March 24th, 2020
Federal Government's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
The Prime Minister announced measures to assist workers and families deal with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please note that these measures were just announced. We will continue to assemble share information on eligibility or application processes for these programs as it becomes available.
Temporary Income Support for Workers and Families
For Canadians without paid sick leave (or similar workplace accommodation) who are sick, quarantined or forced to stay home to care for children, the federal government is:
Waiving the one-week waiting period for those individuals in imposed quarantine that claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits.
Waiving the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits.
Introducing the Canada Emergency Care Benefit (CERB) to provide income support to workers:
- Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
- Who have stopped working because of COVID-19 and have not voluntarily quit their job;
- Who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
- Who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment income.
Instead of offering direct support of $2,000 to every Canadian, the government has offered the CERB. It will provide a $2,000 taxable benefit per month for up to 4 months. Workers can apply if they are not working and not receiving income for at least 14 consecutive days because of the pandemic. Workers are eligible if they earned at least $5,000 in income in 2019 or in the last twelve months.
You cannot receive both Employment Insurance (EI) and CERB at the same time. Eligibility for one does not affect the other – you can apply for CERB even if you are eligible for EI. If you are receiving either EI or CERB, you will still be able to apply for the other when your current benefits end.
Applications will be available online through the CRA, and by phone. The Government has promised applications will open in early April, and that benefits will be issued within 10 days of applying.
Apply for the Benefit through:
- Your CRA MyAccount secure portal;
- Your secure My Service Canada Account
- Over the phone via CRA automated service at: 1-800-959-2019
The portal for accessing this new benefit will launch on April 6. Applicants will be able to apply for the benefit retroactively to March 15, 2020.
Pending the launch of the portal, individuals who are without work and are eligible for Employment Insurance can continue to apply for Employment Insurance.
Apply again every 4 weeks
You will need to apply and confirm your eligibility for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit every 4 weeks (to a maximum of 16 weeks) if your situation continues.
Day to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit
- If you were born in the month of January, February or March, you should apply for CERB on Mondays with your best date being April 6.
- If you were born in the month of April, May, or June, you should apply for CERB on Tuesdays, with your best date being April 7.
- If you were born in the month of July, August, or September, you should apply for CERB on Wednesdays, with your best date being April 8.
- If you were born in the month of October, November, or December, you should apply for CERB on Thursdays, with your best date being April 9.
- Fridays, Satudays and Sundays are avaailable for all applicants.
Click here for further information on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
Longer-Term Income Support for Workers
For Canadians who lose their jobs or face reduced hours as a result of COVID’s impact, the federal government is:
- Introducing an Emergency Support Benefit to support to workers facing unemployment who are not eligible for EI.
- Implementing changes to the EI Work Sharing Program, which provides EI benefits to workers who reduce their normal working hours as a result of developments beyond the control of their employers.
Income Support for Individuals who Need it Most
- For low- and modest-income families, who need additional help with their finances, the federal government is proposing a one-time payment by early May 2020 through the Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC). This will double the maximum annual GSTC payment amounts for the 2019-20 benefit year.
- For families with children, the federal government is proposing to increase the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment amounts, only for the 2019-20 benefit year, by $300 per child.
The federal government is proposing targeted help to vulnerable groups by:
- Providing $305 million for a new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities.
- Placing a six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently repaying them.
- Reducing required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25% for 2020. Similar rules would apply to individuals receiving variable benefit payments under a defined contribution Registered Pension Plan.
- Providing the Reaching Home initiative with $157.5 million to support people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Providing up to $50 million to women’s shelters and sexual assault centres to help with their capacity to manage or prevent an outbreak in their facilities. This includes funding for facilities in Indigenous communities.
Flexibility for Taxpayers
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will defer the filing due date for the 2019 tax returns of individuals, including certain trusts:
- For individuals (other than trusts), the return filing due date will be deferred until June 1, 2020. However, the Agency encourages individuals who expect to receive benefits under the GSTC or the Canada Child Benefit not to delay the filing of their return to ensure their entitlements for the 2020-21 benefit year are properly determined.
- For trusts having a taxation year ending on December 31, 2019, the return filing due date will be deferred until May 1, 2020.
The CRA will allow all taxpayers to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply 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.
Effective immediately the CRA will recognize electronic signatures as having met the signature requirements of the Income Tax Act, as a temporary measure. This applies to authorization forms T183 or T183CORP.
The CRA is adapting its Outreach Program to help to individuals to better understand their tax obligations and to obtain the benefits and credits to which they are entitled. Traditionally available in-person, this service is now available over the phone, and through webinar, where possible.
Additional efforts to encourage individuals to file their returns electronically, or where possible, through the File My Return service, will be put forward.
Mortgage Default Management Tools
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and other mortgage insurers offer tools to lenders that can assist homeowners experiencing financial difficulty, including payment deferral, loan re-amortization, capitalization of outstanding interest arrears and other eligible expenses, and special payment arrangements.
CMHC is providing increased flexibility for homeowners facing financial difficulties to defer mortgage payments on homeowner CMHC-insured mortgage loans. CMHC will permit lenders to allow payment deferral beginning immediately.
For more information visit:
For information on the Province of BC's emergency response benefits visit: