COVID-19 Financial Support

Updated June 16, 2020

Highlighted items indicate new/updated 

Below you will find a some of the financial supports that are available to people during the COVID-19 crisis (thank you MLA Bowinn MA for the template). Highlighted items indicate new/updated

For a full list of provincial government support please visit: gov.bc.ca/covid-19-provincial-support

For items marked “🍁”, contact your local MP or visit: canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html

HOUSING
⚡ BC Hydro BC Hydro is halting all service disconnections for non-payment of bills and reducing electricity rates by 1%.
COVID-19 Relief Fund applies a 3-month credit to your BC Hydro account for eligible customers (avg credit will be $477). Deadline to apply: June 30. Apply online.
COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program offers bill deferral and payment plans for customers struggling due to impacts of COVID-19. Customer Assistance: Call 1-800-BC-HYDRO
Customer Crisis Fund is an existing program that grants of up to $600 off your energy bill. Apply online.
🏦 Renters & Landlords Evictions ban in effect for duration of crisis. No action required. Click here for more info.
Freeze on rental rates means that no rent increases are allowed in BC, effective April 1. No action required. Click here for more info.
BC Temporary Rental Supplement (BC-TRS) provides up to $500/month towards rent, paid directly to landlords, for eligible renters. Apply online.
🏘️ Homeowners Mortgage payment deferrals available for CMHC-insured loans. 🍁Check with your lender.
Check with your lender about payment deferral options for loans that are not CMHC-insured. 🍁Check with your lender.
Strata councils may meet virtually during COVID-19. More info.
🛏️ Emergency Housing Existing shelters still active and additional emergency options may be available. New spaces have been secured for those experiencing homelessness or without a safe place to self-isolate (including people fleeing domestic and sexual violence) in hotels and other sites. Contact your local shelter or transition home for placement support. Call 2-1-1 or search online.
INCOME & PERSONAL SUPPORTS FOR PEOPLE
💵 Workers Unlimited, unpaid job-protected leave for workers who are unable to work for reasons relating to COVID-19, retroactive to Jan 27, 2020. As a permanent change, workers now also have three days of unpaid, job-protected leave each year for people who cannot work due to illness or injury.
Employment Insurance (EI): If you have stopped working because of COVID-19, you should apply for CERB whether or not you are eligible for Employment Insurance. 🍁Apply online via CERB.
EI Sickness Benefit: One-week waiting period has been waived. 🍁Apply online via CERB.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides $2000/month to workers impacted due to COVID-19, including contractors, self-employed people, seasonal workers, those whose EI benefits have recently expired, and workers making less than $1000/month. Update: The coverage period for this benefit has been extended to Oct 3, 2020. 🍁Apply online before December 2, 2020 for payments retroactive to the period of March 15 to October 3, 2020
BC Emergency Benefit for Workers provides a one-time additional tax-free payment of $1000 to eligible British Columbians on CERB in May. Apply online.
General minimum wage is increased to $14.60/hr. This is a previously scheduled wage increase. More info.
👩🏾‍⚕️ Pandemic Pay COVID-19 Pandemic Pay provides eligible workers a lump-sum payment of ~$4/hr for a 16-weeks, starting on March 15. This boost is expected to benefit nearly 250,000 front-line workers providing critical public services to vulnerable populations where maintaining physical distancing is difficult or impossible in health, social services, and corrections. No application necessary, will be paid as lump sum through employers.
👨‍👧 Low- and moderate- income households GST-credit will provide an additional one-time boost for eligible individuals in April. Benefit is paid out according to your income tax return. 🍁 More info here.
Climate Action Tax Credit will provide an additional one-time boost of up to $564 for eligible families of 4 and $218 for eligible individuals in an enhanced payment in July. Children under 18 years old must be registered for the CCB to qualify. No other action is needed; benefit is paid out according to your income tax return. More info here.
👪 Families with children Canada Child Benefit (CCB) provides one-time boost of up to $300 per child in May. The maximum annual benefit has also been increased to $6,765 per child under age 6, and $5,708 per child aged 6 through 17. 🍁No action if you are already registered for CCB. Otherwise, apply online.
Temporary Emergency Funding (TEF) provides child care providers with emergency government funding on the condition that they not charge parents fees for any periods of closure or for vacant spaces and must reserve spaces for families, starting April. Note: The coverage period for this benefit has been extended to August 31, 2020. Check with your provider to see if they are in this program.
Temporary Emergency Child Care available for essential service workers. Use the child care matching service for kids aged 0-5, otherwise contact your school directly for school aged kids. 1-888-338-6622 or register online for kids 0-5.
Otherwise, contact your school.
Children and Youth with Special Needs (CYSN) services are available to families with greater flexibility. Emergency Relief Support Fund will also provide eligible families with direct payments of $225/month for three months. More info.
WE Schools @ home and EASE at Home (Everyday Anxiety Strategies for Educators) are new, free virtual educational programs available for students, parents and educators to support the mental health of K-12 children. More info.
School Districts are working with financially struggling families to:
– Ensure school meals programs are still available where needed; and
– Enable remote learning by K-12 students through technology loans and by working with internet service providers to offer low-cost internet, unlimited cellphone data plans, or local internet hotspots.
Contact your school principal.
🤸 Youth-in-Care Youth in Care will not age out of services during the pandemic.
Agreements With Young Adults Program (AYA) program payments will continue to former youth-in-care despite school closures and training interruptions.
Youth Futures Education Fund (YFEF) will help youth who have aged out of government care and are ready to pursue post-secondary with expenses beyond tuition, such as rent, utilities and groceries. Apply via the Vancouver Foundation.
🎓 Post-Secondary Students Emergency Assistance available for students at public post-secondary institutions. Non-repayable funds can be used to help with a broad range of costs, including living expenses, food, travel, portable computers and other supports for students who are not already able to study remotely. Contact your school’s financial aid office to apply. See backgrounder for contact list.
Indigenous Emergency Assistance Fund available for Indigenous students at public post-secondary institutions can apply for non-repayable emergency assistance that can be used to help with a broad range of costs, including living expenses, groceries, cell phone bills, childcare, medical, dental, optical, and travel costs for family crisis or community obligations. Contact the Indigenous Student Service Centre on campus. See backgrounder for contact list.
Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) would provide eligible students and new graduates who do not qualify for CERB $1250/month or $1750/month to those with dependants or disabilities. 🍁 Apply online now.
Canada Student Service Grant will provide students who choose to do national service and serve their communities up to $5000 for their education in the fall. 🍁 Applications not yet available. Read more.
Canada Student Grants is an existing program. Maximum grants for eligible full-time students will be doubled to up to $6,000 and up to $3,600 for part-time students in 2020-21. The Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with Dependents would also be doubled. 🍁 Apply online. (Note: Increased grant amounts may not yet be updated on the website.)
Temporary removal of the restriction that allows international students to work a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session, provided they are working in an essential service or function. 🍁 No application required. Learn more.
BC Student Loans repayments paused for six months without penaltystarting April. Repayment will be paused automatically.
Canada Student Loans repayments paused for six months without penaltystarting April. Maximum weekly amount that can be provided to a student in 2020-21 has been raised from $210 to $350. 🍁Repayment will be paused automatically.
Here2Talk provides free, confidential mental-health counselling and referral service for post-secondary students by app, phone, or online chat, 24-7. Call 1-877-857-3397 to speak with a counsellor or get more information online.
💵 People on Income Assistance – Full exemption of CERB or EI for three months (no clawback).
– COVID-19 Crisis Supplement of additional $300/month for three months for those who do not qualify for federal emergency supports like CERB or EI.
– “Work search” requirement for those on Income Assistance is suspended for now.
No action required, support boosts will be applied to next payments automatically. More info here.
♿ People With Disabilities People on Disability Assistance:
– Full exemption of CERB or EI for three months (no clawback).
– COVID-19 Crisis Supplement of additional $300/month for three months for those who do not qualify for federal emergency supports like CERB or EI.
– Those on BC Bus Pass Program will receive their $52 transportation supplement back in cash for the months that transit bus fares are free. Transit fares return June 1.
No action required, support boosts will be applied to next payments automatically. More info here.***Note*** Those wishing to opt out of the BC Bus Pass program must make their request by June 5 in time for their July cheque to be processed with the additional $52.
Certificate holders of the Disability Tax Credit as of June 1, 2020 will receive up to $600 tax-free, provided that the proposed legislation is passed by the House of Commons.
No action required, support payment will be automatically sent to eligible Canadians. More info here.
