This update was posted afternoon of March 27, 2020. The situation is changing by the hour. Please check the Canada, Nova Scotia and Halifax websites for the most up to date information, and follow the social media links below.
The information below no longer entirely up to date. All relevant info from these updates has been compiled into my COVID-19 resources website, with information on current Government Response, Individuals & Families, Business as well as Links to Resources including key social media to follow.
Between hitting send and now (5:09pm)
Nova Scotia announced a small business rent-deferral program for small business operators who were forced to close under the public health order. Landlords will be asked to sign a rent-deferral agreement and government will guarantee up to $5,000 a month if that business goes under. More here.
Also the Canada Emergency Response Benefit is tax FREE not taxable.
Hello folks, things are moving so quickly, and it is hard to keep track of and put together a comprehensive and meaningful update! Sorry for the delay in getting today’s update out – I can tell you with out a doubt that video and telephone meetings are not as efficient as face to face.
But it is good things are moving so fast, it means things are starting to really shape up to support and protect Canadians.
We’ve had a long week at municipalities across Nova Scotia as everyone works hard to adapt systems to this new circumstance.
There are a lot to be good things happening on the municipal front. Most Halifax staff who have transitioned to work from home are working, either on their usual job or transitioned to something COVID-19 related. Electronic processes and systems for doing work with the customer service counters closed are being developed and are almost ready to roll out.
Today we were told that if you have a development in progress or a building permit in process, call 311, and they will route your request to the appropriate staff, who will call you back.
Work to have a province wide approach for deferrals of residential and business property tax has been underway all week. Details should be ready hopefully in the next few days, which will be a relief for many.
I have been in contact with provincial officials and made the case for the kind of orders that I think we need to protect residential renters and small business and I hope we will hear more on what is going to be done over the next couple days.
The Premier said yesterday something that really summed up – the government is “not going to make every [business] whole, but we hope to help them survive and overcome” the current circumstance.
I want to say three things:
To nervous tenants and nervous landlords – while nothing official has come yet, this is what I see happening. Some people cannot pay rent April 1 and landlords cannot evict them. The Premier has said that the eviction process will not be allowed to go ahead for COVID-19 related income loss or job loss. Landlords need to be aware of this and understand that some tenants are not going to be able to pay April rent.
Tenants need to apply for the Federal supports right away, and get cash coming in. The Feds have promised wage subside for small business, have made it easier and faster to get EI, and made it so even those that cannot find work or are self employed can get up to $500 a week.
Once tenants start getting this money, then tenants can and will have to go back to paying rent. I think Landlords should get their rent for May. What this means in terms of April rent? I dunno. We will figure that out eventually, I am sure, but those details will have to come in time.
To nervous small business owners, especially hospitality – I know April 1 is coming like a freight train and many if not most of you cannot pay your rent. I fully expect the province to announce measures to protect you to some degree in the coming days. In the meetings I have been in it has been clear that the last thing anyone wants is to have everyone consume every last sent of cash they have today and not be able to reopen when this is over.
I wish I had real answers for you right now, but I don’t – yet. Just helping move the property tax issue along last week involved just for me maybe 20-25 hours of meetings in the last five days. I know people are working as hard as they can as fast as they can to get you these answers. Just be honest with your landlords, and know that the provincial and federal government can make orders that are retroactive to before the start of the month, so even if you get papers, it doesn’t mean that can’t be changed.
To commercial property owners – we are working to get you deferrals on taxes, and I know carrying months of unpaid rent is hard for even the biggest property owners, but if we are going to pause the economy for a few months, when we press play we want the economy to be there to start up again, and that includes you and your tenants.
To everyone reading this and responding to these updates thank you so much for your patience and ideas and support these last two weeks. I wanted to share a few quick things.
I have heard that seniors shopping hours at certain stores are a big hit and I encourage seniors to consider shopping at these less crowded times. I will try and get a list of stores that are offering this on the peninsula for the Monday update.
