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. It has developed a new set of economic measures to help stabilize the economy, and is working to protect the financial well being of Canadians affected by the impacts of 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 $27 billion in direct support to Canadians hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis as well as $55 billion in tax deferrals.

Funding announcements continue to evolve as the needs of Canadians 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.

Government cheques

  • Special Goods and Services Tax credit payment

You may be eligible to receive a one-time special payment through the Goods and Services Tax credit if you earn a low or modest income (which seems to be an income below $30,000 per individual, though it’s not specified in the Emergency Response Plan).

The maximum amount you’ll usually get for this benefit each year is $443 for individuals, and $580 for couples. If you qualify for this benefit with Canada’s COVID-19 package, you’ll get an additional benefit close to $400 for single individuals and $600 for couples. This will be paid out starting 09 April 2020.

You may be entitled to this benefit if you:

  • Are a resident of Canada
  • Have filed your 2018 tax return
  • Already receive a quarterly GST/HST tax credit
  • Earn a low to modest income

How can I apply:
No application is required. This benefit will be delivered automatically as a GST/HST credit in the form of a cheque or through direct deposit.

  • Canada Child Benefit

The Canada Child Benefit is delivered to families with children under the age of 18. Every family can get a maximum benefit of around $553 per month for children under 6 years of age, and $466 per month for children between the ages of 6 and 18.

As part of its COVID-19 response plan, the Canadian government will be providing an extra $300 per child as a one-time payment in May. Parents can expect to receive this surplus benefit as part of their scheduled CCB payment.

You may also receive only a percentage of this benefit if you share split custody of your child. Those who already receive the Canada Child Benefit do not need to re-apply.

You may be entitled to this benefit if you:

  • Are a resident of Canada
  • Already receive the Canada Child Benefit
  • Live with a child under the age of 18
  • Are primarily responsible for the care and upbringing of your child

How can I apply:
No application is required. This benefit will be delivered automatically through CCB in the month of May. It will come in the form of a cheque or be administered through direct deposit.

Unemployment benefits

  • Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The Government of Canada has announced a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for eligible workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19. This benefit will be provided in addition to what’s available from your province. It will be offered for a period of four months to help Canadians dealing with lay-offs and other financial setbacks due to coronavirus.

The CERB covers Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who have to stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures.

Unlike Employment Insurance (EI), this benefit can also be claimed by contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for unemployment or sick leave benefits.

You may be entitled to this benefit if you:

  • Are a resident of Canada
  • Have stopped working because of COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance benefits (due to unemployment or sickness)
  • Earned an income of at least $5,000 in 2019 (or in the 12 months prior to application)
  • Expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial 4-week period
  • Expect to have no employment income in subsequent months

How can I apply:
Application for this benefit is 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 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.

  • 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. This program is being used to supplement the CERB program (outlined above) if you lost your job before 15 March 2020.

If you applied for EI after this date but your claim hasn’t been processed yet, it will automatically be processed under CERB. This means that you won’t need to re-apply under the CERB program to get your benefits. You also won’t need to supply a medical certificate to access your EI sickness benefits if you’re sick, quarantined or have been directed to self-isolate.

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. 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.

Tax benefits

  • Extension of income tax filing dates

The federal government will defer the filing due date for 2019 tax returns until 01 June 2020. This extension will apply to both individuals and companies. That said, it’s recommended that you file your taxes on time if you receive government cheques from the GST credit or the Canada Child Benefit.

For any taxes you file, you won’t need to worry about penalties or interest on the amounts you owe if you make your payments by 01 September 2020.

You may be entitled to extend your tax filing dates if you:

  • Are a resident of Canada
  • Plan to file a 2019 tax return, but haven’t done so yet

How can I apply:
No application is required. The extension is automatically applied for all Canadian taxpayers.

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 lasting six 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. You’ll need to speak to your lender to find out how you can qualify for an emergency deferral.

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

  • RRIF withdrawal reductions

As a result of COVID-19, the minimum withdrawal requirements for Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) will be reduced by 25% for 2020. This will help to reduce the impacts of volatile market conditions on many seniors’ retirement savings.

This benefit will most likely be helpful to you if you’re over the age of 65 and you’re concerned that you might need to liquidate your RRIF assets to meet minimum withdrawal requirements.

You may be entitled to reduce your RRIF withdrawals if you:

  • Are a resident of Canada
  • Are over the age of 65
  • Won’t need to withdraw as much as you’re required to in 2020

How can I apply:
No application is required. You’ll qualify for this benefit automatically if you have an RRIF.

  • Extra Old Age Security (OAS), Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and GST/HST payments

The government has offered an extra GST/HST Tax credit for low- and middle-income Canadians. This one-time payment provides approximately $400 for single individuals and $600 for couples. 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. Extra OAS and GIS payments will be made the week of July 6, 2020.

What other measures are in place to protect 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 are now available for students on jobbank.gc.ca. The rest of the government’s plan includes the following:

  • Canada Emergency Student Benefit.

