Canada Student Service Grant, What is it? How to Apply?

A classroom at a college to denote that Canada student Service grant is for students who cannot find a job.

The Canada Student Service Grant program (CSSG) was announced a few days ago to help students who could not find a summer job. Here are some of the programs details below:

  • Post-secondary students will be eligible to earn up to $5,000 this summer through a new volunteer service grant.
  • The grant is available for a range of volunteer work, including mask making, tutoring, researching animal behaviour and designing exercise programs for seniors.
  • The grant will be worth between $1,000 and $5,000, depending on the number of hours completed. For every 100 hours worked, a student is eligible for $1,000, which means someone must volunteer 500 hours to receive the full grant. (This works out to receiving $10/hour of volunteer work this summer.)

Finally, the program runs until October 31, 2020.

Canada Student Service Grant, Who is Eligible?

Here are some of the qualifications needed, as outlined from a recent article:

  • Students and recent graduates between the ages of 15 years old and 30 years old can apply for the program.
  • To qualify, an individual must be enrolled part-time or full-time in a recognized post-secondary education program in the spring, summer or fall of 2020, or must have completed post-secondary studies in December 2019 or later.

Canada Student Services Grant, How to Apply?

To apply for this program, the government has launched an online platform for the program called “I Want To Help.” Once you go to this website, you can register as a volunteer. Also, you can search for organizations who are looking for volunteers in your area. This is what the website says below:

There are plenty of service opportunities available for students looking to get involved in their community to support Canada’s response to COVID-19. By volunteering with a local organization this summer, they can gain valuable experience and obtain the Canada Student Service Grant in recognition for their service. New opportunities will be added regularly.”

Conclusion

The Canada Student Services Grant is more opportunity to help students during this difficult time. However, the program is limited as only 10,000 new jobs will be created. Also, volunteer prospects could be limited due to lack of variety of volunteer opportunities. Hopefully, this will increase in time. However, this program gives students another option of economic help. And having options is a good thing, especially during these stressful times.

You might also like to read about the Canada Emergency Student Benefit Program.

Is it Safe to Fly Again During Coronavirus Covid-19?

A picture of people in airport to pose question is it safe to fly again during coronavirus covid 19

Is it safe to fly again during the coronavirus Covid-19? I was looking through my emails and saw an email from West Jet titled “Safety Above All”. I decided to click on it and the email highlighted all the measures they are taking to ensure safety for their customers during Covid-19.

Is it Safe To Fly Again During Coronavirus Covid-19? West Jet’s safety Measures

Check-in – Their website states that their check-in will be similar as before. The change is that they will be wiping counters down with disinfectant between customers. There will also be more room between customers in line and the agents will be wearing masks. Also customers will be handling their own luggage. The website also highlights downloading their app to limit contact with surfaces during your journey.

Boarding – West Jet’s website states that Transport Canada requires everyone over the age of 2 years old to wear a face covering throughout your travel. The covering can be a non medical face mask or scarf. Regarding West Jet’s boarding policy here are the highlights of it below:

Boarding requirements policy

Health questionnaire

  • In compliance with Transport Canada regulations, to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), we require all guests to respond to a heath questionnaire at the time of boarding.
  • We urge guests to respond truthfully as providing false or misleading information could result in a $5,000 fine under the Aeronautics Act.

Symptom screening

  • We will conduct non-contact temperature checks at all airports
  • If you are displaying COVID-19 symptoms, or feeling unwell, you cannot board a flight.
    • If you have a medical condition which presents symptoms similar to those of COVID-19, you will need a doctor’s note or medical certificate that states your medical condition to board the flight.

Denied boarding

  • If you have been ordered by provincial or territorial government or local public health to self-isolate or quarantine you will be denied boarding.
  • If you are denied boarding for a domestic flight, we will rebook you to travel at least 14 days after the original date.
    • To travel earlier, a valid medical certificate stating that you not affected by the COVID-19 virus is required.
  • Guests denied boarding for repatriation flights will not be re-accommodated.

