What you need to know about emergency benefits, debt relief and taxes while we navigate COVID-19.
There are measures in place to help Canadians through this difficult time, and we’ll also do our best to help you navigate your finances through the pandemic.
That’s why we’ve rounded up a list of everything you need to know about the resources and support available to Canadians right now.
If you have updates or resources that you think we should include in this article, please let us know.
Table of contents
Provincial Financial Aid Resources
National Resources – Updated August 21, 2020
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides support for Canadians who have lost income or employment due to COVID-19. On August 20, 2020 it was extended: eligible Canadians can now receive $500 for up to 28 weeks, from March 15, 2020 to September 26, 2020.
You can apply for the last eligibility period (August 30-September 26, 2020) starting Monday August 31, 2020, and you can apply for any eligibility period any time online or by phone. Sign up for CRA direct deposits to get your money within 3 business days of applying. Otherwise, you should get your money in about 10 business days.
The CERB includes gig workers and contractors, seasonal workers, Canadians who’ve recently ran out of employment insurance, and anyone making less than $1,000 a month due to reduced work hours.
The government also announced plans to reform the EI system on August 20, 2020.
On September 27, most Canadians receiving CERB will automatically become eligible for the modified Employment Insurance (EI) program. It will pay a minimum of $400 per week for at least 26 weeks and be available to Canadians who can’t work if they have previously worked 120 hours or more in the past year.
If you’re not eligible for CERB or EI, you still have options.
Students are eligible for up to $5,000 through the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB). You can apply for support retroactively until September 30, 2020. If you have dependents, you’ll be eligible for even more support through the CESB.
Lower income Canadians can receive an additional boost from a tax credit, which the government doubled to provide extra help. The increase will provide single individuals with $886 and couples with $1,160. You will receive this payment automatically this year if you’re eligible, but your eligibility is calculated based on your 2018 income tax return, so file your taxes to receive this support.
The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) is an existing program to provide pre-tax funding to Canadians with kids under 18. The government is providing an extra $300 per child, and eligible Canadians will now receive these payments until the end of September 2020. If you already receive the CCB, you do not need to re-apply. If you are not yet enrolled, you can do so here.
The government is creating three new benefit programs for anyone who does not qualify for EI.
- The Canada Recovery Benefit – $400 per week for up to 2 weeks for anyone who can not receive EI but is actively looking for work during the pandemic. Individuals who make $38,000 or less annually will be eligible.
- The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit – $500 per week for up to 2 weeks for Canadians who do not have paid sick leave during the pandemic.
- The Canada Recover Caregiving Benefit – $500 per week for up to 26 weeks for families who do not send their children to school during the pandemic.
The Canadian government has postponed the deadlines for Canadians to file and pay their taxes as part of their COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.
The Federal Tax Payment Deadline has been extended again: the updated deadline is September 30, 2020.
The Federal Tax Filing Deadline was pushed to June 1, 2020 and was not extended again; if you haven’t already filed your taxes for 2019, you may face penalties.
In a cash flow crisis, many Canadians may struggle to keep up with debt payments including those on their mortgages, credit cards and student loans. Here’s what we know:
- The big six Canadian banks have announced that they will provide flexible payment arrangements for personal and business customers that experience pay disruption, childcare disruption due to school closures or illness related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- While postponing debt payments may help in a cash crunch, it’s possible that you will continue to be charged interest on both your outstanding payments as planned and the overdue interest from the deferrals, as reported by CBC in March. This means you could end up paying more interest overall, and deferring a payment could possibly even have an impact on your credit score.
- Contact your bank to see if you are eligible for deferred payments on your mortgage and/or credit card debt. Be sure to find out what the terms are for payment deferrals, and what that means for your overall interest costs.
- Student Loans
The Canadian government has paused the repayment of Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans for six months until September 30, 2020, with no accrual of interest.
Companies across Canada are announcing measures to help customers facing financial hardship during the pandemic.
