COVID-19 pandemic support for Canadians: Where to get financial and health support

A family holds a sign and applauds healthcare workers outside St. Paul's Hospital, as a convoy of first responders with lights and sirens activated parade past to show support for the hospital staff, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sunday, April 5, 2020. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

The COVID-19 pandemic is leading to unprecedented shifts in how Canadians live their lives. Here’s a list of resources to help people in this challenging time.

Financial support

All levels of government are working together to help Canadians with financial aid through the novel coronavirus pandemic. Here are some resources for financial support that are available for individuals and families.

  • An extra $300 per child will be available through the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for 2019-20, which is scheduled to be distributed in May.

  • Starting April 9, the federal government will distribute a one-time payment of the Goods and Services Tax credit for low- and modest-income families. This will mean an additional $400 for individuals and close to $600 for couples.

  • The deadline for 2019 taxes has been deferred until June 1. All additional income tax balances due, or instalment payments will also be deferred until after August 31, 2020, with no incurring interest or penalties.

  • People who’ve lost work or income as a result of the pandemic may be eligible for a taxable benefit of $2,000 for up to four months, under the Canada’s Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Those who are sick, in quarantine or are in directed self-isolation may also be eligible. It applies for the period of time between March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020. Apply online or through an automated phone service (1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041), both of which are available 21 hours a day and closed between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. ET.  

  • For people who applied for EI or sickness benefits between March 15, 2020 or later, your claim will be processed through the CERB. For those applying for sickness benefits, the government has waived the week-long waiting period for new claimants who are quarantined, as well as waived the requirements to show a medical certificate to access the benefits.

Provincial and territorial governments are also providing additional assistance.

Ontario

The Ontario government is offering support to families with children. Eligible parents, guardians and caregivers will get a one-time per child payment of $200 for children between the ages of 0 to 12 and $250 for children or youth aged 0 to 21 with special needs. The funding is intended to help with work books, educational apps, educational subscription services, movies and other tools to support learning at home.

British Columbia 

The newly introduced B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers is a one-time, tax free $1,000 payment to B.C. residents who have lost work as a result of the pandemic. It applies to people who are eligible for EI and non-eligible workers, like those who freelance or are self employed, who’ve been laid off, are tending to sick family members, are sick or in quarantine or for parents who are required to stay at home to tend to children as a result of the closures of school and childcare centres. Additional financial support measures in B.C. can be found here

Saskatchewan

The Self-Isolation Support Program gives $450 per week to Saskatchewan residents who have to stop working in order to self-isolate and aren’t covered by federal programs.

Quebec

The Temporary Aid for Works Program is available for workers who are sick with COVID-19, have been in contact with an infected person or must self-quarantine and are not covered by any other financial help programs or private insurance. The program offers eligible workers $573 per week for two weeks. If health problems continue, the financial aid can continue for up to 28 days.

New Brunswick

The Red Cross is providing a one-time payment of $900 to workers who have recently become unemployed due to COVID-19. The program will close on April 30th and is intended to bridge the gap until the federal assistance program kicks in.

Prince Edward Island

A one-time payment of $750 is available for anyone who has lost their main source of income. There’s also a temporary allowance of $200 per week available to workers who’ve seen a significant drop in working hours.

Yukon

The Paid Sick Leave Rebate for employers reimburses employers if they pay their workers to take sick days and self-isolate.

Food security 

The federal government is giving $100 million to organizations across the country, such as the Food Banks Canada, Salvation Army, Second Harvest, Community Food Centres Canada, and Breakfast Club of Canada. The money will go towards services that include buying, transporting and distributing food and other basic necessities; hiring temporary workers to help fill a drop in volunteers; and applying safety measures, like the investment of personal protective equipment, to help stop the spread of COVID-19 between volunteers and clients. 

Mental health support

Several organizations are providing free mental health services for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. 

Stronger Minds

Benefits specialists Green Shield Canada (GSC) is sponsoring Stronger Minds, a free digital program designed to support the mental well-being of all Canadians. The program will be available indefinitely, as the length of the crisis is still not clear. The program requires no assessment to participate and offers expert-led support through videos, quick reads, and simple activities. Click here to learn more. 

Shoppers Drug Mart

The drug store chain has partnered with Silvercloud Health, an online mental health resource, to offer a program which will help Canadians manage stress until June 15. The free resource will combine cognitive behavioural therapy with positive therapy and mindfulness. It can be accessed through the company’s website.  

Physical health support

A big part of keeping mentally fit is making time for physical fitness. This can be especially challenging when anything considered non-essential, like gyms and yoga studios, are shuttered during the crisis. Even public parks are off limits. However, a lot of fitness studios are adapting to the current way of life, where staying home is safest, and taking their work-out classes online. Here are a few options:

  • Montreal-based Paradigm Fitness is also offering free daily live classes on Facebook at 10 a.m. EST, and are available as recordings after class. The intense classes sometimes last more than an hour and can include all kinds of types of workouts like resistance training and yoga.

  • MOVATI Athletic is offering free online classes through their YouTube and Facebook pages.