In light of the recent threat of COVID-19 to the livelihoods of  employees, families and self-employed individuals, the Prime Minister announced on March 18th, 2020 the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response plan which will provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses.

Here are some of the main highlights for individuals and families of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, with many details and updates still to come:

For Individuals/Families:

  1. CRA Deadline Extensions
    • For individuals (other than trusts), the return filing due date will be deferred until June 1, 2020
    • CRA 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
    • CRA will allow all taxpayers 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. 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
    • For trusts having a taxation year ending on December 31, 2019, the return filing due date will be deferred until May 1, 2020
  2. EI Sickness Benefit Changes
    • Applicable to Canadians without paid sick leave who are sick and quarantined
    • Waiving the one-week waiting period for those individuals in imposed quarantine that claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits. This temporary measure is in effect as of March 15, 2020
    • Waiving the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits
  1. Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) – Replacing Emergency Care Benefit & Emergency Response Benefit
    • MARCH 25th UPDATE: The Canada Emergency Response Benefit is a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Response Benefit.
    • Provides $2,000 a month for up to four months for Canadians who are:
      • 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
    • Application for the Benefit will be available in April 2020.
    • Canadians who are receiving or have already applied for EI should not apply for CERB.
  1. EI Work Sharing Program
    • 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
  2. Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC) One Time Payment
    • For over 12 million 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. The average boost to income for those benefitting from this measure will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples
  3. Canada Child Benefit (CCB) Increase
    • For over 3.5 million families with children, who may also require additional support, 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
  4. Interest-free Moratorium for Canada Student Loans
    • 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
  5. Changes to Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) and Registered Pension Plan (RSPs) Withdrawal Minimum
    • 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
  6. The Bank of Canada Lowered Interest Rates
    • Cutting the interest rate to 0.75% as a proactive measure considering the negative shocks to Canada’s economy arising from COVID-19
  7. Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation
    • The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and other mortgage insurers offer tools to lenders that can assist homeowners who may be experiencing financial difficulty
    • These include payment deferral, loan re-amortization, capitalization of outstanding interest arrears and other eligible expenses, and special payment arrangements
  8. Reaching Home Initiative
    • $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
  9. For Women and Children Fleeing Violence
    • 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
  10. Indigenous Community Support Fund
    • Providing $305 million for a new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities

Visit the CRA website for more details. Many details and updates are still to come; please check our social media pages for more information.

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