Covid 19 Information Centre

The Coronavirus disease has created challenges across Canada and the world. It’s important to stay informed and educated so you’re equipped to take care of yourself, your family and your business.

We are ready to serve you and answer any questions you have about your employee benefits, insurance and investment. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We are here for you.

Covid 19 Information for Plan Members

The Coronavirus disease has created challenges across Canada and the world. It’s important to stay informed and educated so you’re equipped to take care of yourself, your family and your business.

We are ready to serve you and answer any questions you have about your employee benefits, insurance and investment. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We are here for you.

For Employees:

Group Benefits Plans: Information about your group benefits plans, you can contact us directly as we work with multiple insurance companies to provide you with the benefits or your insurance benefits provider.

Travel Coverage under your Group Benefits Plan: Effective March 13, there is an official global travel advisory to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice. Since the Canadian government’s official global travel advisory travelling to a destination outside of Canada can impact your travel insurance coverage. We recommend you contact your emergency medical travel provider or contact us directly and we can help.

Short-term Disability Claims: In light of the current situation, the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) has created and distributed a Plan Member Confirmation of Illness Form that’s been created specifically for use when submitting a Short-term Disability (STD) claim if the absence is due to COVID-19 disease. The CLHIA has communicated with all insurers in Canada to make them aware of the custom form. All insurers will accept this form to initiate an STD claim.

If you’re submitting a STD claim because of COVID-19 disease, complete the form according to the instructions provided on the document and submit it to your insurer. If you’re not sure who the insurer of your disability benefits is, contact us. You can also use claim forms provided by the insurer, but we recommend using the CLHIA form as it’s specifically designed for the diagnosis of COVID-19. (The CLHIA is a not-for-profit, membership-based organization that represents 99% of Canada’s life and health insurance companies.)

Employee Assistance Program: If your group benefits plan includes an employee assistance program (EAP), you can access the service directly, the contact information is in your plan member booklet. If you’re not able to find this information, please contact us. An EAP can help you deal with difficult situations.

Federal Government Resources:

How to apply for EI benefits for COVID-19 quarantines and other support programs

What are EI benefits for those quarantined with COVID-19?

Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits provide up to 15 weeks of income replacement and is available to eligible claimants who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine, to allow them time to restore their health and return to work. Canadians quarantined can apply for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits.

Is there a waiting period?

For quarantine because of COVID-19, the one week waiting period is waived. Contact the new dedicated toll-free phone number if you are in quarantine and seeking to waive the one-week EI sickness benefits waiting period so you can be paid for the first week of your claim:

  • Telephone: 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free)

  • Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-800-529-3742

What benefits does EI offer?

Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits can provide you with up to 15 weeks of financial assistance if you cannot work for medical reasons. You could receive 55% of your earnings up to a maximum of $573 a week.

Who qualifies for EI sick-leave benefits?

Employed Canadians who pay EI premiums and self-employed people registered for access to EI may be eligible for sickness benefits.

There are a number of factors that determine eligibility. You need to demonstrate that:

  • you’re unable to work for medical reasons

  • your regular weekly earnings from work have decreased by more than 40% for at least one week

  • you accumulated 600 insured hours* of work in the 52 weeks before the start of your claim or since the start of your last claim, whichever is shorter

*As an example, 600 hours are equivalent to 20 weeks of work at 30 hours a week.

While you’re receiving sickness benefits, you must remain available for work if it weren’t for your medical condition.

If you are self-employed and pay into EI, you have to wait at least 12 months from the date of your confirmed registration before you are eligible for sickness benefits. You must also meet all of the following conditions:

  • The amount of time you spend on your business has decreased by more than 40% for at least one week because of your medical condition

  • You earned a minimum amount of self-employed earnings during the calendar year before the year you apply for benefits. To receive benefits for 2020, you need to have earned at least $7,279 in 2019

What if I don’t qualify for EI?

In April, the government will be 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:

  • Workers, including the self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Do you need a Doctor’s note?

According to the Government of Canada’s website, people claiming EI sickness benefits due to quarantine will not have to provide a medical certificate.

How do I get started with the application for EI to see if I qualify?

The application for Employment Insurance can be found here:

Support for Business Owners and Employees Covid 19

We know that clients have questions about the Federal government’s economic response plan, we have included a summary of the information below for business owners, employees and other support that’s available. Please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here for you.

For Business Owners

  • Wage Subsidy: To support businesses that are facing revenue losses and to help prevent lay-offs, the government is proposing to provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months. The subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Businesses will be able to benefit immediately from this support by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration. Employers benefiting from this measure will include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities. Eligible for those with payroll under $1M.

  • Work-Sharing Program to support your Employees

  • BDC Loan Expansion Facility– Details and contact information on tapping into the expanded credit. You must have been in business for at least two years;  You must have more than $100,000 in annual gross revenues and should be profitable under normal operating conditions;  Owners and/or business should have good credit history; The program enables business owners to apply for a Loan or Line of Credit with BDC for up to $100,000 to be repaid within five years. The interest rate is set today at 3.3%, which is very low for a business loan. The application is done on-line, and applicants would need to have various financial documents available to upload to complete the application. The processing time is about 2-3 weeks at present.

