COVID-19 has put Canadians under unprecedented financial pressures. Many non-essential industries have been shut down and individuals and businesses alike are feeling the pinch. In March alone, B.C. lost over 130,000 jobs and economists expect losses to continue through April. Losses have been felt across industries and many households have been affected.
Canadians need financial help now more than ever. There are a number of measures being taken by both the federal and provincial government in B.C. to help those struggling financially. Government assistance is available for many individuals affected by COVID-19. You should know what supports you are eligible for and what you can do about your financial situation.
In addition to financial relief from the government, you can still access debt relief services from G. Slocombe & Associates. Our licensed insolvency trustees on Vancouver Island are available for phone calls and video consultations. Many financial and bankruptcy services remain available during COVID-19 for households who need debt relief.
Support from the B.C. Government
The B.C. Government is providing a number of resources and supports to households affected by COVID-19. You can find a complete list here, but some of them include:
B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers
A one-time payment of $1,000 to workers who can no longer earn an income due to COVID-19 shutdowns or loss of revenue. Recipients of federal EI and CERB are eligible.
Supports for Housing
The B.C. Government is helping renters maintain their shelter even if their income has been affected. There is a temporary ban on evictions in the province. However, the landlord’s ability to end a tenancy is only suspended during the state of emergency; tenants could face eviction afterward.
The B.C. Government is providing a temporary rent supplement of up to $500 a month to low-to-moderate-income renters who have lost income due to COVID-19 to help them make rent payments.
B.C. Hydro Deferrals
In addition to rent supports, B.C. households are now also allowed to defer payments owed to B.C. Hydro. There is also a B.C. Hydro Relief Fund that is providing three months of bill credit to eligible residential customers. Small business customers can also have their usage charges waived for up to three months.
Support from the Government of Canada
The Government of Canada is providing widespread support for Canadians whose incomes have been affected or whose jobs are at risk due to the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19. Some of the most widely accessible benefits include:
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
A $2,000 per month benefit available to a wide number of eligible workers who have lost their income due to the pandemic. The CERB is available for up to 4 months, after which recipients are still eligible to apply for Employment Insurance. You can get started applying for CERB using this online application.
Increased Canada Child Benefit
The Government of Canada is providing an additional $300 per child to recipients of the CCB (Canada Child Benefit). The benefit is added automatically for those who already receive the CCB, so you do not have to apply for it.
Special GST Tax Credit
Low-and-modest-income families will also receive a one-time special payment through the Goods and Services Tax Credit. The credit will be an average of close to $400 for individuals and close to $600 for couples.
Canadian banks are now offering eligible customers mortgage deferrals to help manage their financial situations during COVID-19. If you have a mortgage, get in touch with your bank lender to find out if you are eligible to defer up to six monthly mortgage payments, including interest and principal.
Debt Relief Options
Despite all of the financial supports being made available, many households that have lost income may not find it enough. Households that were already dealing with large debts may find themselves unable to make payments. Even with interest cuts from some credit card companies, credit card interest remains high, and lower interest rates may not make a difference if you have lost your job.
If you are considering bankruptcy or other forms of debt relief, those services are still available to you. Debt Help BC is providing video consultations and assistance over the phone. Your initial consultation is still free and a licensed insolvency trustee will help review your finances.
Bankruptcy and Bankruptcy Alternatives
Bankruptcy can sound scary, but it is designed to be a way for debtors to become debt-free when it might otherwise be impossible. There are consequences to filing for bankruptcy. You may:
- Have to give up a portion of your income during the bankruptcy;
- Have to give up certain assets to settle with your creditors, though there are many exemptions;
- Have difficulty getting approved for a new loan after your bankruptcy for a period of time.
That said, it is a useful tool for individuals who cannot reasonably be expected to repay loans on their own. The benefits of a bankruptcy include debt forgiveness and a stop to interest charges and collection actions.
Bankruptcy is not your only option for getting debt-free. There are several other options. One of the most common is a consumer proposal, an alternative to bankruptcy that allows the debtor to hold onto personal property that would not be exempt from bankruptcy proceedings.
Consumer proposals allow you to pay back all of your creditors a fixed amount each month for up to five years. The amount is based on what you can afford to pay according to your income and necessary expenses. The difference between that amount and your total debts is forgiven, and interest stops accumulating on those balances.
You should know that debt relief is possible, even now. Loss of income is not something that’s easy to recover from. Households that were paying back large balances can no longer make progress on them. Others may now be relying on credit to make ends meet in a way they weren’t before, which can have lasting financial consequences even after you resume earning an income.
Help is available. Get in touch with Debt Help BC by phone or video consultation to review your debt relief options.