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Coronavirus: How to prepare for the possibility of unemployment

Is your job at risk due to the coronavirus? Start planning now.

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.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) isn’t just putting public health at risk – it’s threatening thousands of jobs across the country and having a huge impact on Canada’ economy. If you’re worried the coronavirus could put you out of work, don’t wait to take action. This guide will show you ways to prepare, so you’ll be in a stronger position if you do lose your job.

Take advantage of the government’s stimulus package

The Federal government has created a coronavirus stimulus package worth billions of dollars, which will provide cash handouts and tax relief to those who have been affected by COVID-19. The package includes support for both individuals and businesses. Canada’s Big 5 Banks and many other financial institutions have provided mortgage deferrals for up to 6 months for clients who have been financially hurt by the pandemic.

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: See which benefits you qualify for and how to apply

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.

Similar benefits are available to those who are caring for someone who’s ill (Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit) or who have had to self-isolate (Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit). Learn more in our guide to financial assistance for those affected by the coronavirus.

Other governmental relief initiatives

Besides the Canada Recover Benefit, Caregiving Benefit and Sickness Benefit, the federal government also offered the following relief initiatives in 2020:

  • A 6-month, interest-free reprieve on student loan payments in 2020.
  • A temporary boost to Canada Child Benefit payments, delivering about $2 billion in extra support.
  • Extended deadlines for filing 2019 taxes and paying amounts owing.
  • Those receiving Old Age Security (OAS) got an extra, one-time payment of $300, and those receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) got an extra one-time payment of $200. Those eligible for both received a total of $500 extra. Disbursements were made in July, 2020.
  • One-time increase of GST/HST credits. The exact amount of the increase was based on each person’s 2018 tax return.
  • People who qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) got a one-time, non-taxable payment of $600 in 2020.
  • (Ongoing) Millions of dollars for a newly-created Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities.
  • (Ongoing) Doubling the homeless care program.

Build an emergency fund

Your job might not be at risk right now, but there’s no knowing how long the coronavirus outbreak will last, or how badly it will impact the economy.

If you don’t already have one, start an emergency fund now. If you do have emergency savings, consider pouring a greater proportion of your income into the fund, so you’ll be adequately prepared if you do lose your job.

Learn how to make a budget. There are lots of budgeting apps available which could help you squirrel away some extra cash, so you don’t find yourself high and dry in an emergency.

Look into insurance options

There are lots of insurance options out there which can help in the event you lose your job or are too sick to work for a while.

  • Employment Insurance: If you can’t work due to illness, injury or quarantine you may be eligible for employment insurance sickness benefits.
  • Mortgage Protection Insurance: Most people wouldn’t be able to pay the mortgage if they lost their job. Mortgage protection insurance covers repayments if something serious happens.
  • Bills: Bill protection insurance will cover the cost of your bills if you’re too sick to work, or become involuntarily unemployed.

⚠️ Remember: There are certain requirements with insurance policies. You may have to hold a policy for a certain length of time before you can claim, or be out of work for a significant period. Contact insurance companies directly for more detailed information.

Consider alternative income

If coronavirus is putting your main income at risk, it might be time to look for a lucrative side-hustle. The more money you earn right now, the more secure you’ll be if you do lose your job in a few month’s time.

Know your rights

There are some core rights that always apply:

  • Severance: If you’re a permanent employee and you lose your job through no fault on your own, you may be entitled to severance pay. The amount you get is based on how long you’ve worked for your employer.
  • Sick leave: While there is no provision for a paid leave of absence, if you get sick, you are entitled to job security.

Keep up-to-date on all things related to COVID-19

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