During this COVID-19 crisis, these emergency, financial resources or benefits are available to you from the provincial and federal governments, as of March 22, 2020:
EI BENEFITS – FOR EMPLOYEES:
If you are laid off from your employ, you should apply for EI benefits, if you qualify. Generally, the recall period is thirteen weeks. The one-week waiting period to receive EI benefits has been waived for the next six months. If you qualify for EI (many employees do, except freelancers), the typical benefit is fifty-five per cent of your pre-tax income, up to a maximum weekly benefit of $573 for up to forty-five weeks. These benefits may change further; it is important to watch the EI Web site for updates.
EMERGENCY SUPPORT BENEFIT – IF YOU DO NOT QUALIFY FOR EI BENEFITS:
Even if you do not qualify for EI benefits (such as gig workers and freelancers), you may qualify for the new “Covid-19 emergency support benefit”. Details of this benefit continue to be released; full information is not yet available.
EMERGENCY CARE BENEFIT – IF YOU DO NOT HAVE PAID SICK LEAVE AND CANNOT ATTEND WORK DUE TO THE VIRUS:
If you do not have paid sick leave through your terms of employment, you may qualify for the new “Emergency Care Benefit”, available to any worker, including gig workers and freelancers. It is available for those who cannot attend work due to having, or caring for someone infected with, COVID-19, or those who are in self-isolation or quarantine, including if you must be absent due to the recent school closure in Ontario.
This benefit will pay up to $900 bi-weekly for a period of up to fifteen weeks. No doctor’s note is required. You can apply in April on the Canada Revenue Agency’s and/or Service Canada’s Web site. There will also be a toll-free number available.
CANADA CHILD BENEFIT:
The CCB is a monthly, pre-tax payment for any Canadian resident having children under the age of eighteen, who otherwise qualify. This is an additional, one-month increase to the current CCB for those parents who cannot attend work to care for children who cannot attend school due to COVID-19.
If you are a parent, you may be entitled to receive a further $300, per child, as part of your next CCB benefit payment in May. For example, a two-child family initially receiving $900 monthly for CCB may, in May, be eligible to receive $1,500 in CCB payment.
TAX FILING AND PAYMENT DEADLINES – EXTENDED:
Your deadline to file your personal income tax return is extended from April 30 to June 1, 2020. It may be extended further, depending on events in the next weeks. Despite this, many financial experts recommend you file by April 30, if you believe you may be entitled to a refund.
If you owe tax (now, or as of the extended deadline), you may defer your tax payment until August 31, 2020. This deadline may be extended further. It may make sense for you to utilize this extended deadline, particularly if you are in the gig economy, a freelancer or self-employed, and you anticipate reduced income between now and then, or potential losses.
CREDIT CARD RELIEF:
The “Big Six” Canadian banks are offering, “the opportunity for relief on other credit products”, in addition to mortgage payments. The details of this remain uncertain; the banks have not yet specified the relief specifically and what credit products may apply. Presumably it will include reduced interest rates, or potentially a payment plan in lieu of regular, monthly payments, at least temporarily until the economic conditions normalize. You should contact your bank for more information and details.
DEFERRAL OF MORTGAGE PAYMENTS:
The “Big Six” Canadian banks are offering a six-month deferral on all mortgage payments. It is yet unclear whether you’ll be able to defer your mortgage payments on an interest-free basis, or if interest on deferred mortgage payments will accrue until the payments are made. These details are yet not known and may vary between each bank.
RRIF MINIMAL WITHDRAWAL CHARGES:
If you are seventy-two years of age or more, you are required legally to withdraw minimum amounts from your RRIFs, which may create losses in these economic conditions. These minimum withdrawals have now been reduced, annually, by twenty-five per cent.