As Dr Strang keeps saying – please go outside, walk around your neighbourhood, say hi and smile to folks from a good 2m – 3m physical distance, stay physically and mentally healthy and help us all plank the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19.
I’ll close on this – recently I’ve been humming as song under my breath whenever i get stress – Ok Go’s classic This To Shall Pass. Please enjoy the song and video, and remember:
(You know you can’t keep lettin’ it get you down, no, you can’t keep lettin’ it get you down)
When the morning comes
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) – Canada will provide a tax free benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months to:
- workers who must stop working due to COVID19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support.
- workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.
- working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.
- workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work.
- wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will be accessible through a secure web portal starting in early April. Applicants will also be able to apply via an automated telephone line or via a toll-free number. https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html
Business: To help businesses through this difficult time, the Government of Canada will boost the wage subsidy to 75%, up from 10%, back dated to March 15. Canada is also launching the Canada Emergency Business Account: Banks will soon offer $40,000 in loans, guaranteed by the government, to qualifying businesses. The loan will be interest free for the first year, and if you meet certain conditions, $10,000 will be forgivable. Press release here: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/introduces-canada-emergency-response-benefit-to-help-workers-and-businesses.html
Federal info can all be found here: https://canada.gc.ca/coronavirus
Province of Nova Scotia
Lots of updates but nothing I am particularly going to pick out right now, you can read the up to date and extensive info here: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/ and there is now also a page that shows what provincial government services are open and closed: https://novascotia.ca/closures/
I am hoping for detail before April 1 on rents and evictions and small business supports as I outlined above.
Transit – Luckily through amazing work in the garage and the support of many drivers Transit was able to deliver our current schedule today. HRM continue to follow the instructions of Public Health officials to ensure Transit staff and passengers are safe. I want to thank all the Transit employees from the bottom of my heart for pulling together and making sure this essential service is delivered.
Again, council and staff will follow any and all direction from Public Health and the Medical Officer Of Health to ensure the safety of the operators, staff and passengers is maintained.
The Province ordered Transit to continue operating under the current State of Emergency today, you can read the order here. https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/Ministers-Direction-Transit-EMA.pdf
Parks & Trails – I am please to let residents know that the Halifax Urban Greenway (Beaufort) and the path on Ahern are now open and not considered parks under the provincial order. Residents are reminded to follow the orders from Medical Officer of Health including social (physical) distancing of 2 meters, no more than 5 people in a group, not accessing trails outside local neighbourhoods.
HRM staff are relying on Public Service Announcements and other messaging to advise residents that municipal parks are closed. With vast volume of parks and thousands of assets signage is not possible, parks staff have moved to a full continuity plan and have limited resources.
Council to Meet Thursday – To continue to practice safe social distancing, there will be three virtual special meetings of Regional Council on April 2, April 14 and April 28, each starting at 1 p.m. The purpose of these special meetings is to deal with matters as determined by the CAO and Mayor. The regularly scheduled meetings on April 7 and April 21 are cancelled. Technology for virtual meetings is being tested currently and residents and media may be able to access the meeting while it is underway. According to the provincial order of the state of emergency, Regional Council minutes will be available on halifax.ca within 24 hours of the meeting. An audio recording of the entire meeting proceedings will be available as soon as possible following the meeting. Staff are exploring whether a video of the Regional Council proceedings is feasible.
Halifax Libraries – Closure Extension. All branches of #Halifax Public Libraries will be closed until April 30, 2020, as a precaution to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Additional updates: https://bit.ly/2UG6Dd9
Recreation – all registrations for summer camps are delayed for at least a month. All facilities remain closed.
For up to date info and far more detail please go to https://halifax.ca/coronavirus
Community Resources and Updates:
Community for mental health support
For folks who have been recently laid off, check with your employers Employee Assistant Program. Most have mental health supports and counselors available via telephone. Even if laid off, these services are available for up to six months after the job loss. There is a national mental health hotline: 1-833-456-4566 or text talk to 686868. For younger residents, the Kids Help Phone is 1-800-668-6868. And finally, the Nova Scotia Mobile Mental Health Crisis line is: 1-888-429-8167. All of these services are available 24-7.
