Did you know you can access financial benefits and support during the COVID-19 outbreak? All First Nations people have access to these financial benefits, regardless of where you live.
Service Canada launched a dedicated toll-free phone line for First Nation members who need help with applications for both Employment Insurance and the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
Service Canada’s Outreach Support Centre line is 1-877-631-2657.
IMPORTANT: To access some of the benefits below, a tax return must be filed. ISC is working with CRA to explore simplified methods of accessing benefits.
For a comprehensive list of all financial benefits that may apply to you, your family and community, please visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html#individuals
Support for individuals and families
Increasing the Canada Child Benefit
(must have filed your 2018 tax return)
- If you already receive the Canada Child Benefit payment and have an eligible child under your care in May 2020, you will receive $300 more per child in addition to your regular payment.
- No need to re-apply.
- To apply, click here or call 1-800-387-1193.
Special Goods and Services Tax credit payment
(must have filed your 2018 tax return)
- There will be a one-time special Goods and Services Tax credit payment by early May available for low- and modest-income families.
- The average additional payment will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.
- There is no need to apply for this payment. If you are eligible, you are enrolled automatically when you file your income tax return.
- For individuals (other than trusts), the tax return filing due date will be extended until June 1, 2020.
- When you file in your income tax return, if you owe money, payment will only be due September 1, 2020, and will not incur interest or penalties.
- Canadian banks have committed to work with their customers on a case-by-case basis to find solutions to help them manage hardships caused by COVID-19.
- If that is your situation, contact your financial institution to ask about flexibility for a mortgage deferral.
- If a lender approves a payment deferral on a Ministerial Loan Guarantee, no extra approval from ISC is needed, unless the terms and conditions of the payment deferral exceed the existing Ministerial Loan Guarantee.
Support for people facing unemployment, who are sick, quarantined, impacted by self-isolation or are unable to work
- This new financial support, which provides a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months, is accessible through a secure web portal. Applicants will also be able to apply via telephone. Click here for more information.
- Register for direct deposit on CRA's My Account for the quickest and most reliable way to get benefit and credit payments.
- If you are sick, quarantined or have been directed to self-isolate, the Government of Canada will waive the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits. Click here to apply.
- Apply online first for regular EI benefits at Employment Insurance or call toll-free. You will be automatically enrolled in the Canada Emergency Response Benefit if you are eligible.
- Service Canada launched a dedicated toll-free phone line for First Nation members who need help with applications for both Employment Insurance and the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Service Canada’s Outreach Support Centre line is 1-877-631-2657.
Support for Indigenous communities
- $305 million to help Indigenous communities prevent, prepare and respond to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
- This funding will help Indigenous communities to address their unique priorities and needs such as support for Elders, food insecurity, educational and other support for children, mental health assistance and emergency response services.
- Through this fund, $215 million has been allocated to First Nations nationally, the remaining $15 million plus an additional $75 million will be available for regional and urban Indigenous organizations supporting members living off reserve.
- Funding for community public health needs in First Nations and Inuit communities can be submitted to First Nations and Inuit Health Branch offices in each of the regions.
- Funding applications can be for measures including but not limited to:
- Identified needs to update and/or activate pandemic plans
- Public health and primary health care capacity to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak
- Align response efforts with evidence
- Address immediate needs in the short term
- A community guide has been developed to assist First Nations with accessing these funds and regular discussions are occurring with the Inuit Public Health Task Group
- Support for Emergency Management on reserve
- First Nation communities on reserve may need emergency assistance services that can be provided through the Emergency Management Assistance Program (EMAP).
- At this time, EMAP assistance is dedicated to ensure the immediate health and safety response of First Nations related to COVID-19, in addition to other expenses that would typically be supported by the EMAP.
Support for students and recent graduates
Post-secondary students are feeling the economic impacts of COVID-19. Many students were preparing to start a summer job in May, and are now worried about how to pay rent and cover basic living expenses, while recent graduates are struggling to find meaningful work.
The Government of Canada announced support of nearly $9 billion for post-secondary students and recent graduates on April 22, 2020. These measures include:
- Canada Emergency Student Benefit, which will provide support to students and new graduates who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. This benefit would provide $1,250 per month for eligible students or $1,750 per month for eligible students with dependents or disabilities. The benefit would be available from May to August 2020 and payments will be made through the Canada Revenue Agency.
- Canada Student Service Grant, which will help students gain valuable work experience and skills while they help their communities during the COVID‑19 pandemic. For students who choose to volunteer and serve their communities, the new Canada Student Service Grant will provide up to $5,000 for their education in the fall.
