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COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Financial Help for Canadians

The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a world pandemic on March 11th, 2020. Since then the Government has ordered that Canadians stay home, self-isolate and practice social distancing. The Government has also ordered the closures of non-essential business resulting in mass lay-offs of Canadian workers and essentially shutting down the Canadian economy.

In March, there were just over 1 million jobs lost but that number is expected to increase significantly when the April numbers are released. Many Canadians have also had their hours reduced as a result of COVID-19 and many are still worried about job loss and how they will pay their monthly bills. Government officials announced that since March 16th, 3.18 million people have applied for employment insurance and the Canada emergency response benefit. Many Canadian workers are faced with the new reality of working from home, virtual meetings and many are left feeling isolated and lonely as a result.

To provide support for Individuals, Business and Industries facing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, the Government of Canada introduced the Economic Hardship Plan.

Support for Businesses and Industries

The Government of Canada launched the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy benefit to encourage rehire and avoid lay-offs of workers. The plan subsidizes 75% of an employee’s wage up to $847 weekly. All employers of all sizes across all sectors who have suffered a decrease in gross revenues of at least 15% in March and 30% in April and May will have access to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy benefit.  Additional support for businesses includes, temporary 10% wage subsidy, extension of the workshare program, deferred payments (e.g. more time to pay income tax), access to credit (e.g. Interest free loans of up to $40,000 for small business and non-profits) and provide support for self-employed individuals (CERB). The plan will also provide support for several industries including, airports and broadcasters and increase available credit for agriculture, fisheries, and aquaculture industry.

Support for Individuals

The Economic Hardship plan will provide temporary salary top-ups for low income essential workers on the front line who earn less than $2,500 monthly on a full time basis. The benefit is available to front line workers such as those working in hospitals and those caring for seniors in long-term care facilities. Front line workers working hard to make sure that there is food on the shelves and our tables and others will be eligible to receive this top-up. The plan will also increase the Canada Child Tax payment for families, provide a special GST tax credit one-time payment, extend the deadline to file income tax and provide mortgage support for individuals experiencing job loss as a result of COVID-19. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit was also launched as a part of this initiative to allow workers (including self-employed and contractors) facing loss of income to apply and receive $2,000 monthly. The CERB replaces the EI system and all employment claims as a result of COVID-19 will now be processed and paid through CERB. Anyone who previously applied and were receiving benefits through the EI system as a result of COVID-19 would not have to reapply for the CERB. They will be switched over automatically with no interruption in payments. The Economic Hardship plan also provides support to the Indigenous community, women’s shelters and sexual assault centres, youth support (mental health), seniors, students and recent grads.

For more information on the Economic Hardship plan please visit the Government website below.

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