Skip to main content

Consumer & Money

Updated:
May 15, 2020

There have been a number of scammers taking advantage of people’s worries about COVID-19. Protect yourself by being sceptical, relying only on trusted resources, and learning about common scams. See the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre’s (CAFC) COVID-19 page for a list of reported scams. 

The CAFC has reported a number of scams including:

  • Fake government information 
  • Unsolicited calls, emails or text requesting information or money
  • Fake charities asking for donations
  • People pretending to be someone’s grandchild and asking for money 

Remember that if you did not initiate the contact, you cannot really know who you are talking to. Be very skeptical about people asking for your social insurance number, address, health card, or credit card information. If they claim to be from a government institution or charity, contact that institution directly (using the contact number listed on their website, not the information provided by the person who called you) and ask whether the request is legitimate.

Know that currently there is no cure for COVID-19 and companies or individuals offering miracle cures, tests, or vaccines are likely not legitimate and you should be extremely sceptical.

Also, be aware of CERB scams! If you get a text message saying you received a deposit for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, beware it is a scam! Do not reply or click on the link, delete the text and warn others. Government agencies like the CRA will not contact individuals via text message or any instant messaging service. If your social insurance number (SIN) has been stolen or suspect it might be, you should contact Service Canada at 1-800-206-7218. Contact the CRA if you believe your account may be compromised. 

If you think you have been contacted by a scammer or have been the victim of a scam you should report the incident to your local police and to the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre.

Updated:
May 22, 2020

The Government of Canada recognizes that students and recent graduates are being significantly affected by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Explained briefly below are the federal government’s additional initiatives to support students. For further information, see Support for Students and Recent Graduates Impacted by COVID-19 on the Government of Canada website.

Canada Emergency Student Benefit

For post-secondary students and recent graduates who are ineligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or for Employment Insurance, but who are unable to find full-time employment or are unable to work due to COVID-19, the government introduce the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB). The CESB would provide $1,250 per month for eligible students from May through August 2020, and $2,000 for students with dependents and those with permanent disabilities.Students earning less than $1000 a month can also apply. Applications are open as of May 15, 2020.

Canada Student Service Grant

To encourage students to participate in the COVID-19 response, the government will launch a new national service initiative to recognize students' significant contributions to the COVID-19 efforts, and provide support through a new Canada Student Service Grant which will provide up to $5,000 to support student's postsecondary education costs in the fall. More details will be made available on the I Want to Help platform over the coming weeks.

International Students

The Government of Canada will remove the restriction that allows international students to work only a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session, provided they are working in an essential service or function. International students and their employers should consult Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada's Guidance on Essential Services and Functions in Canada during the COVID-19 Outbreak to determine if the work being done is essential. This temporary rule change will be in place until August 31, 2020.

 

Updated:
May 22, 2020

The BC Government has compiled a list of federal and provincial benefits HERE.

Both provincial and federal governments have provided a number of programs to financial support those affected by the COVID-19 health crisis. This includes the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers which will provide a one-time tax-free $1,000 payment to people whose ability to work has been affected due to COVID-19. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit supports people who have had their employment or self-employment income significantly reduced due to COVID-19. This provides individuals with $500 per week up to 16 weeks. Furthermore, the Canada Emergency Student Benefit provides $1,250 per month from May through August 2020 to students whose ability to work has been impacted by COVID-19, and an additional $750 for students with dependents and/or with disabilities. 

In addition, there are a number of programs to help you out with rent, monthly bills, student loans, and taxes. For a full list of federal programs go HERE. For a full list of provincial programs go HERE.

Source:
Updated:
May 15, 2020

ICBC is urging people to call their Autoplan broker to renew their insurance by phone. In-person insurance services are not available at this time. ICBC is also offering deferrals of Autoplan payments for those facing financial difficulties. For detailed information see the ICBC website or call 1-800-663-3051.

If you are on a monthly Autoplan payment plan and facing financial hardship due to COVID-19, you can request to defer your payments for up to 90 days with no penalty. Learn how to request a deferral HERE.

Source:
Updated:
May 15, 2020

BC Hydro has a number of programs to assist customers during the crisis. 

COVID-19 Relief Fund
If you or your spouse/partner have lost employment or have become unable to work due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for three months of bill credit based on your average consumption.

The application is now open and eligible customers can apply any time until June 30, 2020 to receive the credit.

Learn about the COVID-19 Relief Fund for residential customers.

Customer Crisis Fund
If you're a residential customer experiencing a temporary financial crisis, such as a loss of employment or benefit income, unanticipated medical expenses, or a death in the family and you've fallen behind on your BC Hydro bill, you may be eligible for a grant payment to avoid disconnection of your service

Learn about the Customer Crisis Fund. BC Consumer Protection also provides a summary of the program HERE.

Updated:
May 20, 2020

Price gouging is when a seller increases the prices of goods to a much higher level than is reasonable or fair. We have unfortunately seen this happen during the COVID-19 crisis with companies or individuals selling (or re-selling) products like sanitizer and masks for many times more than they would usually sell for. 

You can report price gouging, and other questionable business practices to BC Consumer Protection.

As of April 19, 2020, police and other enforcement officers are empowered to hand out $2,000 fines under the Emergency Program Act to businesses and individuals violating orders against price gouging and reselling medical and other essential equipment. See the government’s news release for more information.

Updated:
May 15, 2020

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has made a number of changes due to the COVID-19 crisis. For a full list of changes, available benefits, and latest updates, go to COVID-19: Changes to Canadian taxes and benefits

For individuals, the filing deadline for 2019 taxes has been extended to June 1, 2020.
The payment date for 2019 taxes has been extended to September 1, 2020. Go HERE for a full list of extensions. 

Updated:
May 15, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 situation, effective March 30, the federal government is placing a six-month interest-free freeze on all Canada student loans. No payment will be required and interest won’t add up during this time. Students don’t need to apply for the repayment pause.  The government is also raising maximum amounts for student grants and loans.

The province is similarly freezing all BC student loan payments for six months, also effective March 30.

See HERE for more details. 

Also note that students whose employment has been affected due to COVID-19 can now apply for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, effective May 15, 2020.

 

Subscribe to Consumer & Money