Last Updated: Sunday, March 29 – 12:20 pm
Please see below for the latest information on the COVID-19 pandemic, including public health resources and government initiatives.
PUBLIC HEALTH INFORMATION
- Government of Canada COVID-19 Home Page
- COVID-19 Information Sheets
- Government of Ontario COVID-19 Home Page
- Self-Assessment tool for COVID-19
- Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Resources
- Practice social distancing at all times.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze (if no tissue available, use your elbow), then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes before washing your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or clean your hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer).
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces commonly used.
- If you are feeling unwell (fever, dry cough, etc.) stay home.
- Reach out to:
- The Government of Canada COVID-19 hotline: 1-833-784-4397
- Telehealth Ontario: 1-866-797-0000
- Your personal health care professional
- In a medical emergency, please call 9-1-1.
- Reach out to:
- Canadians abroad must register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service in order to receive critical emails and text messages regarding repatriation efforts.
- Global Affairs Canada is urging all Canadians to postpone any non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice, including on cruise ships. Click here for full details on travel advisories.
- Canadians outside the country who are directly impacted by COVID-19 will be able to apply for an emergency repayable loan to facilitate their return to Canada and to cover basic essential needs while they work towards their return. Each application will be assessed according to their specific situation and needs.
- Global Affairs Canada has a 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre for Canadians abroad, available by phone at +1 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where available) or by email email@example.com.
ANYONE RETURNING TO CANADA FROM ANY COUNTRY, INCLUDING THE UNITED STATES, IS LEGALLY REQUIRED TO PROCEED IMMEDIATELY HOME AND SELF-ISOLATE FOR 14 DAYS TO SLOW THE SPREAD OF COVID-19.
United States Border: A restriction on non-essential travel is in place at all points of the Canada-U.S. border. Essential travel includes the maintenance of supply chains – ensuring that food, fuel, and life-saving medicines can be reached on both sides of the border. Canadians and Americans who cross the border each day for essential work or for urgent reasons will also not be affected by this closure.
Entry into Canada: The Canadian border is open to Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents and their immediate family members (who hold a valid visa to Canada). The definition of an immediate family member includes: (a) the spouse or common-law partner of the person; (b) a dependent child of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner; (c) a dependent child of a dependent child referred to in paragraph (b); (d) the parent or step-parent of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner; or (e) the guardian or tutor of the person.
SUPPORT FOR WORKERS
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): This Benefit will provide $2,000 a month for up to 4 months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals who have already submitted claims under EI Regular or EI Sickness benefits due to COVID-19 with a start date of March 15 or later, and their claims have not yet been processed, will not have to reapply for this new benefit as their applications will be automatically rolled into the new system. Canadians would begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application, and applications will be launched in early April.
EI Sickness Benefits: The one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined, so they can be paid for the first week of their claim. The requirement to provide a medical certificate will also be waived.
EI Work Sharing Program: We are 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.
SUPPORT FOR FAMILIES
Temporary Canada Child Benefit (CCB) Increase: 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.
GST Credit: For low and modest income families who may require additional help with their finances, 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.
Together, the proposed enhancements of the GSTC and CCB will give a single parent with two children and low to modest income, nearly $1,500 in additional short-term support.
SUPPORT FOR SENIORS
Registered Retirement Income Funds: We are reducing the 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.
Old Age Security: Rest assured, Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) payments will continue as normal.
New Horizons for Seniors Program: The Government of Canada will contribute $9 million through United Way Canada for local organizations to support practical services to Canadian seniors. These services could include the delivery of groceries, medications, or other needed items, or personal outreach to assess individuals’ needs and connect them to community supports.
Individuals: The tax return filing due date will be deferred until June 1, 2020. The Agency encourages individuals who expect to receive benefits under the GSTC or the Canada Child Benefit not to delay the filing of their return to ensure their entitlements for the 2020-21 benefit year are properly determined.
Trusts having a taxation year ending on December 31, 2019: The return filing due date will be deferred until May 1, 2020.
Payment of Tax Returns: The CRA is allowing all taxpayers, including businesses, to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment deadline of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
Canada Revenue Agency Support: Effective immediately, the CRA will recognize electronic signatures as having met the signature requirements of the Income Tax Act, as a temporary administrative measure. This provision applies to authorization forms T183 or T183CORP. The CRA also is adapting its Outreach Program to provide support over the phone and through webinars, where possible.
