Support for Individuals

Federal Programs and Information for the COVID-19 Pandemic

Canada Child Benefit

Provide additional assistance to families with children by temporarily boosting Canada Child Benefit payments

Introduce an Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks to provide income support to workers who must stay home and do not have access to paid sick leave. This includes:

a. Workers, including the self-employed, who are sick, quarantined, or who have been directed to self-isolate but do not qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits.
b. Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent or other dependents who are sick, but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
c. EI-eligible and non EI-eligible working parents who must stay home without pay because of children who are sick or who need additional care because of school closures.
 Additional assistance to individuals and families with low and modest incomes with a special top-up payment under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) credit.
 Waive, for a minimum of six months, the mandatory one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits for workers in imposed quarantine or who have been directed to self-isolate.
 Waive the requirement for a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits.

Extend the tax filing deadline for individuals to June 1, and allow all taxpayers to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18, 2020 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. This measure will result in households having more money available during this period.

Provide increased flexibility to lenders to defer mortgage payments on homeowner government-insured mortgage loans to borrowers who may be experiencing financial difficulties related to the outbreak. Insurers will permit lenders to allow payment deferral beginning immediately.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

If you stopped working because of COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) may provide you with temporary income support. The CERB provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks. Any EI applications after March 15 where the applicant is also eligible for CERB will be automatically moved over to CERB.

How to Apply

Applications started April 6 through one of two ways:

  • Online through CRA MyAccount: With direct deposit, CRA has said payment can be expected in 3 business days from the completion of your application. Payment by cheque can be expected to take up to 10 business days.
  • Telephone: 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041

You will be required to re-attest once a month to continue receiving CERB. More information is available at the following link: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/apply-for-cerb-with-cra.html

Eligibility for CERB

The benefit will be available to workers:

  • Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
  • Who have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19 and have not voluntarily quit their job;
  • Did not apply for, nor receive, CERB or EI benefits from Service Canada for the same eligibility period;
  • Who had income of at least $5,000 (employment income, self-employment income, or provincial/federal benefits related to maternity or paternity leave) 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 or self-employment income.

On April 15, the government announced changes to the eligibility rules to:

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

The changes announced on April 15 will be retroactive to March 15, 2020.

The federal government will be working with provinces and territories 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 will be released shortly following further work with provinces and territories.

For those receiving dividends, you are eligible to claim CERB if the dividends are “non-eligible dividends” (generally, those paid out of corporate income taxed at the small business rate).

An individual could count this dividend income toward the $5,000 income requirement to be eligible for CERB.

Eligibility periods are fixed in 4-week periods, and are outlined below:

4-week period cycle Period dates
1 March 15, 2020 to April 11, 2020
2 April 12, 2020 to May 9, 2020
3 May 10, 2020 to June 6, 2020
4 June 7, 2020 to July 4, 2020
5 July 5, 2020 to August 1, 2020
6 August 2, 2020 to August 29, 2020
7 August 30, 2020 to September 26, 2020

 

Self-employed and independent workers who meet all other eligibility requirements are eligible for this benefit.

In determining their eligibility for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit:

  • Owners who take a salary from their business should consider pre-tax salary;
  • Owners who rely on business income should consider net pre-tax income;
  • Owners who rely on dividend income should consider this as self-employment income provided it comes from “non-eligible dividends”

If an individual’s situation continues, they can re-apply for CERB for multiple 4-week periods, to a maximum of 16 weeks (4 periods).

To speak with an agent about CERB, or CRA My Account: 1-800-959-8281

For more information please refer to the question & answer page for CERB here: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application/questions.html

Issue of Potential Double Payments

For the stream of clients who applied for benefits through Service Canada/EI since March 15, the department is leveraging the existing EI payment systems to deliver CERB payments to these clients. To ensure timely payment to these clients, the approach for these clients is as follows:

  • All clients who meet the CERB criteria (regular and sickness benefit applicants, with a claim that start March 15th onward) are being provided with an initial payment of $2,000.
  • Going forward, these clients should continue to complete their bi-weekly reports.
  • These bi-weekly reports act as the means by which clients indicate their continued need for the benefit.

The system will then ensure that combined, these clients will receive the equivalent of 16 weeks of benefits at $500 per week for a total of $8,000.

As a result of this approach, clients with a claim established March 15 or March 22 and who have already completed their regular bi-weekly reports may have received both the $2,000 initial payment and $1,000 based on the cards they submitted 

Support for Canadian Seniors

On May 12, 2020, the Prime Minister announced new measures for seniors. These measures include:

  • Providing 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).
  • 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.