During Flight – West Jet indicates they are limiting seating to ensure more space between passengers during flights. Their website also says that families who are travelling together can sit together. For flights over 90 minutes, there will be a bottle of water and a snack at your seat as you board the flight. Regarding flight attendants, they will be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and masks suited to their roles. 

Is it Safe to Fly Again During Coronavirus Covid-19? Cleaning Procedures

Cleaning – This is probably the area of most concern for travelers when flying and West Jet has a detailed procedure from their website below:

Upon Boarding

We’ll give you a sanitization wipe for your hands or any surface you wish to wipe down, for your peace of mind.

On board

We now clean our aircraft more extensively and more frequently. We continue to clean with aviation-approved products, including Sanicide (disinfectant) for galleys and lavatories, along with Celeste 8500 for:

  • tray tables
  • general seating areas
  • to ensure all guest contact surfaces are thoroughly disinfected

We’ve added two additional disinfecting products to our cleaning regime–hospital-grade Clorox Wipes and Spray for:

  • galleys
  • lavatories and door handles
  • tray tables
  • seat armrests and headrests
  • seatbelt buckles
  • PSU panel
  • Overhead-bin door latches

Fogging

The entire aircraft interior is completely disinfected using a hydrogen peroxide-based solution cleaner. Fogging allows us to thoroughly disinfect our aircraft at any time, with little disruption to our guests and operations. The new process takes approximately 15 minutes to complete and the product dissipates within 20 minutes. We’re working hard to ensure fogging can be expanded to every base we operate to as soon as possible. All WestJet 737 and Q400 aircraft are cleaned as part of their overnight cleaning and sanitization regimen. 

HEPA filters

All WestJet aircraft are equipped with an industry-leading air circulation system containing a HEPA filter, similar to what’s used in hospitals.

Not only do these filters introduce fresh air into the cabin every 2 to 3 minutes, but they also capture and filter 99.99% of all airborne particles so you can breathe a little easier.

Is it Safe To Fly Again During Coronavirus Covid-19? Conclusion

The safety measures West Jet has taken is extensive and it appears a great deal of of thought and research has gone into developing them. So is it safe to fly again during the Coronavirus pandemic? For me the answer is still no. Even though these procedures are in place, they have not been tested to ensure they keep everyone safe. In my mind to fly now would mean that I would be the Guinea pig to see if these procedures work or not. Some might say that it is worth the risk and that is their choice. In fact, I’m sure a lot of people will decide to give air travel a try again.

However, for my family the risk is too high. The reality is that we are in a once in a generation pandemic in which there is no cure or vaccine as of yet. And worldwide, COVID cases are still growing. Not only would I be concerned about the actual air travel, but also getting stuck somewhere else if a lockdown was called again.

Will I travel again? Of course! But until the world gets a handle on Covid-19 or there is a reliable vaccine, my travel will be limited. Stay safe!

**Update Regards to Seating as of July 1, 2020**

Both Air Canada And West Jet will be offering every seat for sale on their flights as of July 1, 2020. This will end their physical distancing measures on their flights. As a result many people who booked flights with the airlines are now demanding refunds as they felt misled to believe that there would be no one in the middle seat. Regarding if this step is safe, here’s a quote from a recent CTV article below:

While Transport Canada recommends physical distancing on flights to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it’s not law.

“On WestJet’s website, the airline states that they decided to end the blocking off of adjacent seats because they are following the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) guidance for global health and safety.

They say IATA’s guidelines support removing physical distancing because they are already providing other protections against the virus, such as HEPA filters to clean recirculated air, airflow being directed up instead of forward or backward, and “the physical barrier of seat backs.”

The IATA, Lukacs pointed out, is not a health organization, but an airline association, which he says is serving the financial interests of airlines.”

