CEBA loan repayment forgiveness letter

You can read MPP Wong-Tam’s letter here.

 


The Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister of Canada

House of Commons

Ottawa, Ontario 

 

Sent By Email

 

October 6, 2023

 

Re: Resolving challenges with CEBA that threaten small businesses

 

Dear Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, 

 

As the Official Opposition Critic for Small Business Issues, I am writing to share concerns that small local businesses have brought to my attention.

 

Small businesses across Ontario need a full extension of their Canada Emergency Benefit Assistance loan deadline by at least a year ⁠— in addition to seeing the promised $20,000 loan forgiveness deadline extended. The recently announced 18-day extension of the loan forgiveness deadline does not provide the support that small businesses across Ontario urgently need.  

 

Small business owners have spent the last few years playing Red-Light Green-Light with government regulations that regularly forced them to close. Supply chain issues and a cost-of-living and inflation crisis immediately followed the global pandemic. CEBA worked, and all Canadians should be proud that our communities rallied to keep our main streets alive so that workers could remain on the payroll. However, small businesses kept Canadians employed because they counted on the promised loan forgiveness. Small shops cannot be expected to pay everything back when they never experienced a full economic recovery ⁠— and many economists now believe that our economy has entered into a recession. 

 

New data from the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) shows that September business confidence in Ontario is the lowest of all Canadian provinces and is declining. I believe that fears related to CEBA loan forgiveness contribute to this statistic — in addition to increased interest rates and fears of a recession. Statistics Canada shows that 360,339 Ontario businesses participated in the CEBA program, taking out $19.7 billion in loans. Working with the CFIB to ensure that CEBA is adapted to support their needs will help restore business confidence and mitigate a looming recession. 

 

I want to draw additional statistics from the CFIB to your attention. As you know, the CFIB is a data-driven organization that is constantly surveying their members to understand the real-time pulse of businesses in Canada. Only one-third of the members surveyed about CEBA can repay their loans before the new loan forgiveness deadline. One-third of those surveyed said they must take out a new loan to repay their loan through CEBA. A final third have no means to secure a loan for repayment. These metrics paint a dire picture. They indicate that there are over 100,000 businesses in Ontario that cannot repay their loan at all, and over 100,000 additional businesses will have to take on debt at modern interest rates to stay solvent. 

 

Maintaining a deadline that two-thirds of small businesses cannot meet is not an acceptable government policy when our country is on the cusp of recession. 

 

I want to share what a local business owner in Toronto Centre’s historic St. Lawrence Market district shared with me: “I want to pay back my loan, but I also have to keep the lights on. We just never had a real economic recovery after the pandemic. And that uncertainty has kept on going. But my business was a source of continuity and community for people with no one nearby. By keeping my business afloat, I ensured that many of my vulnerable neighbours felt cared for and connected. I employ many people who might not otherwise be able to find a place to work. I took out a loan that I will repay, but I have already repaid the goodwill throughout my local community. We need the government to understand this and support everyone in my shoes. And so many small local businesses are in my shoes right now.” 

 

I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to discuss how to fix CEBA so that it remains the life raft that small businesses deserve. As a provincial representative, I cannot stand by and watch it become a deadweight that drags our main streets underwater in debt. I would like to discuss this with your government. I can be reached at 416-972-7683 or [email protected]

 

Yours sincerely,  



Kristyn Wong-Tam

Member of Provincial Parliament 

Toronto Centre












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Both local residents and march participants were intimidated by the swift escalation initiated by law enforcement, resulting in some individuals being forcefully pushed to the ground. I am informed that the police reportedly issued no audible or repeated warnings to the group of marchers or bystanders before these altercations and subsequent arrests.

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I have listened to stories of what happened that substantiate how the movement for Palestinian human rights is not being policed equally with other movements. Toronto has a long history of racialized residents facing over-policing and violence. The peaceful marchers, local residents, and all citizens of Toronto deserve transparency regarding yesterday's events. To build community trust, I call on the Toronto Police to promptly provide a detailed account of their actions, including the reasons behind the arrests. Transparency and accountability are needed to begin repairing trust.







Provide Rapid Antigen Tests to Toronto Public Health

March 25 2024

 

Minister Sylvia Jones

Minister of Health

777 Bay Street, 5th Floor

Toronto, ON. M7A 2J3

 

Re: Providing Free Rapid Antigen COVID-19 Tests to Ontarians

 

Dear Minister Jones,

 

We are asking that you urgently provide COVID-19 rapid antigen tests to Toronto Public Health (TPH). TPH relied on the Province of Ontario to supply the city with free rapid tests since the Province of Ontario made the unfortunate decision to discontinue free widespread rapid test provision in July 2023. The remaining tests that TPH had expired on March 2, 2024, and the TPH website has yet to show any updates since. 

As we continue to navigate through the ongoing challenges presented by the pandemic, it has become increasingly evident that access to rapid testing is a valuable tool in our arsenal against the virus, allowing for more timely and targeted interventions to curb its spread. We note that provinces like British Columbia still provide rapid tests for free in hundreds of pharmacies across their less populated province – Ontario should also ensure that tests are widely available.

