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SURREY COVID-19 PANDEMIC BUSINESS CENTRE

Connections – Resources – Support – Events

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support

YOUR INPUT IS NEEDED!

  • ACTION: If you have a specific ask/idea to the federal government we have a direct line into them now for them to hear from the Surrey Board of Trade on COVID-19 Impact and ideas to support business. Email anita@businessinsurrey.com
  • SURVEY:
    British Columbians are invited to share their feedback as the Province continues to build a strong economic recovery that works for people.

    • An online survey is the fastest and easiest way to provide answers to some important questions and give advice. Visit: http://gov.bc.ca/recoveryideas
    • Respond to the paper, Building B.C.’s Recovery, Together: Have Your Say, which was released on Wednesday, June 17, 2020. Ideas and responses can be submitted to: recoveryideas@gov.bc.ca
    • Participate in virtual town halls. British Columbians can learn more about the virtual town halls here: http://gov.bc.ca/recoveryideas

FREE COVID-19 WEBINARS FOR BUSINESS

See the listing

PPE SUPPLIERS AND MANUFACTURERS

See the List

REOPENING RESOURCES

BC’s Restart Plan

Temporary Layoff Variance Applications – New Streamlined Process

WorkSafeBC Phase 2 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.

Business Resiliency Services

Small to medium-sized businesses, not-for-profit organizations and charities will now have direct access to a network of qualified business advisors to help guide them courtesy of a new, government-funded program from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

The program, called the Business Resilience Service (BRS), is run through the Canadian Chamber’s Canadian Business Resilience Network in collaboration with EY and with support from Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) and Imagine Canada. The BRS will provide options for any vulnerable small to medium-sized business, not-for-profit or charity to immediately connect with experienced accounting and tax professionals across the country from professional services firms. The program, delivered to organizations free of charge, will:

  • Provide guidance on program options and eligibility
  • Rapidly direct businesses – including enterprises involving Indigenous peoples, women and diverse groups – to the most appropriate support organizations
  • Help organizations make decisions to support recovery plans
  • Provide real time insights and feedback to policymakers

The BRS program, coordinated by EY, will be provided for four weeks from Monday, May 25, and will involve support from approximately 125 business advisors from across the accounting profession. Organizations can access the BRS seven days a week by calling 1-866-989-1080.

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.

New guide to help address COVID-19 in the workplace

To help slow the progression of COVID-19, we encourage employers to review the new guide Preventing exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. This guide contains questions employers should ask themselves to better understand the health and safety concerns in the workplace raised by COVID-19. Topics covered include:

  • Identifying exposure hazards and developing measures to control exposure
  • Controlling the number of people on site
  • Prohibition of workers who are sick and those returning from outside Canada

For more information

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

Mental Health and Counselling

Managing COVID-19 Stress, Anxiety and Depression

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.

Business Continuity and Recovery Planning Guide

Crisis Communication Planning Guide

Invest Surrey Resources

COVID-19 Resources for BC Businesses

Pandemic Planning for Employers (Fasken)

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

Tips for Multi-Model Travel if you must travel

UPDATES

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

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

Surrey Business Impact Results

Summary of Surrey Business Impact

Surrey Business Impact: Breakdown by business size

BUSINESS AND EMPLOYEE SUPPORTS

General Government Updates and Resources

Support for Business

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

Access to Credit/Financing

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)
CEBA will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 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 loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25% (up to $10,000). 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

Loans and Support from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)
Through the $10 billion Federal government Business Credit Availability Program, BDC has made available working capital loans of up to $2 million, postponement of payments and reduced rates on new eligible loans. A new 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 or before September 30, 2020

Financial institutions will progressively roll out program details as of April 24, 2020. 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 Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)
Applications will open on May 25
This program will lower rent by 75 per cent for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.

  • The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50 per cent of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June.
  • The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants’ rent by at least 75 per cent for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25 per cent of the rent.
  • Impacted small business tenants are businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.
  • Administered by CMHC: cecra@cmhc.ca or 1-800-668-2642
Help Paying Employees

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
Applications opened Monday, April 27
To support businesses and to help prevent lay-offs, the government is providing businesses, charities and non-profits who have suffered a decline in revenue with a temporary wage subsidy. The subsidy will be up to 75% of employees’ wages, on the first $58,700 worth of salary. That means the maximum amount of subsidy would translate to $847 per week, unless an employer tops up any salary exceeding $58,700 from the business’s own funds. The program will be in place from March 15 to the end of August, 2020.

