SUPPORT FOR CANADIANS
The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action to support Canadians facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Temporary Income Support for Workers and Parents
For Canadians without paid sick leave (or similar workplace accommodation) who are sick, quarantined or forced to stay home to care for children, the Government is:
Waiving the one-week waiting period for those individuals in imposed quarantine that claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits. This temporary measure is in effect as of March 15, 2020.
Waiving the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits.
Introducing the Emergency Care Benefit providing up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks. This flat-payment Benefit would be administered through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and provide income support to:
Workers, including the self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent, but do not quality for EI sickness benefits.
Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify for EI or not.
Application for the Benefit will be available in April 2020, and require Canadians to attest that they meet the eligibility requirements. They will need to re-attest every two weeks to reconfirm their eligibility. Canadians will select one of three channels to apply for the Benefit:
by accessing it on their CRA MyAccount secure portal;
by accessing it from their secure My Service Canada Account; or
by calling a toll free number equipped with an automated application process
Longer-Term Income Support & Emergency Support Benefit
For Canadians who lose their jobs or face reduced hours as a result of COVID’s impact, the Government is:
Introducing an Emergency Support Benefit delivered through the CRA to provide up to $5.0 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment.
Implementing the EI Work Sharing Program, which provides EI benefits to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hour as a result of developments beyond the control of their employers, by extending the eligibility of such agreements to 76 weeks, easing eligibility requirements, and streamlining the application process. This was announced by the Prime Minister on March 11, 2020.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit
On March 25, 2020, the Government introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to help workers and businesses.
The Government of Canada is taking strong, immediate and effective action to protect Canadians and the economy from the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic. No Canadian should have to choose between protecting their health, putting food on the table, paying for their medication or caring for a family member.
To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, the government has proposed legislation to establish the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). 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.
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. This would help businesses keep their employees as they navigate these difficult times, while ensuring they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as it becomes possible.
The EI system was not designed to process the unprecedented high volume of applications received in the past week. Given this situation, all Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, would be able to receive the CERB to ensure they have timely access to the income support they need.
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. 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.
The government is working to get money into the pockets of Canadians as quickly as possible. The portal for accessing the CERB would be available in early April.
EI eligible Canadians who have lost their job can continue to apply for Employment Insurance HERE, as can Canadians applying for other EI benefits.
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.
This benefit would be one part of the government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, to support Canadian workers and businesses and help stabilize the economy by helping Canadians pay for essentials like housing and groceries, and helping businesses pay their employees and bills during this unprecedented time of global uncertainty.
Set up your online CRA 'My Account' as soon as possible. Through this account, you can apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit on April 6th.
Who can apply, How to apply, After you apply - find these details on the CERB webpage
Income Support for Individuals Who Need It Most
For over 12 million low- and modest-income families, who may require additional help with their finances, the Government is proposing to provide a one-time special payment by early May 2020 through the Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC). This will double the maximum annual GSTC payment amounts for the 2019-20 benefit year. The average boost to income for those benefitting from this measure will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples. This measure will inject $5.5 billion into the economy.
For over 3.5 million families with children, who may also require additional support, the Government is proposing to increase the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment amounts, only for the 2019-20 benefit year, by $300 per child. The overall increase for families receiving CCB will be approximately $550 on average; these families will receive an extra $300 per child as part of their May payment. In total, this measure will deliver almost $2 billion in extra support.
To ensure that certain groups who may be vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19 have the support they need, the Government is proposing targeted help by:
Providing $305 million for a new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities.
Placing a six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying these loans.
Reducing required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25% for 2020, in recognition of volatile market conditions and their impact on many seniors’ retirement savings. This will provide flexibility to seniors that are concerned that they may be required to liquidate their RRIF assets to meet minimum withdrawal requirements. Similar rules would apply to individuals receiving variable benefit payments under a defined contribution Registered Pension Plan.
Providing the Reaching Home initiative with $157.5 million to continue to support people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak. The funding could be used for a range of needs such as purchasing beds and physical barriers for social distancing and securing accommodation to reduce overcrowding in shelters.
Supporting 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. This includes funding for facilities in Indigenous communities.
Flexibility for Taxpayers
In order to provide greater flexibility to Canadians who may be experiencing hardships during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Canada Revenue Agency will defer the filing due date for the 2019 tax returns of individuals, including certain trusts.
For individuals (other than trusts), the return filing due date will be deferred until June 1, 2020. However, the Agency encourages individuals who expect to receive benefits under the GSTC or the Canada Child Benefit not to delay the filing of their return to ensure their entitlements for the 2020-21 benefit year are properly determined.
For trusts having a taxation year ending on December 31, 2019, the return filing due date will be deferred until May 1, 2020.
The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all taxpayers to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
In order to reduce the necessity for taxpayers and tax preparers to meet in person during this difficult time, and to reduce administrative burden, effective immediately the Canada Revenue Agency will recognize electronic signatures as having met the signature requirements of the Income Tax Act, as a temporary administrative measure. This provision applies to authorization forms T183 or T183CORP, which are forms that are signed in person by millions of Canadians every year to authorize tax preparers to file taxes.
The Canada Revenue Agency is adapting its Outreach Program to support individuals during COVID-19. Through this service, the Canada Revenue Agency offers help to individuals to better understand their tax obligations and to obtain the benefits and credits to which they are entitled. Traditionally available in-person, this service is now available over the phone, and through webinar, where possible.
The Canada Revenue Agency fully expects that many community organizations are considering whether to significantly reduce or perhaps cancel the provision of services provided under the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. Additional efforts to encourage individuals to file their tax and benefit returns electronically, or where possible, through the File My Return service, will be put forward.
