Financial Support for Individuals

Updated - June 1, 2020

Many types of financial support are being given to help individuals and families experiencing challenges due to COVID-19.

A COVID-19 Virtual Assistant is available online to help you find more information on what financial supports are there for you from the Government of Canada https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html

Financial support is available for:

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will give individuals $2,000 per month until October 3, 2020 to those whose income has been impacted because of COVID-19. You will be able to apply for the benefit going back to March 15, 2020. If you receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, you will need to confirm once a month that your income has been impacted by COVID-19 to continue receiving the benefit.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit can be found at https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application/questions.html

People who do not receive Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and do not have access to other financial supports can apply for emergency assistance funding. This includes people who are waiting for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to become available to them. This money can help pay for food, rent, medicine, transportation and other services. More information on emergency assistance can be found at https://www.ontario.ca/page/apply-emergency-assistance.

Discretionary benefits will now be easier to access by people who receive Ontario Works or ODSP. Discretionary benefits may be given for:

  • the cost of travel and transportation to attend medical appointments;
  • payments for the continuation of hydro/heating to prevent eviction;
  • food where food banks have closed, or people require home delivery because they are required to self-isolate, are ill, or are looking after a family member who is ill or in isolation; or
  • costs of items to maintain personal safety including but not limited to masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfectant and cleaning supplies.

Who can apply?

You can apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit if you:

  • Reside in Canada and are at least 15 years old;
  • Have stopped working because of COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits;
  • Had an income of at least $5000 in 2019 or the 12 months prior to the date of application from any or a combination of employment, self-employment or maternity / parental benefits under the Employment Insurance program; and
  • Are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For continued benefits, you except to have no employment income.  

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit is available to people who stopped work because of COVID-19. Examples of stopping work could include:

  • You have been let go from your job or your hours have been reduced to zero;
  • You are in quarantine or sick due to COVID-19;
  • You are away from work to take care of others because they are in quarantine, sick due to COVID-19; and/or
  • You are away from work to take care of children or other dependents whose care facility is closed due to COVID-19.

You can now apply to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit if:

  • Your income has been reduced to less than $1000 per month due to COVID-19;
  • You are a seasonal worker who will be unable to return to your regular work in the upcoming season; or
  • You have run out of employment insurance since January 1, 2020.

You are not eligible for the benefit if you have quit your job voluntarily or are looking for a job but haven’t stopped working because of COVID-19. For more information on if you are eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit visit https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html

You can apply for additional emergency assistance funding if you are not currently receiving Ontario Works or ODSP.

You can apply for discretionary benefits if you or your family already receive Ontario Works or ODSP.

How do I apply?

You can apply to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit online at https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html or over the phone by calling 1-800-959-2019.

If you are already getting regular or sickness Employment Insurance benefits, you will continue to receive these benefits and should not apply to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. If you already applied for Employment Insurance on March 15,2020 or later, your application will automatically be processed through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and you do not need to reapply.

To get ready to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, you can make sure you have set up your My Account profile through the Canada Revenue Agency website. Setting up a direct deposit option in your My Account profile will also help you to get money faster once the Canada Emergency Response Benefit becomes available. If you need help with your MyAccount profile, you can visit https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/apply-for-cerb-with-cra.html or call the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-959-8281. If you sign up for direct deposit you should receive your money within 3 business days after submitting your application. If you choose to get your money by cheque you should receive your money within 10 business days.

You can apply for Ontario Works and emergency assistance in Hamilton through the Online Application for Social Assistance or by calling 905-546-4800. To apply for emergency assistance please visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/apply-emergency-assistance

Individuals and families currently receiving Ontario Works can apply for discretionary benefits by calling 905-546-4800. Individuals and families currently receiving ODSP can apply for discretionary benefits by calling 905-521-7280.

The COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program is available for Canadians abroad to help them return home. Canadians can apply for an emergency loan of up to $5,000 to help them return to Canada as quickly as possible. This loan also helps to support costs needed to live in the country they are in while they work to return home.

How do I apply?
If you are a Canadian outside Canada who needs financial assistance to return home, you can contact the Government of Canada at [email protected] or +1-613-996-8885. 

If you need someone to talk to, Kids Help Phone is available to listen to you 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. This service is completely confidential.

You can talk to Kids Help Phone by:

Mortgage Payments

Homeowners facing financial challenges may be eligible to put off mortgage payments for up to 6 months.

How do I apply?
Please contact your lender – your bank or your mortgage professional – to find out if you are eligible to put off your mortgage payments.

Property Tax Assistance Program

The City of Hamilton will waive penalties and interest on the second installment of municipal property taxes due April 30, 2020 for 60 days. Penalties and interest on the third installment due June 30, 2020 will also be waived for 30 days. The waiving of penalties and interest is available to residential and non-residential taxpayers. No need to apply.

