COVID-19 has taken a toll on the personal finances of many Canadians. In an effort to help mitigate the impact, many companies and governments have introduced new programs to help you get through these difficult times.
The HR4 and Minery team have put together a comprehensive list for you.
The Government is extending all tax deadlines until June 1, 2020. You now also have until August 31, 2020 to pay any balance owned as of 2019 tax returns.
NEW Canada Emergency Response Benefit (announced March 25th)
This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB would be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit. Calculations have also suggested that the CERB could result in a higher benefit for the individual vs. EI especially for employees making less than $23/hour, CERB proves to better option.
Key items to keep in mind about the new benefit includes:
- The CERB would cover 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 must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures.
- The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).
- Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for the CERB. So, to any employee 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.
- Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB.
- If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, they could apply for the CERB once their EI benefits cease, if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19.
- Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed would not need to reapply, their claim will automatically be moved over to the CERB and the employee will receive the 16-week benefit via CERB.
- Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits would still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB.
Application portal and payments: The portal for accessing the CERB would be available in early April. Canadians would begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.
For More information: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan/covid19-individuals.html#new_canada_emergency_response_benefit
- Freezing Canada Student Loan payments for six months.
Apart from Government initiatives, banks, utility companies and telecom companies are extending benefits for payment relief during these times of financial hardship.
Mortgage Payment Deferrals
- Canada’s big six banks will allow mortgage payment deferrals for up to six months as part of extraordinary measures to help customers struggling with the financial impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic. More information about the plans can be found on the banking websites.
Credit card Payments
- TD Canada Trust, CIBC, National Bank and Scotiabank say they are offering relief to customers on credit products on a case-by-case basis.
- Royal Bank is allowing customers to skip a monthly payment.
- BMO is allowing a deferral of payment on loans or credit card bills of up to three months.
More information can be found on the banking websites.
- Telus, Rogers, Shaw, Koodo and Freedom Mobile all say they will offer flexible payment plans to customers facing financial hardship.
- Rogers and Fido have gone a step further, pledging not to disconnect any customer in financial trouble in the next 90 days. Rogers is also waiving long-distance fees.
- Telus, Rogers, Bell and Shaw have also temporarily dropped their data caps for residential internet usage.
Hydro One’s Pandemic Relief Fund for Customers:
As part of their commitment to customers, Hydro One will offer financial assistance as well as increased payment flexibility to customers experiencing hardship. They’re also extending their Winter Relief program so that no customer will have power disconnected during this time.
The fund is designed to support customers impacted by these events and those that may experience further impacts. Customers can get more information about the program here:
Provincial initiatives include:
- A tax-free benefit intended for workers who have been laid off, who are sick or quarantined, or who are taking care of a sick child or relative. It also applies to parents who stay at home from work while childcare centres and schools are closed.
- New Westminster, which operates its own electrical utility, unveiled its own COVID-19 relief plan, giving customers the option to defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans.
- BC Hydro unveiled a program earlier this month that will allow customers to defer bill payments or arrange a payment plan with no penalty.
- FortisBC is also waiving late payment fees and is pledging not to disconnect customers or any reason. It is also promising to work with customers to come up with flexible payment plans.
- Port Coquitlam is waiving the March 31 penalty and extending the deadline for payment of 2020 utility bills.
- The City of Delta is also allowing residents to defer the late payment penalty deadline for 2020 flat rate utility bills. Under the proposed bylaw, there will be no penalty for late payment of flat rate utility bills until June 1, 2020.
ICBC says it has an existing policy that allows customers to defer a payment once in their term in times of financial hardship. Customers experiencing financial hardship can contact ICBC at 1-800-665-6442.
- Self-isolation support program: $450 weekly for two weeks for those forced to self-isolate who are not covered by federal EI program. This includes people who recently returned from travel.
- Crown utility interest deferral programs: Bill deferrals are available to all crown utility customers.
- Alberta is providing immediate financial assistance under the Emergency Isolation Support Program for working adult Albertans who must self-isolate. Under the Emergency Isolation Support Program, Albertans will be paid $573 per week during self-isolation. The Emergency Isolation Support Program is for those who are self-isolating because they meet the Government of Alberta’s published criteria for self-isolation, including persons who are the sole caregiver for a dependent who must self-isolate because they meet the public health criteria, and who will not have another source of pay or compensation while they are self-isolated. The application for this can be accessed through https://www.alberta.ca and a one-time payment of $1,146 will be deposited in the accounts of eligible recipients beginning at that time.
- Alberta Government also announced that they are amending Employment Standards Code by implementing paid job-protected leave as a measure to help Albertans through COVID-19 outbreak. Albertans will get 14 days of paid job-protected leave to cover the self-isolation or if they are caring for a loved one with COVID-19.
- Quebec also announced a temporary financial assistance to Quebecers to encourage self-isolation in the wake of the rapid rise of COVID-19.
- Under the Programme d’aide temporaire aux travailleurs (PATT COVID-19), workers who are not eligible for an income replacement program and who are isolated due to COVID-19 will receive financial support from the Legault government. Financial support will be provided for the duration of the 14-day isolation period. Eligible individuals will receive a lump sum of $573 per week.
- Through a collaboration with the Red Cross, the government will pay financial assistance through bank transfer or by prepaid card.