On May 12, 2020, the Canadian Government announced additional support for seniors during covid-19 to help them offset the increased cost of living resulting from the pandemic. Also announced was measures to help seniors deal with isolation and improve their quality of life. Finally, there was an extension of payments and allowances for seniors. Let’s take a look at each one of these new supports one by one.
Additional Support for Seniors During Covid-19, One Time Tax free Payment
The prime minister announced a one time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension, with an additional $200 for seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). This would give a total of $500 to individuals who are eligible to receive both the OAS and the GIS. The goal is to help seniors cover increased costs caused by the pandemic.
Additional Support for Seniors During Covid-19, Additional Funding to New Horizons for Seniors Program
The Government also announced that it is investing an additional $20 million dollars into the New Horizons for Seniors Program. The is to help support organizations that offer community based projects that help reduce isolation, improve the quality of life for seniors, and help them maintain a social support network.
Additional Support for Seniors During Covid-19, Extension of Allowance Payments
The government is temporarily extending seniors’ GIS and Allowance payments even if their 2019 income information has not been assessed. This will ensure that the most vulnerable seniors continue to receive their benefits. Also, seniors are encouraged to submit their 2019 income information as soon as possible and no later than by October 1, 2020. By doing so, they will avoid an interruption of benefits.
The government is trying to help the most vulnerable people affected by this pandemic and many seniors definitely fall into this category. The latest measures announced are a way to address this and hopefully many seniors can apply and will be helped by this. Even if the amounts are small, it is all a help. As the old saying goes, every little bit helps.
Wondering what the Canada Emergency Student Benefit is? It is an important question to answer if you are a student. As a student, you’re likely wondering how you can earn money this summer during this pandemic. On April 22, 2020, the government outlined a program to help these students in this situation.
What is the Canada Emergency Student Benefit Program?
It is a relief program proposed by the government of Canada to help post-secondary students who aren’t able to find full-time employment or cannot work due to COVID-19. Also, if they are not eligible to receive either Employment Insurance benefits (EI) or the Canada Emergency Response benefits (CERB). Many post-secondary students are not eligible for either of these programs as they have not worked enough to qualify.
How Much Do You Get and For How Long?
Students who qualify would receive $1250 per month for up to 4 months (May 2020 to August 2020). If the student has a disability or has dependents, they can receive an additional $750 per month.
Canada Emergency Student Benefit Program, Who is Eligible?
Students who are enrolled in a post-secondary education program leading to a degree, diploma, or certificate.
Students who ended their studies or graduated no earlier than December 2019.
High-school graduates who have applied for and will be joining post-secondary programs in the coming months.
Canadian students studying abroad meeting one of the above criteria.
When Can I Apply? Update!
You can apply for the program starting on May 15, 2020 at 6 am Eastern time. For more details on how to apply and inputting an online application please go to the Government of Canada’s website.
When Will I Get Paid?
The most important question of course! The Government of Canada’s website says that if CRA has your direct deposit information, your payment will take 3business days. If not, then a cheque will take about 10 business days.
The Canada Emergency Student Benefits Program is a way to help the many students who cannot find employment. It helps close the gap of students who don’t qualify for Employment Insurance or the Canada Emergency Response Benefits Program. Hopefully the program will be up and running shortly. When we get more details, we will update this page with further information.
You might be wondering what is the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program (CEWS) all about? It is an important question because many business owners are suffering right now due to COVID-19. They want to remain open and keep their staff employed, but many do not understand the specifics of this program that is supposed to help them. Let’s provide some clarity to this program.
What is the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program (CEWS)?
It is a wage subsidy program for businesses whose revenues have been negatively affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The amount of the wage subsidy is 75% of employees wages for a 12 week period from March 15, 2020 to June 6, 2020. The purpose of the subsidy is to rehire previously laid off workers as a result of Covid-19 to prevent further job losses and put businesses in a better position to recover after the crisis passes. For more information, go to the Government of Canada’s website.
Canada Wage Emergency Subsidy Program (CEWS): Who is Eligible?
In a nutshell you eligible for this Government of Canada program if you are an employer who has experienced a reduction in revenue and had a CRA payroll account on March 15, 2020. The Government of Canada’s website has a list of eligible employers but the only ineligible employers appear to be public institutions such as municipalities and local governments, Crown corporations, public universities, colleges, schools and hospitals.
You Must Also Have an Eligible Reduction
Besides being an eligible employer, you must also have an eligible wage reduction. What is that? You are basically comparing your normal monthly revenue with the the 3 months affected by Covid-19 (March 2020, April 2020, May 2020). However, there are 2 choices to choose from to use as your normal monthly revenue. (This refers to pre-coronavirus revenue.)
