Both the federal and provincial governments have been announcing significant legislation to help businesses and residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But it can be difficult keeping up with all the new emergency legislation and how it specifically impacts the Canadians who are dealing with the coronavirus in their own individual ways.
On Wednesday, the House of Commons passed the emergency bill for Canada’s $82 billion aid package.
Alberta has since unveiled its own package in varying amounts for citizens and businesses alike.
Below is a list of the available relief funds for Alberta residents that have been made available by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.
- See also:
What is available through the province:
Emergency Isolation Support
This is a one-time payment of $1,146 through the Government of Alberta to help bridge the gap between now and the rollout of the federal support program. Eligibility is limited to working Alberta adults who have experienced total or significant loss of income as a result of having to self-isolate or care for a dependent who is self-isolating. Albertans can apply for emergency isolation support payments if:
- They have been diagnosed with COVID-19
- They are caring for a dependent who is self-isolating
- They have otherwise been directed by health authorities to self-isolate
- They are not receiving compensation from any other source
Once their eligibility has been confirmed, Albertans will be asked to create a verified MyAlberta Digital ID, which is required to complete the application.
As part of the verification process, information from the applicant’s Alberta driver’s licence or ID card is used to confirm their identity by matching the information on the card to the government’s motor vehicles database. Once their identity is confirmed, Albertans can complete the emergency isolation support application.
For more help, here’s a how-to on applying for this support.
Utility payment deferral
Residents can apply to defer electricity and natural gas bill payments for the next 90 days to ensure no one will be cut off, regardless of the company they’re with. Small businesses and farming customers also qualify for this deferral.
This program is available to Albertans who are experiencing financial hardship as a direct result of COVID-19, such as those who have lost income due to a layoff or leaving to care for a sick family member. Albertans are directed to call their provider to arrange a deferral, and the province has provided a PDF with more information.
Student loan repayment deferral
Citizens who are in the process of repaying Alberta student loans can breathe a sigh of relief. Student loan payments are being paused for six months with no interest accumulating during that period, mirroring the policy enacted for Canadian student loans.
There is no need to apply for this benefit, and if you want to continue to make payments, it will not affect the pause on interest.
ATB and Alberta Credit Unions
Alberta Treasury Branch banks have joined the cross-Canada movement to help customers apply for deferrals on loans, mortgages, and lines of credit.
Alberta Credit Union members are able to access a variety of programs to ease loan payments and short-term cash flow by contacting their local credit union.
Housing solutions for vulnerable sectors
The Government of Alberta is providing $25 million to support cities in housing their homeless population to lessen transmission of the coronavirus.
The City of Edmonton has repurposed the Edmonton EXPO Centre as an isolation and care centre, and Hope Mission and The Mustard Seed will add spaces to increase capacity.
Calgary has announced that isolation and care will operate out of hotel rooms in a partnership with hotel groups in the city, and Alpha House, the Calgary Drop-In Centre, The Mustard Seed, and Inn from the Cold will have additional spaces available.
In Red Deer, the Safe Harbour Society has relocated to accommodate an additional 100 spaces, and additional measures are being confirmed for Lethbridge and Grande Prairie to help their vulnerable population.
Small business relief
The provincial government has announced several initiatives to ease the strain on small and medium-sized businesses during the pandemic, including an educational property tax deferral for business owners.
Corporate tax payments are being deferred until August 31, and 50% of worker’s compensation benefit premiums are being paid for by the government.
The deadline for upcoming expiries on driver’s licences, IDs, vehicle registrations, and other permits have been extended to May 15 for Albertans.
Here’s what is available through the federal government:
Residents now have greater access to Employment Insurance
One of the biggest relief funds for Canadian’s right now is greater access when applying for Employment Insurance (EI).
On Wednesday, Trudeau said that almost one million people applied for EI just last week.
For those who do not have paid sick leave and for those who are sick, quarantined, or caring for children/family members and who may otherwise lose income, the financial aid package will help Canadians get aid faster.
The federal government is waiving the one-week waiting period for individuals in imposed quarantine that claim EI sickness benefits, and is waiving the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access sickness benefits.
Canadians who have lost their income will get $2,000 a month for four months
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) announced it will allow applicants to receive $2,000 a month for the next four months for those who have lost their income during the coronavirus pandemic.
Additionally, the Government of Canada said “workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for the CERB. This would help businesses keep their employees as they navigate these difficult times, while ensuring they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as it becomes possible.”
Trudeau said the online portal will be available as soon as possible, and Canadians will get the funds “within 10 days of applying.”
The federal government is looking to get money out “quickly and reliably” and Trudeau said that the system will be up and running by April 6.
Long-Term Income Support for Workers
For Canadians who lose their jobs or face reduced hours as a result of the impacts of the pandemic, the government is:
- Introducing an Emergency Support Benefit delivered through the Canada Revenue Agency to provide up to $5 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment.
- Implementing the EI Work Sharing Program, which provides EI benefits to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours 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.
Child Care Benefit
There is also a financial aid package that proposes to increase the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit for the 2019-20 benefit year by $300 per child.
Student Loan Moratorium
The government is placing a six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada student loans. This puts a pause on the repayment of loans until September 30, 2020, with no accrual of interest.
Greater flexibility is given to taxpayers
GST Tax Credit for Low-Income Families:
- A one-time special payment by early May 2020 through the Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC), close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.
Tax return filing date for individuals is extended:
- The tax return filing date for individuals is being deferred until June 1, 2020.
- It is important to note that the Canada Revenue 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.
- The Canada Revenue Agency will also 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.
Businesses can defer income tax amounts:
- Canada Revenue Agency 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.
Small businesses are now eligible for temporary wage subsidy
Eligible small employers may receive a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months. The subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.
Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) for small and medium-sized businesses
This program will allow the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) to provide more than $10 billion of additional support, largely targeted to small and medium-sized businesses, and to coordinate on credit solutions for individual businesses, including in sectors such as oil and gas, air transportation, and tourism.
The near term credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector will also be increased through Farm Credit Canada.
Retirees get some financial aid
There will also be a reduced required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25% for 2020.
Relief packages for Indigenous communities
The federal government announced an additional $305 million distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund.
As well, the province said there will be $26 million provided to Indigenous peoples and communities, including emergency assistance for urban Indigenous people in financial need, and costs for health care professionals and critical supplies to reach remote First Nation communities.
A six-month deferral for mortgages
Canada’s large banks have also confirmed up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages and the opportunity for relief on other credit products.