    Students who make $1,000 or less per month can get monthly payments of $1,250 from May-August (or $1,750 if you have a disability or are taking care of someone). Recipients must be current post-secondary students, planning on attending school in September 2020 or must have graduated as of December 2019.

  • Canada Student Loan and Canada Apprentice Loan repayment suspension.

    From March 30 – September 30, 2020, interest will not accrue on these loans, nor will students be required to make payments (pre-authorized debits will stop). See the NSLSC website for details.

  • Canada Student Service Grant.

    College and university students volunteering between June 25 and October 1 may be eligible to receive between $1,000 and $5,000 depending on how many hours they volunteered. Learn more on the Prime Minister’s website.

  • Work restrictions lifted for international students.

    Until August 31, 2020, international students will be allowed to work more than 20 hours per week while classes are in session, so long as they work in a position that qualifies 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 will now be 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.

  • Suspended student loan payments.

    Student loan repayments have been suspended between March 30, 2020 and September 30, 2020. No interest will accrue during this time.

How can I apply:
You don’t have to apply to have your Canada Student Loan repayments suspended. You’ll qualify for this benefit automatically if you have an outstanding student loan. To apply for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, login to your MyCRA account.

To learn more, visit the Government of Canada website.

Benefits for vulnerable communities

The Government of Canada has also identified funding for vulnerable communities. These include Indigenous communities, women at risk of domestic violence and homeless populations. Any funds allocated to these populations will be distributed by the 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

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy allows employers to cover 75% of employee salaries (up to $847 per week) for 3 months, retroactive to 15 March 2020. This program is available to all types of businesses, except for public sector entities. You’ll typically qualify for this program if you’ve seen a drop of at least 30% in your revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications for the subsidy became available April 27, 2020.

Those organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may continue to qualify for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10 percent of remuneration paid from 18 March to 20 June, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.

To be eligible for this program, you must:

  • Be a Canadian business
  • Be able to continue normal business operations
  • Have experienced a loss of revenue of at least 30% due to COVID-19. 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.
  • Have a CRA My Business Account

How can I apply:
You’ll be able to apply for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy through the Canada Revenue Agency’s My Business Account portal as well as a web-based application.

  • Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)

Under the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) plan, property owners can get loans to cover 50% of monthly rent payments for April, May, June, July and August (2020), as long as those payments are owed by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship.

If property owners agree to a rent forgiveness program that reduces eligible small business tenants’ rent by at least 75% during April, May and June, their CECRA loans will be forgiven.

Eligible small business tenants (which includes nonprofits and charities) must satisfy the following criteria:

  • Businesses must be paying $50,000 per month or less on rent.
  • Businesses must have temporarily closed or have had revenues decrease by at least 70% compared to pre-coronavirus earnings.

How can I apply:
The government has not yet announced how to apply. Further details regarding CECRA will be released soon.

Business loans

  • Business Credit Availability Program

The Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada are working with private sector lenders to coordinate on credit solutions for individual businesses. These programs will roll out in the three weeks after 27 March 2020, and interested businesses should work with their current financial institutions to get more information about how to apply.

This program will include a loan guarantee for up to $6.25 million for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). EDC is also working with banks and other financial institutions to fund a similar co-lending program for SMEs.

You may be entitled to apply for this program if you:

  • Are a resident of Canada
  • Own a small business in Canada
  • Need financing to keep operations running smoothly during COVID-19

How can I apply:
Financing is being administered at the discretion of each individual bank or financial institutions. It’s not guaranteed, and your eligibility will depend on a number of factors. You’ll need to speak to your lender to find out how you can qualify for this type of loan.

  • Canada Emergency Business Account

With the new Canada Emergency Business Account, you’ll be able to get an interest-free loan up to $40,000 if you operate a small business or not-for-profit. To qualify, you’ll have to be able to show that your total payroll expenses were between $20,000 and $1.5 million in 2019.

Interested businesses should work with their banks or other financial institutions to obtain financing. Once approved, business owners can get receive funds within several days.

You may be entitled to apply for this program if you:

  • Are a resident of Canada
  • Own a small business in Canada
  • Had between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll expenses in 2019
  • Need financing to keep operations running smoothly during COVID-19.
  • Want to take advantage of an interest-free loan

How can I apply:
Financing is being administered at the discretion of each individual bank or financial institution. It’s not guaranteed, and your eligibility will depend on a number of factors. You’ll need to speak to your lender to find out how you can qualify for this type of loan.

  • 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%
6 months - 5 years
$4,166 /month
SharpShooter Funding offers loans up to $300,000 for small business owners who have been business for at least 100 days and can show a minimum of $4,166 in monthly deposits ($50,000/year).
OnDeck Business Loan
8.00% – 29.00%
6 - 18 months
$10,000 /month
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.

Compare up to 4 providers

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:

  • Student loan relief. Most provinces are freezing provincial student loan payments to coincide with the federal moratorium on student loans that’s being imposed through the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.
  • 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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