COVID

SUPPORT DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Information about COVID-19 restrictions and aid programs are changing regularly. I recommend you use these links to go to federal and provincial websites, which are updated regularly, to get the detailed information that you need.

Canada

Information about COVID-19: what is it, how does it spread, how do you protect yourself, false information.
COVID-19 Benefit Programs from the Government of Canada.  Links to the whole range of Canadian benefit programs start on this page, for both businesses and individuals.
Travel Restrictions.  Information about restrictions imposed by the Government of Canada for persons travelling to Canada from abroad.

Alberta

COVID-19 Information Specific to Alberta. Includes information about vaccination eligibility and distribution, testing, and current restrictions.

Not sure what to look for? Find Aid Programs for you and your business (Canada): An online tool helps individuals and businesses identify programs for which you may qualify: Interactive Guide to COVID-19 Aid Programs

Summary of Current Federal Supports

Use the links to find current information about eligibility and how to apply.

Canada Recovery Benefit is for workers who are self-employed or are not eligible for EI; it is worth $500 per week for up to 38 weeks. You will need to re-apply every two weeks, and can claim up to a total of 38 weeks between Sept 27, 2020 and Sept 25, 2021. You must have experienced a 50% loss of your usual income. Get more information here.

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit provides compensation for workers who are ill or who must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19. Get more information here. It provides $500/week, up to 4 weeks. Benefit is $450 after taxes are withheld, and you must reapply for each week

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit is for workers who are unable to work because they are caring for a child, dependent or family member because schools or daycares are closed due to COVID-19. The benefit is $500 per week ($450 after $50 in taxes is withheld). You may receive benefits for a total of 38 weeks (do not have to be consecutive) between Sept 27, 2020 and Sept 25, 2021. Get more information here.

There is further information here: recovery benefits

Employment Insurance

  • CERB and EI were blended and reconfigured effective September 27. CERB has been discontinued.
  • Period for which you may receive EI benefits has been increased to 50 weeks from 26 weeks
  • Please take note that these benefits (as was the case with CERB) will be taxable when you file your 2020 taxes, and you may owe a portion of your benefits. Some tax will be deducted at source (that is, deducted from the amount you receive).

2020 Taxes

  • Benefits received to support Canadians during COVID are taxable on your 2020 taxes.
  • Please use this link for more information on what slips you will receive, how to report your benefit income, and what to do if you encounter a problem.

Child Care

  • November 30: The Economic Update promised a one-time increase to the Canada Child Benefit of up to $1200 for 2021

Long Term Care

  • November 30: The Economic Update promised $1 Billion for a Safe Long Term Care Fund. There were few details, but it is understood the money will go to provinces who agree to a number of federal terms and conditions.

Support for Disabled Persons (June 5)

A special one-time, tax-free payment to individuals who were certificate holders of the Disability Tax Credit as of June 1, 2020, as follows:

  • $600 for Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate.  
  • $300 for Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate and who are eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension.
  • $100 for Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate and who are eligible for the OAS pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).

Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)

  • This program has now concluded. There is no opportunity for retroactive applications.

Canada Student Service Grant

  • This program did not proceed.

Canada Summer Jobs Program/Internships

  • The 2021 Canada Summer Jobs program launched on December 21. 120,000 jobs will be funded, both full and part time, between April 26, 2021 and February 26, 2022. Employers may receive up to 75% of the provincial minimum wage; not-for-profits may receive up to 100%. The portal for employer applications closed on January 29, 2021. 
  • A summary of student support jobs funding, with links to the programs, can be found here: Student Jobs Funding

Canada Student Loan Payments

  • The deferral of Canada Student Loan payments ended at the end of September. Payments must now resume.
  • However, interest will not be charged on Student Loans or Apprentice Loans in 2021

Support for Seniors

  • A one-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the OAS, and an additional $200 for seniors eligible for the GIS. 
  • To see the announcement: Aid to Seniors

 

 

Canadians Abroad and Returning Travelers

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. Visit the webpage pertaining to returning travellers and quarantine restrictions here: Returning to Canada.

