Community Update: December 17, 2020

Happy Holidays!

Dear Friends,

I hope you are keeping well and staying safe during this difficult time.

This year, we’ll all be doing Christmas a bit differently. 

Canada’s public health authorities tell us that its important to remain vigilant against Covid-19 by keeping our Christmas festivities small and confined to our own households. 

For many people, it will be tough to have to miss out on large gatherings of friends and loved ones, as well as Christmas church services, one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar. 

Nevertheless, there is much to celebrate this year. 

We’ve witnessed the extraordinary work of everyone from our frontline healthcare workers, teachers, caregivers to our seniors, to the staff who come into work each day to keep our grocery stores open. 

This Christmas, give a word of thanks to these unsung heroes when you have the opportunity. 

While shopping for gifts or ordering meals, please remember to support local businesses and restaurants

Here’s to a healthy and prosperous 2021. 

I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 
Highlights from this issue:
  1. COVID-19 Pop-Up Testing & Assessment Centres
  2. What We Give
  3. Scarborough-Guildwood Virtual Town Hall
  4. TRCA National Disaster Mitigation Program
  5. Mobility for Good for Seniors Program
  6. Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
  7. Canada Recovery Benefits
  8. One-Time Disability Payment
  9. Outside of Canada Travel Information
  10. Claiming a Deduction for Home Office Expenses
  11. Important Immigration Information
  12. Who's Hiring in Scarborough?
  13. Food Access Information
  14. 5 year anniversary of welcoming Syrian refugees to Canada
  15. Doris McCarthy Trail
  16. Send a Holiday Cheer Card to a Canadian Veteran
  17. Rotary Tree of Remembrance
  18. Toronto Zoo Holiday Drive-Thru
  19. In the News

COVID-19 Pop-Up Testing & Assessment Centres

I would like to remind you that the Scarborough Health Network is offering pop-up Covid-19 testing in our community on December 17 and December 18. 

Please refer to the graphic below for more information:

Also, the Scarborough Health Network (SHN) is moving their Assessment Centres to warmer indoor locations for the winter. The SHN partnered with the University of Toronto Scarborough  and the Centre for Immigrant and Community Services (CICS) to provide new, indoor facilities for COVID-19 testing throughout the winter. This will ensure you will not need to wait outside during those cold winter months.  

Starting on December 1,  Cethentenary Assessment Centre will be relocated to University of Toronto – Scarborough Campus (1265 Military Trail, Highland Hall building).

The Birchmount Assessment Centre will stay open a little longer, until a new indoor location is launched at CICS. Stay tuned for more information on this.

The General Assessment Centre will be remain open as a Cold/Flu/COVID-19 Clinic.
Learn more and book an appointment here:
Learn More

What We Give

What We Give: Video Conversation with Helen Juvonen & Tyler J. Seguin

I had a fun conversation with the Helen Juvonen and Tyler Seguin, the Co-directors of Guild Festival Theater and the challenges faced by the artistic sector.

What We Give: Podcast Episode with Liz Buller

Today’s episode of What We Give features Liz Buller- the President and CEO of Scarborough Health Network- the third largest health network in Ontario. Liz and I discuss the impact of the pandemic on Scarborough, the unique challenges of healthcare in Scarborough in a pandemic, and concrete steps being taken to mitigate the impact. 
Listen now to What We Give:
Listen Here
Don't forget to subscribe to What We Give on your favourite podcast player to ensure you don't miss out on hearing the weekly episodes of What We Give

Scarborough-Guildwood Virtual Town Hall

Thank you to everyone who tuned into the Virtual Town Hall on December 3rd featuring my colleagues MPP Mitzie Hunter and Councillor Paul Ainslie. If you missed our conversation about the impact of the second wave of the pandemic on our community, you can view the entire discussion here: 
Watch Now

TRCA National Disaster Mitigation Program

The Federal government has been a long-standing partner of Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and more recently collaborated to reduce the impacts of natural disasters, specifically investment in flood and erosion mitigation projects through the National Disaster Mitigation Program (NDMP) and the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF).

The TRCA has successfully received nearly $3.8 million in Federal NDMP funding thus-far, which has complemented TRCA’s flood risk management mandate, in addition to filling funding gaps to address outstanding needs and accelerate investments in flood risk reduction activities.

