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COVID-19 Federal Resource Guide

CIJA COVID-19 Resource Guide

This resource guide has been prepared by CIJA for our Federation partners to help them provide relevant and timely information to their constituents. The guide contains useful resources for individuals, communities, and businesses and includes information from the Government of Canada. We will continue to share the most recent information on our website (cija.ca) and social media feeds (@CIJAinfo on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram).

Public Health Information

Health Canada COVID-19 Information

The Federal Government has published several online resources to help Canadians learn about COVID-19, including about symptoms and prevention. Click the links below for information about:

Support for Mental Health

The Federal Government will invest $240.5 million to develop, expand, and launch virtual care and mental health tools to support Canadians. This investment will create digital platforms and applications, improve access to virtual mental health supports, and expand capacity to deliver health care virtually. This investment will support Wellness Together Canada, an online portal that provides Canadians with free resources, tools, and professional support services to help with wellness and resilience, as well as mental health and substance use.

The complete announcement is available here.

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

On March 18, 2020, new economic measures were announced by the Federal Government to provide assistance for individuals and businesses impacted by COVID-19. An overview of some of these measures is included below.

For a full overview of all measures, click here.

Support for Families with Children

Increasing the Canada Child Benefit

The Government of Canada is providing up to an extra $300 per child through the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for 2019-20. This will mean approximately $550 more for the average family. This benefit will be delivered as part of the scheduled CCB payment in May. Those who already receive the CCB do not need to re-apply. This is a one-time increase to the May 2020 CCB payment for the 2019-2020 benefit year (July 2019 to June 2020). Details on the payment increase are here.

More information, and the application, are available here.

Tax and Mortgage Support for Individuals

Special Goods and Services Tax credit payment

The Government of Canada is providing a one-time special payment starting April 9 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.

Details on the credit are available here.

Extra time to file income tax returns

The filing due date for 2019 income tax returns for individuals has been deferred until June 1, 2020. Any new income tax balances due, or instalments, are also being deferred until after August 31, 2020 without incurring interest or penalties.

Note: If you expect to receive benefits under the Goods and Services Tax credit or the Canada Child Benefit, we encourage you not to delay filing your 2019 income tax return to ensure that your entitlements are properly determined.

An overview of all extended deadlines are available here.

Mortgage Assistance

Together with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the federal government is allowing for increased flexibility for homeowners experiencing financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes special payment arrangements, payment deferrals, and loan re-amortization.

An overview of these changes is available here.

Further details from the Canadian Bankers Association are available here.

Information from CMHC about mortgage deferral is available here, while COVID-19 updates from CMHC are available here.

Insured Mortgage Purchase Program

The Government of Canada launched an Insured Mortgage Purchase Program, in which we will purchase up to $150 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. This action will provide long-term stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders, help facilitate continued lending to Canadian consumers and businesses, and add liquidity to Canada’s mortgage market.

More information is available here from CMHC.

Support for Workers

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

Announced March 25, 2020, the government announced it has proposed legislation to establish the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CERB was recently expanded to include:

  • People who earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB.
  • Seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their usual seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Workers who recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.

The CERB is a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit. All Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, would be able to receive the CERB to ensure they have timely access to the income support they need.

For essential workers, the government will work with provinces and territories through a new transfer to cost-share a temporary top-up to the salaries of workers deemed essential in the fight against COVID-19, who make less than $2,500 a month. Details as to the application and delivery of this measure will be released shortly following further work with provinces and territories.

The program announcement is available here.

Details on expanded eligibility are available here.

  • This benefit replaces the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit.
  • To apply for CERB, or learn more about the Benefit, click here.

Employment Insurance and EI Benefits

If you have stopped working because of COVID-19, you should apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, whether or not are eligible for Employment Insurance. The Benefit is available for the period from March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020.

If you applied for EI regular or sickness benefits on March 15, 2020 or later, your claim will be automatically processed through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Starting now, there will be a single portal to assist you with the application process through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Wage Boost for Essential Workers

All provinces and territories have confirmed, or are in the process of confirming, plans to cost share wage top-ups for their essential workers. The Government of Canada will provide up to $3 billion in support to increase the wages of low-income essential workers. Each province or territory will determine which workers would be eligible for support, and how much support they will receive.