Taxpayers are reminded that the City also offers a number of monthly pre-authorized payment plans.  Taxpayers are encouraged to consider enrolling in one of these payment plans to help spread the payment of the upcoming tax instalments into smaller, more manageable monthly amounts.

To find out more about the City of Hamilton’s Property Tax Assistance Program visit www.hamilton.ca/coronavirus/faq-property-taxpayers

Rent Payments

If you are having difficulty paying rent because of a loss of income as a result of COVID-19, the Province of Ontario has suspended evictions. If you have questions about your rights as a tenant, you can call the Ontario Landlord Tenant Board at 1-888-332-3234. More information for tenants and landlords is also provided on the City of Hamilton’s Housing website at www.hamilton.ca/social-services/housing.

An Indigenous Community Support Fund has been set up to meet the immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. This funding will also support regional, urban and off-reserve Indigenous organizations. Money will be given directly to Indigenous communities and groups across Canada. This money can be used to support:

  • Elders and vulnerable community members;
  • Food insecurity;
  • Educational and other supports for children;
  • Mental health assistance and emergency response services; and
  • Preparedness measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

More information on the Indigenous Community Support Fund can be found at  https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1585189335380/1585189357198

How do I apply?

Information on how to apply for this support will be provided when it becomes available.

If you need help during this difficult time, please contact:

  • Your current mental health and addictions service provider to learn about potential virtual care options;
  • ConnexOntario, Ontario’s mental health, additions and problem gambling help line, at 1-866-531-2600 if you 18 years of age or older;
  • Kids Help Phone if you are under 18 years of age, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week by text at 686868, phone 1-800-668-6868, or online at KidsHelpPhone.ca;
  • Good2Talk, a free, confidential mental health support service to postsecondary students 24-hours a day, 7 days a week at www.good2talk.ca; and
  • Bounceback which offers guided self-help programs using workbooks and phone coaching support through bouncebackontario.ca.
  • Wellness Together Canada https://ca.portal.gs/
  • COAST COVID-19 resource and links https://coasthamilton.ca/?page_id=712

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis in Hamilton please call 905-972-8338 or Toll Free at 1-844-972-8338. This crisis line is answered 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Canada Child Benefit

An extra $300 per child will be given through the Canada Child Benefit for 2019-2020. This benefit will be delivered as part of the scheduled Canada Child Benefit payments in April.

How do I apply?
If you already receive the Canada Child Benefit, you do not need to re-apply for this money.

To see if you are eligible or to apply for the Canada Child Benefit, visit www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/child-family-benefits/canada-child-benefit-overview or call 1-800-387-1193.

Support for Families Funding

A one-time payment is available for all parents of $200 per child from 0 to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs from 0 up to 20 years of age, to help families pay for extra costs because of school and daycare closures.

How do I apply?
You can apply to the Support for Families funding online at https://www.ontario.ca/page/get-support-families or by calling 1-888-444-3770. If you already get Support for Parents payments through direct deposit, you will automatically receive the Support for Families money and do not need to apply again. The Support for Parents program was provided to parents during the recent educational strikes. 

Emergency Child Care

The City of Hamilton will provide emergency child care to children of health care and other essential workers free of charge during this time. In Hamilton, this emergency care will be delivered by licensed home child care providers because of the smaller number of children and staff in each home.  

More information on emergency child care can be found at https://www.ontario.ca/page/child-care-health-care-and-frontline-staff

How do I apply?
To apply for emergency child care, please contact one of the following agencies:

Eligible families will need to complete a short registration process with one of these agencies.

A one-time tax-free payment of up to $600 for Canadians with disabilities.  This new financial aid will automatically go to all who are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit, as of June 1, 2020.

  • Canadians who have a valid certificate for the Disability Tax Credit will receive $600.
  • Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate and who are eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension will receive $300.
  • Canadians who are eligible for both of these programs and are also eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will be receiving $100.

No application is necessary to receive this payment.

Canada Emergency Student Benefit

Students and recent graduates who have seen their education and job prospects hampered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will be able to apply for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) as of Friday May 15, 2020. Eligible applicants will receive $1,250 a month from May to August. For those who have a disability, or are taking care of someone else, they will receive $2,000, which is equal to the amount received by those eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

If you are able to work, you must be actively looking for a job to be eligible to receive the CESB. If you still cannot find work due to COVID-19, you can re-apply for each CESB eligibility period that you are eligible for. For eligibility requirements visit https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/emergency-student-benefit/cesb-who-apply.html

How do I apply?
Applications will be processed through the Canada Revenue Agency website starting May 15, 2020. To find out more about this benefit, visit https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/emergency-student-benefit.html

Extensions of federal graduate research scholarships and post-doctoral fellowships may be available for student researchers who intend to continue their studies. Please contact your academic institution for more information.