We are feeling grief
Another neighbour wrote: “Dont know if this is the kind of thing youd want to send out, but its one of the best reads on the unease it seems like were all feeing now.” It sure is. We are feeling grief right now, and as I have said repeatedly, it is okay to not feel okay. https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief
Prevention and Early Intervention Programming
This PDF contains info on COVID-19 Response for Central Region including contacts and resources such as Info for Family Resource Centres, Parenting Journey, Men’s Intervention Journey, Youth Outreach, and much more more here
Children & anxiety in the time of COVID-10
Submitted after last update: “I’m a child psychologist and live in your constituency actually – just read your update/newsletter this AM and saw you included stuff on kids and thought you’d maybe share this article I co-wrote with another psychologist in Calgary re: COVID19 and kids/anxiety” https://anxietycanada.com/articles/talking-to-kids-about-covid-19/
Best way to use this group? Search and scroll up & down- content is always being added. That is where I found the screen cap of the interaction on the right!
Community Links will help to ensure the most vulnerable in our communities are able meet their basic living needs during the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting trusted community partners.To find out more information on our Emergency Funds program visit http://ow.ly/Q4Qn50yWAlA
Equity-informed responses to COVID-19
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve at a rapid pace across the world, equity and solidarity need to be beacons in a values-driven global response. Our societal responses must be infused with the knowledge that COVID-19 will swiftly follow and amplify lines of existing inequities. For this reason, our decisions and actions must consistently place equity at the core. http://www.nccdh.ca/our-work/covid-19
What is open on the Peninsula
In addition to Resales great list I linked to last email, three peninsula business areas have lists of what is open at this time. The information is changing so rapidly and we are doing our best to keep this list updated.
- Spring Garden http://www.springgardenarea.com/covid-19-resource
- Downtown https://downtownhalifax.ca/open
- Quinpool https://www.quinpoolroad.ca/directory
- North End – https://www.facebook.com/GoNorthHalifax/posts/3674001795944041?__tn__=K-R
Halifax Partnership Resources for Business
This is an unprecedented time in the world and our business community. We know our communities, employees, and business partners are receiving and reacting to new information day-to-day and dealing with significant uncertainty. We feel it too. We want you to know that we are here for our city and working rigorously to provide support in any way that we can. We are monitoring the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and are committed to offering up-to-date information. This list of resources is meant to support you in making informed decisions for your business.
Premade lunches for work locations and service providers
Many businesses are tooling up for mass production of safe clean lunches and suppers that are individually wrapped (I think buffet are a thing of the past for good long while). One is my friend Michelle at Alter Egos / Halifax Packpackers, who is turning out large orders of lunches and soups every day and has capacity for a few more clients. If you might need this service you an call her at 902-830-6821. If you have a business providing services for this COVID-19 period, please email me and I can put it in the next newsletter.
Atlantic Carshare is still taking members at their time. For a front line worker to be able to get to work or back in a small vehicle, alone, could be a viable option for some
Users are warned to sanitize the steering wheel, gears, handle, etc. and wear glovesbut it is another way for people to get around safely. More here: https://www.carshareatlantic.ca/how-it-works/
Many businesses are actually hiring right now due to different demands for services especially delivery. Sobeys posted this: Retail Associates. You’ll not only keep shelves stocked and checkout lines moving, you’re part of a team serving millions of families across the country. Apply Here. Warehouse Professionals. Our warehouse teams keep our inventory flowing from supplier to warehouse to store. Warehouse teams are committed to ensuring Canadians can find the products they depend on, when they need them. Apply Here.
For information on coronavirus and how Nova Scotia is responding
For information on what Halifax is doing to support the response:
Government of Canada – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Being prepared
Government of Canada – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Travel advice
Deeper Dive into more detailed resources:
Federation of Canadian Municipalities – in depth list of Federal resources and links to every province
Word Health Organization – Coronavirus info from the global agency responsible for health.
Public Health Agency of Canada