Some the accomplishments of the work achieved thanks to NDMP include: risk assessments, emergency planning documents, state-of-the art flood modelling and mapping, improvements to real-time gauges and flood forecasting tools, large-scale community flood remediation studies with municipal partners, and flood communication and outreach programs. 
A full summary of accomplishments under the NDMP can be found in the accompanying report from the TRCA Board of Directors meeting from November 20, 2020.
Learn More

Mobility for Good for Seniors Program

As part of TELUS’ ongoing efforts to support connectivity for all, they recently launch of Mobility for Good for Seniors, a national program that provides low-income seniors with access to a free phone and subsidized data plan.

TELUS is providing seniors receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) access to:
  • A free smartphone
  • A $25/month plan that includes unlimited nationwide talk and text and 3GB of data
  • Contract-free; seniors can cancel at any time without incurring additional fees
Learn more about this program here:
Learn More

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

To help businesses through this challenging time and to save jobs, the federal government is extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to June 2021, and have proposed to increase the maximum subsidy rate back to 75%.
Learn more about the program and apply here:
Apply Now

Canada Recovery Benefits

The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. Please note that recipients will be obliged to account for any benefits received in their 2020 income tax return. 

If you are eligible for the CRB, you can receive $1,000 ($900 after taxes) for a 2-week period. Individuals are required to re-apply every 2 weeks. 

You may apply up to a total of 13 eligibility periods (26 weeks) between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.
Learn more & apply here: 
Learn More

One-Time Disability Payment 

In order to ensure as may eligible Canadians receive their payments, the Government of Canada has extended the deadline to apply for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC). The deadline to apply for the one-time payment has now been extended to December 31, 2020

On October 30, 2020, approximately 1.6 million eligible people will automatically start receiving the one-time payment.
Many different groups of Canadians will be eligible for this payment, including those who are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit, Canada Pension Plan Disability, a Quebec Pension Plan disability pension, and 7 programs administered by Veterans Affairs Canada. 
Seniors with disabilities who were eligible for the one-time seniors payment announced on May 12, 2020 may also be eligible for the one-time payment to persons with disabilities. In cases where they are eligible for both payments, individuals would receive a total amount of $600 as follows:
  • $300 for Canadians who are eligible for the Old Age Security pension and who received the one-time seniors payment of $300; or
  • $100 for Canadians who are eligible for the Old Age Security pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement or Allowances and who received the one-time senior’s payment of $500. 
Learn more and apply here:
Apply Now

Claiming a Deduction for Home Office Expenses

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has made the home office expenses deduction available to more Canadians, and simplified the way employees can claim these expenses on their personal income tax return for the 2020 tax year.
Employees who worked from home more than 50% of the time over a period of a least four consecutive weeks in 2020 due to COVID-19 will now be eligible to claim the home office expenses deduction for 2020. 
A new temporary flat rate method will allow eligible employees to claim a deduction of $2 for each day they worked at home in that period, plus any other days they worked from home in 2020 due to COVID-19 up to a maximum of $400. 
Learn more about this deduction here:
Learn More
While some countries are preparing to partially open up their borders, the Government of Canada reminds all Canadians that a global travel advisory to avoid all non-essential travel outside Canada remains in effect. Travellers should also avoid all cruise ship travel until further notice. 

The restriction on all discretionary travel at the Canada-U.S. border has been extended until January 21, 2021. This applies to all foreign nationals with some exceptions for immediate family members

*New*: Processes are being introduced to support enhanced family reunification, entry for compassionate reasons, and the safe and gradual entry of some international students. 
  • Starting on October 8, more information will be available outlining who qualifies under the enhanced family reunification program. 
  • Starting on October 20, international students, if they will be attending a designated learning institution that has been identified by their provincial or territorial government as having a COVID-19 readiness plan in place are allowed to enter Canada. 
Travellers returning to Canada are required to quarantine or self-isolate for 14 days. This is mandatory. Also, please note that anyone who flies to the United States for non-essential reasons and returns to Canada will have to quarantine for 14 days too. 

For further information and a list of exemptions, consult the Travel restrictions, exemptions, and advice page.

