COVID-19

INFORMATION ABOUT SUPPORT DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Updated as of April 9, 2020. Note that programs and circumstances are changing daily, if not hourly. Please use the links to ensure you have the most up-to-date details. Changes in the last few days are in pink to help you locate new information.


Government of Canada Financial support for Individuals and Communities (see below for Business)

Government of Canada website listing support measures with links: COVID19 Economic Response Plan

A summary of some of the key measures:

Employment Insurance for Individuals and Business

  • If you have been laid off or had your hours reduced, and you qualify for Employment Insurance, please go to this website: Apply for EI
  • The federal government has established a phone line dedicated to inquiries regarding EI claims related to COVID-19:1-833-381-2725. This is a dedicated line for those looking to apply for EI benefits because you have had to self-isolate and cannot work, you are an employee or employer looking to apply for financial support through the EI Work-sharing program, or you have been laid off due to COVID-19. This line is experiencing very high call volumes so start with the online process unless your case is unusual.
  • If you are sick, quarantined or have been directed to self-isolate, we will waive the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits.
  • You can get more details here: Employment Insurance and COVID19

Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

  • Government website describing this benefit is CERB Benefit Info.
  • Eligible Canadians are workers who, because of COVID-19, have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB applies to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, also qualify. 
  • If you do not qualify because your income has not dropped to zero (e.g. you are still working a few hours a week, expected to be up to 10 hours/wk), the government says it will shortly announce how you can qualify for CERB.
  • You must have had an income of at least $5,000 in 2019 to qualify; income is broadly defined (e.g. dividend income counts as does income from outside Canada). However, this criteria will prevent some people from applying (e.g. people on parental leave in 2019; some seasonal or part-time workers with low annual income, students). We are pressing the government to take account of these people.
  • This benefit is $500 per weekIt will be paid into your bank account within 5 days of applying, and every four weeks thereafter until October 3, 2020, if you have an online CRA or Service Canada account (see below). If you prefer, you can apply by telephone and have the benefit mailed to you. 
  • You will need to reapply for each payment period (details provided when you apply) to re-attest that you are still receiving no income for that period. There are seven payment periods; you may apply for four of the seven.
  • If you are eligible for EI: Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits will continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB. If EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, you could then apply for the CERB once EI benefits cease, assuming you are still unable to return to work due to COVID-19 at that time. Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed do not need to reapply. Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits will still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB. See the government's webpage for more detailed explanation on how CERB and EI work together.
  • This benefit is taxable on your 2020 income taxes, although if your income for 2020 is low, there may be no or little tax payable. No taxes will be withheld immediately - recipients will receive the full amount of the benefit, and report it on their 2020 taxes.
  • Online portals and phone line are now open. See government website for details (link in first bullet above).
  • For direct deposit, you will need an account with CRA or Service Canada. You can do that in advance, to be ready, so your money is deposited by direct deposit and will come in 3-5 days. By mail, cheques will come within 10 days.
    • Start your application on this webpage: CERB application
    • Or phone for an automated telephone application process: call 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041; 21 hours a day (closed 3 AM to 6 AM EDT for maintenance)
  • If your birthday is in Jan-Feb-Mar - apply on Mondays (starting April 6)
  • If your birthday is in Apr-May-Jun - apply on Tuesdays (starting April 7)
  • If your birthday is in July-Aug-Sept - apply on Wednesday (starting April 8)
  • If your birthday is in Oct-Nov-Dec - apply on Thursdays (starting April 9)
  • Anyone may apply on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

GST Credit

  • Adults currently receiving the GST rebate credit will receive an additional one-time payment of up to $400, and up to $150 per child.
  • This to be automatically deposited into the account where your GST rebate is normally delivered, or by mail if that is how it usually arrives
  • You do not need to apply; the rebate was distributed on April 9.

