Health & Wellness

What Financial Help Can You Get?

Here’s a guide to federal economic relief

By Erika Morris

Photo: iStock/bob_bosewell.

Over the last month, Canadians’ work lives have completely changed shifted, leaving many scrambling to make ends meet. The federal government has announced a series of economic relief measures, but many people are still confused about their situation.

The government has reduced the minimum amounts retirees must withdraw from their RRIFs this year: you can withdraw 25 per cent less than normal still meet the minimum withdrawal amounts. The change to the minimum withdrawal is automatic and there’s no need to apply.

Those who qualify for GST rebates will receive a special payment of about $400 for individuals or $600 for couples.

Canadians who have been laid off are eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which offers $2000 a month for up to four months. To qualify, you must have made at least $5,000 in the last year and expect to be without work for at least two weeks. To keep receiving the benefits, you have to reapply every four weeks. Those receiving employment insurance are automatically signed up for CERB.

Seasonal, part-time, and contract workers, those who are employed without pay, the self-employed who lost revenue, and those making less than $1,000 a month are also eligible for CERB. Those who have had to go into self-isolation due to travel, becoming ill, or caring for someone who is sick are eligible, as well. You can find the application on the federal government’s website or you can call 1-800-959-2041.

Those with children receiving the Canada Child Benefit will also see an automatic increase in their cheques of $300 per child.

Employers and business owners who lost revenue have options such as the Canada Emergency Wave Subsidy, which encourages employers to put laid-off employees back on the payroll by offering subsidies of up to 75% of a business’s wages. Businesses that have lost, or are projected to lose, 30% of their revenue as a result of the pandemic can apply and receive benefits for up to 12 weeks.

If you still aren’t sure what options are best for you, you can call the employment insurance hotline at 1-833-381-2725.