reduce emissions and build resilience.
* Work with municipalities as part of a new commitment to expand urban parks, so that everyone has access to green space, and find nature-based solutions to fighting climate change, including by planting 2 billion trees;
* And create a new Canada Water Agency to keep our waters safe, clean, and well managed, and continue to grow Canada’s ocean economy.
Addressing systemic racism
* For too many Canadians, systemic racism is a lived reality.
* The Government has invested in economic empowerment through the Black Entrepreneurship Program, while working to close the gaps in services for Indigenous communities.
* Important steps were taken with the release of Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy for 2019-2022, the creation of an anti-racism secretariat, and the appointment of the first-ever Minister focused specifically on diversity and inclusion.
* The Government will redouble its efforts, by:
* Taking action on online hate;
* Going further on economic empowerment for specific communities, and increasing diversity on procurement;
* Building a whole-of-federal-government approach around better collection of disaggregated data throughout Government,
* Implementing an action plan to increase representation in hiring and appointments, and leadership development within the Public Service;
* We will also:
* Introduce legislation and make investments that take action to address the systemic inequities in all phases of the criminal justice system;
* Move forward on enhanced civilian oversight of our law enforcement agencies;
* Modernize training for police and law enforcement;
* Move forward on RCMP reforms;
* And accelerate work to co-develop a legislative framework for First Nations policing as an essential service.
A welcoming Canada
* The Government will continue to bring in newcomers and support family reunification.
* As part of both the short-term economic recovery and a long-term plan for growth, the Government will leverage the advantage we have on immigration to keep Canada competitive on the world stage.
Canada in the World
* The Government will invest more in international development while supporting developing countries on their economic recoveries and resilience.
* Canada will also support work to ensure that people around the world have access to a vaccine.
* We will always stand up for human rights and the rule of law.
* And we will continue to fight for free trade, including by leading the Ottawa Group to reform the World Trade Organization.
* Our likeminded allies and partners are investing to make sure their societies emerge stronger. This Government’s plan does that as well.
September 17th COVID-19 Update
I want to start off by wishing all those celebrating Rosh Hashanah a happy, healthy and sweet new year. Please check out my Rosh Hashana video wishes at XXX and on Friday the Prime Minister will be posting his own new year’s greeting to the Jewish community that we will re-post on my Facebook page. Today the Prime Minister was at a Kosher food bank in Ottawa helping pack meals for less fortunate members of the community and I appreciate his constant support.
As the holiday dawns, the number of new COVID-19 infections has risen in the last week, both across Quebec and in our own riding. As such I encourage everyone to be extremely cautious during the holidays. Please limit any gatherings to the numbers permitted by the Province of Quebec and wherever possible please join services or meals that are outside and not inside. Local municipalities have worked closely with congregations that are holding in person services to permit them to be held in tents outside, including on public land. I strongly support this effort and appreciate the leadership of our Mayors and Councillors. If you fall within a vulnerable group (people with pre-existing conditions or over 70 years of age), I encourage you to be even more careful about attending any gathering over the holidays.
Please continue to practice social distancing, wash your hands as frequently as possible, and wear a mask in all indoor public spaces and outdoors where you cannot practice social distancing..
Let’s continue to abide by the guidelines set forth by our health experts. We can all follow the rules and still have a meaningful celebration of the New Year.
Speech from the Throne
Next week, the House of Commons will reconvene for its fall session. I am looking forward to the Speech from the Throne next Wednesday, September 23rd, and am hopeful our government will find support in the House of Commons as we unveil our plan to re-build Canada while continuing to protect the health of safety of Canadians.
You will find information and the main points laid out in the speech in my update next week but rest assured I have been working hard to see a number of points included that are important to my constituents. These include the need for national standards for long term care worked on in collaboration with provinces and territories and the necessary resources to implement those recommendations. They include the need for better home care to limit the number of people who need to move into long term care facilities. And in light of comments in recent days by the Conservative and NDP leaders, I have asked for a statement that is a strong commitment to both official languages across Canada including the protection of rights of minority language communities. I will keep working to defend the rights of all my constituents.
Safe Restart Agreement
Fighting COVID-19 has always been a Team Canada effort and it continues to be one as we restart the economy and build a long-term plan for a more resilient Canada. On July 16, 2020, the Government of Canada announced an agreement with the provinces and territories that will see over $19 billion invested in protecting the health of Canadians, getting people safely back to work, and preparing for potential surges.