Enhanced Canada Child Benefit

  • The government is increasing the maximum annual CCB payment by $300 per child for the 2019-20 benefit year.
  • You do not need to apply; if you receive the CCB now, you will automatically receive the increased amount in April

Canada Summer Jobs Program

The temporary changes to the program for this year, announced April 8, include:

  • an increase to the wage subsidy, so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100 per cent of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee
  • an extension to the end date for employment to February 28, 2021
  • allowing employers to adapt their projects and job activities to support essential services
  • allowing employers to hire staff on a part-time basis.
  • The Canada Summer Jobs call for applications for the 2020 season closed on February 28, 2020. In response to the economic impacts created by the COVID-19 situation, the government will work with Members of Parliament to identify organizations that provide essential services in the community and could provide youth jobs but did not apply for the Canada Summer Jobs program in 2020
  • Job placements could begin as early as May 11, 2020, and end as late as February 28, 2021.
  • Youth will be able to search for jobs available in their communities through the Job Bank website and app.
  • In previous years, private and public sector employers were only eligible to receive a wage subsidy of up to 50 per cent of the provincial or territorial minimum wage. The increase to the wage subsidy for private and public sector employers will be for this year only.

Canada Student Loan Payments

  • There is a six-month interest-free moratorium, effective March 30, on the repayment of Canada Student Loans. No payments are required and no interest will be charged.
  • You do not need to apply; simply do not make your payments. You may continue to pay if you are able to do so.

Support for Indigenous Communities

  • $305 million is allocated for a new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities.

Support for people experiencing homelessness (through Reaching Home)

  • $157.5 million is allocated to the Reaching Home initiative which can be used for a range of needs such as purchasing beds and physical barriers for social distancing and securing accommodation to reduce overcrowding in shelters.

Support for women’s shelters and sexual assault centres, including on reserve

  • $50 million is allocated to women’s shelters and sexual assault centres to help with their capacity to manage or prevent an outbreak in their facilities.

Support for Children

  • $7.5 million for Kids Help Phone to deal with increased demand for its 24/7 online, phone and text counselling service

Support for Seniors

  • $9 million to the United Way to distribute to local organizations through the New Horizons for Seniors Program that provides support to seniors such as the delivery of groceries, medications or other needed items; or a reach out to assist seniors to connect with community support agencies.

Support for Food Banks

  • The government has announced $100 million to aid Food Banks in purchasing and distributing food. Announcement here.

Lower Registered Retirement Income Fund Minimum Withdrawal Amounts

  • The required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) is reduced by 25% for 2020 to respond to volatile investment markets.
  • You do not need to apply; simply withdraw less if you wish and report the lower amount on your 2020 taxes.

Tax Deadline Extended:

Canada Revenue Agency will defer its filing due date for the 2019 tax returns of individuals and certain trusts:

  • For individuals, the filing date has been pushed back to June 1, 2020. The original filing date was April 30.
  • For trusts with a taxation year ending on Dec. 31, 2019, the due date for filing returns has been moved back to May 1.
  • Individuals may defer their income tax payments until Aug. 31, 2020 with no interest or penalties.
  • NOTE: if you expect to qualify for the GST rebate or Child Benefit, you should file your tax return without delay to ensure you receive those benefits
  • More information: Department of Finance-Tax Filing Flexibility
  • The CRA has also temporarily suspended tax audits for small and medium sized businesses, and suspended ongoing audit interactions with taxpayers

Banks

  • The big six banks and some credit unions are offering payment deferrals on mortgages and personal loans; they will also offer reduced interest on credit cards for those who have requested payment deferrals. Check with your own bank to see what they are offering and whether you are eligible.

Other Measures of Interest

  • Canada's Chief Public Health Officer now advises that home-made masks may be useful when in situations where physical distancing is difficult (e.g. public transit, grocery shopping). Do not use medical grade masks - they are required by front line workers. But scarves and home-made masks may be useful in protecting others if you are infected but have no symptoms. If you do have symptoms, do not go outside your home - self-isolate even from others who live in the same home.
  • How to make your own face-mask: Make a cloth face covering at home
  • Vehicle access to national parks has been suspended for the safety of parks workers and to enforce physical distance of visitors. 
  • Service Canada offices have closed to protect workers and the public. To access Service Canada, please go online at Service Canada or call 1-800-O-Canada (1-800-622-6232).
  • Access across the Canada-US border is now restricted to necessary travel only, such as that required to move goods across the border.