👵 Seniors COVID-19 Crisis Supplement: Low-income seniors who receive the B.C. Senior’s Supplement will receive an additional $300/month boost for three months. No action required, support boosts will be applied to next payments automatically. More info here.
One-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension, with an additional $200 for seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). 🍁No action required. More info here.
Existing federal programs continue to be available, including:
– Canada Pension Plan Retirement Pension
– Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefit
– Old Age Security (OAS): $614/mo (max)
– Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS): $916/mo (max)
– Allowance / Allowance for Survivor: $1389/mo (max)
🍁 Eligible seniors can apply online if they are not already enrolled.
Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs): Minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) has been reduced by 25% for 2020. 🍁 Learn more here.
bc211 is available for seniors who need support with non-medical essentials, like grocery pick-up and drop off. Call 2-1-1 or visit online.
MISC SUPPORTS FOR PEOPLE
🚗 Automobile Auto insurance can be renewed by email or phone. Contact your broker.
ICBC auto insurance:
– Monthly payment deferral for ICBC auto insurance is available for up to 90 days with no penalty.
– Contact your broker to change your coverage and lower premiums to reflect changes in how much you drive and the related risk.
– Cancellation fees are waived for those who wish to cancel their insurance during this time.
– Customers may use their vehicles for the delivery of food or medical products and services, without changing their insurance (vehicle use) or paying a higher premium. This includes people volunteering to help deliver groceries or other essential supplies to seniors and other people in need.
Call 1-800-665-6442 or view more info.
ICBC driver licensing:
– Remote extensions for driver licensing available. All requests for medical information temporarily postponed.
– People whose learner driver’s licences (class 5-8) expire during the pandemic will not have to pay a fee for their first knowledge test after their learner driver’s licence expires, once testing resumes.
Call 1-800-950-1498.
Parking is free of charge at all health authority owned/operated health care sites like hospitals, clinics, long-term care centres, etc. For staff, patients, and visitors only.
⚖️ Justice & Law Limitation periods to commence court proceedings have been suspended.
Civil Resolution Tribunal deadlines extended; fees waived for those struggling financially. Apply via Fee Waiver Request Form.
Remote execution of legal documents allowed during pandemic.
🧘 Mental Health Access to free and low-cost virtual mental health services has been expanded across BC for adults, seniors, and youth. Front-line health care workers experiencing distress and mental health concerns in response to COVID-19 now also have access to increased mental health services. Full list of available services here.
New BC COVID-19 mental health self-assessment tool helps you take a look at your mental health and wellness in light of COVID-19. Use the tool online.
VictimLink BC provides immediate 24/7 crisis support for victims of family or sexual violence is available by phone through VictimLink BC’s 24/7 telephone service. Call 1-800-564-0808 or send an email for more info.
Here2Talk provides free, confidential mental-health counselling and referral service for post-secondary students by app, phone, or online chat, 24-7. Call 1-877-857-3397 to speak with a counsellor or get more information online.
WE Schools @ home and EASE at Home (Everyday Anxiety Strategies for Educators) are new, free virtual educational programs available for students, parents, and educators to support the mental health of K-12 children. More info.
Wellness Together Canada provides free tools and resources to help Canadians get back on track. These include modules for addressing low mood, worry, substance use, social isolation and relationship issues as well as counselling by text and phone. Wellness Together Canada
🚌 Public Transit TransLink: Fare-free boarding on all buses ends on May 31. Enter through rear of the bus, unless accessible loading is required. July 1 fare increase is deferred indefinitely. Service reductions in effect: check online before you go.
BC Transit: Fare-free boarding on all buses ends on May 31. Enter through rear of the bus, unless accessible loading is required.
🧾 Taxes Filing due date for Income Tax Return is deferred to June 1. Payments owed are deferred until August 31. 🍁
Free community tax clinics may now operate virtually. 🍁More info.
✈️ Travel Emergency repatriation assistance is available to Canadians who are abroad and having difficulty returning to Canada. 🍁Dial +1 613-996-8885 (call collect where available); or call a toll free number; or use the online form; or send an email.
Emergency Travel Loan of $5000 available to Canadians who are abroad and unable to return to Canada. 🍁Dial +1 613-996-8885 (call collect where available); or send an email.
British Columbians returning home must self-isolate for 14 days. Emergency Management BC and Service BC will provide support to enable compliance. More info.