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Think you have COVID-19 symptoms?

Do not visit an assessment centre unless you have been referred by a health care professional.

Do not call 911 unless it is an emergency. Use this self-assessment to help determine how to seek further care.

The health and well-being of all Ontarians is my priority as your local Member of Provincial Parliament. This is why I have compiled a list of government supports available to Ontarians’ as a result of COVID-19. We are working closely with all levels of Government to support Ontarians in financial need and those experiencing hardship due to COVID-19. While details of some of these programs are still being finalized, I hope this list will be helpful to you:

RE-OPENING ONTARIO

Ontario took a regional approach to reopening, with regions that demonstrated readiness based on trends in key public health indicators reopening first. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health measures or restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened.

Visit our website to review the framework and other important information on our response to COVID-19

GENERAL SUPPORTS

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB):

  • The federal government’s CERB program has now ended. The CRA is continuing to accept and process retroactive applications for period 7 (August 30 to September 26, 2020). You can apply for period 7 through the CRA’s My Account or automated toll-free phone line at 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041.

Employment Insurance:

The federal government made temporary changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program to better support Canadians looking for work. If you are eligible for EI benefits, you will receive a minimum taxable benefit at a rate of $500 per week, or $300 per week for extended parental benefits.

As of September 27, you may be eligible for EI if you:

    • were employed for at least 120 insurable hours in the past 52 weeks
    • received the CERB, the 52 week period to accumulate insured hours will be extended
    • stopped working through no fault of your own
    • have not quit your job voluntarily
    • are ready, willing and capable of working each day (EI regular benefits)
    • are temporarily unable to work while you care for someone else or yourself (EI maternity, parental, sickness, compassionate care, and family caregiver benefits)

Canada Recovery Benefit:

The CRB provides $500 per week for up to 26 weeks for workers who have stopped working or had their income reduced by at least 50% due to COVID-19, and who are not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB):

The CRSB provides $500 per week for up to a maximum of two weeks, for workers who:

    • Are unable to work for at least 50% of the week because they contracted COVID-19
    • Are self-isolated for reasons related to COVID-19
    • Have underlying conditions, are undergoing treatments or have contracted other sicknesses that, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, person in authority, government or public health authority, would make them more susceptible to COVID-19.

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit:

The CRCB provides $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household for workers:

  • unable to work for at least 50% of the week because they must care for a child under the age of 12 or family member because schools, day-cares or care facilities are closed due to COVID-19
  • because the child or family member is sick and/or required to quarantine or is at high risk of serious health implications because of COVID-19.

Proposed Residential Rent Freeze:

Ontario has introduced the Helping Tenants and Small Businesses Act that would, if passed, residential freeze rent in 2021 for rent-controlled and non-rent-controlled units, under most circumstances, and provide the vast majority of Ontario’s tenants with financial relief as the province continues on the path of renewal, growth and economic recovery. Stay tuned for more updates.

Greater Choice with Electricity:

We are keeping the cost of energy low for families, small businesses and farmers by stabilizing electricity rates and providing customers with more choice and energy assistance programs.

Customers eligible for the Ontario Electricity Rebate (OER) will automatically receive a 33.2% reduction off their energy bill when new electricity rates for Regulated Price Plan (RPP) customers come into effect November 1, 2020.

As of November 1st, customers who pay time-of-use (TOU) electricity rates will have the flexibility to choose an electricity bill structure that best suits their lifestyle, choosing between TOU and tiered rates (flat rate).

Contact your energy provider if you would like to opt in for tiered rates.

To offer greater support for electricity customers struggling to pay their bills during COVID-19, we have expanded eligibility for residential and businesses customers. Consumers can apply through their electricity and/or natural gas utility’s website.

Stay tuned for the week of January 4th, 2021, we will be launching the new Energy Affordability Program (EAP) to help households who are struggling with their home electricity bills with energy efficiency upgrades.

MORTGAGE
DEFERRAL:

Banks have agreed to work with customers on a case-by-case basis to help manage hardships caused by COVID-19.

AUTO INSURANCE
RELIEF:

By amending a regulation under the Insurance Act, the Government of Ontario has enabled insurance companies to provide auto insurance premium rebates to consumers for up to 12 months after the declared emergency has ended.

Restored full driver testing services at DriveTest centres to help more people to get back to work as the province continues to reopen.

The expectation of the Government is that auto insurance companies will provide relief that reflects the significant financial hardships their customers are facing due to COVID-19.

