COVID-19: What emergency funds are available for you and your family?

As COVID-19 causes uncertainty about our future and the province declares a state of emergency, many Manitobans are still trying to grapple with this new reality. In these challenging times, many people including those who’ve lost their job, been temporarily laid off or are in self-isolation could be facing sudden and unexpected financial stress.

While both the federal and provincial governments have plans to support families and businesses, there’s a lot of information and options to keep aware of — especially as events unfold and change on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. We’ve pulled together some of the most relevant resources for Manitobans who might need a helping hand in the months to come. Here are some of the emergency funds and other supports available:

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

If you’ve lost your job, can’t work because you’re sick (or taking care of someone who is sick) or must stay home without pay to care for your kids because of daycare and school closures, CERB will provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers, entrepreneurs and small business owners. This also applies to contract workers and self-employed individuals who are not eligible for employment insurance.

Canada Emergency Business Account

For small businesses and non-profits, CEBA will provide loans through your financial institution up to $40,000. Loans are interest-free for the first year, and CEBA will offer 25 per cent (up to $10,000) loan forgiveness for repayment of the balance on or before December 31, 2022. To qualify, small businesses and non-profits must demonstrate they paid between $50K to $1M in total payroll during 2019.

CRA Direct Deposit

With direct deposit, Canada Revenue Agency will deposit any funds owing — including emergency relief funds — directly into your account without any holds. That means you don’t have to touch your mailbox, use an ATM or drop by a local branch to receive your money. Direct deposit isn’t just applicable to your income tax refund. It also includes money from CERB, Canada Child Benefit, Canada Workers Benefit and more.

Employment Insurance

The federal government has waived the one-week waiting period — as well as the requirement for a medical certificate — to access EI sickness benefits for workers who are ill, in quarantine or have been directed to self-isolate.

Mortgage and loan deferrals

A mortgage or loan deferral is an agreement with your lender that suspends payments for a certain period of time — after which the missed payments, including accumulated interest, are to be repaid.

ACU will work with members to activate a deferral program of up to six months on conventional and insured mortgages and non-mortgage loans. Everyone’s situation is different, so talk to your ACU financial advisor about your deferment options.

Amanda Gilchrist, ACU Branch Manager

We’re matching the number of deferral months, up to six months, with the member’s specific situation,” says Amanda Gilchrist, Branch Manager with Assiniboine Credit Union on West Broadway in Winnipeg. “We look at it on a case-by-case basis because deferments do have to be repaid.”

For example, someone who needs extra funds for supplies to social distance may benefit from a one-month mortgage deferral, while someone who has lost their job might need a longer deferral. “That’s why it’s a good idea to talk to an ACU financial advisor to get the best advice possible for your situation,” Amanda explains.

Child Care Benefit

Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payments are getting a boost, providing an extra $300 per child for the 2019 – 2020 benefit year. This will be added to the regularly scheduled CCB payment in May, and those who already receive the benefit do not need to re-apply.

Provincial child care for essential workers

The Manitoba government is also taking measures to provide child care to essential front-line workers by establishing an $18 million grant program so early childhood educators can independently offer child-care services at their homes or in the community. Licensed child-care centres will continue to receive their full operating grants and subsidies, while all centres are encouraged to reimburse prepaid fees to parents for child care they can no longer access.

GST credit payment

Low and modest-income families will receive a one-time special GST payment by early May through the Goods and Services Tax Credit — close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.

Tax filing extension

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has extended the tax filing deadline for individuals to June 1 and deferred the payment of any income tax amounts owing between March 18 to the end of August. This relief applies to tax balances due, as well as installments, with no interest or penalties accumulated during this period.

Extended tax filing for Manitoba businesses

The province is extending the April and May filing deadlines for small and medium-sized businesses in Manitoba with monthly remittances of less than $10,000. This means they have two additional months to remit retail sales taxes and the Health and Post-Secondary Education Tax Levy.

Farm Credit Canada (FCC)

The FCC has received an additional $5 billion in lending capacity to help farmers, agribusinesses and food processors. Initially, the focus will be on “assisting the industry in addressing cash flow challenges,” according to the FCC, which will help farmers and producers put food on tables across the country.

Student loans

The federal government is offering an interest-free moratorium on the repayment of student loans for six months. During this period, no payment is required and no interest will accrue.

Financial stress: COVID-19

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Manitoba Hydro

Recognizing that COVID-19will cause financial difficulties for some Manitobans, Manitoba Hydro has discontinued all service disconnections related to overdue accounts until further notice. Credit reps are available to help those affected come up with a payment plan.

Rent increase freezes

As of March 24, the Government of Manitoba is postponing eviction hearings and freezing rent increases scheduled to take effect on April 1 or later.

Outreach for seniors

The federal government is contributing $9 million through United Way Canada so local organizations can help seniors who don’t have a support system. This could include anything from the delivery of groceries and medications to personal outreach and connections to community supports.

COVID-19 emergency funds: We're here to help

ACU is here to help

ACU is aware that some members may be experiencing unexpected financial difficulties related to COVID-19. Updates to programs and services have been made to help.

Members participating in one of the Asset Building Programs (offered by ACU and partners) can now withdraw funds from their Matched Savings Account for emergency use. Participants will not require special approval for withdrawals during this time, and they will be allowed to reapply in the future. For those participants who have finished their program, an electronic process has been created to eliminate the need for in-person interactions. ACU and the program partners will coordinate cash-out and fund transfers, and a cheque will be sent to participants. In addition, if participants are not able to save funds during this time, a ‘saving time’ extension will be added, offering additional flexibility to meet the requirements.

The challenges of day-to-day banking have also been recognized. While branch hours have been reduced (and some branch locations temporarily shuttered) to help prevent the spread of the virus, members can access banking services through the ACU Anytime mobile app, online banking, telephone banking, ATMs and night deposit service.

Getting financial advice from an expert is more important than ever at a time like this,” says Amanda. “We’re encouraging members to use our online booking tool to arrange a phone appointment with our financial advisors. We can help explain your options, review your current financial situation, and then advise what your best course of action is to help you now, and in the future.”

Call your ACU financial advisor or our contact centre to discuss what ACU programs are best for you and your financial future. Sign up for online banking, make use of telephone banking or our mobile app, or reach us by email at

About Vawn Himmelsbach

Vawn Himmelsbach is a freelance writer and editor. She has covered technology and travel for 15 years, for media outlets such as, The Globe & Mail, Metro News, ITBusiness, PCworld Canada and Computerworld Canada. She also spent three years living abroad and working as an Asian correspondent.

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