Is it Safe to Fly Again During Coronavirus, Updated Conclusion

To sum things up, Coronavirus is very contagious and unpredictable. However, the one thing we know is that physical distancing is a strong defense against the virus. Especially if you are inside a building or an enclosed area for any length of time. In my opinion, the airlines are playing Russian Roulette with solely focusing on short term financial gain at the cost of long term pain. It is a risky proposition because more people can become sick. Also, there is more chance to keep spreading the virus all over the country and beyond.

Think about, how did covid-19 get here? It got here from flights, so logically the first line of defense to slow the spread is to put strong safety measures on flights. Air Canada’s and West Jet’s decisions to allow seating in the middle seat does not do that at all. And that is why I will not be flying anytime soon. Stay safe.

How Do I Apply For the CECRA For Small Businesses?

A picture of a store opening to denote a business being able to stay open due to their landlord applying for the CECRA program to help reduce their rent.

How do I apply for the CECRA for small businesses? What is the CECRA program? The Canadian government just announced more emergency measures for small businesses to help weather Covid-19. However, this time the focus is on helping commercial landlords. Let’s explain this new program.

How Do I Apply For the CECRA – What is it?

CECRA stands for Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance for small businesses. The goal of the program is to provide rental relief for small businesses. The government achieves this by providing forgivable loans to commercial landlords as an incentive to lower rents for their tenants.

How Do I Apply For The CECRA – How Does it Work?

First, the commercial landlord goes into an agreement with their tenant(s) to reduce their rent to 25% of normal rate for three months (April 2020 , May 2020, June 2020). The landlord will then take a loan from the Government of Canada to cover the other 75% for this time frame. If the landlord and tenant meet the program’s criteria, the landlord can have 2/3 of his/her loan forgiven. What does this mean in layman’s terms?

Suppose a landlord had a tenant who was paying $20,000 in rent each month. If the landlord wanted to be part of this program, they would go into an agreement to reduce their rent by 75% for April, May and June. This means the tenant would only pay $5000 per month for these three months. The landlord would then take a loan for $15000 per month for the three months from the government or $45000 in total. The landlord then can potentially have $10000 per month of the loan forgiven or $30000.

So what does this mean? it means that landlord will receive 75% of the required rent for these 3 months instead of 100%. The tenant will only pay 25% of their rent for same period. This means the landlord will incur a 25% loss in rent this time frame. But this amount is covered by the loan in which they pay back. Why would landlords choose to do this?

What is the Incentive for Landlords?

The government is banking on 3 reasons that landlords will apply for the programs. Here is a summary of the reasons from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation whom the government is using to administer this program.

  1. There is an incentive of getting a government loan where potentially 2/3 of it could be forgiven.
  2. The landlord is guaranteed at least 50% of your rent for the months of April, May, and June. This is huge considering the alternative could be receiving NOTHING in rent if businesses can’t afford to pay.
  3. Finally, eviction and finding new tenants can be an expensive and time consuming process that could be very costly. So, perhaps landlords can prevent this altogether.

How Can I Apply For The CECRA Program?

You will need to go to the CMHC website. However, the application portal for this program will not be open until Monday May 25, 2020 at 8:00 am eastern time. And then the government will take a staggered approach for applying due to the expected high volume. Here’s the schedule from the the CMHC website below:

NOTE: Once registered, the portal will be available 24/7 for applicants to input data and upload documents.

DayWho should register?
MondayProperty owners who are located in Atlantic Canada, BC, Alberta and Quebec, with up to 10 tenants who are eligible for the program
TuesdayProperty owners who are located in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario and the Territories, with up to 10 tenants who are eligible for the program
WednesdayAll other property owners in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario and the Territories
ThursdayAll other property owners in Atlantic Canada, BC, Alberta and Quebec
FridayAll

What Information Will I Need to Apply For the CECRA Program?