 

 

Canadians Abroad and Returning Travelers

While abroad, you may have come in contact with the novel coronavirus. All returning travelers must self-isolate for 14 days. This is now the law under the Quarantine Act. There are significant penalties if you do not comply.

Expectations for returning travellers include:

  • Proceed directly from your point of entry to your home. Do not stop for groceries, to pick up the dog at the kennel, stop at the bank, or run other errands.
  • Do not use public transportation. If you do not have a private vehicle, border officials will arrange safe transportation.
  • If you are continuing on to another destination (e.g. land in Calgary but have a connection to Kelowna) you must quarantine yourself for 14 days at the point of landing before continuing your journey. Border officials have arranged for accommodation where this is required (such as airport hotels).
  • Stay home from work and school for 14 days, and for 10 additional days if symptoms develop.
  • Arrange to have supplies such as groceries dropped off at your door. If you do not have a support person to help with this, volunteers are available. For example, Men in Kilts are offering this service free of charge: contact them directly for information: Men in Kilts COVID19
  • Especially avoid elderly people and anyone with compromised immune systems or chronic conditions;
  • Keep any unavoidable interactions with other people brief, maintaining at least two metres’ distance from them and wear a mask.

To further protect those around you, wash your hands often and cover your mouth and nose with your arm when coughing or sneezing.

If you start having symptoms of COVID-19, isolate yourself from others as quickly as possible. First visit the Alberta COVID19 webpage to do an online self-assessment. That assessment will advise if you should call 811 for a telephone consultation and possible referral for a COVID19 test. The 811 line may be busy - try calling at off peak hours (the line is open 24/7) but DO NOT CALL 911 as an alternative. 911 lines need to stay available for people with life-threatening emergencies.

UPDATE: If you are in mandatory self-isolation (includes returning Canadians, anyone with symptoms, anyone close to a person who is sick) you may no longer leave your property. You may not leave the property even for neighbourhood walks; if you live in an apartment/highrise, you may not leave your unit and may not use the elevator or stairwells.

Financial Assistance for Canadians Abroad

In light of the multiple measures implemented by governments throughout the world to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Government of Canada advises Canadians to avoid non-essential travel until further notice.

To help Canadians abroad return home or shelter in place, the Government of Canada is creating a special financial assistance program, the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad. With this program, Canadians abroad directly impacted by COVID-19 will have the option of applying for an emergency loan of up to $5,000 to help secure their timely return to Canada and/or to temporarily cover their life-sustaining needs while they work toward their return.

The government is working with Canadian airlines to provide flights home for Canadians where possible. This will not always be possible due to border and flight closures in the other country. Canada cannot override local regulations, but will negotiate as best as possible. No Canadian exhibiting symptoms of COVID19 will be permitted to board a flight.

The Government of Canada encourages all Canadians abroad to register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to get the latest updates on the situation at their destination.

Eligible Canadians currently outside Canada and needing help to return home can contact the nearest Government of Canada office or Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where available) or email sos@international.gc.ca. For a list of toll free numbers: Toll Free Numbers Global Affairs

Government of Canada Financial Support for Businesses

For a recap of business measures, link here: Business Supports

A summary of some of the key measures:

Support from BDC and EDC:

  • On March 13, 2020 the federal government established a Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to support financing in the private sector through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC). On March 27, the government announced that an additional $12.5 billion would be made available to Canada's Crown lending agencies, on top of the $10 billion previously announced.

Small Business Loan: Up to $100,000 can be obtained online.
Working capital loan: For loans over $100,000 and can support everyday operations.
Purchase Order Financing: Loans to fulfill domestic or international orders.

