Pink Shirt Day February 24, 2021
COVID-19 Updates – February 12, 2021
Be Calm, Be Kind, Be Safe
Please continue to follow all the basic safeguards that are required to keep people safe and healthy:
- Stay home if you feel sick – Call 811 for further directions.
- Wash your hands regularly
- Keep your distance – at least two metres or six feet from people outside your bubble
- Wear a mask on transit, in stores, in all indoor public spaces.
- Keep your social bubble small – But stay connected with friends and family. Phone, video chat, go for a walk outside – it is so important to keep in touch.
Provincial Health Guidelines and Restrictions
The health measures announced in December have been extended for another month from their February 5, 2021 expiry date. The public health orders are summarized in this graphic:
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Due to COVID-19, provincial restrictions are in place. Please follow public health guidance when participating in Family Day activities.
Welcome to the February 12 edition of CLBC’s Update for Individuals and Families. As a reminder, you can find all Updates (including past editions) posted on our website here. You can also check out CLBC’s Facebook page here and Twitter page here. If you know of anyone who would like to receive future Updates, please share the link to our sign up page with them. If you have a specific question, or feedback about this update, you can send an email to CLBCInfo@gov.bc.ca.
CLBC and Government News
Province-wide restrictions extended indefinitely
B.C. Provincial Health Officer (PHO) Dr. Bonnie Henry has extended the province-wide restrictions on all events and social gatherings to significantly reduce COVID-19 transmission related to social interactions and travel. The order will be kept in place until further notice based on direction from the PHO.
British Columbians should also avoid all non-essential travel at this time. Stay local and travel only when needed. If you need to travel, follow the same public health guidance you use at home to prevent COVID-19. For up to date information about travel during COVID-19, visit the B.C. Government website here.
As a reminder, the best place to get up-to-date information about COVID restrictions and orders from the Provincial Health Officer is on the BC Government website here.
Immunize BC answers frequently asked vaccine questions
Do you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine?
Check out the Immunize BC’s website here for answers to frequently asked questions including: How will I know when I can get the vaccine? Where will I have to go? Can I make an appointment now? Is there a waiting list?
Pain or fear associated with vaccinations can cause stress and anxiety for many adults, causing some to delay or avoid them all together. Immunize BC also offers helpful tips and tricks to manage fear of needles here.
Remember that you can find information about B.C.’s immunization plan at the web site for the BC Centre for Disease Control. Here is their COVID-19 Vaccination at a Glance web page.
Staying Connected and Supported
Calendar for Connection posts new events for people with diverse abilities
Remember to visit the new Calendar for Connection, hosted on the Family Support Institute website here, for fun and inclusive opportunities to connect with others during COVID-19. Upcoming events and activities include:
- Neighbourhood Explorer on February 15 from 3:30 p.m to 4:30 p.m
- Book Club with Katelyn on February 16 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
- Creative People On-Line on February 20 from 3:00 p.m to 4:00 p.m.
- BC People First’s Annual Conference from February 25 to 26
Tools for planning and decision-making
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of planning, including planning for who you want to help with important health decisions. Here are two important planning resources available to you now:
- It’s Your Choice – Personal Planning Tools – This guide was created by the Public Guardian and Trustee of BC . It describes the options available for people who need support to make important life decisions, and for planning who will help them with future decision-making.
- MyBooklet BC – This free online planning tool can be used by individuals and families to create their own personalized information booklet to store and share important information including strengths, gifts, goals and wishes for the future. Join one of the upcoming sessions to learn more about how to use MyBooklet BC (click each link for full session and registration details):
If you have any questions about myBooklet BC or these sessions, please contact Lydia Kang at email@example.com or 604-862-6807.
PLAN Institute’s blog on intentional connection
COVID has impacted all of our routines and many of the people we used to see are now off limits. But we still need to connect, and we still need each other.
PLAN Institute has come up with a few ideas you can intentionally act on to stay connected with others. Check these out in their recently published blog here.
