With millions of jobs lost during this pandemic, the first and foremost aspect that many individuals and families in Ontario are struggling to keep up with is their finances.
In particular, the most affected were those who were living pay-cheque to pay-cheque before the pandemic. With the announcement of the relief measures from the government and many private sector companies and the soon-followed disbursements of emergency benefits and assistances, much of what could have otherwise become a disastrous situation was averted.
Yet, with the staggering high costs of renting disproportionate to the income support, low income earners are further left to make tough life choices. Living within your means can help anyone live well in the long term, pandemic or not. Let’s look at the basic necessities of life and the resources and relief measures put in place to help reduce the expenses for low income earners.
The new Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit , which provides a monthly allowance to assist with housing costs, is now closed but is more likely to open early 2021. To be eligible, apply for subsidy housing in your region and be on waitlist. Also, you can find help with utility bills or rent to avoid eviction.
Utilities – Heat (Hydro), Water and Electricity:
The Low-income Energy Assistance Program provides one time energy assistance if you are behind on your electricity or natural gas bill or are facing service disconnection. The COVID-19 Electricity Assistance Program (CEAP), is a new initiative announced by the government to support consumers struggling to pay their energy bills in Ontario during the pandemic. Use the Ontario Electricity Support Program to lower electricity bill costs.
Here are some ways to save at the grocery store. In addition, many credit cards let customers to collect and redeem points for free groceries.
Medical Items / Prescription Drugs:
The Ontario Drug Benefit Program provides coverage for prescription drugs. If you have high prescription drug costs compared to your family income, you could get help from the Trillium Drug Program (TDP). The reduced co-payment for low income seniors is available to waive the TDP deductible and to reduce the co-payment per prescription.
Families can apply for Ontario child care fee subsidy to lower child care costs.
A discounted monthly / weekly bus pass application is available through the Region of Peel.
A number of relief measures were brought in by many internet/TV/Phone service providers for flexible payment options. Contact your service provider to discuss your situation to reduce your bill. Through the Connecting Families initiative, the government of Canada automatically enrolls individuals and families with eligible income for a $ 10 per month internet service.
Managing your finances means living on a budget. Finding out your income sources and reducing your expenses by sticking to basics will go a long way and help get past this pandemic. Indus Community Services is a leader in the provision of culturally appropriate free services and has been serving local communities spanning over 3 decades. Please contact us to get help to navigate and access the programs, services and supports such as the above that you could be eligible for during this pandemic.