Ontario Support for Families portal is LIVE!

Today, Ontario launched the portal for parents to apply for a one-time COVID-19 payment to help offset the costs of keeping children entertained and engaged during this time away from school.

Under this new program, parents are eligible for a one-time per child payment of:

  • $200 for children aged 0 to 12

  • $250 for children or youth aged 0 to 21 with special needs

Eligibility

There is no income cap on this program. All parents are eligible if you have a child who is:

  • $200 for children aged 0 to 12

  • $250 for children or youth aged 0 to 21 with special needs

If you have more than one child, you must submit one application per child.

 Before you apply, please note:

  • only one parent can apply for each child

  • the parent who applies should have custody of the child

You are still eligible if you are a health care or front-line worker who is using emergency, 24-hour child care centres.

Accepting Applications starting April 6th – Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The sheer volume of applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will likely overwhelm the system. If you or someone you know need to apply for this benefit, we suggest you prepare TODAY before the applications begin:

  • Double check your myCRA account username and password

  • Direct Deposit is setup

    • 3 – 5 days via Direct Deposit vs 10 days via cheque in the mail

You should double check your myCRA username and password by signing in at:

If you do not have direct deposit setup with CRA, you can set it up TODAY at:

To help manage the volume, the CRA has setup specific days for you to apply based on month of birth.

If you were born in the month of:

  • January | February | March: Mondays – Best day to apply is April 6th

  • April | May | June: Tuesdays – Best day to apply is April 7th

  • July | August | September: Wednesdays – Best day to apply is April 8th

  • October | November | December: Thursdays – Best day to apply is April 9th

  • Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are open for any birth month

Eligibility

The benefit will be available to workers:

  • Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;

  • Who have stopped working because of COVID-19 and have not voluntarily quit their job or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits;

  • Who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and

  • Who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment or self-employment income.

Alberta: Emergency isolation support

Eligible working Albertans can receive a one-time emergency isolation support payment of $1,146 if they are required to self-isolate or are the sole caregiver of someone in self-isolation and they have no other source of pay or compensation.

This is a temporary program to bridge the gap until the Federal Emergency Care Benefit is available in April.

Eligibility

You are eligible for the emergency isolation support program if you:

  • have experienced total or significant loss of income and are not receiving compensation from any other source because you:

    • have been diagnosed with COVID-19

    • have been directed by health authorities to self-isolate

    • are the sole caregiver of a dependent who is in self-isolation

You are not eligible for this program if you:

  • were not working immediately before you were advised to self-isolate

  • can work from home

  • are not experiencing a significant loss of income as a result of self-isolation

  • are currently collecting other forms of income support or employer benefits while self-isolated, such as:

  • are staying home to care for a dependent who is home for a reason other than self-isolation

  • reside outside of Alberta

If you are not eligible for this program, other supports are available.

The system is running periodically to manage the flow of applications. Check the link below periodically:

BC Hydro customers to get 3 months bill relief | ICBC providing Autoplan payment deferral

BC Hydro customers to get 3 months bill relief

For residential customers

If you or your spouse/partner have lost employment or have become unable to work due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for three months of bill credit based on your average consumption.

To be eligible for the COVID-19 Relief Fund for residential customers:

  • You need to be a residential account holder and have had your account prior to March 15, 2020

  • You need to meet the eligibility criteria of the B.C.Emergency Benefit for Workers

  • You or your spouse/partner have lost your job or have become unable to work (including self-employment) since March 15, 2020. Examples of being unable to work:

    • Being quarantined or sick with COVID-19

    • Taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19

    • Having children who require care or supervision due to school or daycare closures

  • You must be able to upload verification of eligibility, such as a copy of your application or approval for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, Emergency Benefit for Workers, federal Employment Insurance or Record of Employment

There is a maximum of one COVID Relief Fund bill credit per household.

For small businesses

If you own a small business that needed to close due to COVID-19, you may be eligible to have your business’ electricity use charges waived for up to three months.

Application form to open the week of April 13

The application is not open yet, but we expect it to open the week of April 6. Once it opens, there is no rush to apply. Eligible business customers can apply any time before June 30, 2020 to have their business’ bills waived for April, May and June.

ICBC providing Autoplan payment deferral

For customers that have been financially impacted by COVID-19, ICBC will provide some relief during this challenging time. Customers on a monthly Autoplan payment plan, who are facing financial challenges due to COVID-19, can defer their payment for up to 90 days with no penalty. Payment deferral is also available for fleets.

Tax Loss Selling

Over the last few weeks, the financial market has taken a downturn amidst fears over Coronavirus.

Understandably, you are concerned with your portfolio, it’s important to stay level-headed to avoid making financial missteps. However, staying level-headed doesn’t necessarily mean you sit there and do nothing. In fact, one consideration you can look is taking an active tax management approach.

