Banks are reducing services offered and at reduced hours. Credit Unions have temporarily closed as of March 23rd, so if people bank with Credit Union, they should phone or do their banking on-line.
Income Assistance (SAID, SAP, TEA, SIS)
All Provincial Income Assistance offices will remain open for the time being, however, there are enhanced measures to protect people while they are in the building. Income Assistance has lessened reporting requirements across all of its programs. This means that if a client is late reporting certain information, Income Assistance will still process the payment so that the client receives it on or before April 1, 2020. This is a temporary measure in place to respond to the current situation.
If you need assistance, you can apply online at saskatchewan.ca/income-support. If you can't apply online or if you need immediate help, please call the Client Service Centre at 1-866-221-5200 or your local Income Assistance office.
Information on EI Benefits during COVID-19
The Government of Canada is encouraging people to apply for benefits as soon as possible and let a Service Canada agent determine if you're eligible. In order to be eligible, you need to demonstrate that you're unable to work for medical reasons, your regular weekly earnings from work have decreased by more than 40% for at least one week, and that you accumulated 600 insured hours* of work in the 52 weeks before the start of your claim or since the start of your last claim, whichever is shorter. Service Canada dedicated phone line for inquiries regarding COVID-19-related E-I claims 1-833-381-2725. Find more info here: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-sickness/qualify.html
The Government of Canada will also be:
Waiving the one-week waiting period for those individuals in imposed quarantine that claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits. This temporary measure is in effect as of March 15, 2020.
Waiving the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits.
Implementing the EI Work Sharing Program, which provides EI benefits to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hour as a result of developments beyond the control of their employers, by extending the eligibility of such agreements to 76 weeks, easing eligibility requirements, and streamlining the application process.
**Canada Emergency Response Benefit**
On March 25, 2020, the Government of Canada announced legislation to create the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This taxable benefit will provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB will cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, also qualify for the CERB. This will help businesses keep their employees as they navigate these difficult times, while ensuring they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as it becomes possible.The CERB is available to workers who meet all of the following conditions:
live in Canada and are at least 15 years old
stopped working because of COVID-19 or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits
have not voluntarily quit their job
had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application.
On April 15, 2020, the Government of Canada changed to the eligibility rules to:
Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB.
Extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their regular seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Extend the CERB to workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.
The portal for accessing the CERB will be available in early April. Canadians will begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB will be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020. See more info here: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/introduces-canada-emergency-response-benefit-to-help-workers-and-businesses.html
Saskatchewan Self-Isolation Support Program
The Government of Saskatchewan has created a Self-Isolation Support Program. The program is targeted at Saskatchewan workers forced to self-isolate in order to curb the spread of COVID-19, and who are not covered by recent federally announced employment insurance programs and other supports. Administered by the Ministry of Finance, the program will provide $450 per week, for a maximum of two weeks or $900. To be eligible, residents of Saskatchewan must meet these criteria:
They have contracted COVID-19 or are showing symptoms or they have been in contact with an individual infected with COVID-19 or they have recently returned from international travel and have been required to self-isolate.
They are not eligible for compensation including sick leave, vacation leave from their employer.
They do not have private insurance covering such disruptions.
They are not covered by other programs such as federal employment insurance that has been updated.
For over 12 million low- and modest-income families, who may require additional help with their finances, the Government is proposing to provide a one-time special payment by early May 2020 through the Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC). This will double the maximum annual GSTC payment amounts for the 2019-20 benefit year. The average boost to income for those benefitting from this measure will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.
Canada Child Benefit
For over 3.5 million families with children, who may also require additional support, the Government is proposing to increase the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment amounts, only for the 2019-20 benefit year, by $300 per child. The overall increase for families receiving CCB will be approximately $550 on average.
In order to provide greater flexibility to Canadians who may be experiencing hardships during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Canada Revenue Agency will defer the filing due date for the 2019 tax returns of individuals, including certain trusts. For individuals (other than trusts), the return filing due date will be deferred until June 1, 2020. However, the Agency 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. For trusts having a taxation year ending on December 31, 2019, the return filing due date will be deferred until May 1, 2020.
The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all taxpayers to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020.
Free Tax Clinics Directory
Do you need help with your tax return? If you have a modest income and a simple tax situation, volunteers at a free tax clinic may be able to complete your tax return for you. Find the directory here: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/free-tax-help.html?utm_campaign=not-applicable&utm_medium=vanity-url&utm_source=canada-ca_taxes-help
The Saskatchewan Housing Corporation will begin accepting applications for the new Saskatchewan Housing Benefit (SHB) on April 1, 2020. The SHB is a federal-provincial program delivered through the National Housing Strategy. SHB is a monthly benefit available to eligible households, including seniors, families, couples and singles. Renters are not eligible if they receive income or housing support from a Government of Saskatchewan income assistance or training program or are sponsored newcomers to Canada.
Mortgage Default Management Tools
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and other mortgage insurers offer tools to lenders that can assist homeowners who may be experiencing financial difficulty. These include payment deferral, loan re-amortization, capitalization of outstanding interest arrears and other eligible expenses, and special payment arrangements.
The Government, through CMHC, is providing increased flexibility for homeowners facing financial difficulties to defer mortgage payments on homeowner CMHC-insured mortgage loans. CMHC will permit lenders to allow payment deferral beginning immediately.
Student Loans are being deferred immediately for at least six-months; an interest-free, moratorium on Canada & Saskatchewan Student Loan payments for all individuals who are in the process of repaying these loans.