Be financially prepared during COVID-19

The global COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in shut downs – of businesses, schools, day cares – across the country, leaving many Canadians in financially precarious situations. If you or someone you know is experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19, we are here to help.

Aside from the financial preparedness tips below, Fairstone offers loan solutions for unexpected expenses, bill consolidation and other financial challenges. We are available in branches coast to coast, and ready to find a solution that suits your needs. If you are experiencing or preparing for financial setbacks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we suggest the following steps.

As part of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, the Government of Canada has announced a new set of economic measures to support Canadians facing financial hardship due to the pandemic. Support for individuals is divided into sub-categories, so you can quickly find the information that applies to you. As of April 6, 2020, this includes:

  • Individuals and families – including an increase to the Child Canada Benefit (CCB), tax credit payments, extra time to file tax returns and mortgage support
  • People facing unemployment – Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), a newly-established taxable benefit for eligible workers who lost their income due to COVID-19, and Employment Insurance (EI)
  • Support for people who are sick, quarantined or in directed self-isolation – Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), and improved access to Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits
  • People who are unable to work – Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
  • Indigenous peoples – the above supports, as well as Indigenous Community Support Fund, preparedness in First Nations and Inuit communities, support for families choosing to stay on the land
  • Support for seniors – Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), reduced minimum withdrawals for Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs), and supported delivery of items and personal outreach
  • Students and graduates – suspended repayment and interest on Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans Additionally, the Government is improving access to essential food support for people who need it most, enhancing the Reaching Home initiative, supporting women’s shelters and sexual assault centres and providing greater support for youth mental health.

Read about all supports for individuals, as well as those for businesses, on the Government of Canada’s website here.

Your lender may be offering solutions to help their clients manage mortgage or loan payments during pay disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although it may be intimidating to ask for help, it’s better to be proactive and let your lender know about your situation. If you are having trouble making your payments, having an early discussion may help you avoid additional interest charges or NSF fees.

Learn more about what to do if you anticipate a late or missed loan payment with Fairstone.

You may have opted for creditor disability or job loss insurance when you took out your loan, mortgage or credit card, which can cover your payments during times of illness or disability. If you’re off work sick with COVID-19, or unexpectedly lost your job as a result of the pandemic, check with your lender to see if this is a covered situation. Having your loan or credit card payments paid on your behalf could have a big impact on your financial wellbeing.

Read more about Fairstone’s creditor insurance options here.

Your workplace will have an employee policy on sick leave. It’s a good idea to be familiar with this policy, so you understand what happens if you have to self-quarantine for 14 days (particularly if this goes above your sick day allocation). You’ll want to know at what point short-term disability begins, what (if any) paperwork is needed, and whether you’ll have to use up all of your sick or vacation days before going on short-term disability. Having the same familiarity with your spouse’s workplace policy will help if your spouse becomes too ill to manage the process on their own.

If you’ve been stashing away extra money into an emergency-only fund, you’re ahead of the game. Take a moment to review your emergency fund to see how much money you have saved, and how long it would carry you if you are going to be off work. Tip: We recommend having at least three months of expenses saved up to feel comfortable. If you’re not exactly sure how much money that is, start here.

At this point, we’re not sure when children will begin going back to school or daycare. Until then, you’ll want to have a plan for managing stay-at-home time. Will one spouse continue working, and the other stay home? Do you qualify for any of the new EI benefits that the government is offering? Even if you don’t have answers to all of your questions at this time, thinking about your options and creating something of a plan can help reduce anxiety about all the unknowns.

While these types of considerations may once have seemed like a far-distant scenario, we are now living the unexpected. Going through these steps and making as much of a financial plan as you can for the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic can help you start to feel more prepared financially. As things change, you can adjust your preparedness plan and stay one step ahead.

If you’ve been financially impacted by COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease), we’re here to help. Please call your local branch to discuss your options with a Lending Specialist or click here for more information.