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From one competition to another: Canadians anticipate the imminent call of the federal election

Canada is gearing up for another type of competition following the end of the Tokyo Olympics. A political race so to speak. With campaign plans at the ready, speculation mounts that the imminent election call could be days away.

Many Canadians have concerns about holding an election in the middle of a pandemic. With that in mind, the Corriere Canadese spoke with Francesco Sorbara, Member of Parliament for Vaughan-Woodbridge and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue to discuss how Canada has managed the pandemic so far.

Covid-19 has presented major challenges for Canadian families and small businesses. How have your government’s policies helped them “weather the storm”?

Covid-19 is the most extreme event that Canadians have gone through in a generation. In what seemed like overnight, the economy froze, businesses shuttered and millions of Canadian workers were sent home. They were left without a job and no income. Canada has implemented a number of measures to assist millions of Canadians like the CERB, now called the Canadian Recovery Benefit (CRB). At one point it helped more than nine million Canadians.

According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, roughly 70% of small business owners have taken on debt due to Covid-19. Their data suggests that small businesses in Canada owe about $135 billion collectively. What kind of supports are available to help business recover?

We have rolled out several support programs to help businesses. The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) is one example. It intended to support businesses by providing financing for expenses which cannot be deferred. The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) is another program to help prevent layoffs and to encourage the re-hiring of laid-off staff. The Canada Recovery Hiring Program is a different incentive to encourage businesses to expand and hire on new workers.

Medical experts caution Canada could be at the start of a fourth wave. Do these policies go far enough to assist Canadians should there be a surge in cases and more lockdowns?

First of all, I would like to encourage all eligible Canadians to get vaccinated and I applaud all who have already done so. Vaccination against Covid-19 is the quickest and easiest way for life to get back to normal. To help Canadians continue to get the support they need during the recovery phase, Canada has extended supports like the CRB, including the wage and rent subsidies until October 23, 2021.

The National debt has now surpassed $1 trillion. What is Canada’s fallback position should the Covid-19 situation worsen?

As a Government, we did not want Canadians to assume debt on an individual basis. These programs are the pillars in helping citizens ensure that no one has to choose between paying the rent and putting food on the table. The best economic policy we have is to grow the economy. In so doing, this allows us to maintain a strong fiscal balance sheet and enables us to create and put in place programs to assist Canadians.

In the area of Vaughan-Woodbridge, more than half the population is of Italian heritage. What is the Government doing to help strengthen ties in the Italian-Canadian community?

The relations between Canada and Italy have enjoyed a renaissance since about 2015. A number of factors have lined up which has allowed this to occur. For instance, the application of CETA has resulted in 30% increase in trade between Italy and Canada. Our government has also signed the bilateral agreement on youth (aged 18-35) mobility between both countries. Once ratified and conditions permit, it will allow applicants to extend their stay in each other’s country for the purposes of work, study and travel and help deepen our cultural ties.

What is your vision for Canadians and the government headed into the future?

As a whole, it is important that the government has the backs of all Canadians and businesses throughout the pandemic and into full recovery. A glimpse of that vision was laid out in the 2021 Federal Budget with over 200 measures to assist Canadians. Together, these measures will help build a stronger, healthier and more diverse country.

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