Service Canada Updates
In response to COVID-19, Service Canada has launched a number of new virtual e-services to continue to provide support to individuals who need assistance to access benefits and services from their home.
The Social Insurance Numbers (SIN) is essential for accessing government services and benefits. Through the eSIN portal, individuals can submit a SIN application entirely online within a secure and protected environment.
Additionally, the eServiceCanada portal allows individuals requiring assistance from Service Canada to submit an online request and receive a callback from a Service Canada officer within two business days.
COVID-19 Self Assessment Tool
The Government of Ontario has made available an online platform where you can participate in an online self-assessment to help you understand what steps you need to take if you are showing any symptoms:
Have you been tested for COVID-19?
Financial assistance for ODSP and OW clients
Ontario Works has emergency financial assistance available to:
- low-income individuals and families who are not already receiving support from Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program, and
- people who are not able to access federal programs such as the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit.
Ontario Works’ Emergency Assistance Program will help you meet basic living expenses such as food, rent, medicine, and other essentials. Emergency Assistance is available for up to 48 days at a time without needing to submit a full Ontario Works application.
Are you having trouble paying your rent?
The City has directed social and affordable housing providers to be flexible, exercise discretion, and work with tenants.
The City has no power to direct private landlords. But it has urged all property owners to find ways to help tenants to stay in their homes and to proactively communicate with tenants about available options.
The City’s Housing Stabilization Fund provides Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program recipients with a one-time payment for emergency housing needs. To apply, speak to your caseworker.
If you are in danger of losing your housing because you are behind in your rent and you are not receiving Ontario Works or ODSP, contact the Toronto Rent Bank for help.
The Toronto Rent Bank program provides a one-time, interest-free loan to low-income households who are
- behind in their rent or
- need help with first and last month’s rent.
The application is simple and can be completed on the phone. There is no credit check, and repayments can be deferred for 12 months.
Call 416-397-7368 (RENT).
If you are having trouble paying rent because you’ve lost income due to the pandemic, federal and provincial financial supports are available.
IMPORTANT TO KNOW
The Province has suspended evictions during the crisis. It is not approving new eviction applications or enforcing evictions. Cases where there is an urgent danger may be dealt with by a telephone hearing at the Landlord and Tenant Board, which could result in an eviction order.
If you get an eviction notice:
- You do not have to leave your apartment. You can only be forced out if your landlord has an Order from the Landlord and Tenant Board AND special permission from the Superior Court. Read the notice carefully.
- Call the Landlord and Tenant Board to find out if your landlord has applied for an urgent hearing: 1-888-332-3234
- Email or call your MPP’s office. As your provincial representative, your MPP will have the most up-to-date information on your rights under the Residential Tenancies Act.
- Get legal help. Community legal clinics give advice to tenants. Find the one in your community at www.legalaid.on.ca/legal-clinics/ or call 416-979-1446
Are you a TCHC tenants whose income has been impacted by COVID-19?
Toronto Community Housing will be flexible and work with market rent and rent-geared-to-income tenants.
- adjust rent for rent-geared-to-income tenants, based on employment income changes due to COVID-19, and
- work with market rent tenants on rent deferment plans.
To request a rent adjustment or deferral, tenants need to fill out a form and return it to TCHC.
TO OBTAIN THE FORM:
- call TCHC’s 24-hour Client Care Centre at 416-981-5500, or
- email firstname.lastname@example.org, or
- download the form at torontohousing.ca/covid-19
Food processing sector
Restaurant and food services sector
Long term care sector
Guidance from health and safety associations
The Ontario government works closely with health and safety associations.