Tax loss selling is a strategy to crystallize or realize any capital losses in your non-registered accounts so it can be used to offset any capital gains. There is no benefit to selling in your tax free savings account (TFSA) or registered retirement savings plan (RRSP).

You can apply capital losses back 3 years or carry them forward indefinitely, therefore we’ve outlined several situations that make sense for tax loss selling.

To better understand how tax-loss selling works, imagine a scenario in which someone invests $100,000, putting $50,000 in “Investment A” and $50,000 in “Investment B.”

At the end of one year, Investment A has risen by $10,000 and is now worth $60,000. Investment B has declined by $10,000 and is now worth $40,000.

Without tax-loss selling, the investor has a realized gain of $10,000 from Investment A, and has a potential tax bill of $1,500 (assuming he or she sells the shares and pays the 15% capital gains tax on the profit).

On the other hand, with tax-loss selling, selling Investment B to offset gains from Investment A. At the end of the year, instead of paying a $1,500 tax, the investor only has a potential tax bill of $0, for a potential tax savings of $1,500.

With the investor’s tax liability reduced by $1,500, that savings becomes money that can be invested back in the portfolio, used to maximize RRSP contributions, pay off debt, or spend as one pleases. 

What Situations make sense for tax loss selling?

  • If you have an investment with a considerable capital gain, review through your current investments to see if there are any investments to sell at a loss.

  • Receiving a tax refund for a previous year. Keep in mind, you can apply capital losses back 3 years, therefore if you sold a property within the last 3 years for a considerable gain and paid the tax. This year, you could sell other investments at a loss and apply them back and get some tax paid back.

  • For tax deferral, with tax losses you can apply these losses back 3 years or carry them forward indefinitely, therefore you may want to trigger a loss today because if you are planning to sell that property in the next year or so, it may rebound and therefore you will lose the chance to offset the gains.

  • Lastly, you may have an investment in your portfolio that’s a dud. It might be time to move on and put your money into a different investment so that you can apply the loss in the future.

Tax Loss Selling is Complicated

There are specific conditions required by CRA that must be met in order for this strategy to work such as making sure your loss is not declared a “superficial loss” (these rules are very restrictive). A superficial loss is when you sell and trigger a capital loss, you cannot deduct the loss if you or an affiliate purchase an identical security within 30 days before or after your settlement date.

Another condition is that the sale of assets is prior to the year-end deadline (this varies by calendar year). You also need to make sure you have accurate information on the adjusted cost base (ACB) of your investment. When you file your taxes, any losses must be first used to offset capital gains in the current tax year, then any remaining losses can be carried back.

Before engaging in tax loss selling, you should contact us directly so we can make the strategy works for you.

Protecting Investments for Your Heirs

Many investors over the age of 60 find themselves in a quandary regarding investments that they intend to leave to their heirs.  The primary concern involves the desire to conserve the investments they are bequeathing while at the same time earning a reasonable rate of return.  As we all know, the volatility of the equity markets can be cruel and this can be most detrimental when investments do not have time to recover after a downturn.  As a result, many mature investors choose to accept low rates of return in order to avoid loss in the funds they wish to leave to family members.

If you share these concerns, then Segregated Funds (also known as Guaranteed Investment Funds) may be the solution.  Segregated Funds are similar in performance and cost to Mutual Funds but come with some very attractive advantages.  Since Segregated Funds are offered by life insurance companies, they contain guarantees both at maturity and at death.  Upon maturity the value of your investment is guaranteed to be the higher of the market value or up to 100% of the amount invested. At death, the guarantee is the higher of the amount invested (less withdrawals), fair market value or a previously reset market value.  It is this death benefit guarantee that is particularly appealing for estate planning.

This guarantee allows for the potential of higher returns without taking on more investment risk.  Without the alternative of segregated funds, a mature investor wishing to protect capital might be forced to invest in a low interest rate fixed income vehicle, which after income tax, may return less than inflation.  With Segregated Funds that same investor could select a well managed investment fund guaranteeing that the beneficiaries could receive no less than 100 % on the funds invested regardless of market performance.

Segregated Funds usually contain a provision which will lock in gains made prior to death.  Depending on the insurance company these resets automatically occur every one to three years up until age 80.

Market volatility is not the only challenge to investments being willed to heirs.  The process of probating a will can also be of concern.  This process can be a lengthy one, sometimes lasting months, occasionally even years.  The cost of probate is also not insignificant especially if lawyers are required to assist.  Also, assets left in a will can be subject to challenge in court causing even further delays not to mention anxiety (and legal fees). Segregated Funds, however, being a product offered by a life insurance company pass by way of a beneficiary designation.  This not only by passes probate, but also does not incur any administrative or executor costs. 

The beneficiary designation also avoids any court challenges such as would be the case in a will’s variation action.  Another important consideration is that, with a named beneficiary, it can be creditor proof and not subject to litigant claims.  The confidential nature of the beneficiary process compared to the public aspect of probate is also be worth considering.

