What is COVID-19?
As many of you have heard by now, the world is being gripped by COVID-19 (otherwise known as “Coronavirus”). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Some of the more commonly reported symptoms include:
- New or worsening cough
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Temperature equal to or over 38°C
- Feeling feverish
- Fatigue or weakness
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of smell or taste
- Gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting)
- Feeling very unwell
Children have been more commonly reported to have abdominal symptoms, and skin changes or rashes.
Recent evidence indicates that the virus can be transmitted to others from someone who is infected but not showing symptoms. This includes people who have not yet developed symptoms (pre-symptomatic) and those who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic).
Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, reduce your contact with others by isolating yourself at home for 14 days to avoid spreading it to others. If you live with others, stay in a separate room or keep a 2-metre distance.
It is also recommended to visit a health care professional or call your local public health authority Call ahead to tell them your symptoms and follow their instructions.
Children who have mild COVID-19 symptoms are able to stay at home with a caregiver throughout their recovery without needing hospitalization.
Update 1: Financial effects
Since being labelled a pandemic per the WHO, the effects of COVID-19 have begun to ripple through the world’s economy – including Canada – and causing a number of different resolutions. To help keep you up to date on what is going on financially, we have compiled a list of recent announcements by the Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Canada, and OSFI:
- Government of Canada Announces Details of the New Canada Recovery Hiring Program and Extension of Business Support Programs
- Amendments to the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages
- Legislation for Critical Pandemic Support Receives Royal Assent
- Canada to press for continued coordinated COVID-19 support at the G7, G20 and Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank
- Government Announces Additional Pandemic Support For Vaccines, Health Care, and Municipalities
- Government announces extension of Canada Emergency Business Account to help small businesses
- International Monetary Fund report validates Canada’s economic response to COVID-19
- Government Announces Wage and Rent Subsidy Amounts to Remain Unchanged Through to June
- Department of Finance Releases Draft Legislation to Increase Accessibility of Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy
- International Monetary Fund praises Canada’s COVID-19 economic response plan
- Government Publishes Draft Legislative Proposals to Adjust Certain Deductions for Employment Insurance and COVID-19 Benefits
- Government Announces the 2021 Automobile Deduction Limits and Expense Benefit Rates for Businesses and Temporary Adjustments to the Automobile Standby Charge due to COVID-19
- Government introduces legislation to provide critical support to Canadians and businesses during the pandemic
- Government of Canada Releases Supporting Canadians and Fighting COVID-19: Fall Economic Statement 2020
- New, targeted support to help businesses through pandemic receives Royal Assent
- Minister Fortier discusses support for Canadians through COVID-19 and efforts to focus on Canadians’ quality of life
- Government introduces legislation for new, targeted support to help businesses through pandemic
- Government announces new, targeted support to help businesses through pandemic
- Supporting Canadian Workers and Businesses with a redesigned Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
- Historic COVID-19 Plan Provides Canadians With the Support They Need to Get Through the Economic Crisis
- Minister Fortier highlights Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan at OECD roundtable
- Government extends the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
- COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, No. 2 receives Royal Assent to help businesses keep Canadians in their jobs
- Government Introduces COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, No. 2 to Help Businesses Keep Canadians in their Jobs
- Government provides further flexibility for employers to access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
- Government Announces Details of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to Help Businesses Keep Canadians in their jobs
- Government announces support for air transportation sector during COVID-19 pandemic
- The COVID-19 Emergency Response Act Receives Royal Assent
Update 2: Homeowner need to know
This can be a difficult time for a homeowner as many families are self-isolating or are in quarantine due to the virus. This can result in loss of monthly income and financial instability, which can cause stress and concern about your home and mortgage. Mortgage Centre Canada understands this and we are making it our number one priority to be here for you.
We have compiled the following information from our partners to keep you informed as to some of the recent developments surrounding mortgages, as well as what lenders are doing to help mitigate financial strain during this difficult time.
Here are a few important considerations for homeowners and potential homeowners to keep in mind during this time:
- Mortgage application turnaround time may be upwards of 15 days in some cases given the current climate and growing developments.
- If you require an appraisal, there can be issues that could delay or prevent access of the appraiser into the home. Lenders are being proactive and exploring policy options to help circumvent this as best they can.
- Don’t forget this situation is new to our mortgage brokers and lenders as well as the rest of us, so they are being cautious yet innovating to overcome any issues.
- Rush transactions will be met with challenges.
THE STRESS TEST
As of June 1, 2021, both insured and uninsured mortgage borrowers will be subject to a stricter stress test when qualifying for their mortgage.
The new qualifying rate on uninsured mortgages – where the down payment is 20% or more – is now the contracted rate plus two percentage points or 5.25%, whichever is higher.
