At a time when public health officials are urging everyone to stay home in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, homeowners and renters facing a loss of income as a result are wondering just how long they can afford to keep a roof over their family’s heads.
The following is a breakdown of some of the financial assistance measures available to Canadians to help alleviate some of the financial strain during this unprecedented health emergency.
Please note: The information provided in this article is valid as of the date of publishing (March 28, 2020) but as the coronavirus situation evolves, details on financial aid and support programs will likely change. For the most up-to-date and accurate information, check current details on federal government assistance and financial relief for Albertans.
Mortgage and loan payment deferral
Canadian banks have committed to work with their customers on a case-by-case basis to find solutions to help them manage hardships caused by COVID-19. Canadians who are impacted by COVID-19 and experiencing financial hardship as a result should contact their financial institution regarding eligibility for a mortgage deferral.
Canada’s mortgage insurers, such as the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) are working with lenders to provide homeowners with solutions to mitigate temporary financial hardship related to COVID-19. This includes permitting lenders to defer up to six monthly mortgage payments (interest and principal) for impacted borrowers. Deferred payments are added to the outstanding principal balance and subsequently repaid throughout the life of the mortgage. Contact your bank or mortgage lender for more information.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
Starting in early April, eligible Canadians can apply for a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months for:
- workers who must stop working due to COVID19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support.
- workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.
- working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.
- workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work.
- wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.
Special Goods and Services Tax credit payment
Low- and modest-income families may be eligible to receive a one-time special payment by early May. The average additional benefit will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples. There is no need to apply for this payment. If you are eligible, you will get it automatically.
Increase to the Canada Child Benefit (CCB)
For the 2019-2020 benefit year, families with kids will receive an increase of $300 per child through the CCB. The average family will see an additional $550 more for 2019-2020 and the benefit will be delivered as part of the scheduled CCB payment in May. Those who already receive the Canada Child Benefit do not need to re-apply.
Student loan repayment relief
Starting March 20, a six-month moratorium will be placed on the repayment of both Canada Student Loans and Alberta Student Loans. No payment will be required and interest will not accrue during this time. Students do not need to apply for the repayment pause.
Utility payment deferral
Residential customers can defer electricity and natural gas bill payments for the next 90 days to ensure no one will be cut off, regardless of the service provider. This program is available to Albertans who are experiencing financial hardship as a direct result of COVID-19. For example, those who have lost their employment or had to leave work to take care of an ill family member. Call your utility provider directly to arrange for a 90-day deferral on all payments.
Education property tax freeze
Residential education property tax rates will be frozen at last year’s level – reversing the 3.4% population and inflation increase added in Budget 2020.
The above is not an exhaustive list of available resources and financial assistance programs. Visit the federal and provincial COVID-19 support websites regularly for current information, eligibility criteria, and application processes.
Seek the support you need to stay healthy and safe
This ongoing health crisis is resulting in immense challenges and pressures across the globe. Support each other when you can and reach out for help when you need it. I genuinely believe the kindness and resiliency of Albertans will get us through this together.