OPEN LETTER to Deputy Prime Minster, Finance Minister and Health Minister on emergecy support for single parents

The eligibility criteria for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) continue to exclude single parents who have seen their income dramatically lowered because of decreases in their ex-partner’s income due to COIVD-19. Another few weeks have gone by since we first brought this issue to your attention and the situation is becoming more desperate for these families with each passing day.
It is a major source of anxiety not only for the Canadians, predominantly women, who depend upon these support payments to make ends meet, but to their ex-partners as well, who want to see their children and former partners supported financially through the crisis and who also do not want to default on their court orders.

IN THE NEWS: Vancouver's Chinese Cultural Centre defaced with 'hateful' graffiti: police

Vancouver police are asking for help in identifying a male suspect after someone defaced several large windows of the Chinese Cultural Centre with what officers called "hateful" graffiti.

The suspect walked into the courtyard of the centre on Columbia Street on April 2 and wrote "disturbing, racist remarks toward the Asian community on four large glass windows," according to a release Friday.

Const. Tania Visintin said incidents like this are happening more often in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. She described them as "disheartening."

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Prime Minister about concerns on Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance for small businesses

One constituent who co-owns a small commercial gallery wrote to say that he approached his commercial landlord about seeking assistance on their business’ commercial rent through this program. He says that the landlord owns the building outright and does not have a mortgage payment, and therefore will not offer assistance to their commercial tenants.
Another constituent wrote with a similar concern. They own a business providing rental equipment, and say that their landlord “has no mortgage, has no interest in providing relief, doesn’t want paperwork, and for the most part thinks businesses should provide for tough times themselves”. They voiced their concern that, in providing the program through landlords rather than directly to tenants, there are many businesses like theirs who will not be able to access this rent relief.

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Prime Minister and Housing Minister on human rights based national housing strategy needed to house all Canadians

Canada is gripped by an unprecedented pandemic. Every single person across the country is affected by it and those who live in the margins of society are particularly vulnerable and face heightened risks. For the homeless population, the risks are glaringly apparent as they have no ability to engage in any of the safe practices recommended by medical officers.
Notwithstanding the fact that in 2019, Canada recognized that the right to adequate housing is a fundamental human right as affirmed in international human rights laws, it remains that Canada has a wide spread housing and homelessness crisis. The current COVID-19 pandemic brings to light in no uncertain terms the importance of housing for not only an individual's health, but for the overall health and safety of our communities.
The homelessness crisis is not only an affront to human rights, but also poses an enormous national public health risk. The lack of a coordinated, national strategy means that people will inevitably fall through the cracks of the patchwork efforts. This puts the individuals and the communities they live in at risk.

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Immigration, Minister of Finance and Minister of Employment to address urgent immigration concerns

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Immigration, Minister of Finance and Minister of Employment to address urgent immigration concerns

I write to you today to follow-up on the numerous concerns I have raised in previous letters to your offices regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for those engaged in the immigration process. To date, I have yet to receive any reply. As time goes by, the situation for those affected are growing increasingly dire and they deserve answers now. Throughout this pandemic it is essential we take care of the migrant population, as they have done for us.
I am therefore writing with a renewed sense of urgency to seek answers for the following questions.

OPEN LETTER to small business minister on support for self-employed individuals and sole-proprietors

….deep concern over the lack of support for self-employed individuals and sole-proprietors across Canada. In my home province of British Columbia, one-third of small businesses don’t believe they’ll qualify for the support that the government has given. This is especially true for businesses with less than 5 employees, of which nearly half don’t qualify for government support.
Several sole-proprietors have reached out to me personally for help because of the lack of assistance available to them. Many do not qualify for the business supports because they do not meet the payroll requirements, they rely on contract workers, are family-owned, or pay themselves in dividends. Your government has designed the current programs to exclude them. They cannot access the loan, wage-subsidy, or work-share programs. The only support they may qualify for is the individual CERB, which is not enough to get by with the overhead costs these businesses must continue to pay.

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, Minister of Employment and Minister of Immigration on support emergency support for migrant workers and temporary residents

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, Minister of Employment and Minister of Immigration on support emergency support for migrant workers and temporary residents

The Covid 19 pandemic has impacted everyone across Canada. I am writing to you today with my concerns about the desperate need for support for migrant workers and temporary residents during this COVID-19 pandemic. While it is welcomed that the government has put in place the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) as income support for eligible individuals including migrant workers; unfortunately, the reality for many in this country is that they s5ll cannot access it. In particular, I would like to flag to your attention the countless migrant workers and temporary residents across the country who are in dire need.
With the current CERB requirements, those applying must have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN). This is a problem as many migrants do not have a valid SIN for a variety of reasons. It has come to my attention that the study permit for Alina Przybly, an international student from Toronto expired in January. Notwithstanding the fact that her employer closed the restaurant that she was working at because of the pandemic, due to processing delays at IRCC, she is unable to have her study permit extended. This has caused her SIN to expire. Without a valid SIN number, she is ineligible for CERB. Ms. Przybly is now in a dire situation through no fault of her own.

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Minister and ministers on ensure seniors’ GIS won’t be disrupted

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Minister and ministers on ensure seniors’ GIS won’t be disrupted

Therefore, I call on your government to grandfather in all seniors receiving Guaranteed Income Supplement, by automatically renewing their GIS for the 2020-2021 year. Doing so would ensure that no senior loses this vital source of income at a time when maintaining income security for seniors is crucial for their health and safety.
Another issue that the Centre has flagged for me is an issue of GIS eligibility for the 2021-2022 year, which will be based on 2020 income. Some seniors will have received some emergency government support to cope with COVID-19; for example, in BC, the provincial government is offering $300 in assistance for seniors in receipt of the provincial Senior’s Supplement, a measure for very low-income seniors. The Centre has advised that seniors are worried that receipt of this supplement would mean they may not qualify for GIS next year, or that it would have the effect of lowering their eligible GIS monthly amount. In light of this, I call on your government to affirm that any and all COVID-19 emergency aid measures will be exempted from the income calculation for GIS purposes.

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Prime Minister on US border restrictions on asylum seekers

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Prime Minister on US border restrictions on asylum seekers

As it stands, the government announced this temporary measure would be extended for an additional 30 days, with Prime Minister Trudeau stating these restrictions will not be lifted anytime soon. This is particularly concerning as there is a lack of clarity on assurances from the U.S. as to how asylum seekers who are turned away under this policy would be treated. A recent article published on April 10, 2020, from BBC News acknowledged a disturbing leaked document on the U.S. border controls that are currently taking place. The full leaked document can be found here: CAPIO.html. According to the document, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol have very broad powers. There is no clarity on what will happen to individuals who attempt to enter Canada to seek refugee protection and are turned back to the United States.
Given the government’s policy directive to turn back all irregular asylum seekers from the U.S. at the border, it is important that Canadians are given assurances that we have done our own diligence with respect to our international obligations.

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Health Minister and National Revenue Minister on expanding emergency wage subsidy

As workers, businesses and organizations await the full rollout of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program (CEWS), I am hearing from organizations and entities who seeking assistance to retain employees, meet urgent funding shortfalls and prevent suspension or closure of operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These organizations and entities have been excluded from eligibility for the CEWS, and appeal for an expansion of the criteria in order to prevent negative fallout ranging from shutdown of projects to loss of staff to permanent closure, all of which will have cascading consequences for our community.
The eligibility criteria specifically exclude public bodies, including “municipalities and local governments, Crown corporations, wholly owned municipal corporations, public universities, colleges, schools and hospitals”.

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