The following associations have released a series of technical sector guidance documents to further support employers and workers:
- Infrastructure Health and Safety Association
- Public Service Health and Safety Association
- Workplace Safety North
- Workplace Safety and Prevention Services
- Curbside pickup and delivery services
- Executives and management
- Sales and customer service representatives
- Lawn care workers
- Community garden
- Worker transportation to work sites
- Service managers, service technicians and other vehicle sales and service employees
- Vehicle sales and service sector
- Worker procedures handing paperwork
- Worker responsibilities
- Supervisor responsibilities
- Construction facility hygiene
- Best practices for employer responding to a suspected COVID-19 exposure
- Sharing tools (hand tools)
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Handling and receiving packages
- Lunchroom practices
- COVID-19 screening (checklist)
- Construction site trailers
- End of shift best practices
- On-site sanitation
- Responding to a suspected COVID-19 exposure if you are:
Film and TV
- Television hosts, technical crews and other TV and film employees
- Television, film and live performance sector
- Food services in health care
- Long-term care
- Community laboratory and specimen collection centres
- Physician and primary care provider employers
- Acute care employers
- Dental offices
- Home care and community services
- Precautions when working:
- Equipment operators and general labourers
- Quality control engineers and technicians
- Supervisors, production and operations management
- Warehouse workers, forklift operators and material handlers
- Warehousing sector
Parks and recreation
Tourism and hospitality
- Tourism and hospitality sector
- Hotel reception, room service and front line staff
- Hotel housekeeping and laundry
- Shippers and receivers (IHSA)
- Shipping (WSPS)
- Drivers and truck drivers
- Mental health awareness for drivers
- Precautions for drivers
- Fuelling of vehicles
- Handling and receiving packages
- Cleaning and sanitizing inside of your vehicle
- Transportation services
- Rest stop hygiene
- Providing truck drivers access to washrooms
- Hours of service and fatigue management (for employers)
- Hours of service and fatigue management (for drivers)
What’s currently open and closed
List of essential workplaces:
COVID-19: Service changes
Process changes to provincial programs
Some of our programs, processes and services are changing to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect people’s health and safety. Learn about:
- which ServiceOntario centres are closed
- extensions on expiry dates for driver’s licenses, vehicle and carrier products and services
- changes to the 3-month waiting period for OHIP coverage
- provincial park closures
- temporary application process changes for:
- Trillium Drug Program
- Seniors Co-Payment Program
- temporary changes to Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support program processes
- how to book an arbitration appointment for collective bargaining
- access to courts, changes to court processes and how to file court documents
- service changes at Tribunals Ontario, including the:
- Child and Family Services Review Board
- Criminal Injuries Compensation Board
- Custody Review Board
- Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
- Landlord and Tenant Board
- Ontario Special Education Tribunals (English and French)
- Social Benefits Tribunal
- applying for the assistive devices program
Victim Services Toronto 416-808-7066
Advocacy Centre for the Elderly 416-598-2656
Victim Services Toronto 416-808-7066
Bereaved Families of Ontario-Toronto (Multi-Faith) 416-440-0290
CRISIS SUPPORT/DISTRESS LINES
Assaulted Women’s Helpline 416-863-0511
Distress Line 416-408-4357
Gerstein Crisis Centre 416-929-5200
Good2Talk (post-secondary student mental health ) 1-866-925-5454
Senior Crisis Access Line 416-217-2077
Toronto Rape Crisis Centre 416-597-8808
Youthdale’s Crisis Support Team 416-363-9990
Housing Connections 416-338-8888
Emergency Shelter 311
COVID-19 and diabetes Please refer to this website https://www.diabetes.ca/en-CA/campaigns/covid-19-(coronavirus)-and-diabetes
The City of Toronto has partnered with technology and telecommunications companies to provide free temporary internet access for low-income neighbourhoods, long-term care homes and shelters.
While the City encourages Torontonians to stay home as much as possible, people who cannot afford home internet face barriers to receiving public health information, pandemic support services, emergency income supports and have difficulty staying connected to family and friends.
Donations from technology and telecommunications companies are going to help connect 25 large residential apartment buildings in low-income neighbourhoods with temporary free internet access for one year. Their donations include:
- hundreds of permanent mobile access point hardware and contribution of fees for some internet circuits from Cisco Canada;
- service management and maintenance from OnX Canada;
- fibre and hosting of core infrastructure from BAI Canada;
- fibre and single point of presence for internet from Beanfield Metroconnect; and
- volunteer labour provided by the civic tech community.
Bell will provide free Wi-Fi access in up to 10 of these low-income buildings for six months, waiving all installation and project management fees, to ensure all users can access the service.
Some buildings will be able to start using this free internet access in early May. Buildings will be identified for this service based on the size and location of the building, proportion of low-income residents, and residents without internet access and technology feasibility.
Technical solutions and signal strength may vary throughout each building, although the aim is to provide enough coverage and strength to read news, submit online forms, use messenger apps, but not stream media/games.
Long-Term Care Homes
The City of Toronto is providing free Wi-Fi access throughout all 10 City-operated long-term care homes. Previously, it was only available in common areas.
These new Wi-Fi hot spots will allow residents to stay connected to friends and family who are unable to visit during the pandemic.
Learn more about service changes in Long-Term Care Homes.
Rogers is donating free Wi-Fi for three months to four permanent City of Toronto shelter locations as of April 2020. Free Rogers Wi-Fi has also been installed in five temporary shelter locations, to help facilitate physical distancing.
