COVID-19 has swept across the country, leaving behind a trail of economic destruction. More than 5 million people have applied for COVID-19 emergency benefits. If you’re experiencing the same grim circumstances, rest assured that help is coming.

The federal and provincial governments are working hard to give you the assistance you need during these difficult times. New benefits and relief initiatives are continually being announced – great news if you’re worried about paying the bills. However, it can be confusing sifting through this influx of information. To make things easier, we’ve put together a comprehensive list detailing all the types of COVID-19 financial support available. 

COVID-19 federal financial relief for individuals

The federal government has launched the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, an aid package worth $107 billion. The comprehensive plan offers support for unemployed workers, people who are sick or quarantined, as well as families, seniors, and students. 

Highlights of the plan include: 

  • The new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): Replacing the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit, the CERB is a taxable benefit that provides $2,000 per month for up to four months. The CERB can be accessed online with payments sent within ten days of applying.

    You qualify for the CERB if you:

    • have lost your job (involuntarily). 
    • are sick, quarantined, or caring for someone who has COVID-19.
    • are a working parent who must stay home without pay to take care of kids who are ill or at home due to school or daycare closures
    • are a wage earner, contract worker, or self-employed individual who is not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI)
    • are a seasonal worker or made part-time due to reduced work hours
    • You should not apply to the CERB if you’re currently collecting EI unemployment or sickness benefits. There is also no need to reapply if you already have a pending EI application.
  • Employment Insurance (EI): The CERB will be administered alongside EI so you can still apply during and after the period covered by the CERB. Canadians who are eligible for EI can get up to $573 per week for a maximum of 45 weeks.
  • Easier access to Employment Insurance sickness benefits: If you are sick, self-isolating, or quarantined, you no longer need to show a medical certificate to get EI sickness benefits. The benefit can last up to 15 weeks and provide up to 55% of your insurable earnings with a maximum of $500 per week. Steps on how to apply can be found here.
  • Increased Child Care Benefit (CCB): An extra $300 per child will be given through the Canada Child Benefit for 2019 and 2020. The increase will be delivered in the May payment. You can apply for the CCB here. There’s no need to re-apply if you already receive the benefit.
  • Special Goods and Services Tax credit payment: By early May, low-income families will get a special one-time payment through the Goods and Services Tax credit. The amount will be approximately $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples. You will automatically receive this credit if you’re eligible.
  • Extended tax filing and payment dates: Individual tax returns are now due on June 1, 2020. If you owe income tax, the payment deadline has been pushed to September 1, 2020 with no penalties or interest charged. Try to file your taxes as early as possible to prevent your benefits and credits from being disrupted.
  • Indigenous Community Support Fund:$305 million has been allocated to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities. Closed as of April 13.
  • Mortgage payment deferrals: Canada’s largest banks are offering deferred mortgage payments up to six months. This allows you to skip regularly scheduled payments until you get back on your feet. Remember, you will have to pay back the missed payments plus interest at the end of the deferral period. Talk to your financial institution if you could benefit from mortgage relief. 
  • Lower minimum withdrawals for Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs): If you’re a senior, you don’t have to worry about liquidating your RRIFs because the minimum withdrawal requirement has been reduced by 25% this year.
  • Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB): Designed for graduates deemed ineligible for CERB or EI, this benefit will provide up to $2,000 per month for eligible people from May to August 2020. More details to follow on this program...
  • Six-month grace period on Canada student loans: Starting on March 30, students and recent graduates do not need to make payments towards their Canada student loans until September 30, 2020. Interest will also not accrue during this time.