Based on their priorities, provinces and territories were asked to outline in a letter how these funds would best be allocated within their jurisdictions.
The premiers have now submitted the letters and the federal funding will be transferred to the provinces and territories, including more than $3 billion to Quebec.
• This Safe Restart Agreement includes investments in priority areas for the next six to eight month timeframe, including:
o Helping municipalities deliver key services including public transit;
o Increasing testing and contact tracing and data management;
o Additional support for provincial and territorial health care systems, including challenges related to mental health, substance abuse, and homelessness;
o Securing personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare workers and businesses;
o Supporting the most vulnerable, including seniors in long-term care facilities and nursing homes;
o Ensuring safe child care is available so parents can return to work; and
o Supporting people who do not have paid sick leave.
US Backs Down on Aluminum Tariffs
The US decision to impose tariffs on aluminum was extremely unfortunate and opposed by many in the US as well as Canada.
I am very pleased that the United States announced that it has suspended tariffs on aluminum and will be applying duty free treatment as of September 1st – this means that Canadian businesses will be refunded tariffs charged by the US in September.
Thank you Ministers Chrystia Freeland, Mary Ng and others that worked closely with the aluminum industry, business leaders, labour and provinces and territories to achieve this positive outcome.
Participate in the 40th Terry Fox Run Virtual Event this Sunday!
Each year I join Brigitte Mack and her great team to participate in TMR’s Terry Fox Run. This year the run is virtual and I encourage everyone to participate on Sunday, September 20th. This will be the 40th anniversary of the run, and while it will be much different than past years, the cause remains the same. You can find more information about the event at the following links:
Open call for applications for the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative
Last week, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Catherine McKenna, launched an open call to non-governmental not-for-profit organizations who will work directly with municipalities, local governments, Indigenous communities and not-for-profit community partners to identify and fund local projects through the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative.
The Initiative is providing up to $31 million over the next two years to support community-led projects that respond to immediate and ongoing needs arising from COVID-19.
Recognizing the strengths and capacities of non-governmental not-for-profit organizations to work directly with communities in ways that add value beyond what Infrastructure Canada can do itself, the department is engaging the expertise of organizations that are already at work helping communities adapt to this pandemic. This approach ensures the initiative can be delivered quickly and cost-effectively while responding to the distinct needs of communities across the country. The selected organization(s) will make funding available for local applicants and encourage idea sharing so that communities can quickly put into place solutions that will improve the lives of residents.
The goal of the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative is to support projects that help communities of all sizes and compositions adapt to COVID-19 under three main themes: creating safe and vibrant public spaces, improving mobility options, and digital solutions. Potential projects could include: supporting main street business associations to adapt seating arrangements, modifying recreational facilities to accommodate for physical distancing, building pop-up passage ways for bikes, scooters, and personal mobility devices to allow citizens to move around their communities safely, or developing apps or other digital tools to allow residents to access services remotely.
Organizations are encouraged to review the open Call for Applications and consult the Applicant Guide for full details on eligibility and how to apply. Organizations will have until October 16, 2020 to submit their applications.
A call for proposals for specific projects under the Healthy Communities Initiative will come at a later date.
September 10th COVID-19 Update
Over the last 7 days we have seen an average of 187 new cases of COVID-19 in Quebec per day. We have also seen an RT rate above 1. Both of these are disturbing increases and this is also being replicated in other provinces. While the Canadian numbers remain far better than in most other comparable jurisdictions we need to remain vigilant to avoid a new spike in cases. I strongly encourage everyone to continue frequent handwashing, social distancing wherever possible and to wear masks in indoor public spaces. Wearing masks means wearing the mask over your mouth and nose. Recently I have been at a number of indoor locations where I have seen people wearing their mask without covering their nose and we need to point this out as not being the right way to wear a mask.
Over the last few days a number of announcements have been made about issues that a number of you have asked me about. We have a new round of New Horizon grants for seniors opening. Information on how to apply is below and I encourage all of our organizations serving seniors to carefully read the requirements and apply if you meet them. The Government has also announced an additional month for the rent subsidy program called the CECRA. This will be welcome news to a number of tenants in our riding. Information on this is also found below. Finally, after tremendous efforts by black community leaders like our own Cote Des Neiges Black Community Association’s Tiffany Callendar and the strong support of Liberal MPs the Government has announced the creation of Canada’s first ever Black Entrepreneurship Program (“BEP”). Details about the program which will help many black owned businesses in our riding and across Canada are also found below.