If you have specific questions about applying for funding, BDC can be reached at the toll-free number: 1-877-232-2269 Monday to Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time). They also have an online assessment tool.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

  • Here is the government's official web page for this program with more detail: Wage Subsidy Apr 1
  • Government press release detailing the changes:Changes to emergency wage subsidy
  • Eligible employers may receive a subsidy equal to 75% of "pre-crisis" wages to encourage them to keep their employees. Pre-crisis remuneration is the average weekly remuneration paid between January 1 and March 15, excluding any seven-day periods in respect of which the employee received no remuneration (so if you hired someone on February 1, you would not have to count the zero wages paid for January).  Persons who are remunerated with dividends do not qualify. Non-arms length employees (e.g. family members) do qualify so long as they were receiving remuneration prior to the crisis - you can't add them to the payroll in March (or raise their salary) just to claim the subsidy.
  • To be eligible, a business must have experienced a month-over-month drop of 30% in revenue compared to 2019 OR experienced a 15% drop in March compared to the Jan/Feb 2020 average and experience a 30% drop in April & May compared to the Jan/Feb 2020 average. You will need to renew your application each month, citing the month-over-month decline for that month. 
  • Particularly to aid start ups and new businesses that cannot do a comparison with 2019, it is now an option for all companies to compare with the average of January and February 2020, and only a 15% decline in March is required to qualify. A 30% decline will be needed for subsequent months (April, May). Choose carefully which method you are going to use, as you cannot change the period for comparison after applying.
  • The subsidy is intended to respond to the COVID-19 situation, but you are not required to prove that your loss of revenue is due to COVID-19.
  • The employer can now choose whether to use accrual accounting or cash-basis accounting to determine revenues. This measure can help those whose revenue line may not show a decrease, but you aren’t getting paid by your customers. Cash-basis accounting means you record the revenue when cash is received, and not when invoices are sent. Once again, once you have made a decision you can not flip back the following month.
  • Charities and non-profits will work with the government to establish an appropriate definition of "revenue" in their circumstances, and have the option to include or exclude previous government funding.
  • There is no limit to the number of employees - big and small all qualify - as do both corporations/businesses and not-for-profits/charities
  • The 75% subsidy applies on a salary of up to $58,700, which translates to a subsidy of up to $847 per week. Employers are encouraged to top up the remaining amount if they can.
  • The benefit is back-dated to March 15, and applies for three months
  • If an employee is paid for the week, but does not work (i.e. you put them on paid leave during the crisis), then you can get the 75% wage subsidy, plus you can recover 100% of employer contributions to CPP and EI. This is not capped based on 75% of pre-crisis remuneration – it is ALL employer amounts.  You make the source deductions and remit the employer portion as normal, and will then claim the employer portion back with the rest of the 75%.
  • We are expecting more details about the opening of applications. You will apply through your Canada Revenue Agency online business account. Applications may not be accepted for a few weeks, but in the meantime, please set up your CRA business account. You must wait for an authorization code to be snail-mailed, so start the process now.
  • This does not replace the previously announced 10% subsidy. That is, if you don't qualify for 75%, you may qualify for 10%:
    • 10% wage subsidy, up to $1,375/employee for 15 weeks, with a maximum per company of $25,000, provided you are a Canadian private company (with some possible exceptions). See the link above for more detail.
  • It may take up to 6 weeks to receive funds although the government is striving for 3 weeks, and direct deposit of funds within 3 business days. An option is to take a short term interest free loan (see below: Canada Emergency Business Account) and repay when the subsidy arrives.
  • Note that there are penalties for abuse - repayment of up to 225% of the fraudulent claim plus prison time if the offense warrants.
  • Each business will need to designate a single person authorized to attest on behalf of the company, who is also authorized to financially bind the company. If your company by-laws require more than one person for this role, you may need to adjust that in advance so you are ready when applications open.

Canada Summer Jobs Program

  • See above in the "individuals" section for new information about the Canada Summer Jobs Program.

Work Sharing

  • The maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program is extended from 38 weeks to 76 weeks.
  • The Work-Sharing program is offered to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers.

