Millions of applications have already been received by the CRA so far for federal income support as COVID-19 continues to ravage the Canadian economy and the world at large.
The most popular benefit has been the Canada Emergency Response Benefit which provides $2,000 every four weeks to workers who no longer receive an income due to the pandemic.
There are many other federal, provincial, and territorial relief programs available to individuals, businesses, students, seniors, workers, and families in Canada.
This post provides information about what the federal benefits entail and how to apply. For an updated list of provincial COVID-19 financial benefits, click here.
Financial Help for Individuals Affected by COVID-19 (Federal)
A number of support programs have been targeted at individuals who have lost income as well as families with children. There are also specific programs for indigenous peoples, seniors, victims of abuse, students, and recent graduates.
Canada Economic Response Benefit (CERB)
The CERB offers a taxable benefit of $2,000 to workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19. The $2,000 benefit is paid every four weeks for up to 16 weeks if you are eligible.
Eligibility requirements for this benefit include:
- You are at least 15 years of age or older and reside in Canada
- You have stopped work or will stop work and have not received income for at least 14 days in a row in the last 4 weeks due to COVID-19
- You did not quit your job voluntarily
- You are not currently receiving EI benefits
- You earned a minimum of $5,000 in income in the last 12 months or in 2019
The income requirement for the CERB can be met using employment or self-employment income or provincial/federal benefits relating to maternity or paternity leave.
Here’s a guide on how to open a CRA My Account.
As you can imagine, there have been lots of concerns about essential workers who keep working but are earning less money than they would have if they received the CERB.
The over 300 comments on my post clearly show that people have many unanswered questions. As per Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, some updates are coming to the plan very soon. Watch out!
Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)
This recently announced program will provide an income of up to $2,000 to post-secondary students and recent graduates who are unable to work due to COVID-19 and who are not eligible for the CERB.
The Canada Emergency Student Benefit will pay a flat amount of $1,250 per month. Eligible students who have dependents or disability will qualify for an extra $750 and get $2,000 every month.
This benefit will be available for up to four months between May and August 2020.
The eligibility criteria include:
- Students who are enrolled in a post-secondary education program that leads to a degree, diploma, or certificate
- Students who graduated no earlier than December 2019
- High-school graduates who have applied for and will be joining post-secondary programs in 2020
- Canadian students who are studying abroad and meet one of the above criteria
Learn about how to apply for the CESB here.
COVID-19 Financial Support for Families
If you had to stop work in order to care for children, are sick, quarantined, or self-isolating, or are caring for someone ill due to COVID-19, you may qualify for the CERB benefit.
Canada Child Benefit
Families with children can expect a one-time extra payment of up to $300 per child in May 2020. No application is required if you are already receiving the Canada Child Benefit.
If you are not yet receiving CCB or have questions, call 1-800-387-1193.
GST/HST Credit Boost
Recipients of the Goods and Services Tax Credit will have seen a one-time boost on April 9th.
Singles were paid close to $400 on average and the increase was about $600 for couples.
Tax Return Deadline Deferred
You now have until June 1, 2020, to file taxes for the 2019 tax year…a delay from the standard April 15th deadline for individuals. Self-employed individuals have until June 15, 2020.
Not only that, but you can also defer paying any income taxes owed to CRA until August 31, 2020. Late-filing penalties will not apply if you file your tax return and pay any outstanding taxes by September 1, 2020.
COVID-19 Financial Relief for Students
Students and recent graduates have not been left out.
Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loan repayments have been suspended until September 30, 2020. No interest will accrue during this time.
Canada Summer Jobs Program
Changes have been made to this program so that employers who hire students can apply for a subsidy of up to 100% of the provincial or territorial hourly minimum wage.
The end date for job placements has also been extended until February 28, 2021.
If you already applied to the program before it closed in February, you can find job placements here.
Also, students can apply for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit.
COVID-19 Financial Support for Seniors
The minimum withdrawals for RRIFs are reduced by 25% for 2020. This gives seniors more flexibility in how they withdraw funds from their retirement portfolios.
Similar rules will apply to seniors receiving payments under defined contribution registered pension plans.
Funding is being provided to support seniors through United Way Canada and the New Horizons for Seniors Programs.
Seniors will receive up to a $500 one-time boost through the Old Age Security and GIS programs. The OAS extra payment is $300 and those who qualify for the Guaranteed Income Supplement receive an extra $200.
COVID-19 Financial Support for Indigenous Peoples
A $305 million Indigenous Community Support Fund was set up to assist First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Nation communities.
$100 million is being put towards supporting federal health initiatives in First Nations and Inuit communities.
COVID-19 Financial Support for Canadians Abroad
Canadians who are stuck abroad and have no financial resources to return to Canada can apply for an emergency loan up to $5,000 to get plane tickets.
You can contact Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 emergency support at 1-613-996-8885 or [email protected]
Canadians are being urged to avoid non-essential travel until further notice.
COVID-19 Support for Renters and Homeowners
Homeowners can contact their bank and ask for a deferral of their mortgage payments for up to 6 months.
Note that interest will continue to accrue on your principal balance while repayments are deferred.
Some provinces have implemented eviction freezes and rent freezes in order to help renters cope during these challenging times.
COVID-19 Financial Assistance to Businesses
The Government of Canada is providing support to businesses through the:
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
This expanded wage subsidy program will cover the first 75% of an employee’s wages up to $847 per week if the employer has suffered a drop in revenue of at least 15% in March, 30% in April and May.
The program is in place from March 15 to August 29, 2020.
The CEWS is applicable to the first $58,700 paid in salary to employees. CEWS is included in the employer’s taxable income.
The eligible periods are:
The maximum duration for the Work-Sharing program has been extended from 38 weeks to 76 weeks for employers impacted by COVID-19.
The Work-Sharing program helps employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary decrease in business that is outside the control of the employer.
The mandatory cooling-off period has also been waived for employers who have already used the program if they are again eligible.
Canada Summer Jobs Program
As discussed above, employers will be able to receive up to 100% of the applicable provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each student they take on through the program.
This is expected to create up to 70,000 jobs for Canadians between the ages of 15 and 30.
Taxes and GST/HST Deferred
Businesses can defer their income tax payments until August 31, 2020.
In addition, GST/HST remittances and custom duty payments have been deferred until June.
Canada Emergency Business Account
Small businesses and not-for-profits can access interest-free loans of up to $40,000. To be eligible, the organization must have paid between $50,000 to $1 million in payroll in 2019.
Also, the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) will provide $65 billion in direct lending to eligible businesses via Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).
There is also financial support available to various industry sectors including agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture, airports, and broadcasters.