COVID-19 Support Programs Summary BC
Financial Options Available for People & Businesses
Written By: Mariko Baerg, REALTOR of Bridgewell Real Estate Group
If you’re looking for real estate guidance amidst COVID19, call me today!
I hope you’re all staying safe and protected amidst this crazy time. COVID has impacted us all, and it can be hard to keep up with all of the changes and what is available to you.
I’ve put together a summary of assistance programs with regards to housing, mortgage deferrals, additional deferrals (ie. ICBC), wage subsidies for businesses, income assistance, information for landlords, and information for seniors, families with children (child care or post-secondary), and those with disabilities.
I hope that this summary is helpful and that it provides some clarity as to extra ways you can gain assistance if you’re being impacted by COVID19. If there’s anything that I can help you with or if you’re looking for more information (whether it’s real estate related or not) I am here for you.
COVID-19 SUPPORT PROGRAMS SUMMARY BC: HOUSING, MORTGAGE, TAXES, ADDITIONAL DEFERRALS, INCOME, WAGE SUBSIDIES & MORE
I’ve put together a summary of assistance programs with regards to:
- Housing (Hydro, Fortis)
- Mortgage deferrals
- Tax Deferrals & Property Tax
- Information for landlords (temporary rent supplement applications are now open!)
- Income assistance (EI, CERB, etc.)
- Information for seniors, families with children (child care or post-secondary), and those with disabilities
- Wage subsidies for businesses
I hope that this summary is helpful and that it provides some clarity as to extra ways you can gain assistance if you’re being impacted by COVID19. Please keep in mind that these programs and matters are being updated daily. While we try our best to keep this information as reliable as possible, it is always best to verify on your own.
If there’s anything that I can help you with or if you’re looking for more information (whether it’s real estate related or not) I am here for you.
1. HOUSING & TAX DEFERRALS
BC Hydro is halting all service disconnections for non-payment of bills and reducing electricity rates by 1%.
|COVID-19 Relief Fund applies a 3-month credit to your BC Hydro account for eligible customers (avg credit will be $477).||Applications will be accepted until June 30 (no rush to apply). Apply online.|
|COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program offers bill deferral and payment plans for customers struggling due to impacts of COVID-19.||Customer Assistance: Call 1-800-BC-HYDRO|
|Customer Crisis Fund is an existing program that grants of up to $600 off your energy bill.||Apply online.|
Fortis is waiving late payment fees and will ensure no customer is disconnected from the energy they need due to financial hardship at this time.
The Customer Recovery Fund addresses the billing concerns of residential and small business customers during the COVID-19 outbreak. Customers who are unable to work or have lost their livelihood, and small businesses that have experienced income loss or been forced to close as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, can receive assistance from FortisBC.
The following criteria is required for enrolment:
- Residential customers must acknowledge loss of employment, livelihood or being forced to take a voluntary leave due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Small businesses must acknowledge that they have had income loss or were forced to close due to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the date of the business closure.
- All customers must provide their FortisBC account number(s) confirming they’re a residential or small business customer.
- All customers must agree to enter into a payment arrangement for their deferred balance.
You can apply by:
- Completing the online form, or
- Calling 1-888-292-4104 (natural gas) and 1-888-292-4105 (electricity) Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
AUTO & TRANSIT
ICBC has issued a statement regarding how to renew auto insurance and how to defer payment.
|Auto insurance can be renewed by email or phone.||Contact your broker.|
|Monthly payment deferrals for ICBC auto-insurance is available for up to 90 days with no penalty.||Call 1-800-665-6442 or apply online.|
|Remote extensions for driver licensing available. All requests for medical information temporarily postponed.||Call 1-800-950-1498.|
|Parking is free of charge at all health authority owned/operated health care sites like hospitals, clinics, long-term care centres, etc.||For staff, patients, and visitors only.|
|TransLink: Fare-free boarding on all buses. Enter through rear of the bus, unless accessible loading is required. July 1 fare increase is deferred indefinitely. Service reductions in effect: check online before you go.|
|BC Transit: Fare-free boarding on all buses. Enter through rear of the bus, unless accessible loading is required.|
Many of you are asking about mortgage payment deferral, and for many lenders that are options for deferring payments up to 6 months at this time for both CMHC insured mortgages and non-insured mortgages. Check with your lender, but in many cases this applies to both your primary residence and investment properties.
*Please note that an application needs to be made to skip-a-payment/defer before the mortgage payment is due. The deferral is not automatically applied in the state of emergency.*
I know many applications have been submitted and it can be hard to get a hold of the lenders at this time. However, for most of the big bank lenders and many others, online applications are processed the most efficiently. Furthermore, it is best to get these deferral confirmations in writing, so making an application via email or online is ideal. I’ve included a list of lenders below if your lender does not have an online or email option.
What is a mortgage deferral?
A mortgage deferral, if approved, allows you to delay the payments for the time granted, and done on a case by case basis. These vary greatly and is based solely on the decision from the lender. We have seen approvals between one and six months, with extended delay times for approval.
