COVID-19: Financial Assistance

As our community works together to meet these extraordinary challenges, we want to ensure you are aware of the programs that are available to help those facing financial hardship.

Emergency bursaries for ECU students impacted by COVID-19 are available through the Emily Cares program. Scroll down to find out how to apply.

We've also put together a list of new support programs from the provincial and federal governments. This list will be updated to reflect any changes or future announcements.

The CBC has also assembled a list of financial supports available to people affected by COVID-19, as well as an ongoing inventory of supports available for artists and freelancers.

To learn more about ECU's response to the COVID-19 outbreak, visit ecuad.ca/covid19 or send your questions to covid19@ecuad.ca.

Emily Cares Student Emergency Fund

Through the Emily Cares Student Emergency Fund, the university will provide up to $200 to students in urgent financial need.

These non-repayable bursaries are to help cover essential living expenses and can provide a modest buffer while you seek additional sources of support.

Emily Cares bursaries are available for domestic and international students, whether enrolled in a degree program or a Continuing Studies Certificate program.

Learn more and apply online.

Government Assistance for Students

Emergency Bursary Funding for BC Residents
The Province of British Columbia has made available emergency funding for both full-time and part-time, currently registered domestic students that are BC residents. This is non-repayable funding and eligibility will depend on each applicant's unique situation. Please note that international and out of province students will not qualify for funding from this resource.

See our Emergency Bursary Funding for BC Residents page to download an application form.

Canadian Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)
On April 22, 2020, the federal government announced an expansion of the CERB program to capture post-secondary students who may be struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Students will be eligible for $1,250 a month from May through August
  • That sum can go up to $1,750 if the student is taking care of someone or has a disability.
  • The benefit is also available to students who have jobs but are making less than $1,000 a month.
  • Additionally, students who volunteer for the fight against COVID-19 over the summer will be paid between $1,000 and $5,000, depending on the hours they work.

Applications will open at 3am PST on Friday, May 15. See the federal government's CESB webpage for details on eligibility, and how to apply.


Additional Benefits for Post-Secondary Students
On April 22, 2020, the federal government announced the following:

  • A doubling of student grants for eligible students — up to $6,000 for full-time students and up to $3,600 for part-time students.
  • Raising the maximum weekly amount that can be provided through the Canada student loans program in 2020-2021 to $350 from $210.
  • More than $75 million in additional supports for Indigenous post-secondary students.
  • Another $291 million for federal granting councils to extend expiring federal graduate research scholarships and post-doctoral fellowships and supplement existing federal research grants.

Details on how these programs will be delivered (including how to apply) will be posted as soon as they are available.

Pause on Federal Student Loan Repayments
Beginning March 20, 2020, the federal government is pausing repayment of Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans until September 30, 2020. No payment will be required and interest will not accrue during this time. Students do not need to apply for the repayment pause.

  • This will include pre-authorized debits.
  • Students who are currently studying can continue to apply for Canada Student Loans (there will be no change to the application process).
  • If a borrower wishes to apply for student financial assistance during the pause, they should apply through their Province or Territory of residence.


Pause on Repayment of BC Student Loans

Starting March 30, 2020, B.C. student loan payments are automatically frozen for six months. This is automatic; students do not need to apply for this benefit.

Financial Assistance for Everyone

Sickness benefits
EI sickness benefits provide up to 15 weeks of income replacement for anyone unable to work because of injury, illness or quarantine. These benefits can be accessed without a medical certificate. The normal one-week waiting period for benefits to kick in will be waived, so people can be paid for the first week of their claim. Visit the EI sickness benefits page to apply.

  • To have the one-week period waived, contact the gov’t at 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free) or teletypewriter (TTY) 1-800-529-3742 AFTER a claim has been submitted).
  • People claiming EI sickness benefits due to quarantine will not have to provide a medical certificate.
  • People who cannot complete their claim for EI sickness benefits due to quarantine may apply later and have their EI claim backdated to cover the period of delay


Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
A taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months. CERB is available to individuals:

  • residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
  • who have stopped working because of COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits;
  • who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
  • who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period.
  • As of April 15, the CERB is now also available to those who continue to earn up to $1,000 per month, seasonal workers with no prospects and people who have run out of Employment Insurance (EI).

This benefit is available to International Students as well as Domestic Students.

Applications began via a secure web portal starting April 6. Applicants will also be able to apply via an automated telephone line or via a toll-free number.

Visit the federal government's how-to page for details on when to apply, how to apply, and who is eligible.

