INFO-FLASH News - Special COVID-19 Updates 2020-04-24
Key information sources are at the bottom of this message
money matters during covid
Money is a taboo topic for many people. Yet, we need to think and talk about it now. COVID-19 is forcing us to change the way we spend, access, and manage our money. Governments, retail stores, banks, and other financial institutions are doing their part to ensure older adults' financial security and needs are addressed in these challenging times. The following lists of resources for older adults include government benefits, taxes, banking, managing your money, and information on frauds and scams.
Municipal, Provincial, and Federal Benefits for Seniors during COVID-19

Governments at all levels quickly made sweeping changes to support Canadians during this pandemic. CBC News has created a list of financial help for Canadians affected by COVID-19. Below are the direct financial benefits for older adults from all three levels of government.

City of Ottawa: The City has existing property tax and water bill deferral programs for low-income seniors and people with disabilities. Under these programs, eligible homeowners (over the age of 65, and eligible for benefits under Old Age Security (OAS) pension), can apply for partial or full deferral of their annual property taxes and water utility bills. Applying for these programs can be done online or by email at  [email protected].

Province of Ontario: Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) will be topped up for low-income seniors for six months, starting in April 2020. It will increase the maximum payment to $166 per month for individuals and $332 per month for couples. You do not have to apply if you currently receive the OAS pension and GIS. GAINS benefits are based on details from your personal income tax. This benefit will be available until September 30, 2020.

Government of Canada: Seniors with low and modest income will receive a one-time special payment of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) credit by early May. This will double the maximum annual credit payment for 2019-20. Eligible seniors will receive close to $400 for individuals and $600 for couples.

The required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) have been reduced by 25 per cent for 2020. This will provide flexibility to seniors and help retain RRIF assets during the economic crisis. Not sure if you should consider this option, read this Globe and Mail article, seniors who don’t need all of their RRIF money this year should consider this.

Some older workers (over the age of 65 and receiving OAS, GIS, and/or GAINS), may be eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. This is a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month, for up to four months, between March 15 and October 3. Seasonal workers and those who have recently run out of employment insurance (EI), and people who make less than $1,000 a month due to reduced work hours, also qualify. Just remember, you will be taxed on this income next year. In addition, before you apply as an older worker, make sure you consider the negative effect on other financial benefits you receive in the future. Affected benefits include:

  • Subsidized housing rent geared to income
  • Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)
  • Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS)
  • Overall personal tax rate

While the benefit of cash may look attractive now, these claw backs and removal of your benefits may have a lasting negative effect on your other benefits later. The deadline for applications is December 2.

The deadline to file your income taxes has been extended to June 1. Any new balances due, or installments, are deferred until after August 31, 2020 without interest or penalties. At this time, we are unsure if this delayed filing deadline will affect your other benefits, such as GST credit, GIS and GAINS. If you are turning 65 this year and have not filed your 2018 tax return, you are best to file your 2018 and 2019 returns before the extended deadline.

If you are turning 65 this year (happy birthday!) and applying for public pensions, you can apply online through your  My Service Canada Account. You are strongly encouraged to apply for these benefits online:

  • Canada Pension Plan Retirement Pension
  • Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefit, or
  • Old Age Security/Guaranteed Income Supplement

You will not be required to submit supporting documentation at this time. Service Canada may be requesting these documents at a later date. For more information on how to apply and eligibility requirements, go to  Public Pensions or call 1-800-277-9914.
Accessing your Money by Telephone or Online Banking

Using telephone or online banking may have been considered a nice to have in the past. Now it is becoming a matter of survival. Physical distancing is changing the way we access and spend our money. And, it may drive a long-term shift in our buying patterns that will likely outlast the COVID-19 crisis.

Banks are doing their part to ensure older adults have access to the supports and services they need. In fact, many Canadian banks set aside first opening hour to serve seniors, and/or giving them priority service when calling customer service. Some banks are offering temporary relief to clients facing financial hardship, including those asking for more time to make payments on mortgages, loans, lines of credit and credit cards. Most banks have noted high call volumes and ask for your patience. Most suggest using the online or mobile platforms to complete your transactions, if you are able.