  • Purchase Order Financial available through BDC

  • Facebook announces $100M grant program for small businesses– Facebook announced yesterday that it’s creating a $100 million grant program for small businesses. Applications aren’t open yet, but the company says this will include both ad credits and cash grants that can be spent on operational costs like paying workers and paying rent. It will be available to up to 30,000 businesses in the 30-plus countries where Facebook operates. Facebook has also created a Business Hub with tips and resources for businesses trying to survive during the outbreak.

For Employees

Tax support: 

  • Extending the tax filing deadline to June 1

  • Allowing taxpayers to defer tax payments until after August 31 (for amounts that are due after today and before September)

  • Temporarily boosting of the Canada Child Benefit payments

  • Banks deferring mortgage payments for up to 6 months- RBC, TD, BMO, CIBC, Scotiabank & National Bank.

  • Emergency Care Benefit” which offers up to $900 biweekly (for up to 15 weeks) to provide income support to workers who have to stay home and don’t have access to paid sick leave.

  • Six-month, interest-free reprieve on student loan payments. 

Coronavirus & Market Uncertainty – $82 billion in aid for Families and Businesses

On March 18th, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced a further $82 billion in support including $27 billion in direct support for Canadian workers and businesses. This is in addition to the $20 billion announced days earlier which includes $10 billion available through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to help small and medium-sized businesses.

To Support Canadians

Temporary Income Support for Workers and Parents

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 will be 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:

    • Workers, including the self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.

    • 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 quality for EI sickness benefits.

    • Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school 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. Number to be provided

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.

Income Support

For low and modest income families, the federal government will double the maximum annual Goods and Services Tax Credit (GSTC), providing an average income boost of:

  • $400 for low-income income individuals and

  • close to $600 for couples.

Canada Child Benefit (CCB)

The Government is proposing to increase the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment amounts, only for the 2019-20 benefit year, by $300 per child. The overall increase for families receiving CCB will be approximately $550 on average; these families will receive an extra $300 per child as part of their May payment.

Together, the proposed enhancements of the GSTC and CCB will give a single parent with two children and low to modest income nearly $1,500 in additional short-term support.

Retirees

For Retirees, the required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) will be reduced by 25% for 2020, in recognition of volatile market conditions and their impact on many seniors’ retirement savings.

Students

6 month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying these loans.

Tax Filing Deadline deferred

For individuals (other than trusts), the return filing due date will be deferred until June 1, 2020.  However, the Agency encourages individuals who expect to receive benefits under the GSTC or the Canada Child Benefit not to delay the filing of their return to ensure their entitlements for the 2020-21 benefit year are properly determined.

For trusts having a taxation year ending on December 31, 2019, the return filing due date will be deferred until May 1, 2020.

The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all taxpayers to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.

For Tax preparers and Taxpayers to reduce the need to meet, Digital Signatures will be accepted.

Mortgage Payment Deferral

Canada’s large banks have confirmed that this support will include up to a 6-month payment deferral for mortgages, and the opportunity for relief on other credit products.

To Support Businesses

Helping Businesses Keep their Workers

To support businesses that are facing revenue losses and to help prevent lay-offs, the government is proposing to provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months. The subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Businesses will be able to benefit immediately from this support by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration. Employers benefiting from this measure will include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities.

Flexibility for Businesses Filing Taxes

The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020.  This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. 

The Canada Revenue Agency will not contact any small or medium (SME) businesses to initiate any post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks. For the vast majority of businesses, the Canada Revenue Agency will temporarily suspend audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives.

Financing for Businesses

The BDC provides financing for:

  • Small Business Loans – up to $100,000 can be obtained online – here

  • Get extra funds to bridge cash flow gaps and support daily operations with Working Capital Loans

  • Increase your cash flow to fulfill domestic or international orders with Purchase Order Financing

Previously Announced Measures

To further support businesses and households, the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz, cut the overnight rate to 0.75%.

For those with mortgages, the president of Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Evan Siddall, announced that they are working with lenders to allow deferral of mortgage payments for up to 6 months

More details on mortgage deferral will be made available later this week.

For people quarantined due to COVID-19, the government eliminated the waiting period for EI Benefits; you can get up to $573 a week for an entire 14-day quarantine.

If you need further, please contact me by clicking below:

Coronavirus & Market Uncertainty – Federal Government $20 billion economic aid package

On March 13th, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, outlined Canada’s response to COVID-19 including new investments to help protect Canadians and businesses. The total value of the aid package could be up to $20 billion across the country which includes $10 billion available through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to help small and medium-sized businesses.

The BDC provides financing for:

  • Small Business Loans – up to $100,000 can be obtained online – here

  • Get extra funds to bridge cash flow gaps and support daily operations with Working Capital Loans

  • Increase your cash flow to fulfill domestic or international orders with Purchase Order Financing

To further support businesses and households, the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz, cut the overnight rate to 0.75%.

For those with mortgages, the president of Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Evan Siddall, announced that they are working with lenders to allow deferral of mortgage payments for up to 6 months

More details on mortgage deferral will be made available later this week.

For people quarantined due to COVID-19, the government eliminated the waiting period for EI Benefits; you can get up to $573 a week for an entire 14-day quarantine.

If you need further, please contact me by clicking below: