Menu

PANDEMIC RAPID RESPONSE BUSINESS CENTRE

LOCAL

Resources from Fraser Health to Reduce Virus Cases

Due to rapidly increasing COVID-19 cases in Fraser Health, we are asking the business community to revisit their COVID-19 safety plans and step up measures where needed for the protection of our workers, our loved ones and our communities. Please see notice from Fraser Health.

Doing Business Safely: Information and resources to help COVID-19 proof your business

Steps to Safely Operate Your Business Checklist

SBOT Action Plan Ideas & Guidelines to Help Business

Fraud and Scams
With the ongoing pandemic, small and medium sized businesses increasingly rely on social media to drive consumer engagement and stay connected. This presents opportunities for fraudsters who are actively spoofing social media accounts, to steal personal and financial information from Canadian citizens and businesses.
Information

Jump to:

FREE COVID-19 WEBINARS FOR BUSINESS

See the listing

PPE SUPPLIERS AND MANUFACTURERS

See the List

REOPENING RESOURCES

BC’s Restart Plan

WorkSafeBC Phase 2 and 3 Guides for Returning to Safe Operations

WorkSafeBC COVID-19 Safety Plan
Employers resuming operations following work interruptions related to COVID-19 must develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan. This tool will guide you through a six-step process to help you create your plan. The tool is provided as a fillable PDF you can download and save with the details of the plan for your workplace.

WorkSafeBC Presentation to SBOT – May 19

PwC: Preparing for Return to Work

Retail Council of Canada: Retail Recovery Playbooks and Checklists

Surrey Parking to Patios
The Parking to Patios initiative allows eating establishments to easily add or expand outdoor seating areas.  This initiative will create a simple and flexible process that will allow eating establishments to provide increased physical distancing opportunities in outdoor spaces adjacent to their businesses, while maintaining a level of safety and regulatory approval through a streamlined municipal process.

Surrey Sidewalk Queuing Space
This initiative allows all other retail businesses to accommodate regular customer line-ups in outdoor spaces adjacent to businesses while meeting physical distancing and reduced occupancy requirements. As with, the Parking to Patios initiative, the Sidewalk Queuing Space initiative will maintain a minimum level of safety and regulatory approval while providing a streamlined application, approval and monitoring process.

Restaurants Canada: COVID-19 Reopening Best Practices

Patio, Service Area Expansions Support Safe Reopening

Deloitte Economic Recovery Dashboard

RESOURCES AND TOOLS

For any businesses needing CRA assistance, you will receive a personalized response from a CRA Liaison Officer.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has a useful page of resource including travel advice, updates and printable reference information. Also included is a reference sheet from the World Health Organization for workplaces.  For BC related updates, see this reference page.

Local Modelling Update

Provincial Health Officer Orders

Businesses in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal health regions with group physical activities can submit their plans to: ehvc@vch.ca or worksitefitnessplans@fraserhealth.ca.

BC Centre for Disease Control’s (BCCDC) Safer Celebrations Guidance

BCCDC National and International COVID-19 Epidemiological Data

Map of COVID-19 Cases by Local Health Area

Experiencing Symptoms? Find a Collection Centre to Get Tested

Mental Health and Anxiety Support, or visit: bouncebackbc.ca

Community Exposure Events:
BCCDC (flights, work sites, etc.)
Fraser Health
Interior Health
Island Health
Northern Health
Vancouver Coastal

Latest Medical Updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and testing.

For non-health related information, including financial, child care and education supports, travel, transportation and essential service information, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/covid19
Or call 1 888 COVID19 (1 888 268-4319) between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Pacific time), seven days a week.

  • BC Business COVID-19 Support Service

To help BC businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the BC government, through the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness and the Government of Canada, through Western Economic Diversification Canada, have partnered with Small Business BC (SBBC) to launch a new BC Business COVID-19 Support Service.

The service will serve as a one-stop resource to answer pressing questions about support available to businesses from the provincial and federal governments, industry, and community partners during this time.

