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Financial assistance for people affected by the coronavirus

Where to find relief if the COVID-19 outbreak hurts your income.

We’ll continue updating this page with resources and information as new details emerge on how Canadian leaders and businesses are responding to COVID-19.

If you’re financially struggling because of the impact of coronavirus, there are financial products and special government support measures that can help you stay afloat.

Most financial institutions — including 6 of Canada’s biggest banks — have agreed to work directly with those affected by coronavirus on a case-by-case basis to help relieve the pressure of having to keep up mortgage payments while money is tight. These financial institutions include BMO, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC, Scotiabank and TDBank.

If eligible for assistance, you could get your mortgage payments deferred for up to 6 months and possibly get other credit relief as well. Depending on how your situation is evaluated by your bank, interest may continue to accrue on your mortgage during the deferral period – if so, this could result in higher mortgage payments once the deferral period ends.

If you have credit products at these banks and need financial relief due to coronavirus, contact a bank representative using the information below to find out what options may be open to you.

BankCustomer service phone lineAlternative contact

BMO

English: 1-877-CALL-BMO (225-5266)
French: 1-877-225-5266
English: feedback@bmo.com
French: remarque@bmo.com

CIBC

English: 1-800-465-2422
French: 1-888-337-2422
Cantonese: 1-888-898-2828
Mandarin: 1-888-298-8822
Teletype Device Service (for the deaf and hard of hearing): 1-877-331-3338
Send a secure message through your CIBC online banking portal

Live chat

National Bank of Canada

1-888-835-6281Contact form on website

RBC

1-800-769-2511

Teletype Device Service (for the deaf and hard of hearing): 1-800-661-1275

Contact form on website

Scotiabank

For customers: 1-800-4-SCOTIA
(1-800-472-6842)
For non-customers: 416-866-6161
Message Scotiabank on Twitter

TD Bank

Related to personal bank accounts, phone & web banking:
English: 1-866-222-3456
French: 1-800-895-4463
(Other languages/options available)

Related to credit cards:
English: 1-800-983-8472
French: 1-800-983-8472, option 2
Collect: 416-307-7722
Cantonese: 1-877-233-5558
Mandarin: 1-877-233-5844
Punjabi: 1-800-818-1400
Teletype Device Service (for the deaf and hard of hearing): 1-866-704-3194

Register to send/receive emails with TD using TD Secure Email

HSBC

Set up an appointment with an HSBC rep to discuss your financial situation by calling 1-888-310-4722 or by phoning the number on the back of your debit card.Schedule an appointment by logging into Online Banking and using the live chat feature or by visiting www.hsbc.ca/appointment

Canadian Western Bank

Contact your Relationship Manager or visit a nearby branch to discuss relief options. Call 1-866-843-3917 outside regular branch hours.Online COVID-19 Deferral Request form on CWB’s website. If you’ve filled out the form but still need assistance, email customerservice@cwbank.com

Negotiate a better repayment plan with your lender

One surprisingly effective – but easily overlooked – solution to managing debt is to contact your lender(s), explain that you’re struggling financially and ask if they’ll agree to a new payment arrangement that’ll help you meet your obligations. Be sure to explain the specific factors or circumstances affecting your ability to pay (i.e. illness, unemployment, emergency expenses etc.).

Lenders would rather work with you than risk losing money, so you may be offered an extended term with lower monthly payments, a different interest rate, permission to make a late payment without penalty, deferred payments or some other solution. In so doing, you could protect both your wallet and your credit score.

What if I don’t qualify for assistance from my bank?

If you’re having a hard time getting your lender to agree to defer your credit card or personal loan payments, don’t worry — you still have options. You may want to look into getting a new credit card with a low introductory APR to help cover expenses in the short term without accruing much interest. You could also consider taking out a personal line of credit, which gives you continual access to a credit line you can pull from as you need.

You can learn more with our guide to managing your finances during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Government programs

Thanks to the efforts of the Canadian government, people who have been negatively impacted by coronavirus have a number of new and existing sources of financial support. Here’s the breakdown:

The COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: What do you qualify for and how to apply?

Employment Insurance (EI) for unemployment, illness and disability

If you’ve lost your job through no fault of your own and have worked a requisite number of weeks (varies based on where you live), you could be eligible for payments totaling up to 55% of your average weekly insurable earnings. As of January, 2020, the maximum amount of coverage is $54,200 ($573 weekly), but this can change yearly.

The government is prioritizing processing EI applications for people with coronavirus. If you become infected with coronavirus and get quarantined, the usual 1-week waiting period on receiving your first EI payment will be waived. Essentially, this means you don’t have to pay a deductible and will receive an extra week’s worth of EI benefits. If you’re in quarantine, call the government’s toll-free number to learn more.

Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB — replaces the Canada Emergency Response Benefit)

The government is devoting funds to support workers who are facing unemployment, because they’ve lost their jobs or experienced reduced hours due to coronavirus.

According to the government’s plan, this support will provide a taxable benefit of $1,000 ($900 after taxes) for 2 weeks up to a maximum of 26 weeks for people who meet all certain criteria during the period for which they’re applying. You’ll need to re-attest every 2 weeks after that to reconfirm your eligibility.

