By MP Ruby Sahota (Brampton North) and MPP Prabmeet Sarkaria (Brampton South)

As Canadians take action in the fight against COVID-19, we know that hardworking Brampton families and business owners are facing real challenges brought on by this public health pandemic. 

And as we act on the advice of our public health officials and do what is necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19, parents are dealing with the dual realities of layoffs and economic uncertainty, all while balancing the pressures of the kids being home from school.  Business owners are dealing with mandatory closures, payroll concerns, and the uncertainty of what the future holds for their companies and employees. These are unprecedented times.

But despite the challenges before us, Bramptonians know that they have governments at Parliament Hill and Queens Park that are committed to their health and safety; focused on overcoming this crisis; and determined to ensure a strong economic recovery in the months ahead.

From the very beginning of this crisis, all levels of government have acted together to respond to the emergency on the ground, implement the recommendations of our medical experts, and safeguard the health and wellbeing of our community. Our Governments are unwavering in our commitment to be there with Canadians every step of the way. 

But during this time of crisis, we need a bold vision to not only see us through the immediate challenges, but one that looks forward to the recovery ahead. Hardworking families and businesses in our community are counting on us, and our Governments are ready to continue supporting Canadians, our healthcare system and our economy.

In response to COVID-19, the Provincial Government released a $17 billion Action Plan that will go towards supporting our health system, Ontarians and our businesses. 

To support workers and their families, the Federal Government introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. The CERB means that workers, including the self-employed, who are unable to work or have seen a decrease in work because of COVID-19 have the income support they need. To determine if you are eligible for $2000/month in income support and to apply, please visit: www.canada.ca/coronavirus-cerb. The Provincial Government also passed legislation that provides job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19. Health should be put first and no one should lose their jobs because of health concerns like this that are out of their control.  

Brampton is also home to one of the largest young populations in the country. To support young Canadians, the Federal Government is ensuring that students have the help they need to continue their studies and gain the experience they need to start their careers and help us recover. 

A $9 billion plan has been introduced to support post-secondary students and recent graduates by creating the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, creating the Canada Student Service Grant, and creating 76,000 additional student summer jobs. With this support, post-secondary students can now be confident that they will be able to continue their studies in the fall. 

To ease the financial burden on students, the Provincial government is also temporarily deferring payments for Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loans. Loan repayments will be subject to a six-month interest free moratorium until September 30, 2020. These significant new supports from your federal and Provincial governments will help young Canadians get through this crisis and play a central role in ensuring Canada emerges from these challenges stronger than ever. 

To support low- and modest-income families, the Federal Government is providing a one-time boost to income, which will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples. Meanwhile, to support families with children, the Federal Government will be topping up the Canada Child Benefit by $300 per child for the month of May. To support families with children who attend school, the Provincial Government is providing a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs, including children enrolled in private schools. To apply, please visit: https://www.ontario.ca/page/get-support-families

Here in Brampton, like in so many communities across Canada, our small businesses are the cornerstone of our community and the lifeblood of our economy.  We are focused on engaging with businesses, listening to their concerns, and working together on getting Brampton businesses the supports they need to weather this storm.

This begins with helping businesses protect jobs and pay their bills. Our Federal and Provincial Governments will continue to take immediate and decisive action during this challenging time.

Increasing cash flow for businesses is a priority of our governments. Through the Provincial Government’s Action Plan, $13.7 billion will go directly towards supporting jobs, businesses and increasing cash flows for Ontarians. This includes:

  • Doubling the Employer Health Tax exemption for 2020, cutting taxes by $355 million, benefiting roughly 57,000 employers;
  • Eliminating penalties and interest to businesses for majority of provincially administered taxes for five months starting April 1, 2020, providing up to $6 billion in cashflow for about 100,000 Ontario businesses;
  • Suspending time-of-use electricity rates for Ontarians and small businesses, providing over $1.5 billion in relief. 
  • providing property tax deferrals of over $1.8 billion to local residents and businesses;

The Canada Emergency Business Account is offering interest-free, partially forgivable loans of up to $40,000 for businesses with an annual payroll of between $20,000 and $1.5 million. Further, to increase small business access to cash flow as they are seeing a sudden reduction in sales, the Federal Government is deferring any payment on GST/HST and customs duties over the next several months.

To support businesses hardest hit by COVID-19 and to help them protect the jobs Canadians depend on, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will cover 75% of an employee’s wage for employers of all sizes and across all sectors (including not-for-profits and charities) who have suffered a drop in gross revenues. This enables employers to keep staff on payroll, rehire those previously laid off, ensure workers can access a decent income, and position themselves and our economy to rebound when this outbreak has passed.

But despite these supports, one of the biggest lingering concerns we have been hearing from small businesses in Brampton has been in regard to commercial rent. In recognition of this, our Federal and Provincial Governments reached an historic agreement to implement the Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program for small businesses and commercial landlords. 

The OCECRA will provide forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners experiencing potential rent shortfalls because their small business tenants have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. To receive the loan, property owners will be required to reduce the rental costs of small business tenants for April to June 2020 by at least 75 per cent and commit to a moratorium on evictions for three months.

The pandemic has also put a tremendous burden on front line workers, who are saving lives, ensuring the safety and integrity of our food supply and providing essential services. To support those who are sacrificing so much to protect our loved ones, the Provincial Government is providing frontline workers with a temporary pandemic pay raise. The increase will provide 4$ per hour extra on top of existing wages and $250 per month in lump-sum payments for employees who work 100 hours per month.

The reality is, every action your Federal and Provincial Government has taken has been done to make life better for Bramptonians. And the steps taken since this pandemic began have been made to safeguard the health and wellbeing of Canadians and give families and businesses the supports they need to weather this storm. 

Brampton is going to bounce back from this crisis.  We have too much going for us not to emerge from this pandemic stronger and more united.  We’ve got a skilled, talented, and innovative workforce; we’re home to some of Canada’s richest expressions of culture; and our community proudly embraces the diversity that makes Canada the best place to call home. 

Our community knows the value of hard work, with families across the city clocking in day after day, week after week to put food on the table and give their kids the opportunities for success that they never had. 

Will we face challenges as we recover from the impact of COVID19? Certainly. But every individual given the honour of representing the hardworking people of Brampton owes it to this community to work in partnership to solve these challenges.

Solving them will take focus, commitment, and feedback from you. 

As elected officials, we must work together, at all levels of government, to ensure that Brampton remains one of the best places anywhere in the province and in the country to raise a family, start a business, and enjoy the best years of life after the full effects of this crisis are behind us.

It’s time to work together to solve our problems, put Brampton first, and rebuild a community prepared to lead our recovery towards a brighter future.  

Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria is the Member of Provincial Parliament for Brampton South and serves as Ontario’s Minister responsible for Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. If you have any questions regarding provincial supports, please call 905-796-8669 or email Prabmeet.Sarkaria@pc.ola.org.

Ruby Sahota is the Member of Parliament for Brampton North and serves as co-chair of the all-Party Entrepreneur and Small Business Caucus. If you have any questions regarding federal supports, please call 905-840-0505 or email Ruby.Sahota@parl.gc.ca

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