Here's a breakdown of all available coronavirus aid funds for Ontario residents so far

Mar 26 2020, 4:23 pm

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 being passed and how it specifically impacts the Canadians who are dealing with the coronavirus in their own individual way.

On Wednesday, the House of Commons passed the emergency bill for Canada’s $82 billion aid package.

And on the same day, Ontario unveiled its own package, to the tune of $17 billion, for the province.

Below is a list of the available relief funds for Ontario residents that have been made available by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

What is available through the province:

Families get a boost for childcare

The Ontario government said it would provide emergency child care options to support parents working on the front lines, such as health care workers, police officers, firefighters, and correctional officers.

The investment includes a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age to help families, and $250 for those with special needs, including children enrolled in private schools.

Students get some relief from their loans

The province will also provide six months of Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan and interest accrual relief.

The electricity cost relief program

The province will be providing $5.6 billion for electricity cost relief programs in 2020-21, while lowering rates for customers, which was announced earlier in the week.

The province will lower the rates over the next 45 days and will be switching to off peak rates, saving 50% compared to usual. They’re working to suspend time-of-use electricity rates, holding electricity prices to the off-peak rate of “10.1 cents-per-kilowatt-hour.”

There will also be $9 million in direct support to families for their energy bills by expanding eligibility for the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) and ensuring that their electricity and natural gas services are not disconnected for nonpayment during the pandemic.

Seniors get some income-assistance

Seniors can get the help they need as the province is proposing to double the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payment for low-income seniors for six months.

Small businesses owners get some necessary relief

The province is allowing for $6 billion by providing five months of interest and penalty relief for businesses to file and make payments for the majority of provincially administered taxes.

Ontario will give $1.8 billion by deferring the upcoming June 30 quarterly municipal remittance of education property tax to school boards by 90 days, which will provide municipalities with the flexibility to provide property tax deferrals to residents and businesses, while ensuring school boards continue to receive their funding.

There will also be $1.9 billion made available by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) allowing employers to defer payments for up to six months.

This means that all employers covered by the WSIB’s workplace insurance are automatically eligible for the provisions of the relief package and can defer premium reporting and payments until August 31, 2020. They will not be required to opt in to receive this benefit.

Additionally, the WSIB will “cease interest accrual on all outstanding premium payments” and will not charge penalties during this six-month deferral period.

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 employment insurance 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 and Medium-Businesses are eligible for temporary wage subsidy

The federal government will be increasing its wage subsidy for small and medium-sized businesses to 75% to avoid layoffs.

According to Trudeau, this move will be backdated to March 15.

The Canada Emergency Business Account will allow banks to offer $40,000 loans that will be interest-free for the first year. Of that, $10,000 can be “forgiven” according to Trudeau.

Small businesses and not-for-profits should contact their financial institution to apply for these loans.

“To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25% (up to $10,000).”

Additionally, there will be $12.5 billion available through Export Development Canada and the Businesses Development Bank of Canada to help with cash flow.

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 6-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.

DH Toronto StaffDH Toronto Staff

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