People experiencing homelessness often rely on public Wi-Fi to access online supports and services and stay connected with loved ones. With the closure of most public Wi-Fi locations, including libraries, malls and restaurants, many vulnerable people no longer have access to the vital supports they need. Wi-Fi at these shelter sites will help to bridge this gap and support people to maintain physical distancing and isolation during the pandemic period.
Learn more about what the City is doing to support those experiencing homelessness.
Cell Phones for Vulnerable Torontonians
The Telus Mobility for Good program partnered with City of Toronto, Toronto Police Service, United Way Greater Toronto and lead community service providers to help vulnerable Torontonians stay connected to mental health and other crisis services during this difficult time. Through this partnership, eligible clients received a cell phone, data plan or a sim card, free of charge.
Prior to the conclusion of this program, resources provided by TELUS were distributed through FOCUS Toronto service agencies and the Toronto Mental Health Support Plan to their clients, based on assessment of need.
For your protection, Toronto Public Health recommends that if you are over 70 years of age, have a weak immune system or a medical condition, stay at home as much as possible.
Read more health advice for seniors that may prevent COVID-19 infection.
Where to Get Help
Seniors and caregivers can call 211 Toronto (24/7 accessing 150+ languages) for the most up-to-date information on the status of many community and social services for seniors. 211 Toronto can refer seniors to community-based services where available.
There are many agencies across the City that offer services to seniors living at home, such as:
- Meals on wheels
- Delivery of food and essentials
- Transportation to medical appointments
- Personal support
- Social phone calls
Call 211 to access these services.
City Run Programs & Services
Visit the Affected City Services web page for updates on impacted services.
Access to Food / Groceries
- Toronto Public Health recommends that people over the age of 70 stay home and use grocery delivery or have a neighbour or family member shop for them. If that is not possible, some stores have special hours to help seniors practise physical distancing.
- For low-income seniors, there are organizations and volunteer groups that will deliver groceries to seniors at home with no delivery fee; for example, the Friendly Neighbour Hotline (call 1-855-581-9580; available in 180 languages) or Sprint (call 416-481-0669, ext. 1225). Other volunteer grocery delivery services also exist, call 211 for referral.
- To apply for Meals on Wheels (regular home delivery of prepared fresh or frozen meals), call 211 or visit OntarioCommunitySupport.ca.
- The City and the Red Cross have partnered to provide food hamper delivery to qualifying seniors who are in self-isolation, do not have alternative access to food and are not currently receiving such assistance from another program. Starting April 7, call 1-833-204-9952 for eligibility and registration information.
- It is important to be aware of potential scams and fraud, for example people calling seniors, offering to buy their groceries, and asking for credit card details. Call 211 for a referral to a legitimate service.
- Many pharmacies/drug stores will deliver prescriptions (and in some cases, over-the-counter medicine and supplies) to your home. For example, Shoppers Drug Mart, Rexall , Well.ca and many local pharmacies, offer deliveries. To arrange prescription delivery, seniors should call their local pharmacy. Refer to the label on your current medication for the pharmacy’s phone number. A list of pharmacies can be found at torontocentralhealthline.ca .
- Seniors can also call 211 to be connected to a community agency offering prescription and medication delivery to seniors during COVID-19.
Mental Health & Loneliness
In case of crisis, call Distress Centres of Toronto for crisis assistance, 416-408-HELP(4357).
Seniors who are struggling with mental health issues made worse by the measures implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19 should call 211. Representatives will connect seniors to one of the City’s mental health service provider partners for direct phone support. Mental health service information is also available at 211toronto.ca. These mental health support services are free to all Toronto residents.
There are also many volunteer phone lines who offer phone-call check-ins and friendly conversation with seniors who are feeling lonely and need of someone to talk to. Call 211 for referral to one of these phone call services.
Tenants in Toronto Community Housing Corporation
Toronto Community Housing has increased measures to support senior tenants during this time, including:
- Conducting telephone check-ins with tenants to share COVID-19 related information and determine tenants’ requirements for support
- In-person visits where necessary to coordinate and provide critical support
- Cancelling in-person social and recreational programs, and other large gatherings
- Prominently displaying signage in every TCHC building which provides information about COVID-19 and physical distancing
- Connecting seniors who are in self-isolation with appropriate community agency support
- Increased cleaning and disinfection in high traffic, common areas, intercom and elevator systems
- Supporting clients through the Client Care Centre – call 416-981-5500 or email email@example.com; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
TTC Wheel Trans
Learn who is eligible to use the TTC Wheel Trans service and how to book.