Mental health and cultural supports
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, mental health and the need for support is more important than ever. The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) has put together a document outlining Aboriginal-specific supports throughout the province.
Click here to find the support you, or someone you know, may need at this time.
COVID-19 Business Support Fund for Métis entrepreneurs
New grants for Métis entrepreneurs in B.C. are available through the COVID-19 Business Support Fund, provided through a partnership between the Metis Financial Corporation BC (MFCBC), Indigenous Services Canada and Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC). You can learn more about the fund here.
These grant programs are aimed at providing financial relief to allow Métis businesses to remain operating until the B.C. COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan is fully implemented in 2021. The new grant programs are also aimed at supporting Métis businesses that may not have qualified for financial relief programs initiated earlier in the pandemic. The programs cover microbusinesses, small, medium, new, and community-owned businesses.
Indigenous Canada – free online course
Interested in learning more about Indigenous history in Canada and contemporary issues while you are a home? Check out this free online course to expand your learning.
Indigenous Canada is a 12-lesson Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta. From an Indigenous perspective, this course explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today, highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations.
Updated Support and Connection Toolkit highlights resources and activities
In each edition of this Update, we share an updated version of the Support and Connection Toolkit which gathers links to resources and activities into one document for easy access. See the most updated toolkit here.
Self Advocate Corner
Self advocates leading connection during COVID-19
As we shared in our last edition of the update, five self advocacy groups from around B.C. have received grants from CLBC to help people with diverse abilities stay strong and connected during COVID-19. These groups will organize online events, programs, workshops and other safe activities and connection opportunities for people with diverse abilities across B.C.
Here are a few of the upcoming activities planned, and you can also check out the Calendar for Connectionto find more that are taking place:
- Arts and CraftsJoin Self Advocates of the Rockies to get creative by decorating rocks with graphics and positive messages. You’ll need a rock as well as felt pens, markers, paint, acrylic nail polish, glitter, glue or whatever you have on hand. The activity takes place February 18 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. MST (1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. PST) and the link to join is: meet.google.com/ckw-uwhg-aad
- Extra, Extra – Talk About It with Susan and KimJoin Kim and Susan from Self Advocates of the Rockies to talk about current affairs each month. This event takes place alternating Fridays every month. The next event takes place February 19 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. MST (3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. PST) and the link to join is: meet.google.com/ihk-knvr-muy
- Weekly virtual programsOlivia Douglas Community Services offers weekly virtual groups around five main topics: LGBTQ+, Sharing Resources, Mental Health Peer Support, Technology Support, and a Place for Meeting New People. Find more information, including schedules and links to register, here.
COVID-19 Updates – February 18, 2021 – BC Recovery Benefit
BC Recovery Benefit Update – Good News!
There is a recent update on the BC Government website, stating that people who are on the provincial Persons With Disabilities (PWD) benefit do not need to apply separately, to get their one-time $500 benefit for singles or $1000 benefit for families. If you have already applied, they will have that information and ensure you don’t get paid twice.
From the website:
I’m on income assistance, disability assistance, seniors’ supplement, hardship allowance or comfort allowance
If you received a payment for income assistance, disability assistance, seniors’ supplement, hardship allowance or comfort allowance anytime in December 2020 or January 2021, you automatically receive the full benefit amount.
- You don’t need to do anything. You’ll receive the benefit payment the same way you received your social support program payment
If you started receiving social support payments in February 2021 or later, you need to apply for the benefit.
The BC Government reduced the COVID supplement from people’s PWD payment from $300 per month (from April to December), to $150 (for January, February and March 2021). It is expected that government will announce a plan for the April PWD amounts in March.
More information here about the BC Recovery Benefit. This benefit is available to all BC residents, so I encourage all employees and families to apply as well, if this will help them deal with the COVID pandemic.
