While many of us are happy to say goodbye to 2020, financial stress, unemployment and looming bills over the holidays may have followed us into the new year. 

For Canadians who still find themselves out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, financial expert Preet Banerjee says there are still some government benefits available, including the temporary enhanced Employment Insurance (EI) benefit. 

“That’s going to be one of the big supports available to Canadians,” he said.

“You’re gonna get a minimum of 500 bucks per week if you qualify and it could last between 26 to 45 weeks.”

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If you don’t qualify for EI, another option is the Canada Response Benefit, which provides $500 a week for up to 26 weeks. 

“What’s different from the CERB — because they look very similar — is that taxes are going to be withheld at source,” he said.

“So you don’t have the tax surprise that many people had with the CERB.” 

People who are taking care of someone are eligible for the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit and $500 a week for up to 26 weeks is available for the household.

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Lastly, Banerjee says the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, which offers $500 a week for up to two weeks, is available for those that are sick or have to isolate due to COVID-19.

“Although I will say that the government is actively looking at closing a loophole that if you travelled and you have to isolate, you don’t get an extended paid vacation because of that.”  

If you’ve exhausted all of your benefit options, Banerjee advises Canadians to look at the provincial assistance programs available — which varies from province to province — or social assistance you might qualify for. 

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When things are getting dire, Banerjee recommends taking more drastic measures. 

For some, this can mean getting a roommate, moving back home with family members, selling furniture, or talking to a licensed insolvency trustee who can help you with your options. 

“Creating a mini action plan is a fantastic strategy,” Banerjee said. He suggests using the website unbury.me, which is a free loan calculator that helps you pay off your debts. 

He said that sitting down and doing a subscription audit is helpful: “If you can find $83 per month in savings of automatic expenses, that works out to $1,000 per year.”

To learn more about having a debt-free 2021, watch the full video above. 





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