Momentum is now offering Community Helplines and Coaching Services. If you still have questions or need support after reading this post, we’re available to assist you.
Everyone is concerned with the growing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on ourselves, our families, and our communities.
As citizens, one way we support each other during emergencies is by building up our social safety net when we pay our taxes. The elected officials and civil servants of our federal, provincial, and municipal governments are working hard to use these resources to protect our health and to support people across the country who are facing financial disruptions.
The following benefits and government programs are available if you have lost income from your job due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
Public Health Authorities have ordered many businesses and organizations to close or scale back their operations. This has led to reduced working hours and layoffs for many people. Others have had to miss work to care for children after schools and daycares were closed, or because they were required to self-isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is a taxable benefit of $500 per week for up to 16 weeks ($2000 per month). It will be available between March 15 and Ocotober 3, 2020.
To be eligible to receive the CERB you must:
- Have a valid Social Insurance Number and be at least 15 years old;
- Have stopped working or had your hours reduced after March 15, 2020 for reasons related to COVID-19 or have exhausted your Employment Insurance (EI) benefits at any point between Dec. 29, 2019 and Oct. 3, 2020;
- Have earned at least $5,000 in employment or self-employment income, or from EI maternity or parental benefits in the previous 12 months; AND
- Have earned $1,000 or less for each four-week benefit period.
Anyone who meets these criteria, including Temporary Foreign Workers and foreign nationals who were employed with an Open Work Permit can apply.
You can now apply for the CERB online or by phone. To avoid overwhelming the online application system and Service Canada agents, you are being asked to apply according to your birth month:
- Mondays: January, February, or March
- Tuesdays: April, May, or June
- Wednesdays: July, August, or September
- Thursdays: October, November, or December
- Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays: Any month
Apply online through your CRA My Account here: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html
Apply by phone by calling: 1-800-959-8281
To learn more, visit Questions and Answers on the CERB from the Government of Canada.
Employment Insurance (EI)
Several types of benefits are available to eligible workers through Canada’s Employment Insurance system.
If you are currently receiving EI payments, or became eligible for EI before March 15th, your benefits will continue through the Employment Insurance System. Do not apply for the CERB.
If you have become eligible for EI since March 15th, you will receive the CERB. If you are still unable to work the end of the 16-week period covered by the CERB, and you meet the eligibility requirements for other EI benefits you can apply for them at that time. The 16-week CERB period will not impact the number of weeks you can receive EI payments.
For more information on Employment Insurance programs and eligibility, click on the following benefits:
- Regular Employment Insurance Benefits
- Employment Insurance Sickness Benefit
- Employment Insurance Caregiving Benefits
- EI Special Benefits for Self-employed People
Alberta Emergency Isolation Support benefit
Applications for this benefit have ended. Please look at applying for the CERB.
Job Protection and Employment Standards
Most of us are protected from losing our jobs if we need to miss work to deal with health issues, family responsibilities thanks to the Alberta Employment Standards code. For example, if you, or a child or adult that you care for is required to self-isolate due to COVID-19 you can take up to 14 days of job protected leave. There is no time limit for unpaid job protected leave for parents caring for children due to school and daycare closures.
If you believe you contracted COVID-19 at your workplace, you may be eligible for compensation. Check out the Workers’ Compensation Board Fact Sheet for more information.
Learn more about your Employment Rights and dealing with COVID-19.
If you need other financial support:
- Residential customers (homeowners and renters) will be able to pause their electricity and / or natural gas bill payments as well as their water, waste and recycling services for the next 90 days. Please contact your service provider for more information.
- You will have until June 1 to file your taxes, and until August 31 to pay any amount you owe. If you usually get a return, you can file your taxes now.
- Canada’s 6 largest banks, along with Alberta Treasury Branch, and other credit unions will provide options to pause mortgage payments and manage other debt. Contact your financial institution for more information.
- Families with children will get a boost to their May 2020 payment of the Canada Child Benefit to help with added childcare or other household costs.
- If you receive the GST tax credit, the federal government is planning for a one-time, additional credit, to be paid in early May
- People repaying an Alberta Student Loan and / or a Canada Student Loan, will have the option to pause your payments for up to six months. Interest will not accrue during this time.
- Ask your employer if they will be applying for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to prevent layoffs.
- You may be eligible for Alberta Income Support and / or Emergency Financial Assistance.
If you need other kinds of support:
We’ve also collected a list of Supports for Businesses impacted by COVID-19.
Call 211 or visit Alberta 211 online to get connected to other community supports in Calgary.
It is normal to feel anxious and worried and we encourage everyone to reach out to your networks for support, or to seek support from mental health services including:
- Alberta Health Services: Help in Tough Times
- Distress Centre: 403-266-4357
- Mental Health Help Line: 1-877-3030-2642
- Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
- Hope for Wellness: Mental health counselling and crisis intervention for Indigenous Peoples is available by calling the toll-free Help Line, 1-855-242-3310, or through the chat box at hopeforwellness.ca.
These are extraordinary and challenging times. Let’s all take care of ourselves and each other.