As a result of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, we as Canadians are going through unprecedented times, which can be challenging and even downright scary. Among some of the most common fears that Canadians have at this time is how they are going to survive financially. While some Canadians are able to work remotely, others unfortunately do not have that luxury, and many have even faced job loss as a direct result of COVID-19. Fortunately, the Canadian government has stepped in to help those who may be struggling during this difficult time – both emotionally and financially. Below is a list of what’s being made available to Canadians country-wide, as well as locally.
SUPPORT FOR INDIVIDUALS
• Increasing the Canada Child Benefit: An extra $300 (per child) will be provided through CCB. This means the average family will receive approximately $550 more. Families can expect to receive this as part of their scheduled CCB payment in May.
• Special Goods and Services Tax Credit payment: A one-time payment in early May that is close to $400 for single individuals, or $600 for couples.
• Extra time to file income tax returns: While the tax-filing deadline is April 30th, this has now been deferred until June 1st. In addition, any new income tax balance (or instalments) that are due are also being deferred until August 21st without any additional interest incurred or penalties.
• Mortgage support: Canadians who find themselves impacted by COVID-19 and are facing financial hardship as a result are encouraged to contact their financial institution to discuss a possible mortgage deferral. Canadian banks are committed to working alongside their customers on a case-by-case basis to help them find solutions.
SUPPORT FOR INDIVIDUALS FACING UNEMPLOYMENT
• Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): This is a taxable benefit of $2,000 per month for up to 4 months that will be provided to individuals who have to stop working as a result of COVID-19 and do not have access to paid leave or any other sources of income; workers who are sick, quarantined, in isolation, or taking care of someone in their family who is sick with COVID-19; parents who have to stay home without pay in order to care for children who are sick or in need of care due to school/daycare closures; individuals who still have employment but are not being paid due to lack of work and/or their employer asking them to stay home; self-employed individuals, including those not eligible for EI. Individuals will be able to apply for this benefit online or via telephone beginning in early April.
SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS AND RECENT GRADUATES
• Moratorium on repayment of Canada Student Loans: As of March 30th, a six-month (and interest-free) moratorium will be placed on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all borrowers. During this time, payment will not be required, and you will not accrue any interest.
SUPPORT FOR THE VULNERABLE
• Indigenous Community Support Fund: The Canadian government will provide $305 million to help address immediate needs for those in First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Nation communities.
• Enhancing the Reaching Home Initiative: $157.5 million toward this initiative to help support individuals facing homelessness. This funding will be used for things like beds as well as securing accommodation to reduce overcrowding in shelters, in addition to the purchase of physical barriers to promote social distancing.
• Support for women’s shelters and sexual assault centres: Up to $50 million will be provided to shelters and sexual assault centres across the country to help support women and children fleeing violence.
• Reduced minimum withdrawals for RRIFs (Registered Retirement Income Funds): This will be reduced by 25% for 2020.
For more information on the assistance being provided to Canadians as well as more info on how to apply, visit www.canada.ca.
In addition to the aforementioned measures that have been put in place by the Federal government, the Provincial government has also recently come up with a plan to further assist those in the Province.
SUPPORT FOR HOUSING AND UTILITIES
• Temporary rental supplement, in addition to halting all evictions and rent increases.
• BC Hydro: Deferred payments and/or access to grants.
SUPPORT FOR TRANSPORTATION
• ICBC: Postponement of road tests, deferred monthly payments of up to 90 days, as well as allowing insurance renewals via phone or e-mail.
• TransLink/BC Transit: Fares and passes not required.
SUPPORT FOR EDUCATION
• K-12 learning suspended in all classrooms.
• Online post-secondary education.
• Freeze of B.C. student loan payments until September 30th, 2020.
For more information on the support being offered by the Government of British Columbia, visit www.gov.bc.ca.