North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney is working from home as she self-quarantines during the coronavirus epidemic.
Last month in Ottawa, she and 31 other MPs from various political parties spent 25 hours in parliament trying to determine the best way to support Canadians. They passed emergency legislation, which has been approved by the Senate.
“The underlying pressure was how do we get this done so that Canadians get the support they need?” Blaney said Friday at a media teleconference. “Even though there were differences of opinions and concerns about accountability — which is something I personally wouldn’t let up on — I still wanted to get it done quickly. Right now, I think it’s wise for all levels of government to be working collaboratively as much as possible…At the end of the day, we’re asking a lot of Canadians, because we have to. If we don’t have people staying at home as much as possible, if we don’t have social distancing, then we’re going to be looking a lot more like our neighbours in the U.S. where we are seeing people being tested positive at an outrageous amount. I think Canadians are doing their best.”
Blaney won’t be sitting in the House at the next session.
Her office is asking local businesses to identify foreseeable gaps as it focuses on the business wage subsidy program, which has been adjusted from 10 to 75 per cent.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which offers $2,000 for a four-week period up to 16 weeks for workers affected by COVID-19, is to be implemented April 6. Applications are based on month of birth, which concerns Blaney because overuse of the system is causing delays.
“We’re hearing, based on information coming from government, that there are going to be gaps. Some people who desperately need the money will not be eligible for one reason or another. We are encouraging the government to look at a model that is more like a universal model where we just get money out to people, and that people who should not receive that much money should have to pay that money back…We’ve identified several groups that are going to be left out, and don’t know how they’re going to pay to keep the roof over their head or food on the table. It’s getting to basic necessities at this point.”
She is encouraged by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement Friday of $100 million for food banks, with a focus on rural, remote and Indigenous communities across Canada.
“We’re happy to see this money,” Blaney said. “Know that it will take a while to flow into our communities, and encourage those who can to please donate what you can to food banks.”