Any buyer whose down payment on a home is one-fifth of the purchase price or more has to show they can afford mortgage payments if the interest rate was two percentage points higher than what the bank is offering them or the new five-year benchmark rate per the Bank of Canada.
Update 3: Renter need to know
If you are renting in Canada currently, you may be facing some uncertainties about your future amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Provincial governments are currently rolling out plans to help renters during this time:
British Columbia: The rent increase freeze has been extended to December 31, 2021. Annual rent increase notices with an effective date after March 30, 2020 and before January 1, 2022 are canceled. Do not pay the increased amount.Click here for the November 9, 2020 update.
Alberta: There have been no announcements federally about implementing additional protection measures (such as forgiving rent or suspending evictions) for residential tenants. In Alberta, the government introduced temporary protections for tenants (under the Residential Tenancies Act and Mobile Home Sites Tenancies Act). However, as of August 14, 2020, all of these protections have ended.Click here for more information.
Manitoba: The 2021 rent increase guideline is 1.6 percent, effective January 1, 2021. Tenants must be given proper written notice at least three months before a rent increase takes effect.Click here for more information.
Saskatchewan: Starting August 4, 2020, the Office of Residential Tenancies (ORT) will begin accepting eviction applications from landlords for non-payment of rent.Click here for more information.
Ontario: The pause on residential evictions enforcement has ended following the expiration of the provincial stay-at-home order on June 2, 2021.Click here for more information.
Quebec: As of June 11, 2020, the Quebec government is investing $71.5 million to help renters.Click here for more information.
Nova Scotia: Rents can’t increase by more than two per cent for existing tenants. This rent cap is retroactive to September 1, 2020. These changes are being made under the Emergency Management Act and will be in place until February 1, 2022, or until the state of emergency is lifted, whichever comes first.Click here for more information.
Prince Edward Island: Your landlord can only charge late fees if it is a condition in your rental agreement. If this is the case, your landlord can charge a late fee of no more than 1% of your monthly rent.Click here for more information.
Northwest Territories: The GNWT is introducing regulations under the Residential Tenancies Act that give tenants a reasonable timeframe to pay back rent they owe that accumulated between March 18, 2020, and January 31, 2021. Landlords and tenants have one year (from February 1, 2021, to February 1, 2022) to begin a repayment plan under these regulations. Repayment plans will deal with unpaid rent related to COVID-19 and can be started by either the landlord or the tenant.Click here for more information.
Update 4: What lenders are doing
We understand that the COVID-19 outbreak is taking a toll on families across the country with many parents being out of work or quarantined. As an industry built on homeowners, many of our major lenders have pulled together to provide you beneficial options during this time and help alleviate some of the financial stress.
Depending on your lender, there may be options available to you during this time such as:
- Deferral of payments
- Re-amortization of the loan
- Capitalization of outstanding interest & costs
- Special payment arrangements
The Big Banks
At the beginning of COVID-19, big banks including Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD), Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), Bank of Montreal (BMO), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) and National Bank of Canada (NBC) opted to provide coordinated relief for their customers.
These banks introduced mortgage payment deferrals of up to six (6) months and and also offered relief on other credit products for those families who are facing hardship during this situation.
UPDATE as of July 8, 2021
Here are some important statements from these lenders regarding COVID-19:
- Scotiabank: Payment deferral requests for mortgages are no longer available.
- Royal Bank of Canada (RBC): As Government Relief Programs change, and some Financial Relief Plans offered by RBC come to an end, rest assured that we will continue to work closely with you to provide the advice you need on an individualized basis.
- Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD): If you’re experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19, here are some possible options to help you move forward if you have a mortgage or TD Home Equity FlexLine.
- Bank of Montreal (BMO): Our financial relief program ended on September 30, and we’ve stopped accepting new applications.
- Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC): We will work with clients on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help manage these challenges, including up to a 6-month payment deferral for mortgages and the opportunity for relief on other credit products.
- National Bank of Canada (NBC): Even though our support measures have come to an end, we’re still available through many communication channels to help you find solutions.
- Desjardins: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we can help you meet your financial obligations. We review assistance requests on a case-by-case basis.
- Coast Capital: Members who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 may benefit from a lower-interest loan of up-to $20,000 and a structured payment plan.
- VanCity: If you’re facing financial hardship due to the pandemic, it can be overwhelming to wade through all of the information out there. Answer a few simple questions to see which emergency financing and government support options are most relevant to you
Mortgage Finance Company (MFC)
Last but not least are MFC’s, which are also doing their part to assist households with their financial struggles during this difficult time. Similar to credit unions, all financial assistance will be done on a case-by-case basis so it is best to contact your mortgage professional or lender directly.