To support students in finding work over the summer months, the Government of Canada is expanding student employment, skills development and youth programming. This will create more jobs, placements and training opportunities for students this summer. If you are a student looking for summer employment visit https://www.canada.ca/en/services/jobs/opportunities/student.html.

Canada Student Service Grant

The Canada Student Service Grant will provide up to $5000 for students who choose to volunteer supporting the COVID-19 response in their communities over the summer months.

How do I apply?
Information on how to apply to the Canada Student Service Grant will be provided when available. To find out more about supports for students offered by the Government of Canada visit https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/04/support-for-students-and-recent-graduates-impacted-by-covid-19.html

Additional funding will be given to eligible full-time and part-time students through the Canada Student Grants and Loans Program in the 2020/21 school year. Eligibility for student financial assistance will also be expanded for the 2020/21 school year.

How do I apply?
To learn more and apply to the Canada Student Grants and Loans Program visit https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/education/student-aid/grants-loans.html

Canada Student Loans

A six-month interest-free pause on the repayment of Canada Student Loans will be given to all people who are repaying these loans. No payment will be required, and interest will not build during this time.

How do I apply?
If you have a student loan, you do not need to apply for this benefit. Starting March 30, 2020, everyone will automatically have their repayments stopped until September 30, 2020.

Old Age Security

Any senior who is eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension will receive a $300 payment, and an additional $200 is being sent to seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). No application is required to receive this one-time payment and will be delivered the week of July 6.

The government is encouraging seniors who have yet to do so, to submit their 2019 income information as soon as possible and no later than by October 1, 2020 in order to avoid an interruption in their benefits.

Required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds will be reduced by 25% for 2020.

Guaranteed Annual Income System

The maximum payments to low-income seniors in the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) is proposed to double to $166 per month for individuals and $332 per month for couples for six months starting April 2020.

How do I apply?
If you currently receive the Old Age Security pension and Guaranteed Income Supplement, you do not need to apply to the GAINS program. This increase will automatically be given to you.

To see if you are eligible for the GAINS program visit www.ontario.ca/page/guaranteed-annual-income-system-payments-seniors.

The United Way of Canada

The United Way of Canada has received funding to support practical services to seniors in Canada. Money is available to help seniors with the delivery of groceries, medications or other needed items. This money will also be used for personal outreach to understand what a senior may need in their home and connect them to community supports. Money has also been provided to local businesses, charities and existing health services in Ontario to support the subsidized delivery of meals, medicines and other essentials to seniors.

How do I apply?
Seniors, people with disabilities, and others in need of assistance can connect to essential services in their community at any time by visiting www.211ontario.ca or by calling 211 or 1-877-330-3212.

Income Tax Returns

The due date for filing individual income tax returns has been pushed back to June 1, 2020. You will now have until September 1, 2020 to pay any 2019 income tax amounts owed.

Goods and Services Tax credit

A one-time special payment will be made in April to low- and modest-income families through the Goods and Services Tax credit. The average additional benefit will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples. You do not need to apply for this benefit, all individuals who are eligible will automatically receive this funding.

Residential Electricity Pricing

In Ontario, residential electricity prices are now a fixed rate, known as the COVID-19 Recovery Rate. This rate will be 12.8 cents per kWh, which will be automatically applied to all time-of-use customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This fixed electricity price will be in place from June 1 to October 31, 2020.

In addition, struggling to pay their energy bills during the pandemic can apply for the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program (CEAP). This will provide one-time payments to consumers to help pay down any electricity bill debt incurred over the COVID 19 period. Applications will be available through local utilities in the upcoming months.

Ontario Energy Board's winter disconnection ban has been extended until July 31, 2020 to ensure no one is disconnected from their natural gas or electricity service during these uncertain times.

Ontario Electricity Support Program

Electricity bills are being made more affordable for people by providing additional funds for the Ontario Electricity Support Program and expanding the criteria to qualify for the Low-income Energy Assistance Program.

How do I apply?
You can check if you are eligible and apply to the Ontario Electricity Support Program online.

You can apply for the Low-income Energy Assistance Program through specific intake agencies in Ontario. Hamilton intake agencies are:

Neighbour to Neighbour Centre
28 Athens Street Hamilton, ON L9C 3K8
Phone: 905-574-1334

Hamilton Housing Help Centre
119 Main Street East Hamilton ON L8N 3Z3
Phone: 905-526-8100

Contact information for intake agencies in other locations in Ontario can be found at www.oeb.ca/rates-and-your-bill/help-low-income-consumers/low-income-ener....