A word from our MP
PHOTO COURTESY THE OFFICE OF PETER SCHIEFKE
Over the last two weeks, we have all found ourselves in unfamiliar and uncharted territory. Anxiety is high as we worry about the health of loved ones, job and financial security, the future of our businesses, and our communities that are all being affected by this pandemic.
To begin, I want to let you know that you are being heard. Many of you have reached out to ask questions and share experiences, and for that, I am grateful. Questions have ranged from those about border and airport security to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits for parents who need time off work to look after children or who cannot risk exposure to COVID-19 due to pre-existing health conditions.
Many of you have asked what will be done to ensure small business owners are supported, whether tax deadlines will be extended, or mortgage payments deferred to help manage the financial impacts. Many of these questions have been answered, others shared with the necessary authorities and are awaiting a response, and others, by the time you are reading this, will have already been addressed in announcements made over the last 48 hours.
Sometimes the answer doesn’t yet exist, and the plan and initiatives are being worked on by dedicated Canadians working around the clock and will be announced soon. In either case, my team and I are, “all hands on deck,” as the expression goes and will continue to devote our time and resources to providing you with important information through all means available to us. We are here to serve and empower you, so keep the questions coming.
I also wanted to reassure you that even though the current situation with COVID-19 is not static and evolves daily, our Government’s response is evolving with it. We are working closely with our Provincial, Territorial, Indigenous, and Municipal partners to coordinate Canada’s response. Further and most importantly, as a Federal government, we have and will continue to base our decisions on the science-based advice and guidance from top officials and medical experts in infections disease control at Health Canada, led by Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO). Countries that have fared best in limiting the spread and mortality of this pandemic thus far are those that have used this approach. We will continue to do what science tells us will deliver the best health and safety results for you, your family, and all Canadians.
Our community of Vaudreuil-Soulanges has proven time and again over recent years that we rise to meet the challenges we face. This should be a source of collective pride for us all. We are now being asked to rise to meet a challenge once again. We are being asked to show our resolve through the practice of patience and understanding, particularly towards our dedicated and tireless health practitioners and incident response teams. We need to once again show our capacity as a community to come together and support one another in solidarity. We are and will continue to be significantly inconvenienced; there is no going around it and no more straightforward way to put it.
Requests have and will continue to be made to limit non-essential social interaction. The government of Quebec has closed schools, community and amusement centres, recreational activities as well as daycares. Prime Minister Trudeau has closed our airports to all travellers who are not Canadian, not permanent residents, or American citizens and has limited international flights bringing Canadians home to only four Canadian airports. These actions were not taken lightly and required unprecedented logistical planning both before they were announced and throughout their implementation. They are necessary to ensure the health and safety of those most vulnerable to this illness - our seniors and those with pre-existing conditions.
Although it is true that the average mortality rate for COVID-19 is currently 3.74%, the mortality rate for seniors over the age of 70 rises to 8%, and is approximately 15% for those 80 years of age or older. The actions taken so far are aimed at ensuring we “flatten the curve” as much as possible, referring to a medical term for the attempt to ensure our hospitals are never too inundated to properly care for patients affected by this illness. This is why Canadians have been asked to stay in their homes and limit non-essential social contact. Kindly stress with your friends, family, and through your social networks the importance of following these guidelines.
Even if COVID-19 may not pose a significant health threat to most of us, it can inundate our health care system. It may also be fatal for many of the most vulnerable in our community who you may inadvertently be in contact with if the health recommendations are not respected.
In the coming days and weeks, as the situation continues to evolve, the Government of Canada will announce new measures. The Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, Minister of Health, and Minister of Public Security have stated that everything is on the table as we move to meet this challenge head-on.
We have, and will continue to, put forward unprecedented new fiscal measures to help our seniors, our parents and children, our workers, and to ensure that small businesses owners and communities have the support they need. As these measures are announced, I will share the information as broadly as possible. I invite all members of our community of Vaudreuil-Soulanges to follow my weekly updates in The Journal, my Facebook page, or sign up to receive email updates. You can do so by sending an email to Peter.Schiefke.C1@parl.gc.ca.
I also invite you to visit the Canadian Governments COVID-19 response website: www.canada.ca/coronavirus and the Government of Quebec’s website: https://www.quebec.ca/en/health/health-issues/a-z/2019-coronavirus/ to obtain the most relevant and up to date information for you and your family.
By heeding the guidance of experts, staying informed, working together, and through collective perseverance, we can protect ourselves and our families, and keep our community strong.
Vaudreuil-Soulanges Member of Parliament