Last week, I was pleased to represent the Government of Canada at an event where we announced a contribution of $1,292,834 to Déclic, an organization that provides support to young Montrealers who face special challenges.
The monies will assist them to hire 6 additional staff to work with at risk youth between 17 and 26 to get them through school and into the workforce.
Additional monies came from the Province of Quebec and I was pleased to be at the announcement together with Quebec Labour Minister Jean Boulet - député de Trois-Rivières and Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge - député de Chambly. Governments at all levels need to work together to assist young Canadians facing special challenges when it comes both to education and entering the workforce during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Finally I want to encourage everyone to participate in the Miracle Food Drive on Sunday the 13th of September. Details of how to participate are also found below.
Government Announces Extension of the Canadian Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)
The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, and the Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, the Honourable Mary Ng, announced that Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses will be extended by one month to help eligible small businesses pay rent for September. All provinces and territories continue to participate in this initiative and collaborate with the federal government to provide rent supports to those small businesses most in need. Current CECRA application deadlines will also be extended to accommodate this extension.
Across the country, thousands of small businesses that were forced to close or were especially hard hit have been able to use CECRA to help cover rent and position themselves to reopen as the economy reopens. As of September 7, 2020, over 106,000 small business tenants have been supported, representing 994,000 employees, for a total of over $1.32 billion in rent support.
The government is continuing to process thousands of applications worth hundreds of millions of additional dollars of support. Property owners are encouraged to continue to make use of CECRA for eligible tenants and to work to provide flexibility where possible to their tenants as they recover from the crisis. The federal government also continues to support the provincial banning of commercial evictions during the pandemic.
This will be the final extension of this program as the government explores options to support small businesses as they face the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic — including the challenges of fixed costs at a time when health concerns and precautions prevent many businesses from operating at full capacity. The federal government will continue to ensure Canadian small businesses have the support they need.
Government of Canada Announces New Black Entrepreneurship Program
As mentioned in my Facebook post yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada’s first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program (BEP).
Through an investment of up to nearly $221 million, the BEP will provide targeted support for thousands of Black business owners and entrepreneurs across the country – helping them recover from COVID-19 and thrive for years to come.
A special shout out to the Cote Des Neiges Black Community Association, including its Executive Director Tiffany Callender, for its incredible work and advocacy as one of the many Black-lead organizations that helped make this program possible.
I also want to thank all my colleagues in the Black Caucus who also played a huge part in the creation of the BEP. It was a pleasure to work with all of you and I look forward to helping make even more progress through our work as a group.
Please find more details and information related to this program below:
BEP is comprised of three elements: a National Ecosystem Fund for organizations that support Black entrepreneurs, a loan fund to provide financing for Black entrepreneurs and business owners, and a knowledge hub that will help fill gaps in data and knowledge about Black entrepreneurship.
The BEP will also help lay a stronger foundation that will enable them to grow and thrive in the months and years to come.
1. How will the Program work?
There are 3 main components to the Program:
U p to $53 million to develop and implement a new National Ecosystem Fund to support Black-led business organizations across the country. It will help Black business owners and entrepreneurs access funding and capital, mentorship, financial planning services, and business training.
o Our government will launch a call for proposals for Black-led organizations to join and help deliver the National Ecosystem Fund for Black entrepreneurs. More details, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, will follow.
o Canada’s Regional Development Agencies will deliver the National Ecosystem Fund, and work with selected partner organizations to assist them in implementing their services.
o Our government will work to strengthen this ecosystem on a national scale to help Black entrepreneurs in every corner of the country.
Up to $33.3 million in support through the new Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund that will provide loans of between $25,000 and $250,000 for Black business owners and entrepreneurs. Our government is also partnering with financial institutions, including RBC, BMO Financial Group, Scotiabank, CIBC, National Bank, TD Bank, Vancity, and Alterna Savings, to make up to an additional $128 million available in lending support.
o The Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund will be available through Black-led business organizations supported through the National Ecosystem Fund.
o Further details on eligibility requirements and how to apply for loans will follow from our government. The initial commitments made by financial institutions are subject to final development of the Loan Fund. Up to $6.5 million to create and sustain a new Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub that will collect data on the state of Black entrepreneurship in Canada and help identify Black entrepreneurs’ barriers to success as well as opportunities for growth.
o This is important not only to enable the creation of policy that reflects the needs of Black Canadians, but also to ensure that there is proper accountability to Black Canadian communities.
o The Hub will be run by Black-led community and business organizations, in partnership with educational institutions.
o As part of our work to better understand the barriers faced by and needs of Black entrepreneurs in Canada, Statistics Canada will work to improve disaggregated data collection on Black entrepreneurship.
