There are a variety of government and institutional financial programs and resources available to you if your income has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. While non-inclusive, we’ve compiled a list of some of those resources below.
*Programs and resources as of February 2021
Federal Programs and Resources:
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) – ended as of September 27, 2020
- The CERB offers income support for up to 28 weeks to those who lose pay due to the pandemic. *Now extended until September 27th.
- It will cover Canadians who lose their jobs, get sick, are under quarantine, or have to stay home because of school closures.
- It applies to wage earners, self-employed people, and contractors.
- The government will provide up to $2,000 per month. Money received is a taxable benefit.
- The application process opened in early April and people can expect to receive funds within 10 days.
- CERB payments will be issued every four weeks.
- For further information on CERB, read Grant Thornton’s info sheet on the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
EI Sickness Benefit
- The EI Sickness Benefit is an existing program that has been modified in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is administered by Service Canada and is targeted to workers who are unable to work due to illness, injury, or quarantine (including self-isolation).
Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Plan
- The Supplementary Unemployment Benefits (“SUB”) Plan is a plan, approved by Service Canada, that allows an employer to top up an employee’s EI benefits during periods of unemployment due to various factors including a temporary stoppage of work or illness, injury or quarantine.
Canada Child Benefit
- The government will provide an extra $300 per child through the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for 2019-20. This will mean approximately $550 more for the average family. This benefit will be delivered as part of the scheduled CCB payment in May.
Special GST credit payment
- The government will provide a one-time special payment by early May through the GST credit for low- and modest-income families. The average additional benefit will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.
- There is no need to apply for this payment. Those who are eligible will receive it automatically.
Canadian Emergency Student Benefit – ended September 30, 2020
- This benefit will provide $1,250 per month for eligible students or $1,750 per month for eligible students with dependents or disabilities. The benefit would be available from May to August 2020.
- The benefit is available also to students who have jobs but are making less than $1,000 a month.
- Eligible students can also collect this benefit along with the Canadian Student Service Grant.
- Seniors who qualify for Old Age Security (OAS) will be eligible for a one-time, tax-free payment of $300.
- Seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will get an extra $200.
Extra time to file income tax returns
- The government is deferring the filing due date for the 2019 tax returns of individuals.
- For individuals, the return filing due date will be deferred until June 1, 2020.
- Any new income tax balances due, or instalments, will be deferred until after August 31, 2020, without incurring interest or penalties.
- 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.
- Canadians who are impacted by COVID-19 and experiencing financial hardship, as a result, should contact their financial institution regarding flexibility for a mortgage deferral. This allows flexibility to be available – when needed – to those who need it the most.
Relief programs from financial institutions
- To learn more about the relief programs your financial institution has, please visit their COVID-19 responses page:
Registered Retirement Income Fund rules
- The government is reducing the required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25% for 2020.
Canada Student Loan payments – ended as of October 1, 2020
- Effective March 30, the government is placing a six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all student loan borrowers. No payment will be required and interest will not accrue during this time.
- Students do not need to apply for the repayment pause.
Temporary Wage Subsidy
- The Temporary Wage Subsidy is a new program that was announced on March 18, 2020. It saves cash for employers by allowing them to reduce the amount of income tax remittances on workers’ wages. It is a 75 percent wage subsidy for qualifying businesses, up until the end of August 2020, retroactive to March 15, 2020.
- Work-Sharing (WS) is a program designed to help eligible employers avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity (that is beyond the control of the employer). The program is an agreement between 3 parties: 1) Employer; 2) Employee; and 3) Service Canada.
- The program provides income support through the Employment Insurance (EI) program for employees eligible for EI. There are significant requirements for employers to participate in this program, including details reports on sales and production levels for 24 months prior. This is not a new program, but some of the rules have changed because of COVID-19 to make it more accessible.
Canada Student Service Grant
- The new Canada Student Service Grant will help students gain valuable work experience and skills while they help their communities during the COVID‑19 pandemic. For students who choose to do national service and serve their communities, the new Canada Student Service Grant will provide up to $5,000 for their education in the fall.
- Eligible students can also collect this benefit along with the Canadian Emergency Student Benefit.
- A temporary program for working adult Albertans who must self-isolate 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.
- A one-time payment of $1,146 will be distributed to bridge the gap until the federal emergency payments begin in April.
- The program is to be available through a simple online application and the funds will be deposited in the accounts of eligible recipients.