There are a few pieces of information you will need to give to apply for the program. Here are a list below from the the CMHC website:

Attestations

  • Tenant or Sub-tenant’s Attestation (sample PDF):
    Property owners must have each of their eligible commercial small business tenants and/or subtenants sign an attestation. The Tenants are responsible for attesting to their eligibility with the program requirements. 
  • Property Owner’s Attestation (sample PDF):
    Property owners must sign an attestation. This confirms the information relating to the property owner and the property provided in the application is correct. And it attest to their eligibility with the program requirements.

Agreements

  • Rent Reduction Agreement (sample PDF): All application documents will be accessible on May 25, 2020.
    Property owners must enter into a legally binding rent reduction agreement with each impacted tenant. And confirm the rent reduction in accordance with the program terms and conditions.  This agreement is conditional upon final approval of the application for CECRA for small businesses.
  • Forgivable Loan Agreement (sample PDF):
    Property owners must agree to the terms and conditions in the application and outlined in the forgivable loan agreement.

You’ll also need to provide the following information:

Property owner information

  • Property information includes: property address, property type, property tax statement, latest rent roll for each property and the number of commercial units
  • Applicant information includes: banking information, property owner contact information, co-ownership information and contact details for co-owners

Tenant information

  • Tenant information includes: tenant contact information, registered business name, lease area and the monthly gross rent for the period of April, May and June 2020

Conclusion

The CECRA program is a very detailed program. If you think you might want to apply, please go to the CMHC website and read it carefully. However, the amount of information provided could be overwhelming. Hopefully this summary helps you in understanding the program better. Which is important because this is a big decision to make and the stakes are high. Stay safe everyone.

Additional Support for Seniors During Covid-19

A picture of senior to denote the governments measures to provide additional support for seniors during covid-19

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.

Conclusion

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.

You Might Also Like: Are My CPP Payments Affected by Covid-19?

Canada Emergency Student Benefit, What is it?

A picture of a student at university to denote that students will need the Canada Emergency Student Benefit program.

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?

Here are the details from the Government of Canada’s website below:

  • 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 3 business days. If not, then a cheque will take about 10 business days.

Conclusion

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.

PC Express Grocery Pick-up During Covid-19 Review

grocery store to denote using PC Express during Covid-19

PC Express grocery pick-up during Covid-19, sounds like an interesting idea. Because right now we live in a world of social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus. With PC Express, you do not even have to enter the grocery store. All you do is place your order for groceries online, pick an available pick up date and go to one of the designated parking spots to pick up your groceries. You don’t even have to get out of your care as they will even load your groceries into your trunk if you pop it open for them. Sounds like an awesome way to do your grocery shopping during the pandemic. My wife and I thought we’d give it a try.

PC Express Grocery Pick-Up During Covid-19 – Expect Delays

Last weekend my wife placed our order online to PC Express and as expected pick up times were filling up fast. We expected this as we assumed many would try this. However, there was one slot available – a pick up time of Wednesday at 6 pm and we took it.

A few days later, on Tuesday Superstore sent us an email that our order could be delayed a day or more and they would contact us once our order was ready. We had no problem with this as we knew they would be busy and actually appreciated the email letting us know. We weren’t in a rush to get the groceries. Two days later on Thursday we got another email message stating that our order was ready to be picked up. I got ready and went to Superstore to get our groceries.

PC Express Grocery Pick-Up During Covid-19 – Things Get a Bit Chaotic

As I got to Superstore the first thing I noticed was that the place was packed with cars! I think the sunny day was partly to blame for this. As I drove to the PC Express stalls (they had 8 marked stalls), I noticed all of them were filled with cars, all with their trunks open waiting for their groceries. I also noticed over a dozen other cars around these stalls with their trunks open waiting to pick up groceries. Immediately I thought, “Houston, we might have a problem”.

I found a parking stall as close as I could to the PC Express ones and then called the phone number that had been given to me in the email. As soon as I finished dialing the number, I immediately was given the message, “the phone call you attempted has failed”. That was weird, so I tried to call again a few more times and got the same message. I then called my wife at home and asked her to call from her end. She could not get through as she got a busy signal. We both kept trying. My wife finally got through and was told to leave a number to be contacted later. She did and as soon as she did she got cut off. Not knowing what to do, I decided to go in the store.

