Uncertainty about the current situation is causing anxiety for employees and employers alike. Federal, provincial, and municipal governments are helping with various support programs.

Federal Support

Employment Insurance (For those who have lost their job or are being laid off because of COVID-19 and are not sick)

Apply for EI Regular Benefits

Employment Insurance (For those affected by COVID-19 & placed in quarantine only)

  • Provides 15 weeks of financial assistance at 55% of earnings, to a maximum of $537 weekly
  • The one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined so they can be paid for the first week of their claim
  • People claiming EI sickness benefits because of quarantine will not have to provide a medical certificate
  • People who cannot complete their claim for EI sickness benefits because of quarantine may apply later and have their EI claim backdated to cover the period of delay
  • Payments start 28 days after application is submitted
  • Workers can apply here
  • A new toll-free phone number has been set up for inquiries about waiving the EI benefits waiting period: 1-833-381-2725
Apply for EI Sickness Benefits

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

  • For Canadians who 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. Applies whether they are eligible for EI or not
  • Also applies to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI)
  • CERB will be available for four months
  • The portal for accessing the CERB will be available in early April
  • Taxable benefit that provides $2,000 a month for up to four months
  • Payments can be expected within 10 days of application, payable every four weeks from March 15 until October 3, 2020
  • Canadians already receiving EI regular and sickness benefit as of today will continue to receive their benefits should not apply for CERB.
Learn more: CERB

Increased Child Care Benefit

  • Government of Canada is providing an extra $300 per child through the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for 2019-20
  • Will be delivered as part of the scheduled CCB payment in May
  • Those who already receive the CCB do not need to re-apply
Learn more: Child Care Benefit

Special Goods and Services Tax Credit Payment

  • Government of Canada is providing a one-time special payment by early May through the Goods and Services Tax credit for low- and modest-income families
  • The average additional benefit will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples
  • There is no need to apply for this payment; if you are eligible, you will get it automatically
Learn more: GST Tax Credit Payment

Deferred Filing of Federal Taxes & Collection of Tax Balances

  • Extends the federal tax filing deadline to June 1, 2020
  • Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will allow all taxpayers to defer until September 1, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18, 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act
  • No interest or late payment penalties during this period
  • Exception: Any taxpayers with taxes already due (for example, three months after a November 30 year-end) will not qualify for a deferral. Instalments that should have been paid up until today are also not covered by the deferral relief
  • For self-employed individuals or those who have spouses or common-law partners that are self-employed, the deadline to pay taxes has also been deferred to August 31, 2020; however, income tax and benefit returns still needs to be filed by June 15, 2020
  • It may be advisable for individuals to prepare their 2019 taxes well ahead of the June 1 deadline if they are in a refund position, so they will receive their refund earlier.

The communication provided is intended to be for informational purposes only and we strongly encourage businesses and individuals to consult a tax advisor to ensure their situation is assessed appropriately.

Learn more: Income Tax Deferrals

Reducing Withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs)

  • Reducing required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25% for 2020, in recognition of volatile market conditions and their impact on many seniors’ retirement savings.
  • Will provide flexibility to seniors that are concerned that they may be required to liquidate their RRIF assets to meet minimum withdrawal requirements.
  • Similar rules would apply to individuals receiving variable benefit payments under a defined contribution Registered Pension Plan.
Learn more: RRIFs

Temporary Moratorium on Repayment of Canada Student Loans

  • Federal Government is placing a 6-month, interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying these loans.
Learn more: Student Loans

Provincial Support

Emergency Isolation Support: $50 million

  • Temporary program for working adult Albertans who must self-isolate because they meet the Government of Alberta’s published criteria for self-isolation, including persons who are the sole caregiver for a dependent who must self-isolate because they meet the public health criteria, and who will not have another source of pay or compensation while they are self-isolated
  • Distributed in one payment instalment and will bridge the gap until the federal emergency payments begin in April
  • We expect the program to be accessible by a simple online application through alberta.ca next week and that funds will be deposited in the accounts of eligible recipients beginning at that time
Learn more: Emergency Isolation Support

Increased Security for Alberta Renters

The Government of Alberta has announced new protections for renters, in light of the COVID-19 situation:

  • Effective immediately:
    • Tenants cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent and/or utilities before May 1
    • 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
    • Landlords & tenants need to work together to develop payment plans while the state of public health emergency is in effect
Learn more: Increased Security for Alberta Renters

Mental Health Support

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. It can depend on a person’s personality and experiences, their social and economic circumstances, and the availability of local resources.