Vaccine Consent Information
We have been contacted by CLBC / Fraser Health with regular updates about vaccines and it appears that people living in staffed residential settings in the Fraser Health region will be getting their vaccines beginning March 8th, 2021. Their staff teams will be priorized for vaccines as well. We have had less information from Vancouver Coastal Health on plans for vaccines in Vancouver, Richmond and the North Shore but have submitted our numbers of people served and their staff teams.
There is an update on how consent for vaccines can provided when people need assistance with decision-making. The Public Guardian and Trustee has answered the following questions on their website:
Informed Consent and the COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs
More information on their website:
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Ready for My Shot!
We are a group of parents, siblings and caregivers of people with Down syndrome — who have teamed up with fabulous self-advocates. We have been active to promote better policy for COVID vaccine prioritization for our people and others with developmental disabilities.
Every day we are joined by more and more advocates across Canada.
Countries around the world and many US states already include vaccine priority for these vulnerable people. But here in Canada, not one provincial government has done the right thing and implemented the medically necessary policies to protect our families.
We are raising awareness on this issue and hope to count on your support!
For more information see our Ready For My Shot one-pager (.pdf)
— and please join our email list for updates
Thanks to Shirley and Gary for meeting up with the photographer on the long weekend to roll up his sleeve and take photos
How Charities are Serving their Communities during Covid
Imagine Canada conducted a survey of charities from across Canada and published this second update on the challenges charities are facing due to the pandemic. Briefly, the survey shows that charities are experiencing higher demand, demand that is outpacing capacity for a significant minority of charities. Charities are significantly changing their activities, but they are increasingly being spread thin and staff are finding it difficult to maintain work-life balance. While the revenue picture is slightly more positive than earlier in the pandemic, it remains grave and depends heavily on government supports, which are playing a significant financial role.
You can read the full report here:
At Spectrum, we have focused most of our efforts on keeping teams and the people they support safe and healthy. We have done this by keeping teams small, by providing proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and communicating frequently with the information people need to keep safe and healthy. We have been provided with extra financial support from the Provincial and Federal government for specific purposes, but rely on our donors to contribute funds that allow us to respond to special requests and expenses outside of the government’s criteria. Thank you to our monthly donors and our employees who are giving donations from their paycheques. These regular contributions definitely help us meet more of the needs of people we support and their families. You can find out more about donating to Spectrum at https://www.spectrumsociety.org/donations/ .
Have a safe and quiet weekend!
Spectrum Society for Community Living
What you need to know for the 2021 tax-filing season
This year, the COVID-19 pandemic may have affected your tax-filing situation and may also affect the way you usually file your income tax and benefit return. Over 30 million returns were filed last season, and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) wants to help you get ready to file your return this year.
Here’s what you need to know for this tax-filing season, including filing options, COVID-19 benefits, and what’s new.
Plan ahead this tax-filing season
If you choose to file a paper return, the COVID-19 pandemic may affect your ability to file a return, slow down your assessment, or affect your ability to get your refund, benefit, or credit payments. This year, we are encouraging you to file your return electronically and as soon as possible. Online filing opens on February 22, 2021. If you do submit a paper return, it may take 10-12 weeks for the CRA to issue you your assessment due to on-site processing limitations in tax centres.
Go digital this tax-filing season
You now have another way to sign up for direct deposit. Many financial institutions offer CRA direct deposit through their websites. As of November 2020, more than 3 million individuals have enrolled for direct deposit through their financial institution.
Here are some other important stats for you to be aware of:
- 90% of tax and benefit returns were filed online in 2020. Online filing is easy and secure, and the fastest way to get your NOA and refund. Consider filing your return online this year.
- Over 3 million people registered for My Account from March to September 2020. This is over 2 million more than over the same period in 2019. Signing up for My Account is a great way for you to easily handle your tax and benefit affairs online. By signing up for My Account, you’ll have access to digital services that simplify your tax-filing experience, such as Auto-fill my return, Express NOA, and Email notifications. You will also be able to use the Auto-fill my return and Express NOA services in certified tax software.
