[COVID-19] A complete list of government benefits for laid-off employees.

The COVID-19 has become a worldwide pandemic. The province of British Columbia has declared a provincial state of emergency and the city of Vancouver even ordered the closure of businesses to slow the spread of COVID-19. Even though the Joint Information Centre and Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued guidelines to help permit the operation of construction sites, we all know a friend who has already been laid off. The construction industry is considered essential for the growth of the economy, but if this situation doesn’t get contained soon, many of us might soon face a shortage of work.

There are many resources online about what you can get from different levels of governments and corporations, but they seem a bit scatters, so we have gathered and consolidated a list for employees in the construction industry and others alike. Here is what they are, and what you can apply for:

  • Temporary wage subsidy for employers
  • Employment Insurance
  • Due to reduced hour
  • Due to sickness or quarantine
  • The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
  • BC Emergency Benefit
  • Tax Credits
  • Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC)
  • Enhanced BC Climate Action Tax credit
  • BC Temporary Renter’s supplement
  • If you are a property owner
  • Mortgage Repayment Deferral Program
  • BC Hydro Customer Assistance Program
  • Additional Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for parents
  • Student loan payments freeze for 6 months


Temporary wage subsidy for employers

It would be ideal if no workers get laid off, that is why the Canadian government has announced a temporary wage subsidy for employers for a period of 3 months. This federal benefit approves eligible employers who pay employees between March 18, 2020 and June 19, 2020, to reduce payroll remittances made to CRA.

This subsidy gives employers up to $1,375 per employee, to a maximum of $25,000 per employer. For businesses that face shortage of work, hopefully this benefit can help employers keep their employee at work for the next 3 months.

For more detailed explanation, please visit the government website at Temporary wage subsidy for employers


Employment Insurance

If the temporary wage subsidy for employers is not enough to offset the reduced income, or if employees become sick due to the COVID-19 outbreak, then employees may have to apply for employment insurance (EI).


Due to reduced hour

Canadians who lose their job or has their hours reduced due to the COVID-19 impact can rely on the newly implemented EI Work Sharing Program. This benefit is administered through CRA and applies to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours.

This benefit was announced on March 11, and the core idea is to ease the eligibility by extending the eligibility of reduced hour agreements from maximum of 38 weeks to 76 weeks during this special time.


Please visit https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/work-sharing/temporary-measures-forestry-sector.html for further information


Due to sickness or quarantine

The employment insurance has introduced the Emergency Care Benefit which provide $900 bi-weekly up to 15 weeks of income for those who become sick, injured or in quarantine.

During the COVID-19 period, Service Canada is giving additional leeway to help Canadian citizens by

  • waiving the 1 week waiting period for EI sickness benefits.
  • waiving the requirement for medical certificate for those in quarantine
  • applicants who are in quarantine and cannot complete the claim for EI sickness benefits can apply later and have the EI claim backdated to cover for the delay.

Feel free to call employment insurance at 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free), or visit the EI sickness benefits page to apply.


The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The Canada emergency response benefit is a federal-level benefit to help keep workers. This benefit applies to contract workers and self-employed individuals who are not eligible to apply for EI. The CERB aims toward helping Canadians who are unable to work either due to their individual sickness/quarantine or having to take care of someone who is sick. It also covers working parents who has to stay home without pay because of school and daycare closures.

This benefit provide $2,000 per month for up to four months for people who lost their income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of the time this article is written, the Canadian government has not announced details on how this benefit can be applied. Please stay tuned.


BC Emergency Benefit

On top of the Canadian federal government’s benefit of Employment Insurance and the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit, BC resident are also eligible to apply for the new BC Emergency Benefit which provides a one-time $1,000 payment to people who lost income because of COVID-19.

As of the time this article is written, the BC government has not announced details on how this benefit can be applied. Please stay tuned.


Tax Credits

During this difficult time, CRA has also stepped in to help. For the most of us who do not qualify for the tax credit payments, we can benefit from the Canada Revenue Agency allowing taxpayers to defer filing due date to June 1, 2020, and defer payment until after August 31, 2020.

As for the newly introduced tax credits, they mainly caters to Canadian who has low income. The eligibility is based on your 2019 tax return.


Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC)

For those who has low income and are impacted by the COVID-19 situation, the Canadian government is giving out a one-time special payment by early May 2020 through the Goods and Services Tax Credit. This double the maximum annual GSTC payment amounts for the 2019-20 benefit year. Individuals will receive an average of $400 for single individual and $600 for couples.


Enhanced BC Climate Action Tax credit

The BC Climate Action Tax Credit has always been around. Now with the COVID-19 situation, BC has introduced the Enhanced BC Climate Action Tax Credit which gives out an additional one-time payment to be made in July 2020. Applicants who are eligible for BC Climate Action Tax Credit will still receive payment on the scheduled date.

To be eligible to receive this Enhanced BC Climate Action Tax Credit, you must be a BC resident and are older than 19 years of age either have a spouse or common law partner, or a parent who live with your child.

The maximum annual climate action tax credit payment amounts will increase:

  • Effective July 1, 2020 to $174 for the adult amount and $51 for the child amount
  • Effective July 1, 2021 to $193.50 for the adult amount and $56.50 for the child amount

Visit: Climate Action Tax Credit Regulation for more information


BC Temporary Renter’s supplement

BC Housing is working with the Province of BC to create a set of new guidelines to protect the renters. This includes the freeze on annual rent increase, eviction moratorium during COVID-19, and BC Temporary Renter’s Supplement program. 

We have talked about these benefits in another article, but renters who experience a loss of income may receive $500 per month during the COVID-19 period.


If you are a property owner

While it may seem like many of the benefits are geared towards the renters, the Canadian government is also working towards helping homeowners who has to pay mortgage but facing financial hardship. Lets talk briefly about the Mortgage Repayment Deferral program and BC Hydro’s Customer Assistance Program.


Mortgage Repayment Deferral Program

Many of readers are homeowners who still has a mortgage to pay. During the COVID-19 crisis when we could be facing financial hardships, the Canadian government is working with CMHC to provide mortgage deferment for up to 6 months on CMHC-insured mortgage loans. The COVID-19 Mortgage Payment Deferral program is an ongoing program when homeowners can apply for it any time during the outbreak. Unlike many of the benefits we have listed here, this mortgage repayment program does not give you any grants. It is important to note that even though you can defer the payment to a later date, the interest still accumulates during these periods. You will end up having to pay for more at the end, but this program is here to help us getting through the tough hurdles during this trying time.

Visit: CMHC website for more information.


BC Hydro Customer Assistance Program

BC Hydro has started two programs:

  • Customer Assistance Program to defer bill payments without penalty
  • Customer Crisis Fund that gives out grants for up to $600 for ones affected by illness or lost wage during the COVID-19 crisis

Check out this Article for more detailed information


Additional Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for parents

For families and children who may require additional support, the Canadian government is proposing to help by increasing the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment amount by $300 per child. This benefit will increase the CBB families receives to an approximately $550 on average. This benefit is admistered by CRA, so the eligibility is based on your income tax. For families who have previously applied for the CBB, there is no need to re-apply, the benefit will recieved through the regular May CCB payment.

For more information on eligibility and requirements, go to Canada child benefit


Student loan payments freeze for 6 months

Canadian government is working with financial institutions to place a 6-month interest-free pause on repayment of Canada Student Loans. This repayment moratorium starts on March 30th, 2020, and last until September 30th, 2020. There is no need for application as this benefit as the process is automatic paused.









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