The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is continuously evolving by the minute – a situation which requires us to constantly keep ourselves up to date on the latest health bulletins, government programs and policy changes. Due to the outbreak, the federal government has set out a number of restrictions and provided recommendations to help citizens deal with this ever-changing situation.
Please find below a summary of federal and provincial government programs meant to support Canadians through these trying times. We will update this as more information comes in.
1. Support for individuals and families
Increased Canada Child Benefit (CCB) – Extra $300 per child through the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for 2019-20. This means approximately $550 additional income more per family on average. This will be delivered as part of your scheduled CCB payment in May 2020.
NOTE: Those who have already received their CCB payments before do not need to re-apply.
Special Goods and Services Tax credit payment – One-time special payment starting April 9 through the Goods and Services Tax credit for low- and modest-income families. Average additional benefit will be close to $400 per single individual and $600 for couples.
NOTE: No need to apply for this benefit. If you are eligible, you will get it automatically.
Extended due date for filing income tax returns – The filing due date for the 2019 tax returns of individuals is deferred until June 1, 2020. All new income tax balances due, or installments can also be deferred until August 31, 2020 without incurring interest or penalties.
NOTE: if you expect to receive benefits through the GST credit or the CCB, we encourage you to not delay your 2019 return filing to ensure that your entitlements are properly determined.
Mortgage support – Canadian banks have committed to work with their customers on a case-by-case basis to find solutions to help them manage hardships caused by COVID-19. Contact your bank for more information.
2. Support for people facing unemployment
The New Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) – The government will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months to eligible workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19. The CERB will be accessible only in early April.
Apply for Employment Insurance (EI) – If you’ve lost your job and qualify for EI benefits, you can submit your request online here: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-regular-benefit/apply.html
3. Support for people who are sick, quarantined, or in directed self-isolation
CERB – Same as in point #2, eligible workers will receive $2,000 a month for up to 4 months.
Improved access to EI benefits – If you are sick, quarantined or have been directed to self-isolate, the government will waive the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits.
4. Support for people who need it the most
Indigenous Community Support Fund – The federal government is providing $305 million for a new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Nation communities.
Enhanced Reaching Home Initiative – People who face homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak will benefit from $175.5 million in funds coursed through the Reaching Home Initiative.
Support for women’s shelters and sexual assault centres – Up to $50 million additional funding for women’s shelters and sexual assault centres to boost capacity to manage or prevent outbreak in their facilities.
Support for seniors - Reduced required minimum withdrawals from RRIFs by 25 per cent for 2020. In addition, the federal government is contributing $9 million through the Untied Way Canada for local organizations to support practical services to Canadian seniors.
5. Support for youth, students
Moratorium on student loans – Effective March 30, a six-month interest-free moratorium on student loans is in place for all borrowers.
Mental health support – Additional $7.5 million in funding to Kids Help Phone to provide mental health support for the youth during this difficult time.
We would also like to inform you that there is help coming from the provincial government of British Columbia meant to assist you financially so you can continue to pay your bills and buy your basic needs. Some of these benefits include:
Halted new and active evictions, except for exceptional circumstances.
New temporary rental supplement of up to $500 per month.
Freeze on annual rent increase.
Applications for the rental subsidy start in mid-April.
For more information on other benefits provided by the British Columbia provincial government, you can visit: https://www.bchousing.org/COVID-19
We hope this summary of government benefits gives you comfort in knowing that our team is here to help out as much as we possibly can. Caring for community is one of the values we hold dearest, and we have every intention to stay true to this commitment especially during these trying times.