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Are we the only ones a bit overwhelmed by all the different economic support programs available to Canadians right now who are facing financial hardship due to COVID-19?

In case it’s not just us, here’s an overview of the Government of Canada’s Economic Response Plan as of April 10, 2020.

Pay Taxes Later

This is a simple deadline change but can make a bit of a difference for those who owe money. The deadline is postponed to June 1, 2020 for individuals filing their taxes, although this change doesn’t apply to you if you are self-employed. 

You can also defer current tax payments and installments you are currently making until September 1, 2020, for payments due after March 18, 2020 without worry of penalties or interest.  

Wage Subsidy

Lost wages due to COVID-19 shutdowns are already making an impact on many Torontonians. However, there is a 75 percent wage subsidy available for a 12-week period from March 15, 2020 to June 6, 2020.

As well, if you own a business and you see a decrease in revenue by at least 30 percent from last year between March to May, you are also able to claim the wage subsidy for your team.

The subsidy is applied to the first $58,700 you earn and can be paid out for up to $847 per week over a 52-week period. For employers who do not experience the 30 percent decrease can still use the 10 percent payroll remittance reduction on remuneration paid from March 18, 2020 to June 20, 2020.

This route allows employers to pay their team of up to 18 employees no more than $1,375 per employee. Each company that qualifies can receive up to $25,000. You can speak to your employer to see if they are aware of these options if you have lost your job or have experienced a reduction in hours. 

Self-Employed

If you own your own business or are self-employed you know there is little support available when you are faced with losses.

However, the government has also looked for ways to assist you during these challenging times. Deadline changes for your Sales Tax Remittance (GST/HST) Payments and Installments will hopefully provide some relief. The new deadlines are as follows: 

  • Monthly filers for February, March and April 2020
  • Quarterly filer for January 1 to March 31, 2020
  • Annual filer for January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019
  • Installments for 2020 (April 30th installment) 

As well, the government is offering self-employed individuals a $2,000 per month taxable benefit which is available for as long as four months. You’ll of course have to show you have lost income due to COVID-19 to qualify.

Special Arrangements for Loans and Mortgages

Homeowners who have lost their jobs or have seen their hours shortened are faced with the very real possibility of missing mortgage payments.

The government realizes if your choices are buying food and medicine for your family or making your mortgage payments, food and meds must come first. They’ve asked for a commitment from Canadian banks to work with homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgages during this time.

One possibility is to discuss deferred payments for up to six months without penalty or worry of foreclosures. You can speak to your lender directly to come up with an agreement to help alleviate worries of losing your home. Flexible plans based on your individual needs can be arranged.  

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The CERB is available if COVID-19 has led to: The CERB provides a taxable benefit of $2,000 per month for up to four months if COVID-19 has led to: 

  • Losing your job
  • Lost wages due to illness
  • Being quarantined
  • Caring for someone with COVID-19
  • Staying home to care for children due to closed schools and daycares

Criteria to qualify for CERB is as follows:

  • You must reside in Canada
  • You must be at least 15 years old
  • Work must have stopped as a direct result of COVID-19 or you must be eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits
  • Your income must be at least $5,000 for 2019 or in the 12 months prior to your CERB application date
  • You don’t expect to be employed or with self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the four-week period you are initially out of work
  • You must also not expect income for subsequent benefit periods

As mentioned above, this is also available if you’re self-employed, even if you haven’t been paying towards Employment Insurance.

Government Payouts

Other payments the government has created include:

  • GST/HST Credit: The government will be paying out a one-time GST/HST credit for those who are eligible in early May. All those who qualify will receive their checks or deposits automatically.
  • Canada Child Benefit (CCB): Those eligible for the CCB will receive an additional $300 per child which will be paid in May. 
  • Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs): If you have an RRIF, the minimum withdrawal for 2020 will decrease by 25 percent.

These are small things, but when money is tight, every bit helps!

Ontario Government Support for Parents

In addition to what the federal government is offering families, the Ontario government is also introducing the Support for Families initiative which will provide a one-time payment of $200 per child 0 to 12 years of age, and $250 for those 0 to 21 years of age with special needs. You can fill out the form at Ontario’s Support for Families web page to access this financial support. If you already receive Support for Parents payments, you will automatically receive your additional payment without the need to apply. 

Support for Businesses

The federal government is supporting businesses in two additional ways:

  • Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy: This subsidy would help cover salaries by up to 75 per cent and for as long as 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. This will allow employers to retain workers but is not available to public sector entities. If a business does not qualify, they can look at the wage subsidy of 10 percent of remuneration paid from March 18 to before June 20, 2020. 
  • Businesses can now qualify for CEWS if they can show a 15 percent decline in revenues in March when the pandemic economic effects started to affect Canadians, and they can use January and February as reference periods (instead of the previous year) to show a dip of 30 percent loss in revenues.
  • Extending the Work-Sharing program: There has also been an extension from 38 weeks to 76 weeks for the maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program. 

Although this isn’t the time to think about buying or selling a home unless you absolutely have to, we realize that you likely have a lot of questions around how COVID-19 has impacted your pre-approvals, property values or mortgage renewals.

Remember, we’re still here to answer any questions you have. The most important thing right now is to stay safe and healthy Toronto! 

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