- More than $36 billion dollars was refunded to Canadians for the 2020 tax season. Even if you made little or no income at all, you should still file a return because you may get a refund.
The CRA’s Get Ready page has information about filing, deadlines, and CRA services to help you through tax-filing season
Haven’t filed in a while or have never filed a return?
If you have never filed a return before, haven’t filed in a while, or would like to file returns for previous years, there are different ways to file your income tax and benefit return. To get started check out the step-by-step guide to help you fill out your return.
Filing if you received COVID-19 emergency benefits
The CRA and Service Canada processed more than 27 million Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) applications, totaling more than $81 billion in payments to Canadians. The CRA also processed more than 2 million Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) applications that totaled more than $2 billion in payments.
If you received CERB, CESB, Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), or Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) payments, you will have to enter on your return the total of the amounts you received. You will receive a T4A (for benefits issued by the CRA) and/or a T4E (for benefits issued by Service Canada) tax slip in the mail with the information you need for your return. You can view tax slips online as of February 8, 2021 in My Account. Residents of Quebec will receive both a T4A and RL-1 slip from the CRA, however, the RL-1 slip will not be available for viewing in My Account.
The CRA recognizes that receiving these slips might generate questions for Canadians. Individuals who believe they received a T4A or a RL-1 by mistake or believe there may be discrepancy with the information provided on these slips should contact the CRA.
If you received the CERB or CESB, no tax was withheld when payments were issued. If you received the CRB, CRSB, or CRCB, 10% tax was withheld at source. For Quebec residents who received the CRB, CRSB, and CRCB, 5% of the tax withheld will be reported on the T4A slip and the other 5% will be reported on the RL-1 slip.
Keep in mind that these benefits are taxable and that you may owe no tax, owe tax, or be entitled to a refund when filing your return depending on how much income you earned from all sources, and deductions and credits you are entitled to claim in 2020.
The CRA wants to add that some provinces or territories may have sent out pandemic related payments that are considered taxable income. These amounts should be entered on your tax return.
If your income is normally exempt from tax, your COVID-19 benefits may also be exempt from tax. If you received CRB, CRSB or CRCB payments in 2020, you can claim a refund of the 10% tax (5% for Quebec residents) that was withheld on these payments by filing a 2020 tax return.
There may be other impacts to filing your tax return that are specific to COVID-19 emergency benefit payments you received, or if you are a resident of Quebec.
Providing additional income support to Canadians
The Government of Canada has indicated from the outset that there would be no penalties or interest in cases where CERB needs to be repaid. However, we recognize that, for some individuals, repaying the CERB could present a significant financial hardship. For this reason, we will give Canadians more time and flexibility to repay based on their ability to pay. We will work with impacted individuals on a case-by-case basis. There is no deadline to repay COVID-19 emergency benefit payments.
If you mistakenly received COVID-19 emergency benefit payments, or your situation has changed since you first applied for one of these benefits, you can repay the CRA via My Account, online banking, or mail.
Newly announced on February 9, 2021, targeted interest relief is being provided to Canadians who received COVID-related income support benefits. Once individuals have filed their 2020 income tax and benefit return, they will not be required to pay interest on any outstanding income tax debt for the 2020 tax year until April 30, 2022.
Self-employed individuals who applied for the CERB and would have qualified based on their gross income will not be required to repay the benefit, provided they also met all other eligibility requirements. The same approach will apply whether the individual applied through the CRA or Service Canada.
Some qualifying self-employed individuals whose net self-employment income was less than $5,000 may have already voluntarily repaid the CERB. The CRA and Service Canada will return any repaid amounts to impacted individuals.
Payment arrangement criteria has been expanded to give Canadians more time and flexibility to repay based on their ability to pay. Individuals who cannot make a payment in full are advised to contact the CRA to make a payment arrangement.
Do not risk having your benefits and credits interrupted
Doing taxes on time is the best way to ensure your entitlement to benefits and credits, like the Canada child benefit (CCB), the Old Age Security (OAS) pension payments, and the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credit, are not interrupted. Even if you owe tax, don’t risk having your benefits and credits interrupted by not filing. If you cannot pay your balance owing, the CRA can work with you on a payment arrangement.
