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What Canada’s coronavirus response plan means for you

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan includes personal cheques, unemployment benefits, business financing and more.

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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 Government of Canada is taking strong, quick and deliberate action to help Canadians facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. A new set of economic measures have been developed to stabilize the economy and protect the financial well being of Canadians who have been impacted by the coronavirus.

This guide outlines the provisions that the Canadian government has introduced to protect citizens and residents through its COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. It also includes information on what you need to qualify for and receive these benefits, as well as how provinces are stepping up to fill in the gaps.

COVID-19 Economic Response plan — at a glance

Here’s what individuals and business owners have to look forward to, thanks to Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. Click on the plus sign to learn more:

What exactly is Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan?

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan is a plan put in place by the federal government to help curb the spread of coronavirus. It’s also intended to limit the financial repercussions it is causing across the country. Through this plan, the federal government is offering billions of dollars in tax deferrals and direct support to Canadians and Canadian businesses that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding announcements continue to evolve as public needs become more apparent. We’ll do our best to update this guide as new information becomes available. You can also find out about recent updates by visiting the official website of the Government of Canada.

Unemployment benefits

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

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.

How can I apply:
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.

How can I apply:
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.

How can I apply:
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.
  • Employment Insurance (EI)

Employment Insurance (EI) is a program in Canada that allows you to receive financial assistance if you’ve temporarily lost your job. If you’re applying for EI sickness benefits, you won’t need to provide a medical certificate.

The benefits you’ll receive through this program typically amount to 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount of $573 per week. Under the government’s temporary COVID-19 relief plan, EI recipients will get at least $500 per week, but it could be more. The amount of time you can receive EI varies from 14 to 45 weeks, depending on a number of factors.

You may be entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits if you:

  • Were employed in insurable employment
  • Lost your job through no fault of your own
  • Have been without work and without pay for at least 7 consecutive days in the last 52 weeks
  • Have worked for the required number of insurable employment hours (between 400 and 700) in the last 52 weeks or since the start of your last EI claim

How can I apply:
You can apply for this benefit through your Service Canada Account by submitting some personal information, along with your Record of Employment (ROE). Your funds will be sent by cheque or deposited into your account by direct deposit.

Benefits for homeowners

  • Mortgage relief

You may be able to apply for a mortgage deferral from your bank on a case-by-case basis if you can’t afford your mortgage due to a lay-off or other financial hardship due to COVID-19. Mortgage deferrals up to 6 months may be available to those at risk of defaulting on their mortgages if they don’t receive some form of financial assistance.

Some banks will still charge you interest for the period of time that your mortgage is deferred. This means that you’ll end up owing more in the long run. That said, this option can provide temporary relief if you’ve lost your job or you can’t make your mortgage payments due to other scenarios arising from COVID-19.

You may be entitled to defer your mortgage if you:

  • Have a mortgage in good standing
  • Are willing to supply personal details such as your debt to income ratio, current savings and job status
  • Meet the specific eligibility requirements set out by your bank or other financial institution

How can I apply:
Mortgage relief is being administered at the discretion of each individual mortgage lender. It’s not guaranteed, and your eligibility will depend on a number of factors. Speak to your lender to find out what options are available to you.

How are homeowners being protected?

The Government of Canada has launched an Insured Mortgage Purchase Program which will allow it to purchase $150 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

This action will provide long-term stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders, which will help to facilitate continued lending to Canadians while adding liquidity to Canada’s mortgage market.

Benefits for seniors

The government is also contributing $9 million through United Way Canada for local organizations to support practical services to Canadian seniors. These services could include the delivery of groceries, medications, or other needed items. It could also include personal outreach to assess individuals’ needs and connect them to community support systems.

Benefits for students and recent graduates

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 have been made available for students on jobbank.gc.ca. Though many of these relief measures were only offered in 2020, some benefits were extended or are ongoing. These include:

  • Enhanced Canada Summer Jobs program. Private and public employers will now be 100% subsidized for the cost of hiring students. The job placement time frame has also been extended to the winter. Visit jobbank.gc.ca to apply.
  • 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. Keep reading to find out about ongoing student loan options, repayment assistance and more.

Benefits for vulnerable communities

The Government of Canada has dedicated funds to support vulnerable groups including Indigenous communities, homeless people and women at risk of domestic violence. Any funds allocated to these populations will be distributed by the social assistance organizations that work directly with them.

