Lost your income due to COVID-19? Here’s what to do next

Lost your income due to COVID-19? Here’s what to do next

The excerpted article was written by

Hundreds of thousands of Canadians are losing their jobs as the COVID-19 pandemic causes businesses across the country to shut their doors or cut back on operations.

For many, this may be a new experience. Here’s what to do if you’ve suddenly lost your income, from applying for employment insurance to taking care of your mental health.

Figure out which income support applies to you

The Trudeau government announced a new benefit Wednesday that will provide $2,000 a month for four months to Canadians who have lost their income due to the pandemic, after the government was flooded with applications for employment insurance.

Employment insurance generally doesn’t include self-employed or freelance workers, said Vancouver employment lawyer Andrea Raso. But the new benefit does. So, it’s important to check out both options and decide which one fits your situation before you apply for income support.

“People who are independent contractors or, you know, gig workers, they are typically left out.”

Figure out whether you’ve been laid off or terminated

If you’ve been “laid off” the first thing to do is figure out if the situation is permanent or temporary.

In other words, you need to figure out exactly what the terms of your layoff are. If it’s a temporary layoff, meaning your employer plans to bring you back later, you don’t get severance pay, Raso said.

“What it enables the employer to do is to keep the employees, because most employers in this situation want those employees back,” she said.

However, most provinces have a time cap on these types of layoffs (for example, in Ontario, it’s usually 13 weeks, with some exceptions). If the 13 weeks passes and you’re still not working, your employer has officially terminated you and you should check your contract to see what you are owed.

You also want something in writing stating whether you’ve been temporarily laid off or terminated, said Toronto employment lawyer Andrew Langille — and don’t sign anything without fully reading it, or even having it vetted by an employment lawyer.

“You have to clarify what the employer’s intention is in writing.”

If you have trouble getting termination pay from your former employer, Raso said you can escalate the situation.

“Employees have recourse through their employment standards tribunals, and those are very, very simple to access,” she said. (In Ontario, you can start here.)

Get a record of employment

Raso said the most important document you need from your former employer is a record of employment. Whether you’ve been laid off permanently or temporarily, this document is what will help you apply for employment insurance.

Langille says you should also get your T4 from the previous year, just in case.

Apply for government support, and keep track of your application

Next, it’s time to apply for either EI or the new benefit. There are few details about the new benefit, but when it comes to applying for EI, Raso warned that you will be in charge of keeping track of your application, and that with the higher volume of applicants, the process could take awhile.

Langille said it’s important to make a My Service Canada account so you can track your application using the four-digit code you’ll receive in the mail. You will also be responsible for making reports every two weeks, he said.

The Star Vancouver

Facts about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit

Ottawa announced Wednesday the Canada Emergency Response Benefit intended to quickly get cash to workers who need it and support their employers. Here’s a look at how the program is going to work.

What is it?

The federal government is proposing a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s intended to be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.

Who is eligible?

The benefit is to cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance. It also applies to workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation.

Who shouldn’t apply for the benefit?

If you are currently receiving EI benefits and expect them to continue, don’t apply for CERB. If your EI benefits end before Oct. 3, you can apply for CERB when those EI benefits cease, if you are unable to return to work due to COVID-19. Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits would still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB.

What period is covered?

Canadians are to begin receiving their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15 until Oct. 3, 2020.

How do I apply?

The government plans to have an online portal open by April 6. Applicants will also be able at that time to apply via an automated telephone line or via a toll-free number.

Iqaluit condo owners see insurance premiums soar

The excerpted article was written by Thomas Rohner
Nunatsiaq News

Condominium owners in Iqaluit say a sharp increase in insurance costs have forced them to the brink—and if recent trends continue, they will be squeezed out of homeownership.

That, in turn, would make Iqaluit’s housing crisis, including for the under-housed, even worse, officials say.

“We were told we were lucky to get insurance at all,” said condo owner Bethany Scott.

“If we didn’t get insurance, what would happen to our mortgages?”

Tracey Oram, another Iqaluit condo owner, said her condo board is in the same boat. She said insurance companies were so scared to give her insurance that, now, her condo board can’t afford a new claim.

“We have a policy that we can’t afford and that we can’t afford to use. So we have a policy that’s no good to us,” Oram said.

Condo owners in Canada need two different kinds of insurance: a residential policy that covers the contents of their unit, and a commercial policy that covers the whole building.

It’s the commercial coverage that has seen a sharp increase across Canada in recent years.

Oram, the treasurer of her condo board, said that when she bought her condo in 2016 the commercial insurance was about $18,000 for 10 units. Her condo board has had one claim since then, Oram said. This year, after months of scrambling to find multiple companies willing to share the risk of the policy, the cost is just over $50,000. That’s an increase of 178 per cent in five years.

Condo fees have had to increase to cover the added expense, with some owners in Oram’s building paying nearly $800 per month on top of their mortgage and residential insurance.

“Our broker basically told us companies are trying to get out of the North….. I would like to feel like we’re not backed into a corner and forced to have one company and no options,” Oram said.