Option 1 is to use your revenue from the corresponding month of the previous year. This means you would use March 2019 as your normal revenue period and compare it with March 2020 and there should be a revenue drop of at least 15% to be eligible for that period. You would then use April 2019 and compare with April 2020 and there should be a revenue drop of 30% to be eligible for that period. Finally, you would use May 2019 and compare with May 2020 and there should be a revenue drop of 30% to be eligible for that period.
Option 2 is that you take the average monthly revenue for January and February 2020 and compare this with March 2020, April 2020, and May 2020. You would be eligible for subsidy for a particular month if there is a reduction in revenue of at least 15% in March, 30% in April, and 30% in May.
Here’s is a warning, however. Whatever option of comparing revenue you choose, you have to stick to using that option when calculating the revenue reduction of each month. You cannot switch between options.
Who are Eligible Employees for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program ?
They are employees hired by you and who have not been paid by you for less than 14 consecutive days. Employees whom you have laid off can become eligible if you rehire and retroactively pay them. You must do this before you can include them in your calculation of the wage subsidy.
How to Calculate the Wage Subsidy?
At the Government of Canada’s website, there is an Excel spreadsheet and a calculator to help you calculate this amount. It is based on the following information below:
If neither are an option for you, use the Web Forms application with your web access code. If you do not have a web access code, you will need to provide the date of registration or the total income tax reported in box 22 of the most recent original 2018 tax year submitted T4 summary.
The government’s website says that you can get paid within 10 days of applying if you have direct deposit. If you are getting paid by cheque, this will take a bit longer.
Also of note, the Canada Wage Subsidy is taxable and therefore you will have include it on your tax return as taxable income.
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program may appear to be a complicated and detailed program to apply for. However, it could be very beneficial as it helps you cover most of your employees’ wages for a 3 month period. One benefit is that you can get money fairly quickly once you apply. It is something that businesses in Canada should seriously look into. Because it could make the difference between staying open and closing for good.
BMO Mastercard cashback changes coming May 2020! This is the announcement that many cardholders received in their email recently. At first glance the changes look exciting and potentially a money saver for customers. However, let’s take a deeper look at these changes and see if this is really so.
BMO Mastercard Cashback Changes
Currently you can earn 1% cashback on all purchases regardless if it is a one time purchase or a recurring purchase such as a monthly bill payment. Also, the purchase has to be at least $50.00 before you get the 1% cashback.
However starting May 1, 2020, you can start earning 3% cashback on grocery purchases, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on other purchases. For one time purchases the minimum purchase is only $1.00. The minimum purchase for recurring bill payments is $25.00. Also, you do not have to wait until the end of the year to redeem your cashback. You can do it immediately by having it deposited into a chequing or savings account or you use it as a credit on a monthly statement.
This sounds great! It looks like you’lll be getting more cashback that you can use sooner. Sounds like a win win situation. However, there is a “but”; there’s always a “but”.
BMO Mastercard Cashback Changes, The Fine Print!
Yes, there is always the fine print and there a few things with this card that you should know about. For instance, there is a $500.00 monthly limit on getting 3% cashback. Any grocery purchases over $500.00, you will still only get 0.5% cashback. Also, you would have to make sure that the grocery stores you go to are deemed grocery stores by BMO.
There is also a $500.00 monthly limit on getting 1% on recurring purchases bill payments. Any recurring purchase amount that is over $500.00, you only get 0.5% cashback.
Conclusion, Is it Worth it?
It depends on how much you spend on your credit card. For example, suppose you spent $500 on groceries, $500 on recurring bill payments, and $2000.00 on other purchases. Based on the new changes, you would receive $30.00 cash back. Do you know how much you would receive in cashback for same amount currently? You would also get $30.00! What does this mean?
It means that if you are putting more than $3000.00 each month on your card, then the changes do not benefit you as you would actually be getting less cash back. However, if you are spending at least $500 in groceries and at least $500 in bill payments but are putting less than $3000 per month on the card, then the changes are helpful to you, as you’ll get more in cashback.
So is the BMO MasterCard cash back changes worth it? If you do not put a lot on your credit card then potentially yes! However, if you charge a lot on your card each month then potentially it is not. This means that you as the consumer have to know your spending habits and read the fine print on any credit card you might want. Because with so many things in life, there’s always a catch!
Applying for EI benefits is often a stressful experience. The process is not user friendly. First, you have to go to the government website and look for the EI application. Once you have found it, you then have the arduous process of going through it, which can take hours. Also, calling the 1-800 number for help may take even more hours! (This is understandable right now, during the coronavirus crisis. The number of EI claims is shocking! At last count, there were 2.2 million new EI claims in Canada.)