You can apply through your CRA My Account or by calling 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041. You’ll need your Social Insurance Number (SIN) and postal code to verify your identity over the phone. Funds will be delivered in 3-5 business days for direct deposit or up 10-12 business days for cheques delivered by mail.

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)

This support will provide a taxable benefit of $500 ($450 after taxes) for a 1-week period up to a maximum of 2 weeks. You’ll need to reapply after the first week if you need funding for the second week. Applications for this benefit are now available, and you’ll need to attest that you meet the eligibility requirements.

You can apply through your CRA My Account or by calling 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041. You’ll need your Social Insurance Number (SIN) and postal code to verify your identity over the phone. Funds will be delivered in 3-5 business days for direct deposit or up 10-12 business days for cheques delivered by mail.

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)

This support will provide a taxable benefit of $500 ($450 after taxes) for a 1-week period up to a maximum of 26 weeks. You’ll need to reapply each week if you need continued funding. Applications for this benefit are now available, and you’ll need to attest that you meet the eligibility requirements.

You can apply through your CRA My Account or by calling 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041. You’ll need your Social Insurance Number (SIN) and postal code to verify your identity over the phone. Funds will be delivered in 3-5 business days for direct deposit or up 10-12 business days for cheques delivered by mail.

Student financial aid and loan payment relief

A $9 billion plan has been enacted by the government to help relieve students and recent graduates of the financial burden caused by COVID-19. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated that over 45,000 jobs are now available for students on jobbank.gc.ca. The rest of the government’s plan includes:

  • Canada Student Loan and Canada Apprentice Loan repayment suspension. From March 30 – September 30, 2020, interest did not accrue on these loans, nor were students required to make payments (pre-authorized debits simply stopped).
  • Work restrictions lifted for international students. Up until August 31, 2020, international students were allowed to work more than 20 hours per week while classes were in session, so long as they worked in a position that qualified as an “essential service or function” including health care, critical infrastructure or supplying food or other critical goods.
  • Enhanced Canada Summer Jobs program. Private and public employers have now been 100% subsidized for the cost of hiring students. The job placement time frame has also been extended to the winter.
  • More scholarship, fellowship and grant money. The government has doubled student grants for the 2020-2021 school year. Scholarships, fellowships and grants for student researchers and graduate students will be extended by 3-4 months. Extra funding is being given to Quebec, the Northwest Territories and Nunuvut to increase student financial aid.
  • Mitacs student internships extended to undergrads and professional program students. The government has worked with the national nonprofit research organization, Mitacs, to allow internships to be extended to a wider range of students, not just Master’s and PhD research students. Learn more on mitacs.ca.

To learn more, visit the Government of Canada website.

Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Disability Benefits (long term support)

You can get monthly payments out of your CPP prior to turning 65 as long as you’ve contributed to the plan for a certain number of years and have a severe and prolonged mental or physical disability that prevents your from working regularly. Payments can also be made to child of someone with a disability. Learn more about disability benefit options in our detailed guide.

Extended deadlines for income tax filing and tax payments

To help ease some financial stress, the deadline for filing individual tax returns was moved to June 1, 2020. The deadline for paying any amounts that became owing between March 18, 2020 and September 1, 2020 was moved to September 1, 2020 – during this time period, no interest or penalty fees were applied to taxes (including installments) that were owed to the CRA.

Where there is difficulty in making payments, the CRA is very flexible in arranging payment plans. Affected taxpayers may also be eligible to receive relief by submitting Form RC4288 Request for Taxpayer Relief – Cancel or Waive Penalties or Interest. Requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Other government financial support

The government provided a Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC) that was paid out to low- and middle-income Canadians in early May 2020. This one-time payment provided approximately $400 for single individuals and $600 for couples. Also in May 2020, families eligible for the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) received $300 more per child.

Seniors getting Old Age Security (OAS) received an extra one-time payment of $300, and those getting the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) got an extra one-time payment of $200. Those eligible for both received a total of $500 extra.

Food banks

In March 2019 alone, Canadians paid around 1.1 million visits to over 500 food banks located around the country. Roughly 1 in 8 visitors to the food bank are employed, and nearly half are from single-person households.

The Food Bank network in Canada offers nutritious food thanks to corporate support, individual donors and food producers that produce fresh and frozen products. Additionally, fresh fruits and vegetables are provided by community garden programs that also teach recipients how to grow their own food. Visit foodbankscanada.ca to find a location near you.

Watch out for COVID-19 grant scams

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre advises everyone to be on the look out for scammers who may try to elicit personal information from you by exploiting pubic concern over the Coronavirus. For example, third-party companies may offer to complete financial assistance applications for you. Or, con artists may sell overpriced or low-quality items that are expired or hazardous to your health.

Similarly, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns against phishing scams disguised as coronavirus grant programs. If you get a suspicious message on social media from a friend telling you to click on a link to get free money, don’t click.

Usually these are phishing scams, which download malware onto your computer or otherwise steal your personally identifiable information. Delete the message and let your friend know that their account might have been hacked.

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