Government Stimulus Packages for Canadians

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Am I the only one who has now become addicted to press conferences?  I can easily get my daily fix now both federally and provincially.  Lately, I have been following the announcements of government stimulus packages very closely.

My new daily schedule now revolves around press conferences. In the morning I watch the federal press conference and a provincial one in the afternoon.  

All of my hunger for knowledge is now to your benefit. Below I’m going to outline and provide resources for the federal and provincial government stimulus packages that have been announced.  The news about these programs is changing constantly. The Prime Minister and provincial premiers will continue to make new announcements daily.

Being mindful of these changes, I will continue to keep this post updated with the latest information that is available.

Last updated March 25, 2020

The government of Canada has recently released details on its $82 billion aid stimulus program. And provincial governments are also starting to announce how they will be helping their citizens during this unprecedented time.

Everyone still has bills and needs money for basics such as food and medications.  With the closing of many businesses and laying off (even if just temporary) of so many workers, people are now wondering where their income will come from. 

The goal of all of these government stimulus packages is to keep liquid cash in the pockets of citizens.  

I want to be clear, for some of these measures, this is not a free ride, just a delay or postponement.  Eventually, a lot of these bills will come due and depending on the nature of the stimulus program, the postponement could mean a large bill waiting for you in a few months’ time.

Federal Government Stimulus Package

There were many things announced on March 18, 2020, a part of the $82 billion stimulus package.  The March 18, 2020 announcement was updated on March 25, 2020, with some minor alterations. The information below are the most current government stimulus packages.

Below I am only going to outline the programs that will directly (and immediately) impact you.  I am not going to detail programs announced for businesses.  If you are interested in these programs, please check out the government of Canada website.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

This benefit replaces the previous Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit. It sounds like when this when to parliament it was simplified which makes it much easier to understand and benefit from.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is a taxable benefit of up to $2000 a month for up to 4 months. This would make this benefit worth up to $8000 pre-tax dollars, replacing the previously proposed benefit which would have been $7200.

You are eligible for the CERB if you:

  • Must stop work due to the pandemic and are not eligible for paid sick leave or any other income support
  • Are sick, quarantined or are taking care of someone who is sick
  • Are a parent with a child (or children) who require supervision due to school or daycare closures
  • Are still employed but there is no work and your employer has told you to stay home
  • Are self-employed or otherwise not eligible for employment insurance

Applications for the CERB will be available through MyCRA and My Service Canada and are expected to be available as early as April 6, 2020. Mr. Trudeau also announced that payments will be made within 10 days of completing your application.

For those of you wanting to reach out by phone, here is the toll-free government number dedicated to applications for this program: 1-833-381-2725.

My advice would be to make sure that you are set up for direct deposit so that you can get your money as soon as possible and won’t have to wait for a cheque in the mail.

In the past few weeks, there have been close to 1 million applications for employment insurance and 143 thousand claims have already been completed. Over 13,000 government workers are being deployed to this program and they are being pulled from other government departments.

Highlights:

  • Up to $2000 per month for 4 months
  • Designated for those who do not qualify for the EI sickness benefit
  • Applications as early as April 6, 2020
  • Payment within 10 days of application

Employment Insurance Sickness Benefit

This is not a new benefit announced by the government but is worth noting here for anyone who qualifies. Although not new, there have been some new adjustments to the program announced by Prime Minister Trudeau.

EI sickness benefits provide up to 15 weeks of financial assistance at a rate of 55% of your income to a maximum of $573 per week.

The government is waiving the one-week waiting period and medical certificate requirement.  This means that once your application is accepted the benefits will begin paying from the date of application.  Eliminating the need for a medical certificate helps remove that extra strain on the health care system and expedites your application process.

Highlights:

  • Waived one-week waiting period
  • No medical certificate required
  • Up to $573 per week for up to 15 weeks

For more detailed information on how to specifically apply for the Emergency Care Benefits or EI Sickness Benefits check out this post by Boomer and Echo.