Click the corresponding MFC below for updates regarding COVID-19:
- B2B Bank
- Equitable Bank
- First National Bank
- Haventree Bank
- Home Trust
- HomeEquity Bank
- Manulife Bank
- Paradigm Quest
- Peoples Group
- Simplii Financial
- Tangerine Bank
In addition to the big banks, mortgage insurers including CMHC, Sagen and Canada Guaranty also worked to help homeowners who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak at the beginning of the pandemic. Click the corresponding insurer below for the latest COVID-19 updates:
Lender Contact Information
During this time, it is best to discuss your mortgage with your mortgage broker or lender should you have any financial concerns surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak. Please be advised, there may be longer than normal wait times for calls during this situation and to expect at least 20-30 minutes for a representative. Be sure to have your mortgage number available to ensure smoother service and remember to be kind!
Here are some direct contact numbers for various lenders across the country:
|Bank of Montreal||1-877-895-3278|
|First Calgary Financial||403-736-4000|
|RFA||1-866-939-5005||Mortgage Numbers Starting with 4|
|RFA||1-877-776-6888||Mortgage Numbers Starting with 6|
|RFA||1-833-228-5697||Mortgage Numbers Starting with 7, 8, or 9|
|Street Capital||See RFA|
Update 5: Additional financial measures
In addition to helping homeowners manage their finances through deferred mortgage payments and adjustments, the Canadian Government has also come to the aid of families who may be struggling currently.
As of July 8, 2021, the following measures are being taken or have already been implemented:
- Employment Insurance (EI): As of September 27, 2020, the minimum benefit rate for EI regular claimants is $500 per week before taxes in most cases.
- Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB): This benefit provides $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) per week for up to 38 weeks for workers who:
- Are not employed or self-employed for reasons related to COVID-19 or have had their income reduced by at least 50% due to COVID-19
- Are not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI)
- Meet all the eligibility criteria for period they’re applying for
- Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB): This benefit provides $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) per week for up to a maximum of four weeks, for workers who:
- Are unable to work for at least 50% of the week because they contracted COVID-19
- Are self-isolated for reasons related to COVID-19
- Have underlying conditions, are undergoing treatments or have contracted other sicknesses that, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, person in authority, government or public health authority, would make them more susceptible to COVID-19.
- Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB): This benefit provides $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for up to 38 weeks per household for workers:
- Unable to work for at least 50% of the week because they must care for a child under the age of 12 or family member because schools, day-cares or care facilities are closed due to COVID-19
- Because the child or family member is sick and/or required to quarantine or is at high risk of serious health implications because of COVID-19.
- Canada Child Benefit Young Child Supplement (CCBYCS): Provides temporary additional support in 2021 of up to $1,200 to families with children under the age of six. You must be entitled to receive the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) in January, April, July or October 2021 to receive the CCBYCS. If you already receive the CCB, you will not need to apply for this benefit.
Click here to read more about Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response.
- May 28, 2021 (includes amounts for January and April)
- July 30, 2021
- October 29, 2021
Other support may be available to you in your province or territory:
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Northwest Territories
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
Update 6: What does this mean for closings?
If you are currently in the process of purchasing or selling a home, we have taken the liberty of gathering information surrounding real estate transactions during this COVID-19 situation.
Land Registry Offices Remaining Open – For Now
The Land Registration system in Ontario is currently operating as follows:
- Teraview continues to run for both search and registration;
- OnLand continues to run as per usual; and
- All land registry offices are scheduled to be open from Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Banks Are Remaining Open – For Now
All of Canada’s major banks have indicated an intention to remain open. Similar to other businesses, the banks may be working with reduced staff or locations and there may be delays in processing requests.
Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, Tarion has been taking various precautionary measures and adjusting our operations to ensure the health and safety of our employees as well as homeowners, builders and the greater community. We are making every effort to ensure this situation does not impact our customer service and support for both homeowners and builders.
At this time, the Tarion office is closed to outside visitors. For deliveries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-229-9200 ext 3305.
Due to the focus on self-isolation and preventing further spread of COVID-19, there may be issues with clients not being able to meet with lawyers/notaries – or vice versa. Remote meetings are still a great option during this time (both in real estate and for your mortgage professional) and can be held via phone or video conference with a plan to provide any sworn documents at a later date. If you do meet in-person, don’t shake hands, sit as far apart as possible and be sure to wash your hands after leaving any unfamiliar environments.
There have been recommendations that people limit in-person interactions, work from home if possible and not go out for ‘non-essential’ reasons. It is now very possible that municipalities may close their offices or work with reduced staff and that delays in receiving compliance information, permits and municipal agreements may be experienced.
What does this mean for your closings?