Effective February 22, for travellers arriving by air: In addition to the PCR test taken at the point of origin 72 hours prior to boarding the aircraft, travellers will receive a PCR test upon arrival and must quarantine for up to three days in an approved hotel while awaiting results. Assuming a negative test, the traveller may then proceed home (or to a connecting flight within Canada) to finish self-quarantine according to an approved plan filed on the ArriveCan app. See here for full details and list of approved hotels. Vaccinated people are not exempt.

Effective February 15, non-essential travellers crossing at land borders must show a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours, and must take another (at the land crossing if they are available, which is expected to be the 16 busiest crossings, or later if necessary with the requirement to report the results).  Non-essential land travellers must quarantine for 14 days, but there is no requirement for a hotel stay while waiting for the PCR test results. 93% of persons crossing at a land border are considered essential, typically truckers and other supply chain workers, or persons living on one side of the border but needing to cross for essential work or supplies. However, in cases that don't fit neatly into a definition, border crossing officials have considerable discretion in deciding what is essential.

Effective January 7 arriving travellers must have a negative PCR test (not a Rapid Test) taken in the country they are visiting, the sample taken no longer than 3 days prior to boarding the aircraft. This requirement does not apply to persons crossing the border by land/sea. There are few details available, especially for questions about how Canadians can access a PCR test in countries where access is not readily available, the circumstances in which airline employees abroad will be expected to refuse boarding to passengers lacking appropriate documentation, and what documentation will acceptable, especially from countries where such documentation does not meet Canadian standards or is not available in English or French. The policy indicates that laboratories conducting the test must be government approved, but does not offer a list of such laboratories abroad nor instructions about what to do if such a laboratory cannot be located. The phrasing of the information suggests that the test must be performed 72 hours prior to the scheduled departure time, which implies that a delayed departure (or delays en route) will not cause the test to expire, but the wording is not completely clear.

Information released by the government can be found here. 

If a Canadian returns home without documentary evidence of a negative test within 72 hours, the traveler will be required to spend 14 days in a government quarantine facility. 

This new requirement does not negate any other requirements currently in place, including the requirement for a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period, even if you have the negative PCR test in hand. The government says that the inability to obtain a timely PCR test will not qualify the traveller for Government of Canada loans to travelers or consular financial assistance; nor can Canadian Embassies/Consulates assist in obtaining the PCR test.

The government has still not released a list of approved labs in other countries. For the US, this link takes you to government public health websites for each state. You may have to dig to find it, but most state sites list facilities offering COVID testing.

Travel from UK and South Africa

  • Alberta is asking any traveller who has arrived from (or recently been in) the UK, Brazil or South Africa since December 7 - whether or not they have symptoms - to be immediately tested for COVID-19 and quarantine for 14 days regardless of whether they receive a negative result.

November 23: The Minister of International Affairs made clear that Canada will not be repatriating Canadians who are stranded abroad, and reiterated that Canadians should not be travelling internationally, and if they must do so, should arrange adequate travel and health insurance, and consider the state of affairs in the destination country. Canada will not do another round of repatriation flights.

Ban on non-essential visitors to Canada

The ban on foreign (non-essential) travelers continues. This applies to nationals of all countries - no countries are exempted. Note below the provisions for family reunification of Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

Canada-US Border 

  • Access across the Canada-US border is restricted to necessary travel only, such as that required to move goods across the border.
  • Persons entering Canada from the US at a land border must have a negative PCR test taken in the US within 72 hours of their crossing; and will be given a second kit to self-test and report the results on ArriveCan. They must also file an appropriate self-quarantine plan on ArriveCan and be prepared for monitored and checking in provisions.
  • The government has loosened restrictions on first year US students planning to come to Canada to study. An update posted July 24 says a student coming from the US may no longer need a study permit that was issued on or before March 18 (the day border restrictions were announced). As well, Citizenship, Refugees and Immigration Canada now says border officers will accept a "port of entry letter of introduction''that shows the student was approved for a study permit, in lieu of a permit approved before March 18.