What happens during the deferral period?
Although you won’t be obligated to make the principal and interest payment, you will be required to continue to pay for your mortgage insurance (if you have it – critical illness/death) and property tax portions should the lender be collecting on your behalf.
How does it work?
Once the deferment is over your payment will increase to be higher and ON TOP of your regular payments. The amount will be added to each payment remaining on the term. The longer the deferral the higher your payments will be after the deferral period.
For more info on mortgage payment deferral, you can watch my VLOG with Jon Chan from RBC.
LIST OF LENDERS CONTACT CUSTOMER SERVICE PHONE NUMBERS
Connect First 403-736-4000
Chinook Financial 403-934-3358
First Calgary Financial 403-736-4000
First National 1-866-557-5509
Home Trust 1-855-270-3630
Merix 1-877-637-4911 option 4
Street Capital 1-866-683-8090
For property tax deferrals please check with your local city for announcements.
Most recently for Port Coquitlam residents, Mayor Brad West just announced no property tax increases and payment isn’t due until September 2.
|BC business tax payments deferred until after Sept 30: Employer health tax (EHT), provincial sales tax (PST), municipal and regional district tax, tobacco tax, motor fuel tax, and carbon tax. Scheduled April 1 increases to provincial carbon tax and PST are deferred.|
|School Tax on business and industry property classes is cut by 50%, to be passed onto tenants on triple-net leases.|
|GST/HST payments owed deferred to June 30.|
|Customs duties & taxes payments owed deferred to June 30.|
|Income tax payments owed are deferred until after August 31. Filing is deferred to June 1.|
2. INFORMATION ON TENANTED PROPERTIES & FOR LANDLORDS
COVID19 and Tenancies
The Residential Tenancy Act has been amended to support renters and landlords during the provincial state of emergency and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
On March 25, 2020 the government announced a Residential Tenancy Order effective March 30th. Here are some of the highlights that you can refer to:
|Evictions ban in effect for duration of crisis.||No action required. Click here for more info.|
|Freeze on rental rates means that no rent increases are allowed in BC, effective April 1.||No action required. Click here for more info.|
|BC Temporary Rental Supplement (BC-TRS) provides up to $500/month towards rent, paid directly to landlords.||Apply online.|
Tenants still required to pay rent
It should be made clear that tenants should pay rent wherever possible and that the legislation still requires that tenants pay rent in full and on time.
An eviction ban DOES NOT mean that the tenant gets free rent – they still need to pay this rent back once the state of emergency is lifted and if they do not they can face eviction.
- The state of emergency temporarily suspends a landlord’s ability to end a tenancy if a tenant does not pay the rent in full and on time
- A tenant who has not paid rent could face eviction once the state of emergency is over
BC Temporary Rental Supplement is now open for applications!!
Work with your tenant as they will need to apply in order for you to get the benefit, the tenant needs to qualify and apply but the landlord will receive the benefit directly.
Proof of Income Loss
Submit one of the following for every family member aged 19 years or over whose employment income has decreased as a result of COVID-19.
- Record of Employment
- Copy of application for Employment Insurance or screenshot of current EI claim from My Service Canada online account
- Copy of application for Canada Emergency Response Benefit or screenshot of current CERB claim from My Service Canada online account
- Letter from your employer regarding reduced hours and reason
Proof of Tenancy and Rent
Submit one or more of the following to confirm tenancy and current monthly rent.
- Tenancy Agreement / Notice of Rent Increase
- Recent Rent receipt (within past 3 months)
- Bank statement showing recent rent payment to your landlord (within past 3 months)
- Letter from Landlord confirming tenancy and monthly rent
APPLICATION AT THE LINK HERE
For existing real estate deals – tenancy notices to vacate issued before March 30 still apply
If notices to vacate were given before March 30, pursuant to a contract of purchase and sale of the home then the notice still applies and tenant is required to leave.
If notice is given after March 30, eviction cannot occur until state of emergency is lifted. For anyone that is looking to purchase a home right now, please be extra aware of the occupancy of the home and that you cannot evict a tenant at this time.
3. INCOME ASSISTANCE FOR WORKFORCE, SENIORS, FAMILIES, THOSE WITH DISABILITIES & LOW-MODERATE INCOME EARNERS
EI & INCOME ASSISTANCE FOR WORKFORCE
|Employment Insurance (EI): If you have stopped working because of COVID-19, you should apply for CERB whether or not you are eligible for Employment Insurance.||Apply online via CERB.|
|EI Sickness Benefit: One-week waiting period has been waived.||Apply online via CERB.|
|Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides $500/week to people who have stopped earning income due to COVID-19, including contractors and self-employed people.||Apply online.|
|BC Emergency Benefit provides a one-time additional tax-free payment of $1000 to those on EI or CERB.||See link; further application instructions TBD|
|COVID-19 Crisis Supplement: Low-income seniors who receive the B.C. Senior’s Supplement will receive an additional $300/month boost for three months.||No action required, support boosts will be applied to next payments automatically. More info here.|
|Existing federal programs continue to be available, including:
– Canada Pension Plan Retirement Pension
– Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefit
– Old Age Security (OAS): $614/mo (max)
– Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS): $916/mo (max)
– Allowance / Allowance for Survivor: $1389/mo (max)
|Eligible seniors can apply online if they are not already enrolled.|
|Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs): Minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) has been reduced by 25% for 2020.||Learn more here.|
|bc211 is available for seniors who need support with non-medical essentials, like grocery pick-up and drop off.||Call 2-1-1 or visit online.|
PEOPLE ON DISABILITY
|– Full exemption of CERB or EI for three months (no clawback).