Protecting you from scams and fraud
We recognize that there are significant effects on victims of scams, fraud, and identity theft and we are doing our best to protect Canadians and ensure they receive the benefits to which they are entitled.
It is important to protect yourself from scams, and to know when and how the CRA might contact you. The Slam the scam webpage provides information about how to protect yourself from fraud and understand the ways in which the CRA will contact you.
The CRA also provides information to Canadians on securing their CRA accounts. As fraud prevention measures, we encourage you to:
- Use unique and complex passwords. Always use unique passwords for your CRA and online banking accounts. Do not reuse the same password for different systems.
- Create a PIN. We suggest you set up a personal identification number (PIN) in My Account or with the help of one of our call centre agents, to help confirm your identity for future calls with the CRA.
- Sign up for email notifications. We recommend you enable “Email notifications”. This service notifies taxpayers by email if their address or direct deposit information have been changed on CRA records. These notifications can act as an early warning for potential fraudulent activity.
- Monitor your account for suspicious activity. Check your online CRA accounts regularly for any suspicious activity. This includes unsolicited changes to your address and direct deposit information, or benefit applications made on your behalf.
What’s new for 2021
Additional call agents to further increase call centre capacity – Throughout COVID-19, the CRA has seen a significant increase in call volumes. To help manage this, the 2020 Fall Economic Statement allocated additional funding to the CRA for call centre operations.
Using this investment, we’ve hired additional agents who will help with increased call volumes. We have also contracted a third-party service provider to assist with client service capacity issues. These agents will be able to answer general enquiries about emergency benefits, but they will not have access to taxpayers’ personal information.
New automated callback service – This new service lets callers ask for a callback instead of waiting on hold. Callers on the individual tax enquiries, benefits enquiries, and business enquiries lines may be given the option of a callback when wait times reach a certain length. The new automated callback service is easy to use, secure, and helps save callers time on the phone.
Extended call centre hours – Leading up to and throughout tax-filing season, our Individual enquiries line is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 9pm local time, and our extended Saturday hours will be 9am to 5pm as of February 27th.
Immediate Support for Families with Young Children – In the Fall Economic Statement, the Government announced support for families with young children for 2021. To provide immediate support for families with young children, the Government proposes to provide, in 2021, four tax-free payments of $300 per child under the age of six to families entitled to the Canada child benefit (CCB) with family net income equal to or less than $120,000, and $150 per child under the age of six to families entitled to the CCB with family net income above $120,000. Individuals who are entitled to receive a CCB payment in January, April, July and October, will receive these payments for children under the age of six. The first two payments would be based on the family’s net income in 2019 while the last two payments will be based on the family’s net income in 2020. Parents must file their tax returns for these years to receive all four payments.
Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) virtual clinics – This year, volunteers may be able to complete and file your taxes virtually by videoconference, by phone, or through a document drop-off arrangement. Since May 2020, the CVITP has assisted more than 170,000 people with the filing of their income tax and benefit returns. If you cannot file electronically this year, we encourage you to seek a CVITP clinic through our national directory. Go to canada.ca/taxes-help for information.
Home office expenses – If you worked more than 50% of the time from home for a period of at least four consecutive weeks in 2020, you may be eligible to claim a deduction for home office expenses in the 2020 tax year.
Multi-factor authentication – We’ve introduced a second layer of authentication that gives users of CRA login services more security and ensures only they can login to their account. After enrolling, users will need to enter a passcode that is sent to them via text or voice message each time they access their online CRA account.
Canada training credit – If you were at least 26 and less than 66 years old at the end of 2020 and you have a Canada training credit limit for 2020 on your latest notice of assessment or reassessment for 2019, you may be eligible to claim this refundable tax credit for up to half of your eligible tuition and other fees paid to an eligible educational institution in Canada for courses you took in 2020, or fees you paid to certain bodies for an occupational, trade or professional examination taken in 2020.
