Government responses to the escalating COVID-19 pandemic have been coming fast and furious in the last few days. To help people get up to speed on what measures have been taken and how they might impact on them in the days, weeks and months to come here’s a breakdown.
With many Canadians facing financial hardship the federal government has announced an $82 billion package to provide short-term relief to workers, families and business owners. These measures include special GST and Canada Child Benefit top-ups, an Emergency Care Benefit for workers who must stay home and do not have access to paid sick leave and an Emergency Support Benefit for self-employed workers who are not eligible for Employment Insurance.
Small business owners are being offered a 10 per cent wage subsidy for the next 90 days to keep people on the payroll. The government also announced a $305 million Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities. The deadline to file personal taxes has been extended from April 30 to June 1, and businesses will be allowed to defer taxes until Aug. 31. Read more about these measures and more here.
On Friday the provincial government declared a state of emergency under the Public Health Act. The order provides police with additional powers to enforce self-isolation for 14 days for people returning from international travel; a prohibition on gatherings of more than 25 people; and mandated closure of nightclubs, bars and lounges. Effective Monday, all restaurants, food courts, cafeterias and similar facilities must close, along with all recreational, cultural and entertainment facilities and personal care businesses such as hair salons, gyms and tattoo parlours. As well, all dental, optometrist, chiropractic, registered massage therapy and podiatry clinics are closed except for non-elective procedures.
Take out and drive-thru food service and food deliveries are permitted as long as social distancing is practiced. The same applies to alcohol from bars and off-sale retailers.
You can find out more on the province’s response here.
The City has activated its Emergency Operations Centre. By signing up to notifynow through the city website [link below] you can receive timely public safety messages.
Core civic services such as fire, police, waste and recycling remain operational, but all cultural and recreational facilities such as libraries, galleries and community centres are closed. Transit service is still on, and fares have been waved, but to limit health risk to drivers transit users are expected to enter and exit through the rear door unless they have mobility challenges.
Utility bills and notices will be issued as usual, but late payment charges and disconnections have been suspended until Sept. 30. As well, the city is providing a three month grace period to people and businesses to pay their property taxes beyond the usual June 30 deadline.
You can read more on the civic response here.
A MESSAGE TO OUR READERS The Coronavirus pandemic is a moment of reckoning for our community. We’re all hurting. It’s no different at Planet S, where COVID-19 has wiped out advertisements for events, businesses and restaurants as Saskatoon and Saskatchewan hunker down in quarantine. As an ad-supported newspaper already struggling in a destabilized media landscape, this is devastating. We’re hoping you, our loyal readers, can help fill in the gap so Planet S can not only continue to exist but even expand our coverage—both in print and online. Please consider donating, either one-time or—even better!—on a monthly basis.
We believe Planet S’s unique voice is needed, now more than ever. For 17 years, this newspaper has been a critical part of Saskatoon’s social, cultural and democratic infrastructure. Don’t let us fade away. Once Planet S is gone, it’s never coming back.