WATERLOO REGION – A team of computer engineers, programmers and entrepreneurs from the Waterloo region and across Canada have developed a free website to help Canadians determine what government assistance programs they may qualify for in response to COVID-19, and how to apply.
Coronasupport.ca uses an anonymous 14 question survey to determine where a person lives, employment status, age, and other financial information to provide a list of possible assistance programs. The site also provides a brief summary of each program and indicates whether or not people need to fill out an application form.
The goal is to remove some of the guesswork and uncertainty from the whole process.
“We give them that peace of mind that they haven’t overlooked,” said Kyle Kaiser, one of the nearly 20 volunteers who helped build the website. “It can be quite overwhelming.”
Other key contributors included Jason Knott, Brad Moon and Tamara Bain.
Kaiser said nearly 11,000 people have responded to the survey since the site launched last Thursday. If a formal request for a specific program is required, Coronasupport.ca provides a link to the exact government web page.
At the end of March, the federal government unveiled a personal and business assistance program worth more than $ 100 billion in response to the pandemic.
It includes a one-time increase of up to $ 300 per child on the Canada Child Benefit for the month of May, a GST tax credit worth nearly $ 400 per person, the Canada Child Benefit emergency worth up to $ 2,000 per month for up to four months for Canadians who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, and more.
The Ontario government also unveiled its own $ 17 billion action plan in early April, with $ 7 billion in assistance to individuals and businesses and $ 10 billion in other supports. cash.
“It’s a stressful time,” Kaiser said. “The last thing people want to do is find a government website.”
The site took about two weeks to develop, Kaiser said. The team scoured government websites for all the details, and they had a contact within the federal government to make sure the information they provided was correct.
The economy has all but come to a halt as all non-essential businesses have been ordered to shut down to promote greater social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The economic toll has been felt across Canada, as more than a million jobs were lost last month – double what economists expected – and the unemployment rate rose more than two points to reach 7.8%.
Overall, 3.1 million Canadians reported losing their jobs or working reduced hours due to COVID-19 last month.
In Waterloo region, 3,000 fewer people were employed at the end of March compared to February, as businesses were ordered to close, and local business experts believe that number will only worsen when the numbers jobs for April will be available.