As part of the support service, a dedicated website – https://covid.smallbusinessbc.ca – will feature announcements from industry and community partners, as well as a variety of important resources, including webinars and practical tools. Advisors can be reached by phone toll-free at 1-833-254-4357, by email covid@smallbusinessbc.ca and live chat.

  • Helping employers address COVID-19 in the workplace

During the COVID-19 outbreak, WorkSafeBC is committed to providing the essential services that workers and employers around the province rely on, which includes helping employers prevent workplace injury, illness, and disease.

Visit the WorkSafeBC COVID-19 information and resources web page, which includes Information specific to various industries.

  • Mental Health and Counselling

New Work Mental Health Hub
Employers and employees throughout BC who work in the tourism, hospitality and community social services sectors now have access to vital mental health resources with the creation of a digital resource hub. The online hub offers a range of tools to help address common workplace concerns, such as bullying, harassment, COVID-19 exposure, coping with stress and more.

The new hub provides workshops, webinars and information to help employees manage stress and build resiliency. It also provides tangible steps for workers at all levels to improve their overall mental health, as well as navigation support to connect to other mental health services, including counselling and peer support.

Managing COVID-19 Stress, Anxiety and Depression

With the challenges brought on by the continued challenges of the cold weather and the holidays, winter can often be a difficult time. But with COVID-19, this year’s winter may be even more demanding on our mental health and well-being. The Mental Health Commission of Canada mini-guide is designed to help employers provide workers with specific tools and resources during the winter months. We hope this helps you.

310—Mental Health Support Line
Tel: 310-6789 
Provides emotional support, information and resources specific to mental health. Can call 24 hours a day. Simply dial 310-6789 w/o putting 604 or 778 in front of the number. Also have resources on web

British Columbia Bereavement Helpline
Tel: 1-877-779-2223     contact@bcbh.ca
Free and confidential grief support via phone or email. Provides compassionate listening and local referrals. Available Monday to Friday 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, excluding holidays.

Fraser Health Crisis Line
Tel: 604-951-8855  Toll Free: 1-877-820-7444
Offers 24 hour support, crisis intervention and resource information.

Moving Forward Family Services
Tel: 778-321-3054
Offering online and telephone counselling options. Free telephone support provided by supervised interns for anyone who may be struggling emotionally while in self-isolation. Services for all ages and any concerns including addictions, mental health, trauma, violence, parenting, relationships and more. Sliding scale fees and no one is turned away due to financial circumstances. Staff speak a variety of languages.

Suicide Help Line
Tel: 1-800-Suicide or 1-800-784-2433 
Trained volunteers provide emotional crisis support, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in over 140 languages. Also chat services  available online as well as other crisis lines.

For a complete list of Mental Health Resources click here.

BLGTax Topics for Tough Times

Business Continuity and Recovery Planning Guide

Crisis Communication Planning Guide

Invest Surrey Resources

Responding to the Potential Business Impacts of COVID-19 (PwC)

Tips for Multi-Model Travel

CHECK FOR UPDATES

  • List of public exposures for the Fraser Health Authority.
  • Sign up for the COVID-19 subscription for Public Health Updates from the Government of Canada: EnglishFrench
  • First Ministers’ Statement on Shared Public Health Approach to Support Restarting the Economy – Canada
  • BC COVID-19 Supply Hub
    The Province has partnered with the Digital Technology Supercluster and the Business Council of British Columbia to create the COVID-19 Supply Hub, a made-in-B.C. online platform to co-ordinate, source and expedite medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) for provincial health authorities to support front-line health workers fighting COVID-19. The COVID-19 Supply Hub provides a single point of entry to triage and prioritize the thousands of offers and donations for essential supplies from business and other organizations since the onset of the COVID-19 response. Companies looking to offer support or supplies through the COVID-19 Supplier Hub can access it here: www.gov.bc.ca/supplyhub

Provincial Health Officer’s Orders

List of Essential Services in BC During COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 RESOURCE BY CANADA’S GOVERNMENT