Family Reunification (June 8)

  • A survey suggests that decisions at borders are being made in a highly arbitrary manner at the discretion of the border officials, with insufficient guidance on how to make the determination. Conservatives have called on the government to provide clear and predictable guidance to border officials so that citizens know what to expect and whether they will be allowed to cross the border. On June 8, the government provided some of that guidance as it pertains to family reunification. 
  • June 8: Prime Minister said that effective midnight June 9, they are prepared to make an exemption for the immediate family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents to come to Canada from the US
  • “Immediate family members” is defined as spouses, common-law partners, dependent children and their children, parents and legal guardians. Note that some common law partners who are not citizens of Canada have reported trouble at the border. Bring documentation showing, for example, co-habitation (same address on documents for both persons).
  • Persons arriving in Canada remain subject to a 14-day quarantine (see above for quarantine requirements) and must attest they intend to remain in Canada at least 15 days. Those arriving in Alberta will be subject to Alberta's screening process (see below)
  • Not eligible are relatives of temporary residents of Canada, such as those on student or work visas.
  • The measure is intended to reunite families that were caught by the border closing on March 20. It is not intended to facilitate social gatherings or attendance at personal events; it is not to allow people to "come and go" between the countries.
  • Persons requiring them must still present the appropriate visa or electronic travel authorization.
  • September 18: Conservatives have asked the government to extend compassionate measures for people who have been separated for a long period of time but do not fall within the narrow definition of "family", such as the not-yet-married (fiances), LGBTQ partners, families in process of adopting children, and common law couples (the rules have not been consistent). 
  • October 2: The government announced some loosening of the definition of "family" to allow for more members of a family to reunite, and compassionate visits to relatives who are seriously ill or at risk of dying; and for overseas university students in some situations. These changes are expected to take effect October 8. For more information click here.

Calgary International Airport

  • June 17: Masks for passengers and employees are now mandatory at the airport and on all flights.
  • January 19, 2021: Access to the Calgary International Airport is now restricted to only passengers and employees. Some exemptions are in place for people requiring an aide to assist their mobility, minors travelling alone who must be accompanied by an adult, and persons staying in the adjacent hotel. All persons who are greeting arriving passengers, or dropping off departing passengers, must do so from outside the building. 

Passport Services

  • If you have proof of travel within 30 days and require a passport, you may now request an in-person interview at Service Canada to expedite your passport.
  • For valid reasons to travel urgently and how to apply, go to:COVID-19 passport services

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:

Canadian Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)

This program replaces the former CECRA program with several revisions. It is retroactive to September 27, 2020 and available until June 2021.

The government's announcement is here.

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

  • This measure will allow banks to give up to $60,000 in government-backed loans, with no interest for a year, and the possibility that up to $20,000 will be forgiven. Applications opened April 9 and are extended to June 30, 2021; you will need to have on-line business banking set up with your bank.
  • Credit unions are now also enabled to offer these loans to their clients

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

  • November 30: The Economic Update said that CEWS will be increased to 75% from 65%. This will be effective in Period 11 which started December 19. See the website to calculate your eligibility and to apply for retroactive payments at the previous rates. The 75% rate is guaranteed until mid-March at which time the government may choose to change it.
  • More information at: Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) (May 11)

  • See announcement here: LEEFF Program for large businesses
  • May 20: the program is now open for applications. See the fact sheet here: https://www.cdev.gc.ca/leeff-factsheet/
  • Open to large for-profit businesses for the next 12 months – with the exception of the financial sector – as well as certain not-for-profit businesses, such as airports, with annual revenues generally in the order of $300 million or higher. The money is intended to maintain employees, not bail out other costs.
  • To qualify, businesses must be seeking financing of $60 million or more (there is no maximum) and have significant operations or workforce in Canada

HASCAP

The government will introduce HASCAP on February 1 for the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) to provide loans of between $25,000 and $1 million to heavily impacted business. These loans are for small and medium-sized businesses that have seen their revenues decrease by 50% or more as a result of COVID-19. The interest rate is 4% and loans are repayable over 10 years with a possible postponement of principal payments for the first 12 months. The program is open until June 30, 2021. Apply through your financial institution. More info at the link above.

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.

  • BCAP has been extended to June 2021.

PPE Supply Hub

  • The government has created a web page to assist businesses in sourcing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment):PPE Supply Hub

Regional Relief and Recovery Funds

  • Funds have been allocated to the Regional Development agencies and are now available for application
  • For Western Canada, visit the Western Economic Diversification site for a guide to who is eligible: WEDC programs and eligibility
  • You are not eligible if you have received a CEBA loan, are a sole proprietor, or are in an area served by the Community Futures 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.