  • Benefits for Indigenous communities. Over $300 million in funds are earmarked to help Indigenous communities cope with COVID-19. These funds will be issued directly to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities through existing agreements.
  • Benefits for women fleeing domestic violence. The Government of Canada will support women and children fleeing violence by providing up to $50 million to women’s shelters and sexual assault centres to help with their capacity to manage or prevent an outbreak in their facilities.
  • Benefits for homeless shelters. Over $157 million has been allocated to homeless shelters to help them limit the spread of COVID-19. This funding can be used by shelters to respond to urgent care needs, implement social distancing measures and secure housing for those most at risk.
  • Benefits for people with disabilities. Those who qualify for the Disabiltiy Tax Credit (DTC) will receive a one-time, tax-free payment of $600 from the government.

Wage subsidies

  • Work-Sharing program

Employers can apply for the Work-Sharing (WS) program, which is designed to help employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in their normal level of work.
The program distributes additional funding to provide income support to those employees that are eligible for EI benefits and who are working temporarily reduced hours as a result of coronavirus.

The Work-Sharing program has been extended from 38 weeks to 76 weeks as part of the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

You may be able to establish a Work-Sharing program for your business if you:

  • Have been in business in Canada year-round for at least 2 years
    Are a private business, a publicly-held company, or a not-for-profit organization
    Are able to show that the shortage of work is temporary and beyond their control, and is not a cyclical/recurring slowdown
  • Are able to prove a recent decrease in business activity of approximately 10%
  • Can submit and implement a recovery plan designed to return to normal working hours

How can I apply:
To apply for the Work-Sharing program, you must submit a completed application form signed by you and your employees. You’ll also need to submit a recovery plan and an enrollment sheet listing all participating employees and their Social Insurance Numbers.

You can submit your completed applications to Service Canada using the specific email address assigned to your region. You’ll also need to submit a Utilization Report every week to keep your benefits flowing.

  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

Until June, 2021, eligible businesses as well as nonprofits and charities can apply to receive a wage subsidy for specific 4-week “claim periods.” The number of employees businesses have is irrelevant — this subsidy is to help both large and small businesses. Funding does not automatically renew. Business owners must reapply for each claim period after the period is over.

The Prime Minister also encourages subsidized businesses to use funds to hire back employees that have been laid off due to the pandemic.

For claim periods 1-4 (March-June, 2020)

Employees of subsidized businesses can expect to have 75% of their incomes covered up to a maximum of $58,700 (up to $847/week). Business revenues must have decreased by at least 30% as a result of coronavirus. Business owners can use sales figures from January and February (2020) to demonstrate their losses. Additionally, they only need to show a 15% drop in revenue during March, given that most businesses didn’t feel the effects of COVID-19 until half-way through the month.

For claim periods 5 and onwards (July, 2020 – present)

For claim periods 5 and onwards (July, 2020 – present), employees of subsidized businesses can expect to receive a base rate percentage that varies depending on how much revenues have dropped. If your business has lost more than 50% of revenues, an additional top-up rate will also apply. The maximum rate a business can receive as of claim periods 8-10 (October–December, 2020) is 65%. Check the Government of Canada website to get the latest information for the current claim period.
How can I apply:
You’ll be able to apply for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy through your CRA My Business Account portal, the governments “Represent a Client” service or by completing a Web Forms application.

  • Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)

The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy program provides rent subsidies of up to $75,000 per business location and up to $300,000 per business group (including any affiliate entities). Eligible businesses include for-profits, non-profits and charities. There is no minimum revenue drop required to qualify.

The actual amount businesses will receive is a base rate percentage that will vary depending on how much revenues have dropped. Businesses located in areas affected by public health restrictions may also qualify for an additional 25% through the Lockdown Support program. You can apply through your CRA My Business Account or through the Government’s “Represent a Client” service. Visit the Government of Canada website for more details.

Note: In October, 2020, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy was introduced to replace the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program. New applications for CECRA stopped being accepted as of September 30, 2020.
How can I apply:
You’ll be able to apply for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy through your CRA My Business Account portal. If approved, you’ll receive your funds within 3-8 days for direct deposit or 14 days for cheques delivered by mail.

Business loans

  • Business Credit Availability Program (BACP)

Under the Business Credit Availability Program, the government will provide the BDC and EDC with funds to partner with private financial institutions and cooperatively provide loans to small and medium-sized businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19. The BCAP has several components:

BDC Co-Lending Program

Until June, 2021, eligible businesses can get loans of up to $12.5 million from the BDC, 80% of which is covered by the BDC, while the other 20% is covered by lending financial institutions.