The full release is available here: https://pm.gc.ca/en/news/news-releases/2020/05/12/prime-minister-announces-additional-support-canadian-seniors

TRAVEL FAQ

Many Canadians are either trying to return to Canada from abroad, or are trying to help family members or friends in doing so. This FAQ will help you navigate these trying times:

IMPORTANT: If you have previously registered your trip with the federal government and did not take your trip, or have no intention to return to Canada in the near future, please send an email to Registration of Canadians Abroad roca@international.gc.ca to end the registration of your trip in their system. This will allow the government to focus on the remaining registrants who may need assistance.
Canada has closed its borders to most people who are not citizens or permanent residents of Canada (see exemption below). There is an international flight ban in effect. Anyone showing symptoms (Canadian or otherwise), will not be allowed into the country. Anyone who is symptomatic during a flight will be dealt with by in-flight operations.

All Canadian-bound international flights will only be allowed into four Canadian airports – Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. This does not currently apply to USA flights, but that is subject to change. No current flight restrictions are being placed on domestic in-Canada flights. Crews, planes, trains, and truck drivers will have access to cross-border travel under exemptions.

All travelers returning from overseas must self-isolate for 14 days to ensure they are not sick. Follow these steps if you feel sick:
a) Take the self-assessment online (https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Journey/COVID-19/Pages/COVID-Self-Assessment.aspx)
b) Call 811 if you have symptoms.
c) Self-isolation instructions can be found here: https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx
d) If you traveled recently, you can see if your flight had anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 here: https://www.alberta.ca/assets/documents/covid-19-flight-information.pdf.

Should I be canceling my travel plans because of COVID-19?
a) YES! This includes non-essential domestic travel.
b) On March 6th, the Government of Canada advised Canadians to ‘think twice’ about cruise ships, especially if you are elderly or have underlying health conditions. Then, on March 9th, the Government of Canada officially advised all Canadians to avoid all cruise ships.
c) All Canadians are being advised to return to Canada as soon as possible utilizing commercial options. There are currently no plans for repatriation flights for those who are abroad and where commercial options remain available. (Air Canada will suspend flights from Australia on March 28th.)
d) Both provincial and federal health officials have issued advice to all Canadians to avoid or cancel all international travel. Many airlines have waived change fees. In short, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, health officials are asking you not to travel internationally at this time. Health officials are also requesting Canadians arriving back from international travel to self-isolate for 14 days.
e) WestJet has suspended all international flights effective Sunday, March 22 for 30 days – https://www.westjet.com/en-ca/travel-info/coronavirus
f) Porter Airlines has suspended all flights until June 1.
g) Air Canada will suspend flights from Australia on March 28th.
h) Air Transat will suspend flights on April 1st.
i) More information here: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice.html
j) https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx#toc-2

I am currently outside of Canada. Should I be returning home to Canada earlier than planned?
Yes, the Government of Canada is advising Canadians to:
a) Find out what commercial options are still available to return to Canada. Consider returning to Canada earlier than planned as these options are becoming more limited. There are currently no plans for repatriation flights for those who are abroad and where commercial options remain available.
b) The US-Canada border is now closed to non-essential travel. Those returning to Canada by vehicle from the United States will be permitted to return to Canada, however, future local travel restrictions in the United States may impede your ability to actually make it back to the border.
c) Ensure that you have sufficient finances and necessities, including medication, in case your travels are disrupted.
d) More info: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories
Either me or my family member is outside of Canada and is affected by travel bans. What should we do?
a) Canadians traveling outside of Canada in need of emergency consular assistance can contact Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613 996 8885 or email sos@international.gc.ca. Call volumes are high.

Returning Canadians
a) All travellers returning from outside Canada must self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms. This includes those returning to Canada by private vehicle and land crossings.
b) More information: https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx
International Travel Exemptions
The Government of Canada is providing an update on travel restrictions put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. Exemptions to the air travel restrictions will apply to foreign nationals who have already committed to working, studying or making Canada their home, and travel by these individuals will be considered essential travel for land border restrictions. The exemptions include:
a) Seasonal agricultural workers, fish/seafood workers, caregivers and all other temporary foreign workers
b) international students who held a valid study permit, or had been approved for a study permit, when the travel restrictions took effect on March 18, 2020
c) permanent resident applicants who had been approved for permanent residence before the travel restrictions were announced on March 16, 2020, but who had not yet traveled to Canada

Provincial Support and Resources for Albertans

Albertans will be able to defer Residential, farm, and small commercial utility bills for the next 90 days

No one will be cut off from their electricity or heat during this time
Student loan payments will have a six-month, interest-free moratorium for all individuals who are repaying them
ATB will be joining other major financial institutions in a number of measures for financial relief for Albertans
Deferral on their ATB loans, lines of credit, and mortgages for up to six months.
Small business customers, in addition to payment deferrals on loans and lines of credit, will be provided access to additional working capital.
Alberta’s Credit Unions are also taking steps to protect Albertans
Credit Union members should proactively contact their providers to gain access to programs and solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic

Government of Alberta COVID-19 Self Assessment tool:

If you believe you have contracted the virus or have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 please visit this website to self-assess:
https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Journey/COVID-19/Pages/COVID-Self-Assessment.aspx