Reactions to the COVID-19 situation may include:

  • Fear and worry about your own health status and that of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

Coping with these feelings and getting help when you need it will help you, your family, and your community recover. Connect with family, friends, and others in your community online or over the phone. Take care of yourself and each other, and know when and how to seek help.

Things you can do to support yourself:

  • Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19, and take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis continually.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy to return to your normal life.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Find ways to connect with others through phone calls, video calls, or online. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member.
  • Try to focus on the positive.
  • If you are feeling depressed or anxious, seek help.

Mental Health Resources

Helping Your Employees Navigate COVID-19

Mortgage Deferrals

  • Six largest banking institutions in Canada have made a commitment to work with personal & business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help them manage
  • Currently includes a maximum 6-month payment deferral for mortgages & opportunity for relief on other credit products
  • Done on a first come, first served basis and requires a direct call to your bank- the Government has a strong commitment from banks that they will be flexible
  • Contact your bank to make arrangements:
BMO 1-877-788-1923
CIBC 1-877-454-9030
RBC 1-800-769-2511
Scotiabank 1-833-315-4357
TD 1-888-730-0075
National Bank of Canada 1-844-394-4494

Utility Payment Deferrals

  • Residential, farm, & small commercial customers can defer bill payments for the next 90 days to ensure no one will be cut off from these services during this time
  • Covers electricity and natural gas, regardless of the service provider
  • Program only applies to customers who consume less than 2,500 gigajoules or 250,000 kWh per year & who are having difficulty paying their bills because they have been laid off through actions taken by the government to manage the COVID-19 situation
  • This is not a holiday or relief but a deferral program; this means that those Albertans that qualify will have to pay a large deferred bill at some point in the future
  • To request a deferral of your utility payments, contact your utility provider directly

Property taxes

Please check with your city/town for any accommodations being made for property tax payments.

Vehicle Leasing & Financing

If you are having difficulty making your vehicle payments to a major auto brand, contact them directly to discuss options. Many have offered to review requests on a case-by-case basis. Some major auto brands are offering 30-90 day payment deferrals and no late fees/interest penalties.

Shaw Free Wi-Fi for All & Free Channels for Shaw Customers

  • Shaw has opened up Shaw Go WiFi, Canada’s largest WiFi network, to everyone — whether or not they are a Shaw customer. They also have no data caps on their internet plans
  • All Shaw Cable and Shaw Direct customers have been given access to a number of channels for free during this period
  • If you are having concerns about paying your monthly Shaw internet bill because of the COVID-19 situation, Shaw will work with you to find a flexible payment arrangement
Shaw’s COVID-19 response

Job Seeker Resources

Staffy Employment Support

  • Staffy is a mobile app that connects workers to companies & organizations that need short-term labour (ranging from one day to a couple of months)
  • Is a temporary staffing platform and not a recruiting agency
  • Staffy started in hospitality, but is now shifting their focus to a range of other industries during the COVID-19 situation
  • Currently has about 30,000 contractors, but has recently launched in Alberta
  • To use Staffy, go to staffy.com and download the “staffyapp” in the app store
  • Text 587.355.2350 for issues or questions
Staffy.com

Alberta Seniors Communities & Housing Association (ASCHA)

  • ASCHA has encouraged its members to consider hiring employees from the hotel industry, as they offer a wealth of experience & customer service knowledge.
  • Job postings are now being posted on the ASCHA “Classifieds” web page
ASCHA Classified Ads

Please contact Tracy Douglas-Blowers, Director of Membership & Industry Relations, at tdblowers@ahla.ca or 780.423.9227 if you have other questions or need additional support.