Utility Bill Payments in Canada During COVID-19 for the Immunocompromised: What you Need to Know

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Unfortunately, those most at risk of developing severe complications if exposed to COVID-19 are also most at risk of developing financial difficulties during this time. If you’re immunocompromised and had to take leave off from a job that is essential or has duties that cannot be performed at home, this article is for you.

We are not financial experts; however, we did the best we could to collect pertinent information on the subject to help our community navigate life during this difficult time. Click through the following options to find some solutions. If what you’re looking for isn’t on this list, please let us know and we will do our best to point you in the right direction.

I’m a Canadian who is immunocompromised and:

I am immunocompromised and worried about paying for my utility bills (gas and electricity)

Click the links below to be sent straight to your province to learn about what your utility providers are doing to help you during this time.

Alberta Utility payment deferral

On Alberta.ca Albertans who are facing financial difficulty during this time are encouraged to work with their utility provider to defer electricity and natural gas bills until June 19,2020 without any late fees or added interest payments.

No Albertan will be permitted to be cut off from these services or have their services reduced during this time period.

You are eligible for this deferral of payment if you match the following criteria:

  • diagnosed with COVID-19
  • directed by health authorities to self-isolate
  • have lost your job
  • are taking care of a family member

This applies to bills for residential, farm and small commercial:

  • electricity consumers, who consume less than 250,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year
  • natural gas consumers, who consume less than 2,500 gigajoules per year

Keep in mind these are deferrals NOT EXEMPTIONS. You will be expected to pay at the end of the deferral period; however it will likely not be in a lump sum.

In addition to the agreed repayment plan, consumers may:

  • put down additional payments towards their balance
  • pay one month and defer the next during the period between March 18-June 19
  • make changes or amendments to a payment schedule – including automatic payments

Other resources for Albertans:

For information other financial support programs available during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit:

British Columbia

From GOV.BC.CA/COVID19 :

BC Hydro

  • BC Hydro rates have been reduced by 1%, effective April 1, 2020
  • BC Hydro residential customers who have lost their job or are unable to work as a result of COVID-19 will receive a bill credit of three times their average monthly bill
  • Residential and commercial customers can defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty through the COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program
  • Customers experiencing job loss, illness or lost wages due to COVID-19 can access grants up to $600 to pay their hydro bills through the Customer Crisis Fund

ICBC

FortisBC

  • Residential FortisBC customers can sign up for the COVID-19 Customer Recovery Fund to automatically have their bills deferred from April 1 to June 30, 2020
    • A repayment schedule, free of interest or additional fees, will be set up and payments can be spread over a full year

Manitoba Hydro

On Manitoba Hydro’s website, they state that for those struggling financially due to COVID-19, all disconnections related to overdue accounts will be stopped until further notice.

Manitobans are also urged to contact their hydro provider so that a flexible payment plan can be arranged, and late payment charges can be suspended for up to six months.

New Brunswick – NB Power

On NB Power’s website, they encourage New Brunswick residents who are struggling to pay for their bills due to illness, job loss or requirements to self-isolate as a result of the pandemic, not to worry.

NB Power will be suspending disconnections for non-payment and collection efforts until further notice.

They also pledge to:

  • defer electricity bill payments for residential, seasonal and small business customers for up to 90 days.
  • extend existing payment arrangements.
  • delay our request for a decision on a rate increase for 2020/21, as well as our request for the implementation of smart meters, which the Energy and Utilities Board has agreed to.

If you are struggling to pay your bill and would like to discuss any of the above options, you can contact NB Power at 1 800 663 6272.

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and Energy Company

On the Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and Energy Company’s website, they state that:

During this challenging time they wish to support their customers and the communities they serve. Due to the many consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, they understand that many may be experiencing financial challenges. Their customer service team is here to help. Some of the approaches they have put into place until further notice are:

  • No customer will be disconnected during this time – residential or business.
  • If you suspect you may have challenges paying your bill, you are urged to call their customer service team at 1-888-737-1296 to discuss options regarding flexible bill payments.