PC Express Grocery Pick-Up During Covid-19 – Things Get a Bit Unsafe

I went to customer service and was directed to the PC Express area, which were by the check out aisles. As I got to the area, there were grocery carts full of food everywhere and I assumed that these were all the pending PC Express orders. By these carts was the PC Express area. It was a small room about the size of a small bedroom. There was a large fridge and groceries in there along with about four people working feverishly in it. All of them looked completely overwhelmed. I felt for them. Unfortunately, only one person had a mask on. The rest did not. Also, they were working pretty much shoulder to shoulder, so social distancing was not being practiced. But how could it be? The room was way too small for it.

I managed to talk to one of the workers and tried to keep my distance (fortunately I was wearing a mask, googles and gloves) and explain my situation. He was at least wearing gloves. He took my license plate number and make of my car and told me to pop my trunk and expect a long wait. I went back to my car and waited.

After a Long Wait, Go into the store again

I waited for an hour in the car and tried the number a few more times but to no avail. So I decided to go back in again to check the status of my order. As I got to the PC Express area there were still a lot of carts with food parked. There were also a few people lined up to talk to PC Express and I lined up behind them trying to keep my distance between people. One person beside me had a mask on which gave me a little relief.

However, we were lined up in the area where people exit the check out aisles. Also, the PC Express carts with food were also in the area and all of a sudden, things were very congested. There was no chance of practicing safe social distancing, as we were constantly moving to avoid people leaving with their groceries. It was a bit unnerving.

No End In Sight

As I got closer to the front of the line, the person in front of me said that her original pick up date had been Tuesday. At that point, I realized that I might have a long wait yet. When it was my turn to talk to the employee , she said that there were 7 or 8 orders ahead of me and that once they got to me that they would then make my order. I thought that was weird as the email they sent me said that my order was ready. At this point I started to feel a bit angry.

I asked if could just take my order myself. She said that I would have to wait and when I asked how long – she said she could not tell me. She had no idea how long it would take. I tried to explain to her that I’d been there an hour ago asking the same questions. She said she was just there helping out. No further help was provided.

Time to Flee!

I then realized “This is not right!” Here I am talking to this poor stressed out lady who is trying to help. She’s not wearing a mask and has no gloves on. We are only standing three feet apart. The people in the PC Express department behind her weren’t wearing protective wear, and were way too close and are touching people’s grocery orders. The people beside me were way too close and the people going by us wee way too close. Not good!! We were all in danger.

Why would Superstore overbook their pick up Service so much? Why would they not provide their employees with protective wear? And why did we have to line up in a main exit for customers?

I realized right there and then that I had to leave and protect myself and my wife at home, as staying there longer increased my danger of getting infected. I said to the lady to cancel my order immediately and I left as quickly as I could and went home. When I got home, I immediately took off the clothes I was wearing put them in the storage room (our sort of decontamination zone) and took a shower and calmed myself down.

Conclusion

I would not use PC Express grocery pick-up during Covid-19. It is way too risky. They don’t have enough space, manpower, or organization to make this work safely during the Covid-19 pandemic. You would be safer just going into Superstore and shopping yourself. Or even safer, just go somewhere else to shop. (A place that is smaller and far less busy.) I do have a friend who says the service is great but she shops at a different location than the one I went to. I was pretty freaked out by the experience.

Also, yesterday the news reported that the location I went to has a case of Covid-19 with one of their employees. The employee hasn’t been to work since April 12th but I wasn’t surprised in the least based on my experience. I really hope that Superstore improves their PC Express service – in particular at this location. Because people’s health and lives are at risk. However, I am not going to take the chance to find out. Instead I will be shopping somewhere else where I feel safer. Stay safe everyone.

Applying For EI Benefits, 5 Things You Should Know

Stressed out person applying for EI Benefits

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.