The Royal Bank of Canada told Nunatsiaq News that it sold its Nunavut insurance business to Aviva Canada a few years ago.

“I love my neighbours. It’s a quiet building, very respectful. And it’s nice having your own home, knowing that you’re investing in yourself,” said Oram.

Scott, also the treasurer of her condo board, told a similar story. In 2015, commercial insurance cost about $25,000 for 23 units. This year the cost is just over $60,000, Scott said. That’s an increase of 140 per cent in six years.

“It was $15,000 more than the quote we got, so we didn’t even raise our condo fees enough,” Scott said, adding her condo board has also had one claim in the last five years.

“It’s really unfortunate because developers in Iqaluit are putting up condos. We’re all being funnelled into this homeownership model, and the insurers are like, you’re too risky.”

Scott said she rents out a room from time to time, but with increased costs she’s having to charge more and more—pushing rent in Iqaluit, already among the highest in the country, even higher.

Scott said she loves her home—there’s a friendly vibe among her neighbours, who range from single-income families to retired government officials.

“Someone needs to advocate for us,” she said.

At the moment, there does not appear to be any advocacy for condo owners facing this issue on the local, territorial or national level.

Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell said this issue wasn’t on his radar until now.

“That’s obviously really scary, if you can’t get insurance for your home,” Bell said.

The mayor said that, since condo owners tend to be first-time home-buyers or single-income households, they play an important role on the housing continuum.

The housing continuum is widely accepted as the best approach to any community’s housing needs. The idea is that all levels of housing—from emergency to transitional and public housing to rentals and homeownership—are equally important in order to serve an entire community’s housing needs. Any negative change to one level of the continuum puts more stress on the other levels.

“Housing is a huge issue here, there’s a major lack of housing. So any time we can provide lower-cost units for people starting out, that’s really important,” Bell said.

Some professionals making $100,000 a year are couch surfing or unable to afford the increasing rents, Bell said. That puts those who are most vulnerable for housing at even greater risk, as it pushes them further outside the market, he added.

READ MORE HERE: 

Benefit to COVID 19 impacted workers may be model for future

By Jordan Press

THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA _ The newly created benefit for workers whose livelihoods are affected by COVID-19 may be a model for how the federal government helps unemployed Canadians in the future, Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said Thursday.

Dubbed the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, the $2,000-a-month taxable benefit will be available to any worker who earned $5,000 in the previous year and whose income drops to zero due to COVID-19.

Qualtrough says the government opted for the single benefit because the decades-old employment insurance system wasn’t designed to handle an economic shock where millions of workers wouldn’t qualify for assistance.

Funded partially outside the EI system, the new benefit has pushed direct financial aid in the economic package to $52 billion, out of the $107 billion overall total.

Qualtrough said close to 10 per cent of EI-eligible workers have applied for help in just over a week and the labour crunch is likely to get worse.

That works out to approximately 1.5 million workers.

But there are still more than five million workers or almost one-quarter of the overall Canadian workforce who aren’t eligible for EI, including because they may be self-employed, a gig worker, or don’t have enough qualifying hours.

“What we’re going to show through the CERB is that we can actually have a really straightforward income-support system at the federal level,” Qualtrough said in a telephone interview with The Canadian Press.

“This could be the impetus to really, radically simplify how people access income support from the federal government.”

That’s a discussion her department has been having for some time, and the pandemic will fuel those talks, she said, but it’s a conversation that won’t be settled quickly.

Instead, Qualtrough said the government is focused on the labour situation right now one she warned would get worse before it improves.

With the benefit about to be introduced, the government warned Thursday of a text scam that may be praying on concerned workers by asking them to reply or click on a link to get the CERB, which isn’t officially available yet.

“I want to remind everyone that the government’s website is the best place to find reliable information on everything we’re doing,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

Trying to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus has forced governments to order businesses closed and companies to ask employees to work from home. The uncertainty has many small- and medium-sized businesses wondering if they’ll reopen once the economic storm has passed.

An analysis published Thursday by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives estimated that nearly two millions workers are at the greatest risk of being laid off by the end of the month. If three-quarters of those workers lost their jobs by March 31, the national unemployment rate would rise to 13.9 per cent the worst it’s been in 70 years, wrote David Macdonald, the centre’s senior economist.

The government is urging any worker eligible for EI who loses their job due to COVID-19 to apply now for help. And for those who don’t qualify, Qualtrough said they should sign up for an online account through the Canada Revenue Agency to prepare for the new benefit being made available next month.

To qualify, an affected worker will have to reside in Canada and have earned $5,000 in the previous 12 months  including new parents who earned EI parental benefits _and have had their income dried up because of COVID-19. An online portal is supposed to be up on April 6, with the first automatic payments arriving 10 days after people apply.

Those who receive the benefit will have to reaffirm their eligibility every four weeks.

The benefit will be taxed, like EI payments, and the government will square up any issues during tax time next year.

“If we find out that you weren’t truthful or that you had income you didn’t declare, that will actually be swept up at the back end,” Qualtrough said.

