Message from the Honourable Doug Black
In these challenging times, it is important that Albertans and all Canadians remain informed about the resources available to support them. Please find below, for your reference, information and resources being offered by the federal and provincial governments in response to COVID-19.
I remind folks that “social distancing” does not mean we must stop supporting one another. In fact, we must strengthen our support of one another. That is why you will also find a list below that details the options we have to help our neighbours through this outbreak.
I encourage everyone to continue to follow the advice of our governments and medical professionals.
Yours in isolation,
Senator Doug Black, Q.C.
Provincial Support – Alberta
Alberta declared a State of Public Emergency in the province on Tuesday, March 17th, 2020 in responding to the recent developments of COVID-19.
For up-to-date information about Alberta’s response to COVID-19, and for all available resources, please visit the Government of Alberta website here.
If you think you should be tested for COVID-19 please use this Self-Assessment.
- Do not go to a doctor’s office, emergency care center, or hospital before contacting the Alberta Health Line at 8-1-1.
EMERGENCY ISOLATION SUPPORT
The Government of Alberta offered a temporary program for working adult Albertans who were forced to self-isolate because they met the criteria for self-isolation.
A one-time payment of $1, 146 was distributed to bridge the gap until the federal emergency payments began in April. For more information, click here.
UTILITY PAYMENT DEFERRAL
Residential and small commercial customers can defer electricity and natural gas bill payments for the next 90 days, regardless of service provider. Call your utility provider directly to arrange a deferral.
All Albertans should monitor their air travel history, even if it was only travel within Canada. Flights that have confirmed cases and affected seats will be posted here and will be updated regularly to reflect new information.
All individuals who return from international flights, or who were on a domestic flight (in affected seats) with confirmed cases, are required to self-isolate upon return for 14 days. If COVID symptoms develop after a domestic flight, there is a 10 day mandatory isolation period.
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, only essential visits to any continuing care or long-term care facility are recommended. Families and friends of those residing in such facilities are asked to think of alternative ways to support and encourage loved ones.
SCHOOLS AND DAYCARES
All students will no longer be attending K-12 schools until further notice.
Teachers and other school staff will still be expected work, either from home or at their workplace. Decisions on how to do this are still to be made and may vary depending on the school jurisdiction.
In-person classes at post-secondary institutions are cancelled until further notice. Campuses will remain open.
Alberta student loan payments will be paused, beginning on March 30, for six months. Students do not need to apply for the repayment pause.
EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES
Changes to the Employment Standards Code will allow full and part-time employees to take 14 days of job-protected leave if they are:
- required to self-isolate
- caring for a child or dependent adult that is required to self-isolate
To be eligible, employees:
- will not be required to have a medical note
- do not need to have worked for an employer for 90 days
This leave covers the self-isolation period recommended by Alberta’s chief medical officer. This leave may be extended if the advice of the chief medical officer changes.
Corporate income tax balances and instalment payments will be deferred from March 19 until August 31, 2020.
For more information on the provincial government's supports for Albertan employers and employees, please click here.
If you are struggling and want someone to talk to, please contact the Mental Health Line (Alberta Health Services): 1-877-303-2642.
All services are offered 24/7 and are confidential and anonymous.
Federal Support – Canada
The Government of Canada has recently announced several comprehensive measures to support Canadians through this period of difficulty.
Detailed and up-to-date information can be found here. Canadians can also call the COVID-19 Information Line: 1-833-784-4397 (available every day from 7 AM – midnight).
EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES
If you’re an employer with an export business that is struggling as a result of COVID-19, you may be able to access financing through the Business Credit Availability Program. Click here to learn more.
If you’re an employer who may not be involved in exporting but is struggling as a result of COVID-19, you may also be able to access financing here.
If you’re an employer whose business has been negatively impacted by COVID-19, you may be eligible for the Temporary Wage Subsidy which is equal to 75% of the remuneration paid from March 15th onward (for up to three months). For more information on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy click here.
