As we sit in the midst of uncharted territory in relation to the Covid-19 virus, the only thing we know is the fallout is immense. The health consequences were initially at the forefront of everyone’s mind, but it is rapidly becoming apparent that they are the tip of the iceberg of the true consequences of the pandemic. The financial impact of the pandemic is going to be immense on both individuals and businesses. The future months and possibly years will tell the true story. Tumbling stock markets and loss of income and business will take an unknown amount of time to recover from.
The government has indicated that there is going to be financial support to reduce the impact. There are also other measures being announced. We will follow what the supports are and pass the information on as we learn about it. Hopefully it will be enough to get most people through these troubling times.
Nova Scotia Power has announced that it will work with people to make arrangements on their power bill. NSPC has also indicated that it will not disconnect power during the pandemic. It is key to remember that is a deferral – it is not forgiveness. The power bill will have to paid in the future thus increasing monthly payments. The customer care centre can be reached at 1-800-428-6230.
CRA – INCOME TAX
The Canada Revenue Agency has announced that the deadline for filing income taxes has been extended to June 30, 2020. The deadline for paying 2020 income tax liabilities has been extended until July 31, 2020.
It is important to note that is important for those who receive Child Tax Benefit to file their return as soon as possible so that their entitlement for the 2019 – 2020 tax year is calculated correctly (which commences in July)
EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE (EI)/ EMERGENCY SUPPORT BENEFITS
For Canadians without paid sick leave (or similar workplace accommodation) who are sick, quarantined or forced to stay home to care for children, the Government is:
• Waiving the one-week waiting period for those individuals in imposed quarantine that claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits. This temporary measure is in effect as of March 15, 2020.
• Waiving the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits.
• Introducing the Emergency Care Benefit providing up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks. This flat-payment Benefit would be administered through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and provide income support to:
o Workers, including the self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
o Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent, but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
o Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school or daycare closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify for EI or not.
Application for the Benefit will be available in April 2020, and require Canadians to attest that they meet the eligibility requirements. They will need to re-attest every two weeks to reconfirm their eligibility. Canadians will select one of three channels to apply for the Benefit:
1. by accessing it on their CRA MyAccount secure portal;
2. by accessing it from their secure My Service Canada Account; or
3. by calling a toll free number equipped with an automated application process.
Longer-Term Income Support for Workers
For Canadians who lose their jobs or face reduced hours as a result of COVID’s impact, the Government is:
• Introducing an Emergency Support Benefit delivered through the CRA to provide up to $5.0 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 hour 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. This was announced by the Prime Minister on March 11, 2020.
A six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying these loans has been implemented.
MORTGAGE PAYMENT DEFERRAL
A mortgage deferral means that you will not be required to make regular payments on your mortgage for up to 6 months, if you qualify. During the time you defer your mortgage payments, interest will continue to accrue – so your payments will be slightly higher after the deferral period ends. You will pay more interest over the life of your mortgage, but a deferral will also help you with your short-term cash flow.
Contact your bank to discuss your eligibility for a mortgage payment deferral.
CREDIT RELIEF BY BANKS
In a joint press release on March 17, 2020, the six major Canadian banks—Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank and TD Bank—announced new measures to support Canadians facing financial hardship due to COVID-19. These institutions have committed to enacting immediate, flexible solutions to help Canadians manage challenges such as pay disruption, childcare disruption or illness due to COVID-19, stating, “This support will include up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages, and the opportunity for relief on other credit products.”
If you find yourself struggling despite all of the measures, please reach out to us. We can review your situation with you and help you evaluate your options. Many Canadians were living in a “payday to payday” situation prior to this pandemic. The loss of income, increase in expenses and reduction in value of investments will be devastating to many people in Nova Scotia.