RCMP: COVID-19 Scams Are Spreading Like the Virus

CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY GUIDANCE

Exemptions to travel restrictions to protect Canadians and support the economy

NEEDED PRODUCTS AND SERVICES – Canada

BUSINESS AND EMPLOYEE SUPPORTS

General Government Updates and Resources

  • A special email has been formed to respond to questions or comments on federal government programs. They respond in a timely way and take note of any gaps for those businesses/organizations that can’t take advantage of any of the programs. Please feel free to email: ic.covid-19sme-pme.ic@canada.ca
  • Provincial Government Support
  • Federal Resources: Managing your business during COVID-19
  • Economic Development: Canada’s Regional Development Agencies are doing to help business during the COVID-19 pandemic: HTML – PDF version
  • Federal Government App: Dedicated COVID-19 tile has been added to the Canada Business App, providing links to government announcements and information for businesses. More information about the App can be found HERE

Support for Business

Use this tool to find COVID-19 support and other programs and services

Access to Credit, Financing or Funding

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)
Extended to June 30, 2021
NEW! CEBA support has been expanded from $40,000 to $60,000. This expansion is available to all eligible previous and new CEBA applicants.

CEBA will provide interest-free loans of up to $60,000 to eligible small businesses. To qualify, small businesses will need to demonstrate they paid between $20,000 to $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 33 percent (up to $20,000). The CEBA will be implemented by eligible financial institutions in cooperation with Export Development Canada.

On May 19, the government announced the expansion to include businesses with less than $20,000 in payroll in 2019, if they have business operating account at a participating financial institution; A Canada Revenue Agency business number, and to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return; and eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million. Eligible non-deferrable expenses could include costs such as rent, property taxes, utilities and insurance.

Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP)
Through HASCAP, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will work with participating Canadian financial institutions to offer government-guaranteed, low-interest loans of up to $1 million. Hard-hit businesses, like a chain of hotels or restaurants with multiple locations under one related entity, could be eligible for up to $6.25 million. HASCAP will help businesses with their day-to-day operating costs during the COVID-19 crisis and enable them to invest in their longer-term prosperity.

To be eligible for HASCAP, businesses need to show a year-over-year revenue decline of at least 50% in three months, within the eight months prior to their application. They must also be able to show their financial institutions that they have previously applied for either the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy or the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy.

Eligible businesses can start applying as early as February 1 at principal financial institutions and more widely by February 15. Interested businesses should contact their primary lender to get more information and to apply.

Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant
Grants of $1,000 to $10,000 are available to hospitality and fitness businesses impacted by the March 30, 2021 PHO orders on gatherings and events and liquor and food serving premises. Grants are available until June 4, 2021 or until funds are fully expended, whichever comes first.

Applications open the week of April 12. Add your email to the subscribe box to get notified when the application open. When you apply, you’ll be asked to confirm:

  • Your business was impacted by the March 30, 2021 PHO orders
  • You are registered as a BC business
  • You can demonstrate majority ownership and operations in B.C.
  • You pay taxes in BC

BC PST Rebate on Select Machinery and Equipment
The BC PST Rebate on Select Machinery and Equipment is a temporary provincial sales tax (PST) program to help corporations recover from the financial impacts of COVID-19.
The rebate acts like a refund but is separate from the existing PST Refund process. Under this temporary program, corporations can apply to receive an amount equal to the PST they paid between September 17, 2020 and September 30, 2021 on qualifying machinery and equipment.

Unincorporated entities, such as sole proprietors, cannot apply. However, they can choose to incorporate to take advantage of this program. Only machinery and equipment obtained after incorporation are eligible. The Surrey Board of Trade can help you start this transition process. Contact our Business Centre at info@businessinsurrey.com for details.

Launch Online Grant Program
The Launch Online Grant program provides funding to BC-based business to create an online shop and/or improve their e-commerce experience to attract new local customers and expand to new markets. The grant will pay for up to 75% of eligible expenses, up to a maximum of $7,500 per business. The program supports a rapid response for businesses and is accepting applications from businesses ready to start and finish their online shop within 12 weeks.

