Federal Economic Response Plan announced March 18, 2020: Temporary Income Support for Workers and Parents
1) Deferral of the personal tax filing date to June 1, 2020. Tax returns should still be filed as soon as possible if you are eligible for a refund or you receive income tested benefits such as the Canada Child Benefit (CCB).
2)Tax payment deferral to September 1, 2020 with no interest or penalties. If you do not have paid sick leave and are sick, quarantined or forced to stay home to care for children, the federal government is:
3) Waiving the one-week waiting period for Employment Insurance (EI). This is a temporary measure effective March 15th.
4) Waiving the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits.
5) Introducing the Emergency Care Benefit which pays $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks. This benefit is targeted for self-employed workers who are not covered by EI who are quarantined or sick with Covid-19. This does include self-employed individuals who are taking care of a family member who is sick with Covid-19. Also eligible for the benefit are parents with children who require care or supervision due to school closures and are unable to earn employment income.
Application for the Emergency Care Benefit will be available in April 2020. The application will require Canadians to attest that they meet the eligibility requirements. This will be done through CRA’s ‘MyAccount’, My Service Canada Account or yet to be announced toll free number.
Our Comments: All indications from our senior politicians and public health officials is that the rapidly escalating outbreak of the Covid-19 will force a major shut down of our economy for the foreseeable future and that this is being done due to concerns that the health system may get overwhelmed with patients at or near the peak of this outbreak.
The main mechanism through which the Federal government will get money into the hands of Canadians to help pay bills is through Employment Insurance benefits programs. There are regular EI benefits, Sickness benefits and others types of benefits available depending on your personal circumstances. Thousands, if not millions, of Canadians will be soon be laid off and will need to apply for EI Benefits and they should do so as soon as possible after being laid off. EI Sickness Benefits will provide up to 15 weeks of financial assistance if you cannot work for medical reasons.
There are many Canadians who will not qualify for the regular EI or sickness EI benefits because they are self employed. This is the reason for the introduction of the Emergency Care Benefit. This ECB would pay $900 bi-weekly compared to $573 per week in the EI program. EI benefits can be applied for at the following link https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei.html As mentioned above, self-employed individuals should setup a CRA ‘MyAccount’ or Service Canada My Service Canada Account so that you apply for the Emergency Care Benefit when the application becomes available in April. If you do not have an online CRA MyAccount, I would recommend that register for one.