Do what we can to support local businesses, MP urges from home

Carolyn Bennett logoAs we face COVID-19 together we are all making huge changes in our lives. We are washing our hands more than ever, we are staying home as much as possible, and practicing physical distancing when we go to the grocery store or pharmacy. We are recognizing that we are stronger together, so we are calling our friends and relatives and checking in with those who might need our help. Many people have lost their jobs, and are in dire financial situations, and some small businesses are worried they might not survive.

Many of the small businesses and restaurants in Toronto-St. Paul’s make our main streets — St. Clair Avenue, Eglinton Avenue, Mt Pleasant Road, Yonge Street, Oakwood Road and Spadina Road — vibrant places to live and work.

Let’s do what we can to support our local businesses. Order takeout or delivery, see which shops are offering online ordering and delivery, or buy virtual gift cards for when they are able to reopen.

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The BIAs have put together lists of businesses in our neighbourhood that are still open, albeit doing things a bit differently:

Those trying to work from home are learning new skills like Zoom and conference call etiquette, and accepting the inevitable interruptions, when we forget to unmute, or the dog barks or a youngster suddenly needs our attention.

We know the changes are because the Covid-19 threat is real and we are frustrated, even angry, at those who don’t seem to be taking this seriously.

Fear is an emotion that is appropriate. Fear leads to courage and people acting together to deal with the shared threat. Expressing gratitude seems therapeutic. We have never been more grateful for those heroes on the front lines — the nurses, doctors, respiratory technicians, cleaners, first responders, grocery clerks, pharmacists, bus drivers, postal workers. We’re supporting our local restaurants that have transformed into takeout, pickup and delivery. We need to bang our pots and pans and say thank you.

Speed over perfection

All levels of government are working together to deal with the ever-evolving needs of Canadians, the public health and health care emergency and the real financial needs of individuals, families and businesses.

The government has had to put speed ahead of perfection. We have tried hard to get programs and services out the door as quickly as possible and we know that gaps will present themselves that will have to be addressed.

  • The new interactive COVID-19 Situational Dashboard will give you up to date information.
  • The Canada Child Benefit has been increased. Personal Income tax deadlines have been extended.
  • The online portal is active for Canada’s Emergency Response Benefit to provided resources for those who have lost their income.
  • Businesses are being supported with tax deferrals, wage subsidies and interest free loans.
  • We are supporting the most vulnerable. Funding for food banks and shelters recognizes that our community-based organizations are a life-line for so many of our neighbours. Funding for KidsHelp phone and other mental health supports responds to the real challenges that children and families are facing.
  • Indigenous communities have received extra funding to ensure they have the resources to implement their comprehensive pandemic preparedness plans to keep their communities safe.

I have every confidence we will get through this together. Showing gratitude is an effective way to deal with fear. We have been asked to stay home so that we can flatten the curve. We owe it to those on the front lines to keep the epidemic curve within the capacity of our health care system.

We can do this. We can do what is in our power to do. Staying home is an active measure that truly makes a difference. Pay attention, obey the rules that will keep changing. Smile, laugh, stay optimistic and connected online or on the phone.

While we can’t have an in-person town hall, now more than ever it is important to stay connected. Over the next few weeks I will be hosting a virtual town hall for residents of Toronto-St. Paul’s. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or subscribe to my weekly e-newsletter here to stay up to date with our government and my office’s activities.

I look forward to seeing you in person again when we get the all clear. In the meantime, please stay in touch. Let us know your concerns and share your ideas and suggestions.

Stay safe.