By Darrell Samson, MP
Throughout these unprecedented challenges we’re all facing together due to COVID-19, we’ve been witness to the best qualities of people shining through, as demonstrated by the countless acts of kindness performed in communities all across the country, including right here in Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook.
As your Member of Parliament, it makes me proud to see how we’ve come together to deal with this by following the health safety protocols to protect our community members, and also for the quick actions our government has taken to provide assistance to those who need it the most.
And then there was Portapique
As Canadians continue to cope with a global pandemic that has changed our daily lives, Nova Scotians were dealt a senseless tragedy over a 13-hour span on April 19/20 .
Almost everyone I’ve spoken to either knew one of the victims or knows someone who knew them. As details of their lives became public, we all identified with them. We are all grieving.
There are no words to describe my depth of sorrow, nor anything I could say that could possibly lend enough comfort to the families and friends of those who lost their lives.
So instead, let us focus on the tremendous outpouring of support from across our beloved province, the entire country, and indeed from around the world. The virtual vigil, “Nova Scotia Remembers” was beautiful and poignant.
The public memorials, houses with candles in the window, our Nova Scotian tartan proudly on display, and flags and hearts hung in solidarity with fellow Nova Scotians; every gesture helped.
A sense of community enveloped us as a province, like a warm blanket that takes away the bitterness of an unbearably cold night.
We will not be defined by this tragedy, but by the way we endured it… together.
GOVERNMENT’S COVID-19 RESPONSE
When any new federal program is offered, it usually takes several months of research and planning before it can be successfully launched with minimal problems. This time is required to ensure that the program meets the objectives, covers as many people it’s intended to help as possible, is available to all Canadians—from large city centres to remote and isolated villages—and for government staff to be briefed and trained so they can help deliver the program once it’s implemented. Still, there can sometimes be unforeseen glitches.
In any emergency situation, the immediate and most dire needs must be addressed first, and that is exactly what we did.
The most urgent priority was to minimize the financial impact for those whose source of income was abruptly ended due to COVID-19. Families still had to eat, payments still had to be made, and there was no income available for millions of Canadians.
Over the past several weeks, we’ve launched a number of programs and services to assist those affected by COVID-19. For example, extending Employment Insurance (EI), the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB), the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), and other relief efforts were established and implemented as fast as possible, simply because peoples’ lives were being affected immediately. T
here was no time to iron out the kinks and make it as perfect as possible. We all knew that going into it. Every early announcement made has stated that the funding was preliminary, and more help would be on the way. In every instance, that has been upheld with new programs being offered to help those we missed.
Details of the various programs have changed over the weeks, particularly in regard to eligibility. The most accurate and up-to-date information is available at your fingertips through Canada’s COVID-19 app. This free download has many features and is the most reliable source of material you may need.
Also, my Facebook page is updated regularly with information as it’s made available, as well as other important information not related specifically to COVID-19 (yes, we are still working on other programs and services too!). I encourage you to follow it if you haven’t already.
What will we remember about THIS PANDEMIC?
Everyone has been impacted by COVID-19 in some way. When all of this passes—and yes, it will pass—we will all have memories of this event. Obviously, those who lost loved ones during this time will never forget that, but hopefully those situations can be keep to a minimum.
For most of us, we will not remember daily statistics released in a press conference or a news story about someone who misspoke during a briefing.
We will remember how quickly federal, provincial, and municipal governments responded under extraordinary circumstances. We will remember how our Prime Minister and Dr. Tam, as well as our Premier and Dr. Strang, showed leadership through daily updates.
We will remember how our grocery stores and pharmacies remained open in the face of a contagious virus, how those in the transportation industry got our goods delivered to stores, how our first responders were still there to protect us, and many other important services that went uninterrupted throughout this crisis.
Of course, we will always remember our healthcare workers who were there to care for us in a time of need; not only the doctors and nurses, but those behind the scenes like lab technicians and cleaning staff. They are all being affected personally too, but are stepping up to do their jobs so our lives are made easier throughout this outbreak. That is amazing! That is how Canadians respond!
I’m confident that what we will remember most are the acts of kindness from our community members. There are so many wonderful stories of people rallying to support those who are most affected, from making sure local food banks are well stocked as their demand increases, making and delivering meals for frontline and healthcare workers, delivering food to those who cannot leave their house, making masks for those in need, etc.
Whether the act was big or small, we will remember how we looked out for each other in times of trouble.
WE ARE HERE TO HELP!
Please know that my constituency office is open every Monday-Friday from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, although we cannot accept in-person visits during this time.
We are experiencing a much higher volume of phone calls and emails, but have been getting back to constituents that have problems or concerns that need to be addressed right away. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need assistance, whether on COVID-19 relief programs or regular federal government issues.
Please stay safe and continue to follow guidelines. We will get through this together.