Government of Alberta Support and COVID-19 Measures

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 about COVID-19 and for links with more information about all of these measures: Coronavirus Info for Albertans

Vaccine Rollout

 The rollout schedule is here.

Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant

  • This grant offers financial assistance to Alberta businesses, cooperatives, and non-profit organizations that faced restrictions or closures from public health orders, and experienced a revenue loss of at least 30 per cent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Eligible job creators can apply for up to $20,000 through this program.
  • Information here.

Contact Tracing App

  • The ABTraceTogether app will enhance current manual contact tracing and capacity, and facilitate early detection to help reduce the spread of the virus and better protect Albertans. It means Albertans will be contacted more quickly if they are at risk. The app is now available from the Apple App Store and Google Play.
  • Use of the app is voluntary; users must opt in.
  • The app does not track the user’s physical location and does not use GPS. Protecting privacy is paramount; all contact data is only on the user’s phone and is deleted after 21 days.
  • The difference between the Alberta provincial app and the federal app is that the provincial app synchronizes with the provincial contact tracing system; the federal app is not a contact tracing app - it simply alerts the user who is then responsible for arranging a test, alerting their contacts and taking other required actions.

Support for Businesses Preparing to Re-open

  • The new alberta.ca/bizconnect webpage will provide business owners with information on health and safety guidelines for general workplaces and sector-specific guidelines for those able to open in stage one of relaunch to ensure businesses can reopen safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • $200 million in funding will be available for eligible businesses and non-profits to access up to $5,000 to offset a portion of their relaunch costs. These funds can be used for implementing measures to minimize the risk of virus transmission, (such as physical barriers, personal protective equipment and disinfecting supplies), rent, employee wages or replacement of inventory.

Support Contacts for Albertans in Distress

  • Always call 911 in an emergency.
  • Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence
    • 1-866-402-8000 (toll-free, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., 170-plus languages)
    • Online chat: aasas.ca
  • Family Violence Info Line
    • 310-1818 (24-7, 170-plus languages)
    • Online chat: alberta.ca/SafetyChat (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in English only)
  • Alberta Provincial Abuse Helpline
    • 1-855-4HELPAB (43-5722) (toll-free, 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Friday, 170-plus languages)
  • Child Abuse Hotline
    • 1-800-387-KIDS (5437) (toll-free, 24-7)
  • Mental Health Helpline
    • 1-877-303-2642 (toll-free, 24-7)
  • Elder Abuse
  • 211 Alberta
    • Call or text 211 for further community and government supports throughout the province in multiple languages.

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.
  • $53 million is allocated to improve access to phone and online supports with existing helplines, including the Addiction Helpline, the Mental Health Helpline, the Kids Help Phone and the Community and Social Services Helpline (Alberta 211).

City of Calgary Information

Nov 26: State of Emergency

  • The City has again declared a state of emergency. This allows - amongst other powers - city enforcement officers to ensure citizens are obeying provincial rules on social gatherings, mask wearing etc., and to issue fines for non-compliance.
  • The state of emergency provides certain emergency powers to city officials to make decisions outside normal procedures including on procurement of PPE
  • The previous state of emergency was lifted on June 12.

Mask Use Mandatory

  • July 21: City Council has made the use of masks mandatory when inside a publicly-accessible building (e.g. offices, retail, recreation) or using public transportation (including transit, cabs/Uber)
  • Policy is effective August 1
  • Masks are not required in private office spaces, private vehicles, schools
  • Exempted persons include children under 2, persons with medical condition or disability making it difficult to use a mask
  • Masks are not required for outdoor physical activity and, of course, when eating, drinking, having dental work or similar situations where a mask impedes the activity
  • Fine is $100 for not wearing a mask; $200 for businesses not displaying signage. Businesses are not expected to enforce mask wearing. Police are not expected to avidly enforce mask wearing - the intent of the policy is education and persuasion.

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

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 [email protected]

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.

The Province of Alberta has added new symptoms to the list of conditions that could signal you have COVID-19:

    • Gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or unexplained loss of appetite
    • Loss of sense of smell or taste
    • Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye

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