Other Resources for Seniors
- Toronto Seniors Helpline for support, questions and referral: 416-217-2077
- Local Health Integration Network to apply for government-funded health and personal care services, and to apply for admission to long-term care: 310-2222, no area code
- Seniors Safety Line: contact and referral information for local agencies across the province of Ontario that can assist in cases of elder abuse, isolation, anxiety or depression; family members and service providers can call for information about community services; available 24/7 in more than 200 languages. Call 1-866-299-1011.
- Toronto Police Service to report fraud: 416-808-2222
- Crime Stoppers to report fraud anonymously: 1-800-222-8477(TIPS) or online at crimestoppers.com
COVID-19 Ontario Government Updates
Find the latest updates from the provincial government on ways to stay safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. Updated twice daily.
Extensions on validations and deadlines
Driver’s licenses, vehicle and carrier products
Learn about expiry-date extensions for driver’s licenses, vehicle and carrier products and services due to COVID-19.
You do not need to renew your health card until further notice. Recently expired health cards will be accepted.
Help for electricity bills
From March 24 up to and including May 7, 2020, residential, farm and small business time-of-use customers will pay the lowest rate — also known as the off-peak price — 24 hours a day. That means you will pay 10.1 ¢/kWh no matter what time of day you use electricity. This rate will be automatically applied to your bill.
Through the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP), low-income customers can get direct support to pay bills and ensure electricity and natural gas services are not disconnected during the COVID-19 outbreak.
If you are behind on your bill and may have your service disconnected, you could qualify for:
- $500 for electricity bills ($600 if your home is heated electrically)
- $500 for natural gas bills
Doubled GAINS payments for seniors
If you are a senior receiving monthly Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payments, the government will be doubling your payment, making it up to $166 per month for individuals and up to $332 per month for couples. If you are a GAINS recipient, you will receive this extra support automatically for six months, with the first payment on April 24, 2020.
Apply for EI and the Emergency Worker Fund
Financial supports for those whose jobs have been affected by COVID-19.
- Temporary wage top-up for low-income essential workers
- Increasing the Canada Child Benefit
- Special Goods and Services Tax credit payment
- Extra time to file income tax returns
- Mortgage payment deferral
People facing loss of income
- Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
The government will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 every 4 weeks for up to 16 weeks to eligible workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19.
An online questionnaire will help us direct you to the service option that best fits your situation (i.e. eligibility for Employment Insurance benefits or not).
Do not apply for the CERB if you have already applied for EI.
You can also apply over the phone: 1‑800‑959‑2019 or 1‑800‑959‑2041
- Addressing immediate needs in Indigenous communities
- Supporting Indigenous communities public health needs and preparedness
- Making personal hygiene products and nutritious food more affordable
- Providing support to Indigenous post-secondary students
- Reduced minimum withdrawals for Registered Retirement Income Funds
- Supporting the delivery of items and personal outreach
- Providing immediate and essential services to seniors
- Providing a one-time tax-free payment
- Temporarily extending the Guaranteed Income Supplement and Allowance payments
- Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)
- Creating new jobs and opportunities
- Launching a new national service initiative
- Helping students continue their studies in the fall
- Supporting international students working in an essential service
- Suspending repayment and interest on student and apprentice loans
- Providing youth with mental health support
Find the support you need
Support for businesses
- Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
- Temporary 10% Wage Subsidy
- Extending the Work-Sharing program
Access to credit
- Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)
- Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)
- Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF)
- Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)
- Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)
- Assisting innovative and early-stage businesses
- Young entrepreneurs
- Businesses in the territories
Creating new jobs and opportunities for youth
- Youth Employment and Skills Strategy
- Student Work Placement Program
- Mitacs and The Business/Higher Education Roundtable
- Temporary changes to Canada Summer Jobs program
Taxes and tariffs
- More time to pay income taxes
- Deferral of Sales Tax Remittance and Customs Duty Payments until June
- Waiving tariffs on certain medical goods
Support for self-employed individuals
- Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
- Deferral of Sales Tax Remittance and Customs Duty Payments until June
- More time to pay income taxes
- Funding for small and medium-sized Indigenous businesses and support to Aboriginal Financial Institutions
Find the support you need for your business
Students and Parents
Learn at Home web portal
The provincial government launched an online resource portal for elementary and secondary school students to help them learn at home while schools are closed.
Visit here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/learn-at-home
Online Resources for Students K-7
The Federal and provincial government has put a 6-month moratorium on interest payments for student loans. Visit here.