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COVID-19 Relief Resource - Ontario Assistance

Fasken
Reading Time 16 minute read

As of July 31st, most of Ontario has moved into stage 3 of reopening. While the provincial declaration of emergency has ended, the new Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act will provide the province with the necessary flexibility to address the ongoing risks and effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. Some emergency orders that were previously in place under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, will continue under the new act. Additional information can be found here. The aim of this document is to provide an overview of resources available from Ontario's provincial government and non-government entities that operate within Ontario, for individuals who are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.

This list is only current as of August 14th, 2020.

COVID-19 Ontario Governmental Resources

Resources for Businesses

Interest and Penalty Relief 

Description

The Government of Ontario has announced a five-month relief period for businesses that are not able to remit certain provincial taxes on time. Tax filing and remittance deadlines are still the same but, beginning on April 1, 2020, penalties and interest will not apply to Ontario businesses that miss any filing or remittance deadlines. This relief period will continue for five months and the following provincial taxes are included:

  • Employer Health Tax
  • Tobacco Tax
  • Fuel Tax
  • Gas Tax
  • Beer, Wine & Spirits Tax
  • Mining Tax
  • Insurance Premium Tax
  • International Fuel Tax Agreement
  • Retail Sales Tax on Insurance Contracts and Benefit Plans
  • Race Tracks Tax

Note that the relief period does not include business accounts with outstanding taxes, interest or penalties owing from previous filing periods. Such existing debts will continue to accrue interest. For more information, contact the Ministry of Finance at 1-866-668-8297.

Education property tax deferrals

Description

In working to provide property tax relief, the Government of Ontario is deferring property tax payments owed by municipalities to school boards by 90 days. This has the effect of increasing the municipalities' flexibility to provide $1.8 billion in property tax deferrals to residents and businesses. For more information, contact the Ministry of Finance at 1-866-668-8297.

Resources for Individuals and Families

COVID-19 Emergency Assistance

Description and Eligibility

The Government of Ontario is providing immediate emergency assistance funds for those who do not have enough money for items such as food and housing. Those qualifying for assistance could be:

  • affected by COVID-19
  • under threat of eviction from their homes
  • in an abusive relationship
  • concerned for their safety

Note that individuals who are already receiving assistance from Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program are not eligible for this funding.

COVID-19 Support for Current Social Assistance Clients

Description and Eligibility

For those currently receiving social assistance, the provincial government has provided additional funding to Ontario Works administrators and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) to provide additional assistance. If you currently receive income support from Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program, you will continue to receive your regular monthly payments. Eligibility criteria can be found here

Temporary Changes to Residential Renting 

Description

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Landlords are encouraged to work with tenants to establish fair arrangements to keep tenants in their homes, including deferring rent or other payment arrangements. Landlord and Tenant Board counter services are closed, but the most common types of applications can still be filed online. For additional information: Renting: Changes During COVID-119 (Coronavirus)

Help for Electricity Bills

Description and Eligibility

The government recently announced that it will continue the suspension of time-of-use (TOU) electricity rates and, starting on June 1, 2020, customers will be billed based on a new fixed COVID-19 Recovery Rate of 12.8 cents per kilowatt hour. 

Additional Assistance for Low-Income Customers

Through the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP), low-income customers can get direct support to pay bills during the COVID-19 outbreak. If a customer is behind on their bill and may have your service disconnected, you could qualify for:

$500 for electricity bills ($600 for homes heated electrically)

$500 for natural gas bills

Those who qualify for the assistance are subject to eligibility criteria.

Toronto Hydro Assistance

Description and Eligibility

Toronto Hydro has programs in place to assist customers facing financial difficulties, and will assess need on a case-by-case basis to help customers with their bills.

Ontario Energy Board Assistance

Description

The Ontario Energy Board’s (OEB) initiative to extend the wintertime ban on electricity disconnections for non-payment for all residential customers expired on July 31, 2020. No further updates have been provided. 