EDC Guarantee

Until June, 2021, the EDC is working with lending financial institutions to guarantee 80% of loans as high as $6.25 million.

BDC Mid-Market Financing Program

Medium-sized businesses with annual revenues of approximately $100 million (not a strict rule) may be able to get loans of $12.5 million to $60 million to remain liquid and continue operating. Loans are offered in partnership with the BDC and private financial institutions. Details on when these funds will become available have not yet been released. Available until June, 2021.

  • Canada Emergency Business Account

The federal government is guaranteeing up to $55 billion in interest-free loans to eligible small businesses (this includes sole business owners and operators, contractor-reliant business, farms and family-owned businesses that pay employees in the form of dividends). This will help such companies cover costs in the coming months as the economic impact of COVID-19 continues to unfold. Lines of credit up to $60,000 will be available with a 0% interest rate to businesses that spent between $20,000 and $1,500,000 total on payroll in 2019.

Once approved, businesses should be able to receive funds within a few days. If your loan is repaid by the end of 2022, then 33% of it will be forgiven (up to $22,000). Applications are now available through your financial institution.

Businesses that already applied for CEBA funding under the previous lending limit of $40,000 can apply for a $20,000 expansion. Business owners have until March 31, 2021 to apply regardless of whether they’re first-time applicants or simply applying for an expansion.

How can I apply:
Business owners should contact their financial institutions, which will oversee the application and approval process for available loan programs, administer loans and supervise repayment. To qualify for financing, businesses must have been financially viable prior to the coronavirus outbreak and must be directly or indirectly hurt by it now.

  • Traditional business loans

Alternatively, you can look for business loan lenders and apply from the table below:

Name Product Interest Rate Min. Loan Amount Max. Loan Amount Loan Term Minimum Revenue Min. Credit Score Filter Values
SharpShooter Funding Business Loan
Fee based, Prime pricing starting at 9.00%
$500
$500,000
6 months - 5 years
$10,000 /month
670
SharpShooter Funding offers loans up to $500,000 for small business owners who have been business for at least 2 years and can show a minimum of $10,000 in monthly deposits.
Loans Canada Business Loan
Prime Pricing from 9.00%, Long term financing from Prime + 2.00%
$2,000
$350,000
3 months - 5 years
$4,166 /month
410
Loans Canada connects Canadian small business owners to lenders offering up to $350,000. Borrowers must have been in business for at least 100 days, have a credit score of 410+ and show a minimum of $4,166 in monthly deposits ($50,000/year).
OnDeck Business Loan
8.00% – 29.00%
$5,000
$300,000
6 - 18 months
$10,000 /month
600
OnDeck offers loans up to $300,000 for small business owners working in approved industries who have been in business for at least 6 months with a minimum monthly revenue of $10,000.
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Provincial benefits

Many provinces are stepping up to help fill in the gaps that the federal COVID-19 Economic Response Plan doesn’t cover. Some of the benefits available through your province may include:

  • Emergency benefits for workers. You may be able to access additional subsidies to help cover the costs of unemployment due to COVID-19 through your province. Many provinces are also offering additional legal protections to workers who are choosing to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Childcare relief. Childcare benefits may include temporary emergency funding for child care centres, child care payment support or a waiver of childcare fees until the crisis is over.
  • Support for landlords and renters. Support for renters and landlords could include temporary rental supplements, the halting of evictions and the freezing of rents. There may also be programs in place to help with the costs of utilities.
  • Support for vulnerable populations. Additional support for vulnerable populations might include emergency supports for people on income assistance, disability assistance and low-income seniors.

Download the COVID Alert app

On July 31, 2020, the federal government released the COVID Alert app (for Android and iOS) to help track and prevent the spread of coronavirus. This non-mandatory app lets users report if they’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and anonymously notifies people nearby that they may have been exposed. Currently, only residents of Ontario can use the app to report their test results, but soon this functionality will be extended across Canada (the exact date has not yet been announced).

Bottom line

The COVID-19 Economic Response Plan offers financial assistance to Canadians struggling to make ends meet as a result of COVID-19. Find out how you might be able to benefit from Canada’s economic stimulus package, and get the latest information on changes to this policy with this regularly updated guide.

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

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