COVID-19 general resources and financial assistance

On this page you will find information on existing and newly created programs to provide a summary of support options most relevant to families and businesses.

General information Assistance for businesses
Personal income support Public services
Housing support

Assistance for

individuals and families

General information

List of essential services

  • Essential services are those daily services essential to preserving life, health, public safety and basic societal functioning. They are the services British Columbians come to rely on in their daily lives.
  • Click here to view.

Physical distancing orders

  • Gatherings are banned.
  • Maintain 2m distance from others.
  • Stay home as much as possible, do not visit with friends (Try using Zoom or another online video calling service).
  • It’s okay to go outside for fresh air and exercise, but stay away from others.
  • Self-isolate if you are sick, even if it is not COVID-19.

Labour and industry

  • Employers cannot require a doctors notes or testing for people to stay home from work.
  • All businesses must adjust their operations to meet social distancing orders and should implement enhanced cleaning, or close.
  • All workplaces must ensure a safe working environment.
  • Workers may take unpaid, job-protected leave if they are unable to work for reasons relating to COVID-19, retroactive to Jan 27, 2020.
  • Workers now have three days of unpaid, job-protected leave each year for people who cannot work due to illness or injury.
  • This is a permanent change.

Travel and borders

  • Canadians currently abroad are strongly advised to return to Canada now while they are still able. Call 1-613-996-8885 or email sos@international.gc.ca for assistance.
  • Entry into Canada will be denied to all non-essential travellers who are not Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents and their immediate family. US citizens will no longer be exempt.
  • Avoid all non-essential travel.
  • Anyone exhibiting symptoms will be actively refused boarding onto all aircraft and trains, including for travel within Canada.
  • Overseas international flights entering Canada will be restricted to YVR, YYZ, YUL, YYC only.
  • Travellers entering the country must self-isolate for fourteen days. Violations carry a maximum fine of $750,000 and 6 months in jail.

Health care

  • Scheduled elective surgeries and procedures are being postponed.
  • Workers and volunteers in long-term care may no longer work at multiple facilities.
  • Visitor restrictions are in place for all Vancouver Coastal Health facilities, including hospitals, long-term care, assisted living sites, community health centres and clinics. For those living in other health authority areas, check online before you go.
  • Choose virtual health care services whenever available, physicians will be compensated.
  • Physician notes are NOT required for prescription refills by pharmacists.
  • Dentists should be providing emergency services only at this time. Services available from other regulated health care professionals (RMT, physiotherapy, chiropractic, etc) may also be limited at this time.
  • MSP coverage wait times are waived for those who have been out of province and returned.
  • Safe prescription alternatives to the illegal drug supply available to people who use substances.

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Assistance for businesses

Wage Subsidy

  • Wage of up to 75% for qualifying businesses: Up to 75% on first $58,700 of income (or up to $847/week), back dated to March 15.
  • Learn more.

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses.

Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)

  • Financing support for small and medium-sized businesses. Available mid-April.
  • Speak with your financial institution.
  • Learn more.

Canada Emergency Business Account

  • Loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses and not-for-profits, interest-free for one year. A portion may be forgivable. Available mid-April.
  • Speak with your financial institution.
  • Learn more.

Loan Guarantee

  • Operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to SMEs. Available mid-April.
  • Speak with your financial institution.
  • Learn more.

Co-Lending Program

  • Co-lend term loans to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements. Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts of up to $6.25 million through the program. Available mid-April.
  • Speak with your financial institution.
  • Learn more.

Federal income tax

  • Payments owed are deferred until after August 31, 2020 to help businesses with cash flow.
  • Learn more.

BC business taxes

  • Payments for Employer health tax (EHT), provincial sales tax (PST), municipal and regional district tax, tobacco tax, motor fuel tax, and carbon tax are deferred until after Sept 30. Scheduled April 1 increases to provincial carbon tax and PST are deferred.    
  • Learn more.   