If you’re an employer participating in the Work Sharing Program, you may be eligible for support that will allow you to continue employing your skilled workers. Click here to learn more.
If you’re an employee in quarantine or mandatory self-isolation, you cannot work, and you need to access Employment Insurance, click here.
If you’re a commercial property owner and have small business tenants struggling to make their rent, you may be eligible for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program. Click here to learn more.
There is an official travel advisory in place asking Canadians not to travel outside of Canada for non-essential purposes. Financial help is available for Canadians stuck outside the country. Click here to learn more. 24/7 consular assistance is also available to Canadians outside of Canada. Canadians should avoid all cruises until further notice. Any traveler returning from outside of Canada should self-isolate for 14 days.
A six-month interest free moratorium has been placed on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently repaying these loans. See here for more information.
The Canada Emergency Student Benefit provides financial support to post-secondary students, recent post-secondary graduates, and high school students who are unable to find work due to COVID-19. For more information on this benefit, and how to apply, click here.
AGRICULTURE & AGRIFOOD
Farm Credit Canada has received an additional $5 billion in lending capacity from the Federal Government.
Farmers with an Advance Payments Program loan due on or before April 30th will have an additional six months to pay it back.
MORTGAGE PAYMENT DEFERAL
Canadians are eligible to receive up to a 6-month payment deferral for mortgages. Contact your bank for more information or to apply for deferred payments.
The return filing due date has been deferred until June 1st, 2020. All taxpayers are permitted to defer, until after August 31st, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts owing.
REGISTERED RETIREMENT INCOME FUNDS
The required minimum withdrawals from RRIFs have been reduced by 25% in 2020.
CANADA EMERGENCY RESPONSE BENEFIT
This benefit combines the previous Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides $2,000 per month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of COVID-19.
This benefit applies to all wage earners, as well as contract workers, and self-employed individuals who are not otherwise eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). For more information on the eligibility criteria for the CERB please click here.
You can access the portal to apply here.
Applications for the CERB are open. Please follow the application guidelines found below:
If you were born in the Month of
Apply for CERB on
Your first and best day to Apply
January - March
April 6th, 2020
April - June
April 7th, 2020
July – September
April 8th, 2020
October - December
April 9th, 2020
*Anyone can apply for the CERB on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays
CANADA CHILD BENEFIT ENHANCEMENT
The federal government is increasing the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit payment amounts for the 2019-20 benefit year by $300 per child.
INCREASE TO GOODS AND SERVICES TAX CREDIT
The federal government is providing a one-time special payment by early May through the Goods and Services Tax Credit (GSTC). This will double the annual GTSC payment amounts for the 2019-20 benefit year. The average boost to income for those benefitting from this measure will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.
This benefit will continue until September 2020 if individuals are unable to file their taxes by the June 1st deadline.
For more information on the federal government’s economic response plans – please click here.
IF YOU ARE DIAGNOSED WITH COVID-19
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 it is crucial that you do the following:
- Limit contact with others
- Keep your hands clean
- Avoid contaminating common items and surfaces
- Care for yourself
- Ensure you have proper supplies at home while isolating
For more detailed information on what to do when you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, visit the Government of Canada website here.
How to Stay Connected and Help Others
Just because we are practicing social distancing doesn’t mean that we have to be disconnected. If anything, we should be working to become more engaged in our communities. This is a time when we must support neighbours, friends, and family. If you are in good health, please consider helping in the following ways:
- Donate blood at Canadian Blood Services. Learn more about donating during the outbreak here
- Offer to pick up extra food and supplies for your neighbours and loved ones and drop them outside front doors
- Consider buying a gift card online to one of your favourite local stores or restaurants
- Sanitize and donate kids toys to friends or family with children
- Call a retirement home and offer to chat with a senior who may be lonely
- Make a financial donation to a local food bank struggling to keep food on the shelves
- Organize a group video call with your family to stay connected and updated
- Send other ideas for ways to help others to firstname.lastname@example.org