Conclusion

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.

What can I do if I Can’t Pay My Bills Because of Coronavirus?

Picture showing dilemma of how can I pay for bills during coronavirus

“I can’t pay my bills because I was laid off because of Coronavirus.” Sound familiar? This is a scary scenario but unfortunately this is a reality for many today amid this pandemic. This reality is apparent when we see that in just one week in Canada, over 1 million applied for EI or other emergency support benefits. If you find yourself in that scenario, what can you do to help yourself and your family?

Communication – Talk to Your Bank or Utilities providers

Communication seems overly simple but this is vital especially when everything is so fluid right now and it is hard to know what information is correct. So, whoever you pay bills to, you need to contact them and let them know your situation and see what options you have to lighten your bills because of your changing job situation, due to the coronavirus. There might be options to help. Here are some things you can do if you have bills to pay in these five main areas.

Mortgage Payments

A few days ago, the countries six largest banks announced a plan for deferral of mortgage payments to up to six months. Individuals and business owners should contact their bank to discuss available options. Each deferral request will be reviewed by a case by case basis.

Rental payments

At the moment there does not appear to be a program to address help for rentals. Some areas like Ontario are encouraging landlords not to evict anyone during this time. However, the best thing to do is to contact your landlord to see if there are any options to help provide some financial relief. You can also look into the government’s Covid-19 relief package to see if you qualify for any of the relief. Also, you can look into any provincial relief packages that your province might provide to help give you money to pay for your rent. (Updated March 26/20 – B.C. now has provided help of up to $500/month to help renters pay the rent on their homes.)

Car Payments

Contact your financial institution to see if there are options regarding paying the loan or lease of your vehicle due to financial hardship. For example here’s that information from the RBC website concerning this:

Client relief: The events surrounding COVID-19 are truly unprecedented and disrupting the daily lives of Canadians. RBC has put in place financial relief programs for personal and business clients who have experienced financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. To help clients with immediate relief, some of these programs are available by self-serve, including skip a mortgage payment, an auto-loan payment, and personal loan payment. These options will provide you with direct relief for one month. Please know that we will continue to work with you to provide further financial assistance, including further payment relief (for example, up to 6 months on mortgages), should you need our help.

Utility Payments Such as Power, Phone, TV, and Internet

It is best to contact your provider to see what options you have due to financial hardship. These companies and utility providers are well aware that many people are in this scenario and they are looking to assist. For example, here’s an excerpt from Shaw’s website:

We continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and we know that the threat posed by the spread of the virus will result in some Shaw customers facing unexpected financial challenges. We also know that particularly in times like these, we rely on being connected – to our family, our friends, or our workplace – or keeping our families informed and entertained. If you are having any concerns about paying your monthly Shaw internet bill due to hardship resulting from the COVID-19 situation, we will work with you to find a flexible payment arrangement that considers your financial and connectivity needs.

Credit Card Payments

It is best to contact your financial institution and let them know of your situation. Communication again is key! Fortunately, many banks and financial institutions are reaching out to clients and letting them know their options to help lighten the financial burden. For example, here’s an email I received from Capital one:

We understand that COVID-19 is having an impact on our customers’ lives. For those who are experiencing financial distress, we’re working on options to provide support through this difficult time. As soon as we can, we will make more information on these options available.

For additional information about our response to the COVID-19 situation, please visit our webpage. We’ll continue to update it with relevant information.

Conclusion

Not being able to pay your bills during the Coronavirus pandemic is a horrible prospect. We are in uncharted waters and do not know how long this will go. As result, it’s hard to make decisions – especially financial ones. The best thing we can do is to get as much information as possible on our options for potential relief by directly communicating to the companies we owe money to.

There’s an old saying that there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors. This is true because the more information we get from our creditors, the greater chance of some sort of financial relief. So look at your bills one at a time and see if there is a chance of some sort of relief. The result might be a little less stress in these already very stressful times. Take care and be safe.