RESOURCES

***** ON SITE WORSHIP IS SUSPENDED INDEFINITELY *****
Below is a curated list of resources available for Canadians. Please share the information.
Information will be updated as necessary.

Updated 2020-04-05

COVID-19 BC Support App and Self-Assessment Tool for Android and iOS devices (government of British Columbia)

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

FOOD

SOCIAL DISTANCING

YOUR HEALTH

WORK

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

Benefits Finder (Canadian federal government)
Sign up for direct deposit (Canadian federal government)
Canada Emergency Response Benefit

If you stopped working because of COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) may provide you with temporary income support. The CERB provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.

Employment Insurance

Employment Insurance benefits and leave information for workers, families, fishers and sickness, as well as how to apply and submit a report.

If you have stopped working because of COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) may provide you with temporary income support. Apply by selecting “Regular benefits” or “Sickness benefits” below whichever best applies to your situation.

  • Telephone: 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free)
  • Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-800-529-3742

If you are experiencing symptoms such as cough, fever, difficulty breathing or you are in self-isolation or quarantine, do not visit or enter any Service Canada office. As an alternative, you may access our services online or by calling 1 800 O-Canada.

Send your EI report by Internet (Canadian federal government)
Canada Child Benefit
  • Eligible recipients will receive $300 more per child with their regular May CCB payment.
  • If you have previously applied for the CCB, you do not need to re-apply.
  • For more information on the Canada Child Benefit such as how to apply and eligibility requirements, see the link above or call 1-800-387-1193.
Canada Student Loans
  • To support student and apprentice loan borrowers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has announced its plan to pause the repayment of Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans until September 30, 2020, with no accrual of interest. Pending parliamentary approval, these measures will become effective March 30 2020. This will include pre-authorized debits. These measures will provide relief to nearly 1 million CSLP borrowers in repayment. We will provide more details shortly.
  • Proposed legislation would temporarily pause the repayment of Canada Student Loans.
  • Effective March 30, 2020, all student loan borrowers will automatically have their repayments suspended until September 30, 2020. No payment will be required and interest will not accrue during this time. Students do not need to apply for the repayment pause.
  • These measures will provide relief to nearly 1 million CSLP borrowers in repayment.
  • Students who are currently studying can continue to apply for Canada Student Loans. There will be no change to the application process. If a borrower wishes to apply for student financial assistance duri

TOP

FOOD

Grocery Delivery Relief Service

The Rotaract Club of New Westminster offers its services to all those who need necessary groceries and essential products amidst this pandemic. They provide a delivery service free of charge for seniors and those who are immunocompromised. In doing so, they hope to minimize the exposure for those at a higher risk by picking up groceries and delivering them to your door while practicing and maintaining proper hygiene. (Registration required)

Greater Vancouver Foodbank

As part of our many operational adaptations to address the COVID-19 health crisis, the Foodbank has had to deal with the closure of our food distribution locations (neighbourhood houses, churches, community centres). Please see the link above for the most update food distribution locations schedule.

The Foodbank is taking many internal precautions including increased hand sanitizing, frequent cleaning of high-touch areas and common areas, and social distancing within the warehouse and office. They are doing our utmost to ensure they continue to get healthy food to those in need, in a way that is operationally sustainable at this time.

Surrey Food Bank

At this time, the food bank remains operational for its regular distribution days on Monday, Tues, Thursday and Friday from 9:30 AM until 1:00 PM, and our Tiny Bundles distribution each Wednesday from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM.

They have temporarily suspended their seniors distribution on Wednesday afternoons, and ask that all seniors who have been previously registered for seniors depot, use their dedicated service, to join us on Wednesdays during Tiny Bundles. The community social hour at Chuck Bailey will not be offered while all City of Surrey rec centres are closed.

They’ve also temporarily suspended off-site depots until further notice.
TOP

SOCIAL DISTANCING

Social distancing (Canadian federal government)

YOUR HEALTH

via the Canadian Medical Association

Are health professionals following the same post-travel guidelines as the public for COVID-19?

Yes. Upon return to Canada, the Canadian Public Health Agency requires physicians to self-isolate for 14 days. For physicians who serve communities on both sides of the Canada-US border, or in cases of physician shortages, some exceptions can be made provided the physician is asymptomatic. To find out if your community is in an exceptional situation, please contact your local public health unit.

I have a regular check-up with my family physician/specialist/dentist—should I keep it during the pandemic?

While social-distancing measures are in place, it is advisable that you speak with your health professional to see what options are available. Some may be able to provide a telehealth appointment; others may ask to postpone.

I think I have symptoms of COVID-19—should I go to my doctor’s office? The hospital?

Before seeking medical assistance from your physician, a clinic or an emergency room department, please call ahead. Some jurisdictions have set up dedicated Covid-19 testing facilities or drive through testing options. You should check with your local public health unit to see what may be available where you live.