Role of Financial Institutions
The Minister of Finance is in regular contact with the heads of Canada’s large banks, and continues to encourage them to show flexibility in helping their customers whose personal or business finances are affected by COVID-19. The Superintendent of Financial Institutions has also made clear his expectation that banks will use the additional lending capacity provided by recent government actions to support Canadian businesses and households.
In response, banks in Canada have affirmed their commitment to working with customers to provide flexible solutions, on a case-by-case basis, for managing through hardships caused by recent developments. This may include situations such as pay disruption, childcare disruption, or illness. Canada’s large banks have confirmed that this support will include up to a 6-month payment deferral for mortgages, and the opportunity for relief on other credit products. These targeted measures respond to immediate challenges being faced across the country and will help stabilize the Canadian economy.
Mortgage Default Management Tools
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and other mortgage insurers offer tools to lenders that can assist homeowners who may be experiencing financial difficulty. These include payment deferral, loan re-amortization, capitalization of outstanding interest arrears and other eligible expenses, and special payment arrangements.
The Government, through CMHC, is providing increased flexibility for homeowners facing financial difficulties to defer mortgage payments on homeowner CMHC-insured mortgage loans. CMHC will permit lenders to allow payment deferral beginning immediately.
Mortgage Deferral Information
The Canadian Bankers Association provided us with important information about mortgage payment relief measures available from banks for Canadians experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.
Accessing mortgage relief measures
All bank customers who are currently in good standing and have been impacted by COVID-19 can apply for mortgage relief from their bank. Customers will answer a few questions to help their banks direct applications appropriately.
COVID-related mortgage deferral is available for an indefinite period and customers do not face a deadline for having to seek relief. They can approach their bank as the need arises.
Customers should understand that this is not mortgage forgiveness. Mortgage deferral means that payments are skipped for a defined period of time, during which interest which would otherwise be part of the deferred payments is added to the outstanding balance of the mortgage. The added interest is incorporated into the monthly payment, either when payments resume at the end of the deferral period or upon renewal at the end of the mortgage’s term.
Banks are encouraging customers to visit their websites for the latest information, rather than calling or visiting a branch.
During this period of unprecedented economic upheaval and financial uncertainty, banks in Canada are working diligently to help customers who are experiencing financial difficulty. Canadians who are impacted should contact their bank to discuss relief options suitable for their circumstance, including mortgage payment deferral. A range of channels, including mobile apps and websites, are available for Canadians who are concerned about their financial situation.
Employment Insurance Benefits
Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits provide up to 15 weeks of income replacement and is available to eligible claimants who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine, to allow them time to restore their health and return to work. Canadians quarantined can apply for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits.
If you are eligible, visit the EI sickness benefits page to apply.
Service Canada is ready to support Canadians affected by COVID-19 and placed in quarantine, with the following support actions:
The one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined so they can be paid for the first week of their claim
Establishing a new dedicated toll-free phone number to support enquiries related to waiving the EI sickness benefits waiting period
People claiming EI sickness benefits due to quarantine will not have to provide a medical certificate
People who cannot complete their claim for EI sickness benefits due to quarantine may apply later and have their EI claim backdated to cover the period of delay
Important: If you are directly affected by the COVID-19 because you are sick or quarantined and you have not yet applied for EI benefits, please submit your application before contacting us. This will allow us to better serve you and prevent delays in establishing your claim.
If you have already completed the application for EI sickness benefits whether you are sick or quarantined and would like to have the one-week waiting period waived, call the new toll-free phone number below. It is important to note that no other request will be actioned on this phone line. We will take action only for sick or quarantined clients affected by the COVID-19 for which the application for sickness benefits has been filed.
Telephone: 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free)
Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-800-529-3742
If you are experiencing symptoms such as cough, fever, difficulty breathing or you are in self-isolation or quarantine, do not visit or enter any Service Canada office. As an alternative, you may access our services online or by calling 1 800 O-Canada.
Student Loan Relief
The following measures are being put in place to support student loan borrowers during COVID-19:
Student loan repayment will be suspended until September 30th, 2020:
If you are registered for pre-authorized debit, they will be automatically stopped so you do not have to do anything.
If you are making payments by cheque or other means, you are not required to make payments during the suspension period.
If you want to continue making payments on your loan, you may do so by logging in to your secure NSLSC account and using the Make a Payment option or through online banking.
Interest will not be charged to borrowers on their student loans from March 30th, 2020 to September 30th, 2020.
If your loan was issued by NL, NB, ON, SK or BC, this applies to both the federal and provincial portions of your student loan.
If your loan was issued by PEI, NS, AB or MB, NSLSC only administers the federal portion of your loan, and therefore, this applies to your Canada Student Loan only. However, your province may already have announced similar measures for the provincial portion of your loan; please contact the issuing province for more information.
Note: It may take some time for these measures to be applied to your NSLSC online account. As such, your student loan account may temporarily reflect incorrect information.
How does the suspension affect you if:
You are still in school
The suspension does not impact your loan since you have no payment to make and interest does not accumulate while you are in-study.
You are in your six-month non-repayment period
Payments are never required during the non-repayment period.
The non-repayment period is already interest-free for Canada, BC and NL loans;
Interest accrues on the provincial portion of the loan for ON, NB and SK; however, between March 30th and September 30th, ON, NB and SK loans will be interest-free.
If your non-repayment period is set to end during the suspension period, payments and interest will automatically be suspended until September 30th and you will start repaying your loan in October 2020.
You have already started to repay your loan
You do not have to do anything; your loan will be interest and payment free until September 30th and you will resume repaying your loan in October 2020. We will provide further information over the coming weeks on repayment options for October.
This information was obtained from the National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLSC) website.