A student can collect multiple benefits if, for example, they apply for the $1,250 benefit, volunteer and hold a job that pays less than $1,000 a month. Information will be updated on how to apply as soon as Canada makes the information available.
The Government of Canada will expand existing federal employment, skills development, and youth programming to create up to 116,000 jobs, placements, and other training opportunities. To help students continue their studies in the fall, the government will:
- increase existing distinctions-based support for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation students pursuing post-secondary education by providing an additional $75.2 million in 2020-21.
- double the Canada Student Grants for all eligible full-time students to up to $6,000 and up to $3,600 for part-time students in 2020-21. The Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with Dependents would also be doubled.
- broaden eligibility for student financial assistance by removing the expected student’s and spouse’s contributions in 2020-21, in recognition that many students and families will struggle to save for school this year.
- enhance the Canada Student Loans Program by raising the maximum weekly amount that can be provided to a student in 2020-21 from $210 to $350.
- extend expiring federal graduate research scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships, and supplement existing federal research grants, to support students and post-doctoral fellows, by providing $291.6 million to the federal granting councils. In addition, the government intends to enhance work opportunities for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows through the National Research Council of Canada.
- On March 30, 2020, the Government of Canada placed a six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying. Students do not need to apply for the repayment pause.
- On April 8, 2020, the Government of Canada announced temporary changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program that will help employers hire summer staff and provide young Canadians with access to jobs and help create up to 70,000 jobs for youth between 15 and 30 years old.
Support for seniors
OAS and GIS Increases
- A one-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension, with an additional $200 for seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is now available. This measure would give a total of $500 to seniors who are eligible to receive both the OAS and the GIS, and will help cover increased costs caused by COVID-19.
- Temporarily extending GIS and Allowance payments if seniors’ 2019 income information has not been assessed. This will ensure that the most vulnerable seniors continue to receive their benefits when they need them the most. To avoid an interruption in benefits, seniors are encouraged to submit their 2019 income information as soon as possible and no later than by October 1, 2020.
- A new measure in place to reduce the required minimum withdrawal amounts from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25% for 2020.
Support for vulnerable populations
- Up to $50 million will be provided to women's shelters and sexual assault centres across Canada to help with their capacity to manage or prevent an outbreak in their facilities.
- This funding includes up to $10M to be provided to Indigenous Service Canada's network of 46 emergency shelters on reserve and in Yukon to support Indigenous women and children fleeing violence.
- To support people across Canada experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak by providing $157.5 million to the Reaching Home initiative.
- This support can help address needs such as purchasing beds and physical barriers for social distancing and securing accommodation to reduce overcrowding in shelters.
- Shelters and other non-profit organizations can apply for funding here.
Support for Indigenous businesses
The federal government will provide $306.8 million in funding to help small and medium-sized Indigenous businesses suffering the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will allow for short-term, interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions through Indigenous financial institutions.
The money will be administered by the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association. To register for updates for this funding and NACCA, please go to https://nacca.ca/covid-19/
In Manitoba, please contact the First Peoples Economic Growth Fund (204)-942-6026 for more information.
Support for Fishers
The new Fish Harvester Benefit provides up to $267.6 million in income support for this year’s fishing season to eligible self-employed fish harvesters who cannot access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. This support will be provided to those that experience fishing income declines of greater than 25% in the 2020 tax year, compared to the average of their 2018 and 2019 fishing income. This Fish Harvester Benefit is available to self-employed Indigenous fish harvesters and sharespersons crew able to supply the necessary tax records. This measure covers 75% of fishing income losses beyond a 25% income decline threshold, up to a maximum individual entitlement equivalent to what is provided under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.
The new Fish Harvester Grant is a program worth up to $201.8 million that will provide grants to fish harvesters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic who cannot access the Canada Emergency Business Account or equivalent measures.
Employment and Social Development Canada-Service Canada will administer both of these programs on behalf of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Its administration will be based on the Social Insurance numbers of individuals and associated tax records. Application details will be available soon.
Given earnings may not be enough to allow independent harvesters to claim Employment Insurance (EI) this year, self-employed fish harvesters and sharespersons will also be allowed to file an EI claim based on insurable earnings from last year.
If someone is not eligible or does not fit the criteria for the above programs listed, inland fishers are eligible for the a suite of financial support measures in place, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for fishers who have lost their income due to COVID-19 or exhausted their Employment Insurance benefits. Additional benefits are available for fishing enterprises including the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP), and the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA).
Under the new Canadian Seafood Stabilization Fund, independent processors that are not affiliated with the FFMC will be eligible for this fund through Western Economic Diversification : https://www.wd-deo.gc.ca/eng/39.asp