  • Up-to 30% of funds will be reserved for Black, Indigenous and people of colour owned businesses and businesses operating outside of the lower mainland and greater Victoria.
  • The funds must be used to hire BC-based company(ies) to do the online store or online booking system development.

BC Recovery Grant for Small and Medium Sized Businesses
The Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant program will invest up to $300 million in targeted financial support for some of the hardest hit businesses in BC that employ between two and 149 BC residents and have experienced declines in revenue since March 10, 2020. Grants of $10,000 to $30,000 are available. An additional $5,000 to $15,000 grant is available to eligible tourism-related businesses that have been hit especially hard by COVID-19. The program runs until August 31, 2021 or until the funds are fully allocated, whichever comes first. The program happens in 5 steps:
Step 1: Businesses apply for funding and provide information to demonstrate that they meet the eligibility criteria.
Step 2: A business that meets the eligibility criteria is matched with a professional services provider who will help develop a recovery plan or assess the business’s current plan (a value up to $2,000 in professional services, in addition to the grant amount).
Step 3: Once a recovery plan is developed, submitted and approved, funding is provided to the business to implement the actions outlined in their recovery plan.
Step 4: Businesses must provide regular updates that account for the spending and status of their recovery efforts supported by the grant funding.
Step 5: All businesses must agree to participate in a third-party audit at the end of the program.

The BC Supply Chain Resiliency program is now open and accepting applications until February 18, 2021 at 4:30 pm. The program provides one-time funding for BC manufacturing projects that support strengthened supply chain and economic recovery needs.The program will invest up to $4 million to help BC manufacturers or groups of BC manufacturing companies identify supply chain or supplier barriers and implement activities to increase resiliency or generate new economic opportunities.
Eligible industry associations can receive up to $400,000 for near-term projects that can be undertaken and will provide broad sector benefits.

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) – Community Futures Stream
Social enterprises located in rural communities may be eligible for interest-free loans of up to $40,000, with up to $10,000 forgivable if repaid before
December 31, 2022 through Community Futures.

Loans and Support from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)
A Co-Lending Program will bring BDC together with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to small and medium enterprises for their operational cash flow requirements. Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts up to $6.25 million under this new program. Available until June 2021.

Please contact your primary financial institution to find out more.

Enhanced Financing through Export Development Canada (EDC)
Through the $10 billion Federal government Business Credit Availability Program, EDC has enhanced financing and insurance programs to ensure that impacted exporters have access to the credit and support they need. EDC will guarantee new operating credit and cash flow term loans that financial institutions extend to small and medium enterprises, up to $6.25 million.

Financing Products through Farm Credit Canada (FCC)
Through an additional $5 billion received from the Federal government, FCC is offering loan payment deferrals and other financing products to the agriculture and food industry.

Support for Indigenous Businesses
$306.8 million in funding has been given to help small and medium-sized Indigenous businesses, and to support Aboriginal Financial Institutions that offer financing to these businesses. The funding will allow for short-term, interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions through Aboriginal Financial Institutions, which offer financing and business support services to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis businesses.

Speak to your Lender
Canada’s largest financial institutions (BMO, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC, Scotiabank, and TD Bank), as well as some credit unions are committed to working with business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible financing solutions.

Help Paying Rent

Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) and Lockdown Support
Extended through June 5, 2021.
On February 24, 2021, the Government announced a proposed change to make lockdown support available to an eligible property owner whose tenant is not at arm’s length but uses the qualifying property that is subject to a lockdown. The property owner must meet all other applicable conditions to qualify for the lockdown support.