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

  • This measure will allow banks to give up to $40,000 in government-backed loans, with no interest for a year, and the possibility that up to $10,000 will be forgiven.
  • Up to $10,000 will be forgiven if companies are able to repay their loan by the end of 2022
  • Companies must show they had between $50,000 and $1 million in payroll costs in 2019; and must attest that they will use the money for non-deferrable expenses such as rent/lease/mortgage payments, salaries, utilities, property tax, insurance or debt payments.
  • The following information is from the Royal Bank with respect to how they will handle the loans. Other banks may or may not use the same process but it should be similar.
    • Until Dec 31, 2020, RBC will treat this as a revolving line of credit for $40,000
    • After Dec 31, 2020, RBC will convert any remaining amount to a non-revolving 5-year term loan maturing Dec 31, 2025, at which point the balance must be paid in full
    • No interest applies until January 1, 2023
    • Starting January 1, 2023, interest will accrue at 5% per annum, payable monthly on the last day of each month
    • If you pay 75% of the term loan (amount as of January 1, 2021) before December 31, 2022, the remaining balance of the term loan will be forgiven. To illustrate: if your balance is $40,000 on January 1, 2021, and you repay $30,000 before December 31, 2022, then the remaining $10,000 is forgiven
    • If you do not pay 75% by December 31, 2022, then the entire loan and all accrued and unpaid interest will be due and payable by December 31, 2025.
  • Applications are open as of April 9; you will need to have on-line business banking set up with your bank.

Loan Guarantees for SMEs

  • Export Development Canada is working with financial institutions so that they can issue new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to SMEs.
  • Contact your financial institution to see if this is a fit for you.

Co-Lending for SMEs

  • The Co-Lending Program will bring the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) together with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements.
  • Through the Co-Lending Program, eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts of up to $6.25 million through the program.
  • Contact your financial institution to see if this is a fit for you.

Sales Tax and Import Duties

  • The government will allow all businesses, including self employed individuals, to defer payment of sales tax (GST, HST) and import duties until June to improve cash flow
  • This applies to remittances that would be due in March, April and May.
  • No application is required - simply defer your payment

Income Tax Deferral

  • All businesses may defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020.
  • This relief would applies to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act.
  • No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. 
  • More information: Department of Finance-Tax Filing Flexibility

 CFIB Supporting Businesses

  • CFIB is offering advice and assistance to businesses navigating all of this. CFIB has opened their Helpline to all business owners including non-CFIB members for advice on managing COVID-19 situations in the workplace.
  • To talk to an expert, please call them at 1-888-234-2232.

Canada’s Six Biggest Banks Help Customers Impacted by COVID-19

  • Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank and TD Bank have made a commitment to work with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help them manage through challenges such as pay disruption due to COVID-19; childcare disruption due to school closures; or those facing illness from COVID-19.
  • This support will include up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages, and the opportunity for relief on other credit products.
  • Individual Canadians or business owners facing hardship should contact their bank directly to discuss options that could be available to them.
  • More information: Support from Big Six Banks

Support for Farmers and Processors

  • The government is supporting Farm Credit Canada by allowing an additional $5 billion in lending capacity to producers, agribusinesses, and food processors.
  • This will offer increased flexibility to farmers who face cashflow issues and to processors who are impacted by lost sales, helping them remain financially strong

Other Measures

  • The Insured Mortgage Purchase Program, will purchase up to $150 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. This will provide long-term stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders, help facilitate continued lending to Canadian consumers and businesses, and add liquidity to Canada’s mortgage market.
  • The Bank of Canada has lowered interest rates, intervened to support key financial markets and provided liquidity support for financial institutions.
  • The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions is lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer by 1.25% of risk-weighted assets to allow Canada’s large banks to inject $300 billion of additional lending into the economy.

Government of Alberta Support and COVID-19 Measures

The Government of Alberta has offered support in the following ways. If you need more information or assistance with these measures, please contact your provincial MLA. If you need help identifying your MLA or obtaining his/her contact information, use this site: Who is my MLA?

Consult the Alberta COVID-19 webpage for more information and links on all of these measures: Coronavirus Info for Albertans

Emergency Financial Assistance

  • This program is now closed as it was meant as a one-time bridge until federal payments began. Persons in need should apply for the CERB program (in the federal section above).

