Updated April 22, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for all of us, many of us are facing never-before-seen financial challenges, businesses have been forced to close down and workers are being laid off. If you’ve lost your job, we’ve put together an action plan below that could help you through this challenging time. We’ll continue to update this list as the situation evolves.
If you’re a current MogoMember and you have any questions about your active Mogo products and services, log in to your MogoAccount and chat with our product specialist.
1. Stay calm and stay cautious 🧐
It may be difficult to keep a clear head in chaotic times like these, but don’t let panic overrun your common sense. Avoid overspending and over-buying supplies. Fraudsters have already started preying on consumers' fears and spreading misinformation, so be cautious with phone calls, emails, and texts regarding COVID-19.
To help you monitor and protect your finances during this crisis, in addition to our free monthly credit score monitoring, you can now get 6 months of MogoProtect identity fraud protection for free using promo code “STAYSAFE”.
Our credit bureau partner Equifax is also currently offering a free credit report to all Canadians and you can get yours here.
2. Get support from the government 💵
Aside from the standard benefits like EI, the government has announced an Economic Response Plan to provide additional financial assistance to those affected by the COVID-19 situation. We’ve compiled the most relevant ones here and will continue to update as new programs get announced.
🇨🇦 Federal government benefits
- Employment Insurance (EI)
Apply for EI as soon as you stop working, even if you haven’t yet received your Record of Employment. For most people, EI pays you 55% of your gross average insurable earnings, up to a maximable insurable earnings amount of $54,200. This means that you can earn up to a maximum of $573 gross per week on EI. Assuming your previous annual income was between $40,000 and $54,200, your net income after tax with EI will be closer to 60% of your previous net pay. Learn more and apply here.
- Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
All Canadians (EI-eligible or not) who have stopped working due to COVID-19 would be able to receive this benefit. It will provide $2,000 a month for up to four months. Canadians should receive this assistance approximately 10 days after applying, which may be much faster than EI given the current demand. Application is now available through your CRA account. Affected part-time, contract, and seasonal workers may also now qualify for CERB through their CRA account.
- EI sickness benefits
If your employer doesn’t offer you paid sick leave and you’re unable to work due to being sick or quarantined, you can now apply for EI sickness benefits without providing a medical note. The regular one-week waiting period has also been waived. The payment amount is similar to regular EI benefits for up to 15 weeks. Learn more and apply here.
- Additional child benefits
On average, parents receive $6,800 tax free annually from the Canada Child Benefit. This benefit is being temporarily increased and parents will be eligible for an additional $300 per child as part of their May payment.
- Six-month student loan payment deferral
If you have a Canadian Student Loan, you can stop making payments for up to six months interest free.
- Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC)
This is a one-time special payment to low and modest-income families by early May 2020. The average boost to income for those eligible will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.
🍁 New provincial government benefits
For affected individuals and families with limited income, assets, or credit, Ontario has suspended the once in a six-month provision rule for the Emergency Assistance Program (apply here). The province is also reducing electricity rates giving residents the lowest rate available (off-peak) all day – for 45 days.
NEW - Low income Ontario Seniors under the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) program will automatically see their payments topped up to maximums of $166 per month for individuals and $332 per month for couples, starting April 24 for six months.
- British Columbia
A new B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a tax-free $1,000 payment to people who lost income due to COVID-19 (application available in April). A one-time enhancement to the Climate Action Tax credit will be paid in July for moderate to low-income families – an adult will receive up to $218.00 (increased from $43.50) and a child will receive $64.00 (increased from $12.75).
NEW - Renters can now get up to $500 a month of subsidy through the BC Temporary Rental Supplement Program. Apply here today.
Albertans with lost income due to COVID-19 can now apply for a one-time payment of $1,146 in emergency financial support from the provincial government. Learn more and apply here.
3. Get your tax refund 💰
On average, about two-thirds of Canadian tax filers receive a tax refund. If you’re one of them, the earlier you file, the sooner you’ll be able to get that money. You can either file your taxes online yourself using tools such as TurboTax, or with paid professional assistance using H&R Block.
4. Get all expenses down to basic for now 🍞
Now that you know what your next few months’ income may look like, you need to get your expenses down so they can be covered by your reduced income. Now is the time to limit your spending to your essential needs – food, utility, and shelter. These changes may seem excessive, but remember, they’re temporary. This situation won’t last forever.
Do you need all the different subscriptions? Go through every subscription you have (Netflix, Apple Music, Spotify, etc) and cancel all but the essentials.
Do you need cable TV? Many providers, such as Shaw, have come up with special programs including free news channels and payment plans.
Many utility companies have now come up with special programs for customers affected, including banning disconnections, grants, and flexible payment plans such as bill deferrals with no penalty. Ontario has announced a reduction in electricity rates. BC Hydro is providing three months of bill credit that doesn’t need to be paid back. Check with your provider.
Is your phone’s data plan necessary if you’re mostly using wi-fi? Contact your provider and make sure you are on the lowest cost plan. Many providers (such as Telus and Rogers) have also announced flexible payment options and have even suspended disconnections for non-payments.
Paying for extra insurance on anything you don’t need? If you’re not driving for work anymore you can change your car insurance to pleasure use only to save some money.
5. Defer your rent payments 🛏
Many provinces (Ontario, BC, Nova Scotia, and Quebec) are working to help renters and have temporarily stopped evictions. Some landlords are also open to work with tenants on a case-by-case basis.
If you can’t afford your rent now, you could initiate an honest and respectful conversation with your landlord and propose a plan, such as deferring 50% of your rent for 90 days or until you’re back to work. You could also ask to repay the deferred amount over a longer period of time once you can afford the full payment again.
6. Defer your mortgage payments 🏠
If you have a mortgage and can’t afford the payments, Canada’s big six banks have announced they’re now offering mortgage relief including deferring mortgage payments for up to 6 months. The terms vary from bank to bank so contact your bank or mortgage provider ASAP – they’ll be asking you questions such as whether your employment or household income has been impacted by COVID-19. And due to high demand, be prepared for a long call wait-time.
Tip: Be sure to have written confirmation from your mortgage provider in case of any impact to your credit score, as lenders might be slow to adjust their reporting systems on a deferred payment. Your record would help dispute any changes to your credit score.
7. Make minimum debt payments or defer them 💳
To reserve more cash for your immediate needs, instead of making extra payments to pay down your debt, consider only making minimum payments especially on debt with a lower interest rate. Many credit card providers and lenders are also offering relief solutions (such as Tangerine). Contact yours to see if they offer any options for payment deferral or reduced interest rate and ensure that they won’t impact your credit score.
If you are an impacted Mogo loan customer, please Live Chat us so we can provide you guidance and relief options where we can.
8. Get a temporary side hustle ✏️
There might not be as many traditional ways to make extra money right now, but there are still options, such as user testing, focus groups, proofreading, and other remote jobs. Take a look at sites such as Upwork and Fiverr for options.
9. Use your retirement savings as your last resort 🏦
If it’s possible, avoid taking out money from your retirement savings. In an economic downturn like this, cashing out your retirement investments may result in huge losses, so only use it if you have no other options.
Things are hard right now, but don't lose sight of the reality that "right now" won't last forever. There may be sacrifices to make in the moment, but eventually you will be back on your feet again. In the meantime, let's continue to support each other through this ever-changing chapter.
If you have any questions about your active Mogo products and services, simply log in to your MogoAccount and chat with our product specialist.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and take care of your loved ones.
–The Mogo Team