No doubt, many of us are struggling these days as extreme social distancing measures continue, and vast segments of the Canadian economy are virtually shut down. While some of us are fortunate enough to still have our jobs and our incomes, others have not been so fortunate. For the week ending March 21st, there were over 500,000 employment insurance (EI) claims during that week alone. In order to help Canadians during the global health crisis and pandemic, the Government of Canada has prepared an $82 billion dollar Coronavirus support package. After some debate, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit package finally passed, and received Royal Assent on March 25th. However, while the package has been approved, it will still take weeks before many people receive the benefits they may be entitled to.
Which Benefits are Available to You?
In order to help our clients and their family members, we have prepared a summary of some of the key programs, benefits, and relevant details of the services that may be available to you at this time. Keep in mind that new information becomes available almost every day, so this list is not exhaustive.
Increased Canada Child Benefit (CCB)
An extra $300 per child is available through the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for 2019-2020. Note that, if you are already receiving the CCB, you do not need to apply. Otherwise, you can apply here.
Extra time to file taxes
The income tax filing due date for 2019 tax returns of individuals has been deferred until June 1, 2020. Also, any new income tax balances due, or instalments, can be deferred until after August 31, 2020 without incurring interest or penalties.
Mortgage payment deferral
The “Big 6” banks in Canada, including BMO, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC, Scotiabank, and TD Bank, have all indicated they will allow mortgage payments to be deferred for up to six months. However, the details are different at each institution, and there may be negative consequences to you. If you’re considering a mortgage deferral, check out our post for details and potential pitfalls of deferring your mortgage payments.
The new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
This program provides a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months (total of $8,000) to individuals such as those who are forced to stop work and do not have access to other income support, workers who are sick or caring for someone else who is sick due to coronavirus, and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. At the time of writing, the portal to apply for benefits is not yet available, but you can click here find out more about the CERB in the meantime.
Employment Insurance (EI)
If you’ve lost your job through no fault of your own, you may qualify for EI benefits. Individuals can receive EI from 14 weeks up to a maximum of 45 weeks, and the amount you could receive, as well as the length of time you could receive it, depend on various factors. Further, EI sickness benefits provide up to 15 weeks of income to those who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine. To find out more about EI, and to submit an application for benefits, you can apply here.
Special GST credit
Although payments are not immediate, there will be a one-time special payment by early May through the Goods and Services Tax credit. This is intended for low and modest income families, and is expected to be worth approximately $400 for single individuals and $600 for couples. You do not need to apply for this payment – if you are eligible, you will receive it automatically.
In addition to programs offered by the Government of Canada, many provincial governments have also launched initiative to help. For example, the Government of Ontario have introduced a $17B Covid-19 package, which includes measures such as doubling payments to low-income seniors, financial relief for parents, a one-time payment for parents of $200 per child 12 years old and under, and suspending student loan payments for six months.
Similarly, the government of B.C. has introduced a $5B aid package to support both individuals and businesses who are suffering financial difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic. The B.C. plan includes measures such as a one-time $1,000 tax-free benefit for British Columbians unable to work due to the crisis, and a provision to allow businesses with a payroll of more than $500,000 to defer their employer health tax payments until Sept. 30, 2020.
Benefits Bottom Line
Along with government programs, many organizations have also stepped up to offer assistance to their customers. If you’ve lost your job, suffered a loss of income, or are having difficulty meeting your financial obligations, help is available. Please be sure to check the resources indicated above in order to avail of any programs which may be available to you.
And if you have any questions about your financial plans or your investment portfolio, contact us to have a discussion with a Portfolio Manager or Certified Financial Planner.