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What you need to know about government compensation for coronavirus

Last Updated Mar 20, 2020 at 11:18 pm EST

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau takes part in a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Friday, March 13, 2020. Morneau is poised to announce billions in federal aid to help cushion the financial shock of the COVID-19 outbreak on Canadians. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The federal government announced $27 billion in financial aid to Canadians on Wednesday, with Finance Minister Bill Morneau vowing to do “whatever is takes” to assure the financial health of the nation.

But what does that mean to you, and how can you get compensated?

While many details are still being ironed out, here’s what we know so far.

Currently, there are no links available to apply for compensation.

Temporary Income Support for Workers and Parents:

The scenario:

You don’t have paid sick leave, but you’re now sick and in quarantine, or you can’t go to work because you have to care for a sick loved one or your children.

Federal response: (Source: Department of Finance Canada)

1) The government will waive the one-week waiting period for people in quarantine that claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits. The temporary measure goes into effect on March 15, 2020.

2) The government will waive the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits.

3) The government is introducing the Emergency Care Benefit providing up to $900 every two weeks, for up to 15 weeks. This flat-payment benefit would be administered through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and provide income support to:

  • Workers, including the self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
  • Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent, but do not quality for EI sickness benefits.
  • Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify for EI or not.

 

How can you get the Emergency Care Benefit?

The benefit will be available in April 2020.

Canadians will have to prove that they meet the eligibility requirements and will need to re-attest every two weeks to reconfirm their eligibility.

Canadians can apply for the benefit in one of the following three ways:

  • by accessing it on their CRA MyAccount secure portal;
  • by accessing it from their secure My Service Canada Account; or
  • by calling a toll free number equipped with an automated application process.

Longer-Term Income Support for Workers

The scenario:

You’ve lost your job, or your hours have been reduced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Federal response:

For Canadians who lose their jobs or face reduced hours because of the virus, the government is:

  • Introducing an Emergency Support Benefit delivered through the CRA to provide up to $5.0 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment.
  • Implementing 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. This was announced by the Prime Minister on March 11, 2020.

Income Support for Individuals Who Need It Most

The scenario:

You’re one of 12 million low-modest incomes families impacted by the virus

Federal response: 

The government is proposing to provide a one-time special 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. The average boost to income for those benefiting from this measure will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.

The scenario:

You’re one of 3.5 million families with children who requires additional support

Federal response:

The 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 overall increase for families receiving CCB will be approximately $550 on average; these families will receive an extra $300 per child as part of their May payment. In total, this measure will deliver almost $2 billion in extra support.

Aid for vulnerable groups

The government has committed to:

  • 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 in the process of repaying these loans.
  • Reducing required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25% for 2020, in recognition of volatile market conditions and their impact on many seniors’ retirement savings. This will provide flexibility to seniors that are concerned that they may be required to liquidate their RRIF assets to meet minimum withdrawal requirements. 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 continue to support people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak. The funding could be used for a range of needs such as purchasing beds and physical barriers for social distancing and securing accommodation to reduce overcrowding in shelters.
  • Supporting women and children fleeing violence, by 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.

 

To learn how the government is helping businesses, click here.

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