Emergency Funding for Charities and Non-profits

  • Visit Charity Emergency Funding for details on how to qualify and apply for funding to assist your clients in coping with COVID-19

Utility Payment Deferral

  • Residential customers can defer electricity and natural gas bill payments for the next 90 days to ensure no one will be cut off, regardless of the service provider.
  • Call your utility provider directly to arrange for a 90-day deferral on all payments.

Protection for renters

  • Effective March 27, tenants cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent and/or utilities before May 1. More info at: Suspending evictions
  • Effective March 27, rents will not increase while Alberta’s state of public health emergency remains in effect.
  • Effective April 1, late fees cannot be applied to late rent payments for the next three months, even if the lease allows for late fees.
  • Effective April 1, landlords and tenants need to work together to develop payment plans while the state of public health emergency is in effect. The Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS) will not hear applications that could lead to eviction due to non-payment unless a reasonable attempt has been made to work out a payment plan. More info at: Rent Payment Plans
  • Landlords can still file applications and receive orders for possession if the reason for the eviction is unrelated to rent and/or utility payments (e.g. safety concerns, tenant engaging in criminal activity).

Changes to Employment Standards

  • Employees caring for children affected by school and daycare closures or ill or self-isolated family members due to COVID-19 will have access to unpaid job-protected leave. The 90-day employment requirement is waived and leave length is flexible.
  • The maximum time for a temporary layoff is increased from 60 days to 120 days to ensure temporarily laid off employees stay attached to a job longer. This change is retroactive for any temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 that occurred on or after March 17.
  • Scheduling flexibility is improved by removing the 24-hour written notice requirement for shift changes, and the two weeks’ notice for changes to work schedules for those under an averaging agreement.
  • The requirement to provide the group termination notice to employees and unions when 50 or more employees are being terminated is removed.
  • The process for approvals related to modifying employment standards so employers and workers can respond quicker to changing conditions at the workplace due to the public health emergency is streamlined.
  • The changes above take effect immediately and will be in place as long as government determines it is needed and the public health emergency order remains.

Day Cares Opened for Essential Workers

  • In addition to the previously eligible front-line health-care workers, critical infrastructure workers and first responders, child care is now available to anyone who works in the critical areas outlined as essential by government. A full list of those essential service positions can be found here
  • Parents who qualify for subsidy will receive it and centres will charge their typical rate, within reason. Per direction from Dr. Hinshaw, parents who are eligible should only access this child care if it is the only way they will be able to go to their work in a core service sector. Child care centres accepting children can be found here

Student Loan Repayment Deferral:

  • Alberta Student Loan repayments will be paused for 6 months, beginning March 30, 2020.
  • Interest will not accrue during this period. This mirrors the approach of the Canada Student Loans Program.
  • Students do not need to apply for the repayment pause.
  • Borrowers may continue making payments during this period if they choose and this will not affect their eligibility to receive the benefit.

Education property tax freeze

  • The government will immediately cancel the decision made in Budget 2020 and will freeze education property taxes at last year’s level.
  • Reversing the 3.4 per cent population and inflation adjustment will save Alberta households and businesses about $87 million in 2020-21, which means $55 million for households and $32 million for employers.
  • The government expects that Albertans and Alberta businesses will fully realize these savings and that municipal property tax levels will not be increased as a result of the lower provincial education property tax levels.

Education property tax deferral for business

  • In the next six months, $458 million in cash will remain with employers to help them pay employees and continue operations.
  • The government expects municipalities to set education property tax rates as they normally would, but defer collection. Deferred amounts will be repaid in future tax years.
  • The government encourages commercial landlords to pass on these savings to their tenants through reduced or deferred payments. This will help employers continue to manage their debts, pay their employees and stay in business.
  • Businesses capable of paying their taxes in full are strongly encouraged to do so. This will assist the province in being able to support Albertans through this pandemic.

