Government benefits and supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

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To help Canadians during this pandemic, the Government of Canada has introduced an aid package consisting of the following:

  1. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
  2. The Canada Student Emergency Benefit (CESB)
  3. A special one-time goods and services tax credit (GST/HST credit) payment
  4. Increased Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment amount for May
  5. Additional support for Canadian Seniors
  6. Extended filing and payment due dates for the 2019 tax season

The CERB

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit is a temporary income support for individuals who stopped working, had a reduction in work, or who are without employment or self-employment income for reasons related to COVID-19. It provides $500 a week for up to a maximum of 16 weeks. Eligibility details are on the website but if you have a unique situation or are unsure if you qualify, answer the Questionnaire on the CERB page.

CERB benefits are available from March 15 to October 3, 2020. Applications started last April 6, 2020 through a secure portal at Canada.ca. Those who applied through the CRA will need to re-apply every four weeks to continue receiving payments.

Read Applying for the CERB? 5 things you need to know today or go to the CERB portal. If you have further questions, you can:

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The CESB

The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) is a taxable benefit that provides relief for eligible students for a maximum of 16 weeks. They will receive $1,250 for each 4-week period or $2,000 for each 4-week period if they have dependents or a disability.

Check your eligibility on this page: Who can apply. Application began May 15, 2020. Students can apply online or by phone.

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One-time GST/HST credit payment

Low and modest-income individuals and families were given a one-time special Goods and Services Tax payment in April. The average individual benefit was close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples. The extra payment amount was calculated based on the 2018 tax return.

You received this automatically if you have been receiving the GST/HST payments regularly.

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Increased Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment in May

Parents will receive more than their usual CCB payment in May. It may amount to an increase of $300 per child, with the exact additional benefit based on their family net income information on their 2018 tax return. Those who did not file their 2018 tax returns may do late filing. This will allow them to get retroactive benefits and credits. If you have questions, call the hotline for account specific information on GSTC or CCB payments: 1-800-387-1193.

Update: Aside from this one-time increase in May, the CCB will increase to a maximum benefit of $6,765 per child under age 6, and $5,708 per child aged 6 through 17. This will begin in July, 2020 to help families keep up with the costs of living and raising their children.

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Additional support for Canadian seniors

Additional measures to help Canadian seniors and provide them with greater financial security this time of crisis were launched in May:

  • A one-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension, with an additional $200 for those eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).
  • Expanding the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) to support organizations that offer community-based projects that reduce isolation, improve the quality of life of seniors, and help them maintain a social support network.
  • Temporary extension of GIS and Allowance payments if seniors’ 2019 income information has not been assessed. This will ensure that the most vulnerable seniors continue to receive their benefits.

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Extended filing and payment due dates for the 2019 tax season

Tax return filing and payment dates (for those who need to pay taxes) have been pushed to June this year. Individuals, businesses and other entities may check the deadlines on the CRA site: Extended filing and payment deadlines.

There are three ways to do your taxes:

  1. Online – Use free tax software available at Canada.ca: NETFILE.
  2. On paper – Download a tax package: Income Tax Package
  3. With the help of CVITP or a service provider:

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Direct Deposit

The easiest way to get your benefits is through direct deposit. You can sign up:

  • Online – Use CRA’s My Account or the MyCRA mobile apps
  • By phone – Contact 1-800-959-8281
  • Through financial institutions – Ask your financial institution how you can set up your account for direct deposit.

If you prefer not to have direct deposit, the government will send your benefit checks by mail.


If you have further questions about these benefits (or other Federal COVID-19 benefits and supports):

 
Article updated May 19, 2020.
 
Source: Understanding the CERB and other Federal Support (Webinar), Canada Revenue Agency and Service Canada. Sponsored by the Portage Learning and Literacy Centre. May 13, 2020. MANSO, May 19, 2020.

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Community Resources

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has translated 10 questions and answers about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) into multiple languages. This link also includes some information regarding the Canada Child Benefit in 10 common languages other than English and French.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has a list of resources related to COVID-19, many of which are available in multiple languages. Fact sheets, infographics and videos with key public health advice on COVID-19 are added and updated regularly.

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