If either the LRO or the banks close, then real estate transactions will not be able to proceed and you would need to seek extensions wherever possible. The good news is that everyone is in the same situation! The bad news is that there is no right in most re-sale agreements to insist on an extension, however, most people are understanding and you will have to rely on their goodness as well as common law principles to extend the transaction.
Update 7: What can you do?
If you find yourself facing financial difficulties as a result of job loss or income reduction during this time, it can be overwhelming and may leave you feeling stressed and unsure of what the next steps are.
To make it easy, we have put together five simple steps you can do to help resolve your financial difficulties and ensure you can focus on more important things such as your family and your health.
- Cut Down on Costs
For anyone that is currently out of work due to COVID-19 or has found themselves at reduced hours, it is a good idea to look at your finances for ways to cut down on non-essential costs. Some ideas for reducing your monthly expenses include taking a look at streaming services, your phone data plan and gym memberships which can add up.
- Talk to Your Mortgage Professional
Your Mortgage Centre Canada mortgage brokers are working hard to stay on top of all information surrounding the development of COVID-19 as well as the responses from Bank of Canada and the Ministry of Finance to ensure the most up-to-date and accurate information to assist you. They can help explain the options available to you and provide further understanding as to how this situation may affect your interest rates and mortgage payments.In order to benefit from your mortgage professional, you will need to provide detailed financial accounts so they can review your situation and all potential options. Preparing a detailed budget breakdown – including credit cards, loans and household bills as well as savings accounts and investments – will help your broker get a better sense of your current financial position and what assistance you may qualify for.To get in touch with a Mortgage Centre Canada broker, you can simply download the MCC Home Centre app to connect remotely or find a local broker on our website.
- Contact Your Credit Card Companies and Lenders
Many families and individuals cannot afford to lose their income, or even see it decrease. If you are in debt or living paycheck to paycheck, you may already find it difficult to make bill payments. Unfortunately, missing these payments can have long-term negative effects. Before it gets to this point, it is a good idea to contact your lenders, banks or credit card companies to see if there are options.
- Find alternatives
Whether you are temporarily laid off, let go of your company or do not have enough sick days to cover your time at home during COVID-19, there are steps you can take to help supplement your income.
- You can try these alternatives if you are out of work due to COVID-19 and in need of financial assistance.
- Employment Insurance (EI) might be an option. Services Canada has reduced the wait period and is currently offering EI assistance to individuals affected by the virus. Click here to visit their website and learn more.
- Have skills you can utilize online? While you’re off work or in quarantine, consider freelancing. Websites such as UpWork and Freelancer.com have jobs from across the globe from accounting to website development.
- Stay Informed
Information is power and the more information you have at your disposal as this situation develops, the better prepared you will be to manage your household and finances. We will be providing updated information right here on our website as this situation develops.
Update 8: Title insurance
FCT remains committed to providing a consistent level of service and supporting the health and safety of our customers, partners and employees.
Update 9: Additional support
We understand that along with financial hardships, many individuals are also experiencing a drastic toll on their mental health with regard to COVID-19. For any individuals that are currently managing mental health disorders (anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, etc), please be sure to check with your mental health professional during this time if you are experiencing an increase in your symptoms.
In addition to your regular care, the Canadian Mental Health Association is working hard to continuously update their website with resources related to pressures, anxiety and other stressors in the midst of this pandemic. For more information, please visit their website here. They also have a 24/7, toll-free crisis line at 1-833-456-4566.
Some other programs that may assist you and help reduce the mental and emotional burden of this situation can be found below:
Employee Assistance Program (EAP): This dedicated program is providing the following:
- 24/7 confidential access to professional support to help employees manage stress, anxiety, grief, financial concerns, and much more.
- Employees and managers can connect to get support by phone, video, or chat anytime, anywhere.
- Vast library of online resources for coping with trauma, building resiliency, self-care, managing change, and more.
- Manager consultations to support leaders in dealing with sensitive workplace situations.
First Access: This program provides global support for unique needs and for organizations who are not EAP clients. Some of the features they offer are:
- Counselling and traumatic event support to address unique needs worldwide
- Allows organizations – even those without a formal EAP in place – to access support services, as needed, to ensure timely and effective issue resolution
Update 10: Stay safe - and wash your hands!
Remember during this time to practice proper hand-washing procedures and minimize your contact with other people to ensure that you are not unknowingly contracting or passing along COVID-19. We can overcome this, together.
COVID-19 Self Assessment Information
The majority of Provinces have provided dedicated pages with important COVID-19 information, including to self-assess for symptoms:
For British Columbia residents, click here.
For Alberta residents, click here.
For Saskatchewan residents, click here.
For Manitoba residents, click here.
For Ontario residents, click here.
For Quebec residents, click here.
For New Brunswick residents, click here.
For Nova Scotia residents, click here.
For Prince Edward Island residents, click here.