1. How many businesses will benefit from this program?
BEP will help thousands of Black business owners and entrepreneurs across the country recover from COVID-19 and help their business thrive in the future.
2. What are the criteria for Black business owners to be eligible?
The Black Entrepreneurship Program is designed to broadly serve Black business owners and entrepreneurs across Canada, through lending support, business plan development, mentorship, or otherwise.
Details on specific eligibility criteria will be available soon.
3. How can Black entrepreneurs and business owners apply for this funding of the loan fund and/or the ecosystem?
Entrepreneurs will be able to access ecosystem supports through the BEP partner organization serving their region.
Black-led organizations in the communities are best equipped to tailor supports to their areas, which is why the Black Entrepreneurship Program equips these business organizations to expand their offerings and meet the demands of their communities.
Partner institutions in each region will be chosen through a Request for Proposal process. More details will follow.
4. Will this support only be in the form of loans?
In addition to increasing funding available to Black entrepreneurs through the centralized Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, the BEP will also help Black business owners and entrepreneurs by strengthening business and mentorship supports in their communities through Black-led business organisations (National Ecosystem Fund), and by better capturing the experiences and challenges of doing business as a Black Canadian through the new Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub.
5. Where will information be available on the process, and how can I stay up to date?
Our government will launch a website on the Black Entrepreneurship Program via Innovation Science and Economic Development.
The website will provide details of the program, including application deadlines for the National Ecosystem Fund and the Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, and additional information on the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund.
6. What kind of activities can the ecosystem partners undertake, and how does that help business owners and entrepreneurs?
Ecosystem supports delivered by the partner organizations could include business mentorship, business development and financial planning, business training, and a number of other supports that the Black-led business organizations recognize a need for in their communities.
Call for Proposals for the New Horizons Seniors Program community-based projects that support seniors
I am pleased to announce the launch of the 2020–21 New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) Call for Proposals for community-based projects. This year, organizations will be able to apply for funding to support seniors dealing with the pandemic by submitting project proposals that offer specific COVID-19 relief and recovery activities for seniors. Organizations are still welcome to submit proposals for traditional NHSP projects that they plan to deliver in 2021–22.
The Government is committed to ensuring that the NHSP is responsive to feedback and reflects the current realities of seniors and senior-serving organizations. To that end, a number of changes have been made this year, including improvements to program parameters, delivery and access.
Organizations are invited to apply for funding that supports the NHSP national priorities for this cycle:
1. Supporting healthy ageing
2. Preventing elder abuse and fraud
3. Combatting ageism, celebrating diversity and promoting inclusion
4. Improving seniors’ access to government services and benefits
5. Adapting community-based organizations to a more virtual environment
The 2020–21 NHSP community-based Call for Proposals is open until October 20, 2020. For details on how to apply, visit https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/new-horizons-seniors.html.
Ministers Mélanie Joly and Mary Ng announce over $10 million in investments to support women entrepreneurs in Quebec
The Government of Canada is committed to supporting Canadian businesses in their diversity, which is key to a successful economic recovery that is strong and inclusive in the context of a pandemic. Only 16% of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses are owned by women. Yet studies show that by advancing women’s participation in the economy, Canada could add up to $150 billion in GDP. The full and equal contribution of women to economic development is desirable and essential for the country’s competitiveness; it is not just the right thing to do, but also the most profitable.
However, women entrepreneurs are confronted with obstacles as they move forward on their path—and the issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are bringing up new challenges for them to face. As their presence expands in a range of economic sectors, whether it be agri-food, manufacturing, metal products, life sciences or textiles, the Government of Canada is making sure to provide them with adequate support to strengthen their economic power through direct assistance or by making it easier to access the resources and capital they need.
Support tailored to women entrepreneurs
The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, announced federal investments of over $10 million to help women entrepreneurs in Quebec to access the resources they need to affirm their presence and ensure the strong, sustainable growth of their businesses. This funding, granted by CED, will boost 38 promising projects that will enable businesses to grow, innovate, develop and create jobs.
