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COVID-19: Support for Individuals & Families

COVID-19: Support for Individuals & Families

COVID-19 benefits for families

A complete guide to the benefits and the support for individuals and families, pledged by both the federal and provincial government.  

Over the last several weeks there have been various announcements concerning Government support for businesses and individuals. This article will provide a complete guide to the benefits and the support for individuals and families, pledged by both the federal and provincial government

COVID-19 Federal Government Response

I.          Federal Government COVID-19 Response

Support for individuals and families

  1. Temporary salary top-up for low-income essential workers
    • The federal government will work with provinces and territories through a new transfer to cost-share a temporary top up to the salaries of low-income workers (those who earn less than $2,500 per month on a full time basis), that the provinces and territories have deemed essential in the fight against COVID-19.
    • More details to be released by the federal government soon.
  2. Increasing the Canada Child Benefit
  3. Special Goods and Services Tax credit payment
    • The government is providing a one-time special payment by early May through the Goods and Services Tax 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 payment. If you are eligible, you will get it automatically.
  4. Extra time to file income tax returns
    • The government is deferring the filing due date for the 2019 tax returns of individuals. For individuals (other than trusts), the return filing due date will be deferred until June 1, 2020.
    • The government will also allow any new income tax balances due, or instalments, to be deferred until after August 31, 2020 without incurring interest or penalties.
  5. Mortgage support
    • Canadians who are impacted by COVID-19 and experiencing financial hardship as a result should contact their financial institution regarding flexibility for a mortgage deferral.
    • The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and other mortgage insurers offer tools to lenders that can assist homeowners who may be experiencing financial difficulty. These include payment deferral, loan re-amortization, capitalization of outstanding interest arrears and other eligible expenses, and special payment arrangements.
    • This also includes permitting lenders to defer up to six monthly mortgage payments (interest and principal) for impacted borrowers. Deferred payments are added to the outstanding principal balance and subsequently repaid throughout the life of the mortgage.
    • You can learn more about what to do if you’re facing financial hardship here: https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/covid-19-managing-financial-health.html#toc2

Support for people facing loss of income

  1. The new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
    • The government will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 every 4 weeks, for up to 4 months to eligible workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19.
    • The CERB is available to workers who meet all of the following conditions:
      • live in Canada and are at least 15 years old
      • stopped working because of COVID-19 or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits
      • have not voluntarily quit their job
      • had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application.
    • On April 15th, the government announced the following changes to the eligibility rules to:
      • Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB.
      • Extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their regular seasonal work because of COVID-19.
      • Extend the CERB to workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job because of COVID-19.
    • Do not apply for the CERB if you have already applied for EI.
      • This benefit replaces the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit is accessible through CRA’s My Account or through My Service Canada Account. You can also apply over the phone: 1‑800‑959‑2019 or 1‑800‑959‑2041
  2. Apply for Employment Insurance
  3. Improved access to Employment Insurance sickness benefits
    • If you are sick, quarantined or have been directed to self-isolate, the government will
    • Waive the one-week waiting period for those individuals in imposed quarantine that claim EI insurance (EI) sickness benefits; this temporary measure will be in effect as of March 15, 2020
    • Waiving the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits waive the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits.
    • You can apply for Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits here: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-sickness/apply.html

Support for students and recent graduates

  1. A moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans
  2. Temporary changes to Canada Summer Jobs program
    • The federal government is making temporary changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program to allow employers to:
      • receive an increased wage subsidy, so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100% of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee;
      • extend the end date for employment to February 28, 2021;
      • adapt their projects and job activities;
      • hire staff on a part-time basis.
    • You can learn more about the Canada Summer Jobs Program here: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/funding/canada-summer-jobs.html

COVID-19 Provincial Government Response

II.          Ontario Provincial Government COVID-19 Response

Driver Rebates for Auto Insurance

  • The Ontario government is enabling auto insurance companies to provide temporary insurance premium rebates to drivers during the COVID-19 pandemic. By amending the regulation, insurance companies would be able to provide auto insurance premium rebates to consumers for up to 12 months after the declared emergency has ended.

Direct Financial Support to Parents

  • Helping families with school and daycare closure by providing a one-time $200 payment per child 0 to 12 years of age, and $250 for those 0 to 21 years of age with special needs;

Relief for Parents in need of child-care

  • The Ontario government is temporarily preventing child-care centres from collecting payments from parents, while also ensuring that their child-care spaces are protected. An emergency order has been issued, and immediately prevents any child-care operator from charging parents fees where care is not being provided. The order also means that parents cannot lose their child-care space because they are not paying fees during this period.

Electricity Bills

  • Making electricity bills more affordable for eligible residential, farm and small business consumers by setting electricity prices for time-of-use customers at the lowest rate, known as the off-peak price, 24 hours a day for 45 days;

Student Loans

Energy relief for low-income

Relief for seniors

  • Helping low-income seniors by proposing to double the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) maximum payment to $166 per month for individuals and $332 per month for couples for six months, starting in April 2020

Doctor’s Notes

  • Ontario employers are also restricted from asking for doctor’s notes for COVID-19 related leaves, including quarantine, self-isolation or childcare responsibilities due to COVID-19 related school and daycare closures.

-Baber Rahim, Tax Law Clerk & JD Candidate

Baber works in our tax department assisting our tax lawyers in preparing Voluntary Disclosure Applications, Taxpayer Relief Applications, and with Appeals, Audits and Objections within the CRA. Baber’s passion for tax law was sparked by an advanced tax law professor at the Goodman School of Business at Brock University, where he received his Bachelor of Accounting (Honours) degree. He subsequently worked for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for several years. After working in the federal public service for a number of years, Baber decided to pursue a career in law and is currently working towards completing his law degree at Western University, while working for Kalfa Law.

© Kalfa Law 2020

The above provides information of a general nature only. This does not constitute legal advice. All transactions or circumstances vary, and specified legal advice is required to meet your particular needs. If you have a legal question you should consult with a lawyer.

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