COVID-19 financial support by province

  1. British Columbia
  2. Alberta
  3. Saskatchewan
  4. Manitoba
  5. Ontario
  6. Quebec
  7. Nova Scotia
  8. Newfoundland and Labrador
  9. New Brunswick
  10. Prince Edward Island
  11. (Click here to see Territories)

British Columbia

The BC government is allocating $2.8 billion to help residents impacted by COVID-19. The main components of the financial support plan are:

  • BC Emergency Benefit for Workers: This one-time payment of $1,000 will be given to residents who have lost income due to COVID-19. EI and CERB recipients are eligible. Apply here.
  • Increased Climate Action Tax Credit: In July 2020, low-to-modest-income families will receive a larger Climate Action Tax Credit. The one-time enhancement will give adults up to $218 and children up to $64. Eligible BC residents can get this payment when they file their tax return. (2020 tax return deadline: June 1st).
  • Temporary rent supplement: If you’re a low-to-moderate-income renter who is at risk of losing your home, the province can pay your landlord up to $500 a month as a temporary rent supplement. To be eligible, you must be experiencing financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 crisis and not qualify for existing rental assistance programs. The BC Housing website will be accepting applications soon. Landlords are also not allowed to evict tenants (except where safety is a concern) or increase rent prices at this time.
  • COVID-19 Crisis Supplement: Recipients who are not eligible for federal emergency benefits will automatically receive a $300 supplement on cheques issued in April, May, and June. Low-income seniors who get the $49 B.C. Senior’s Supplement and residents in special care facilities who receive income or disability assistance are also eligible. Recipients will also enjoy a temporary earning exemption for all federal EI benefits, including CERB. Any BC Bus Pass Program users will have their $52 transit fees added to their April assistance cheque and every cheque after that until fares are reinstated.
  • Student loan payments suspended: Effective March 30, BC student loan borrowers don’t have to make repayments for six months.
  • Bill payment deferrals: BC Hydro, FortisBC, and ICBC are allowing payment deferrals for customers who are having trouble paying their monthly bills.

Alberta

The provincial government is dedicated to providing immediate relief for Albertans and is offering the following COVID-19 assistance:

  • Emergency isolation support: You can get a one-time payment of $1,146 if you have lost income because you are self-isolating or responsible for providing care for someone who is self-isolating. This temporary program is meant to act as a bridge until the federal CERB takes effect in April. Application details can be found here
  • Utility payment deferral: Electricity and natural gas providers are allowing 90-day deferrals on bill payments if you have lost your job or are unable to work because you’re caring for an ill family member. Contact your utility provider to arrange this.
  • Suspended eviction of tenants: Late fees on late rent payments are suspended until June 30 and they cannot be charged retroactively. Landlords and financially impacted tenants have been asked to work together to develop their own payment plans while the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold. Rents on residential properties cannot increase while Alberta is in a state of emergency.
  • Student loan payments suspended: Provincial student loans will not accrue interest and don’t need to be paid until September 30, 2020.
  • Loan deferrals: Alberta credit union and ATB Financial customers can apply for a postponement on loans, lines of credit, and mortgages. Call your financial institution to get started. 

Saskatchewan

The province has amended the Saskatchewan Employment Act to include a new unpaid public health emergency leave. Saskatchewan is also implementing a:

  • Self-isolation support program: You can receive $450 per week for a maximum of two weeks if you have to self-isolate. To be eligible, you must lack benefits such as vacation or sick leave and not qualify for federal support. This program is aimed at helping self-employed workers. Applications can be completed online.
  • Eviction suspensions: The Office of Residential Tenancies will stop accepting eviction applications for missed or late rent unless it's an urgent matter. Furthermore, eviction orders and scheduled hearings are cancelled. While rent payments should not stop, tenants cannot be evicted in the month of April. That timeline may be extended.
  • Freeze on student loan payments: Provincial student loan borrowers are not required to make payments until September 30, 2020.

Manitoba

  • Cash Flow Tax Relief: Manitoba has instructed a number of organizations, municipalities, and service providers (including Manitoba Hydro, Centra Gas, and Manitoba Public Insurance to name a few) to not charge interest or penalties or disconnect customers until October 1, 2020.
  • Seniors Economic Recovery Credit delivers a $200 one-time, refundable tax credit to seniors facing additional costs due to the COVID-19 crisis for things like groceries and technology devices for staying in contact with friends and family. 
  • The Government of Manitoba has frozen rent increases and postponed eviction hearings to give worried renters peace of mind.
  • Ontario

    Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID‑19 has dedicated $3.7 billion to support residents and their careers. The action plan consists of:

    • Doubling Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payments: Low-income seniors will see larger GAINS payments over the next six months beginning in April 2020. Individuals can receive a maximum monthly payment of $166, while couples can get up to $332. You don’t need to apply if you already collect Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement.
    • Support for Families initiative: Parents who are impacted by school and daycare closures can get a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age. The amount is increased to $250 for children with special needs.
    • Affordable electricity bills: The province will provide $1.5 billion more in electricity cost relief and transition to off-peak electricity rates for 45 days.
    • Expanding eligibility for the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP): LEAP provides financial help to low-income households who are behind on their electricity or natural gas bills. The program will receive an additional $9 million in funding to support more families during the pandemic. You will need to interview at a social service agency to determine your eligibility.
    • Postponement of evictions: No new eviction notices will be issued in Ontario for the foreseeable future and the enforcement of scheduled evictions will be postponed. Tenants with postponed eviction notices are still required to pay rent. If a loss of income due to COVID-19 means rent cannot be paid, the government requested that landlords and tenants work towards an alternative arrangement.
    • Expanding access to Ontario Works: More people can benefit from Ontario Works, an employment and financial support program which helps individuals cover basic needs like rent and groceries. You can begin the application process online.
    • Suspending student loan payments: OSAP loans will not accrue interest and don’t need to be paid until September 30, 2020.

    Quebec

    Special municipal efforts have been rolled out in Montreal and Quebec City, along with these provincial measures from the Quebec government

    • Temporary Aid for Workers Program: You can collect $573 per week for 14 days (possibly extended to 28 days depending on your health status) if you cannot work due to quarantine and are not eligible for other financial assistance programs. Submit a registration form online to begin the application process. 
    • Extended tax filing and payment dates: Provincial tax returns for individuals are now due on June 1, 2020. If you owe income tax, the payment deadline has been pushed to September 1, 2020.
    • Utility payment deferral: Hydro Québec will waive admin charges on unpaid bills so you won’t be penalized for not making bill payments on time. You can sign up for a payment arrangement plan through your online account.
    • Student loan payments suspended: Provincial student loans will not accrue interest and don’t need to be paid for the next six months.
    • Emergency child care services for essential workers: Emergency daycare services are free of charge for essential workers from Monday through Friday until May 1, 2020. Register your child by filling out this form.
    • Eviction hearings have been suspended for tenants who can’t pay rent because of the COVID-19 pandemic until the province is no longer under public health emergency.

    Nova Scotia

    Nova Scotians facing hardships can benefit from: 

    • Increased Income Assistance: Individuals and families on Income Assistance will automatically get an extra $50 starting on March 20. If you are not already collecting Income Assistance, you can apply in-person at your nearest community services office.
    • Tenant protection: Starting March 19th, renters in Nova Scotia will not be evicted for three months if their ability to earn has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
    • Suspension of student loan payments: Provincial student loans will not accrue interest and don’t need to be paid until September 30, 2020. 

    Newfoundland and Labrador

    COVID-19 assistance in Newfoundland and Labrador is centred around helping workers, students, and families. The government has unveiled the following support so far: 

    • Self-isolation compensation for private-sector employees: The government will compensate private-sector employers so they can pay employees who must self-isolate upon returning to the province. More details about this initiative will be released soon. In the meantime, make sure you keep travel documents such as boarding passes as proof for reimbursement.
    • Coverage of child care fees: The provincial government will support the child care sector so families don’t have to pay daycare fees during this closure period. If you have paid fees after the closure date, you will receive a credit or refund from your child care service provider.
    • Eviction prevention measures: The Executive Council announced measures to prevent evictions for tenants who have lost income and cannot pay their rent on time due to COVID-19.
    • Suspension of student loan payments: Provincial student loans will not accrue interest and don’t need to be paid until September 30, 2020. 