Doubled GAINS Payments for Seniors

Description and Eligibility

For seniors currently receiving monthly Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payments, the Ontario government will double this amount, to up to $166 per month for individuals and up to $332 per month for couples. GAINS recipients will receive this support automatically for six months, with the first payment made on April 24, 2020.

OSAP Payment Deferrals

Description

From March 30, 2020 to September 30, 2020, individuals with OSAP loans will not need to make any payments, and interest will not be added to any student loans.

Extensions on Validating Driver's Licenses and Related Products and Services

Description

The Ontario government is extending the validity of government driver, vehicle and carrier products and services that expired on or after March 1, 2020. These will continue to remain valid and legal past the expiry until further notice.

Any driver who has missed their scheduled road test from March 16, 2020 and onwards will not be charged fees for missing the test. They will have a credit automatically placed on their file that they can use when rescheduling in the future. If they have a driving test scheduled, it can be rescheduled or canceled.

Drive Test centres in Ontario are now open for some driver license services, including G1 and M1 knowledge tests and commercial vehicle tests. Visit https://drivetest.ca/ to learn more.

Extensions on Renewing Health Cards

Description

Health cards do not need to be renewed until further notice. Recently expired health cards will be accepted.

Ontario Autism Program Registration

Description

The Ontario government has extended the deadline to submit an Ontario Autism Program registration form and supporting documents to be eligible for interim one-time funding. Once a new deadline has been set, it will be announced on the Autism in Ontario page.

Qualifications for the interim one-time funding are on this webpage.

The government has also extended the amount of time you have to spend your childhood budget funding and submit your expense form by up to six months, if necessary. You now have up to 18 months to spend your childhood budget and submit your expense form.

Mental Health and Addictions Supports

Description

The government of Ontario is offering a variety of supports for those experiencing mental health or addiction challenges, including:

ConnexOntario: Adults and frontline workers who are dealing with the realities of COVID-19 can call ConnexOntario at 1-866-531-2600 for mental health, addictions and problem gambling support.

211 Ontario: For information and referrals for community, government, social and health services, including mental health resources across Ontario, call 211 or 1-877-330-3213. Live web chat is also available.

BounceBack: A free, guided self-help program that’s effective in helping people aged 15 and up who are experiencing mid-to-moderate anxiety or depression, or may be feeling low, stressed, worried, irritable or angry. Participants receive telephone coaching, skill-building workbooks and online videos to help overcome these symptoms and gain new skills to regain positive mental health. Call 1-866-345-0224.

Kids Help Phone: Children and youth 18 and younger who need to talk to someone about their mental health can call 1-800-668-6868, for 24/7 phone and text support.

Good2Talk: A phone and texting service that offers confidential support to post-secondary students. Call 1-866-925-5454.

Hope for Wellness Helpline: Indigenous peoples can call 1-855-242-3310 for immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention across Canada (available in some Indigenous languages). Live web chat is also available.

Talk 4 Healing: Indigenous women can get help, support and resources seven days a week, 24 hours a day, with services in 14 languages by calling or texting 1-855-554-4325. Live web chat is also available.

Ontario-Funded Shelters, Food Banks, Charities and Not-Profits

Description

Ontario-funded emergency shelters for women and children fleeing violence are available to offer support during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Ontario government is also giving funding directly to Consolidated Municipal Service Managers, District Social Services Administration Boards and Indigenous Program Administrators to support local needs. Those seeking more information should contact their local municipality.

For a list of available food banks and other food resources compiled by the Toronto Neighbourhood office, see this link.

Relief on Property Tax and other relief from Municipalities

Property owners were given a 60-day grace period on paying their property tax from March 16, 2020 to May 15, 2020. Late payment penalties were not charged during this time. Property tax payment due dates have changed and are reflective of the COVID-19 response for 2020. The 2020 Property Tax Due Dates can be found here.

On April 6, 2020, the Government of Ontario announced it will also be deferring property taxes for people and businesses in parts of Northern Ontario located outside of municipal boundaries.