School tax

  • Cut of 50% for business and industry property classes, to be passed onto tenants on triple-net leases.
  • Learn more.

GST/HST

Customs duties & taxes

WorkSafeBC

  • Payment deadlines are postponed without penalty until June 30, except for employers that report on an annual basis (which do not need to report their 2020 payroll or pay their 2020 premiums until March 2021).
  • Learn more.

BC Hydro

  • Bill deferral and payment plans.
  • COVID-19 Relief Fund for small businesses.  Potential to have your business energy charges waived for up to three months. Applications available week of April 13.
  • Call 1-800-BC-HYDRO

FortisBC

  • COVID-19 Customer Recovery Fund provides immediate relief to residential and small business customers facing hardship and a flexible framework for recovery.
  • Learn more.

Business by sector

Child care

  • Emergency funding is available for child care providers that stay open or maintain their business while closed.
  • Learn more.

Arts & Culture

  • $3-million Arts and Culture Resilience Supplement to give operating and eligible project clients a supplement of up to $15,000. Clients will receive a 50% advance on 2020-21 funding.
  • Learn more.

Publishing and news

  • New Independent Advisory Board on Eligibility for Journalism Tax Measures is now in place.
  • Learn more.

Tourism businesses in national parks and historic sites

  • Tourism operators in national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas will have payments on commercial leases and licences of occupation deferred without interest until September 1.
  • Wait to be contacted by Parks Canada.

Seafood sector

  • Seafood growers, shellfish farmers, and processors, will have access to the $5 billion Farm Credit Canada loan program.
  • Learn more.

Farmers and Agri-Food sector

  • Access to the $5 billion Farm Credit Canada loan program.
  • Learn more.

Resources for businesses

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Personal income support

B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers (BCEBW)

  • The BCEBW is a one-time, tax-free $1,000 payment for British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most people who are eligible for the new federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) are also eligible for the BCEBW.

Employment Insurance (EI)

  • No change to regular benefit. Provides up to $573/week.
  • Apply online.

EI Sickness Benefit

  • One-week waiting period has been waived.
  • Call 1-833-381-2725 or apply online.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

  • $2000/month for up to four months to workers who have stopped working due to the pandemic, including those not eligible for EI, contract employees and freelancers.
  • Call 1-800-959-2019 or apply online.

BC Emergency Benefit

  • One-time additional tax-free payment of $1000 to those on EI or CERB.
  • Learn more.

GST-credit

  • One-time boost of up to $600 per eligible couple, $400 for eligible individuals in May.
  • Benefit is paid out according to your income tax return.
  • Learn more.

Climate Action Tax Credit

  • One-time boost of up to $564 for eligible families of 4 and $218 for eligible individuals in an enhanced payment in July.  Children under 18 years old must be registered for the CCB to qualify.
  • No other action is needed; benefit is paid out according to your income tax return.
  • Learn more.

Canada Child Benefit (CCB)

  • One-time boost of $300 per child in May.
  • No action if you are already registered for CCB. Otherwise, apply online.

Income tax return

  • Filing due date is deferred to June 1. Payments owed are deferred until after August 31.
  • No action needed.

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Assistance for individuals and families

BC Hydro

  • Bill deferral and payment plans.
  • COVID-19 Relief Fund for individuals.  Potential to have your business energy charges waived for up to three months. Applications available week of April 13.
  • Call 1-800-BC-HYDRO

FortisBC

  • COVID-19 Customer Recovery Fund provides immediate relief to residential and small business customers facing hardship and a flexible framework for recovery.
  • Learn more.

ICBC

  • Monthly payment deferral for up to 90 days with no penalty.
  • Apply online.

Emergency Child Care Funding

  • Child care providers receiving emergency government funding cannot charge parent fees for any periods of closure or for vacant spaces and must reserve spaces for families, starting April.
  • Check with your provider to see if they are in this program. Learn more.