- Residential, farm and small commercial customers can defer bill payments for the next 90 days to ensure no one will be cut off from these services during this time of crisis. This will cover electricity and natural gas, regardless of the service provider.
- Call your utility provider directly to arrange for a 90-day deferral on all payments
- Six-month, interest-free, moratorium on Alberta student loan payments for all Albertans in the process of repaying these loans.
- Alberta Student Loan repayments will be paused for 6 months, beginning March 30, 2020.
- Interest will not accrue during this period. This mirrors the approach of the Canada Student Loans Program.
- Students do not need to apply for the repayment pause.
- Borrowers may continue making payments during this period if they choose and this will not affect their eligibility to receive the benefit.
- Residential education property tax rates will be frozen at last year’s level – reversing the 3.4% population and inflation increase added in Budget 2020. This will save households $55 million
Banks and Credit Unions
- Personal banking customers can apply for a deferral on their ATB loans, lines of credit, and mortgages for up to six months.
- Small business customers, in addition to payment deferrals on loans and lines of credit, will be provided access to additional working capital.
- For other business and agriculture customers, ATB will work with customers on a one-on-one basis and further solutions are being considered at this time.
- For more information on ATB’s relief program, please visit their website.
- Credit union members will have access to a variety of programs and solutions designed to ease difficulties with loan payments and short-term cash flow.
- Both individual and business members are encouraged to proactively contact their credit union directly to work out a plan for their personal situation.
- To give them increased access to cash to pay employees, address debts and continue operations, the government will defer the collection of corporate income tax balances and instalment payments, due after today, until Aug. 31, 2020. This gives Alberta businesses access to about $1.5 billion in funds to help them cope with the COVID-19 crisis.
BC Emergency Benefit for Workers
- The BC Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a one-time $1,000 payment to people who lost income because of COVID-19.
- B.C. residents who receive federal Employment Insurance, the new federal Emergency Care Benefit, or the new federal Emergency Support Benefit are eligible.
- Applications will open in April 2020.
- The one-time payment will be paid in May 2020.
Climate Action Tax Credit
- A one-time enhancement to the climate action tax credit will be paid in July 2020 for moderate to low-income families:
- An adult will receive up to $218.00 (increased from $174.00)
- A child will receive $64.00 (increased from $51.00)
Renters, Homeowners and People Experiencing Homelessness
- Funding for housing supports is increased to ensure people can maintain their housing in the event of job or income loss.
- BC Housing has temporarily suspended evictions of tenants in subsidized and affordable housing due to non-payment of rent.
- Starting March 30, 2020, B.C. student loan payments are automatically frozen for six months.
- Customers can defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty through the COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program
- Customers experiencing job loss, illness or lost wages due to COVID-19 can access grants up to $600 to pay their hydro bills through the Customer Crisis Fund.
- Customers on a monthly payment plan who are facing financial challenges due to COVID-19 may defer their payment for up to 90 days with no penalty.
Child care for essential workers
On March 20, 2020, the Manitoba government announced the following measures to help provide child care to essential front-line workers:
- establish a new $18-million grant program to help early childhood educators begin independently offering child-care services at their homes or in the community;
- continue to provide licensed child-care centres with their full operating grants and subsidies;
- create a $2 million trust to provide capital gains to child-care providers; and,
- encourage all centres to reimburse prepaid fees to parents for child care they can no longer access at this time.
Extended tax filing deadlines for businesses
- On March 22, 2020, the Premier of Manitoba and Minister of Finance announced that the province will extend the April and May filing deadlines for small and medium-sized businesses with monthly remittances of not more than $10,000. Businesses will have up to two additional months to remit retain sales taxes, and the Health and Post-Secondary Education Tax Levy.
- The Minister of Finance also noted that they will work with businesses regarding flexible repayment options above the $10,000 cap.
- For more information, see the Government of Manitoba’s news release of March 22, 2020.
- Helping families pay for the extra costs associated with school and daycare closures during the COVID-19 outbreak by providing a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs, including children enrolled in private schools.
- Providing emergency child care options to support parents working on the front lines, such as health care workers, police officers, firefighters and correctional officers.
- Providing six months of Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan and interest accrual relief for students.
- A 45-day suspension of time-of-use electricity rates. Prices to be held to the off-peak rate of 10.1 cents-per-kilowatt-hour 24/7. Gov’t states in a press release “By switching to a fixed off-peak rate, time-of-use customers will see rate reductions of over 50 percent compared to on-peak rates.”
