CJRO news for April 6 to April 12
Candice Vetter, reporting from North Russell.
I have tried to keep on top of the news as it unfolds, and how that news will affect our coverage area, but I may have missed something important. There’s been too much to note it all, but I will try to clarify some of the changing or confusing issues.
First off, a lot of our listeners are employed in industries that are still considered essential. But this is not the normal definition. That only means you are allowed to work. It does not mean you have to work. If you feel unsafe you can refuse work and your employer cannot legally punish you.
Although most stores and services are quickly adding protective measures for their workers, not all employers are following the rules or are able to safely follow the rules, and not all coworkers take proper precautions. According to one of Premier Ford’s earlier speeches, if you feel threatened you can, and you should, refuse work.
The new Canada Emergency Response Benefit is now accepting applications. Either online, or using the automated phone line. For more information, go to Canada.ca and follow the links or https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/apply-for-cerb-with-cra.html
Applications can only be applied for on certain days, dependent on when you were born. People born in January, February or March can apply on Mondays. Those born in April, May or June can apply on Tuesdays.Those born July, August or September can apply on Wednesdays. And those born October, November or December can apply on Thursdays.
The benefit is currently only for those who will earn no income for specific periods, beginning March 15. In the Prime Minister’s daily address on Monday, April 6 he said there will be additional CERB funding for people whose income has been seriously reduced, but they have been able to earn small amounts. It sounded like this includes employees and self-employed individuals, but we’ll see, it’s an ever changing story.
Some taxpayers have received a Notice of Assessment that says they must file and pay income taxes by April 30. But, the actual due date for filing individual tax returns has been extended to June 1, 2020. Payment doesn’t have to be made until September 1.
It sounds like Canada’s Big Six banks have finally reached an agreement with the federal government and the Bank of Canada to reduce credit card interest rates. Some clients’ rates will temporarily go from around 20 per cent compound interest to 10.99 per cent. This appears to apply to personal and to small business customers who are receiving payment deferrals due to the outbreak. It is unclear if that means persons not receiving deferrals have to pay full rate or not.
At a time when everyone is being ordered to do their business electronically, it seems the banks should be a major part of the solution. It was about two weeks ago that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau asked the banks to cooperate.
One wonders why first, it took the banks two weeks to agree, considering that entire factories have retooled their operations to produce health supplies.
Second, why is this measure only for three months when projections are for a two-year pandemic.
Third, why are the Big Six banks calling in business loans, when the government has the power to stop them.
Finally, why have the banks been allowed to charge outrageous interest rates for all these years considering they have paid almost zero interest for the use of that money? Maybe change is in the wind at last.
And now a shout out to the Caisse Desjardins. CJRO was told it was the first financial institution in this area to take immediate action, although I couldn’t find absolute verification of that. Regardless, they were on board early to help their clients.
Regarding bills, the City of Ottawa has extended payment times for most property tax bills. They were due March 19 and June 18, and now there is a grace period until October 30. But you must apply – it is not automatic. Go to the Taxes homepage on Ottawa.ca for information.
In Russell Township penalties on tax bills, water or sewer bills due at the beginning of April and May will be waived until May 30th. After that Council will reassess the situation.
Don’t fall for COVID-19 scams. Be alert for anything the least bit suspicious. There is one text scam which says you have been given money from the Government of Canada and you just have to provide your information to receive the funds. This is not true!
No one from the government or a health provider will be sending texts or emails, or making phone calls, asking for your banking or credit card information. You must apply for any grants. They won’t come out of the blue.
A phone scam has callers saying, “Your test results have come back positive for COVID-19. Give me your address and credit card number so I can mail you your antibiotics.” No one is mailing anyone anything! It’s a trick to use your credit card. And antibiotics don’t even help with viruses.
Rules for physical distancing have become much more stringent. All municipal parks are open for walking or cycling through only. No stopping allowed, no close approaches to others, no walking with anyone you don’t live with, no sitting on benches or picnic tables, no use of play structures, in other words don’t touch anything. That is the easiest and most effective way to stay safe. Don’t touch. Wash your hands anyway. It’s easy to touch something and forget you did. Take hand sanitizer, alcohol wipes, or even soap and water with you in case you do touch something. Don’t touch your face.
Parking lots are also closed, which is understandable but problematic, as spring is coming to Canada and people need to get into the outdoors. Public washrooms are also closed, causing problems which I won’t describe on the radio, but you can imagine. So far officials have not announced ways to deal with these unintended consequences. For now, the best way to get outdoors is to go somewhere within walking distance of your home.
Parks Canada also has suspended all visitor services and motor vehicle access to national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas.
For current pass holders, the end dates of passes will be automatically extended. If you have a campsite reservation the Parks will try to contact you, or you can contact them through Canada.ca.
Physical distancing for shopping and services is also stricter now. The Province of Ontario has reduced the types of businesses allowed to stay open. Many which are allowed to stay open are only taking orders in advance by credit card payment, and delivering the products to your home, or to the trunk of your car outside their doors. Most are also operating with reduced staff who are at high risk of exposure. Ordering can usually be done over the phone or online.
The Township of Russell and the Russell Library are gathering a list of volunteers who would like to help in their community during this time of need. People can help with grocery delivery, medication delivery, or talking to someone on the phone for company. Go to Russell.ca and click on COVID-19 Info to register to volunteer or to receive assistance.
A COVID-19 assessment and care centre has been set up in Winchester, across the street from the hospital. Ottawa’s assessment centre is at Brewer Arena near Sunnyside and Bronson.
Ottawa Fire Service has implemented a burn ban. The Rural Sector Fire Chief said it was due to the current state of emergency, but also normal. He said although the ground is wet in most areas, the grass, weeds and other ground foliage is dry at the tips. Fire will roll along the tops, creating rapid expansion of grass or brush fires. Also, fire trucks cannot enter soft or muddy ground without getting stuck.
The Navan Pharmacy is open during the COVID-19 epidemic, but working reduced hours. Patients can phone, email or use their online forms to fill and refill their prescriptions.
If you have a story the community should know, we’d like to hear from you. Send an email to newsCJRO@gmail.com.
CJRO – last on the dial, first for local news. Stay safe.