Among the projects supported, seven associations and organizations currently benefiting from the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) Ecosystem Fund will receive additional assistance totalling $3,146,000 to help women entrepreneurs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement is proof once again of the Government of Canada’s commitment to women entrepreneurs and the importance it places on the growth of their businesses. This investment attests to a genuine willingness to create a diverse, inclusive economy that promotes prosperity and better quality of life for all. The Government of Canada recognizes the value in having women participate in the economy, which is essential for the country’s competitiveness and prosperity. They are also playing a major role in Canada’s economic recovery.
Additional information on the projects is provided in a related backgrounder.
Join the Miracle Food Drive on Sept. 13
Montreal is set to hold the largest food drive in its history in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s a massive undertaking and the Miracle Food Drive needs your help.
The Miracle food drive will take place on Sunday, September 13, between noon and 4 p.m. Giving is easy: residents of the Greater Montreal region, including the island and north and south shore suburbs, need only place a non-perishable food item on their porch or stoop.
Here's where YOU come in: thousands of volunteers are needed from across the region, in each neighbourhood, to collect the items, sort them and deliver them to the people and organizations who need them most. Be a captain, a team leader, a driver.
Volunteering will not put anyone at risk; all public health precautions will be in place. No one will be asked to ring doorbells or knock at doors. Volunteers will simply scoop up the food item(s) residents have left for them.
Success depends on the 4.2 million people in the region and the thousands of volunteers needed to answer the call: neighbours helping neighbours.
The food drive was spearheaded in Montreal by volunteer Gillian Aitken and a growing team of volunteers from every part of the city and area of expertise who saw the potential for Montrealers to come together and donate as more and more individuals and families struggle to make ends meet is enormous.
A dedicated website can be found at http://www.miracle13septembre.org/
September 3rd COVID-19 Update
On Monday, It was a great pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the National Research Council building on Royalmount Avenue in our riding of Mount Royal where we announced $126 million to help expand the facility to build out a lab that will allow Canada to produce approximately 2,000,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine per month by the middle of next year.
The Prime Minister also announced additional partnerships where Canada has arranged to source vaccines in development.
It was a pleasure to also be joined by Minister Navdeep Bains, Minister Mélanie Joly and Parliamentary Secretary Rachel Bendayan for the announcement.
Then in the afternoon, I was pleased to have moderated a virtual town hall in Mount Royal with my friend and colleague, Seniors Minister Deb Schulte.
We had more than 265 households on the call and valuable information was shared and lots of people’s questions were answered on a variety of issues ranging from long term care to pensions, to RRIFs to caregiver tax credits to public transportation to vaccines to traveling to Florida and more.
Thank you to the Cote Saint Luc Men’s Club, the Cote Saint-Luc Women’s Club, the Town of Mount Royal Volunteer Centre, the Filipino Association of Montreal And Suburbs, and the Cummings Centre for joining with me to co-sponsor the event.
There have also been a variety of additional announcements recently related to COVID-19 from the Government of Canada, and more. Please find below information on:
• Applications for the Security Infrastructure Program (SIP) are now open
• $2 Billion in support for provinces and territories through the Safe Return to Class Fund
• The extension of the Canada Emergency Business Account from August 31 to October 31, 2020
• Temporary policy changes intended to support international students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
Applications for the Security Infrastructure Program (SIP) are now open
The SIP call for applications is now open. Funding is available to private, not-for-profit organizations that are at risk of being victimized by hate- motivated crime. It helps with the cost of security infrastructure improvements for:
• Places of worship such as a temple, mosque, synagogue, gurdwara or church, where a group of people can gather to perform acts of religious praise, meditation, honour or devotion;
• Provincially/territorially recognized private educational institutions, including primary and secondary schools; and
• Community centres, such as a community drop-in centre or aboriginal Friendship Centre, where members of a community can gather year-round for social or cultural activities.
For the purpose of the SIP, a hate-motivated crime is described as a criminal offence motivated by hate towards an identifiable group. Some groups, by virtue of their color, race, ethnic and/or national origins, sexual orientation, religious affiliation or some other attribute are at risk of being the victims of hate-motivated crime.
For a complete list of eligibility criteria, please consult the Application Guide and the Program’s Terms and Conditions. In order for your organization to apply, please click on the following link: https://report-rapport.ps-sp.gc.ca/s.asp?k=157485618094
Approved projects may receive up to 50% of total project costs to a maximum Public Safety Canada contribution of $100,000 per project.
Proposals may be approved in their entirety or in part.
The deadline to submit an application is October 31, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) (