The COVID-19 pandemic is truly unprecedented. It disrupts the daily lives of millions of Canadians.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government’s measures are meant to “make sure that no matter where you live, what you do, or who you are, you will get the support you need during this time.”

COVID-19: Emergency Support for AllTrudeau announces the government’s $82 billion emergency response package.

Among the “extraordinary” aid measures unveiled: deferring the tax deadline, boosting the Canada Child Benefit, wage subsidies for small businesses, and targeted assistance for vulnerable demographics to help “bridge to better times.”

The content of this overview:

  1. Declaration of emergency
  2. New COVID-19 Emergency Response Benefits Program
  3. Ontario Emergency Assistance Program Expanded
  4. Important OHIP Coverage Updates
  5. Child Care for Frontline Workers
  6. Important Income Tax Updates
  7. Validation Periods for Drivers Licences Extended
  8. Relief from Higher Electricity Bills
  9. Mandatory Closure of All Non-Essential Workplaces
  10. Ontario Parks Operations updates
  11. Financial Relief from Major Banks
  12. Canada has shut the border to all non-essential travellers
  13. Travel Insurance Important Updates

Declaration of emergency

Ontario has declared the state of emergency to help contain the spread of coronavirus. As a result, the following establishments are closed:

  • all bars and restaurants, except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout and food delivery
  • all facilities providing indoor recreational programs
  • all public libraries
  • all private schools
  • all licensed child care centres
  • all movie cinemas
  • all theatres, including those offering live performances of music, dance and other art forms
  • all concert venues

Additionally, all organized public events of over 50 people are prohibited, including parades, events and communal services within places of worship.

All persons over 70 years of age and individuals who are immunocompromised are advised to self-isolate for a period of 14 days. This means that you should only leave your home or see other people for essential reasons. Where possible, you should seek services over the phone or internet or ask for help from friends, family or neighbours with essential errands.

These orders will remain in place until March 31, 2020, when the province will reassess for an extension or end the closures.

Please note:

  • According to CBC News (March 23, 2020), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is addressing the country as the government considers penalties for Canadian travellers who don’t follow the government’s advice to self-isolate when they return home.
  • Individuals who violate the social distancing rule could be fined up to $1,000 while corporations could face fines of up to $500,000, OPP said in a news release.

COVID-19: Emergency Support for AllNew COVID-19 Emergency Response Benefits Program

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government’s measures are meant to “make sure that no matter where you live, what you do, or who you are, you will get the support you need during this time.”

Trudeau announces the government’s $82 billion emergency response package

Emergency benefits to be made available in April for those who do not qualify for EI (Employment Insurance).

Who qualifies for EI?

To be qualified for EI, you must have lost your job through no fault of your own. It also depends on your specific situation, such as regional rate of employment, and the number of hours worked in the last 52 weeks. You have to apply as soon as possible to find out if they qualify. If you apply more than four weeks after your last day of work, you could lose access to those benefits. If approved, the maximum amount paid out for EI is $573 a week.

Due to the coronavirus crisis, the one-week waiting period for sickness benefits will be removed for those who have been told to self-isolate or quarantine, meaning applicants can be paid for the first week of their claim.

COVID-19: Emergency Support for AllEmergency Response Benefits Program

The new program replaces two previously announced benefits – the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit – into one.

The government is streamlining the financial support regime as it struggles to cope with an unprecedented volume of employment insurance claims.

The application process is scheduled to open on April 6, with individual income support payments amounting to about $2,000 a month expected to flow about 10 days later.

The benefits will be available for up to 4 months.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 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.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will be accessible through a secure web portal starting on April 6. Applicants will also be able to apply via an automated telephone line or via a toll-free number.

Source: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan/covid19-individuals.html#new_canada_emergency_response_benefit

Important Official Notice

If you are directly affected by the COVID-19 because you are sick or quarantined and you have not yet applied for EI benefits, please submit your application before contacting us. This will allow us to better serve you and prevent delays in establishing your claim.

If you have already completed the application for EI sickness benefits whether you are sick or quarantined and would like to have the one-week waiting period waived, call the new toll-free phone number below. It is important to note that no other request will be actioned on this phone line. We will take action only for sick or quarantined clients affected by the COVID-19 for which the application for sickness benefits has been filed.

  • Telephone: 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free)
  • Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-800-529-3742

Notice on visiting Service Canada offices if you are sick: If you are experiencing symptoms such as cough, fever, difficulty breathing or you are in self-isolation or quarantine, do not visit or enter any Service Canada office. As an alternative, you may access our services online or by calling 1-800 O-Canada.

COVID-19: Emergency Support for AllOntario Emergency Assistance Program Expanded

Ontario is expanding access to existing Emergency Assistance under the current provisions of Ontario Works. This is available to people with limited income, assets or credit including those who live in poverty, are homeless or unemployed. This extra social services relief funding will help protect the health and safety of most vulnerable populations.