    New Brunswick

    The Government of New Brunswick has implemented these measures to help residents with their immediate needs: 

    Prince Edward Island

    Workers and renters are at the heart of these provincial relief efforts:

    • Income Support Fund: This one-time lump-sum payment of $750 is available to PEI residents who lost their job due to the COVID-19 crisis and are applying (or have applied) for federal programs like EI or CERB. Once your application is approved, funds will be deposited to your bank account within five business days. Apply here. 
    • Employee gift card program: You can get a $100 Sobeys gift card if you lost your job between April 15 and April 30, 2020. An online application must be submitted by your employer.
    • Support for Essential Workers: Eligible workers earning $3,000 per month or less will receive a one-time payment of $1,000. The employer must apply for this temporary wage top-up on behalf of the employee.
    • Temporary Rental Assistance Benefit: Available to renters who are not eligible for existing rental programs or social assistance, this benefit is for residents who have lost their job or are struggling financially due to the pandemic. It provides up to $1000 per household over a 3-month period and is paid directly to landlords. Furthermore, P.E.I. has suspended evictions from provincially-owned social housing units until June.
    • Freeze on student loan payments: Provincial student loan borrowers are not required to make payments until September 30, 2020.

    COVID-19 financial support by territory 

    Northwest Territories

    Residents in the Northwest Territories can take advantage of these services:

    • Expanded Income Assistance: In March and April, more funding was allocated to the Income Assistance program with IA recipients automatically receiving a one-time emergency allowance of $500 (households of two or more people received $1,000). To see if you're eligible for this allowance, check GNWT's website and complete an application.
    • Rent payment deferrals: The Northwest Territories Housing Corporation has permitted tenants to defer rent payments until a later date. Struggling residents will also not be evicted during the pandemic (unless safety is a concern). You must give your landlord a written explanation as to why you cannot pay your rent and outline plans to eventually pay it. You must pay your rent as soon as you can. Once the landlord receives your notice, you cannot be evicted for your inability to pay rent.

    • Suspension of student loan payments: Student loan payments have been paused until September 30, 2020. Interest will not be charged during this period. 
    • Licensed Childcare Support: Temporary initiatives have been introduced to support parents providing essential services including a subsidy to lower child care costs by 33% for eligible parents, up to $1,000 per month in wage top-ups for child care staff, funding for supplies and labour to enable enhanced cleaning and disinfection efforts at child care centres, and a subsidy to offset fixed costs so that closed child care programs can reopen.
    • NWT Wage Top-up Program: The Northwest Territories government is raising the hourly wage of any worker earning less than $18 per hour for a maximum of 16 weeks going back to April 1. This top-up will be reflected in a retroactive lump sum payment in each eligible employee's paycheque. Since employers must submit information on behalf of their employees, employees should make their employers aware of this program. Eligible businesses will receive a one-time administration fee in the amount of $50 per employee and top-up coverage for related EI and CPP contributions. Apply here

    Yukon 

    The Yukon government is striving to ensure no evictions happen during this pandemic and that self-isolation can happen without a loss of income.

    • The Residential Landlord and Tenant Act prevents evictions for tenants who are self-isolating or cannot pay their rent on time due to COVID-19. This act will be in effect through April, May, and June. Furthermore, renters who can’t afford their rent due to this pandemic can end their tenancy early without penalty.
    • The Paid Sick Leave Rebate allows employees and self-employed persons to self-isolate without losing income. This rebate will cover a maximum of 10 days of average earnings to allow for a two-week self-isolation period.
    • 14-day unpaid leave:Complementing the 10-day rebate mentioned above, this new regulation will entitle Yukoners to leave without pay for a period of up to 14 days if they require it as a COVID-19 health protection measure. All employees working for organizations governed by the Yukon Employment Standards Act are eligible.
    • Yukon Business Relief Program is designed to help struggling Yukon businesses that have experienced a 30% reduction in revenue. Eligible businesses can apply for a grant of up to $30,000 per month to cover fixed costs including rent, utilities and business insurance until May 22, 2020. Applications are accepted until June 30, 2020.
    • Temporary Support for Events Funding Program supports organizers of events that would have had gatherings of more than 50 people to cover perishable goods and the cancellation of accommodation and services. All eligible Yukon-based businesses and NGOs may apply.
    • Yukon Nominee Program: Foreign nationals working in Yukon through this program who experience layoffs or reduced work hours are no longer subject to the 90-day notice to find new employment for the duration of the public health emergency.

    Nunavut 

    Besides the announcement of $2 million for community food programs, the Nunavut government has not released any COVID-19 relief plans for residents.

    Visit the Government of Canada website for the latest updates on the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. You can also check out provincial and territorial government websites for more information on regional assistance programs.

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