The impact of COVID-19 is enormous, all-encompassing, and will continue to affect our lives in ways that we have never seen before. We have compiled a list of programs created by the government to mitigate the hardships brought about by this pandemic.
Support for Individuals and Families
- An extra $300 per child through the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for 2019-20. This benefit will be delivered as part of the CCB payment in May. Those who already receive the CCB do not need to re-apply.
- A one-time $200 payment per child up to 12 years of age ($250 for those with special needs) to help pay for the extra costs associated with school and daycare closures during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- A one-time special payment starting April 9 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 benefit.
- The filing deadline for tax returns has been moved to June 1, 2020, and any tax or installments due are deferred until after August 31, 2020 without incurring interest or penalties.
- Some Canadian banks will allow mortgage payment deferrals for up to six months. Deferred payments are added to the outstanding principal balance to be subsequently repaid throughout the life of the mortgage.
- Electricity will be more affordable for residential, farm and small business consumers for 45 days beginning March 24th.
- Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) has been enhanced.
- The new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will provide a taxable benefit of up to $500 a week for up to 16 weeks to eligible workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19. Applications will be administered through CRA’s My Account website. If you are planning to apply for this benefit, we highly recommend that you register at CRA’s My Account as soon as possible.
Application Guidelines for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit
- Reside in Canada and at least 15 years old at the time of application
- Stopped working due to COVID-19 and have not voluntarily quit their job, or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits
- Earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to their application
- Have or expect to have at least 14 consecutive days without income in the intial 4-week period of application
Support for Seniors
- Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) will double for low-income seniors to $166 per month for individuals and $332 per month for couples, for six months starting April 2020.
- The required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF) has been reduced by 25% for 2020.
- The government has contributed $9 million through the United Way for local organizations to support practical services to Canadian seniors. These services could include the delivery of groceries, medications, or other needed items, or personal outreach to assess individuals’ needs and connect them to community supports.
Support for Students
- Effective March 30, there is a 6-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. There is no need to apply for this repayment pause.
Support for Businesses
- The maximum duration of the Work Sharing program has been extended from 38 weeks to 76 weeks. The Work Sharing program is offered to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers.
- The new Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would cover 75% of salaries of qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. Employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy would be eligible with the exception of public sector entities. Organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may qualify for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10% of remuneration paid from March 18 to before June 20, 2020. Applications will be administered through a CRA online portal – details to be announced later.
- The new Canada Emergency Business Account will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period when their revenues have been temporarily reduced. To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate that they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019. This program will roll out some time in mid-April and interested businesses should work with their current financial institutions.
- Businesses will be allowed to defer until August 31, 2020 the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as installments. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
- Businesses, including self-employed individuals, will be allowed to defer GST/HST payments and customs duties on imports until June 30, 2020. The deferral will apply to GST/HST remittances for the February, March, and April 2020 reporting periods for monthly filers; the January 1, 2020 through March 31, 2020 reporting period for quarterly filers; and for annual filers, the amounts collected and owing for their previous fiscal year and installments of GST/HST in respect of the filer’s current fiscal year. For GST and customs duty payments for imported goods, deferral will include amounts owing for March, April, and May.