COVID 19 Resources - Help Yourself and Help Others

We hope you and your family and loved ones are staying safe in these uncertain times. In just a few short weeks, COVID-19 has affected the lives of all Canadians to varying degrees. 

For some, it has been a personal upheaval—scrambling to adhere to Social Distancing protocols and getting basic necessities while figuring out what to do with their children now that the school year is over and daycares are shut down.

For others, it is all of that, plus the added burden of lost wages and worrying if you will have a job to go back to when this is all over, and how to make ends meet in the meantime.

It has also left many business owners and managers with the unenviable task of trying to do what they can for their employees now while ensuring there will still be a business for them to come back to in the weeks and months ahead.

For single people of all ages, but especially seniors, this is made all the worse by having to handle these challenges alone. The uncertainty and isolation can be emotionally exhausting.

It will take many months for things to return to a semblance of normalcy for most of us. Still, in the meantime, there are resources available that we hope everyone eligible is taking advantage of to help them get through this time, both emotionally and financially.

Assistance is available from various levels of federal and provincial governments, as well as some private and non-profit sectors. To help our clients navigate this labyrinth of available resources, we have compiled a list of what is currently available, who is eligible, and how to apply. Please feel free to share this with your friends and family as well.

If you find yourself with extra time on your hands over the coming weeks, please consider volunteering with local charities that are trying to help those most vulnerable. Perhaps reach out to an elderly neighbour to see how they are doing and ask if you can deliver some groceries or other necessities during this time. Order takeout from your favourite local restaurant to help them get through this difficult time.  Reach out to family or friends, especially those on their own, to say hi and make sure they are doing ok. Be kind. Do good. Take care.

We are all in this together.

Federal Assistance:

Tax Filing Deadline
The filing deadline for individuals is now June 1. For trusts with a taxation year ending on December 31, 2019, the filing deadline is now May 1. Individuals and businesses that owe taxes can defer payments until September. The Canada Revenue Agency has also halted debt collection. Clients who expect to receive the GST credit and/or Canada Child Benefit (CCB) should file their returns as soon as possible to ensure their entitlements for the 2020-21 benefit year are properly determined.

GST Credit
Those eligible for the GST credit will receive a one-time special payment of about $400 for singles and $600 for couples.

Canada Child Benefit
The maximum annual CCB payment amount will increase for the 2019-20 benefit year only by $300 per child as part of the May payment. The average increase for families will be approximately $550. For more information or to apply, visit the CRA’s Canada Child Benefit page

The minimum withdrawal rate for Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) has dropped by 25% for 2020. A similar decrease will apply to those receiving variable benefit payments under defined-contribution pension plans.

Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits
Those applying for employment insurance (EI) sickness benefits are no longer required to provide a medical certificate. Please visit the Government of Canada’s EI page for more information. 

Canada Emergency Response Benefit
This taxable benefit provides $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose income as a result of the pandemic due to job loss, illness, quarantine, caring for others (including children), and work disruption. Canadian workers qualify whether or not they are eligible for EI. For more information or to apply, visit the CERB page

Student loans
Payments are paused for both BC and Canada Student Loans from March 30 until September 30, with no accrual of interest. For more information please visit the National Student Loans Service Centre page or StudentAidBC

Assistance for Businesses Deferred Tax Payments
Canada Revenue Agency will defer tax payments until August 31, 2020, to help businesses with cash flow.

Wage Subsidies
Eligible employers will receive a temporary wage subsidy of up to 75%t for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. This will help businesses to keep and return workers to the payroll.

Access to CreditCanada Emergency Business Account
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 where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019.

Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
EDC is working with financial institutions to issue new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to SMEs.

Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
BDC is working with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements. Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts of up to $6.25 million through the program. These programs will roll out in the three weeks following March 27, and interested businesses should work with their current financial institutions. Visit Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan for details.  

BC Provincial Assistance ProgramsStudent loans
Payments are paused for both BC and Canada Student Loans from March 30 until September 30, with no accrual of interest. For more information please visit the National Student Loans Service Centre page or StudentAidBC

BC Emergency Benefit for Workers
The BC Emergency Benefit for Workers provides a one-time $1,000 payment for people who have lost income. Visit their website for information on how to apply. 

Climate Action Tax Credit
A one-time enhancement to the climate action tax credit will be paid in July 2020 for moderate to low-income families: An adult will receive up to $218.00 (increased from $43.50)A child will receive $64.00 (increased from $12.75) 

Temporary Rent Supplement
The temporary rent supplement will provide up to $500 per month. It will be available to low to moderate income renters who are facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 crisis but do not qualify for existing rental assistance programs. This supplement will be paid directly to landlords. Visit the BC Housing website to apply.

Halting Evictions
A landlord may not issue a new notice to end tenancy for any reason. The enforcement of existing eviction orders issued by the Residential Tenancy Branch is also halted, except in extreme cases where there are safety concerns.
In exceptional cases where an eviction may be needed to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the property, landlords will be able to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch for an order. For more information, visit BC Housing’s COVID-19 and Tenancies page

Monthly BillsBC Hydro
BC Hydro customers can defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty through the COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program. Customers experiencing job loss, illness, or lost wages due to COVID-19 can access grants up to $600 to pay their hydro bills through the Customer Crisis Fund. 

ICBC customers on a monthly payment plan who are facing financial challenges due to COVID-19 may defer their payment for up to 90 days with no penalty

Tax Relief for Businesses
The following provincial taxes have been deferred, delayed or reduced:
  • Deferred Tax Payments for Businesses
  • Delayed PST Budget 2020 Tax Changes
  • Delayed Carbon Tax Increase
  • Reduced School Tax for Businesses
Visit the BC Government’s COVID-19 Updates page for more information. 

Other Resources for AssistanceMortgage Deferrals
Most financial institutions are offering 3-6 month mortgage deferrals for homeowners whose household income has been affected by COVID-19. There are some conditions, but for most homeowners facing financial loss during this time, the extra cash flow this affords is vital. Here is a list of phone numbers (anticipate long wait times).ATB 1-800-332-8383B2B 1 800 263 8349BMO 1-877-895-3278Bridgewater 1-866-243-4301CIBC 1-800-465-2422CMLS 1-888-995-2657Optimum 1-866-441-3775Equitable 1-888-334-3313Connect First 403-736-4000First National 1-888-488-0794Haventree 1-855-272-0051Home Trust 1-855-270-3630HSBC 1-888-310-4722ICICI 1-888-424-2422Manulife 1-877-765-2265MCAP 1-800-265-2624Merix 1-877-637-4911Marathon 1-855-503-6060RBC 1-866-809-5800RFA 1-877-416-7873RMG 1-866-809-5800Scotia 1-800-472-6842Servus 1-877-378-8728Street Capital 1-866-683-8090TD 1-866-222-3456 

Automobile Lease Deferrals
Most automobile brands are offering payment deferrals options to qualifying customers affected by COVID-19. Please reach out to your dealership’s financing department to inquire about the details.

Kids Help Phone
Kids Help Phone is always here for you. Contact them 24/7 from anywhere in Canada, via phone, text, or online chat.