WCB premiums deferral for private sector businesses and support for small and medium businesses

  • Private sector employers will have immediate financial relief by deferring WCB premiums until early 2021, effectively for one year.
  • Employers who have already paid their WCB premium payment for 2020 are eligible for a rebate or credit.
  • For small and medium businesses, the government will cover 50 per cent of the premium when it is due.
  • Large employers will also receive a break by having their 2020 WCB premium payments deferred until 2021, at which time their premiums will be due.
  • Paying 50 per cent of small and medium private sector WCB premiums for 2020 will cost government approximately $350 million.

Mental Health Support

  • Albertans needing to talk to someone should call the Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642 or the Addiction Help Line at 1-866-332-2322 between 7 AM and 11 PM, seven days a week. You will be connected directly to a dedicated team of AHS addiction and mental health staff.
  • Calls placed from 11 PM to 7 AM should go to 811 (the HealthLink line)
  • The Psychology Association of Alberta is offering every Albertan up to 3 free crisis counselling sessions over the telephone or video conferencing during the COVID-19 crisis. Link here.

Parking Fees at AHS facilities waived

  • Starting April 3, parking at AHS facilities for staff and general public are waived. Please respect spots reserved for staff or emergency corridors.
  • This will cost the Government about $7.6 million/month in lost revenue, but will help keep everyone safe by eliminating the use of touch-screens; and eliminate the need for staff to apply for passes

Other Measures affecting Alberta individuals and communities

  • $500 million in additional health care funding
  • $25 million for Adult homeless shelters
  • $5 million for Women's Emergency Shelters
  • Two-month extension of driver’s licence, vehicle registration and ID card expiry date
  • Vehicle access to provincial parks and provincial recreation areas has been closed to protect parks staff and enforce physical distancing. If you need a vehicle to visit a recreational area, don't go. Facilities such as washrooms and picnic shelters are closed. 
  • Large gatherings are now restricted to no more than 15 people; and physical distancing protocols and safety measures (such as availability of sanitizer) must be in place. This measure applies both indoors and outdoors.
  • Most non-essential businesses are asked to close, including personal care businesses, clothing, computer and gaming, furniture and more. For more information: Restrictions on gatherings and businesses.
    • For the list of essential businesses permitted to stay open: visit Essential Services.The list includes food stores (human and pets), hardware, health and pharmaceutical, office supplies, fuel stations, liquor and cannabis outlets, motor vehicle repair and many facilities that support industry and commerce
  • Alberta has introduced restrictions on people visiting hospitals, long term care homes, group homes and similar facilities. Details online here.

Other Measures affecting Business

  • Hotels and other lodging providers can defer the payment of the Tourism Levy until August 31. This applies to amounts that come due March 27 or later, and should free up about $5 million in cash flow to help retain employees and maintain their operations and facilities.
  • The collection of corporate income tax balances and installment payments is deferred until Aug. 31. This gives Alberta businesses access to about $1.5 billion in funds to help maintain operations.
  • Utility payments for residential, farm and small commercial customers can be deferred for the next 90 days to ensure no one is cut off from electricity and natural gas services during this time of crisis.
  • Government will pay the Alberta Energy Regulator industry levy for six months, saving our resource industry $113 million in cash flow
  • Extensions for oil and gas tenures will extend the term of mineral agreements expiring in 2020 by one year
  • Two-month extension of filing deadline for annual returns with Alberta Corporate Registry: value of up to $6.3 million
  • Timber dues are deferred for six months to help forestry companies continue to operate and employ Albertans (Alberta's third largest industry)

Banks and Credit Unions

  • ATB Financial customers
    • Personal and business banking customers can apply for relief such as a deferral on their ATB loans, lines of credit, and mortgages for up to 6 months
  • Alberta Credit Unions
    • Credit union members will have access to a variety of programs and solutions: contact your credit union directly to work out a plan for your situation
  • Big Six Banks
    • The big banks have made a commitment to work with personal and business customers on a case-by-case basis. Support could include a 6-month payment deferral on mortgages and relief on other credit products. Contact your bank directly; for more information visit: Support from Big Six Banks

