AID FOR IRANIANS IN CANADA AMID THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC!

Blog - April 17, 2020
AID FOR IRANIANS IN CANADA AMID THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC!

At Lumenwire we are aware that during these critical times many international students and immigrants find themselves in difficult financial circumstances and every penny counts. Whether you were laid off or your work hours were reduced due to COVID-19, there are several financial assistance programs available to those affected due to you. We have put together a list of financial resources available for those affected in the Persian-Canadian community

The financial programs available are provided by the federal government, provincial governments, educational institutions, businesses and not-for-profit groups. It is important to understand the eligibility requirements and how to apply for financial assistance. Please note that not all provinces offer the same level of support. This blog will only focus on publicly-announced programs.

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF CANADA

The federal government has launched the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which may provide you with temporary income support. The CERB provides eligible applicants with $500 per week for up to 16 weeks. To apply visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html

On April 15, 2020, the Federal Government announced an expansion on the eligibility criteria to help more people during this crisis. You can see the most updated eligibility criteria here: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/apply-for-cerb-with-cra.html#who

ALBERTA

The provincial government of Alberta is offering a program for renters, however, it is now closed since the Federal government launched its own program (CERB). To apply to CERB visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html

Also, residential customers can defer electricity and natural gas bill payments for 90 days regardless of the service provider. This program is available to residents who are going through financial hardship as a direct result of COVID-19. You can call your utility provider directly to negotiate for a 90-day deferral on all payments. Learn more about it here: https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-supports-for-albertans.aspx#toc-0

BRITISH COLUMBIA

RENT

BC Housing and BC government have created the BC Temporary Rental Supplement Program (BC-TRS) to provide up to $500 per month to support renters and landlords during COVID-19. The program will provide temporary rent assistance for April, May, and June 2020. For information on tenant eligibility and application process, please visit BC Temporary Rental Supplement (BC-TRS) Program

BILL PAYMENTS

BC Hydro has offered an option to defer bill payments or request a flexible payment plan with no penalty through the COVID-19 Relief Fund. BC Hydro customers who are facing financial challenges paying service bills due to job loss, illness or loss of a family member may be eligible for the BC Hydro Customer Crisis Fund. For more information on the bill payment support please contact BC Hydro at 1 800 224 9376.

ICBC is also providing some financial assistance by offering a payment deferral for up to 90 days on auto payment plans for those facing financial hardship due to COVID-19. Visit ICBC or call 604-661-2723 or 1-800-665-6442 to discuss payment options.

STUDENT LOANS

Since March 2020,  BC Student loans were automatically frozen for 6 months.

UNIVERSITY SUPPORT

The Simon Fraser Student Society has created  The Simon Fraser Student Society Emergency Assistance Fund which will contribute $150,000 to support domestic and international students facing financial hardship due to COVID-19.

TRANSIT FEES

Translink has temporarily suspended the U-Pass BC Program as of May 1 and offered free bus rides. For more information visit Coronavirus (COVID-19) Precautions.

THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

FINANCIAL RELIEF

The provincial government offers relief for individuals with provincial student loans in default and who file income tax returns with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) from April 9, 2020, to September 30, 2020. This provision results in a refund, including GST credits. The CRA will send refunds, including GST credits, directly to individuals instead of the Provincial Government.

NOVA SCOTIA

FINANCIAL RELIEF

Every individual on income assistance will receive an additional $50 starting Friday, 20 March. People do not need to apply. They are also extending the hours of their toll-free line for income assistance supports, including weekends. If you have questions about eligibility for income assistance, call: 1-877-424-117

BILL PAYMENTS

From March 24 to May 8, 2020, residential, farm and small business customers will pay the lowest rate 24 hours a day. That means you will pay 10.1 ¢/kWh no matter what time of day you use electricity. This rate will be automatically applied to your bill.

Through the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP), low-income individuals can get direct support to pay bills and ensure electricity and natural gas services are not disconnected during the COVID-19 outbreak.

If you are behind on your bill and may have your service disconnected, you could qualify for $500 for electricity bills ($600 if your home is heated electrically) and/or $500 for natural gas bills.

ONTARIO

RENT

The provincial government of Ontario has made changes to renting regulations. As of the publication of this post, landlords can still give eviction notices. However, landlords are encouraged to work with tenants to establish fair arrangements to keep tenants in their homes, including deferring rent or other payment arrangements.

However, All hearings related to eviction applications are suspended until further notice, except for urgent disputes such as those involving illegal acts or serious safety concerns.