In fact, most everyday banking can be completed online or by using our mobile device app and telephone banking services. You can use these services to:

  • Check balances
  • Pay bills
  • Transfer funds between accounts
  • Send money
  • Deposit cheques
  • Locate bank branches and ATMs
Banks and Credit Unions COVID-19 Information

Below are links to the major Canadian banks and credit unions. The links include how the institutions are responding to COVID-19 and information on ways to bank online, on mobile devices, and by phone as well as customer service, financial relief programs and fraud protection information.
Alterna Saving
613-560-0100 / 1-877-560-0100
Relief: Call your branch
English: 1-800-465-2422
French: 1-888-337-2422
Cantonese: 1-888-898-2828
Mandarin: 1-888-298-8822
TTY: 1-877-331-3338
Telephone Banking:
English: 1-800-267-1234
Cantonese: 1-800-830-8800
Mandarin: 1-800-830-8080
Managing your Money in a Crisis

Managing your money and expenses during a crisis is never easy. There are several resources to help you including:

Other Customer Relief and Protection Programs
by Companies

Other sectors are offering consumer relief measures, such as:

  • Utilities, such as Hydro Ottawa, are offering support to manage costs, reduced time-of-use (TOU) electricity pricing, electricity service disconnection ban, and flexible payment options.
  • Telecommunications companies such as Bell, Telus, Shaw, Rogers, Videotron, Virgin, and Cogeco are offering temporary unlimited internet services, more free services, flexible payment options, and/or suspending planned fee increases. Check with your provider to see what offerings are available.
  • Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) member companies, are offering deferred payments or substantial consumer relief measures for consumers whose driving habits have changed significantly.

If you’re aware of anyone charging higher-than-usual prices for in-demand products,  report it online  or call Consumer Protection Ontario at 
1-800-889-9768 between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday.
COVID-19 Related Fraud and Scams
Seniors are more likely to be targets of scams and frauds than any other age group. During the global crisis, scammers are taking advantage of seniors in new ways. Below are several resources to help identify and protect you from being scammed:

We hope you find this information helpful. We will continue to update these resources as they become available.   Please share your ideas with us and we will add them to our  Facebook page or our  Special COVID-19 Update website

Stay safe!
Sarah Bercier
Executive Director
The Council on Aging of Ottawa
Disclaimer: INFO-FLASH is published as an information and education service. We try to present the most current information available. Things continue to change rapidly with COVID-19. Some details and links to external sources may become out of date. Please check the information and resources below for additional information.

Feel free to share this newsletter with your family and friends. 
Community Information and Services for Seniors

Community Information Centre of Ottawa connects you with supports and services in 150+ languages.

City of Ottawa provides information and services for residents about municipal services.
Resources to Stay Socially Connected
offers a telephone friendly visiting
line for seniors 55+.

613-696-9992 or 1-855-892-9992
Seniors’ Centre Without Walls organizes free telephone group activities for seniors 55+ and adults with physical disabilities.
Other Resources and Supports
Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region is a local connection to mental health support and resources, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Distress: 613-238-3311
Crisis: 613-722-6914 or

LGBT Wellbeing Check-in Program provides a telephone assurance program for LGBT adults with disabilities (18+) and older adults (55+). To access the program, contact Good Companions at 613-236-0428 or [email protected]

Ontario Caregiver Helpline provides caregivers with a one-stop resource for information and support.
1-833-416-2273 (CARE)
TelAide offrons un service d’écoute téléphonique en français aux personnes qui ont besoin d’une oreille, qui nécessitent du soutien ou de références.

Elder Abuse Response and Referral Service provides intake, information, consultation, referral, and support services for seniors at-risk or who are in an abusive situation.
613-596-5626 ext. 230

Telehealth Ontario is a free, confidential service you can call to get health advice or information. A Registered Nurse will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 1-866-797-0000
COVID-19 Support Services
Services for seniors are available right now:
Grocery & Pharmacy Delivery : Includes food and other essential supplies
Meals on Wheels : Delivery of nutritious frozen meals
Telephone Safety Checks : Regular check in phone calls to ensure you or your loved ones are safe
Transportation : Rides to essential medical appointments
Dementia Support: Information, support, and care navigation for persons living with dementia, caregivers and families
What should older adults and their caregivers
know about COVID-19
Canadian Media Sources on COVID-19
For all other COA News check the Updates
Contact Us
(613) 789-3577