Insurance Continuing Education Options for Remote Licensees

Insurance Continuing Education Options for Remote Licensees

More and more Canadian businesses are asking their employees to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many insurance brokers are now working remotely, and companies are struggling with how to meet the continuing education requirements for this year’s insurance licensing renewal.

Amidst the current inability to conduct or attend in-person seminars or classroom settings, remote online courses are the safest and fastest way to obtain your continuing education credits.

With ILScorp’s flexible online options, it’s easier than ever to access high-quality education that will teach you skills relevant to the insurance industry and meet your mandatory provincial licensing renewal requirements.

ILScorp offers personalized technical and career advancement programs that are 100% online and self-paced. The content is high quality and courses are available in affordable subscription options, plus you can complete them anywhere you have an internet connection on your own schedule.

Getting started is simple.

ILScorp has customized online course subscription options for General, Adjuster, Life, A&S and Financial Planner licensees.

So if you or your entire company are working from home, you can complete your individual insurance CE requirements entirely online.

Group discounts are also available for 3 or more licensees.

Ontario will spend $17B over the next year to help battle COVID-19 pandemic

Ontario will spend $17B over the next year to help battle COVID-19 pandemic

The excerpted article was written by Colin D’Mello CTV News Toronto

TORONTO — Ontario will spend $17 billion dollars over the next year, record a $20.5 billion deficit and will set aside an unprecedented $2.5 billion dollars for emergency spending, allowing the province to battle the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The Progressive Conservative government unveiled an action plan designed to tackle the growing health and financial crisis due to the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, including new measures for frontline health care workers, and support for businesses, seniors and families.

The new spending will also include:

  •  $3.3 billion on the health care system, including $1.2 billion on improvements
  •  $3.7 billion on support for people and jobs, including $2 billion in targeted supports, and $290 million in tax measures
  •  $10 billion in support for businesses, including $6 billion in tax deferrals affecting 100,000 businesses.

Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips said the new measures are necessary to deal with the “extraordinary threat” to the health and economy of the province.

“It demands an extraordinary response from all levels of government and civil society because we’re all in this together,” Phillips said.

The majority of the focus will be on Ontario’s healthcare system, which has been inundated with pandemic-related cases, with $3.3 billion in spending.

  •  $1 billion contingency fund specifically for healthcare
  •  $341 million for hospital capacity to increase assessments
  •  $243 million emergency funding for long-term care homes to contain the spread of COVID-19
  •  $100 million for public health units
  •  $170 million for community care capacity and Telehealth Ontario
  •  $62 million for health care workers in assessment centres, hospitals and community
  •  $75 million for new personal protective equipment for health care workers
  •  $80 million for ambulance and paramedic services
  •  $70 million for new infection control measures in retirement homes and emergency shelters
  •  $1.2 billion will be spent on improving services in health and long-term care homes.

The government will also spend $3.7 billion dollars to help the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the pandemic – from families forced to stay at home in self-isolation, to those who have lost their jobs as a result of the economic shock.

Families will get a one-time payment of $200 per child up to the age of 12, to help parents keep their children engaged during an extended time away from school or daycare.

The $340 million initiative would be available on Apr. 6 through an online portal where parents could apply.

The government will also spend $3 million dollar per day to offer free emergency daycare for frontline healthcare workers and first responders.

Meanwhile, the government said student loan repayments, under OSAP, would be suspended for six months during the COVID-19 crisis.

As businesses face a major financial hit due to forced COVID-19 closures, the government will spend $6 billion in tax deferrals this fiscal year giving owners up to five months – Aug. 31, 2020 – to pay their provincial taxes.

The government says the exemptions would apply to: Employer Health tax; Tobacco tax; Fuel tax; Gas tax; Beer, Wine and Spirits tax; Mining tax; Insurance Premium tax; International Fuel Tax and the Race Tracks tax.

The government expects to help roughly 100,000 businesses with the program and projected that businesses would collectively save $25 million in interest and penalties.

Economic impact

COVID-19 is expected to carve out $5.8 billion dollars from the province’s revenue stream in 2020-21, largely due to drops in personal income and corporate tax revenue, and due to the closure of casinos operated by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming corporation.

To ensure the province can withstand the economic blow, the Progressive Conservative government – which has been focused on fiscal prudence and restraint – will record a massive $20.5-billion deficit in the year 2020-2021.

The massive deficit figure is comparable to the financial crisis of 2008 when the government, under then-Premier Dalton McGuinty, spent $24-billion dollars to stabilize the economy.

While the government acknowledges that the COVID-19 outbreak has “significantly impacted” Ontario’s economy – which the government said recorded strong growth before the pandemic – the fiscal document states that the economy should turn around in the second half of 2020.

“Pent up demand for goods and services along with and improving labour market would add momentum, supporting stronger consumer spending,” the fiscal document reads. “However, some sectors will take longer to recover.”

In his remarks to the Ontario legislature on Wednesday, Phillips called COVID-19 a generation defining moment that requires a non-partisan approach to financial stability.

“And we are confident that every dollar we invest through this action plan that saves a life or saves a job is a dollar well spent.”

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