The full announcement is available here.

Support for Seniors

Seniors and Retirees

To support seniors, the required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) is reduced by 25% for 2020. Details about RRIF’s are available here.

More information on these changes is available here.

Additional Measures to Support Seniors

Measures announced on May 12 to support seniors include:

  • A one-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension, with an additional $200 for seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). This measure would give a total of $500 to individuals who are eligible to receive both the OAS and the GIS, and will help them cover increased costs caused by COVID-19.
  • Expanding the New Horizons for Seniors Program with an additional investment of $20 million to support organizations that offer community-based projects that reduce isolation, improve the quality of life of seniors, and help them maintain a social support network.
  • Temporarily extending GIS and Allowance payments if seniors’ 2019 income information has not been assessed. This will ensure that the most vulnerable seniors continue to receive their benefits when they need them the most. To avoid an interruption in benefits, seniors are encouraged to submit their 2019 income information as soon as possible and no later than by October 1, 2020.

The full announcement is available here.

New Horizons for Seniors Program

The Government of Canada announced that organizations who received funding under the 2019-2020 New Horizons for Seniors Program community-based stream will be able to use their funding to provide immediate and essential services to seniors impacted by COVID-19.

Further details are available here.

Supporting the delivery of items and personal outreach

The Government of Canada is contributing $9 million through United Way Canada 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.

Further details are available here through the United Way.

Support for Recent Graduates

Students and Recent Graduates

All student loan borrowers will automatically have their loan repayments and interest suspended until September 30, 2020. Students do not need to apply for the repayment pause. This moratorium applies to the federal portion of student loans. Borrowers should check with their provincial or territorial student loan provider to see if payment is required on the provincial or territorial portion.

More details are explained here.

More details are available here from the National Student Loans Service Centre.

Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)

The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) would provide income support to post-secondary students who lost work opportunities due to COVID-19. Through the CESB, students who are not receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit would receive $1,250 per month for up to four months (May-August 2020). Students with disabilities, students with dependents would receive an additional $750.

The full program announcement is available here. The application is now open, and is available here.

Support for Businesses

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

The proposed Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would cover 75 per cent of salaries for 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. This program is designed to help employers hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic to keep and retain workers. Eligible employers would be able to access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy by applying through a Canada Revenue Agency online portal.

Organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may qualify for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10 per cent of remuneration paid from March 18 to before June 20, 2020.

For more information, click here.

Canada Emergency Business Account

The Government of Canada is launching the new Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), which will be implemented by eligible financial institutions in cooperation with Export Development Canada (EDC). This $25 billion program 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, due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus.

CEBA was expanded in April to include businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000). Further details are available here.

The eligibility criteria for the program was expanded on May 19th to include many owner-operated small businesses. The program will now be available to a greater number of businesses that are sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll.

The announcement of the expansion is available here.

Small businesses and not-for-profits should contact their financial institution to apply for these loans. Additional details about the Canada Emergency Business Account are available from financial institutions, including from CIBC, Scotiabank, TD, RBC, BMO, HSBC, CWB, and National Bank.

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses

The federal government reached an agreement in principle with all provinces and territories to implement the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. This program will lower rent by 75 per cent for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. Impacted small business tenants are businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.

Additional details are available here.

Business Credit Availability Program

The Government of Canada established a Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to provide $40 billion of additional support through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC). BDC and EDC are working with private sector lenders to coordinate on credit solutions for individual businesses, including in sectors such as oil and gas, air transportation, exports and tourism.

This program includes:

  • 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 mid-April, and interested businesses should work with their current financial institutions. Further details are available here.

Tax Support for Businesses

Tax Payment Deferral

On March 18, 2020, the Government of Canada announced that all businesses will be permitted to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts owing from March 18 to September 1, 2020. This relief applies to tax balances due, as well as installments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.

The CRA will not contact any small- or medium-sized businesses to initiate any post-assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for four weeks after March 18. For the vast majority of businesses, the CRA will temporarily suspend audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives.

