To print this article, all you need is to be registered or login on Mondaq.com.
The impact of COVID-19 is changing at a rapid pace. One thing
that will not change is our commitment to help our friends, our
clients and our colleagues. We have collected a number of resources
which may be helpful for seniors attempting to navigate the
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Those who are infected with COVID-19 may have little to no
symptoms. You may not know you have symptoms of COVID-19 because
they are similar to a cold or flu.
Symptoms have included:
- Difficulty breathing
- Pneumonia in both lungs
What should you do if you develop a symptom?
visit an assessment centre unless you have been referred by a
health care professional.
Do not call 911 unless it is an
Instead, you should:
- Complete the COVID-19 Self-Assessment at
- Call Telehealth: 1-866-797-0000
Please note, there are significant wait times to speak to a
How do you protect yourself and others from COVID-19?
- Practice social distancing
- Stay home – Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health is
strongly urging those over the age of 70 or those with compromised
immune systems or underlying medical conditions to stay at
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow
- Avoid touching your face
- Self-isolate for 14 days if you:
- recently returned from travel outside of Canada
- have a cough, fever, fatigue, and/or difficulty breathing
- are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for
- have been asked by a health care professional for another
How do you practice Social Distancing?
- Keep at least six feet (the length of a bicycle) from others
when going out for groceries, medical trips, and other essential
- Limit the number of times you leave your home for errands
- Try to shop at less busy times
- Order online to have groceries or other items delivered if
- Go for a walk in your neighbourhood or park while maintaining
distance from others
- Avoid overcrowding in elevators or other enclosed spaces
- Wash or sanitize your hands after touching communal
*Many stores are offering senior shopping hours:
- Longo’s – 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
- Loblaws – 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.
- Walmart – 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.
- Costco – Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8:00 a.m. –
Tips to protect your personal health and wellbeing
During this difficult time, seniors can protect their mental
health and feel more connected by taking the following steps:
- Call a friend or family member
- Exercise in your home
- Go for a walk, while remembering to practice social
- Get fresh air by opening a window or going outside for a few
minutes each day
Seniors also have access to resources for that can be useful in
maintaining mental and physical health:
- ConnexOntario (1-866-531-2600), Ontario’s mental health,
addictions and problem gambling helpline, which can provide contact
information for local mental health and addictions services and
supports, including crisis lines
- 211 Ontario: Dial 2-1-1 on your cell phone or home phone or
211 is a telephone helpline and online database of Ontario’s
community and social services. The service is free and confidential
and is available during COVID-19 and beyond
- Ontario Seniors’ INFOline: 1-888-910-1999; Email:
Delivery of Items
The Government of Canada is contributing $9 million through
United Way Canada for local organizations to support practical
services to Canadian seniors. These services could include the
delivery of groceries, medications, or other needed items, or
personal outreach to assess individuals’ needs and connect them
to community supports.
Your local United Way organization: http://www.unitedway.ca/how-we-help/find-your-uwc/
There are several charitable operations that offer delivery to
senior citizens who will have difficulty accessing food and
essential items during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example,
Operation Ramzieh assembles and distributes free food boxes to
senior citizens in Toronto and Ottawa.
Information about Operation Ramzieh can be found here: https://operationramzieh.org/about-3
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) gives up to $2,000
a month to workers who have stopped working because of COVID-19.
This includes employees, the self-employed, and contract
You can apply through both the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and
Service Canada starting April 6, 2020.
To apply for the CERB you need: i) a Social Insurance Number and
ii) an online account with the CRA or Service Canada. If you’re
not able to create an online account to claim your CERB, you can
If you’re eligible for the CERB, you will get up to $2,000 for
four weeks. You will get one payment that covers the four-week
period. Payments can be made by direct deposit or cheque.
Tenants who can pay their rent must do so, to the best of their
abilities. Landlords are entitled to collect compensation from a
tenant for each day that an eviction order is not enforced.
The government of Ontario has made efforts to encourage landlords
and tenants to work together during this difficult time to
establish fair arrangements to keep tenants safe and in their
Canadian banks have committed to work with their customers on a
case-by-case basis to find solutions to help them manage hardships
caused by COVID-19. This includes permitting lenders to defer up to
six monthly mortgage payments (interest and principal) for impacted
borrowers. Canadians who are impacted by COVID-19 and experiencing
financial hardship as a result should contact their financial
institution regarding flexibility for a mortgage deferral. This
gives flexibility to those who need it the most. You are encouraged
to visit your bank’s website for the latest information, rather
than calling or visiting a branch.
Reduced minimum withdrawals for Registered Retirement Income
The government of Canada has reduced the required minimum
withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25
percent for 2020.
Increase to the GST/HST credit amount
The goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credit
is a tax-free quarterly payment that helps individuals and families
with low and modest incomes offset all or part of the GST or HST
that they pay.
You will get the extra payment amount automatically if you normally
receive the GST/HST credit and have filed a 2018 tax return.
Payments will be issued on April 9, 2020.
The one-time payment will be calculated based on information from
your 2018 tax return.
The maximum amounts for the 2019-2020 benefit year will increase
- $443 to $886 if you’re single
- $580 to $1,160 if you’re married or living common-law
- $153 to $306 for each child under the age of 19 (excluding the
first eligible child of a single parent)
- $290 to $580 for the first eligible child of a single
You don’t have to file your 2019 taxes to receive this
increased credit amount, the payment will be based on your 2018
taxes. You do have to file your 2019 income tax and benefit return
to ensure you continue to get your benefits and credits for the
July 2020 to June 2021 benefit year.
