By: James Burrows

With more than a million laid-off workers applying for Employment Insurance (EI) over the next two weeks, the federal government is set to pass a series of economic stimulus programs costing $27.5 Billion. 

An additional $55 billion in credit programs and business loans will also be included in the package, bringing the total to more than $82 billion.  

To put this into context, the global financial crisis in 2009 resulted in a federal stimulus package of $45.4 billion.  

The current stimulus package amounts to three per cent of Canada’s GDP.

But that’s considerably lower than proposed stimulus packages in the U.K. (15% of GDP) and the United States (10% of GDP). 

More importantly, Canada appears to be opting for a slower rollout than some immediate packages being proposed south of the border. 

This means most laid-off workers will not receive their benefits until well into April or even May. 

Here is a quick rundown on who can benefit from announced programs and how to access those programs. For more information and updated information, visit Canada.ca

To begin with, if you are self-employed or an independent contractor, you are not eligible for Employment Insurance. 

Emergency Care Benefit – If you are ineligible for EI sickness benefits and are sick, quarantined, or forced to stay home to care for children, this benefit will provide $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks. 

Emergency Support Benefit – This program is for those not eligible for the Emergency Care Benefit and who do not qualify for EI. Specific details are still not available, but federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau has stated that the benefit should function similar to the Emergency Care Benefit.  

Applications for these programs will be available in April through the CRA My Account website. 

Additional support for low and moderate-income Canadians

A one-time payment that will average $400 for singles and $600 for couples will be available through the Goods and Services Tax credit.  

Canada Child Benefit will be increased by $300 a child starting in May.

Your tax filings will calculate both of these programs and the government is urging those who are eligible to file as soon as they can despite the filing date being moved back to June 1 for individuals. 

Students

A moratorium on student-loan repayment, including interest accrual, will take effect March 30 and last until September 30.

Seniors

Required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) will be reduced by 25 per cent for 2020.

First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Nations

$305 million for a new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund. Information is not yet available for how this fund will be delivered. 

Employment Insurance eligible workers

A medical certificate will no longer be needed to access EI sickness benefits. The federal government already waived the one-week waiting period to apply for benefits on March 11. Additionally, the EI Work Sharing Program will be extending the eligibility to 76 weeks and reducing eligibility requirements. This program provides benefits to workers who agree to reduce their regular working hours due to developments beyond the control of employers. 

Financial support for businesses 

A temporary small business wage subsidy has been proposed that will encourage businesses to retain employees. The subsidy will be equal to about 10 per cent of wages paid for three months to a maximum of $1,375 for each employee and up to $25,000 per employer.  All businesses can now defer their tax filings until August 31. 

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