Mental Health Supports:

The Government of Canada will work with the provinces to invest $240 million to develop and expand virtual care and mental health tools to support Canadians. This is in addition to the Government of Ontario’s commitment to provide emergency funding of up to $12 million to expand online and virtual mental health supports for Ontarians.

Available Virtual Mental Health Supports include:

  • Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT)
  • Bounceback telephone coaching
  • Kids Help Phone for children and youth.

Find more information about the different virtual mental health and wellness options that meet your unique needs, including online therapy. 

Investing $176 million to help expand access for critical mental health and addictions support during COVID-19. Funding will be used to address urgent gaps in care, enhance access to mental health and addictions services and create new community-based supports. Part of the province’s investment will be allocated to the following:

$4 million for nurse practitioners for detox services to improve the medical management of clients who are withdrawing from substance use in residential withdrawal management facilities;

$8 million for addictions day and evening care to increase access to intensive non-residential addictions and substance use treatment services for youth and adults;

$3.5 million for in-home/mobile withdrawal management services to increase access to community withdrawal

management services for hard to service clients, including those located in rural areas; and,

Over $900,000 for an additional four inpatient beds at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to support capacity pressures at CAMH.

211 ONTARIO:

211 Ontario is a free service which can help you understand the available supports and connect you to essential services in your community. Whether you are looking for food banks, food delivery services, mental health supports, or other non-emergency programs, 211 Ontario can help you find the support you need.

You can access help by dialing 211 or 1-877-330-3212 (toll free), with phones answered 24/7 in 150 languages. TTY service is available by dialing 1-888-340-1001. You can also access help by emailing gethelp@211ontario.ca or by visiting their website at www.211ontario.ca

SUPPORT FOR SPECIFIC DEMOGRAPHICS

SUPPORT FOR SENIORS:

Working with local businesses, charities and health services to coordinate subsidized meals, medicine and essential item deliveries to seniors. The Government of Ontario is investing $5 million dollars and the Government of Canada is investing $9 million that will help bring peace of mind and reduce the need for seniors to leave their homes.

Invested over $85 million to provide more physicians & nurses to rural and northern Ontario and enable physicians to conduct video, email and phone visits.

  • Doubling the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payment for 6 months to support over 194,000 low income seniors in Ontario. The maximum payments for individuals increases to $166/ month and $332/ month for couples.
  • Investing $243 million to long-term care homes to support 24/7 screening, adding staff to support infection control and purchase additional supplies.

  • Reducing minimum withdrawals for Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25% for 2020 in recognition of volatile market conditions and the impact on many seniors’ retirement savings.

  • Spark Ontario: The Government of Ontario is partnering with SPARK Ontario to help seniors and the most vulnerable stay connected and healthy as they self-isolate during the COVID-19 outbreak.

    Volunteer organizations can visit www.sparkontario.ca to post volunteer opportunities available in their communities. The needs of each community vary, but groups across the province are looking for volunteers to help deliver food or medicines, run errands or check-up on seniors and the most vulnerable by phone or email while they self-isolate.

    Ontarians interested in volunteering are encouraged to check the website for opportunities to make a difference where they live.

  • Guaranteed Income Supplement: The federal government is temporarily extending GIS and Allowance payments if seniors’ 2019 income information has not been assessed. This will ensure that the most vulnerable seniors continue to receive their benefits when they need them the most. To avoid an interruption in benefits, seniors are encouraged to submit their 2019 income information as soon as possible and no later than by October 1, 2020.
  • Seniors, people with disabilities, and others in need of assistance can also be connected to essential services in their community at any time by visiting www.211ontario.ca or by dialing 211 or 1-877-330-3212 (toll free). TTY service is also available by dialing 1-888-340-1001.

  • Ontario Community Support Program: The Ontario government is investing $11 million to help deliver meals, medicines and other essentials to those in need.

    The province is working with the Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) to launch a new Ontario Community Support Program to expand existing Meals on Wheels services to reach low-income seniors and people with disabilities and chronic medical conditions across Ontario. The program will also develop the capacity of community organizations and others to help deliver medication and other essentials.

    To identify a Meals on Wheels provider in your local community and request service, visit the link below.

    Those without Internet access or who require service in a language other than English or French can dial 211 or 1-877-330-3213 (toll free). TTY service is also available by calling 1-888-340-1001.

  • Caregiving Communities Portal

    The Ontario Caregiver Organization has launched a new portal to connect individuals who need assistance with the organizations who can provide it in their community. This can include help with pick-up and delivery of groceries, medications, and meals, as well as friendly phone calls and mental health support, among other services.

    Long Term Care Homes can also use this portal to locate community-based organizations who are collecting personal protective equipment, as well as technological devices to help keep residents connected. 