Province is providing additional $200 million directly to individuals and families in financial crisis, including those who are not able to access Employment Insurance (EI) to cover needs such as food costs, rent, medicine and other essential services during the coronavirus pandemic.

Changes to Ontario’s Emergency Assistance Program in response to COVID-19 include the following:

  • Suspending the rule that limits emergency assistance provision to only once in a six-month period for individuals and families affected by COVID-19; and
  • Allowing people to receive emergency assistance for longer (48 days) without submitting a full Ontario Works application.

Those who are already on Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), tourists and visitors are not eligible.

COVID-19: Emergency Support for All

Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19

The government’s action plan is a first step in its response to COVID-19 and includes $7 billion in additional resources for the health care system and direct support for people and jobs. It also will make available $10 billion in support for people and businesses through tax and other deferrals to improve their cash flow, protecting jobs and household budgets.

Source: https://news.ontario.ca/mof/en/2020/3/ontarios-action-plan-responding-to-covid-19.html

 

COVID-19: Emergency Support for AllImportant OHIP Coverage Updates

No one will be left without medical care for COVID-19

In the COVID-19 pandemic Ontario expands coverage for care to insure that no one will be discouraged from seeking screening or treatment for coronavirus for financial reasons.

To ensure that anyone in need of care can receive it, Ontario is:

  • waiving the three-month waiting period for Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage
  • covering the cost of COVID-19 services for uninsured people who do not meet the criteria for OHIP coverage

Ontario Extending Validation Periods for OHIP cards

Additionally, Ontarians with expiring and expired health cards will continue to have access to insured health services.

COVID-19: Emergency Support for AllChild Care for Front line Workers

Health care and other frontline workers, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, firefighters, police, and correctional officers, will be able to access safe, local emergency child care. These child care centres will be required to follow existing health and safety requirements and have a plan in place should any staff, children or parents be exposed to the virus.

Once emergency child care centres open, a list of locations will be made available on ontario.ca/coronavirus.

Important Income Tax Updates

Income tax filing extended: The Canada Revenue Agency has extended the deadline to file 2019 T1 personal income tax returns from April 30 to June 1, 2020. Self-employed taxpayers and their spouses already have until June 15, 2020 to file their personal tax returns.

IMPORTANT! The CRA encourages individuals who expect to receive benefits under the GSTC or the Canada Child Benefit not to delay the filing of their return to ensure their entitlements for the 2020-21 benefit year are properly determined.

Payment of tax owing extended: The deadline for payment of tax owing has been extended from April 30 to Aug. 31, 2020. No interest will be charged for balances due until Aug. 31. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. Businesses will also have an interest-free extension until July 31 to pay corporate tax balances.

CRA will recognize electronic signatures: In order to reduce the necessity for taxpayers and tax preparers to meet in person during this difficult time, and to reduce administrative burden, effective immediately the Canada Revenue Agency will recognize electronic signatures as having met the signature requirements of the Income Tax Act, as a temporary administrative measure.

COVID-19: Emergency Support for AllValidation Periods for Drivers Licences Extended

Ontario is extending the validity of drivers licences, vehicle and carrier products and services that expired on or after March 1, 2020. These will continue to remain valid and legal past the expiry until further notice.

Closure of Drive Test Centres

Effective March 23, 2020, all full-time DriveTest Centres and part-time Travel Point locations will be closed until further notice.

Ontarians can rest assured:

  • They will not lose their current driver’s licences due to this decision
  • No driver’s licence applicants will lose test fees as a result of the closures
  • The current “Fail to Keep Appointment” penalty fee will also be waived.
  • Any driver who has missed their scheduled road test between March 16, 2020 and today will not be charged fees for missing the test. You will have a credit automatically placed on your file that you can use when rescheduling in the future.
  • If you have a driving test coming up, you should reschedule or cancel your appointment. Your initial fee will remain on your record so you can apply it when you reschedule. You can reschedule:

Please visit www.drivetest.ca or https://www.ontario.ca/page/extended-validation-periods for more information.

COVID-19: Emergency Support for AllRelief from Higher Electricity Bills

Ontarians, who have to work from home or who choose to self-isolate due to COVID-19 are concerned about high daytime electricity rates.

Ontario is providing electricity relief to families, small businesses and farms during COVID-19: Province suspending time-of-use rates for 45 days

Source: https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/03/ontario-providing-electricity-relief-to-families-small-businesses-and-farms-during-covid-19.html

COVID-19: Emergency Support for AllMandatory Closure of All Non-Essential Workplaces

Ontario orders the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces for 14 days with the possibility of extension.

What are essential services?

The services that maintain supply chains and provide access to necessities, including groceries, medicines and other essential products.

Businesses can continue operations with employees working remotely, or through other contingency measures.

