A few days ago we did a post about different actions governments have taken to grapple with the challenge of coping with the chaos caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Some of those measures, such as the GST and Canada Child Benefit top-ups, the Indigenous Community Support Fund, income and property tax deferrals at the federal and municipal level, and a 10 per cent wage subsidy for businesses to keep people on the payroll*, are still in place. But some other measures have been updated.
On March 25, the federal government, with all party support, passed a revised $107 billion emergency package to provide relief to Canadian workers and business owners whose lives have been disrupted by the outbreak.
One major change will see two previously announced programs (Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit) collapsed into a single program: the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. CERB will offer income support for up to 16 weeks to Canadians who have lost their job, got sick, are under quarantine or have to stay home because of school closures. It will be available to wage earners, contract workers and self-employed people who don’t qualify for employment insurance. As well, you must be over 15 and have earned at least $5000 in the last 12 months.
People who are already on EI are not eligible for CERB. If you have already applied for EI, your application will be folded into the new program and you do not need to reapply for CERB. The online portal to apply for CERB will be available in early April. You can get more information at this Government of Canada website.
The government also announced that as of March 25 all Canadians who return to the country are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine order. The order was made under The Quarantine Act, and does not apply to people considered to be essential such as health care workers and truck drivers. But financial penalties, and even jail time, could result if anyone else breaks quarantine, and police will be enforcing the order.
Also on March 25, the provincial government announced that public gatherings, previously capped at 25, are now limited to 10 or fewer people.
As well, the government has expanded the list of businesses that are no longer allowed to provide “public-facing” services. Depending on the business, take-out and delivery service that respect the principle of social distancing may still be possible. You can find a complete list of affected businesses, along with those who will be allowed to continue to operate here.
One last development today is that the province has announced that residential evictions will be temporarily suspended.
*On March 27 the federal government announced that support for small and Medium-sized businesses to keep people on the payroll would be boosted to 75 per cent.