North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney addressed federal provisions for smaller businesses, COVID-19 updates, the April 8 Campbell River apartment fire and the Nova Scotia shootings.
Speaking from her new Campbell River office, Blaney approved of the lowering of the payroll threshold to $20,000 per year in order to be eligible for the federal government’s Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA). With the initial payroll cut-off placed at $50,000 per year, this new revision comes as a welcome relief for smaller businesses who can access an interest free loan up to $40,000.
“I’m glad to see that go down to $20,000, and it has gone up as far as $1.5 million for businesses to be able to apply,” said Blaney.
But, Blaney said, organizations and businesses that are connected to local credit unions have not been able to access funds under CEBA.
“When it was initially rolled out, the government rolled it out with the larger banks and not with the local credit unions.”
Blaney provided an update from the finance department regarding this matter which said that “They will be working on this more rapidly to get credit unions up to speed.”
“That is going to be happening so we’re happy to see that.”
Expanding the inclusivity of federal provisions is something the federal NDP has been vocal about. Leader Jagmeet Singh last week called on Ottawa to address the gaps in the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) and lift all criteria to allow universal access of funds for any Canadian in need of the benefits
Pertaining to the extension of the Canada-US border semi-closure, Blaney said that at this point, “Only essential services and essential supplies that we need are allowed to cross the border.”
In tackling COVID-19, she applauded B.C.’s two week isolation measures for Canadian’s and permanent residents coming back to Canada.
“We see in B.C. that curve going down and we need to keep doing that.”
Blaney reported on the House of Commons sitting on April 20 with a small group of 32 MPs.
“We still feel strongly that like every other Canadian, members of parliament also have to respect the rules. Businesses and organizations are finding new ways to address their businesses,” she said adding that members of parliament and house of commons should do the same.
The NDP is incorporating these measures and supporting one-day-a-week sitting in the House of Commons with a reduced number of members, and two electronic virtual question periods. These measures allow the opposition to “address the most important issues that I think all Canadians want to see addressed,” she said.
Also citing it as a form of “ accountability,” Blaney said, “It’s important that the voices of Canadians are heard and members of parliament do that work. We can do it virtually.”
Blaney also took a moment to acknowledge the fire in Campbell River where over 90 people lost their homes.
“We had a significant fire at Campbell River. We are working with all of the government to try and find a way to cover some of these cost and make sure we don’t have an increase in the number of people who are homeless in the community.”
Blaney also expressed her grief and solidarity with the rest of Canada with regards to the tragic shooting in Nova Scotia.
“My prayers and thoughts are with everybody in that province and especially in those small communities who have lost something very precious, which is our sense of safety in our communities.”