Digital news subscription tax credit – For the 2020 to 2024 tax years, you may be able to claim a non-refundable tax credit for expenses if you paid for a qualifying digital news subscription with a qualified Canadian journalism organization.
Canadian journalism labour tax credit – For 2019 and later tax years, if you are a qualifying member of a partnership, you may be able to claim this new, refundable tax credit. The partnership must be a qualifying journalism organization and allocate the credit to you.
Trust accounts registration online – The CRA is developing a new registration service that will allow most trusts to apply for a trust account number online. The new service is expected to be available in February 2021, and will be available through My Account, My Business Account, and Represent a Client.
Removal of drop boxes – Due to COVID-19, drop boxes have been closed at CRA offices except the Sudbury, Winnipeg, and Jonquiere Tax Centres. If you need to mail your tax return, please send it to your nearest tax centre.
Canada Revenue Agency
To receive updates on what is new at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), you can:
- Like the CRA on Facebook
- Follow the CRA on Twitter – @CanRevAgency.
- Follow the CRA on LinkedIn.
- Subscribe to a CRA electronic mailing list.
- Add our RSS feeds to your feed reader.
- Watch our tax-related videos on YouTube.
It is a great time to review the contents of emergency medical and earthquake kits in your home.
Are your water and food rations currently dated? Other items like glow sticks and batteries have expiry dates. It’s a good time to make sure everything is up to date.
Did you use some of the medical supplies during the year? Now is a great time to order replacement items. Please note that WCB Level 1 First Aid Kits are required in all of the homes that are staffed.
Have there been changes in the number of people residing in your home? Do you need more or less supplies?
Have any of the people you live with changed their diets over the past year? Do you need to change the dietary foods in their earthquake kits?
If you need help with restocking your emergency medical and earthquake supplies please feel free to contact Judy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
It is a good time to review all safety procedures in the home; making sure that exit routes are clear of debris, including accessing risk factors (for example, moving items on shelves that could fall and moving heavy items to bottom shelves instead of top shelves). Are all staff are familiar with where emergency care items are stored? Please review the following information from our policy manual with the staff and individuals you support. Include staff to join on skype or zoom if you cannot meet in person so everyone is familiar with this process.
When you have completed your Earthquake Drill please record this information on Sharevision.
How to Register for First Aid:
We recommend obtaining and/or renewing your First Aid through St. John’s Ambulance with the Emergency First Aid Community Care course. If there is another course offered by a different provider, please contact Human Resources prior to enrolling to determine if it is equivalent and meets the basic requirements.
To obtain/renew through St John’s Ambulance, please call (604) 321-7242
- They above number is their main line, but they have a number of locations across the lower mainland if you would like to call a location directly: http://www.sja.ca/English/About-Us/Pages/Locations.aspx
- Register yourself for Emergency First Aid Community Care.
If an employee does not have a valid first aid certificate upon hire, the fee to obtain or renew certification is the responsibility of the employee. Future renewal fees for active employees are covered by Spectrum.
- If you are renewing your first aid, ask St. John Ambulance to invoice Spectrum Society
- Let them know Spectrum Society will be paying for your course fee.
*St. John Ambulance may request authorization from Spectrum. Email email@example.com with the date/location you want to complete the course and we will call them to confirm your registration.
First Aid is a requirement for employment as indicated in ‘Policy 4: Requirements for Employment. Below is a link to Spectrum’s First Aid policy:
For employees renewing their first aid, please ensure St. John’s Ambulance (SJA) includes the CPR pocket mask with your first aid registration. If the CPR pocket mask is not included with your registration fee, SJA requires attendees pay for this on the day of course completion; you can save your receipt and submit it to Human Resources for reimbursement.
Please email your certificate of course completion to firstname.lastname@example.org to have your file updated.
Please let Judy know if you have any questions or issues registering, by emailing email@example.com