– COVID-19 Crisis Supplement of additional $300/month for three months for those who do not qualify for federal emergency supports like CERB or EI.
– Those on BC Bus Pass Program will receive their $52 transportation supplement back in cash.
|No action required, support boosts will be applied to next payments automatically. More info here.|
FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN
Child Care and Younger Children
|Canada Child Benefit (CCB) provides one-time boost of up to $300 per child in May.||No action if you are already registered for CCB. Otherwise, apply online.|
|Emergency Child Care Funding provides child care providers with emergency government funding on the condition that they not charge parents fees for any periods of closure or for vacant spaces and must reserve spaces for families, starting April.||Check with your provider to see if they are in this program.|
|Temporary Emergency Child Care available for essential service workers. Use the child care matching service for kids aged 0-5, otherwise contact your school directly for school aged kids.||1-888-338-6622 or register online for kids 0-5.
Otherwise, contact your school.
|Children and Youth with Special Needs (CYSN) services are available to families with greater flexibility. Emergency Relief Support Fund will also provide eligible families with direct payments of $225/month for three months.||More info here.|
|Emergency Assistance available for students at public post-secondary institutions. Non-repayable funds can be used to help with a broad range of costs, including living expenses, food, travel, portable computers and other supports for students who are not already able to study remotely.||Contact your school’s financial aid office to apply. See backgrounder for contact list.|
|Indigenous Emergency Assistance Fund available for Indigenous students at public post-secondary institutions can apply for non-repayable emergency assistance that can be used to help with a broad range of costs, including living expenses, groceries, cell phone bills, childcare, medical, dental, optical, and travel costs for family crisis or community obligations.||Contact the Indigenous Student Service Centre on campus. See backgrounder for contact list.|
|BC Student Loans repayments paused for six months without penalty, starting April.||Repayment will be paused automatically.|
|Canada Student Loans repayments paused for six months without penalty, starting April.||Repayment will be paused automatically.|
LOW AND MODERATE INCOME FAMILIES
|GST-credit will provide an additional one-time boost for eligible individuals in April. Benefit is paid out according to your income tax return.||More info here.|
|Climate Action Tax Credit will provide an additional one-time boost of up to $564 for eligible families of 4 and $218 for eligible individuals in an enhanced payment in July. Children under 18 years old must be registered for the CCB to qualify. No other action is needed; benefit is paid out according to your income tax return.||More info here.|
WAGE SUBSIDIES FOR BUSINESSES
Further to the CEWS the government has provided a new update with more flexible eligibility for businesses in Canada. In recognition that the time between when revenue is earned and when it is paid could be highly variable in certain sectors of the economy, it is proposed that employers be allowed to measure revenues either on the basis of accrual accounting (as they are earned) or cash accounting (as they are received).
|Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) covers up to 75% of wages for businesses, charities, and non-profits that have lost more than 25% of their revenue. Max subsidy of $847 per week per employee, from March 15 – June 6. Qualifying employers may also be eligible for 100% refunds on certain employer-paid contributions to EI and CPP.||Check back for application information. Learn more.|
|Temporary Wage Subsidy covers up to 10% of payroll for small businesses, not-for-profits, charities between March 18-June 19. Organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may qualify for this program.||You do not need to apply for this subsidy; you reduce it from remittance to the CRA. Learn more.|
|Canada Summer Jobs Program wage subsidy is increased to 100% of minimum wage. Eligibility for this program has also been relaxed.||More info.|
BUSINESS CREDIT PROGRAMS & AVAILABILITY
|Canada Emergency Business Account: Loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses and not-for-profits, interest-free for one year. A portion may be forgivable. Available mid-April.||Speak with your financial institution. Learn more.|
|Loan Guarantee: Operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to SMEs. Available mid-April.||Speak with your financial institution. Learn more.|
|Co-Lending Program: Co-lend term loans to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements. Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts of up to $6.25 million through the program. Available mid-April.||Speak with your financial institution. Learn more.|
COVID19 has affected everyone, and while things may not be going as usual, business and real estate continues to move forward. Real estate has been deemed an essential service, and we are still servicing clients the best we can.
We’ve implemented proper safety procedures, have adapted to virtual and online showings as a first measure, and are continuing to keep a close eye on the real estate market and prices to keep you advised and up to date.
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