  • To be eligible, employers must have seen a drop of at least 15% in their monthly revenues in March, year-over-year, or to an average of their revenue earned in January and February 2020. For example, if revenues in March 2020 were down 15% compared to March 2019, the employer is allowed to claim the subsidy on remuneration paid in March 2020. Similarly, if March 2020 revenues were down 15% compared to the average of their revenues in January-February 2020, they are also eligible.
    The same goes for April and May, etc., except the decrease in business must be of at least 30%.
  • Employers found eligible for a period will automatically be deemed eligible for the next period. For example, if your business qualified in March, it will remain qualified for April.
  • Eligible employers would include employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy, with the exception of public sector entities.
  • Charities and nonprofits are allowed to choose to include or exclude government funding in their revenues for the purpose of applying the revenue reduction test.
  • Eligible employers are also entitled to receive a 100% refund for certain employer-paid contributions to EI, the Canada Pension Plan, the Quebec Pension Plan, and the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan for employees on paid leave.
  • Employers that apply to CEWS can also receive the 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy.
  • Applications will be filed through organizations’ existing accounts on the CRA website. More details on how to apply have not yet been released.

Those organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may continue to qualify for the previously announced Temporary Wage Subsidy.

Temporary Wage Subsidy
The 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers is a three-month measure that will allow eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deductions required to be remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The subsidy is equal to 10% of the remuneration you pay from March 18, 2020 to June 19, 2020, up to $1,375 for each eligible employee to a maximum of $25,000 total per employer.

Note: The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, which provides a 75% wage subsidy to eligible employers, is a separate program.

Changes to the Canada Summer Jobs Program
Canada’s small businesses increasingly depend on the employment of young Canadians. The changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program will help small businesses hire and keep the workers they need so they can continue to deliver essential services.

The temporary changes to the program for this year include:

  • an increase to the wage subsidy, so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100 per cent of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee
  • an extension to the end date for employment to February 28, 2021
  • allowing employers to adapt their projects and job activities to support essential services
  • allowing employers to hire staff on a part-time basis
Help with Taxes and Filing Returns

Federal Business Taxes and Returns
General Sales Tax (GST) and Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) remittances and customs duty payments are deferred to June 30, 2020.

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. For self-employed individuals or those who have spouses or common-law partners that are self-employed, the deadline to pay any balance due for your individual federal income tax and benefit return has been extended from April 30, 2020, to September 1, 2020.

Annual Returns to Corporations Canada: Federally incorporated businesses, not-for-profit organizations and cooperatives whose anniversary date is between February 1 and June 30 now have until September 30, 2020 to file their annual return. Normally, corporations are required to file their annual return within 60 days of their anniversary date.

For Special Act corporations (subject to Part 19 of the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act), the annual return filing period is now from April 1 to September 30, 2020. This extends the normal filing period (April 1 to June 1) by three months. A Special Act corporation is a corporation created by a Special Act of Parliament that does not have any share capital (funds raised in exchange for shares).

Provincial Business Taxes
Businesses with a payroll over $500,000 can defer their employer health tax payments until Sept. 30, 2020. Businesses with a payroll under this threshold are already exempt from the tax.

Provincial business tax filing and payment deadlines have also been extended until Sept. 30, 2020 for:

  • provincial sales tax (PST);
  • municipal and regional district tax;
  • tobacco tax;
  • motor fuel tax; and
  • carbon tax.

The scheduled April 1, 2020 increase to the provincial carbon tax, as well as the new PST registration requirements on e-commerce and the implementation of PST on sweetened carbonated drinks, will be delayed with timing to be reviewed by September 30, 2020.

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 October 1, 2020.

Surrey Property Tax Payment Delay
The 2020 due date for property taxes is July 2, 2020. In order to provide financial relief to businesses, the City has changed the penalty date to October 1, 2020. This change in penalty date will allow a 90-day extension to pay taxes without late penalties. A 10% penalty will be levied to all accounts with outstanding balances on October 1, 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 COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program
BC Hydro is providing residential and commercial customers the option to defer bill payments or arrange flexible payment plans with no penalty. Customers are encouraged to call BC Hydro at 1-800-224-9376 to discuss options.

Small businesses that have been forced to close due to COVID-19 will have their power bills forgiven for three months. BC Hydro is waiving bills for these customers from April to June 2020.

Major industries, like pulp and paper mills and mines, will have the opportunity to defer 50% of their bill payments for three months.

In addition to this new targeted bill relief, BC Hydro rates will be reduced by 1% on April 1, 2020, after the B.C. Utilities Commission provided interim approval of the application BC Hydro submitted last August. This is the first rate decrease in decades.

FortisBC COVID-19 Customer Recovery Fund
If you’re a small business owner in the program, you have the option to:

  • receive support in the form of bill credits to help offset the charges on your account while you’re unable to operate your business.
  • defer your bill payments from April 1 to June 30, 2020. When you apply to the program, you will automatically be entered into a repayment plan that will be spread out over the next 12 months to help lessen the immediate financial impacts to you during this time.

Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for both options.

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

ICBC Commercial Insurance
ICBC customers on a monthly Autoplan payment plan, who are facing financial challenges due to COVID-19, can defer their payment for up to 90 days with no penalty. Apply online or call 1-800-665-6442.

  • For customers with individual-rated policies, we are waiving cancellation and plating fees associated with cancelling and reinsuring vehicles at a later date.
  • Fleet customers can choose to suspend their insurance and do not have to cancel their plates. If they have already cancelled, the new plate fee will be waived when they re-plate or add a new vehicle.
  • ICBC customers – including volunteers – will now be able to use their vehicles for the delivery of essential goods, such as food or medical products and services, without changing their insurance or paying a higher premium.
  • Customers whose Learner Driver’s Licences (class 5-8) expire during the pandemic will not have to pay the fee for the first knowledge test once testing resumes.

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.

Emergency Mail Forwarding
Emergency Mail Forwarding for business customers who need it is offered free of charge online as of April 3. Business customers who already purchased the service as of March 13 will be able to receive a refund by calling customer service. Canada Post is developing measures to help address the challenges caused by many businesses either temporarily closing or shifting their location during this time.

Support for Employees, Individuals and Families

Enhancements to Employment Insurance (EI)
The Federal government has waived the one-week waiting period for individuals in imposed quarantine that claim EI sickness benefits. The requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits has also been waived.

The Federal government has established a phone line dedicated to inquiries regarding EI claims related to COVID-19.
Questions related to EI and COVID-19 can be directed to this line for assistance and information: 1-833-381-2725
This is a dedicated line for those looking to apply for EI benefits because:
1. You have had to self-isolate and cannot work;
2. You are an employee or employer looking to apply for financial support through the EI Work-sharing program; or
3. You have been laid off due to COVID-19.

EI Work Sharing Program
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 Federal government will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to six months to:

  • workers who must stop working due to COVID19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support.
  • workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.
  • working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.
  • workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work.
  • wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.
  • those earning $1,000 a month or less
  • seasonal workers who have been impacted
  • those who have run out of EI since January 1st

Applications are now being accepted. Note your birth month for when to apply.

Important information for workers who have lost their jobs or are unable to work:

  • Workers should continue to apply for Employment Insurance benefits.
  • Individuals who have already applied for Employment Insurance will be automatically enrolled for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
  • The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will be accessible through a secure web portal starting in early April. Applicants will also be able to apply via an automated telephone line or via a toll-free number.
  • Visit the Canada Revenue Agency website for additional information on how the Canada Emergency Response Benefit will help workers.

BC Emergency Benefit for Workers
Applications open May 1.
Provides a tax-free $1,000 payment to British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected by the outbreak. The benefit will be a one-time payment for British Columbians who are eligible for the new federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit as a result of COVID-19 impacts. This includes workers who have been laid-off, who are sick or quarantined, parents with sick children, parents who stay at home from work while child care centres and schools are closed, and those caring for sick family members, such as an elderly parent. The workers can be EI-eligible and non-EI eligible, such as the self-employed. The benefit will be paid to BC residents, in addition to their federal income supports. Eligibility requirements:

  • have been a resident of British Columbia on March 15, 2020;
  • meet the eligibility requirements for the CERB;
  • have been approved for the CERB, even if they have not received a benefit yet;
  • be at least 15 years old on the date of application;
  • have filed, or agree to file, a 2019 B.C. income tax return; and
  • not be receiving provincial income assistance or disability assistance.

Enhanced Climate Action Tax Credit
In July 2020, eligible families of four will receive up to $564 and eligible individuals will receive up to $218 in an enhanced payment. This boosts the regular climate action tax credit payment of up to $112.50 per family of four and up to $43.50 per adult.

Enhanced Canada Child Benefit (CCB)
The maximum annual CCB payment amounts will be increased, 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.

Support for Families with Special Needs Children
The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) is establishing an Emergency Relief Support Fund for children and youth with special needs and their families. The fund will provide a direct payment of $225 per month to eligible families over the next three months (to June 30, 2020).

Enhanced Goods and Services Tax Credit (GSTC)
A one-time special payment by early May 2020 through the GSTC for individuals who file their income tax and benefit return before June 1, 2020. This will double the maximum annual GSTC payment amounts for the 2019-20 benefit year. The average boost to income for those benefiting from this measure will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.

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.

Support for Renters and People Experiencing Homelessness
In response to the pandemic and resulting financial stress, BC has increased funding for housing supports and is working to ensure people can maintain their housing in the event of job or income loss.

