March 26-Covid 19 Update

Today, we saw a few pieces of news.

President Trump is pushing to put a military presence on the border between Canada and the US to stop people from Canada from crossing to the US. Prime Minister Trudeau fought back against that, stating that it was unnecessary.

President Trump wants to ‘open the country’ by Easter. Medical professionals are fighting back stating that this is too early and that the worst spike of the pandemic is not likely to occur until late April, early May, and opening up the country again will cause that spike to worsen. Furthermore, much of that decision actually rests with the state governors and many of them are unlikely to follow suit.

Legalese

In BC, not following the health authority’s instructions can now result in fines of up to $25,000 and even jail time. The commands from the health authority are now enshrined as law. The following are covered by this law:

  • The banning of gatherings over fifty people
  • Businesses must be able to maintain a two metre social distance between people. If they cannot, they must be closed or face fines and forced closure
  • The resale of food, medical supplies, personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies has been banned
  • All local state of emergencies have been suspended except for Vancouver, in order to better facilitate top-down responses instead of patchwork responses.
  • BC is not under lockdown, but if people want to use it in order to ensure that they stay home, they are encouraged to

BC also clarified essential services. The list is:

  • Health and health services
  • Law enforcement, public safety, first responders and emergency response personnel
  • Vulnerable population service providers (This is where CVTC stands)
  • Critical infrastructure service providers
  • Food and agriculture service providers
  • Transportation, infrastructure and manufacturing
  • Sanitation
  • Communication, information sharing and IT
  • Non-health essential service providers

Financial Supports

We have received information that the application for the Emergency benefits will be open April 6. In order to be eligible, you must have made at least $5,000 in the 2019 year from employment, self employment, maternity/paternity, or in the 12-month period preceding the day you apply. The money is expected to be paid ten days after you apply or a little longer if you opt to receive the money by mail.

Please keep in mind that Ottawa expects four million or more applications for this benefit, and it would be quite easy for the application portal to crash in the first few days. If you do not require the benefit by the middle of April, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to wait a few days before applying to give the system a chance to run smoothly. The last month to apply for this benefit is December.

These payments are taxable income, meaning that you will actually get $1800 a month ($200 a payment removed for income-tax). It’s important to file your taxes, if you have not already, so that you know what your 2019 income was, as well as to be able to take advantage of the GST lump amount in May and any child tax benefits, if applicable.

Keep in mind that the BC government is also planning to deliver a one time payment of $1,000 to eligible applicants in May. This one is tax free, but you only get one payment. The application for that is not open yet, but when it is, we will post the link.

It’s very important to take stock of your finances, file your taxes, and make sure you apply for as many supports as you think you will need to support social distancing and ensure that you don’t go too deep in debt or too broke during this health crisis.

Stay safe out there!