Federal Programs to assist individuals during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Last updated on April 15, 2020

RGD highlights the programs introduced by the Federal Government to assist individuals including employees, freelancers, students as they cope with the economic impact of the current crisis.


Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The CERB provides a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months (i.e. $500 per week for up to 16 weeks) to:

  • workers who must stop working due to COVID-19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support
  • workers who are sick, quarantined or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • working parents who must stay at home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures
  • workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work
  • wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance

As of April 15, freelancers and a self-employed people whose monthly income is up to $1000 are eligible for the CERB. Individuals who have ran out their Employment Insurance since Jan 1 and part-time workers have also been included under the preview of the CERB. 


CERB is being jointly delivered by Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency. As of April 6, 2020, you can apply here.


Canadians who are eligible for Employment Insurance and who have lost their job can also continue to apply for Employment Insurance


The benefits will start within 10 days of you submitting an application. Payments will be made through direct deposit or by cheque. 


The CERB will be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15 until October 3, 2020. You need to reconfirm your eligibility every four weeks.


For more information, click here


Work-Sharing Program

Irrespective of the sector or the industry, the maximum duration of an agreement under work-sharing program has been extended from 38 weeks to 76 weeks, effective from March 15, 2020 until March 14, 2021.


Income tax

For individuals, the tax return filing date has been extended to June 1, 2020. However, the benefits, if eligible, will be paid only after filing of the tax returns.
For self-employed people (and their spouse or common law partner), the tax return filing date remains unchanged from June 15, 2020.

Penalties and interest will not be charged if the deferred payment requirements are met by September 1, 2020. 


For filing dates for  corporation, trusts, charities, partnerships and others, click here. For individual tax inquiries contact the CRA.


Benefits for low-income households

The government has granted an extra $300 per child for The Canada Child Benefit and a one-time payment for low-income families of $400 (for singles) to $600 (for couples) to be paid in May through the GST credit



Self-employed persons can now pay GST/HST until June 30.

  • Monthly filers have to remit amounts collected for the February, March and April 2020 reporting periods;
  • Quarterly filers have to remit amounts collected for the January 1, 2020 through March 31, 2020 reporting period; and
  • Annual filers, whose GST/HST return or instalment are due in March, April or May 2020, have to remit amounts collected and owing for their previous fiscal year and instalments of GST/HST in respect of the filer’s current fiscal year.

Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) 

To provide flexibility to seniors who may be required to liquidate their RRIF assets, the minimum withdrawals requirement from RRIFs has been reduced by 25% for 2020.
Similar rules apply to individuals receiving variable benefit payments under a defined contribution registered pension plan and a pooled registered pension plan.

Federal Student Loans

All federal student loans have their loan repayments and interest automatically suspended until September 30, 2020. Students do not need to apply for the repayment pause.
Please check with the provincial lenders to see if payment is required on the provincial or territorial portion.

Mortgage support

The Government has allowed banks to work on case-by-case basis to defer up to six monthly mortgage payments (interest and principal) for borrowers impacted by COVID-19. 


Visit your bank's COVID-19 help page for more information.


Sources: WeirFoulds LLP, Editors Canada, Government of Canada Website


Stay tuned for our next article where we will highlight initiatives by the Provincial administrations to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19. 


This article is purely informational in nature and should not, in anyway, be construed as expert advice. Please contact your lawyers, accountants or relevant government institutions for any queries.


Our legal partners, WeirFoulds LLP have established a COVID-19 resources portal


Learn about additional business support from the Canadian government.