In order to assess if Segregated Funds are right for you as a mature investor, ask yourself the following:

  • Do I want better returns without taking on more investment risk?

  • Do I want to avoid probate fees and administrative costs which will reduce the inheritance I leave to my family?

  • Do I wish to avoid any delays in my heirs receiving the funds I wish them to have when I die?

  • Do I want to avoid any creditor or litigant claims on the funds I am leaving to my heirs?

  • Do I want to keep bequests that I make at my death completely confidential?

If you have answered “yes” to any of the above, then you should investigate the use of Segregated Funds in your estate planning.

Do I Qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit & EI?

To help Canadians through this difficult time, the Federal Government created the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and made changes to the Employment Insurance Program (EI). For those whose employment has affected by the Coronavirus, we have created a chart to help you figure out which program you qualify for and provide links to apply for each program.

The Federal Government has already made numerous changes to these programs so we will be updating this document whenever a change to the program is made.

Stay home and stay safe.

Help for Small/Medium Businesses & Entrepreneurs – 75% wage subsidy, $40,000 interest-free loan & more

March 27, 2019 – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced programs and measures focused on helping Small & Medium Sized Businesses and Entrepreneurs cope with the economic consequences caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With these new measures, our hope is that employers being pushed to laying off people due to COVID-19 will think again,” Trudeau said. “And for those of you who have already had to lay off workers, we hope you will re-hire them.”

Wage Subsidy increased to 75%

The Prime Minister has been under pressure from the small business community to boost the wage subsidy beyond the 10% initially announced to help keep people employed. Today, Mr. Trudeau announced the government will increase the wage subsidy from 10% to 75% to help keep employees on the payroll. This increase will be backdated to Sunday, March 15th.

“It is clear we have to do more, much more so we are bringing that percentage up to 75 per cent for qualifying businesses”

– Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

The CEBA will allow banks to offer $40,000 loans that will be interest-free for the 1st year which will be guaranteed by the government. If you meet certain conditions, $10,000 of the loan can be forgivable.

“To help you bridge to better times, we are launching the Canada Emergency Business Account. With this new measure banks will soon offer $40,000 which will be guaranteed by the government”

Defer GST, HST, Duty

The government will defer GST & HST payments, as well as duty and taxes owed on imports until June 2020.

“This is the equivalent of giving $30-billion of interest free loans to businesses”

Bank of Canada Rate Cut

Bank of Canada slashed its key overnight interest rate to 0.25%.

Full details and qualification requirements will be available on Monday.

BC Government supporting renters, landlords during COVID-19

$500/month towards rent

To support people and prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Province is introducing a new temporary rental supplement, halting evictions and freezing rents, among other actions.  

The new rental supplement will help households by offering up to $500 a month towards their rent, building on federal and provincial financial supports already announced for British Columbians facing financial hardship.

“Nobody should lose their home as a result of COVID-19. Our plan will give much-needed financial relief to renters and landlords. It will also provide more security for renters, who will be able to stay in their homes without fear of eviction or increasing rents during this emergency.” – Premier John Horgan

The funds will support renters experiencing a loss of income by helping them pay their rent and will be paid directly to landlords on their behalf, to ensure landlords continue to receive rental income during the pandemic. Benefiting people with low to moderate incomes, this supplement will be available to renters who are facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, but do not qualify for existing rental assistance programs.

The Province is implementing a number of additional measures to keep people housed and protect their health. The full list of immediate measures includes:

  • The new temporary rent supplement will provide up to $500 per month, paid directly to landlords.

  • Halting evictions by ensuring a landlord may not issue a new notice to end tenancy for any reason. However, in exceptional cases where it may be needed to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the property, landlords will be able to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch for a hearing.

  • Halting the enforcement of existing eviction notices issued by the Residential Tenancy Branch, except in extreme cases where there are safety concerns. The smaller number of court ordered evictions are up to the courts, which operate independently of government.

  • Freezing new annual rent increases during the state of emergency.

  • Preventing landlords from accessing rental units without the consent of the tenant (for example, for showings or routine maintenance), except in exceptional cases where it is  needed to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the unit.

  • Restricting methods that renters and landlords can use to serve notices to reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19 (no personal service and allowing email).

  • Allowing landlords to restrict the use of common areas by tenants or guests to protect against the transmission of COVID-19.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit to help workers and businesses

$2,000/month for 4 months – Canada Emergency Response Benefit to help workers and businesses

To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, the government has proposed legislation to establish the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB would be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.

The CERB would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).

Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for the CERB. This would help businesses keep their employees as they navigate these difficult times, while ensuring they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as it becomes possible.

The EI system was not designed to process the unprecedented high volume of applications received in the past week. Given this situation, all Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, would be able to receive the CERB to ensure they have timely access to the income support they need.

Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB. If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, they could apply for the CERB once their EI benefits cease, if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19. Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed would not need to reapply. Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits would still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB.

The portal for accessing the CERB would be available in early April.

Canadians would begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.