IMPORTANT NOTE: PLEASE FILE YOUR TAXES AND REGISTER ON myCRA AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
New programs for income support and existing programs such as the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), Old Age Security (OAS), or the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), are delivered through the income tax system. Not filing could put existing supports at risk, and may delay people from receiving new benefits that are currently being rolled-out.
The Canada Revenue Agency lets you file online. Opening an e-account, getting basic information into the system (i.e., SIN number, bank information for direct deposit, and whatever income or T4 information you have), will be very helpful for both you and the government as we move forward.
The filing deadline extension and the late payment forgiveness measures are here to reduce requirements for people to pay tax, but in many cases if you delaying filing, you might not receive benefits. Filing is most important for seniors and families with children.
Taxes can be filed online by clicking this link. You can do it for family members and friends who may not have computer access or who face language and accessibility barriers.
SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS AND YOUTH
Student Loans: 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 put into place.
Kids Help Phone: The Government of Canada will give $7.5 million in funding to Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) to provide young people with the mental health support they need during this difficult time.
SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES
Temporary Wage Subsidy: The government is proposing to provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy of up to 75%, backdated to March 15, 2020. Businesses will be able to benefit immediately from this support by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration. Employers benefiting from this measure will include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities. More information regarding the Temporary Wage Subsidy can be found here.
Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP): the BCAP will allow the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) to provide more than $20 billion of additional support, largely targeted to small and medium-sized businesses. This means that businesses will be able to apply for a guaranteed loan when they go to their financial institutions to get help as they weather the impacts of COVID-19.
Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA): Banks will be able to offer $40,000 loans, guaranteed by the government, to qualifying businesses. These CEBA loans will be interest-free for the first year, and if certain conditions are met, $10,000 of these loans will be forgivable.
GST/HST and Duties: Our government announced that we will defer GST/HST payments, as well as duties and taxes owed on imports, until June. Across the country, this will be the equivalent of giving $30 billion in interest-free loans to businesses.
Work Sharing Program: The Work-Sharing program is implementing temporary special measures to support employers and employees affected by the downturn in business caused by COVID-19. The temporary special measures will extend the Work-Sharing agreements by an additional 38 weeks, waive the mandatory waiting period between agreements, and ease the recovery plan requirements.
Canada Account: There will be new measures to provide flexibility on the Canada Account limit, to allow the Government to provide additional support to Canadian businesses, when deemed to be in the national interest, to deal with exceptional circumstances.
Insured Mortgage Purchase Program: We are launching an Insured Mortgage Purchase Program to purchase up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Tax Filing: The CRA will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. They will not contact any small or medium (SME) businesses to initiate any post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks. For the vast majority of businesses, the CRA will temporarily suspend audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives. The Liaison Officer service, traditionally available in-person, will be made available over the phone.
Industry and Innovation: Canada’s industrial policy will be temporarily refocused to prioritize research and development, commercialization, and manufacturing (existing or potential) for medical supplies and solutions in the fight against COVID-19. We are putting the full weight of the federal government behind this plan. If your businesses can help, we encourage you to visit this website: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/business/maintaingrowimprovebusiness/manufacturers-needed.html.
Provincial Hotline: The Government of Ontario has launched a hotline for businesses regarding emergency measures and the closure of at-risk workplaces: 1-888-444-3659.
SUPPORT FOR HOUSING
Mortgage Deferrals: Canada’s large banks have confirmed that support will include up to a 6-month payment deferral for mortgages, and the opportunity for relief on other credit products. These targeted measures respond to immediate challenges being faced across the country and will help stabilize the Canadian economy.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation: The Government, through CMHC, is providing increased flexibility for homeowners facing financial difficulties to defer mortgage payments on homeowner CMHC-insured mortgage loans. CMHC will permit lenders to allow payment deferral beginning immediately.
SUPPORT FOR WOMEN, CHILDREN, INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES AND PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS
Women and Children: We are 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.
Indigenous Community Support Fund: We will be providing $305 million for a new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities.
Homelessness: We will be 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.