- Phone and internet service providers such as Bell, Rogers, Telus, Videotron, Cogeco and Shaw have announced measures such as flexible payment arrangements. Many are also suspending non-payment disconnections and waiving data overage, long distance and roaming fees. Check with your provider to see what they’re offering.
If you are over 71 and have a registered retirement income fund (RRIF) which can include an RRSP, Canada is reducing the required minimum withdrawals by 25% for 2020.
The Canadian and provincial governments already offer a wide range of services and benefits to Canadians depending on where you are and your specific circumstances or situation.
Use the Benefit Finder to see if you qualify for any additional programs or support.
Provincial Resources – Updated April 16, 2020
Alberta Financial Aid Resources
- The Emergency Isolation Support program, now closed, provided one-time funding to over 79,596 eligible Albertans who lost income because of COVID-19. It was designed as a stop-gap measure until CERB benefits began.
- Mortgage & Line of Credit Payments
ATB Financial customers can request a deferral on their loans, lines of credit and mortgages for up to 6 months.
- Student Loans
Alberta Student Loan repayments will be automatically paused for 6 months, beginning March 30, 2020. Interest will not accrue during this period.
- Residential customers can defer electricity and natural gas bill payments for the next 90 days, regardless of the service provider.
British Columbia Financial Aid Resources
- The B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a one-time, tax-free, $1,000 payment for B.C. residents who are unable to work due to COVID-19. It will complement the support being provided by the federal government. More details will be released soon, so stay tuned.
- The B.C. Climate Action Tax Credit (BCCATC) is a non-taxable credit given to offset the impact of the carbon taxes. The government has announced a one-time enhanced payment for July 2020 to assist with COVID-19. You could get up to $218 for you, your spouse or common-law partner, or your first child in a single parent family, and up to $64 for each additional child. Just file your income tax return for 2019 and the CRA will determine your eligibility for the payment.
Rent and Housing
The BC-Temporary Rental Supplement (BC-TRS) Program has been introduced to ensure people can maintain their housing in the event of job or income loss.
- B.C. will halt evictions for non-payment of rent and freeze rent increases for the duration of the pandemic.
- A temporary rent supplement will provide a monthly rebate of up to $500 for three months to help tenants who are struggling to make payments. The rebate will be paid directly to landlords. Applications will open soon on the BC Housing website.
- Mortgage & Credit Card Payments
Vancity, a credit union in Vancouver, will allow deferred payments of mortgages and other loans for six months on a case-by-case basis. They are also cutting credit card interest rates to 0% and deferring minimum payments for up to 6 months for eligible cardholders.
- Student Loans
B.C. student loan payments have been automatically frozen for six months, starting from March 30, 2020.
- BC Hydro
The COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program allows BC Hydro customers to defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty.
The COVID-19 Relief Fund gives residential customers who have lost jobs or had wages reduced as a result of COVID-19 a credit worth three times their average monthly bill which will not have to be paid back. You can apply until June 30.
The Customer Crisis Fund will grant customers up to $600 to pay their hydro bills.
The COVID-19 Customer Recovery Fund will allow residential customers to defer their bill payments from April 1 to June 30, 2020. An interest-free repayment schedule will be set up to spread bill payments out over the next 12 months.
Late payment fees and disconnections have been suspended for all customers.
Customers who are on a monthly payment plan can defer their payment for up to 90 days with no penalty
Manitoba Financial Aid Resources
Rent and Housing
- The government has announced a freeze on all rent increases scheduled between April 1 and May 31.
- Student Loans
All repayments of loans under the Manitoba Student Aid Program have been suspended until September 30, 2020.
- As part of the Manitoba Protection Plan, residents can defer payments to Manitoba Hydro, Centra Gas and Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) until October 1, 2020 without incurring interest or penalties.
- Manitoba Hydro and Centra Gas have been instructed to suspend disconnections until that time.
- MPI has been instructed to relax ordinary practices on policy renewals and collections.