Simply put, the demand for testing continues to outpace the rapid test supply that the Ontario government is providing. Based on our research, the average cost of a rapid test is $3.50 – $6.00 per test. This average cost is not affordable for families made up of frontline workers, with children in school, and with elders in long-term care, especially since they require frequent testing. If the Government of Ontario wants people to test and stay home when they are sick, tests must be readily available and provided free of charge.

Testing alone might not stop COVID-19 from spreading, but testing remains a useful layer of protection. We continue to see that frontline workers are at the greatest risk of COVID-19 infection – they deserve access to free tests to keep themselves, their co-workers, and their community safe.  By providing rapid tests to Public Health Units across Ontario, we can enhance our ability to detect and contain outbreaks in high-risk settings such as schools, workplaces, and long-term care facilities. While COVID-19 infections are less deadly than they were before widespread vaccination, COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in Canada in 2022 – the most recent year for which we have data. 2022 was also the third year in a row where Canada’s life expectancy declined. 

We urge you to prioritize the allocation of new COVID-19 rapid tests to TPH to address the pressing need for expanded testing capacity. Swift action in this regard will not only help to safeguard the health and well-being of our residents but also contribute to our collective efforts to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We trust that you will give due consideration to the urgent request outlined herein and take the necessary steps to ensure that TPH receives the support they deserve as they strive to fulfill their mandate of laying a robust foundation for the public health of all Ontarians.

 

Respectfully submitted, 



Bhutila Karpoche

Official Opposition Critic for GTA Issues

Member of Provincial Parliament

Parkdale – High Park

 

 

Kristyn Wong-Tam

Official Opposition Critic for Small Business Issues                                             

Member of Provincial Parliament 

Toronto Centre 

 

cc: Hon. Stan Cho, Minister of Long-Term Care                 

Keep Tenants at 16 St Joseph St. Safe

 

March 24, 2024

 

Sent By Email 

 

Muge Fikri, Property Manager

Akelius Residential Properties

 

Re:  Tenants’ Safety During Heating Failure at 16 St Joseph Street

Dear Ms. Muge Fikri at Akelius Residential Properties,

I am writing this letter because your tenants at 16 St Joseph Street need decisive action and urgent accommodation to protect their well-being during the failure of your heating systems in their homes. Please share this letter with Akelius Head of Canada Shelly Lee as I ask that she personally involve herself in this matter to ensure the health and safety of her tenants.

It is unimaginable that Ontario residents have been living in an Akelius rental building without essential heating since March 2, 2024. Winter temperatures in Toronto have remained consistently below levels that are safe. Tenants have an inviolable right to safe dwellings and this includes the vital service of an indoor temperature that is at least 21 degrees Celsius.

It is the responsibility of the property manager and landlord at 16 St Joseph Street to ensure its heating and ventilation systems are maintained and regularly serviced. The failure of the critical heating and ventilation system and any delayed response to adequately address this problem underscores the importance of proactive work to maintain all of your rental properties’ critical infrastructure. I understand from correspondence with involved parties that proactively upgrading the boiler heating system was not prioritized until the boiler failed. 

These failures are not an accident. They happen too regularly in Ontario when landlords allow critical equipment to fail by not regularly maintaining the equipment or proactively planning to replace systems as they near their end-of-use cycle. I unfortunately have extensive experience with misguided landlords deferring costs on these critical infrastructure failures from my time as a City Councillor and now as a Member of Provincial Parliament. It is always more costly and inconvenient to your tenants to let the systems fail. I know that it is your responsibility to keep your tenants safe and to ensure that they have uninterrupted access to their homes. When your critical infrastructure fails, it is also your responsibility to propose immediate and adequate solutions to keep them safe and unharmed.

As you cannot find a way to restore the heating system immediately, I demand that you provide hotel rooms in the vicinity as temporary accommodations for your affected and now vulnerable tenants until adequate heating is restored. It will be your responsibility to ensure that they can access their units, and that their units are secured from an increased risk of break-ins during this time. This is your direct responsibility as a landlord and the tenants should not be punished for the failure of your heating system – something that they had absolutely no control over.

I’m informed Akelius is offering partial rent abatements and space heaters — but your tenants have shared with my office that these measures are wholly inadequate. Fuses are regularly blowing because of the outdated electrical system. Your tenants are cold, tired and getting sicker. Their physical and mental health will be harmed for as long as they go without heat. I believe that providing them with safe and adequately heated hotel rooms or other suitable alternatives while ensuring they can access their homes, would be the least that you can do during this most challenging time for them.

I am not asking for any shortcuts to be taken that might put your tenants at risk. Providing hotel rooms is a reasonable accommodation for this situation. I even imagine that it may be covered by your insurance policy.

I need to hear back from you or Shelly Lee as soon as possible and no later than March 26, 2024.  You can reach my office at any time by emailing [email protected] or calling 416-972-7684. 

Sincerely, 

Kristyn Wong-Tam

Member of Provincial Parliament for Toronto Centre

120 Carlton St. Suite 401

Toronto, ON

M5A 2K4

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