GST Credit

There will be a one-time payment through the GST credit plan in early May.  This will double the maximum annual payment for the 2019-2020 benefit year. The government estimates that this will amount to an extra $400 for single filers and $600 for couples who are eligible.

Highlights

  • Timing – early May
  • Estimated $400 for single filers and $600 for couples
  • No need to apply – benefit applied aut0matically

Canada Child Benefit (CCB)

The Canadian government announced that it will be increasing the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit (CCB) by $300 for the 2019-2020 benefit year only.

The maximum CCB for the 2019-2020 benefit year will now be as follows:

  • Children aged 0-6 years – $6939/year
  • Children aged 6-17 years – 5902/year

The extra $300 benefit amount will be paid in full with their May payment.

Highlights:

  • Increase in $300 per child for 2019-2020 benefit year
  • No need to apply, the increase will be applied automatically to May payment

Student Loans

Effective March 30, 2020, there will be a 6-month moratorium on student loan repayments of Canada Student Loans.  This is a 6-month payment deferral in which interest will not accrue, it is essentially as if time is paused for 6 months on your loan.

Students are not required to apply for the payment deferral.

Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs)

Due to the volatility in the markets, the government of Canada has announced a reduction in the required minimum withdrawals for registered retirement income funds (RRIF’s) by 25% for 2020.  This is very important if you have older parents who currently have RRIF’s (or have one yourself).

The reduction in required minimum withdrawals will keep more of your money in your fund so that it can grow when the market rebounds.  And yes I believe that the market will eventually go back up.

Income Taxes

The tax return filing deadline has been extended from April 30 to June 1, 2020.  There will also be the option to defer any payments due (either this year’s tax or installment payments).  No interest or penalties will accrue on these payments until after August 31, 2020.

What does this mean? That you have until September 1, 2020, to pay any income tax owed. No interest or penalties will accrue until after that date.

Personally, my husband and I are expecting an income tax refund so we will be filing our taxes as soon as possible.  It is no benefit to us to delay filing our income tax returns.  Our refund will be directly applied to our emergency fund.

That being said, if you are expecting to owe income tax with your return then it makes sense to delay filing in order to keep that money in your possession as long as possible.

Highlights:

  • Filing deadline extended to June 1, 2020
  • Deferred payments until September 1, 2020 interest and penalty-free

But Wait, There’s More

Lastly, the government of Canada announced that they have been working with the big 6 banks on providing flexible solutions.  These flexible solutions will be granted on a case by case basis.  

Some of these solutions may include deferrals for up to 6 months.  These deferrals may relate to mortgages, lines of credits, credit cards or other lending products.  But as mentioned earlier, this is not a free ride.  Interest will continue to accrue on these products and will eventually be due.  Payments will also be added to the end of the term and will also eventually be due.

Provincial Government Stimulus Packages

The specific details of each province and territory’s stimulus program is beyond the scope of this post.  For more information on the program that may directly affect you, please see the links below.  You will also want to follow up with these links regularly as program announcements are being made daily.

Government stimulus packages for Canadians.  The government seems to make a new announcement every day that affects Canadians.  Here is a list of all the policy announcements that may affect you personally.  This post will be updated regularly. #handfulofthoughts #governmentaid #financialcrisis

Final Thoughts

I know that it feels very doom and gloom right now, but these government stimulus packages are meant to be a bit of a silver lining.  

Are these announced government stimulus programs enough? Probably not. But government officials are aware of this and have eluded to more government stimulus programs being announced in the future.

Now is not the time to be proud.  Now is the time to seek help if you need it. Part of taking control of your time and money means knowing what resources are available to you. The announced government stimulus programs are resources available to you right now.

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2 Comments

  1. This will be my go to post for all the government benefits. Thanks for all the effort to keep it updated!

    1. Maria says:

      Thanks, Triple B. Come back here often as the announcements of benefits seem to be happening daily.

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