***This benefit replaces the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit.


Canada Child Benefit (CCB)

Eligible recipients will receive an additional $300 per child to their regular CCB payment, beginning in May, 2020. If you have previously applied for the CCB, you do not need to re-apply. Visit the Canada Child Benefit page or call 1-800-387-1193 for information on how to apply and eligibility requirements


One-Time Special Payment through Goods and Services Tax credit
The federal government has also announced a one-time special payment, arriving by early May. It will be delivered through the Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC) to lower-income families. The average boost to income from this measure is expected to be nearly $400 for single people and almost $600 for couples, according to the government’s projections.


BC Emergency Benefit for Workers
The Government of British Columbia is providing a one-time, tax-free $1,000 payment to people who lost income because of COVID-19. The benefit will be available to B.C. residents who receive federal Employment Insurance, or the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (see above).

Applications will open in April 2020, and the one-time payment will be paid in May 2020.


Climate Action Tax Credit

A one-time enhancement to the climate action tax credit will be paid in July 2020 for moderate to low-income families:

  • An adult will receive up to $218.00 (increased from $174.00)
  • A child will receive $64.00 (increased from $51.00)

New COVID-19 Leave of Absence
An employee can take unpaid, job-protected leave related to COVID-19 if they're unable to work for any of the following reasons:

  • They have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are following the instructions of a medical health officer or the advice of a doctor or nurse
  • They are in quarantine or self-isolation and are acting in accordance with an order of the provincial health officer, an order made under the Quarantine Act (Canada), guidelines from the BC Centre for Disease Control or guidelines from the Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Their employer has directed them not to work due to concern about their exposure to others
  • They need to provide care to their minor child or a dependent adult who is their child or former foster child for a reason related to COVID-19, including a school, daycare or similar facility closure
  • They are outside of BC and unable to return to work due to travel or border restrictions

***This benefit is retroactive to Jan. 27, 2020. More information on the COVID-10 Leave of Absence can be found at the federal government's employment standards page.


Extra Time to File Income Taxes

The Canada Revenue Agency has pushed back the filing due date for 2019 tax returns for individuals 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.

Housing

  • The province has banned current and upcoming evictions, “until the crisis has passed.” This means that landlords cannot issue a new notice to end a tenancy for any reason, and existing eviction orders will not be enforced. Exceptions to that rule include situations which present "extreme cases where there are safety concerns." A small number of court-ordered evictions, which operate independently of government, are also exempt from the suspension.

  • BC Housing has likewise announced a freeze on evictions at social housing facilities (e.g. subsidized and affordable housing facilities).

  • Annual rent increases are also banned as of Wednesday, March 25. If a tenant's rent was set to increase on April 1, that increase will no longer occur

  • The provincial government is also providing $500 per month for four months to help renters make rent payments; this supplement will get paid directly to landlords after the renter applies. Eligibility criteria and application forms are available online, on BC Housing's website.

  • BC Housing’s Rental Assistance Program is providing eligible low-income families with cash assistance to help with their monthly rent payments. To qualify, families must have a gross household income of $40,000 or less, have at least one dependent child, and have been employed at some point over the last year.

  • There are several rent banks in B.C. that offer low or no-cost emergency loans to renters. Current rent bank resources for British Columbians include the Vancouver Rent Bank, the BC Rent Bank, and the Sources Rent Bank (for residents of Surrey, White Rock, Langley and Delta

Paying Your Bills

ICBC
Customers on a monthly payment plan who are facing financial challenges due to COVID-19 may defer their payment for up to 90 days with no penalty.


FortisBC

FortisBC is waiving late payment fees and is pledging not to disconnect customers for any reason. It is also promising to work with customers to come up with flexible payment plans. Details will be posted once available.


BC Hydro

  • Residential customers who've lost their jobs or are unable to work due to COVID-19 will receive a non-repayable credit to their account, equal to three times their average monthly bill.
  • Customers can defer bill payments to BC Hydro or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty through the COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program. Call BC Hydro's customer team at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) to discuss bill payment options.
  • Customers experiencing job loss, illness or lost wages due to COVID-19 can access grants up to $600 to pay their hydro bills through the Customer Crisis Fund. Information on applying for a BC Hydro CCF grant can be found on BC Hydro's Customer Crisis Fund page.

Telecom

  • Telus, Rogers, Shaw, Koodo and Freedom Mobile all say they will offer flexible payment plans to customers facing financial hardship.
  • Rogers and Fido have gone a step further, pledging not to disconnect any customer in financial trouble in the next 90 days.
  • Rogers is also waiving long-distance fees.
  • Telus, Rogers, Bell and Shaw have also temporarily dropped their data caps for residential internet usage.

Credit Cards

  • TD Canada Trust, CIBC, National Bank and Scotiabank say they are offering relief to customers on credit products on a case-by-case basis.
  • Royal Bank is allowing customers to skip a monthly payment.
  • BMO is allowing a deferral of payment on loans or credit card bills of up to three months.
  • Anyone worried about making their credit card payments should check directly with their financial institution.
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