COVID-19 Update (March 18th)

I hope this message finds you and your family well in these unprecedented times.  I am committed to keeping you updated as new developments occur in our response to COVID-19.  As I mentioned in my message to you Sunday, this is a time where I want to use my ability to communicate with many of you quickly in order to pass along factual information from either the provincial or federal government.  The situation is changing rapidly, as you know, and as such these pieces are accurate as of today, March 18th 2020.

Canadians Travelling Abroad Should Return Home Immediately

The Government of Canada advises you to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice.  Canadians who are outside of Canada should find out what commercial options are still available to return to Canada and should consider returning to Canada earlier than planned if these options are becoming more limited (as an example, WestJet announced they are halting international flights).

Eligible Canadians currently outside Canada and needing help to return home can contact the nearest Government of Canada office or Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where available) or email sos@international.gc.ca.  The Government of Canada is prepared to provide emergency loans in order to help Canadians secure travel home as necessary. 

It is imperative that if you return from abroad, you self-isolate for 14 days upon your return into Canada.  Flights from outside of Canada are being directed to four Canadian airports (one of which is Calgary) and border agents are working to inform people about self-isolation.

Information for Air Passengers

The Government of Alberta says:

As more flights confirm passengers with COVID-19, Albertans should monitor their air travel even if it was limited to within Canada.

Note: all travellers returning from outside of Canada after March 12 are asked to self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of whether they were on a flight with a known COVID-19 case.

Flights that have confirmed cases and the affected seats will be posted online as information is confirmed. Passengers in affected seats are considered close contacts and are at risk of exposure.

  • Passengers in affected seats should self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms.
  • Other passengers are not required to self-isolate but should monitor for symptoms

If you recently returned from a flight:

  1. check the list of affected flights for updates
  2. self-isolate for 14 days if your seat was affected
  3. monitor for symptoms such as cough, fever, fatigue or difficulty breathing
  4. take the COVID-19 self-assessment to determine next steps and find out if testing is required.

What To Do Now

As a reminder, the Government of Alberta says:

Public health measures are in place to quickly identify potential COVID-19 cases and prevent the infection from spreading.

Influenza and other common viruses remain the most likely cause of a respiratory infection.

All Albertans are encouraged to take personal steps to help prevent the spread.

To protect yourself and others:

  • stay home and away from others if sick or in isolation
  • wash hands often, using soap and water for at least twenty seconds
  • cover coughs and sneezes
  • avoid touching face with unwashed hands
  • avoid travel outside Canada
  • self-isolate for 14 days if returning from travel outside Canada or were exposed to COVID-19

If you have symptoms, like a dry cough, fever, fatigue or difficulty breathing:

Masks can be very important in certain situations.

  • If you are healthy, medical masks are not recommended as they do not provide full protection and can create a false sense of security.
  • If you are sick, wearing a mask helps prevent spreading the illness to other people.

This is why people who have a cough or respiratory symptoms must wear masks and wash their hands when visiting an emergency department or clinic.

Supports for Families and Businesses

The Government of Canada has announced a suite of financial supports for individuals and businesses.  Visit https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html for full details.  In brief, supports include:

For individuals:

  • Enhancements to Employment Insurance (EI)
  • Enhancements to the GST tax credit for low income Canadians
  • Flexibility on tax filing deadlines

Canada’s major banks have also announced various options to defer mortgage payments.  Contact your bank for details.

For businesses

  • Temporary wage subsidies for small business
  • Flexibility on business tax filing deadlines
  • Access to credit through the Business Development Bank of Canada

Measures to Support the Economy

The Government of Canada says:

To help support the economy during this time, the Government of Canada “is launching an Insured Mortgage Purchase Program (IMPP). Under this program, the government will purchase up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This action will provide long-term stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders, help facilitate continued lending to Canadian consumers and businesses, and add liquidity to Canada’s mortgage market.

Further, the Bank of Canada has announced that it will adjust its market liquidity operations to maintain market functioning and credit availability during the current period of uncertainty in which conditions are evolving rapidly.”

Ron Liepert