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What To Do If You’ve Been Laid Off During the COVID-19 Crisis

April 14, 2020

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Preparing for a COVID-19 related layoff is sadly just another part of our “new normal” in these unprecedented times. As businesses, hotels and restaurants close their doors, many Canadians – more than 1.3 million to be a little more exact – have been temporarily or permanently sidelined.

According to an Angus Reid survey released last month, 44% of Canadian households say they have lost work due to the COVID-19 pandemic and another 18% are anticipating work loss.

Yes, these numbers are unsettling and scary, but let’s all collectively take a deep breath and focus on the fact that you are not alone in this. Here are some important steps you can take to prepare a game plan to ensure you and your family get through this COVID-19 crisis.

1. Take Advantage of Government Assistance

These are incredibly difficult times and seeking government assistance is nothing to be embarrassed of – its entire purpose is to help Canadians through challenging circumstances, so take advantage of these programs and initiatives, where possible. If your company has laid you off as a result of COVID-19, or any other reason that was no fault of your own, you are entitled to Employment Insurance. Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits provide up to 15 weeks of income replacement and is available to eligible claimants who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine, to allow them time to restore their health and return to work. If you are eligible, you can apply for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits here.

As well, to further support those individuals who are self-isolating or are in quarantine, EI is waiving the one-week waiting period for accessing benefits. The Government of Canada has set up a new dedicated toll-free phone number at 1-833-381-2725, which you can call if you are in quarantine and would like the one-week waiting period to be waived.

The Government of Canada has also stepped up and established the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) which will be providing a taxable benefit of $500 a week for up to 16 weeks to those whose income has been impacted by COVID-19. To find out if you qualify for the CERB, click here.

And lastly, take some time to check out our COVID-19 Economic Response Plan Resource Center. It has all the information you need in one place, including details on child benefits, tax credits, rent and mortgage support, BC Hydro and CRA support, and more.

2. Start Making Cuts to Your Spending

After you’ve applied for government assistance, it’s time to begin saving wherever you can. This one is tough, but simple. Make the decision to cut one of your online streaming subscriptions, no more ordering delivery, skip the Starbucks drive-thru and avoid online shopping – you do not need those new shoes in the middle of a quarantine! It’s not fun, but it’s necessary.

3. Hide Away Your Credit Cards

We completely understand that in these uncertain times, it can be tough to part with the cash you have on hand. It’s tempting, and sometimes unavoidable, to use your credit cards to help you get by. But we urge you to hold off as long as possible. The interest you pay on credit cards quickly adds up, costing you more in the long run.

If you have an emergency fund, we can’t think of a better time to use it! Or maybe you were stashing some money away in a savings account for a new car, or a family vacation – put the credit cards away and dip into these funds. There will be time to rebuild these savings when we get through to the other side of this.

You can also contact your creditors to see if they can offer you any COVID-19 debt relief in the form of deferred payments. They’re not going to reach out to you to offer you this break, so pick up the phone or go online and see if they are willing to help.  

4. Create a Monthly Household Budget

We’re facing a lot of uncertainty right now, but one thing we do have control over is how we spend our money during this time. The key to feeling secure in your finances is knowing how much money you have and where that money is going every month. Creating a budget now will be very helpful in determining the areas where you can cut back.

Food, housing and utilities are a must. Your Internet plan is also crucial right now so that you can remain connected to your family and friends, keep up to date with the assistance offered to you by the government, and continue to job search.

We’ve already mentioned some places where you need to cut back – take-out, coffee and online shopping – but you may need to eliminate some more difficult expenses like extracurricular activities for your children, cable, gym memberships, salon expenses or future travel plans. Keep in mind these cuts are only temporary until we all get back up on our feet again.

For help getting started with your budget, click here.

5. Look For a Temporary Job

While it’s true that many companies and industries have been shut down due to COVID-19, there are still many opportunities for employment in industries such as supermarkets and pharmacies, healthcare, manufacturing, delivery services and other essential services. If you are able to make one of these options work for you, it is definitely worth looking into.

There’s no getting around it, we’re in for some difficult times. We can’t stress enough the importance of being proactive with applying for government assistance, scaling back on your finances and sticking to a budget.

We understand that even with this additional financial support, it may not be enough. The Government of Canada has declared Licensed Insolvency Trustees an essential service in BC, and as we head into another week of uncertainty, we want you to know that we’re here if you’d like to discuss further debt-relief options. If you’re in need of some help, you can give us a call at 1-888-751-2668, or visit our website to book a free initial consultation.

These are challenging times for everyone, and you’re not alone. Our team is committed and focused on helping you through these difficult times. Please reach out to us if you have any questions or require any help.

 



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