- Municipalities will not charge interest on provincial education taxes and school division fees, and are being encouraged to to waive their own taxes.
New Brunswick Financial Aid Resources
- The New Brunswick Workers Emergency Income Benefit will provide working residents (including self-employed people) with a one-time payment of $900. This was designed to bridge the gap until federal benefits take effect, and will end on April 30.
- The Emergency Bridging Fund for Vulnerable Post-Secondary Students provides post-secondary students in need with a one-time payment of up to $720. Eligibility is assessed on a case-to-case basis.
- NB Power
Non-payment disconnections and collection efforts have been suspended until further notice.
Residential and small business customers can enquire to defer bill payments for up to 90 days, extend existing payment arrangements, or waive interest on past due balances and late fees issues after March 19, 2020.
Newfoundland and Labrador Financial Aid Resources
- Loan payments on business loans administered by the Innovation and Business Investment Corporation have been deferred for three months.
- A number of tax return filing deadlines have been deferred to support businesses impacted by COVID-19.
The deadline for International Fuel Tax Agreement returns for the first quarter of 2020 has been pushed back from April 30, 2020 to June 1, 2020.
Any tax returns under the Revenue Administration Act and Regulation, normally due March 20, 2020, are now due June 23, 2020. These include:
- Gasoline Tax
- Carbon Tax
- Health and Post-Secondary Education Tax
- Insurance Companies Tax
- Mining and Mineral Rights Tax
- Tax on Insurance Premiums
- Tobacco Tax
Northwest Territories Financial Aid Resources
Income Security Program benefits have been increased to support the NWT’s most vulnerable residents and their families. These include:
- Residents eligible for Income Assistance will receive a one-time emergency allowance of $500 for individuals and $1,000 for families. This allowance is to cover costs like food and cleaning supplies amid the pandemic.
- Eligible low-to-modest income seniors receiving the Seniors Home Heating Subsidy will receive an increase beginning April 1, 2020.
- Student Loans
Repayment of all student loans from the Government of Northwest Territories will be suspended until September 30, 2020. No interest will accrue during this time period.
Nova Scotia Financial Aid Resources
- The Worker Emergency Bridge Fund is a one-time $1,000 payment for Nova Scotians who are laid off or out of work because of COVID-19, who don’t qualify for Employment Insurance, and earn between $5,000 and $34,000. It can be combined with the CERB. Applications opened April 10 , 2020.
- An additional $50 will be given to anyone on income assistance starting Friday, 20 March. You do not need to apply.
- Student Loans
Nova Scotia Student Loan payments are automatically suspended until 30 September 2020, with no accrual of interest.
- Nova Scotia Power
Non-payment disconnections have been suspended for at least 90 days.
Customers can also contact Customer Careto discuss flexible payment timelines and getting fees and penalties on unpaid bills waived.
The Home Energy Assistance Top-up (HEAT) Fundis available to low-income families to help pay their energy bill. In response to COVID-19, the application deadline has been extended indefinitely and the restriction on applying only every 24 month has been waived.
Nunavut Financial Aid Resources
- The Small Business Support Program will provide immediate short-term relief to businesses through a one-time grant of up to $5,000. The grant is available to small businesses and entrepreneurs who have lost income due to COVID-19, as well as Nunavut artists and craftspeople who make all or most of their income through product sales.
Ontario Financial Aid Resources
- Ontario will double the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) maximum payment for low-income seniors for six months, starting in April 2020. Individuals can now get up to $166 per month, or up to $332 per month for couples.
- Parents will receive a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, or $250 for those with special needs up to 21 years of age. Parents already receiving Support for Parents payments will receive the money automatically. Otherwise, apply online here.
- Student Loans
Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan repayments between March 30, 2020 and September 30, 2020 have been temporarily suspended. There will be no interest accrued.
- The Low‑income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) is being expanded to provide up to $500 in emergency assistance for electricity bills ($600 if your home is heated electrically) and $500 for natural gas bills. This is only to cover any money that you already owe.