  • The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy provides direct and easy-to-access rent and mortgage interest support to tenants and property owners until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19. The new rent subsidy supports businesses, charities, and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop by providing support up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible expenses. The government is allowing claims retroactively for the period that began September 27.
  • The new Lockdown Support provides an additional 25 per cent through the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy for qualifying organizations that are subject to a lockdown and must shut their doors or significantly limit their activities under a public health order issued under the laws of Canada, a province or territory (including orders made by a municipality or regional health authority under one of those laws). Combined, this would mean that hard-hit businesses subject to a lockdown could receive rent support of up to 90 per cent.
Help Paying Employees

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
Applications can be submitted online.
Support extended through to June 5, 2021
Eligible employers who had any drop in revenue can now qualify for the wage subsidy, starting with the claim periods that began July 5, 2020.

  • The subsidy rate varies, depending on how much your revenue dropped
  • If your revenue drop was less than 30% you can still qualify, and keep getting the subsidy as employees return to work and your revenue recovers
  • Employers who were hardest hit over a period of three months get a higher amount
  • Employees who were unpaid for 14 or more days can now be included in your calculation
  • use the current period’s revenue drop or the previous period’s, whichever works in your favour for periods 5 and 6, if your revenue dropped at least 30%, your subsidy rate will be at least 75%
    • even if your revenue has not dropped for the claim period, you can still qualify if your average revenue over the previous three months dropped more than 50%
  • the maximum base subsidy rate is 60% in claim periods 5 and 6
  • beginning in period 8, the top-up rate and base rate are is now calculated using the same one-month revenue drop

See the November 2020 changes to the CEWS.

BC Increased Employment Tax Credit
The increased employment incentive allows employers to apply for a one-time tax credit. The credit is 15% of the amount that the employer’s total eligible remuneration for all eligible employees in the qualifying period exceeds the employer’s total eligible remuneration for all eligible employees in the base period.

The base period is from July 1 to September 30, 2020.

The qualifying period is from October 1 to December 31, 2020.

Help with Taxes and Filing Returns

Federal Business Taxes and Returns

Income Tax: The Federal Government is allowing all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18, 2020 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.

Provincial Business Taxes
Employers required to make instalment payments for the Employer Health Tax for the 2020 calendar year will be able to defer these payments. The instalments will be due on the following dates:

First instalment – December 31, 2020
Second instalment – January 31, 2021
Third instalment – February 28, 2021
The remaining tax payable is due with the employer health tax return by March 31, 2021.

BC Relief for Commercial Property Owners and Tenants

School tax rates for commercial properties are reduced for the 2020 tax year.

On April 16, 2020, the school property tax was lowered again and classes 7 and 8 are now included. Overall, the commercial property tax bill for most businesses will be reduced by 25% on average.

Late payment penalties for classes 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 are postponed to November 3, 2020.

Ways to Pivot Your Business Operations

Help Canada Combat COVID-19
Businesses are asked to contact the Government of Canada if they can supply products and services, or rapidly scale up production or re-tool their manufacturing lines to develop products made in Canada, that that will help in the fight against COVID-19.

BC Restaurant Alcohol Delivery
Licensed restaurants are now temporarily allowed to use servers with a Serving it Right certificate to deliver liquor products alongside the purchase of a meal.

Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Manufacturing
Distillers in British Columbia are temporarily authorized to manufacture alcohol-based hand sanitizer to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

BC Farmers’ Markets Online
The BC government is providing $55,000 to the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets to help member markets move to an online model to continue providing consumers with locally grown and prepared food products.

Resource: ‘Managing and Pivoting During a Time of Crisis’
Small Business BC provides practical ideas and inspiration to help you manage your business through this uniquely challenging time.

Other Supports and Resources Available

BC Hydro

If you had overdue payments and were facing disconnection prior to any additional financial hardship that arose from COVID-19, you may be eligible for a Customer Crisis Fund grant of up to $600.

If you’ve fallen behind on bill payments, we encourage you to set up a flexible, catch-up payment plan to pay the overdue amount. Log in MyHydro to set up a catch-up payment plan online, or request a plan by calling us at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376).

In addition to this new targeted bill relief, BC Hydro rates were reduced by 1% on April 1, 2020.