I, or someone I live with is at increased risk for COVID-19—what should we do?

Essentially, you want to limit your/their possible exposure to COVID-19 as much as possible. This means following social distancing and hygiene guidelines. Depending on the underlying medical issue, a physician may also recommend other measures—it is best to speak directly with them.

How can I get tested?

Until commercial testing kits are available there is a limited supply of tests available. Tests are being prioritized for certain types of cases— travelers who have symptoms; those with severe respiratory illness, regardless of whether they’ve travelled; people in long-term care facilities with influenza-like illness; and hospital-related illness, including health-care workers who are sick.
TOP

WORK

Preventing COVID-19 in the workplace [Canadian federal government]
Employment lawyer Howard Levitt answers  workplace questions regarding the coronavirus pandemic

From an article by employment lawyer Howard Levitt posted to the Financial Post on March 27

Can I refuse to go to work because of COVID-19 concerns? Will I be paid?

For those who are required to work but are uncomfortable attending, ask your employer for consent to work from home, or, if that is refused, for an unpaid leave of absence. At a minimum, employers must ensure social distancing, a sanitized workspace, and that no one be permitted to enter the workplace who has returned from another country or been near an infected person for 14 days or displays symptoms of COVID-19.

If the employer does not ensure a safe workplace, an employee can refuse to work and cannot be fired for that. But if the employer insists on your attending work which you view unsafe, you must inform your employer and ask that an Occupational Health and Safety Inspector make a determination.

Given that safety officers are extraordinarily backlogged right now, you will have a long initial period before you could be forced to work. If they attend and rule it is safe but you still refuse to work, you can be dismissed for cause.

Hopefully, employers for moral reasons will permit the employee a leave of absence instead. If they rule it is unsafe, then you need not attend the workplace. At that point, the company laying you off without pay, without providing you the ability to work from home or providing a safe working environment, would be considered a case of constructive dismissal.

I have to close my business because the province said so. Can I be sued by my employees?

If you are ordered to close, than you are at no risk of being sued for laying off employees during the period that you are ordered to close. That is called the defence of legal “frustration.” However, if you continue to lay off employees after the government permits you to reopen, that becomes a wrongful dismissal. There has been considerable confusion, even among legal commentators, about the defence of frustration and force majeure. Force majeure applies to contracts. Frustration applies if performance is rendered impossible such as a government shutdown, not when it is rendered merely uneconomic.

You have spoken about the rights of non-union employees. What about unionized ones?

Unionized employees cannot sue for constructive or wrongful dismissal and, unlike a non-union worker, an employer has an absolute right to lay them off, subject to collective agreements.

If you have a dispute, a unionized employee is subject to the union agreeing to fight for them. Given the many claims by members to relief at the current time, unions have even more legal discretion in deciding which cases it wishes to use its resources to fight.

I am part of the gig economy, do I qualify for EI?

Generally, gig economy workers such as ride-share drivers are not considered employees and are not eligible for EI.
However, many gig economy workers may be eligible for Ottawa’s new Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which provides a new benefit of up to $1,800 per month (after tax) for up to 4 months to those who are at least 15 years of age, earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the past 12 months, and who ceased working for at least 14 days due to COVID-19, regardless of EI eligibility. CERB is a simpler and more accessible replacement for the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.

The new benefit is available to people who are in any the following circumstances:

1. Workers who have to stop work due to COVID-19 and don’t have access to paid leave or other income support;

2. Workers who remain employed but have been asked not to come to work and are not being paid due to insufficient work;

3. Wage earners and self-employed workers, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be eligible for EI;

4. Workers who are unable to work because they are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19; and

5. Parents who have to stay home from work without pay to care for sick children or children who need care due to school and daycare closures.

The CERB will be accessible through a web portal or via an automated telephone line beginning in early April. The government estimates that applicants should receive their benefit funds within 2 days through e-transfer or within 10 days through the mail.

Note, however, that the CERB is not available to workers who quit their employment voluntarily.

For more information about the Emergency Care Benefit and others, you can visit this website.

I have to stay home to look after my children/family members, can I be fired? Can I work from home and look after my children?

Employers have a right, if they permit you to work from home, to have that work uninterrupted by childcare or eldercare work. However, unless daycare arrangements can be found, they do not have the right to prevent you from remaining home. It might be unpaid, though.

Firing or disciplining you because you stayed home to look after family members would be a breach both of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s new legislative changes in the province and the Human Rights legislation throughout Canada.

If you were dismissed for staying home to look after your children, you could be entitled to reinstatement, back pay and additional non-taxable damages for breach of your human rights.

This CERB also applies to working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children due to school or daycare closures. The benefit applies regardless of whether the individual is eligible for EI.

I will be answering further inquiries in future Saturday columns. If you wish your question answered, write to me at hlevitt@levittllp.com.
TOP