Monday June 15, 2020 ~ COWICHAN-MALAHAT-LANGFORD | NATIONAL
Analysis by Mary Brooke, editor ~ West Shore Voice News
In the most incredible of understatements, local Member of Parliament Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) issued a bulletin to constituents today saying that the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) has been extended for Canadians.
“We are pleased to share that CERB is now due to be extended, and that Canadians will continue to have the support they need,” said MacGregor in a statement today in his E-Newsletter here on South Vancouver Island.
CERB has been available since early March, paying $2,000 per month in 4-week periods. The application process has been quite simple and demanded very little ‘proof’ of need. But that safety net was going to dry up by early July unless the program was extended. The economic impact would have created immense social upheaval, something Canadians and their government certainly would have found to be overwhelming during a pandemic.
Prime Minister has listened to the NDP:
The CERB extension announcement was made this morning June 15 in Ottawa by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Canadians who’ve been relying on $2,000 per month (for up to four months) won’t be left high and dry during the transition of the economy from lockdown to reemergence.
Trudeau’s announcement was short on details about how CERB will be extended and by what amount and what qualification criteria, but strong on assurance that Canadians won’t be left with zero support as the economy sputters back into action.
To a person — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh — this mission of keeping Canadians afloat fell. It sounds simple, but Singh refused to offer NDP support for upcoming federal legislation unless CERB was extended. The stakes were high, and Singh played it cool, making winners of all Canadians who have lost work or seen self-employment income plummet during these last few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And so has MacGregor, in a very humble way, played it cool, quoting his party leader: As Jagmeet said, “It’s not acceptable for millions of Canadians to not know what’s going to happen and we want to find a way forward. We’re having negotiations about that fact that the government needs to release a plan on how they’re going to help Canadians in this crisis.”
Singh and the NDP also fought hard last week against the idea of penalties for people who might be found to have committed fraud in accepting the CERB payments. That penalty stance by the Liberals flew in the face of all the assurances they had been giving Canadians about ‘being there’ for them during the pandemic. In a perfect world, Canadians who accepted CERB ‘honestly’ would be overlooked by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), but penalties for anyone who was deemed to have committed fraud would have seen very strict penalties (including fines and jail time). Perhaps it was a scare tactic by the Liberals to get people off CERB and back into the workforce, but it was out of character with all previous promises of unfailing support to Canadians, and came across as highly mean-spirited. Today’s assurances about CERB extension was a plank of political survival for Trudeau.
Why politics matters:
Constituents in Cowichan-Malahat-Langford and millions of Canadians across the country can feel truly served by the NDP’s policy-driven decisions played with fortitude at the right time, in the right way. This is when it’s quite evident that politics matters, and voting (for the right people to represent you when the chips are down) matters.
It has turned out a minority government setup — with the NDP holding the cards (to put pressure on the Liberals who previously held a majority) when it comes to representing the needs of regular people and small business — has been the perfect salve for Canadians who have needed support during a pandemic.
Without CERB continuing, there would be many people without enough money soon to pay for the basics like rent/mortgage or groceries, plus all the other little things of life like utility billings, clothes for the kids, insurance payments, car repairs, and so on. This is a bright day among the many more difficult days of the ongoing pandemic.
Also helping small business:
Trudeau also announced that the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan for businesses will be available with the revised parameters, as of Friday June 19. He suggested that businesses prepare for application by visiting edc.ca ahead of time.
Too bad it has taken a pandemic for Export Development Canada to be turned ‘inward’ toward its own businesses being success right here at home. A bit of proof that faraway fields are not always greener. Now their website says: “EDC has adjusted its focus and flexibility to reflect the current needs of Canadian businesses.” This is a far cry from the export approach that really only served well-capitalized companies with products that were suitable for sale or development ‘overseas’ (i.e. where labour is cheaper than in Canada).
The pandemic continues:
The COVID-19 socioeconomic pandemic scenario will continue in various iterations until there is an effective treatment or vaccine against the COVID-19 virus. Most public health officials do not expect a vaccine (as tested and ready for distribution) for probably at least another year. That sees the economic impacts of pandemic management (including physical distancing, which impacts the fluidity of business and society) lasting until probably the end of 2021.