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Lefebvre: As we enter the ‘second wave,’ federal Liberal government is still there for you

‘Canadians need to know that their governments are still working overtime to see us through the worst of it’
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Sudbury MP Paul Lefebvre. (Supplied)

As Ontario’s COVID numbers worsen, and we enter into the second wave of the virus, we can take comfort in seeing a lot of familiar public health messages and responses.

We flattened the curve in the summer – and will flatten it again during this second wave – because Canadians showed the fortitude and community spirit necessary to do it. And we all know how we did it. We stayed home, we social distanced, we wore masks and we bought sanitizer by the litre. 

But I am particularly proud of the national response to the crisis that made it possible for Canadians to make these responsible choices. 

For example, since early March, a total of nine million Canadians have benefitted from the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit. The CERB was an unprecedented income support that sustained Canadian households for 28 weeks, until recipients were transitioned back to Employment Insurance earlier this month.

In addition to the CERB, our government recognized the extraordinary circumstances that so many Canadians suddenly found themselves in.  In Sudbury alone, our government has put:

  • $300 (tax free) per child into the pockets of more than 8,000 Sudbury families, for a total of $4.1 million;
  • $300 (also tax free) into the pockets of more than 14,000 Sudbury seniors, for a total of $4.5 million;
  • And by the end of this month, our government will have put up to $600 (also tax free) into the hands of thousands of persons with disabilities in Sudbury.

The plan was always to give Canadians the opportunity to comfortably transition back to their jobs with safe work protocols, and for many that is what has happened.

For those who are unable to return to work, or who don’t qualify for EI, there are other options such as the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) and Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB), which will provide $500 in support for up to 26 weeks, and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) to support families for up to two weeks.

And all of this is in addition to the 3.5 million Canadian jobs that have been protected by the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy.

As well, our government has invested over $19 billion for a Safe Restart Agreement with the provinces to buy PPE for front-line workers, to ramp up testing and contact tracing capacity and to provide millions in emergency funding to municipalities, hospitals, colleges and universities struggling with new COVID realities. 

Our government also provided provinces with $2 billion for a Safe Return to Class Fund, along with new funding for First Nations communities.

Our government has been prepared from the beginning to work with all provinces and municipalities. From my perspective, partisan politics took a back seat, and we are all better off for it. 

Add it all up, and yes … that’s a lot of money. It’s a record deficit in 2020. But can you imagine what things would be like today, from both a public health and economic perspective, if our government had not provided these supports? If Canadians were not able to make responsible public health decisions for their families?

The results would have been catastrophic.

The fact is, out of every dollar spent fighting COVID in Ontario, 97 cents came from the federal government. As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said, our government borrowed heavily to help Canadian families survive this crisis and to protect the Canadian institutions that we value so dearly. We collectively indebted ourselves through our government, so that Canadians would not have to do so individually. 

Canadian flattened the curve because we were able to make the right choices, and our governments supported them every step of the way.  Our plan from the very beginning was to make sure no Canadian was left behind. 

And that is still our plan today. With a second wave ahead of us, Canadians need to know that their governments are still working overtime to see us through the worst of it, so that our country can emerge stronger and more prosperous than before. 

Paul Lefebvre is Member of Parliament for Sudbury and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources.