In the face of COVID-19, I recognize that we are coping with a great deal of uncertainty while also trying to find new routines and ways to get through the day.
During these unprecedented times, everyone is facing new challenges.
I am confident that all levels of government are working collaboratively to flatten the curve and keep people safe, while also finding ways to provide relief where it is needed most.
My team has put together some key COVID-19 information to keep you informed about resources, services and benefits that might help you.
I remain deeply proud of this community and the people that are working hard to support it. I'm excited about the positive announcements that are going to improve people's lives. We are in this together. We must continue to keep paddling together.
Even though our office is closed, we are still providing services and advocacy. Feel free to call our office at 604-660-0707 by email at Melanie.Mark.MLA@leg.bc.ca
In a time when we are asking people to stay in their homes to prevent the spread of COVID-19, no one should fear losing their home, which is why our government has introduced an action plan to support renters and landlords:
✅ Temporary rent supplement of $500 per month for those with dependents and $300 for those without (apply here)
✅ Halting current and new evictions
✅ Freezing annual rent increases
✅ Restricting access of landlords to units without consent
In light of COVID-19, Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, has announced supports for those who are vulnerable, including seniors, through temporary measures:
✅ Earning exemptions for EI benefits & the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit
✅ $300 monthly lift to income and disability assistance
✅ $52 Transportation Supplement for those on disability assistance
✅ $300 supplement for those receiving Senior's Supplement
For more info: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020SDPR0012-000620
B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers
The B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a one-time $1,000 non-taxable payment to people whose ability to work has been affected due to COVID-19. To be eligible you must be a B.C. resident and receiving the new federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
Application link: https://www.etax.gov.bc.ca/BTP/EBW/_/
Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development, has announced that youth in care will not age out during the COVID-19 pandemic and those who have recently aged out will get extra assistance.
For more info: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020CFD0042-000596
My Ministry in Action!
Updates from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training
Providing relief to students through emergency fund
Our government is making sure students attending public post-secondary institutions can access emergency funds so they can focus on staying healthy and meeting their educational goals. This major lift $3.5 million in financial assistance was a call to action that will ensure students have access to immediate financial relief.
This non-repayable emergency assistance fund can be used to help with a broad range of costs, including living expenses, food, travel, portable computers and other supports for students who are not already able to study remotely.
Our government is committed to implementing Article 21.1 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by supporting Indigenous student success. We’re increasing emergency financial assistance for Indigenous students to ensure they can focus on staying healthy and meeting their educational goals.
This non-repayable, $1.5 million emergency fund will support Indigenous students attending all 25 public post-secondary institutions as well as Native Education College. The fund can be used for a broad range of costs, including living expenses, groceries, transportation, school expenses, and more.
Here2Talk - Free 24/7 Mental Health Counselling and Referral Service for Post-Secondary Students
Students have advocated for years to fill the gaps in mental health supports as they manage school, work, relationships and much more. This month, Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and I launched Here2Talk - a place for students to turn for 24/7 mental health counselling and referral service by app, phone and chat.
Over the past several months, we’ve been working together to deliver this new province-wide free service that will be available to all 555,000 post-secondary learners across B.C.
Encourage the students in your life to download the app and see what is available to support them. For access to the app go to: here2talk.ca
Province Secures Safe Housing and Supports For People Living in Oppenheimer Park
On Saturday, April 25th my colleagues Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction; Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions; and Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, made an important announcement regarding health and safety in Oppenheimer Park. I was raised in the Downtown Eastside and I love this neighbourhood. Now more than ever, we must work together to keep each other safe and healthy.
We know that people need housing and access to healthcare. People are feeling anxious right now due to the uncertainty of COVID-19. I care deeply about our community. Know that we are not alone. We will find solutions together.
The Government of B.C. is partnering with the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society (VAFCS) and the City of Vancouver on a proposal to provide more than 160 new affordable homes and 80 shelter spaces for people and families in downtown Vancouver.
I'm pleased to see that the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre, the City of Vancouver and the Government of B.C. are working together to address the desperate need for housing. 1015 East Hastings will provide various housing options that meet the needs of my diverse constituents. Partnerships like this will go a long way to deliver the safe, secure and affordable housing people deserve.
B.C.’s largest immigrant-serving agency will host a legal clinic to provide improved support for new British Columbians as part of government's commitment to increase access to justice.
As part of a continued commitment by government to help create legal clinics throughout the province, ISSofBC received a $250,000 grant to hire lawyers and legal staff who can offer legal advice and act as lawyers in legal proceedings,at no cost to clients.
Broadway Youth Resource Centre
Expressive Arts Therapy sessions for youth looking for support, for someone to talk to & looking for a creative outlet for your feelings. See more information here. Call Jotika at 778-288-2589 (text or call)
BC 211 is an important resource to help you find supports in your community. They have recently launched their Safe Seniors Strong Communities program that matches seniors who need support with non-medical essentials to volunteers in their community who are willing to help. To register as a senior needing help or a volunteer, click here.
To learn more about BC211: https://www.bc211.ca/
Showcasebc.ca is the online hub where livestreams by recipients and many other performances from all of those creators working in B.C.’s creative industries can be submitted and shared. It is delivering a first step in relief funding through the Showcase BC micro-grant program.
Hon. Melanie Mark, MLA Vancouver-Mount Pleasant
1070-1641 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5L 3Y4