COVID-19 Update April 30

Dear Constituents,

As always, I hope this email finds you well.  Below is a summary of important developments this week.

Alberta Relaunch Strategy

Many constituents have been anxiously awaiting word on reopening the economy. While our Conservative opposition continues to call on the Liberal government to announce an overarching strategy for the country, none has been forthcoming. This week however Premier Kenney announced the first steps as part of government’s “Alberta Relaunch Strategy”.  You can read details here.

While final decisions surrounding the relaxation of public health measures rests with the Government of Alberta, I am also meeting regularly with MLAs and City Councillors that also represent Calgary Signal Hill, and have shared with them what I have heard from constituents on this matter.

Parliament Meets Virtually

Parliament resumed for two days this past week. The first ever virtual sitting with 338 MPs connecting via Zoom was held on Tuesday.  This was followed by an in-person sitting on Wednesday with a limited number of MPs in attendance. To say the virtual session had some technical difficulties would be an understatement, however it did provide an opportunity, as did the Wednesday session, for the opposition to ask the Liberal government many of the questions you pose to me on a daily basis. You can view Hansard and the questions posed at here.

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)

Late last week the federal government announced it would be assisting businesses with commercial rent payments beginning this month. The program would see landlords reducing tenants rent by 75% with the government then picking up 50% of the landlord costs. There is no requirement for landlords to participate in this program however, so small businesses will need to inquire with their landlord whether they are facing a full month’s rent for May or 25% of their monthly cost. Details are still being finalized but you can click here for an overview of the program and to sign up for more information.  

Support for Students

Earlier this week, the House of Commons passed the Canada Emergency Student Benefit which pays $1,250 to each student per month (or $2,000 if they have a disability) from May to August 2020.  Students had been largely overlooked by the other benefit programs and this was a welcome proposal.  The opposition negotiated some technical changes into the legislation which are designed to connect students who are able to work during these times with available jobs via the Canada Jobs Bank.  We don’t yet have full details how this will be administered or where to go to apply, and so I will share more information when it becomes available.

Comments By MP Sloan 

Over the past week I have had a number of emails critical of comments made by Ontario Conservative MP Derek Sloan relating to Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Teresa Tam. Mr. Sloan’s Ontario colleagues have asked him to retract the statements and apologize to Dr. Tam. I share their views. His comments were inappropriate and I am certainly not going to defend them in any way.  It is perfectly reasonable to critique public health officials on their performance, but constructive criticism is never based upon someone’s race. I found his comments very offensive, and they seemed to be very much politically motivated given that he is running to be leader of the party.

Coming to Your Mailbox Soon

I appreciate the many kind words I have received regarding these emails.  It is important to me to be able to update you regularly.  While our email list is large, I know that these messages don’t reach everyone.  We have pushed for, and the House of Commons has agreed, to allow MPs to send a mail out to all constituents using a local printer (usually mail outs are printed centrally in Ottawa).  This substantially reduces the lead time for the publication, and allows us to provide more timely information.  

Watch your mailbox at the end of next week, or early the following week, to receive a copy of a newsletter I have prepared.  I am also attaching a copy here for you if you would like to take a look at it in advance.