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COVID-19 Updates

UPDATED March 26, 2020

CMHC Update
March 26

In an effort to support those impacted from COVID-19, effectively immediately, CMHC will consider providing up to six (6) months of loan payment deferral (principal and interest) for borrowers that have a CMHC financed loan in good standing.  For housing providers, CMHC expects that borrowers exercising this option will extend support to renters and households so that their housing needs continue to be met.  For more information on this measure, contact CHRA.

CMHC and Reaching Home Updates in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
March 24

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, CHRA has worked closely with federal officials to communicate issues and concerns of our members. CMHC CEO Evan Siddall and senior CMHC officials had a call with CHRA and the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada on March 20 to discuss several of those measures. Information provided by CMHC includes the following:

- Launch of the Federal Community Housing Initiative, Phase 2 will be postponed until September 1, 2020 in response to the pandemic. Organizations currently receiving Phase 1 funding will continue to do so until September 1. This additional time will give housing providers a better opportunity to review and return the Phase 2 agreements.

- The federal government has increased funding under the Reaching Home program by $157.5 million to help homeless people during the pandemic. Reaching Home communities and organizations have been sent information on this and a guidance document will be shared with them shortly. Funding under this new allocation can be used to secure additional accommodation and reduce overcrowding in shelters; purchase supplies and materials to reduce the risk of transmission, such as personal protective equipment for staff; increase the frequency of cleaning with disinfectants in high traffic areas; secure sufficient accommodation to quarantine individuals infected; purchase beds and physical barriers to place between beds in newly purposed facilities; and staff hours to operate these new facilities.

- CMHC communicated a directive stating that they “expect any housing provider who has received financing or support from CMHC, directly or via provinces and territories, to act compassionately and refrain from eviction”. We are in discussion with CMHC as to whether there would be any support to housing providers for tenants who cannot pay rent.

- CMHC has been clear that they will be flexible with housing providers who are receiving financing or support from CMHC. In this respect, they have stated: “We have a series of tools and relief measures for housing providers including deferral of loan payment, capitalization, special payment arrangements, advancing flexibilities, and any combination of tools.” To take advantage of this flexibility, contact your regional CMHC specialist.

Government of Canada Offers Income Support Measures in Response to COVID-19
March 24

Last week, the federal government made a number of income support announcements for individuals and organizations in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. These measures include:

  • Waiving the one-week waiting period for those individuals in imposed quarantine that claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits, effective March 15.
  • The federal government has introduced a new temporary program, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).  This program will provide up to $2,000 per month for 4 months for individuals who have lost their job due to the pandemic, at home sick, or who are quarantined.  Those already receiving EI benefits will remain on EI benefits.  Those who have applied for EI relief do not need to reapply.  Otherwise, application procedures for the new CERB will be available in early April. One-time increases to the Child Tax Benefit.
  • A one-time increase to the GST tax credit.
  • A wage subsidy for small businesses and non-profit organizations equal to 10% of your wage bill over 3 months (subject to certain thresholds). More information on how to apply for this program has now been released by the Canada Revenue Agency.

Many of these measures will not come into force until Parliament approves them, which will likely occur this week. Once additional information becomes available on application procedures, CHRA will pass it along.

Latest Resources for Housing Providers on Dealing with COVID-19
March 24

We know housing providers are asking several questions about what they should be doing in this current pandemic. A number of national and provincial counterparts have developed tools and information to assist housing providers in all parts of the country to address and respond to the current pandemic situation. Please refer to any of these valuable resources for guidance and measures that can be taken during this difficult time.