• A Document about Medical resources;
• A Document about food banks in areas just outside Toronto;
• A statement regarding jails, "Contain COVID-19 Not People"; and
• A sheet about the new ID laws in Ontario.
In this sheet:
• Update regarding Immigration Offices;
• Medical access;
• Food resources;
• Benefits and how to obtain them.
One general note: It is really important to keep all documentation, even though it may not be the most official. If you are laid off, even if you don't have a SIN or status allowing you to work, get some sort of documentation (a letter from the employer or even co-workers); if you have problems with your landlord, document it; ask your immigration lawyer or consultant for proof of your status; keep your medical documents, etc.
Update regarding Immigration Offices
Immigration Refugee Board (the immigration tribunal [kind of a court] for refugee claims, admissibility decisions, and appeals)
• Frontline offices are closed, all documents must be submitted by fax or email;
• Extensions are being given to put in your Basis of Claim form and Appeals if you are doing a refugee claim or appeal;
• Hearings are not being held (except for detention reviews) until May 4th or possibly longer;
• Detention reviews are still being held, but by phone. Covid is sometimes being accepted as a ground for release.
Immigration Refugees Citizenship Canada (they process applications)
• Frontline offices are closed for all appointments, including completion of Permanent Residency (PR) and Citizenship Ceremonies. Measures are being developed to do appointments remotely;
• New Refugee claims are not being accepted until April 13th or later;
• The officers are still working, so if you have a deadline, it either needs to be met or you need to ask for an extension; however, extensions are being given freely.
Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA - immigration enforcement)
• They are not doing active investigations, i.e. If they have a warrant for you or otherwise are looking for you normally, they are not doing so;
• They are still cooperating with police, i.e. If police pick you up and find out you don't have status or have broken the terms of your visa/work permit/study permit, or have a warrant from immigration, they will still turn you over to CBSA. See http://toronto.nooneisillegal.org/knowyourrights to find out about your rights in this situation;
• Police have increased powers to ask for identification (see the attached sheet on this issue). Be careful when going out and make sure to have a good reason to do so and to keep social distance.
• The attached sheet on health resources from Health Network for Uninsured Patients contains important information.
• Many food banks are closed but plans are underway to open food distribution centres (see https://www.dailybread.ca/covid19/);
• Be aware that you likely will not be allowed to enter the food bank but will have to line up outside to obtain a food bag.
• All Housing tribunals are closed, and landlords are not allowed to evict at this time (see https://www.torontotenants.org/eviction_ban_now_2020);
• This doesn't mean that landlords will not try to evict tenants once the emergency has passed. However, Covid may be a possible defense in this situation;
• Contact the Federation of Metro Tenants Associations if you have any questions at https://www.torontotenants.org/.
• Many are closing due to the difficulties in maintaining social distancing in the shelters;
• The city is opening hotels to take people in during the crisis, but they are not opening enough;
• Contact the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (https://ocap.ca/) or the Shelter Justice Housing Network (http://www.shjn.ca/) for more information or to fight for justice.
• Releases are happening, but very slowly. Many jurisdictions in the US have released most people awaiting trial, but Ontario has not done so;
• Duty Counsel is available for Bail Hearings and other criminal matters, but is appearing at Bail Hearings by phone;
• There has already been Covid cases in jails, including 2 detained people at the Toronto South along with a Guard;
• We need to push to have more people released and proper social distancing to happen in jails;
• See attached document "Contain COVID-19 Not People".
• Thanks to the Ontario Coalition of Agencies Serving Immigrants for their information at a recent webinar;
• This section is divided into five subsections: Employment Insurance (EI), the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Welfare/Disability (OW/ODSP), Emergency Assistance (EA), and Child Tax Benefit (CTB).
Employment Insurance (EI)
• There is a waiver of the one week waiting period if you are unable to work due to being in quarantine;
• You can apply late and backdate if you can't apply due to being sick with Covid;
• This is largely not available to non status people. You must have been working with a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN) and have been paying into the program to collect the insurance;
• Service Canada centres (where you apply for EI) are closed, so you can apply online (see https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices...).
• This program was created by the Federal Government out of two other programs on March 25th;
• It gives out $2,000.00 a month for up to 16 weeks and you can only get four 4 week periods of benefits in total;
• It covers the period from March 15th to October 3rd;
• It covers people who are:
- Residing in Canada and who are at least 15 years old;
- Who have stopped working because of Covid or are eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) or sickness benefits;
- Who had income of at least $5,000.00 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
- Who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment income.
• You don't have to be eligible for EI;
• Not everyone is covered based on immigration status;
▪ To be eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, you must reside in Canada and have a valid Social Insurance Number;
▪ Workers who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents – including temporary foreign workers and international students – may be eligible to receive the Benefit if they meet the other eligibility requirements;
• You will need a Canada Revenue Agency Account to get the benefit. It is a good idea to do this as soon as possible and you can do this at https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/e-services/cra-login-se...;
• Applications will start to be accepted on April 6th, but they are based on your month of birth;
• For more information see https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html.
• Both are also being done online at https://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/social/apply_online.aspx;
• You can also do it by phone through your local welfare office which you can find at http://www.officelocator.mcss.gov.on.ca/Index.aspx?lang=en;
• You need to be unable to work due to circumstances beyond your control, i.e. Due to Covid, due to lack of jobs, or due to a health problem or disability;
• Limited to certain forms of immigration status. This includes people who have made a permanent residency application, which has been approved in principle (humanitarian application), refugee claimants, failed refugee claimants, refugees, PRs or citizens;
• Includes tourists and others who cannot leave Canada due to circumstances beyond their control (i.e. The cutting of travel due to Covid);
• Disability (Ontario Disability Support Program) is based on being unable to work due to a health problem and/or a disability. Usually it is started by getting a letter from your Doctor or health practitioner;
• The assistance of a social worker or community worker can be really helpful in applying for either of these.
• It is an additional benefit through Ontario Works;
• Allows for 48 days of benefits;
• It used to be that you could only apply every 6 months, but now you can apply more often;
• It is paid every 16 days;
• Amount is up to the director or the people they assign to decide;
• You cannot be a visitor or tourist and likely cannot be non status with the exceptions noted in the section above;
• Includes basic needs (like food and transportation) and shelter costs;
• They expect you to try to get other benefits first, especially federal ones;
• It's also online at the same place at https://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/social/apply_online.aspx.
Canada Child Tax Benefit
• Maximum benefit of $300;
• You have to have a certain status (not your child or children);
• You or your spouse or common-law partner must be any of the following:
- A Canadian citizen;
- A permanent resident;
- A protected person (i.e. Won your refugee claim);
- A temporary resident who has lived in Canada for the previous 18 months and who has a valid permit in the 19th month;
- An Indigenous person who meets the definition of "Indian" under the Indian Act
• You need a CRA account (see CERB section above) to apply online, but you can also apply by mail (see https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/child-family-benefits/c...).
These benefits definitely do not meet the needs of non/precarious status people or even people without access to the internet and a computer. Many groups are working to change this. For a national resource, see https://migrantrights.ca/ and for a Toronto resource, see http://toronto.nooneisillegal.org/. Other helpful resources include Vivimos Juntxs.Comemos Juntxs, which can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change at https://migrantworkersalliance.org/, or Butterfly (for migrant/Asian sex workers) at https://www.butterflysw.org/.