Legal Updates and FAQS

Description

Community Legal Education Ontario is available to answer questions about the law in relation to COVID-19, as well as providing updates about other government programs and court services.

Child Care-Related Support and Services

Description and Eligibility for Childcare from the City of Toronto

Following the direction from the Province, emergency child care for essential and critical workers closed on June 26 to allow for the phased reopening of Toronto Early Learning & Child Care Services centres. Starting June 29, the City began a phased approach to reopening City-operated child care centres with lower capacity and other restrictions.

Description and Eligibility for Education Support from the Province of Ontario

The government of Ontario is providing funding to support children's learning while they are in isolation.

While schools and child care centres are closed, parents can apply for direct funding to offset the cost of buying materials to support their children's learning, while they practice self-isolation and physical distancing. There is no income cap on this program.

Eligible parents will receive a one-time per child payment of:

 $200 for children aged 0 to 12.

$250 for children or youth aged 0 to 21 with special needs.

On June 29th, 11 City-operated child care centres opened and 10 more will open by August 4th. Remaining City-operated child care centres will open in phases under current restrictions laid out by the Ministry of Education.

COVID-19 Ontario Non-Government Relief

Food Banks and Other Food-Related Resources

Description and Eligibility

Various organizations are assisting Ontarians maintain food security in the wake of COVID-19. These initiatives include food banks, takeout meal delivery services for the elderly and disabled, and an emergency food fund. Details will vary with each resource, so please review the links below to determine eligibility and availability.

Locations

Various locations across the province:  

Feed Ontario Foodbanks – network of foodbanks.

Food4Kids – provides delivery of meals to children and families.

Bracebridge: 

Manna Food Bank – as of May 25th 2020, Manna Food Bank asks that you call before 10am on the day you plan to come in.

Brampton: 

Regeneration Outreach Community – provides take-out hot meals during the COVID-19 shutdown and an emergency food bank.

Burlington  

Burlington Food Bank - provides food directly to those in need.

Caledon, Orangeville, and surrounding communities: 

Caledon Meals on Wheels – provides meals for seniors and people with disabilities.

Carlisle: 

Flamborough Food Bank - not-for-profit, community based organization that supplements individual and family household food and personal care needs.

Cornwall: 

Center Agapè Centre – foodbank appointments are available monthly.

Durham Region 

Feed the Need in Durham – list of active food banks/agencies during COVID-19.

Guelph: 

 Guelph Food Bank

 Lake Side Hope House – provides food services, including delivery.

Haliburton: 

 Central Food Network & Heat Bank Haliburton County – emergency food assistance and grocery services.

 Sirch Community Services – free frozen meals.

Hamilton: 

 Hamilton Food Share – provides list of food banks in the Hamilton area.

Kingston: 

 Lionhearts Inc. – list of various meals-to-go.

Kwartha: 

 Kwartha Lakes Food Source (Lindsay and surrounding regions) – provides list of local food banks.

London:  

 Sanctuary Ministries of London – bagged meals available.

Mississauga: 

 Eden Food For Change –  food bank serving postal codes that start with L5L, L5M or L5N.        

Mississauga Food Bank - provides food for over 242,000 meals each month through a network of 44 agencies.     

 Seva Food Bank (Mississauga) -ensures equitable access to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food to people experiencing or at risk of poverty.

Niagara: 

Ozanam Centre of St. Catharines – take-out food services available.

Project Share – emergency food fund for families living below the poverty line.

Owen Sound: 

Owen Sound Hunger Relief Effort – lunch-to-go and dinner-to-go programs available.

Ottawa: 

Ottawa Food Bank- provides fresh and non-perishable food, as well as supplies such as diapers, toiletries and cleaning supplies.

Parry Sound: 

 Rotary Club of Parry Sound – provides grocery delivery services.

Peel: 

 Ste. Louise Outreach Centre of Peel – provides food to those in need.

Rideau-Rockcliffe: 

Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre – food bank, intake, and crisis prevention services available.

Scarborough: 

Agincourt Community Services Association – provides food bank and homeless shelters.

Stratford: 

Stratford House Of Blessing – food bank program available.

Toronto: 

Allen Gardens Food Bank – daily Bread Food Bank is providing a food bank on Thursdays and Fridays.

Beeton Cupboard Food Bank and Lunch Program – St. Michael's Church is providing a food bank on Wednesdays and takeaway prepared lunch meals on Sundays. 

Bethany Baptist Church Food Bank – providing food bank on Thursdays. Food bank delivery service for those in isolation.

Council Fire Food Bank – Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre providing bagged meals (3 times daily), available for pick up at Parliament Street entrance.

Covenant House Food Bank – Youth in the community will be able to access the centre by appointment on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 5 p.m. The drop-in centre will offer showers, food, one-on-one staff support, mail service, access to the food bank, clothing and hygiene supplies.

Eastview Food Bank – providing a food bank on Tuesdays at 86 Blake Street to all in catchment area.

Fort York Food Bank  – providing two-person pre-made hampers on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Glen Rhodes Food Bank – East End United Regional Ministry is providing a food bank on Wednesdays. 

Oasis Dufferin Community Centre Food Bank and Meals – providing a food bank on Wednesdays and take away meal on Tuesdays at 1219 Dufferin Street.

 Our Place Community of Hope Centre Meals – providing take-out meals Tuesdays to Fridays.

Parkdale Community Food Bank – providing a food bank (hampers for take-out distributed at street level) and home delivery for seniors or those in isolation.

Salvation Army (River Street) Food Bank – River Street is providing food bank on Mondays and Wednesdays by appointment.

Scott Mission Take Away Meals – Scott Mission at 502 Spadina Avenue providing pre-packaged, take away meals to clients at laneway door on the south end of building. Food Bank open for emergency groceries only.

Sprint Senior Care COVID-19 Community Response – delivering food and household essential.

Toronto Alliance Food Bank and Meals – Toronto Alliance Church is providing take-out night meals on Saturdays and food bank services from Tuesdays to Fridays.

Women's Food Bank (pdf) – prepared hampers available for pickup.

Waterloo: 

Nutrition for Learning –  "Pop-up snacks" initiative for students.

Shelters/Housing

Description and Eligibility

Various organizations are providing temporary shelter and housing to Ontarians during the COVID-19 pandemic. These initiatives include providing shelter to the homeless and at-risk youth, and childcare services to families that are in need. Details will vary with each resource, so please review the links below to determine eligibility and availability.

Locations

Belleville: 

Grace Inn Shelter – adult shelter.

Cambridge: 

Cambridge Shelter Corporation – 78-bed year-round emergency shelter for men and women 16 years of age and over.

Coburg:  

Transition House – emergency shelter for adults.

Hamilton:

YMCA  – shelter and childcare services for women.

London: 

St. Leonard's Society of London – ongoing Project Home initiative for housing youth.

Unity Project for Relief of Homelessness in London ongoing shelter in hotel, similar to supportive housing.    

Niagara: 

Start Me Up Niagara – temporary shelter and food.

Scarborough: 

Agincourt Community Services Association – provides food bank and homeless shelters.    

Toronto: 

Covenant House Youth Shelter – provides a 96-bed crisis shelter to youth, open 24/7.

Good Shepherd Ministries – shelter and meal program for homeless and at risk men.  

Homes First – shelters for Torontonians (different locations across Toronto).

Horizons for Youth – shelter for at risk and homeless youth in Toronto.

Red Door Shelter – shelter for families.

Scott Mission Men's Shelter – men's shelter.

Thunder Bay: 

Urban Abbey – provides isolation sheltering.

Windsor: 

Windsor Residence for Young Men – restrictions on in-person community events but continues to provide shelter for young men.

York Region: 

360° kids – shelter for youth.

Mental Health Initiatives

Description and Eligibility

Various organizations are providing mental health services to Ontarians during the COVID-19 pandemic. These initiatives include treatment service information for people experiencing problems with mental health. Details will vary with each resource, so please review the links below to determine eligibility and availability.

Locations

Various Locations: 

Good2Talk – provides confidential support services for post-secondary students in Ontario.

Here 24/7 – connects users to intake, assessment, and referrals for most local government funded addictions and mental health services.

Connex Ontario – provides treatment service information for people experiencing problems with mental health, gambling, drugs, and/or alcohol.

Kids Help Phone –  24/7, national support service.

Student Open Circles –  provides online individual and group sessions for post-secondary students struggling with isolation during the COVID-19, among other resources.

Kitchener-Waterloo Region: 

Carizon Family and Community Services –  mental health services online and on the phone.

Ottawa: 

Crossroads Children's Mental Health Centre – services for children under 12 years of age via teleconference or phone.    

Toronto: 

Covenant House – providing mental health and community support services to youth (as well as food and shelter services).    

Distress Centre of Greater Ontario – provides 24/7 telephone response to persons in need of mental health, crisis and suicide prevention support.

Gerstein Crisis Centre – provides 24/7 mental health and addiction telephone crisis line and virtual face to face support.

Gibson Centre – providing free counselling helpline during COVID-19.

Good2Talk – provides 24/7 mental health and addiction telephone counselling to post-secondary students during COVID-19.

Kids Help Phone – provides 24/7 phone, text and online counselling support.

Progress Place – provides telephone support services and a diversity of virtual support activities.

Toronto Mental Health and Addictions Access Point – provides telephone services from Monday to Friday.

 Toronto Seniors Helpline – provides counselling, short term crisis management and referral services over the phone for seniors over the age of 65.

Women's Health in Women's Hands Community Health Centre(pdf) – providing mental health and other health counselling.

Children/Young Families Support

Description and Eligibility

The organizations below provide support specifically for young families in Ontario, including childcare support services, meal support for young children, mental health, and financial support for children and/or young families. These organizations are listed by location. Details vary with each resource, so please review the links below to determine eligibility and availability.

Locations

Various Locations: 

Food4Kids – provides delivery of meals to children and families.

Hamilton: 

Essential Aid and Family Services of Ontario Inc. – infant food bank, crisis referral centre, and a monthly support program for low income families.

Sudbury: 

Pregnancy Care Centre and Infant Food Bank – provides baby formula, baby food, and diapers for families.

Toronto: 

Native Child and Family Services of Toronto – provides 24/7 child safety support to Indigenous children and families through video/phone counselling.

Skylark Children, Youth and Families – provides free phone counselling to children, youth and families on issues such as school, violence, grief, family conflict, divorce, alcohol, etc.

Yorktown Family Services – provides free mental health phone counselling for children, youth, caregivers and young adults.

Support for Women

Description and Eligibility

The organizations below provide support specifically for women, listed by location. These organizations may provide shelter, legal support, childcare, and other social services. Details vary with each resource, so please review the links below to determine eligibility and availability.

Locations

Brantford: 

Nova Vita Domestic Violence Prevention Services – emergency shelter and 24 hour crisis and support line, including online services.

Burlington: 

Shifra Homes Inc. – shelter and other services for pregnant and/or homeless women.

Halton: 

Sexual Assault & Violence Intervention Services Of Halton (SAVIS) – 24 hour crisis and support lines.    

Hamilton: 

YWCA Hamilton – Hamilton – shelter and childcare services for women.

Oshawa: 

Luke's Place – family law and other legal support resources.

Sudbury: 

Pregnancy Care Centre and Infant Food Bank – provides baby formula, baby food, and diapers for families.

Sudbury Women's Centre – peer support line available, though centre is physically closed.

Toronto: 

Fem'aide – 24/7 telephone hotline for women and children experiencing violence (English and French).

Barbra Schlifer Clinic – counselling, legal and other services for women experiencing gender based violence.

Rose of Sharon Services for Young Mothers – telephone-based counselling, deliveries of baby care packages and online support tools.