Prepared by the AJC and our partners at the Centre for Israel & Jewish Affairs

Federal Resources

Health Canada COVID-19 Information

The Federal Government has published several online resources to help Canadians learn about COVID-19, including about symptoms and prevention. Click the links below for information about:

Immigration Updates

Special measures have been put in place due to COVID-19. These measures include the cancelation of citizenships tests, citizenship ceremonies, in-person permanent resident appointments and in-person refugee claim appointments. An overview of these special measures, along with a list of frequently asked questions, is available on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website.

Travel Updates

The Government of Canada has issued a health notice for all Canadians regarding new travel policies and restrictions due to COVID-19, and is recommending the suspension of all non-essential travel outside of Canada. A full overview of these restrictions is available here.

The Government has also released detailed advice for travellers entering and leaving Canada, which can be found here. Regarding what precautions are being taken at Canadian borders, and current restrictions on travellers entering Canada, an overview is available here.

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

On March 18, 2020, new economic measures were announced by the Federal Government, to provide assistance for individuals and businesses impacted by COVID-19. An overview of some of these measures are included below. For a full overview of all measures, click here.

Assistance for Individuals

Mortgage Assistance

Together with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the federal government is allowing for increased flexibility for homeowners who are experiencing financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes special payment arrangements, payment deferrals, and loan re-amortization.

An overview of these changes are available here.

Employment Insurance and EI Benefits (including COVID-19 related benefits):

EI is available to eligible employees facing a reduction in “normal weekly earnings” of at least 40 percent due to illness, injury or quarantine. The Government of Canada has recently announced that (i) 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; (ii) there will be priority EI application processing for EI sickness claims for clients under quarantine; and (iii) people claiming EI sickness benefits due to quarantine will not have to provide a medical certificate to qualify.

Employers should be sure to inform any employees on an unpaid leave of their ability to apply for EI benefits and direct them to resources with more information. Employees may apply later for quarantine-related EI sickness benefits and have their EI claim backdated to cover the period of delay.

For more information on EI, click here.

Emergency Care Benefit

On March 18, 2020, the Government of Canada announced that up to $900 biweekly for up to 15 weeks will be made available as income support to workers who must stay home and who do not have access to paid sick leave. This benefit will be available to: (i) workers (including the self-employed) who are sick, quarantined, or who have been directed to self-isolate but do not qualify for EI benefits; (ii) workers (including the self-employed) who are caring for a family member who is sick with COVID-19, but who do not qualify for EI benefits; and (iii) working parents (whether or not they are EI-eligible) who must stay home without pay because of children who are sick or who need additional care because of school closures.

The Emergency Care Benefit will be administered through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Application for this benefit will be available in April 2020, and will require Canadians to attest that they meet the eligibility requirements. They will need to re-attest every two weeks to reconfirm eligibility. Canadians can apply for the benefit in one of three ways: through their CRA MyAccount secure portal; through their My Service Canada Account; or by calling a toll-free number with an automated application process.

For more information, click here.

Emergency Support Benefit (for non-EI eligible workers)

On March 18, 2020, the Government of Canada announced $5 billion in forthcoming support for workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment due to COVID-19. Further details of this program will be available in the coming days and will be posted here once available.

For more information, click here.

Seniors and Retirees

To support seniors, the required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) is reduced by 25% for 2020.

More information on these changes is available here.

Students and Recent Graduates

To assist students and recent graduates currently repaying their loans, the government has placed a six-month interest free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans, as explained here.

Assistance for Businesses 

COVID-19 Wage Subsidy

On March 18, 2020, the Government of Canada announced that eligible small businesses (including corporations who are eligible for the small business tax deduction, non-profit organizations, and charities) will receive a 10% wage subsidy for the next 90 days, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Businesses can immediately benefit from this support by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration.

For more information, click here.

Tax Payment Deferral

On March 18, 2020, the Government of Canada announced that all businesses will be permitted to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing in between March 18 and September 1, 2020. This relief applies to tax balances due, as well as installments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.

The CRA will not contact any small or medium sized businesses to initiate any post-assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for four weeks after March 18. For the vast majority of businesses, the CRA will temporarily suspend audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives.

For more information, click here.

Work-Sharing Program Enhancements

The work-sharing program is an adjustment program administered through Service Canada, designed to help employers avoid layoffs during times of temporary economic difficulty. It allows employers to schedule reduced work weeks for their employees who can then access EI for an income supplement.

Due to COVID-19, the length of time that employers are permitted to use the work-sharing program has been increased to 76 weeks, from the usual limit of 38 weeks. The mandatory waiting period has also been waived.

For more information on work sharing arrangements, click here.

Supplementary Unemployment Benefit Plans (SUB Plans)

An employer may establish a SUB Plan, subject to certain requirements, to top up employees’ EI benefits during a period of unemployment during a temporary layoff caused by e.g. sickness due to COVID-19. A SUB plan can be used during a temporary work stoppage, training, injury, illness or quarantine. A SUB Plan needs to be registered with Service Canada and must meet certain requirements in order not to be treated as income that would reduce the worker’s EI benefits. As of March 19, 2020, there have not been any changes to the SUB Plan regulations due to COVID-19.

More information on the SUB Plan can be found here.

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