Given the health recommendations to stay home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and with schools and child care centres closed, many working moms and dads suddenly find themselves stay-at-home parents, without their usual sources of income or ability to work. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a suite of new income support measures to help.
“No Canadian should have to worry about paying their rent or buying groceries during this difficult time,” Trudeau said at the announcement. “That is why we are taking the strong action needed to stabilize our economy and help those impacted by the COVID-19 virus.”
Some of these measures will require new spending measures to be passed by Parliament, which could happen by next week.
What are the benefits I can expect?
If you currently receive the Canada Child Benefit, you will get up to an additional $300 per child as part of the May payment. For Canadians who qualify for the GST credit, a special one-time special payment will be made by early May, the average of which will be close to $400 for single individuals and $600 for couples. If you are paying off a federal student loan, a six-month interest-free moratorium has been put into place.
If you qualify for EI sickness benefits (meaning accumulating insurable 600 hours, or reaching the minimum amount of self-employed earnings), the one-week waiting period has been waived, so those can be accessed immediately for people who are sick, quarantined, or forced to stay home to care for their children. Also, a medical certificate won’t be required to access those benefits.
What if I don’t qualify for EI?
An Emergency Care Benefit has been introduced, which provides up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks. This applies to workers, including those who are self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19, those who are taking care of family members who are sick with COVID-19 but wouldn’t qualify for the EI sickness benefits, or parents who are unable to earn income because of school closures and daycare, regardless of whether they qualify for EI or not.
How to apply for the Emergency Care Benefit
People can apply for those benefits starting in April, and will need to attest that they meet the eligibility requirements, and then re-attest every two weeks in order to re-confirm their eligibility. The government has made three channels available:
- Accessing their CRA MyAccount secure portal
- Accessing their secure My Service Canada Account
- Calling a toll-free number that has an automated application process (we will update this article with the number when it’s shared)
Not surprisingly, they have tried to minimize the need to visit Service Canada outlets, in order to ensure social distancing. Payments will be done by direct deposit where possible.
What if I’m facing unemployment as a result of the outbreak?
An Emergency Support Benefit for workers not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment has also been implemented, and will be delivered through CRA.
What about my income taxes?
The government has extended the filing date until June 1, and the payment date until August 31.