Resources to Help Canadians with the Financial Impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic
If your finances have been impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, we have gathered key information below that may help you. As this situation is on-going and fluid, we are updating this information daily to keep it as up-to-date as possible. However, for details on any relief measure mentioned below, please click on the appropriate link to learn more. We are just providing a general overview of financial relief measures that are available.
The federal and provincial governments are working together to try and assist Canadians. A number of helpful financial measures have been announced and more may be revealed in the days and weeks to come. Many of the latest efforts by the government can be found here, and below are some of the highlights.
Some of the current relief measures include:
For those who were working
- The one-week waiting period to receive EI (Employment Insurance) sickness benefits has been waived for those who are unable to work because of illness, injury, quarantine, or the need to self-isolate. The normal requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI has been waived. EI benefits provide up to 15 weeks of partial income replacement.
- For those not covered by Employment Insurance, a new program called the Canada Emergency Response Benefit has been created. This program is intended to provide income support to workers - including the self-employed and contract workers - who had to stop working due to COVID-19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support. This program is also for workers who are no longer being paid who are quarantined, sick with COVID-19, caring for a family member sick with COVID-19, or caring for or supervising their children due to school closures. This program will provide $2,000 a month for up to 4 months. It should start the first week of April. See this page for more details.
- Enhancements are being introduced to the Work Sharing Program to help workers and employers impacted by the downturn in business due to the virus.
- Some provincial governments are also offering income support to those who are not able to work due to the COVID-19 crisis.
In British Columbia, the new BC Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a one-time, tax free $1,000 payment to BC residents whose ability to work has been affected by the outbreak. This benefit is for both EI eligible and non-eligible workers (such as the self-employed) who have been laid off, are sick or quarantined, are caring for sick family members, or are parents staying home to watch kids because schools and child care centers are closed. See all BC financial support measures
In Alberta, the provincial government is providing a one-time payment of $1,146 for working Albertans who must self-isolate and do not have another source of pay or compensation while they are in self-isolation. This payment is intended to bridge the gap until the federal emergency program payments begin in April.
The Saskatchewan government has announced a Self-Isolation Support Program that will provide $450 per week to residents who need to leave work to self-isolate and are not covered by recently announced federal programs.
In Quebec, the provincial government has introduced a Temporary Aid for Works Program. Through this program, any worker who is sick with COVID-19 or is self-quarantining and is not covered by any other program can receive $573 per week for two weeks. If health problems persist, this coverage can be extended for up to 28 days.
For more details on where to call for more information or ask a question about financial support from government, click here.
Planning For Emergency Reduced Income Webinar (Online Workshop)
Have you or your family been impacted financially by COVID-19? Are you worried that your income may be impacted in the near future? Worrying about our health along with our finances can be scary, stressful, and can create a lot of stress on us and our families. Join us for a practical webinar on how to plan for reduced income, deal with your bills as well as your creditors. You are not alone and we are here to help you!
You can watch the webinar video here, or you can register to attend a live version and ask any questions you may have.
Government Help (continued...)
GST credit for low to modest income families
- The federal government is talking about providing a one-time special payment in early May for low to modest income families through the Goods and Services Tax credit (an average payment of around $400 for a single individual and close to $600 for a couple has been proposed). A few more details are available here.
- For families with children, the government is proposing increasing the Canada Child Benefit with a one-time $300 payment per child in May. More details here.
Additional Income Support from Provinces
- In BC, 86% of residents will also receive extra money from the increased and expanded BC Climate Action Tax Credit in July 2020. Eligible families of four will receive up to $564 and eligible individuals will receive an enhanced payment of up to $218. See all BC financial supports
- In Ontario, the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payment for low-income seniors will double for six months starting in April 2020.
- The government of Ontario is also providing a one-time payment to families of $200 per child up to 12 years of age and $250 for those with special needs.
To find out more about what kinds of support are available in your province, more details, contact phone numbers, and resources are available here.
- The government is freezing Canada Student Loan payments and interest until September 30, 2020. So everyone currently paying a Canada Student Loan will not have to make any payments for six months and interest will not accrue over this period. You can find this announcement here.
- BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario have all announce a moratorium on provincial student loan payments for 6 months. No interest will accrue during this time and no payments are required.
- The CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) is open to granting relief from tax penalties and interest, providing flexible payment arrangements, and postponing collection activities on a case-by-case basis if someone has been impacted by COVID-19. They have also deferred the personal tax return filing date to June 1, 2020. However, if you expect to receive more from the GST credit or Canada Child Benefit for the 2020-2021 benefit year, delaying filing your tax return will could delay your increased benefit payment. Some more details are available here.
- The payment of any income tax that an individuals owes to the CRA between March 18, 2020 and August 31, 2020 can now be deferred until September 1, 2020 and no interest or penalties will accumulate on the amounts owed during this period of time. More details here.
City Taxes and Utilities
- A lot of Canadian cities have announced that they are allowing the payment of property taxes and utilities to be deferred without penalty. The length of deferral varies by city, but they seem to range from 30 days up to 6 months. Check with your city or municipality to see what they can do if you could use this kind of help. Be aware, though, that deferring a payment means you will have to pay it later along with your normal payments.
- BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories have all halted rental evictions for the time-being.
- In BC, for renters who cannot afford their rent, the government will pay $500 per month directly to their landlord if they are approved for this subsidy. More details
If you are having trouble keeping up with your rent, here are resources that may be of some help to you in your province.
Help from Banks & Credit Unions
Canada's largest banks and credit unions have announced that they are offering financial relief to their customers who have been impacted by the economic consequences of COVID-19. This assistance is mostly offered on a case-by-case basis but can include up to a 6 month deferral of mortgage payments and the possibility for relief with other credit products. Check with your bank or credit union to see how they may be able to help you.
If your mortgage is insured by CMHC, Genworth, or Canada Guaranty, they have additional relief programs that you may be able to use too. These programs aren't always well know. So you may have to help out your financial institution by contacting your mortgage insurer to find out about their programs and then share this information with the representative you're dealing with at your financial institution.
Help from Communications Companies and Utilities
- Communications companies such as Bell, Rogers, Shaw, Telus, Videotron, and Cogeco have announced measures to help their customers through this crisis. Announcements include extra leniency and flexibility for customers facing financial challenges along with some waiving internet overage, long distance, or roaming fees. Check with your provider to see what they are offering and how they can help you.
- Many utility companies are also announcing assistance plans or flexible repayment arrangements to help their customers that are experiencing financial difficulties. Check with your utility companies to see what kind of relief or assistance they are offering.
- In BC, ICBC customers on a monthly Autoplan payment plan, who are facing financial challenges due to COVID-19, can defer their payment for up to 90 days with no penalty.
Help for Businesses
- BDC (Business Development Canada) is providing support to entrepreneurs impacted by the coronavirus.
- The federal government has also announced measures to help businesses including a 75% wage subsidy (on the first $58,700 each employee earns) along with small loans up to $40,000 that are interest free for the first year.
- Some provincial governments are also announcing relief measures to help businesses.
- Facebook is giving out $100 million in cash grants and ad credits to eligible small businesses. Google is also offering $340 million in Google Ad credits to small to medium sized businesses with active accounts over the past year.
What You Can Do to Get Your Finances Through This Crisis
- See if there is any financial help available to you in the sections above.
- If you're struggling to pay your bills, contact your creditors as soon as possible. Whenever possible, reach out to all your creditors before you miss any payments. This includes credit cards, car loans, mortgages, lines of credit, etc. While it can be an uncomfortable phone call to make, they will appreciate you contacting them directly and making them aware of your situation. They may also be able to offer revised payment options during this time.
- Build and stick to an emergency budget. If you’re unable to collect a paycheque or if you're on EI, now is the time to pare down your expenses significantly. If you don’t have a budget, consider putting one together as soon as possible. We have a downloadable budget calculator and a printable budget template that you can use. The Government of Canada also has a good online budget planner.
- Get help from an accredited credit counselling organization such as ours. Give us a call at 1.888.527.8999, or email us at email@example.com. You can make a telephone appointment to speak to someone about improving your financial situation and building a budget that can help you get through this difficult situation.
Additional Resources to Help
How to Buy Groceries If Stores Don't Accept Cash & You Don't Have a Credit Card
If you don't have a credit card and are finding that stores won't accept cash right now, there are a couple of ways you can potentially work around this:
- Some financial institutions will allow you to link your bank account to Google Pay or Apple Pay. If you do this, you can tap and pay using your smart phone.
- List of financial institutions in Canada that support Google Pay
- List of financial institutions in Canada that support Apple Pay
- You can get a prepaid Visa or MasterCard and load it up with your cash.
COVID-19 Scams to Watch Out For
As we’re all being continually bombarded with new information about the unfolding COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, fraudsters are taking advantage of the situation and are preying on people’s fears, uncertainty, and misinformation. The Government of Canada has published a list of scams and misleading information to watch out for. Check it out and let others know that might be considering one of these.
Here are the most common COVID-19 scams:
- Phone Scams – Someone pretending to be from your bank, health care provider, the CRA, or doctor’s office. Ask for verification from them before providing any information, and if you’re still unsure, hang up and call back the number listed on their website to see if they were attempting to reach you.
- Fake Charities – Someone pretending to be from the Red Cross or other reputable charity. Don’t provide bank or credit card details over the phone or through email. Instead if you want to donate to a charity, do so online and through a charity you trust.
- Text Scams – A wide variety of fraudsters are pretending to represent legitimate companies via texts. Never click on links or reply to texts from unknown senders. Use a computer or your phone’s browser to look for the correct site.
- Pharmaceutical Scams – There is no such thing as a vaccine or self-administered testing kit for Coronavirus or COVID-19 so do not be tempted by a fraudster promising to provide these items to you in person or online.
- Phishing Emails – Professional fraudsters are getting better at making their emails look legitimate. Never click on a password reset link or account verification email unless you initiated it. If a governmental department is trying to get a hold of you with an urgent email, verify the information on their website, and don’t download any attachments.
If you are victim of any COVID-19 related scams, be sure to report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. This information could prevent someone else from being a victim of fraud and helps identify new types of COVID-19 related scams.
You can reach the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) at 1-888-495-8501 from 10:00AM to 4:45PM Eastern Time.