The BC government is providing temporary relief for renters of up to $500/month for 4 months through BC Housing, imposing a moratorium on evictions (with some exceptions) while B.C.’s emergency order is in place, and placing a freeze on new annual rent increases by landlords. Benefiting people with low to moderate incomes, the temporary rent supplement will be available to renters who are facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID19 crisis, but do not qualify for existing rental assistance programs.

Applications are now being accepted

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
The Federal government is placing a six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying these loans.

Canada Emergency Student Benefit
The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) provides financial support to post-secondary students, and recent post-secondary and high school graduates who are unable to find work due to COVID-19. This benefit is for students who do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or Employment Insurance (EI). From May to August 2020, the CESB provides a payment to eligible students of 1,250 or $2,000 depending on your situation. Applications opened May 15th.

BC Student Loan Assistance
Starting March 30, 2020, the BC government is freezing B.C. student loan payments for six months.

Tax Filing Deadlines for Individuals Extended
The deadline for individuals to file income tax and benefit returns has been deferred until June 1, 2020. The deadline to pay any balance due for individual income tax and benefit returns for 2019 has been extended from April 30, 2020, to September 1, 2020. This means individuals will not be assessed any penalties or interest if the balance due is paid by September 1, 2020.

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.

Surrey Property Tax Payment Delay
The 2020 due date for property taxes is July 2, 2020. In order to provide financial relief to residents, the City has changed the penalty date to October 1, 2020. This change in penalty date will allow a 90-day extension to pay taxes without late penalties. A 10% penalty will be levied to all accounts with outstanding balances on October 1, 2020.

Support for BC Hydro Customers
BC Hydro customers have the option to defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty. Residential customers facing temporary financial hardship and possible disconnection of their service due to job loss, illness, or loss of a family member may be eligible for BC Hydro’s Customer Crisis Fund, which provides access to grants of up to $600 to pay bills.

Residential customers who have lost their jobs or are unable to work as a result of COVID-19 will receive a credit to help cover the cost of their electricity bills. The credit will be three times their average monthly bill over the past year at their home and does not have to be repaid.

In addition to this new targeted bill relief, BC Hydro rates will be reduced by 1% on April 1, 2020, after the B.C. Utilities Commission provided interim approval of the application BC Hydro submitted last August. This is the first rate decrease in decades.

FortisBC COVID-19 Customer Recovery Fund
If you’re a residential customer in the program, you will have your bills automatically deferred, from April 1 to June 30, 2020. When you enter the program, FortisBC will work with you to create an interest free repayment schedule. When you apply to the program, you will automatically be entered into a repayment plan that will be spread out over the next 12 months to help lessen the immediate financial impacts to you during this time.

Support for ICBC Customers
ICBC customers on a monthly Autoplan payment plan, who are facing financial challenges due to COVID-19, can defer their payment for up to 90 days with no penalty. Apply online or call 18006656442.

  • For customers with individual-rated policies, we are waiving cancellation and plating fees associated with cancelling and reinsuring vehicles at a later date.
  • Fleet customers can choose to suspend their insurance and do not have to cancel their plates. If they have already cancelled, the new plate fee will be waived when they re-plate or add a new vehicle.
  • ICBC customers – including volunteers – will now be able to use their vehicles for the delivery of essential goods, such as food or medical products and services, without changing their insurance or paying a higher premium.
  • Customers whose Learner Driver’s Licences (class 5-8) expire during the pandemic will not have to pay the fee for the first knowledge test once testing resumes.

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.

Support for People Receiving Income Assistance or Disability Assistance
For people in BC currently receiving income assistance or disability assistance, the Province will temporarily exempt federal employment insurance benefits, including the new $2,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). These payments will be fully exempted for the next three months so people receiving income assistance and disability assistance in BC will benefit from these new emergency federal support programs, without any reductions to their monthly assistance payments.

For everyone on income assistance or disability assistance who is not eligible for the emergency federal support programs, including the CERB, the Province will provide an automatic $300-monthly COVID-19 crisis supplement for the next three months. This supplement will also be provided to low-income seniors who receive the B.C. Senior’s Supplement and recipients of income assistance or disability assistance who reside in special care facilities.

With the current province-wide suspension of BC Transit and Translink bus fares, the Province will also provide all BC Bus Pass Program users receiving income assistance and disability assistance with the $52 Transportation Supplement for the duration of the fare suspension. This will be included on the next cheque and for each subsequent month while the fare suspension remains in place.

Existing Compass passes under the BC Bus Pass Program will not be cancelled and will remain active during this time, so people will not need to reapply for bus passes in the future. This will also ensure people can still use SkyTrain and SeaBus services that are still charging fares. There is no change for eligible low-income seniors who will continue to have an active bus pass provided by the BC Bus Pass Program.

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
  • Waived local transit fares
  • Payment and international roaming options from your telecommunications provider
  • Freezing or refunding membership fees at facilities such as gym memberships