In addition to these employment measures, most provinces, territories, Indigenous communities and municipalities are increasing the availability and the amount of aid that is offered by programs that were already in place before COVID-19. Visit the websites of your municipal government and local organizations, to see if there might be other extras you can count on during this time. Here is a link to the economic support provided by the city of Toronto, for example, including information on property tax payment grace periods; this link offers information provided by the Northwest Territories, including a full list of subsidies and programs that are available during the COVID-19 crisis.
Extensions on income tax filing and payments
The federal government has extended the deadline for filing personal income tax to June 1, 2020. As well, the payments of any outstanding tax balance can be deferred until August 31, 2020, without incurring any interest charges or penalties. More details can be found here. Quebec is the only province that collects personal income taxes separately, and it has also extended the tax deadlines for this year.
Increased federal benefits
The federal government is automatically raising the amount of Canada child benefit (CBC) that is paid to every family by $300 per child per month. The payment increases will begin in May. The government will also make a one-time payment for families with modest incomes through the GST/HST credit. Individuals can expect close to $400, and couples can expect around $600 in mid-May.
Student loan extensions
As of March 30, the repayment of Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans has been automatically suspended for six months, until September 30, 2020, and no interest will accrue. Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Ontario are also providing similar payment freezes on their student loan programs.
Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs)
The minimum withdrawal for RRIFs has been reduced by 25% for 2020, reducing the total amount of taxable income that retirees will have to claim and, thus, reducing how much tax they will owe.
Utility bill deferrals
Many provinces and municipalities are mandating that utility payments can be deferred for 90 days. Please check with your local service providers to see what options are available to you. BC Hydro is also offering grants of up to $600 for people who have lost income due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Mortgage and other debt repayment deferrals
Canada’s largest banks and many credit unions are offering mortgage deferrals of up to six months for people who are struggling to make ends meet during this crisis.
They are also offering payment deferrals on other debt, such as lines of credit and credit cards. It’s important to understand that this is not mortgage or debt forgiveness, and that you should assume interest will continue to accrue on the outstanding balance (talk to your lender about the specifics that apply to your mortgage, line of credit or loan). Since it will take you longer to pay off your mortgage and interest will continue to accumulate, it is possible that deferring payments now might end up costing you more in the long run—so only defer payments if you truly need to. You may also want to consider other measures, such as increasing your amortization so your repayments are smaller, and spread out over a longer period.