For more information, click here. Specific dates and deadlines for tax filings are available here.

Deferral of Sales Tax Remittance and Customs Duty Payments until June

We are allowing businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer until June 30, 2020 payments of the GST/HST, as well as customs duty owing on their imports. Any GST/HST payment that becomes owing from March 27 until the end of May can be deferred until the end of June. For GST and customs duty payments for imported goods, deferral will include amounts owing for March, April and May.

An overview of dates and extensions are available here.

Work-Sharing and SUB Programs

Work-Sharing Program Enhancements

The work-sharing program is an adjustment program administered through Service Canada designed to help employers avoid layoffs during times of temporary economic difficulty. It allows employers to schedule reduced work weeks for their employees who can then access EI for an income supplement.

Due to COVID-19, the length of time that employers are permitted to use the work-sharing program has been increased from 38 to 76 weeks. The mandatory waiting period has also been waived.

For more information on work sharing arrangements, or to apply for the program, click here.

Supplementary Unemployment Benefit Plans (SUB Plans)

Subject to certain requirements, an employer may establish a SUB Plan to top up employees’ EI benefits during a period of unemployment caused by sickness, such as COVID-19. A SUB plan can be used during a temporary work stoppage, training, injury, illness or quarantine. A SUB Plan needs to be registered with Service Canada and must meet certain requirements in order not to be treated as income that would reduce the worker’s EI benefits. As of March 19, 2020, there have not been any changes to the SUB Plan regulations as a result of COVID-19. More information on the SUB Plan can be found here.

Travel and Immigration

Immigration Updates

Special measures have been put in place as a result of COVID-19. These measures include the cancelation of citizenships tests, citizenship ceremonies, in-person permanent resident appointments and in-person refugee claim appointments. An overview of these special measures and a list of frequently asked questions are available on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website.

Temporary Workers

Air travel and border measures have been implemented to protect the health and safety of Canadians by restricting non-essential international travel. The interim order exempts certain foreign nationals who are authorized to travel to Canada to work. This includes temporary workers who were already established in Canada or who had made arrangements to come to Canada to work before the travel restrictions were put in place. The interim order also provides for a number of scenarios where the foreign national is not required to obtain a work permit.

Details on exemptions and permit requirements are available here.

Travel Updates

The Public Health Agency of Canada is advising travellers to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada. A full overview of these restrictions is available here. The Government has also released detailed advice for travellers entering and leaving Canada, which can be found here.

 

Support for Service Agencies

Support for Food Banks

The Government of Canada announced an investment of $100 million to improve access to food for Canadians. The Government will provide funding to national, regional, and local organizations across Canada that are able to reach people and communities experiencing food insecurity. These organizations – including but not limited to Food Banks Canada, Salvation Army, Second Harvest, Community Food Centres Canada, and Breakfast Club of Canada – will work with partners to meet the urgent food needs of Canadians, including Indigenous peoples and Northern populations.

Funding will be delivered through the Government of Canada’s Local Food Infrastructure Fund. The $100 million investment is divided as follows:

  • $50 million to Food Banks Canada
  • $20 million divided evenly between Salvation Army, Second Harvest, Community Food Centres Canada, and Breakfast Club of Canada
  • $30 million for local-level organizations who serve people experiencing food insecurity

The full announcement is available here.

Emergency Community Support Fund

To help these Canadians, the Government of Canada will provide additional support to charities and non-profit organizations through the Emergency Community Support Fund.

The investment will flow through national organizations that have the ability to get funds quickly to local organizations that serve vulnerable populations. It will support a variety of activities, such as:

  • Increasing volunteer-based home deliveries of groceries and medications
  • Providing transportation services, like accompanying or driving seniors or persons with disabilities to appointments
  • Scaling up help lines that provide information and support
  • Helping vulnerable Canadians access government benefits
  • Providing training, supplies, and other required supports to volunteers so they can continue to make their invaluable contributions to the COVID-19 response
  • Replacing in-person, one-on-one contact and social gatherings with virtual contact through phone calls, texts, teleconferences, or the Internet

The full announcement is available here.

 

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