List of essential workplaces

To see the full list of essential workplaces in Ontario please visit:

https://www.ontario.ca/page/list-essential-workplaces

Here is a look at categories of workplaces that are permitted to stay open:

  • Supply Chains: Businesses that supply other essential businesses or services with the support, supplies, systems or services, including processing, packaging, distribution, delivery and maintenance necessary to operate
  • Retail: Businesses engaged in the sale of food for people and animals, consumer products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences and businesses, including grocery stores, supermarkets, and convenience stores. Beer, wine and liquor stores can remain open. Gas stations, vehicle repair business, hardware stores, pharmacies, office supply stores and safety supply stores also are included.
  • Food Services: Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or takeout
  • Accommodation: Hotels, motels, shared rental units and similar facilities, including student residences
  • Maintenance: Businesses that provide support and maintenance services to maintain industrial and residential properties, including property management services, plumbers, electricians, cleaning services, security services, fire safety, repair technicians and engineers, mechanics, and other similar service providers
  • Telecommunications / IT: Business providing or supporting information technology and telecommunications services, as well as support services such as call centres for delivery.
  • Transportation: Taxis and other private transportation providers necessary for activities of daily living
  • Manufacturing and Production: Businesses that manufacture and distribute goods and businesses that support the movement of essential goods within supply chains.
  • Agriculture and Food Production: Businesses that farm, harvest, process, manufacture, produce or distribute food, including beverages, crops, animal products and by-products, aquaculture, hunting and fishing
  • Construction: Construction projects and services associated with health care, transportation, energy and justice sectors. Demolition services and businesses that support health and safety environmental rehabilitation projects also can remain open.
  • Financial Activities: Capital markets, credit unions, insurance businesses, businesses that provide pension and employee benefit services, and businesses that provide financial services.
  • Resources: Businesses that deal with supply of mining materials and products, mining operations and mineral exploration. Businesses that support the water sector, those involved in the supply of forestry products and the supply of petroleum also can continue operations.
  • Environmental Services: Businesses that support environmental management/monitoring
  • Utilities and Community Services: Businesses engaged in or supporting the operation, maintenance and repair of critical infrastructure (railways, dams, bridges, highways, erosion control structures, ). Also included: waste collection, water/sewage treatment, electricity generation, natural gas distribution, road construction, emergency services
  • Communications: Newspaper publishers, radio and television broadcasters, telecommunications providers.
  • Research: Businesses that provide and support research.
  • Health Care: Home care services, retirement homes, long-term care facilities and laboratories. Businesses involved in pharmaceutical products and medical supplies, those that support health care can stay open, along with dentists, optometrists and physiotherapists.
  • Other: Rental and leasing services, mailing services, laundromats, dry cleaners, lawyers, engineers, accountants, funeral services, real estate and moving services, security services, animal health services, child-care services and cheque-cashing services.

COVID-19: Emergency Support for AllOntario Parks Operations updates

All provincial parks will be closed to the public from March 19, 2020 until April 30, 2020. This includes car camping, backcountry camping, roofed accommodations, day use opportunities and all public buildings.

Current visitors to provincial parks will be required to vacate by March 19, 2020. Any person or group with a reservation for arrival up to April 30, 2020 will automatically be provided a full refund with no penalty.

Please visit OntarioParks.com for the most up-to-date information.”

Financial Relief from Major Banks

Major Banks have put in place financial relief programs for personal and business clients who have experienced financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, National Bank of Canada, Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-Dominion Bank all are offering to ease up on customers whose lives have been disrupted by the new coronavirus, a largely unprecedented move that could include allowing borrowers to delay mortgage payments for up to six months.

COVID-19: Emergency Support for AllCanada has shut the border to all non-essential travellers

Canada has shut the border to all non-essential travellers.

New restrictions will mean asylum seekers will be turned back anywhere along the border

However, there will be exceptions for some foreign nationals coming to Canada to work, study or live permanently. According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the exemptions include seasonal agricultural workers, fish and seafood workers, caregivers and all other temporary foreign workers.

Travel Insurance Important Updates

As of the travel advisory issued by the Government of Canada on March 13, 2020, the coronavirus has been announced to be a “known” or “foreseen” event for Medical Emergency and Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption Travel Insurance. It means that if you have bought your travel insurance on or after that date and travelled to a destination that the Government of Canada has advised Canadians to “Avoid all Travel” or “Avoid all non-essential Travel”, and:

  • you contract COVID-19, you will not be covered under Medical Emergency Travel Insurance;
  • your Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption Travel Insurance will not be paid

For the most up-to-date travel advisory information visit https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories

Additional Resources

 

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Author: AllOntario Team

AllOntario.ca is an information resource for Ontario residents and a marketplace for Ontario businesses. It’s all about living and doing business in Ontario. All in one site.