Nova Scotia Power

On the Nova Scotia Power site, they state that for at least the next 90 days, they will not be disconnecting anyone’s power due to non-payment.

They also state that they are committed to being flexible, relaxing payment timelines, waiving penalties and fees on unpaid bills, and providing options for residential and small business customers.

If you’re struggling to pay your bill, their Customer Care team is ready to listen and work with you, so you can stay as current as possible with your payments.

Northwest Territories Power Corporation

On the Northwest Territories Power Corporation’s site they state that:

During the pandemic, customers are encouraged to use these one of these options to pay their bills:

1. By registering and paying through www.MyNTPC.com.

2. By using telephone or internet payment options through their bank.

3. In person at their local Co-op or Northern Store 4. By mailing payments to their local regional office or NTPC’s head office. Mailing addresses can be found at http://www.ntpc.com/customer-service/residentialservice/payment-options-late-payments.

5. By contacting our customer service representatives at 1-800-661-0855.

The Government of the Northwest Territories’ Income Assistance Program may be able to help customers who are having difficulty paying their bills. For information on how the program may assist in meeting your needs, please contact the Department of Education, Culture and Employment at (867) 767-9355 or visit: https://www.ece.gov.nt.ca/en/services/income-security-programs/income-assistance

Nunavut

As of April 2, the Nunavut government has not announced any specific direct financial assistance for residents affected by COVID-19, as there are no confirmed or known cases yet.

Ontario Energy Board

On the Ontario Energy Board website, they state that during this time of emergency, any time of use customers will be paying off peak prices regardless of the time of day. This is applied automatically and no customer action is required

The Electricity disconnection ban has been extended. On March 19, 2020, the OEB extended the winter ban on electricity disconnections for non-payment for residential customers to July 31, 2020. Low-volume, small business customers will now also be protected by the ban. In addition, the OEB is has set guidelines for distributors to be more flexible on payment arrangements during this time.

There are also programs that have been put into place to help people from low-income households.  Find out more at oeb.ca/billhelp

The government has also stepped in and expanded LEAP by providing $9 million to help assist customers that are struggling to make their energy bill payments as a rssult of COVID-19.

Prince Edward Island – Maritime Electric

Maritime Electric is working with individual customers on a one-on-one basis.

If you need to reach them, call 1-800-670-1012 or email: customerservice@maritimeelectric.com

From Monday to Friday any time between 8 am and 5 pm.

Hydro Quebec

Mesures pour venir en aide à nos clients

Nous sommes sensibles au fait que certains de nos clients pourraient vivre des difficultés financières au cours des prochaines semaines en raison de la crise de la COVID‑19.

Nous prenons donc les mesures suivantes afin d’aider les personnes touchées :

  • Nous ne procédons à aucune interruption du service d’électricité pour non-paiement.
  • Il n’y a pas d’interruptions planifiées pour entretien du réseau, à l’exception de celles qui sont absolument essentielles.
  • À compter du lundi 23 mars, nous suspendrons jusqu’à nouvel ordre l’application des frais d’administration aux factures impayées pour tous les clients résidentiels. Les clients qui ne pourront pas payer leurs factures d’électricité au cours des prochains mois n’auront donc aucune pénalité. Ils pourront conclure une entente afin d’en reporter le paiement. Si vous prévoyez avoir de la difficulté à payer votre facture, vous pouvez dès maintenant conclure une entente de paiement en ligne, dans votre Espace client, ou au téléphone, avec l’un de nos représentants.

Saskatoon – SaskPower

On SaskPower’s site they state that:

During this difficult time for customers, SaskPower has developed the following additional measures to help ease potential strain on customers. These include:

  • Stopping active collection activity on overdue accounts
  • Stopping disconnections of residential power service for non-payment
  • Not installing devices to limit electrical supply to customers who are in arrears

Yukon Energy Corporation

On the Yukon Energy Corporation’s Site, they state that:

As there is currently only one identified case in the Yukon, they are committed to keeping up with social distancing norms to keep employees safe and numbers down. 


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