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COVID-19: A roundup of economic relief measures for Albertans

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Alberta government has announced a number of emergency  measures to support Albertans affected by the pandemic. Below is a roundup. We will continue to update this as things change or new measures are added.

You can find our roundup of the federal COVID-19 support measures here.

Updated: June 4, 2020

New virtual care codes for physicians

 

What are they?

  • New virtual care codes have been created so that physicians (family physicians and specialists) can provide more telemedicine, such as teleconferencing and video conferencing. The codes include visit services, consultation services, and mental health services.
  • These compensate doctors with rates that are closer to those for face-to-face interactions with patients.

When are they in effect?

  • The new codes are retroactive to March 17 and will be in effect until further notice.

Job-protected leave

 

What is it?

  • Full-time and part-time employees can take 14 days of job-protected leave thanks to changes to the Employment Standards Code.

Who’s eligible?

  • Employees who must self-isolate or take care of a child or dependent adult who must self-isolate (doesn’t apply to self-employed or contractors).
  • No medical note is required, and there is no minimum 90 days of employment as with other types of leave.

Rural and Remote Northern Program (RRNP) cap abolished

 

What is it?

  • The $60,000 cap on the Rural and Remote Northern Program (RRNP) will be abolished.
  • Program enhancements for rural physicians include:
    • Ability to earn more through RRNP
    • Increasing on-call rates
    • Exemption from the new overhead policy
    • Freezing the Medical Liability Reimbursement Program deductible
    • Incentives toward medical student recruitment and retention
    • Engaging physicians on how to improve health care in rural communities

Who’s eligible?

  • Physicians who live and practice in underserved communities in Alberta.

When is it effective?

  • Immediately.

Corporate income tax — payment date extended 

 

What is it?

  • The payment date for the current tax year has been extended to September 1, 2020. In other words, any income tax balances and instalment payments that become owing from March 19 through August 31, 2020 will be due September 1.
  • There is no change to deadlines for filing corporate income tax returns.

When is it in effect?

  • For the current tax year.

Pause on Alberta student loan repayments

What is it?

  • A six-month interest-free moratorium on Alberta student loan payments.

When is it in effect?

  • March 30 to September 30, 2020.

Who’s eligible?

  • All Albertans in the process of repaying these loans.

How to apply

  • The pause is automatic. Borrowers may continue making payments during this period if they choose.

Utility payment deferral

What is it?

  • An option to defer payment of your electricity and natural gas bills for 90 days, regardless of your provider. You will still owe the money, but your service will not be cut off during the deferral period.

Who’s eligible?

  • Residential, farm and small commercial customers who are experiencing financial hardship as a direct result of COVID-19.

When is it in effect?

  • March 18 to June 18, 2020.

How to apply

  • Contact your provider.

ATB Financial relief

 

What is it?

  • An option to defer payments on ATB Financial loans, lines of credit, mortgages and Mastercards for up to 6 months; and access to additional working capital.
  • Note: During the deferral period, interest will continue to accrue at the applicable interest rate.

Who’s eligible?

  • ATB Financial personal banking customers and small business customers.

When does it take effect?

  • Immediately

How to apply

  • Contact ATB Financial.

Credit union relief

What is it?

  • A range of measures to facilitate loan payments and short-term cash flow.

Who’s eligible?

  • Credit union members.

How to apply

  • Contact your credit union to work out a plan.

Mortgage payment relief

 

What is it?

  • The big 6 banks are committed to deferring the mortgage payments of impacted Canadians on a case-by-case basis.
  • If you have a mortgage with Scotiabank, you can request a mortgage deferral for up to 6 months. (See Scotiabank’s latest updates.)
  • Note: During the deferral period, interest will continue to accrue, so your payments will be slightly higher after the deferral period ends. You will pay more interest over the life of your mortgage, but a deferral will help with your short-term cash flow.

Who’s eligible?

  • Customers who are experiencing financial hardship.

How to apply

  • Contact your mortgage lender.

WCB premiums relief

What is it?

  • Private sector employers can defer paying their 2020 Workers’ Compensation Board premiums until next year. For small and medium-size employers, the government will cover 50% of the 2020 premiums when they come due.

When is it in effect?

  • Immediately, until early 2021.

Education property tax freeze

What is it?

  • For 2020, the provincial education property tax paid by households and businesses will remain at 2019 levels.

When is it effective?

  • Immediately (it cancels the rate increase in the provincial budget).

Education property tax deferral for businesses

What is it?

The due date for the education property tax paid by businesses will be deferred for 6 months.

When does it take effect?

  • Immediately.

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If you have any questions about these measures, please contact your MD Advisor*. 

* MD Advisor refers to an MD Management Limited Financial Consultant or Investment Advisor (in Quebec), or an MD Private Investment Counsel Portfolio Manager.

Banking and credit products and services are offered by The Bank of Nova Scotia “Scotiabank.” Credit and lending products are subject to credit approval by Scotiabank.