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Coronavirus support programs for individuals

Last updated: April 28, 2020

The following information has been compiled to help support you during the coronavirus pandemic. Please check back regularly for updates.

Government of Canada programs

Income support

• The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is a $2,000 monthly benefit for workers who have lost their income as a result of the pandemic. The federal government has announced more flexible rules for claiming the CERB to include seasonal workers and those who have recently exhausted their employment insurance and cannot find a job because of COVID-19. People are now allowed to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB. Additional flexibility is expected for post-secondary students and businesses having trouble paying commercial rent. Current eligibility periods are fixed in 4-week periods. You must reapply for CERB for an additional 4-week period, to a maximum of 16 weeks (4 periods) if your COVID-19 related financial hardship continues. Applicants cannot receive both the CERB and the wage subsidy. Apply online or by phone at 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041.

• The government is going to work with the provinces and territories through a new transfer to cost-share to implement a temporary top-up to the salaries of workers deemed essential in the fight against COVID-19, but who make less than $2,500 a month. More details to come.

• The Work-Sharing Program allows employees to work reduced hours and share work equally between each another. At least 2 employees must participate in the program; those who do are eligible to supplement their lost income. Employees can have their hours reduced by up to 60%. Applications must be submitted at least 30 days in advance of the start of the Work-Sharing Program.

• The Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad offers a repayable loan of up to $5,000 to help pay for plane tickets to return to Canada. Eligible Canadians currently outside Canada who need financial assistance can contact the nearest Government of Canada office or Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 or email CAN.finances.CV19@international.gc.ca.

• Post-secondary students earning $1000 per month or less will be eligible for $1,250 a month from May through August or $1,750 if the student is taking care of someone or has a disability. Payments will begin May 1st and will be made through the CRA.

• Students who volunteer over the summer will be paid between $1,000 and $5,000, depending on the hours they work. Funding will be for students "who choose to do national service and serve their communities."

• The federal government is doubling student grants for eligible students — up to $6,000 for full-time students and up to $3,600 for part-time students. The maximum weekly amount that can be provided through the Canada student loans program will also be raised from $210 to $350.

Tax benefits/credits

• Low- and modest-income families will receive a one-time special payment by early May 2020 through the GST credit. No application necessary.

• In May, the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit payment for 2019-2020 will increase by $300 per child.

• Tax filings delayed to June 1, 2020; payments deferred to August 31, 2020.

Other

• Six-month interest-free moratorium on repayment of Canada student loans

• Reducing required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25% for 2020. Similar rules would apply to individuals receiving variable benefit payments under a defined contribution Registered Pension Plan (RPP).

• See the Private Sector Measures section and contact your bank about mortgage payment deferral and other assistance.

• The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) has been increased; parents will receive an extra $300 per child in May. This is available for parents already receiving the CCB.

Provincial Support

British Columbia

• Rental supplement up to $500 a month, paid directly to landlords. Annual rent increases will also be frozen.

• BC Hydro’s Customer Crisis Fund for grants up to $600 to pay bills.

City of Vancouver COVID19 (Coronavirus)

• BC Emergency Benefit for workers will provide a tax-free $1,000 payment. Application process will be open May 1.

• Climate action tax credit: a one-time payment in July 2020 per household that will include $218 per adult and $64 per child. Visit your CRA portal.

• Utility bill payment deferral program is now available to BC Hydro customers. Application details can be found here. Customers have until June 30, 2020 to apply.

• ICBC Payment Deferral is available to customers.

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CLEMENT CHUNG, CFP, CLU

Certified Financial Planner

Fee-Based Financial Planning
Burnaby & Metro Vancouver

©2018 by Clement Chung.