Also, No new eviction orders will be issued until further notice, unless the matter relates to an urgent issue such as an illegal act or serious safety concerns. Notice the difference between an “Eviction Notice” and an “Eviction Order”. For more information regarding evictions and other technicalities, please visit: https://www.ontario.ca/page/renting-changes-during-covid-19

FINANCIAL RELIEF

The province has offered more resources to enable Ontario Works administrators and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) staff to provide additional assistance for those currently receiving social assistance and are facing additional costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Apply here: https://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/social/apply_online.aspx

SHELTERS AND FOOD BANK

Ontario provides emergency shelters for women and children fleeing violence are available to offer support during the COVID-19 outbreak. The province is also giving funding directly to Consolidated Municipal Service Managers, District Social Services Administration Boards and Indigenous Program Administrators to support local needs. You can contact your local municipality here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/list-ontario-municipalities#section-3

BILL PAYMENTS

From March 24 to May 8, 2020, residential, farm and small businesses will pay the lowest rate 24 hours a day. That means you will pay 10.1 ¢/kWh no matter what time of day you use electricity. This rate will be automatically applied to your bill.

Through the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP), low-income customers can get direct support to pay bills and ensure electricity and natural gas services are not disconnected during the COVID-19 outbreak.

If you are behind on your bill and may have your service disconnected, you could qualify for $500 for electricity bills ($600 if your home is heated electrically) and/or $500 for natural gas bills.

For more information visit Ontario’s official website: https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-support-people#section-0

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

RENT

The Temporary Rental Assistance Benefit provides $1,000 per household to help cover the cost of rent for a three month period. Eligible individuals will receive $500 in the first month and $250 for the following two months.

Residents of Prince Edward Island who are currently receiving or applying for Employment Insurance (EI) or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) due to COVID-19 who are not currently receiving rental support from other government or non-government organizations.

FINANCIAL RELIEF

The Prince Edward Island COVID-19 Income Support Fund aims at providing resources to those who have lost their job/lay-off, lost their primary source of income, their Employment Insurance benefits have expired or lost of all revenues through self-employment as a result of COVID-19. This emergency income fund is a one-time lump sum payment of $750 from the Government of Prince Edward Island. This emergency income is taxable. More information is available here: https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/service/covid-19-income-support-fund.

QUEBEC

UNIVERSITY FUNDS

The Universite de Quebec a Montreal announced their emergency assistance fund with an initial amount of $300,000.

The temporary aid is intended for full-time students, primarily those who are the most vulnerable such as those who are parents or do not benefit from loans and grants.

Several UQAM unions and associations have contributed to the fund, which must only be used for “immediate and basic necessities,” such as food, medical expenses or Internet connections required for online courses. Visit: https://urgence.umontreal.ca/covid-19-en/

The University of Laval also launched an emergency fund dedicated to students. Up to $1,500 is being allocated on a case-by-case basis. Visit: https://www.ulaval.ca/en/about-us/coronavirus-2019/emergency-fund-help-our-students

Concordia University created an emergency fund of $700,000 for its emergency fund for students whose immediate and necessary financial needs cannot be met because of the pandemic. Students can begin submitting online applications on Monday. Visit: https://www.concordia.ca/covid19info/resources/emergency-fund.html

FINANCIAL RELIEF

The provincial government has launched the Temporary Aid for Workers Program (PATT) on March 16, 2020, to offer financial assistance to meet the needs of workers who, because they were in isolation to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus, could not earn all of their work income and were not eligible for another financial assistance program. However, the applications closed on April 10, 2020.

SASKATCHEWAN

FINANCIAL RELIEF

The Self-Isolation Support Program is targeted at workers forced to self- isolate in order to spread the curve of the COVID-19. The individuals may not be covered by recent federally announced employment insurance programs and other supports. The program is administered by the Ministry of Finance. It will provide $450 per week, for a maximum of two weeks or $900.

The province has also offered a six-month student loan repayment moratorium, mirroring a similar federal provision. This provides individuals with student loans immediate relief. 

For more details regarding provincial support in Saskatchewan visit: https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/health-care-administration-and-provider-resources/treatment-procedures-and-guidelines/emerging-public-health-issues/2019-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-information-for-businesses-and-workers/support-for-workers

Please bear in mind that the situation around COVID-19 continues to evolve. For the most up to date information around the support available, you should directly refer to each supporting entity’s own communication outlets.

Furthermore, if you need to send money abroad, make sure to stay at home and use Lumenwire’s fully online money transfer service. Keep our communities safe.

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