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.
Losing your job is scary, there’s no doubt about it. But just know that you’re not alone, and there is support out there for you. We’ve put together a list of ways you can get help, in the hope it’ll make these tough times a little easier.
The first place to start: Employment Insurance
If you’re out of work because you caught COVID-19, have to self-isolate, or need to care for a loved one, there are ways to get financial support.
The government has waived the one-week wait time for people in quarantine to receive Employment Insurance (EI), so you can access that as soon as you’re off work. You also no longer have to submit a doctors note as part of your application.
Take advantage of the government’s stimulus package
If you’re not eligible for EI, there’s still hope. Reasons you may not be able to receive EI benefits could include if you’re:
- Sick or quarantined due to COVID-19
- Taking care of someone who is sick from COVID-19
- Parents taking care of children due to school closures
The Federal government recently announced a $82 billion coronavirus stimulus package that will see certain groups receive cash handouts and tax relief in a bid to mitigate the economic impact of the virus. The package includes $27 billion in direct supports and another $55 billion to help business liquidity through tax deferrals. The big banks have collectively paused mortgage payments for 6 months.
The new Canada Emergency Response Benefit will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months to:
- Workers who must stop working due to COVID-19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support. This includes seasonal workers whose employment has been cancelled due to the virus.
- Workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.
- Working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.
- Workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work.
- Wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.
- People whose regular EI benefits have recently ended but who still need help due to the impact of coronavirus.
People making $1,000 per month or less can apply. Application are available as of April 6th 2020, and you’ll need to attest that you meet the eligibility requirements. You’ll need to re-attest every 2 weeks after that to reconfirm your eligibility.
You can apply through your CRA MyAccount 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 10 days after your application by cheque or through direct deposit.
The rest of the government’s relief plan includes:
- A 6-month, interest-free reprieve on student loan payments.
- Monthly payments of $1,250 from May-August for students and recent graduates who make $1,000 or less per month. If you have a disability or are taking care of someone, you could get $1,750 per month. (Recipients must be current post-secondary students, planning on attending school in September 2020 or must have graduated as of December 2019.)
- A temporary boost to Canada Child Benefit payments, delivering about $2 billion in extra support.
- Doubling the homeless care program.
- Extending the tax filing deadline to June 1.
- Allowing taxpayers to defer until after Aug. 31 tax payments that are due after today and before September.
- $305 million for a new Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities.
- Seniors getting Old Age Security (OAS) will get an extra one-time payment of $300, and those getting the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will get an extra one-time payment of $200. Those eligible for both will receive a total of $500 extra. Disbursements will be made the week of July 6.
- One-time increase to the GST/HST credit. The amount is based on information from your 2018 tax return.
- People who qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) will get a one-time, non-taxable payment of $600.
Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: See which benefits you qualify for and how to apply
Take advantage of other governmental benefits
In order to help the over 12 million low- or modest-income families, the Government is planning to offer a Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC) that will be payed out to Canadians in early May 2020. This one-time payment will provide approximately $400 for single individuals and $600 for couples.
For families eligible for the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), the Government will increase the payment amount for May 2020 by $300 per child.
So, for example, if you’re a single parent with two children and receive a low to modest income, the combination of the GSTC and CCB benefits could give you almost $1,500 in added support within the coming months.
You could receive more benefits if you fall into some other categories:
- If you’re repaying government student loans, you don’t have to pay interest for 6 months.
- If you live in a First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities, you could potentially benefit from a new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund.
- Women’s shelters and Reaching Home (an initiative supporting people who are homeless) will also be receiving additional government support.
Consider a low-interest loan
The Bank of Canada has lowered the prime interest rate several times to help stave off economic downturn as a result of coronavirus. Some banks have similarly lowered prime lending rates to make it more affordable for business owners to afford financing for their enterprises. Such institutions include the Royal Bank, TD, Scotiabank, Bank of Montreal, CIBC and Desjardins.
Additionally, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) has lowered the amount of cash major banks are required to hold back for emergencies, thereby freeing up more funds for banks to lend out. It may therefore be a good time to speak to your local bank representative about credit solutions for your business.
If you have disability insurance
You may be able to claim on your disability insurance if you meet your policy’s requirements – for example, holding it for a certain period or being out of work for a certain length of time.
Contact your insurance company immediately to find out if you would be covered in the event you are too sick to work due to COVID-19. The insurer will be able to walk you through the process if you are eligible to make a claim.
Contact your bank or lender
Financial officials from the Canadian government have been in direct contact with representatives from some of the nation’s biggest banks (the exact institutions are undisclosed) and have been assured that these banks will be flexible with making arrangements to help individuals affected by coronavirus. Requests will reportedly be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
If coronavirus has made it difficult for you to make payments to your bank, speak to a bank representative to find out what options may be available to you. You could end up with temporarily reduced or deferred payments or even a lower interest rate.
Is there any help with your mortgage payments?
Through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the Government is enabling homeowners facing financial hardships to defer their mortgage loan payments. Contact your lender for more information.
Contact your utility provider
Call your provider and ask to ask about any available financial support. They may help you deffer payments or work out a plan to pay bills in smaller installments. The provincial government may also have pre-arranged for utility companies to offer this kind of financial support in light of COVID-19.
Don’t worry about your taxes… for now
To help ease some financial stress, the deadline for filing individual taxes has been moved to June 1, 2020. The deadline for paying any amounts that become owing between March 18, 2020 and September 1, 2020 has been moved to September 1, 2020 – during this time period, no interest or penalty fees will be applied to taxes (including installments) that you owe 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.
Keep up-to-date on all things related to COVID-19