FortisBC
For large commercial and industrial customers, please contact your key account manager to discuss your account and payment arrangements.

Understanding Changes to the Employment Standards Act
In response to COVID-19, the Employment Standards Act has been updated to provide new unpaid, job protected leave for British Columbians unable to work due to personal illness, injury or specified reasons relating to COVID-19. New changes have also been made to provide unpaid, job protected leave for employees to receive their COVID-19 vaccination or to assist a dependent in receiving their vaccination.

Canadian COVID‑19 Capabilities Directory
Is your company ready to export solutions that can help support the fight against COVID‑19? If so, you can request to be considered for addition to the Canadian COVID‑19 Capabilities Directory by Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service (TCS). The directory is used by our network of trade commissioners to showcase the capabilities of export‑ready Canadian firms with COVID‑19‑related capabilities to potential buyers across the globe, and to match these Canadian companies with international business opportunities.

Whether you are manufacturing medical supplies, providing digital health services, building temporary medical facilities or offering solutions for healthy workplaces, if your company is ready to export and has the capacity to meet the demands of international markets, submit your request to be included in the Canadian COVID‑19 Capabilities Directory today.

Support for Employees, Individuals and Families

Enhancements to Employment Insurance (EI)

As of September 27, 2020, there are some temporary changes to the EI program to help you access EI benefits. These changes will be in effect for 1 year. Go to EI benefits and leave to find the benefit type that applies to your situation. The following changes could apply to you:

  • A minimum unemployment rate of 13.1% applies to all regions across Canada starting August 9, 2020
    • If your region’s unemployment rate is higher than 13.1%, we’ll use the higher actual rate to calculate your benefits
  • You only need 120 insured hours to qualify for benefits because you’ll receive a one-time credit of:
    • 300 insured hours if you’re applying for regular benefits
    • 480 insured hours if you’re applying for sickness, maternity, parental or caregiving benefits
  • You’ll receive at least $500 per week before taxes, or $300 per week before taxes for extended parental benefits but you could receive more
  • If you’re a fisher, we’ll look at the earnings from your 2018, 2019 and 2020 summer or winter seasons to determine your benefit rate and establish your claim for the same season
  • If you received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the 52-week period to accumulate insured hours will be extended
  • A medical certificate is not required for EI claims beginning March 15, 2020, or later
Questions related to EI and COVID-19 can be directed to this line for assistance and information: 1-800-206-7218

EI Work Sharing Program
Extended to September 26, 2021!
For Canadians who lose their jobs or face reduced hours as a result of COVID’s impact, this program provides EI benefits to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hour as a result of developments beyond the control of their employers. The eligibility of such agreements has been extended to 76 weeks, eligibility requirements have been eased, and the application process has been streamlined.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit
The CERB has ended. Need to repay your CERB benefits? Review the factsheet.

New Recovery Benefits
The new Recovery Benefits are available between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

The CRA will open applications for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit on October 5 and for the Canada Recovery Benefit on October 12.

Canada Recovery Benefit
The Canada Recovery Benefit will provide eligible workers with $500 per week (taxable, tax deducted at source) for up to 26 weeks for those who have stopped working and who are not eligible for EI, or had their employment/self-employment income reduced by at least 50% due to COVID-19. This benefit will be paid in two-week periods.

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)
The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) will provide $500 per week (taxable, tax deducted at source) for up to 26 weeks per household for workers unable to work for at least 50% of the week because they must care for a child under the age of 12 or family member because schools, day-cares or care facilities are closed due to COVID-19, or because the child or family member is sick and/or required to quarantine or is at high risk of serious health implications because of COVID-19. This benefit will be paid in one-week periods.

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)
The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) will provide $500 per week (taxable, tax deducted at source) for up to a maximum of two weeks, for workers who are unable to work for at least 50% of the week because they contracted COVID-19, self-isolated for reasons related to COVID-19, or have underlying conditions, are undergoing treatments or have contracted other sicknesses that, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, person in authority, government or public health authority, would make them more susceptible to COVID-19. This benefit will be paid in one-week periods.