For more travel advice and information, click here

Important Immigration Information 

Check out the links below to find out how COVID-19 is affecting TRVs, citizenship applications, passport renewals, and other files: 
  • Click here to find out how COVID-19 is affecting immigration, refugees, citizenship and passport services:
  • Click here for updates on Permanent Residence applications
  • Click here for updates on your citizenship application
  • Click here for updates from Passport Canada:
  • Click here for updates on Refugees, asylum claimants, sponsors and PRRA applications
  • Potential travellers who have specific cases can consult with the CBSA's Border Information Services here
  • Click here for updates on TRV, student's permit and foreign workers
  • Even if you have an approved visitor visa or eTA, you may not be approved to travel at this time or guaranteed entry to Canada.
  • As of July 1, 2020, IRCC is processing all online visitor visa and eTA applications, so you can be ready to travel when the restrictions are lifted
  • Quarantine requirements
    • When visitors arrive in Canada by air, land or sea, border services will assess your health before you leave the port of entry.
    • If you're a foreign national, and you have symptoms of COVID-19, you won't be allowed to enter Canada.
  • You must have a plan to quarantine for 14 days when you arrive in Canada, including
    • A place to stay
    • How you'll get to your destination
    • How you'll get your groceries
    • Accessing essential services and medical care
  • This plan is mandatory, even if you have no symptoms.
  • If you don't have a plan, you should not travel to Canada. Otherwise, you will not be allowed to enter the country. 
  • The penalties for not following your quarantine plan once you're in the country can include
    • A fine of up to $750,000
    • 6 months of jail time
    • Being found inadmissible, removed from Canada and banned from entering for 1 year
  • Only people who provide essential services, for example truck drivers who regularly cross the border to maintain the flow of goods, are exempt from the quarantine requirements.

Who's Hiring in Scarborough

The East Scarborough Storefront has compiled this week's list of all the available jobs in Scarborough. 

All jobs are with Scarborough-based employers and vary from retail to social sector employment opportunities. 
View the List

Food Access Information

Lending a hand to the Muslim Welfare Centre- one of the organizations which provides food access to our community (picture from before the pandemic)
The East Scarborough Storefront has created a list with information about all the organizations in our community who are currently offering food services and hot meals.
View the list here:
View the List

5 year anniversary of welcoming Syrian refugees to Canada

I recently did an interview with Hanen Nanaa to mark the 5 year anniversary of welcoming Syrian refugees to Canada. She has a remarkable story and we first met when she was the Daughter of Vote delegate for Scarborough-Guildwood in 2019. Watch our conversation here.

Guild Park Virtual Christmas Celebrations

I was delighted to participate in the Guild Park's Virtual Christmas Celebration programme. You can view the full celebration here:
Watch Now

Doris McCarthy Trail

This holiday season, why not safely get some fresh air and take in the views of the bluffs. BlogTO recently wrote an excellent article outlining how to access the Doris McCarthy Trail and what to expect while walking on it. 

Send a Holiday Cheer Card to a Canadian Veteran

The Government of Canada is asking youth to write to Veterans who may be alone this holiday season to thank them for their sacrifices.

Learn more and send a card here

Rotary Tree of Remembrance

Toronto Zoo Holiday

Celebrate the holiday season this year by coming out to the Toronto Zoo Holiday Drive-Thru for a family-friendly and COVID safe experience! 

The route includes seeing the 35 Foot tall Toronto Zoo Christmas Tree and Santa. Please bring donations for Second Harvest and the Toronto Firefighters Toy Drive.
Learn More

In the News

I invite you to read my most recent interviews here:
My staff and I are embracing video chatting as we work remotely to continue serving you. You can reach us at 416-283-1226 or  

Our constituency office continues to be closed, but our services remain available to you by phone or email. The office will be closed for the holidays from December 21, 2020 until January 3, 2021. The office will re-open (virtually) on January 4, 2021 to continue serving you. 

If you require assistance on matters relating to the federal government or departments (Citizenship and Immigration, Canada Revenue Agency, CPP/OAS), please contact my office by phone at 416-283-1226 or by email at We will return all calls and emails

Citizenship and Immigration is not assisting people via telephone. However they can be reached through their web form.

If this is the first update you have seen, and you would like to be included on all future communications, please click here.

Hon. John McKay, P.C.,
Member of Parliament for Scarborough-Guildwood
To view all previous issues of my email updates, click here
Copyright © 2020 John McKay MP Scarborough-Guildwood, All rights reserved.

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