City of Calgary Information

Enmax Flexibility

  • Enmax is offering the opportunity to pay by installment, extend payment due dates, and suspend any current collection action
  • Enmax commits that no electricity will be turned off during the pandemic

Tax Changes for Business

  • Any Business Improvement Area (BIA) tax penalties between April 1 and June 30 are cancelled. This means that any business that has not already paid their BIA tax has until June 30, 2020 to pay penalty free. A penalty of 7% would apply to taxes outstanding as of July 1, 2020.
  • Non-residential property owners participating on Tax installment payment plan (TIPP) will see a decrease in your April 1 installment equal to the provincial property tax portion of your tax installment. This portion has been deferred for six months.

University of Calgary and Mount Royal University

  • Mount Royal Students' Association is offering food hampers and short term loans of $300: https://www.samru.ca/
  • University of Calgary Students Union offers up to $1500 from the Hardship Fund; the Graduate Students' association is also setting up an Emergency Fund: U of C Hardship Fund

City Information

  • For more information on COVID19 impacts, such as facility closures, event cancellations, refunds for city passes, programs, rentals and booking, and city services offered online, visit: CalgaryCOVID19
  • For changes to city services including waste collection, animal services, planning department, and transit, visit:Calgary Service Changes
  • For more information for businesses, visit: Calgary Business COVID-19

 

Links for More Information:

Government of Canada COVID-19 Home Page

Support for Individuals

Support for Business

Advice for Travelers

Alberta COVID-19 Homepage

City of Calgary COVID-19 Homepage

How to Self-Isolate

 

Other Contact Information

Canadians abroad in need of emergency consular assistance can call Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885, or email sos@international.gc.ca

Canada Public Health:
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html

World Health Organization:
https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

Alberta Health Services:
https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/

The Facts about Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 is an illness caused by a coronavirus. Human coronaviruses are common and are typically associated with mild illnesses, similar to the common cold.

Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to the virus. Coronaviruses are most commonly spread from an infected person through:
· Respiratory droplets when you cough or sneeze
· Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
· Touching something with the virus on it, then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands

These viruses are not known to spread through ventilation systems or through water.

The best way to prevent the spread of infections is to:

· Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, especially with unwashed hands; avoid close contact with people who are sick;
· Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
· When coughing or sneezing:
· Cover you mouth and nose with your arm or tissues to reduce the spread of germs
· Immediately dispose of any tissues you have used into the garbage as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards
· Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as toys, electronic devices and doorknobs
· Stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading illness to others.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19—fever, cough, or difficult breathing:
· Stay home to avoid spreading it to others
· If you live with others, stay in a separate room or keep a two-meter distance
· Go online for a self-assessment, and if that assessment advises you to do so, call 811 for a further assessment and referral for a test
· If you need immediate medical attention, call 911 and tell them your symptoms, but ONLY if you feel you are in a life threatening situation. Keep 911 open for real emergencies.

UPDATE: If you are in mandatory self-isolation (includes returning Canadians, anyone with symptoms, anyone close to a person who is sick) you may no longer leave your property. You may not leave the property even for neighbourhood walks; if you live in an apartment/highrise, you may not leave your unit and may not use the elevator or stairwells.

 

Vulnerable Populations and COVID-19

While diseases can make anyone sick, some Canadians are more at risk of getting an infection and developing severe complications due to their health, social and economic circumstances.

Vulnerable populations may include:

Anyone who is:
· An older adult
· At risk due to underlying medical conditions (e.g. heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, cancer)
· At risk due to a compromised immune system from a medical condition or treatment (e.g. chemotherapy)

Anyone who has:
· Difficulty reading, speaking, understanding or communicating
· Difficulty accessing medical care or health advice
· Difficulty doing preventive activities, like frequent hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes
· Ongoing specialized medical care or needs specific medical supplies
· Ongoing supervision needs or support for maintaining independence
· Unstable employment or inflexible working conditions
· Social or geographic isolation, like in remote and isolated communities
· Insecure, inadequate, or nonexistent housing conditions