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

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

Please see the federal COVID-19 support program measures here.

Updated: June 11, 2020

Advance Payment Plan for physicians

What is it?

  • Provides monthly, interest-free, automated advance payments to eligible physicians that will be set off against future OHIP payments to individual physicians.
  • Payments assessed over the previous 12 months (April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020) were examined, and a monthly average was determined. The program will automatically top up physicians' payments to 70% of this average. See full details.

Who’s eligible?

  • Physicians with cash flow issues that may arise during the COVID-19 outbreak. This will ensure physicians have funding available to sustain their practices during the pandemic and enable them to return to regular practice as soon as the outbreak begins to subside.

When is it effective?

  • Physicians who are eligible for advance payments will automatically receive these payments in May, June and July 2020. For providers that do not wish to accept payment, funds can be returned to the ministry via cheque.

Temporary billing codes for telemedicine and virtual care

 

 

 What is it?

  • The Ontario Ministry of Health and the Ontario Medical Association have agreed to temporary codes to facilitate telemedicine and virtual care. While these fee codes are not limited to COVID-19 screening or COVID-19 patients, they have been put into place in an effort to reduce the risk of disease spread by keeping people at home and out of doctors’ offices.
  • System changes were implemented on May 1, allowing the new virtual COVID-19 fee codes to be processed.

 When is it in effect?

  • March 14, 2020.

Renumeration for physician services provided in hospital for uninsured patients

 

 

 What is it?

When is it effective?

  • March 21, 2020.

How to apply

  • The ministry has provided a tracking spreadsheet to all hospitals with the information required for reimbursement of hospital services.
  • Physicians must report this information to the hospital where the service was provided.
  • Hospitals will be responsible for submitting reports to the ministry for reconciliation, and hospitals will distribute payment to physicians.

Renumeration for physician services provided in the community for uninsured patients

 

 

 What is it?

  • For physicians who perform services outside the hospital setting, the ministry has introduced temporary fee codes for the provision of medically necessary physician services provided to uninsured patients in the community.

When is it effective?

  • March 21, 2020.

How to apply

Child care relief

 What is it?

  • The government of Ontario will provide a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs.

Who’s eligible?

  • Families with children affected by school and daycare closures during the COVID-19 outbreak, including children enrolled in private schools.

How to apply?

Emergency child care options

 What is it?

  • Emergency child care options to support parents working on the front lines. See emergency locations.

 Who’s eligible?

  • Front-line workers such as healthcare workers, police officers, firefighters and correctional officers. 

Ontario Extending Infectious Disease Emergency Leave for Workers during COVID-19

What is it?

  • The Ontario government is taking steps to help ensure that as the economy gradually and safely reopens workers will have jobs to return to and businesses will be protected from incurring unsustainable termination costs.

Who is eligible?

  • On June 1st, the Ontario government announced that it has enacted a new regulatory amendment that will put non-unionized employees on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave during the COVID-19 outbreak any time their hours of work are temporarily reduced by their employer due to COVID-19. This will ensure businesses aren't forced to terminate employees after their ESA temporary layoff periods have expired.

When is it in effect?

  • The regulatory amendment applies retroactively to March 1, 2020 and will expire six weeks after the declared emergency ends. 

Emergency leave job protection

 What is it?

  • Employees can take job-protected leave without a doctor’s note if they are in isolation due to COVID-19. Employers are allowed to ask the employee to provide other evidence in lieu of a medical note (e.g. a note from a daycare centre, airplane cancellation, etc.).

 Who is eligible?

When is it in effect?

  • Retroactive to January 25, 2020.

WSIB premiums relief

 What is it?

  • Workplace Safety and Insurance Board payments and returns due between March 31 and August 31 are deferred until August 31. In the interim, the province will cover all employee claims.

 When is it in effect?

  • Immediately.

 How to apply

  • All businesses covered by the WSIB’s workplace insurance are automatically eligible for the financial package. No action is required from businesses to receive the financial relief.

Student loan relief

 What is it?

  • Similar to the federal provision, the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) will not require borrowers to make any loan payments, and interest will not accrue on student loans for six-months.

 When is it effective?

  • March 30 to September 2020.

Employer Health Tax relief

 What is it?

  • A proposed temporary increase to the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption.
  • For the employer, the minimum payroll amount of $490,000 will be increased to $1 million for 2020. That means businesses with payrolls less than $1 million will not have to pay any EHT. For eligible private-sector employers with payrolls up to $5 million, the first $1 million of total Ontario remuneration is exempt, increasing the exemption to $19,500 for 2020. 

 When is it in effect?

  • April to August 2020.

Education and property tax relief

 What is it?

  • The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) 2020 assessment update has been postponed. Property assessments for the 2021 property tax year will continue to be based on the fully phased-in January 1, 2016 current values. This means your property assessment for the 2021 property tax year will be the same as the 2020 tax year, unless there have been changes to your property.

Utility payment relief

 What is it?

  • Suspension of time-of-use electricity rates for a 45-day period, holding electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 10.1 cents-per-kilowatt-hour.

Who’s eligible?

  • Families, small businesses and farms paying time-of-use (TOU) rates.

When is it in effect?

  • The discount is applied automatically to electricity bills and is effective immediately.

Toronto Hydro relief

 What is it?

  • Toronto Hydro has extended its current suspension of electricity disconnections.

 Who’s eligible?

  • Residential and low-volume small business customers.

 When is it effective?

  • Until July 31, 2020.

 How to apply

  • Contact their Customer Care team directly at 416-542-8000 for help with billing concerns and payment options.

Toronto property tax and utility relief

 What is it?

  • A 60-day grace period on Toronto property tax, water, and solid waste payments.
  • Late payment penalties will be waived for 60 days.
  • For property owners on the 11-instalment pre-authorized payment plan, interim 2020 instalment due dates will be extended by 60 days.

 Who’s eligible?

  • Toronto business and residential property owners.

 When is it effective?

  • March 16, 2020.

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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.