We really are all in this together. Because regardless of our profession, income, city or town, each and every one of us is feeling the effects of COVID-19 in our everyday lives. So whether you find yourself out of work or unable to work because you’re sick or caring for your family, you’re in good company. Oh, and homeschooling too!

The good news is the federal and provincial governments have announced a series of steps to help you and your loved ones get through this. Here is a brief run-down of the key benefits available for Canadians.

Welcome unemployment relief

If you’re not able to work right now, you’re not alone; many Canadians are in the same boat. Some have lost their jobs, others have been temporarily laid off, and others may be unable to work because they’ve found themselves suddenly homeschooling (and frantically brushing up on that grade-school math). Whatever the reason you’re unable to earn an income right now, there’s likely funding available for you. You can either apply for employment insurance (EI) or for the Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit, which is available to those who had to stop working due to the pandemic but don’t qualify for EI. For the next four months, both EI and the CERB will pay the same amount - $2,000 a month.

To apply,  simply go to the CERB application page of the Government of Canada website, and you’ll be prompted to answer some questions. Based on your answers, you’ll be instructed to apply either to EI or the CERB.

The Canada Child Benefit just got better

Yes, this already exists and if you have kids under 18, you’re likely getting it already. You’ll be happy to know that the government has increased the CCB, to help parents out during these volatile times. Depending on your income level, you’ll receive up to $300 more per child this year. This additional boost will be automatically added to the May CCB payment, so you don’t have to apply for it. Pretty nice, right?!

Oh-so-timely mortgage flexibility

“I have a mortgage to pay!” is something you might have heard (or been thinking) more often during these uncertain times. The good news is, the government—in partnership with the big six Canadian banks—is now letting homeowners defer mortgage payments for 6 months.

That means that just like pausing shows on Netflix to get popcorn, families can “pause” their mortgage payments for up to 6 months. But keep in mind that interest will continue to build during this time, so if you are able to make your payments on time, it might be in your best interest to do so. For more information about the mortgage deferral option and whether you should take advantage of it, call your bank or mortgage broker to discuss your particular situation and to reap this benefit.

A breather for those with annual income tax to pay

Thankfully, Canadians can now breathe a little easier when it comes to filing their taxes. The deadline for submission is now June 1, as opposed to April 30. This one-month extension allows you to hold off on writing a cheque to the government (if you owe money this year) and use those funds instead in the short term if you need them. However, if you think you have a tax refund coming your way, you can feel good about filing taxes now.

Other provincial supports you won’t want to miss

Wait, there’s even more! Depending on where you live in Canada, there may be additional, provincial supports you qualify for. For example, Ontario parents can apply for a one-time payment of $200 per child under 13 years of age, to help parents cover the cost of learning materials. If you have a child with special needs, you’ll qualify for $250. BC, meanwhile, recently announced special emergency funding for parents of children with special needs. The office of your Member of Provincial Parliament can provide additional information about any provincial COVID-19 funding programs you might be eligible for.

Also, provinces are offering free childcare for essential workers during this pandemic.

What we’re doing at CST Spark:

Here at CST Spark, much like you, we’re all working from home to do our part, while continuing to support you and your family during these trying times.

We’ve always been a purely digital financial partner (you've always been able to manage your RESP from home with us). And helping you save for your children’s post-secondary education—safely and securely—continues to be our focus. Rest assured that even though it’s unclear how this global situation will unfold, when it comes to your RESP, we take a long-term, disciplined approach to investing that relies on age-based rebalancing. That means we rebalance your investments as your child grows to maximize growth early on, and preserve gains closer to when they’ll need the money. Our many years of experience have prepared us to navigate challenging markets like these, and we’re as committed as ever to managing your investments safely, strategically and for the love of your kids’ education.

We have your back.

Just as we want to make sure you get all the COVID-19 funds you’re eligible for, we at CST Spark make sure you always get the RESP government grants you qualify for. In fact, we apply for them on your behalf. (We know you have more important things to do, especially with kids home from school!) And with life in flux right now, you’ll be glad to know we offer flexible contributions. You can start your CST Bright PlanTM with as little as $10, and easily change how much or how often you contribute, with just a few clicks.

A bright future awaits.

Though there’s a lot of uncertainty now, remember that many of life’s certainties remain as true as ever. Education remains vital to your child’s future. Who knows? Maybe this pandemic will inspire that child in your life to become an epidemiologist, mathematical modeler, policy maker or biomedical scientist. Thanks to your focus on saving for their education, the possibilities are endless.

Have questions about setting up an RESP? Get in touch by calling 1-800-461-7100 or chat with us Monday to Friday between 9:00 am and 7:00pm ET.

Stay well and be safe.

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