- Proposing to double the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payment for low-income seniors for six months.
- Providing $9 million in direct support to families for their energy bills by expanding eligibility for the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) and ensuring that their electricity and natural gas services are not disconnected for nonpayment during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Updates to Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies) provides job-protected leave for employees who are in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, or those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or daycare closures
- The validity period of driving products, services and health cards has been extended. Extensions in place until such time the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health advises the current situation has improved. Regulations include extensions for driver licenses, plate validation tags, Ontario Photo cards, and Commercial Vehicle Registration certificates.
Relief on Co-Pay for Drug Plans
- Patients with drug coverage under New Brunswick’s public drug plans. For example, a patient with a 90-day prescription made up of three 30-day fills will only have a co-payment for the first 30-day fill payment
Child Care for Those Who Lost Income And Essential Workers
- The Government of New Brunswick has committed to covering the child-care fees of anyone who has lost their income due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak
- The Government of New Brunswick will also cover any “double fees” for child care services for essential workers. This includes workers paying to reserve a space at their usual child care facility.
- The Government of New Brunswick will provide a one-time $900 income benefit to either workers or self-employed people in New Brunswick who have lost their job due to the pandemic.
- This benefit will be available through the Red Cross.
- NB Power will not disconnect customers for non-payment until further notice.
Saint John Energy
- Saint John Energy will be reviewing cases with payment difficulties on a case-by-case basis.
- Customers are asked to contact Saint John Energy with any questions or concerns at 658-5252.
Saint John Water
- Payments that are due on April 8th and April 17th have now been extended to May 31, 2020
- Contact Billing and Collections at firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you don’t have email, call (506) 652-1960
NB Property Taxes
- Property taxes due May 31, 2020, for both Residential and Business owners. Late payments will be reviewed on a case by case basis. Contact SNB at 1-888-762-8600 or email@example.com
Nova Scotia Government
The province has made the following announcements to help Nova Scotians affected by COVID-19:
- Every individual and family member on income assistance will receive an additional $50 starting Friday, March 20. People do not need to apply.
- The government will defer payments until June 30 for all government loans, including those under the Farm Loan Board, Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board, Jobs Fund, Nova Scotia Business Fund, Municipal Finance Corp. and Housing Nova Scotia.
- The government will defer payments until June 30 for small business renewal fees, including business registration renewal fees and workers compensation premiums (a list of fees will be posted online early next week).
- Changes to the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program, administered through credit unions, include deferring principal and interest payments until June 30, enhancing the program to make it easier for businesses to access credit up to $500,000, and for those who might not qualify for a loan, the government will guarantee the first $100,000.
- Small businesses which do business with the government will be paid within five days instead of the standard 30 days
- Suspending payments on Nova Scotia student loans for six months, from March 30 to Sept. 30 and students do not have to apply.
- No COVID-19 related evictions for three months.
Nova Scotia Power
- For at least the next 90 days, NS Power will not be disconnecting customers for nonpayment. They will be flexible, relaxing payment timelines, waiving penalties and fees on unpaid bills, and providing options for residential and small business customers
- The Home Energy Assistance Top-up (HEAT) Fund is available annually to individuals and families in Nova Scotia who live on a low income to help pay their energy bills. The HEAT Fund is available through a partnership between the Government of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Power and The Salvation Army, and provides emergency assistance for all forms of home heating, including electric, propane, oil, wood, and natural gas.
- HEAT is extending the application deadline indefinitely and waiving the application restriction on applying only every 24 months; meaning customers who received funding in 2019, can also apply for 2020.
- Some municipalities are providing relief for property tax payments such as the District of Lunenburg.
- Halifax Water will not disconnect for non-payment.
- Eastlink will not charge service suspension fees for those who need to close temporarily to reduce the risk of COVID-19 for the public.
- Most telecommunications companies are reducing or eliminating caps on data plans and long-distance charges, confirm on a case by case basis
Prince Edward Island
- Maritime Electric will not disconnect any customer’s services for the next 14 days.
- Phone: 1-800-670-1012
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Emergency Child Care Services
- Emergency child care services are reserved exclusively for children of essential service workers who have no other alternatives.
The Employee Gift Card Program
- This program was put in place to offer a $100 Sobeys gift card to any employee, living and working on PEI, who has received a lay-off notice as a direct result of the impacts associated with COVID-19.