    Organizations who offer these services can register themselves on the portal so that they can be easily found by those that need their help.  

SUPPORT FOR FAMILIES:

  • In partnership with Apple and Rogers the Ontario Government is providing iPads with LTE data plans for students of low income families. This will allow all students access to the learn at home programs ensuring everyone can continue their education. 

    The iPads will be distributed by the Ontario School boards. School boards will determine requirements for student eligibility to receive an iPad.

Updated Screening Protocols for Schools/Childcare

  • Ontario has amended the COVID-19 School and child care screening guidance on the advice of our Chief Medical Officer of Health to provide information that will help parents determine when it is most appropriate for students, children and their families to seek a test for COVID-19.

SUPPORT FOR LOW/MODEST INCOME & THE MOST VULNERABLE:

  • The Government of Ontario is providing $200 million in new funding to assist people in financial need, municipalities and other service providers like food banks, homeless shelters and emergency services.
  • Reaching Home Initiative: $157.5 million to support a range of needs, including: beds, physical barriers for social distancing and securing accommodation to reduce overcrowding in shelters.
  • Women’s Shelters: The Government of Canada is providing women’s shelters and sexual assault centers with an additional $50 million to help increase capacity to deal with COVID-19.
  • Energy Bills: Increasing supports for low-income families with their energy bills by expanding eligibility for the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) and ensuring there will be NO disconnects during COVID-19.
  • Ontario is investing an additional $9 million into the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program. The program will provide struggling families with a one-time payment to help pay overdue electricity bill debt incurred during COVID-19.

  • Financial Crisis Assistance: To support individuals, expanded access to temporary emergency assistance for those in financial crisis.
  • Ontario Community Support Program: The Ontario government is investing $11 million to help deliver meals, medicines and other essentials to those in need.

    The province is working with the Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) to launch a new Ontario Community Support Program to expand existing Meals on Wheels services to reach low-income seniors and people with disabilities and chronic medical conditions across Ontario. The program will also develop the capacity of community organizations and others to help deliver medication and other essentials.

    To identify a Meals on Wheels provider in your local community and request service, visit the link below.

    Those without Internet access or who require service in a language other than English or French can dial 211 or 1-877-330-3213 (toll free). TTY service is also available by calling 1-888-340-1001.

Emergency Community Support Fund: The Government of Canada has launched the Emergency Community Support Fund to invest $350 million to support charities and non-profit organizations that deliver essential services to the most vulnerable Canadians.

  • The investment will flow through national organizations that can get funds quickly to local organizations that serve vulnerable populations. It will support a variety of activities, such as:
  • Increasing volunteer-based home deliveries of groceries and medications

  • Providing transportation services, like accompanying or driving seniors or persons with disabilities to appointments

  • Scaling up help lines that provide information and support

  • Helping vulnerable Canadians access government benefits

  • Providing training, supplies, and other required supports to volunteers

  • Replacing in-person contact and social gatherings with virtual contact through phone calls, texts, teleconferences, or the Internet

Support for Individuals with Disabilities:

The federal government is providing a one-time, tax-free, non-reportable payment of $600 to help Canadians with disabilities who are recipients of any of the following programs or benefits:

  • holders of a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate,

  • beneficiaries as at July 1, 2020 of:
    • Canada Pension Plan Disability
    • Quebec Pension Plan Disability Pension,
    • Disability supports provided by Veterans Affairs Canada

  • If you are eligible but never applied for the Disability Tax Credit, or your certificate expired in 2019, you must have done so by September 25, 2020.

  • Seniors who are eligible for the one-time payment for persons with disabilities would receive a total of $600 in special payments. The one-time payment to persons with disabilities would be adjusted to provide a top-up for eligible seniors, including:
    • $300 for Canadians who are eligible for the Old Age Security pension and who received the one-time seniors payment of $300; or
    • $100 for Canadians who are eligible for the Old Age Security pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement or Allowances and who received the one-time seniors payment of $500.

Eligible clients will start receiving payments on October 30, 2020 and you do not need to apply.

SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS:

Supported the return of post-secondary students through work done with the Chief Medical Officer of Health to help ensure the health and safety of students, faculty and staff as institutions re-open for the fall term.

Changes to the Canada Student Loans Program:

Grants: Canada Student Grants will be doubled for all eligible full-time students, up to $6,000, and up to $3,600 for part-time students in 2020-21. The Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with Dependents will also be doubled.

Loans: The maximum weekly amount that can be provided to a student in 2020-21 through the Canada Student Loans Program will be increased from $210 to $350.

