In the second half of July, the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be waning in Canada. According to Worldometers, daily new cases have been declining in Canada since May 3, with only a few hundred a day being added in July.
Along with the flattening of the curve has come a reduction in lockdown measures, and apparent growth in the economy. In June, Canada gained nearly one million jobs, most of them probably from people being re-hired after the lockdowns. This provides hope that the economy is beginning to come back to life. Nevertheless, if you’re still out of work, you can still get most of the COVID-19 emergency benefits the federal government announced in March. The following are three major benefits you may still be eligible for.
The GST/HST rebate is a quarterly cash payout to Canadians below a certain income threshold. For the 2018 tax year, the threshold was $46,649. The GST/HST rebate is a longstanding program. It’s not a “new” COVID-19 benefit. However, payouts were increased in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’d normally get $443 from the benefit, you’ll get $886 now. Increased GST will be available for the remainder of the year; the most recent payout was earlier in July.
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The CESB is a benefit that pays $1,250 every four weeks to single students and $2,000 every four weeks to students with dependents. You have to be a post-secondary student to receive the CESB. You cannot receive the CESB if you’re already receiving the CERB. You can’t be earning more than $1,000 a month before receiving the CESB. Assuming you tick all these boxes, you can still receive the CESB. Being out of school for the summer doesn’t affect your eligibility. You can even receive it if you’re a recent graduate struggling to find work!
Finally, we have the CERB. Recently extended and scheduled to expire on October 3, the CRA’s biggest COVID-19 benefit is still a thing. With the recent extension, many Canadians who would have lost eligibility are able to keep getting the CERB this summer. Whether or not you’re eligible depends on how much money you’re making; if you’re still out of work, you should be able to get it.
Don’t wait for these benefits to expire!
With all of the above being said, now is probably a good time to start preparing for life after the CERB. The program is scheduled to expire this fall, and while retroactive payments will still be available, the writing is on the wall.
One first step you can take to prepare for post-CERB life is to build an investment portfolio. By building up a portfolio of dividend-paying ETFs like the iShares S&P/TSX 60 Index Fund, you can develop a steady income stream that pays you even when you’re not working. According to BlackRock’s website, XIU has a 3.4% yield. That means you get $3,400 in annual dividends for every $100,000 you invest in it. Dividends can vary but tend to grow over time. If you built an XIU position up to $1,000,000 and the yield stayed the same, you’d get $34,000 in annual payouts! It might take a long time to get there, but for a prudent saver, it’s not an unrealistic long-term goal.
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This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.
Fool contributor Andrew Button owns shares of iSHARES SP TSX 60 INDEX FUND.