BC Recovery Benefit
Starting December 18, 2020, up to 90% of adults in BC will be able to apply for the BC Recovery Benefit online (fastest way to receive the benefit). Those needing assistance over the phone can complete their application with an agent starting December 21, 2020 (1 833 882-0020).

To apply and be eligible for the one-time, tax-free benefit, people must:

  • be a resident of BC on Dec. 18, 2020;
  • be at least 19 years old on Dec. 18, 2020;
  • have filed a 2019 income tax return;
  • have their 2019 income tax notice of assessment, and if applicable, their spouse’s 2019 income tax notice of assessment;
  • have their social insurance number;
  • have their direct deposit information; and
  • have their BC driver’s licence.

Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) & Registered Pension Plans (RPPs)
Required minimum withdrawals from RRIFs will be reduced by 25% for 2020, in recognition of volatile market conditions and their impact on many seniors’ retirement savings. This will provide flexibility to seniors that are concerned that they may be required to liquidate their RRIF assets to meet minimum withdrawal requirements. Similar rules would apply to individuals receiving variable benefit payments under a defined contribution RPP.

Mortgage and Credit Product Assistance
The federal government, through the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), is providing increased flexibility for homeowners facing financial difficulties to defer mortgage payments on homeowner CMHC-insured mortgage loans. CMHC will permit lenders to allow payment deferral beginning immediately.

Speak to your Lender
Canada’s largest financial institutions (BMO, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC, Scotiabank, and TD Bank), as well as some credit unions are committed to working with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions. Support will include up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages, and the opportunity for relief on other credit products.

Rent Bank Programs
For renters in some parts of the province it is possible to receive emergency help for rent payments and onetime interestfree loans.

Canada Student Loan Assistance
Fall 2020 to 2021 support for post-secondary students:

Changes to Canada Student Grants and Loans have been introduced so students facing financial challenges from COVID-19 can access and afford post-secondary education. Pending government approvals, the new measures will come into effect on August 1, 2020 and be available to students for 1 year.

  • Doubling of Canada Student Grant amounts: The Canada Student Grant for Full-Time Students will increase up to a maximum of $6,000 and the grant for part-time studies to $3,600. The Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with Dependants will also be doubled.
  • Exemption from student and spousal contribution: For the 2020 to 2021 school year, students will not be required to make their fixed student contribution; no spousal contribution would be required either.
  • Increasing the cap on Canada Student Loans: For the 2020 to 2021 school year, the weekly maximum loan limit will increase from $210 to $350.
  • Apply for the latest measures with your province or territory of residence.

Support for Indigenous Communities
Indigenous Services Canada is working closely with First Nation partners to protect the health and safety of First Nations and support First Nations communities in responding to the public health crisis resulting from COVID19.

BC Hydro

If you had overdue payments and were facing disconnection prior to any additional financial hardship that arose from COVID-19, you may be eligible for a Customer Crisis Fund grant of up to $600.

If you’ve fallen behind on bill payments, we encourage you to set up a flexible, catch-up payment plan to pay the overdue amount. Log in MyHydro to set up a catch-up payment plan online, or request a plan by calling us at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376).

In addition to this new targeted bill relief, BC Hydro rates were reduced by 1% on April 1, 2020.

Emergency Travel Assistance
Global Affairs Canada is establishing an emergency loan program of $5,000 to help Canadians who need immediate financial assistance to return to Canada. Canadians abroad who need urgent assistance can email sos@international.gc.ca.

Support for Parents with Children in Child Care
The BC government has taken steps to support the child care sector while ensuring parents who must work during the COVID19 pandemic continue to have access to child care.

Other Supports
Some municipalities and service providers are announcing adjustments day by day. Look online to see if supports like these are available in your community:

  • Deferred municipal utilities payments
  • Payment and international roaming options from your telecommunications provider
  • Freezing or refunding membership fees at facilities such as gym memberships