BC Student Loans

  • Six-month interest-free moratorium on repayment, starting April.
  • Repayment will be paused automatically.
  • Learn more.

Canada Student Loans

  • Six-month interest-free moratorium on repayment, starting April.
  • Repayment will be paused automatically.
  • Learn more.

Student emergency assistance

  • Students at public post-secondary institutions can apply for non-repayable emergency assistance that can be used to help with a broad range of costs, including living expenses, food, travel, portable computers and other supports for students who are not already able to study remotely.
  • Contact your school’s financial aid office to apply.
  • Learn more.

Indigenous Emergency Assistance Fund for students

  • Indigenous students at public post-secondary institutions can apply for non-repayable emergency assistance that can be used to help with a broad range of costs, including living expenses, groceries, cell phone bills, childcare, medical, dental, optical, and travel costs for family crisis or community obligations. Contact the Indigenous Student Service Centre on campus.
  • Learn more.

Income Assistance & Disability Assistance

  • Full exemption of CERB or EI for three months (no clawback).
  • COVID-19 crisis supplement of additional $300/month for three months for those who do not qualify for federal emergency supports like CERB or EI.
  • Those on BC Bus Pass Program will receive their $52 transportation supplement back in cash.
  • “Work search” requirement for those on Income Assistance is suspended for now.
  • No application needed, support boosts will be applied to next payments automatically.
  • Learn more.

BC Senior’s Supplement

  • Additional $300/month boost for three months for low-income seniors who receive the B.C. Senior’s Supplement. No application needed, support boosts will be applied to payments automatically.
  • Learn more.

Seniors

Eligible seniors can apply online if they are not already enrolled.

BC Transit & TransLink

  • Fare-free boarding on all buses. Enter through the rear of the bus, unless accessible loading is required.
  • Learn more.

Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs)

  • Minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) has been reduced by 25% for 2020.
  • Learn more.

Emergency Travel Loan

  • Emergency loan of $5000 available to Canadians travelling abroad.
  • Call 613-996-8885 or email.

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Housing support

BC Hydro

  • Bill deferral, payment plans, as well as crisis funding is available.
  • Call 1-800-BC-HYDRO or apply online.

Freeze on rental rates

  • No rent increases are allowed in BC, effective April 1. No action needed.
  • Contact the Residential Tenancy Branch with questions.

Rental supplement

  • Provides up to $500/month towards rent, paid directly to landlords.
  • Learn more.

Mortgages (CMHC-insured)

  • Mortgage payment deferrals available for CMHC-insured loans.
  • Check with your lender.
  • Learn more.

Mortgages (non-CMHC)

  • Check with your lender about payment deferral options.
  • Learn more.

Emergency housing

  • Existing shelters still active and additional emergency options may be available.
  • Search online.

Vancouver Island Strata Owners Association

  • list of resources answering questions of relevance to stratas and strata owners.

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Public services

Auto Insurance

  • Renew auto insurance by email or phone.
  • Learn more.
  • Remote extensions for driver licensing available. All requests for medical information temporarily postponed. Call 1-800-950-1498.
  • Payment deferrals available, more information.

Shaw

BC Ferries

  • Passengers may stay inside their vehicles the entire trip; on board food service is minimal; avoid non-essential travel.
  • Learn more.

BC Transit & TransLink

  • Fare-free boarding on all buses. Enter through the rear of the bus, unless accessible loading is required.
  • Learn more.

BC Service Centres

  • BC Service Centres will stay open, but the first hour of service is dedicated to seniors and other vulnerable people. You can also call for service: 1-800-663-7867.
  • Learn more.

Canada Service Centres

Hospital parking

  • Parking is free of charge at all health authority owned/operated health care sites. For staff, patients, and visitors only.

Court Proceedings

bc211

  • bc211 is now also available to match volunteers with seniors in need of help with groceries, etc. Call 2-1-1 or visit online.

Mental health assistance

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