However, if you have lost your job and have no other money coming in, you need to apply for Employment Insurance. So, what are some things that you need to know when you are applying for EI benefits? Here are 5 things that you need to know:
Applying for EI Benefits: Apply Immediately (Even Without a Record of Employment)
Surprisingly, many do not apply for EI right away, thinking that they need to wait for their record of employment. They might think that it’s pointless to apply without their ROE. This is 100% wrong. You should apply for EI benefits right after you finish your last day of work, period. Why? First, you only have 4 weeks from your last work day to apply. If you do not, you could get less benefits than you are entitled to.
Second, most records of employment are automatically sent to EI by your employer. So even if you haven’t received one yet, it’s most likely that the government has it already.
Third, the government can make a temporary record of employment based on your application and set up your EI claim using that. Once the actual record of employment comes in, your application can be recalculated.
Applying for EI: More Details are Better
For some reason, many people don’t want to describe the reasons why they are no longer working. Maybe it’s because they are shy or perhaps, they do not want to seem to complain about their situation. However, it is extremely important to give full details on why you are no longer working, especially if you quit or were dismissed. More is better! Think about it this way: whoever is going to look at your application has no idea of the situation at all. For them, it’s like looking at a blank canvas. You need to create a detailed picture or painting. The more details you can provide, the clearer the picture is. This helps the benefits officer make a better decision on your application.
Applying for EI: Dismissal is Not Actually Bad
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about EI. Most people think if you get dismissed or fired from your job that you automatically won’t get EI. Employers will even tell employees that it’s better for you to quit than to get fired. This is absolutely not true! Why? Because if your employer dismisses you, the onus is on the employer to prove misconduct on the part of the employee in order to deny their EI benefits. A lot of EI adjudicators use the Black’s Dictionary of misconduct to define whether someone has done something that is willful and of evil intent.
For example, if your employer dismissed you because you were not good at your job that is not misconduct. Even if you were late for work, or were argumentative etc., the employer would have to show that they addressed the issue. For example, were there warnings, conversations and the like? Even, for things like accusing an employee of theft, the responsibility is on the employer to show or prove that this happened. For example, were their witnesses? Is there video? Did they call the police and file a police report?
Also, if an employee was paid severance by their employer, this shows that there wasn’t misconduct The thinking behind this is why would you pay additional money to someone who committed misconduct? As you can see, with dismissal the pressure is on the employer to prove misconduct, which is not easy to do.
It’s a Lot Harder to Get EI Benefits if You Quit
Many people do not realize this, but it is really hard to get EI benefits if you quit. Unfortunately, people think that it’s better than getting dismissed or fired. This is false, because f you quit all the pressure is on you to prove that you had “just cause” in quitting. What does this mean? It means that you had no other choice.
For example, suppose you were being harassed at work by a co-worker. You couldn’t take it anymore and wanted to quit. However, for EI purposes you would have to exhaust your alternatives first. Did you talk to a manager about the harassment? Had you gone to your union about the harassment? Did you go to Human Resources? Did you go to Labour Standards or Human Rights? If you did and there was still no real change in your situation then you would have a chance to get EI benefits.
A tool that can help you if you are in this position of either thinking of quitting your job or you’ve already done so is the EI Digest. This document lays out how different EI issues are looked at. It can give you some insight on what information you would need to provide on your EI application.
If Rejected, Appeal
It is always tough to get a rejection letter, but especially when it comes to EI benefits. As a result, many people give up and move on. However, in a lot of cases you should appeal the decision. You might feel intimidated because when you appeal, it says there will be an appeal hearing with a 3-person tribunal (called a board of referees). You have the option to be present for it. It is like going to court and who wants to go to court? However, there is a step that’s not mentioned that might help you if you write an appeal letter on why you feel the decision made was incorrect.
Before an appeal goes to the board of referees, it goes to the appeal department. This department is made of experienced adjudicators who will look at the application again. They see if the original decision made was correct. And they also decide if they could possibly allow the claim based on information the client has provided on the application and any new information in their appeal letter.
The advantage of this is that you have a more experienced adjudicator looking at your EI claim with even more information. This gives you a better chance at being approved. Also, sometimes they might find another way for you to qualify for EI benefits. For example the information you provided might qualify you for sickness benefits, rather than regular Employment Insurance. So, it doesn’t hurt to try to appeal a decision if you are rejected.
Applying for EI benefits is hard and can be emotionally draining. However, if you keep the above points in mind, hopefully the process will be a bit easier Applying for any government benefit seems intimidating but the more you know about a program, the easier it is to navigate through it. Hopefully, this results in a favourable outcome for you.