Since the beginning of March, restrictions and measures related to COVID-19 have rapidly escalated. While the first stages focused on public health and safety, in very short order, businesses and personal finances began to be affected. It is clear that these challenges will become worse before they get better. In an effort to combat these effects, the Government of Canada released a series of financial measures in mid-March.
This document summarizes selected government comments up to March 27, 2020. Because the situation is evolving the details on how to access these supports is changing and developing at the time of writing. If you require more information the team at PDC is happy to assist and we recommend scheduling a call with someone from our team who can address your specific concerns. Connecting with our team is best done by sending an email with your questions. We will respond to your emails or book a call or virtual meeting to discuss further if needed.
Tax Return Due Date Deferral: The personal tax filing due date will be deferred until June 1, 2020. However, those expecting refunds or benefits (such as the GST/HST credit, Guaranteed Income Supplement and Canada Child Benefit) should file as early as possible. The government release encourages Canadians not to delay their filings in order to ensure their income-tested benefits are accurately computed.
Tax Payment Deferral: Taxpayers may defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18, 2020 (also including installments) and before September 2020. The government documents indicate that payment will be deferred “until after August 31, 2020”, which seems to imply payment will be due on September 1. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
Individuals Without Paid Sick Leave: For Canadians without paid sick leave (or similar workplace accommodation) who are sick, quarantined or forced to stay home to care for children, the government is:
- Waiving the one-week waiting period for those in imposed quarantine that claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits, effective March 15, 2020.
- Waiving the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
- To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, the government 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. The CERB would be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.
The CERB would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).
Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for the CERB. This would help businesses keep their employees as they navigate these difficult times, while ensuring they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as it becomes possible.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will be accessible through a secure web portal starting in early April. Applicants will also be able to apply via an automated telephone line or via a toll-free number.
It is expected that application of this benefit will be done through my account.
More information on this program can be found at the Government of Canada website here
Longer-Term Income Support
- Implementing changes to the EI Work Sharing Program, which provides EI benefits to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hour as a result of developments beyond the control of their employers, by extending the eligibility of such agreements to 76 weeks, easing eligibility requirements, and streamlining the application process.
- Low/Modest Income Individuals
- A one-time special payment by early May 2020 through the Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC) will be made. This will double the maximum annual GSTC payment amounts and result in an average boost to income for those benefitting by close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.
- The maximum annual Canada Child Benefit payment amounts would be increased by $300 per child for the 2019-20 benefit year. This will be added to the May, 2020 benefit cheque.
- Canadians Abroad: The “Emergency Loan Program For Canadians Abroad” will provide the option of an emergency loan to Canadians in need of immediate financial assistance to return home or to temporarily cover their life-sustaining needs while they work toward their return. Each application will be accessed according to their specific situation and needs. This emergency assistance is a repayable loan. Eligible Canadians currently outside Canada and needing help to return home can contact the nearest Government of Canada office (https://travel.gc.ca/assistance/embassies-consulates) or Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where available) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Students: A six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying these loans will be provided.
- Minimum RRIF Withdrawals: The required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) will be reduced by 25% for 2020. Similar rules would apply to individuals receiving variable benefit payments under a defined contribution Registered Pension Plan.