Federal projected spending on direct supports due to COVID-19 hits $145B

The federal government now projects that it will spend more than $145.6 billion on direct support for Canadians as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Those direct support programs account for approximately one fifth of the overall tally of the measures the government has announced related to the pandemic.

Ottawa estimates that overall total — including measures to protect Canadians health and safety and to provide business and tax liquidity support as well as the direct support for individuals, businesses and sectors — amounts to more than $817 billion.

But much of that is not spending that will end up on the books. For example, a large portion, $300 billion, is a measure by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OFSI) to free up capital for the banks.

Another big part of that overall total are tax deferrals and credit and loan guarantee programs:

  • Credit and liquidity supports through the Bank of Canada and CMHC are projected at $200 billion.
  • Income and sales tax deferrals are estimated at $85 billion.
  • Liquidity support for businesses, homeowners and the agricultural sector is estimated at more than $286 billion.

But while there is a cost associated with those programs, deferrals, credit support and monetary measures essentially just put off when the government gets paid.

The additional emergency funding and the direct support measures that will have the biggest impact on the deficit and debt in the government’s financial books.

  • $73 billion: Canada emergency wage subsidy
  • $35 billion: Canada emergency relief benefit
  • 15.3 billion: Canada emergency business account
  • $5.5 billion: GST credits
  • $9 billion: Financial aid to students
  • $1.7 billion: Orphan well clean up

Government introduces Canada Emergency Response Benefit to help workers and businesses

The Government of Canada continues to take action to help Canadians and businesses facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Learn more about the latest measures at Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

The Government of Canada is taking strong, immediate and effective action to protect Canadians and the economy from the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic. No Canadian should have to choose between protecting their health, putting food on the table, paying for their medication or caring for a family member.

To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, the government has proposed legislation to establish the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This taxable benefit would 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 would be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.

The CERB would 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. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).

Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for the CERB. This would 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 EI system was not designed to process the unprecedented high volume of applications received in the past week. Given this situation, all Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, would be able to receive the CERB to ensure they have timely access to the income support they need.

Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB. If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, they could apply for the CERB once their EI benefits cease, if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19. Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed would not need to reapply. Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits would still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB.

The government is working to get money into the pockets of Canadians as quickly as possible. The portal for accessing the CERB would be available in early April. EI eligible Canadians who have lost their job can continue to apply for EI here, as can Canadians applying for other EI benefits. Canadians would begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.

This benefit would be one part of the government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, to support Canadian workers and businesses and help stabilize the economy by helping Canadians pay for essentials like housing and groceries, and helping businesses pay their employees and bills during this unprecedented time of global uncertainty.

Simplified CERB Fact Sheet

The following information provided by the Canadian government will provide you with answers to many of the most common questions related to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

When can I apply?
• The week of April 6th. The government has announced that an online portal and telephone line will be available sometime during the week of April 6th.

When will I receive my cheque?
• The first cheques should be received approximately 10 days after you apply.

And when will I stop receiving my cheques?
• You will stop receiving this cheque after four months, or sooner if you return to work.

What steps do I need to take to register or apply?
• You will need to register on a new website that will be set up the week of April 6 by the federal government. The address of this site has not yet been released.
• Even though you can’t apply until April 6th, you can set up your CRA My Account now
• Because of this, we HIGHLY recommend you register for “CRA My Account” as we are told this will streamline your application process and you can setup Direct Deposit through this.

Who qualifies and can apply for the CERB?
• You must reside in Canada
• You are 15 years of age or older at the time of application
• You have stopped or will stop working for reasons related to covid-19, or because you are unable to work due to illness, or because you lost your employment for other reasons beyond your control; and
◦ If you are submitting for your first benefit period, that you have stopped or will stop working for at least 14 consecutive days within the 4 week benefit period; or
◦ If you are filing for a subsequent benefit period, you did not receive any employment or self employment income for the period for which you previously claimed the benefit and do not expect to receive any employment or self employment income in the 4 week benefit period
• You have not quit your job voluntarily
• You are not receiving nor have you applied for the CERB from the Canada Revenue Agency nor are you receiving Employment Insurance benefits for the same benefit period
• You have earned a minimum of $5,000 in income within the last 12 months or in the 2019 calendar year from one or more of the following sources:
◦ Employment; self-employment; maternity and parental benefits under the Employment Insurance program.

How much will I get?
• The CERB is paid in blocks of four weeks in the amount of $2,000, which is equivalent to $500 per week. A maximum 16 weeks of benefits can be paid between March 15, 2020 (retroactive) and October 3, 2020.

If I have kept my employment relationship but my income has decreased because of the crisis, do I qualify?
• You must have stopped working as a result of COVID-19 and be without employment income for at least 14 consecutive days within the initial four-week period. This includes income from paid leave, self-employment income or collection of any Employment Insurance benefits. For subsequent periods, you must expect to have no employment income.
• This means that a worker who had two part-time jobs and loses one of them because of COVID-19 is not eligible.

If my spouse still has his or her salary, does that affect my claim?
• No. You’re still entitled to the $2,000 a month.

I have already applied for Employment Insurance. Am I eligible?
• Yes, but ONLY if you applied after March 15. The Canada Emergency Benefit will then replace the Employment Insurance you were supposed to receive. You do not need to apply again. Your current application will be converted into an application for CERB.
• If you applied before March 15, you will have to wait until your EI benefits have expired. You may then be eligible for CERB.

If I’m already on EI, will I get the $2,000 a month?
• Not immediately. You will have to wait until your EI benefits are due. The two amounts are not cumulative.

Is there a limit to the number of cheques per household?
• No. For example, if five people who live in the same household meet the criteria, they can all receive the $2,000 per month.

Will I be entitled to $2,000 a month even if I earned less than that amount before I lost my income?
• Yes, you will receive $2,000 per month if you earned at least $5,000 in the previous 12 months. So your monthly income may increase temporarily, but keep in mind that the program is for a maximum of 4 months.

Will I be able to call a phone number to register if I don’t have access to the Internet?
• Yes, but the federal government has not yet released the number.

Will it also be possible to apply in person?
• Federal government has not yet indicated whether this will be possible.

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