Extended COVID-19 Federal Emergency Benefits

On Friday, February 19, 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an extension to several of the COVD-19 federal emergency benefits.  The goal of this extension is to support Canadians who are still being financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following benefits are impacted:

  • Canada Recovery Benefit 

  • Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit

  • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit 

  • Employment Insurance

Canada Recovery Benefit

The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) provides income support to anyone who is:

  • Employed or self-employed, but not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.

  • Has had their income reduced by at least 50 percent due to COVID-19. 

You can receive up to $1,000 ($900 after taxes withheld) a week every two weeks for the CRB. The recent changes now allow you to apply for this benefit for a total of 38 weeks – previously the maximum was 26 weeks.  

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit

The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) helps support people who cannot work because they must supervise a child under 12 or other family members due to COVID-19. For example, a school is closed due to COVID-19 or your child must self-isolate because they have COVID-19.  

You can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for each 1-week period you claim the CRCB. The recent extension made now allows you to apply for this benefit for a total of 38 weeks instead of the previous 26 weeks. 

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit

The $500 a week ($450 after taxes) Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) is also getting a boost. If you cannot work because you are sick or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, you can now apply for this benefit for a total of four weeks. Previously, this benefit would only cover up to two missed weeks of work. 

Employment Insurance 

Finally, the government will also be increasing the amount of time you can claim Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. You will now be able to claim EI for a maximum of 50 weeks – this is an increase of 24 weeks from the previous eligibility maximum.

For full details, go to https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/covid-19-update/covid-19-benefits-credits-support-payments.html

Self-employed: Government of Canada addresses CERB repayments for some ineligible self-employed recipients

Great news for some ineligible self-employed Canadians who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). As per canada.ca:

“Today, the Government of Canada announced that self-employed individuals who applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and would have qualified based on their gross income will not be required to repay the benefit, provided they also met all other eligibility requirements. The same approach will apply whether the individual applied through the Canada Revenue Agency or Service Canada.

This means that, self-employed individuals whose net self-employment income was less than $5,000 and who applied for the CERB will not be required to repay the CERB, as long as their gross self-employment income was at least $5,000 and they met all other eligibility criteria.

Some self-employed individuals whose net self-employment income was less than $5,000 may have already voluntarily repaid the CERB. The CRA and Service Canada will return any repaid amounts to these individuals. Additional details will be available in the coming weeks.”

For full details, see full news release at https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/news/2021/02/government-of-canada-announces-targeted-interest-relief-on-2020-income-tax-debt-for-low–and-middle-income-canadians.html

Do You Need Life Insurance?

Canadians may need to rethink their risk management.

In a recent study conducted by the Life Insurance and Market Research Association (LIMRA), it was reported that 61% of Canadians hold some form of life insurance. Surprisingly, it also revealed that only 38% of Canadians own an individual life insurance contract. 

In another study of middle class Canadians, Manulife reported that 79% had no individual disability insurance and 87% had no individual critical illness coverage. What both of these studies conclude is that most Canadians rely heavily on their group benefits for their family’s insurance protection. 

 

What’s the problem with that? 

  • Group insurance protection is tied to employment and if the company for any reason changes or cancels the coverage, the employee stands to lose valuable and necessary protection. 

  • If you are currently employed in an industry or with a company that you feel is at risk due to economic conditions, it may be time to reevaluate your insurance mix. You lose your job, you may lose your life insurance protection.

  • For many group plans, the maximum life coverage provided is only two times annual earnings. 

  • For those plans that provide critical illness coverage, the amount provided is very minimal.

What happens when you retire? 

Almost all group insurance plans cease upon retirement which for most Canadians is still age 65. To protect spouses and dependent children, some life coverage should be maintained after age 65. Converting group life coverage to an individual plan can be expensive as you get older. Individual coverage purchased earlier in life is the most cost effective way to protect your family in the long term.  

If you feel you may be at risk of being underinsured or in danger of losing your group insurance coverage it may be time to integrate some individual insurance protection into your portfolio. 

Give me a call if you would like to discuss this further and as always feel free to share this article with those you think would benefit from this information.

Boomer + Sandwich Generation + Club Sandwich + Boomerang = Financial Instability

The Sandwich Generation was a term coined by Dorothy Miller in 1981 to describe adult children who were “sandwiched” between their aging parents and their own maturing children. There is even a term for those of us who are in our 50’s or 60’s with elderly parents, adult children and grandchildren – the Club Sandwich.  More recently, the Boomerang Generation (the estimated 29% of adults ranging in ages 25 to 34, who live with their parents), are adding to the financial pressures as Boomers head into retirement.

It is estimated that by 2026, 1 in 5 Canadians will be older than 65. This means fewer adults to both fund and provide for elder care. Today, it is likely that the average married couple will have more living parents than they do children.

What are the challenges?

The truth is that many members of the Sandwich Generation find the circumstances are both emotionally and financially draining. In the past, women have been looked upon to provide the primary care giving in the home while men take care of the income needs. Today, roles have changed with the majority of working age women employed outside of the home. As a result, financially, both parents are looked upon to provide for the family. For The Sandwich Generation helping their parents and their children at the same time, creates a stress that can affect both their mental and physical health.

Risk Management in the Sandwich Generation

Having an effective financial plan becomes key in dealing with the challenges. As the main breadwinner in this situation it is possible that three generations are dependent upon you. One of the first issues to be addressed then is how you protect your revenue stream.

5 Steps to Minimize risk for the Sandwich Generation

  1. Have an open and clear discussion about family resources and needs – The older generation needs to have a discussion with their children so that everyone knows what steps have or have not been taken to provide for the senior’s care when they are no longer able to care for themselves. This would also be a good time to initiate or continue any talk about what liquidity needs exist for taxes, long term care, funeral costs and last expenses etc.

  2. Complete a life insurance needs analysis – Where there is not sufficient capital to continue family and dependent’s income at the death of a breadwinner, life insurance can provide the necessary funds required to maintain lifestyle, pay debt, reduce mortgages, fund children’s education and provide money for aging parent’s care. Life insurance is an affordable way to guarantee future security. 

  3. Review your disability and critical illness coverage – If there is not sufficient income that will continue to be paid should you become unable to work due to sickness or accident, consider long term disability coverage. Critical illness insurance will provide needed capital in the event of diagnosis of a life threatening illness or condition. Not only will this provide financial support but will also improve your chances of recovery without the financial stress that often accompanies such a condition.

  4. Investigate Long Term Care Insurance – Having the appropriate amount of LTC insurance will help to reduce the stress of having to care for a parent when they are no longer able to fully care for themselves.  Consider having all the siblings share the cost.

  5. Draft a Living Will or similar Representation Agreement – Making your wishes known to your loved ones in the event you are no longer capable of making medical decisions will go a long way to providing comfort to all concerned when difficult choices need to be made.

As you can see, being part of the Sandwich Generation can be very stressful – emotionally and financially. Having someone to talk to or being part of a support group dealing with this issue, will certainly help manage the emotional challenges. Sitting down with a financial advisor or estate planner will help you determine what strategies you may need to implement to provide the financial security your family needs.