- Non-payment disconnections for resident customers are banned across the province until July 31, 2020.
- Off-peak electricity pricing of 10.1 cents per kilowatt will apply no matter what time of day the electricity is consumed. This pricing will remain in place for 45 days and will be applied automatically to electricity bills.
- Hydro One
A Pandemic Relief Fund has been announced to offer customers financial assistance and increased payment flexibility. Call the Customer Contact Centre at 1-888-664-9376 to see what’s available to you.
Late payment fees have been suspended for all customers until May 7, 2020.
Prince Edward Island Financial Aid Resources
- The Prince Edward Island COVID-19 Income Support Fund provides a one-time $750 lump sum payment to residents who are without income due to COVID-19. Applications close on April 30, 2020.
- The Emergency Income Relief for the Self-Employed provides temporary support to self-employed workers who have been significantly impacted by COVID-19 and are not eligible for EI. You can receive up to $500 per week for the period of March 16 to March 29, 2020.
- The Emergency Relief – Worker Assistance Program provides workers who have had their hours significantly reduced with up to $250 per week. Employers must complete the application on behalf of their employers.
- The COVID-19 Special Situation Fund will provide up to $1,000 to residents who are in urgent need and are not eligible for other federal or provincial support.
- The Employee Gift Card Program will provide a $100 Sobeys gift card to any employee who has been laid off directly due to COVID-19. Employers must complete the application on behalf of their employers.
Rent and Housing
- The Temporary Rental Assistance Benefit will provide temporary rental assistance to renters who are struggling to pay their rent. The benefit is $1,000 per household to help cover the cost of rent for a three month period, and is paid directly to landlords. If you are a resident of Prince Edward Island eligible for either EI or the CERB, and are not receiving any other government rental assistance, you can apply.
- There is currently a moratorium on evictions from provincially-owned social housing units until June 2020.
Quebec Financial Aid Resources
- The Temporary Aid for Workers Program offers financial assistance to workers who are in isolation and unable to work, but are not covered by any employer or private insurance, or other government programs. Eligible recipients are granted $573 per week, for 2 weeks.
- The Incentive Program to Retain Essential Workers (IPREW) offers financial assistance for individuals working essential jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The benefit provides $100 for each week of qualifying work beginning March 15, 2020, and is available for a maximum of 16 weeks. Eligible workers can apply online from May 19, 2020.
The following measures have been announced to help individuals meet their tax obligations:
- The deadline filing income tax returns has been postponed to June 1, 2020.
- For individuals and individuals in business, the deadline for applying balances due related to income tax returns for the 2019 taxation year is postponed to July 31, 2020.
- For those who must pay tax installments, the payment of the June 15, 2020 tax installment is suspended until July 31, 2020.
- Student Loans
The government is postponing student loan debt repayment for the next six months. There will be no accrual of interest, and the measure will automatically apply to all Aide financière aux études clients.
Non-payment disconnections have been suspended.
Starting from March 23, penalties for unpaid bills have been suspended until further notice for all residential customers.
Customers can contact Hydro-Quebec to make flexible payment arrangements.
Saskatchewan Financial Aid Resources
- The Self-Isolation Support Program offers financial assistance to workers who are in isolation and unable to work, but are not covered by any employer or private insurance, or other government programs. Eligible recipients are granted $450 per week, for 2 weeks.
- Student Loans
A six-month student loan repayment moratorium has been put in place from March 30, 2020. No interest will be accrued.
- Provincial Utilities
A crown utility interest waiver program will allow crown utility customers to defer their bills for up to six months with no penalties and zero interest charged.
Yukon Financial Aid Resources
Rent and Housing
- New regulations under the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act will prevent evictions for 90 days of residential tenants who are self-isolating or unable to pay their rent on time due to COVID-19.
- The regulations will also allow tenants to pay their rent late if they are unable to pay it when it is due.