Below of some of the recent COVID-19 financial support announcements from the Federal and Provincial governments.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
The government of Canada will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months to:
- workers who must stop working due to COVID19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support.
- workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.
- working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.
- workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work.
- wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will be accessible through a secure web portal starting April 6. FAQ: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html
Apply for Emergency Assistance from the Ontario Government
If you are in an emergency situation and you live in Ontario, you might be eligible for emergency assistance. If you are eligible for emergency assistance, the amount you get will depend on your specific situation. In most cases you will not get more than what you would get on Ontario Works.
Ontario Funding for Families
While schools and child care centres are closed, parents can apply for direct funding to offset the cost of buying materials to support their children’s learning, while they practice self-isolation and physical distancing.
Eligible parents will receive a one-time per child payment of:
- $200 for children aged 0 to 12
- $250 for children or youth aged 0 to 21 with special needs
If you have lost your job and you qualify, you can apply for employment insurance here: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei.html. Rejected EI claims will automatically roll into the Federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System payments for seniors
If you’re a low-income senior, you may qualify for monthly Guaranteed Annual Income System payments. On March 25, 2020, the Ontario government announced a temporary top-up to payments made through the Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS). Beginning in April 2020, monthly GAINS payment amounts will be automatically doubled for a period of six months. This action will provide additional and immediate financial support to low-income Ontario seniors who may need more help to cover essential expenses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. See here for more information.
Canada Student Emergency Benefit
Students who have seen their education and job prospects altered during the pandemic will soon be able to claim a new Canada Emergency Student Benefit. Eligible postsecondary students can receive $1,250 per month from May to August, and if they are taking care of someone else or have a disability, that amount increases to $1,750 monthly. Application details will be posted here once available. Apply here: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/emergency-student-benefit.html
Four local groups (Disability Justice Network of Ontario, Hamilton Student Mobilization Network, Erich's Cupboard, and the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion) have been working together to deliver food to people with disabilities or who can't afford groceries. To access support, fill out this form or call our phone line at (289) 768-3170.
Assorted Relief Initiatives
The Federal Government has introduced a six-month interest-free grace period on the student loans. Ontario has announced that it would match this for OSAP loans.
Hydro rate relief
On March 24, the government announced that time-of-use pricing has been suspended for 45 days. See here for more information. Electricity and natural gas will not be disconnected for nonpayment during this state of emergency.
The six major banks have stated they would considered easing mortgage payments on a case by case basis. It is reccomended that you call your bank to see what can be done.
New Hamilton Property Tax Assistance Program
The City of Hamilton has created a temporary Property Tax Assistance Program to help ease the financial impacts on Hamilton taxpayers due to COVID-19. While 2020 property tax instalment due dates remain unchanged, the City is offering some flexibility on penalties and interest for those who are not able to pay by the April and June due dates. See here for more information.
The Premier has stated that no one will be evicted during this pandemic. Unfortunately, he has not yet offered any sort of real rent relief. The Ontario NDP is continuing to push for a guarantee that no one can be punished for missing rent, and for the government to directly help renters through direct payments. See this letter from Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath to Premier Ford.
On March 30, the Ontario NDP outlined its plan to support renters, by demanding that Ford offer an 80% rent subsidy, an eviction ban, and 6-month rent freeze. See here for the Ontario NDP's plan.
The Ontario Superior Court has suspended all evictions, and sheriff's offices have been ordered not to enforce evictions as well. See here for the court order. If you are facing an eviction order that is being enforced, or your landlord is threatening to evict you, please contact our office: (905) 388 9734/[email protected]; or Hamilton Community Legal Clinic. See also: "Actions your Landlord May Take" fact sheet and Steps to Justice's housing law FAQ (useful for tenants).
- Pro Bono Ontario Legal Assistance Hotline: 1-855-255-7256. Hours of operation are Monday – Friday from 9:30 am – 11:30 am and 1:00 – 3:30 pm. See: https://www.probonoontario.org/hotline/
- Hamilton Community Legal Clinic: https://www.hamiltonjustice.ca/
- Steps to Justice COVID-19 Legal Resources: https://stepstojustice.ca/covid-19
The Ontario NDP's Plan to Support Families
The Ontario NDP has released its own comprehensive plan and recommendations for the Premier. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling for the Premier to send $2,000 Ontario Emergency Income cheques to households experiencing unemployment or lost income during the COVID-19 crisis.
City of Hamilton Resource Webpage - The City has aggregated resources available to residents (which includes the above) on this webpage: City of Hamilton: Financial Support for Individuals
Workers Resources - See this collection of workers resources sites here.
Caregiving Communities is a new portal available at www.ontariocaregiver.ca/caregivingcommunities that gives people who need help an easy way to find it in your community. This can include finding help with grocery or medication pick-up and delivery, friendly phone calls and mental health support. This is organized by The Ontario Caregiver Organization.