The federal government provides detailed information about the
rebate and how to apply here: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/child-family-benefits/covid-19-gsthstc-increase.html
You can apply online through your My Service Canada Account for
- Canada Pension Plan Retirement Pension
- Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefit, or
- Old Age Security/Guaranteed Income Supplement
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Service Canada is strongly
encouraging you to apply for these benefits online from the comfort
of your home. You will not be required to submit documentation to
support your application at this time. Service Canada may be
requesting these documents at a later date, but in the meantime, we
can begin working on your application.
For more information on Public Pensions such as how to apply and
eligibility requirements, go to https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/publicpensions.html
or call 1-800-277-9914.
Low income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP)
The government is providing $9 million in direct support to
families for their energy bills by expanding eligibility for the
Low income Energy Assistance Program and by ensuring that their
electricity and natural gas services are not disconnected for
nonpayment during the COVID 19 outbreak.
Further information can be found here: https://www.oeb.ca/rates-and-your-bill/help-low-income-consumers/low-income-energy-assistance-program
Find the list of contact information for the social agencies used
for the delivery of LEAP Emergency Financial Assistance here: https://www.oeb.ca/sites/default/files/LEAP_Utility-Agency_Partners.pdf
Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS)
The Ontario government has proposed to double the Guaranteed
Annual Income System (GAINS) maximum payment to $166 per month for
individuals and $332 per month for couples, for six months starting
in April 2020.
For further information on GAINS and other financial help offered
by the Federal and Provincial governments for seniors, visit the
CARP (formerly Canadian Association of Retired Persons) website: https://www.carp.ca/2020/03/26/covid-19-financial-supports-announced/
COVID-19 and the Ontario Disability Support Program
If you’re already getting income support from the Ontario
Disability Support Program (ODSP), you do not qualify for
Ontario’s COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Program.
Instead, there are new resources that ODSP workers can use to give
extra “discretionary benefits” to people getting ODSP and
Ontario Works. Individuals on ODSP may be able to get a one-time
benefit of up to $100, and those with families may be able to get a
one-time benefit of up to $200.
If you qualify, these benefits can be used for needs related to
COVID-19, such as:
- personal protective equipment, like masks and gloves, for
hospital or clinic visits
- food and groceries if you can’t get to a food bank, for
example, because you’ve been ordered to self-isolate, or
you’re caring for a family member who is sick or has been
ordered to self-isolate
- cleaning supplies if you’ve been ordered to self-isolate,
or you’re caring for a family member who is sick or has been
ordered to self-isolate
Wills and estate planning during COVID-19
At this point, we would promote the following actions to ensure
that your estate planning affairs are in order:
a) Review your existing documents. Make sure that you have copies
(either paper or electronic) of your existing estate planning
documents, and review them to confirm that they still reflect your
wishes. If you cannot locate your documents, consider calling or
emailing your estate planning lawyer to obtain copies.
b) Pinpoint any items that require attention sooner rather than
later. As you review, take note of any major changes that may have
occurred in your family since you last updated your estate plan.
These might include childbirths, deaths, marriages, divorces, etc.
Also, consider whether the individuals that you previously
appointed to serve as your agents are still appropriate.
c) Follow up with your loved ones and advisors.
- Make sure that your loved ones know if you have appointed them
to any role in your estate plan. This includes your executor (i.e.
personal representative under your will, or trustee ), guardian for
your minor children, attorney-in-fact under your durable power of
attorney for property, and patient advocate under your health care
power of attorney.
- Consider reaching out to your financial advisor, insurance
advisor, etc. to ensure that your beneficiary designations are up
to date and discuss any new planning opportunities relative to your
current financial status.
- If you require any medical attention in the near future,
confirm that your medical provider has a copy of your patient
advocate designation and is informed as to who you wish to have
access to your confidential health information.
If you do not already have an estate plan, now is as good of a
time as any to consider the opportunity before you. Having a
will/trust, a power of attorney, and a health care power of
attorney can certainly contribute to a healthy state of mind.
Seniors and Fraud
In emergencies like this, vulnerable individuals, especially
seniors, are often targeted by dishonest con artists trying to take
advantage of fear and uncertainty. They can pose as door-to-door
salespeople, telemarketers, collection agents and sometimes even
distant relatives asking for help.
Be on the lookout for any of the following behaviours:
- Scammers may impersonate health organizations and businesses to
gather personal and financial information or sell fake test kits,
supplies, vaccines or cures for COVID-19
- Fraudsters may seek donations for illegitimate or non-existent
- Scammers may impersonate doctors and hospital staff, claim to
have treated a relative or friend of the intended victim for
COVID-19 and demand payment for treatment.
How to spot an email scam:
- Be skeptical – fraudulent emails can look like they come from a
- Be vigilant – never send personal and/or financial information
- Check the “From” address – Be cautious when an
email domain doesn’t match the organization that the sender
says they are from
- Never click on suspicious links or attachments – phishing
emails often include embedded links that look valid, but if you
hover over them, you can usually see the real hyperlink
- Protect your devices – make sure that your electronics are
The RCMP has produced Seniors Guidebook to Safety and Security
which provides useful information to answer some common concerns
when it comes to seniors’ safety and security about scams and
other security matters. The guide can be accessed here: https://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/seniors-guidebook-safety-and-security?wbdisable=true
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
— to www.mondaq.com