Eligibility for assistance: Broader eligibility for student financial assistance by removing the expected student’s and spouse’s contributions in 2020-21.

Temporary Deferral of OSAP Payments: Providing a 6 month moratorium on the repayment of student loans. No payment will be required and interest will not accrue during this time.

  • From March 30, 2020 to September 30, 2020, you were not required to make any loan payments, and interest did not accrue on your student loans. Any payments made during this period went entirely towards your loan principal.

  • As of October 1, 2020, you are required to resume repaying your loan, meaning:

  • payments will be withdrawn from your account if you are on pre-authorized debit

  • if you make payments through online banking or cheque, you are required to send in payments

  • If you need help with repaying defaulted loans, you can bring them back into good standing through the Ontario Student Loan Rehabilitation Program.

  • Once your outstanding loans are in good standing, you can apply for further aid from OSAP, including reduced loan payments through the Repayment Assistance Plan.

  • Learn about other supports from the federal government for students and recent graduates impacted by COVID-19.

iPads for Low Income Students: In partnership with Apple and Rogers the Ontario Government is providing iPads with LTE data plans for students of low income families. This will allow all students access to the learn at home programs ensuring everyone can continue their education.

The iPads will be distributed by the Ontario School boards. School boards will determine requirements for student eligibility to receive an iPad.

Support for Indigenous Students: an increase of $75 million in 2020-21 to existing distinctions-based support for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation post-secondary students.

Student Mental Health Investing $19.25 million into mental health supports for postsecondary students in 2020-21, an increase of $3.25 million over last year. This funding will help students by strengthening community partnerships and increasing the number of mental health workers and programs at colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes.

SUPPORT FOR INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES:

The Federal Government has provided $685 million for a new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities.

These funds could be used for measures including, but not limited to:

      • support for Elders and vulnerable community members,
      • measures to address food insecurity,
      • educational and other support for children,
      • mental health assistance and emergency response services,
      • preparedness measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Federal Government is providing $100 million to support a range of federal health measures, including support for preparedness in First Nation and Inuit communities.

Boosting the On-Reserve Income Assistance Program: The Federal Government is providing $270 million to supplement the On-Reserve Income Assistance Program to address increased demand on the program, which will help individuals and families meet their essential living expenses. It will also help hire additional staff to better serve First Nations communities and connect individuals to other government programs.

SUPPORT FOR Frontline Workers:

Pandemic Pay Update: The eligibility period for Ontario’s pandemic pay is now over. Eligible employees received payments for work performed between April 24, 2020 and August 13, 2020. Ontario’s pandemic pay program was the largest in the country with over $1.5B available for distribution to the pockets of frontline workers. Ontario claimed the full amount of federal funding, resulting in over $1.5 billion in provincial and federal funding made available to support the critical work of over 375,000 eligible frontline employees working for over 2,000 employers.

PSW Wage Increase: Ontario recently announced an investment of $461 million to temporarily increase wages for personal support workers (PSWs) and direct support workers in the home and community care, long-term care, public hospitals, and social services sectors.

The increase ranges from $2-$3 per hour and is available from October 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021 to 147,000 workers who deliver publicly funded personal support services.

    • $3 per hour for approximately 38,000 eligible workers in home and community care;
    • $3 per hour for approximately 50,000 eligible workers in long-term care;
    • $2 per hour for approximately 12,300 eligible workers in public hospitals; and
    • $3 per hour for approximately 47,000 eligible workers in children, community and social services providing personal direct support services for the activities of daily living.

The wage builds on the province’s recent $26.3M investment to support PSWs & supportive care workers, including:

    • $14M for training
    • $10.3M for the new PSW Return of Service Program
    • $1.3M to train 160 supportive care workers
    • $700K in accelerated PSW training for 220 students.

Ontario is investing $52.5 million to recruit, retain and support over 3,700 more frontline health care workers and caregivers to ensure Ontario’s health care system can meet any surge in demand, while continuing to provide safe and high-quality care to patients and long-term care residents.

Support for Workers in the Skilled Trades:

The provincial government has announced a $7.5 million Ontario Tools Grant to assist new apprentices purchase the equipment they need to help start their careers. Applications for this new grant will be available in August 2020.

Ontario is also forgiving $10.6M in outstanding loans to about 19,000 people who borrowed money to buy tools, equipment and manuals at the beginning of their careers.

Support for Hospitality Workers:

Ontario is investing almost $2 million and partnering with UNITE HERE Local 75 to launch and run a Virtual Action Centre. The centre will offer counselling, training and job search supports for as many as 7,000 unemployed workers in the hospitality sector who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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