A Message from Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk, MLA for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville
MLA Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville
Greetings Friends and Neighbours. The last few weeks have caused much uncertainty and anxiety for many of our constituents. I hope I can provide some information to help ease some of this, and I want to assure everyone that all levels of government and health care professionals are confidently working to combat COVID-19. Both your health, safety, and financial assurance are top priorities. We all need to thank our frontline and health care workers for tirelessly, positively, and passionately working for their communities. I cannot express enough how valuable you all are and how our families are so grateful.
There are programs, services, and support being delivered by both Provincial and Federal government and links to help pursue those programs. Please reach out regarding any of these measures at 780-208-0677 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For information or advice on government-related programs, you can contact Alberta Contact line at 310-4455 any day from 8am-8pm. Specific program contact info can be viewed at: https://www.alberta.ca/contact.cfm
There are many sources of information on Alberta’s situation, and unfortunately, not all sources have the correct information. The primary link for information related to Albertan’s to find out the most up to date info is: https://www.alberta.ca/covid19
Symptoms of COVID-19 include a cough, fever, and difficultly breathing. If you have these symptoms immediately self isolate and contact #811. All travelers returning from outside Canada should self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms. Do not go to the ER or doctor’s office. A self-assessment tool by Alberta Health Services has created the country’s first online self-assessment tool to help determine whether you should be tested for COVID-19. You can complete the assessment for yourself or on behalf of someone else, if they are not able: https://myhealth.alberta.ca/journey/covid-19/Pages/COVID-Self-Assessment.aspx
Albertans have a responsibility to help prevent the spread. Take steps to protect yourself and others: practice social distancing stay home and away from others if sick or in isolation. Practice good hygiene: wash hands often, cover coughs and sneezes, and avoid touching your face. Again, wash your hands, practice social distancing, stay home if you are sick, look out for one another and especially our most vulnerable. We will get through this.
The Alberta government will provide immediate funding and supportive measures to support local businesses, employers and employees. Corporate income tax changes Corporate income tax balances and installment payments will be deferred from March 19 until August 31, 2020, to increase employers’ access to cash so they can pay employees, address debts and continue operations.
Utility payment deferral options are available from many companies. Residential, farm and small commercial customers can defer electricity and natural gas bill payments for the next 90 days to ensure no one will be cut off, regardless of the service provider. We recommend you contact your utility provider directly to discuss your needs.
Business members should contact their credit union directly to work out a plan for their personal situation. ATB Financial Small business customers can apply for a payment deferral on loans and lines of credit for up to 6 months and/or access additional working capital. Other businesses and agriculture customers can access support on a one-on-one basis. Further solutions are being considered at this time.
Employees may consider applying for federal Employment Insurance benefits. This allows up to 15 weeks of assistance if a person cannot work due to medical reasons such as self-isolation or self-quarantine. The one-week waiting period for Employment Insurance benefits has been waived by the federal government.
Job-protected leave changes to the Employment Standards Code will allow full and part-time employees to take 14 days of job-protected leave if they are: required to self-isolate caring for a child or dependent adult that is required to self-isolate. To be eligible, employees: will not be required to have a medical note and do not need to have worked for an employer for 90 days. This leave covers the 14-day self-isolation period recommended by Alberta’s chief medical officer. This leave may be extended if the advice of the chief medical officer changes. The leave does not apply to self-employed individuals or contractors.
Other benefits to assist Albertan’s include:
– Canadians are eligible to receive up to a 6-month payment deferral for mortgages. Contact your bank for more information or to apply for deferred payments.
– Your tax return filing due date has been deferred until June 1, 2020. All taxpayers are permitted to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts owing.
– A six-month interest-free moratorium has been placed on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying these loans.
– The one-week waiting period for individuals in quarantine and the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access El sickness benefits has been waived.
– Emergency Care Benefits will provide up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks to workers taking care of a family member who is sick and parents required to stay home from work to care for children.
– Emergency Support Benefits will offer support to workers, including self-employed Canadians, who are not eligible for El and who are facing unemployment
– The maximum annual Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment amounts will be increased by $300 per child beginning in May 2020.
– A one-Time additional GST payment from the government will double the maximum annual GSTC payment amounts for the 2019-20 benefit year. Please refer to https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html for more information.
I realize that every household has a unique situation, so if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to contact our offices. I sincerely hope everyone stands together and stands stronger to support all those who need it.
Best wishes to all,
MLA Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk