Frequently Asked Questions

CANADIAN EMERGENCY RESPONSE BENEFIT (CERB)

What is CERB?

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit was created by the federal government to provide temporary income support to workers who have stopped working related to COVID-19.

Who is eligible?

Individuals who are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits, or who have recently exhausted Employment Insurance regular or fishing benefits may also be eligible.

How much does the benefit provide?

The new Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $500 per week for a maximum of 16 weeks.

The benefit is available from March 15, 2020, to October 3, 2020. You can apply no later than December 2, 2020, for payments retroactive to within that period.

For more information on CERB:

There are criteria that must be met to apply and the benefit is taxable. We encourage you to visit the Government of Canada's Q&A page for application information.

It is also important to note that this is taxable. We recommend talking to a tax expert about any income tax requirements you should consider.


REGISTERED RETIREMENT INCOME FUNDS (RRIF)

What has changed with Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF)?

The federal government has recently announced several legislative changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of those adjustments is a change to the calculation of the 2020 required minimum withdrawal for Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF).

What’s changed?

  • The minimum amount that must be withdrawn from RRIFs will be reduced by 25% for 2020. For example, if your 2020 minimum amount would have been $10,000, the reduced minimum amount will now be $7,500.
  • The minimum amount for individuals receiving variable benefit payments under a defined contribution registered pension plan or pooled registered pension plan will also be reduced by 25% in 2020. Variable benefits are payments made to plan members from a defined contribution pension plan or pooled registered pension plan like a RRIF.

Please note: Individuals who have already withdrawn more than the reduced 2020 minimum amount will not be permitted to re-contribute to their RRIFs an amount up to the 25% proposed reduction.

With the lower RRIF minimum amounts in effect for 2020, you now have more flexibility in managing your retirement savings since you can leave more of your funds in a tax-sheltered environment in 2020, if that best suits your personal cash flow needs for the year.

We would encourage you to call us to discuss your options regarding your RRIF and other retirement savings in 2020. We want to make sure you can maximize your ability to take advantage of this adjustment.


DAY-TO-DAY SERVICES

Are Synergy's branches open?

Yes, they are. Effective Sept. 1, our branches will be open:
  • Monday to Thursday: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Friday: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
We are still taking extra precautions to ensure the health and wellbeing of members and Synergy staff members.

When determining whether a branch visit is necessary, please consider if transaction be completed using one of our online or self-serve tools? We continue to recommend these tools as a first choice:

If you are required to visit a branch, please note, Synergy is:

  • Limiting the number of people allowed inside our branches at a time. (We thank you for your understanding if asked to wait outside.)
  • Reducing the number of open tellers.
  • Installing clear barriers at our tellers.
  • Stationing greeters near all entrances to guide queuing and help with pre-arranged appointments.
  • Managing traffic flow where possible to ensure appropriate physical distancing (members will be asked to follow signage).
  • Increasing cleanliness practices, including the use of hand sanitizer upon entry into a branch.
  • Sanitization of work areas will occur periodically throughout the day.
  • There will continue to be no access to coffee services and public washrooms.


I am worried that my money is at risk. How is the credit union protecting us?

You can feel assured that deposits held at Synergy Credit Union are fully guaranteed by Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation. There is no limit to the size of deposit covered by the guarantee – whether $1 or $1,000,000 or more, all deposits are fully guaranteed.

This includes all funds held on deposit with Synergy's:

Have any other services been suspended?

The credit union system has suspended the CUConnect program indefinitely. If this impacts you, please call us at 1-866-825-3301 or 1-306-825-3301 and we will be happy to assist with your banking needs.

What should I do about paying with cash?

Most merchants are asking their customers to refrain from using cash as it causes them operational concerns and could be a point of contamination. Please practice safe distancing and increased personal hygiene. You may want to consider cashless options, such as INTERAC e-Transfer transactions or using your mobile wallet with Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay.

Should I take out large amounts of cash to be better prepared for COVID-19?

While it has been a general practice for people to make sure they have the essentials on hand (note: NOT hoarding) just in case of an extended stay at home, we are not recommending heading to the ATM and withdrawing large sums of money.

We have a number of safe alternatives to cash that are widely accepted:

  • Debit and credit tap: Using the tap function also allows you to avoid having to push buttons on the machine.
  • Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay: are all available and are as simple to use as tapping your phone on the point-of-sale machine (similar to the tap function on your debit card).
  • INTERAC e-Transfer: Owe a friend or business some cash? Send a quick (and free in most cases) e-Transfer from your online banking account or mobile app.
  • Online banking: Avoid heading out to pay bills by being set up on online banking. It is simple to navigate and will ensure your payments are completed in a quick and secure manner.

MEMBER RELIEF PROGRAM

When will Synergy be introducing measures to help defer mortgage and loan payments?

Members are asked to check out our Member Relief Program, which can help defer mortgage and loan payments by up to six months depending on the situation.

We encourage members to call our Member Contact Centre (1-866-825-3301 or 1-306-825-3301) and they will be happy to connect you to a Synergy expert who can help devise a plan that makes sense for your situation.

BUSINESS MEMBERS

Do you have a plan in place to protect business owners?

For our business members concerned about a potential drop in revenue with people opting to self-isolate, we encourage you to contact our Business and Agriculture Financial Centre to discuss your options. Together, and with good discussion, we can develop a plan to help you manage potential impacts and continue to be a successful business.

CANADIAN EMERGENCY BUSINESS ACCOUNT (CEBA)

September 1, 2020 update:

Applications deadlines for both the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) and the Business Credit Application program have been extended.

The deadline to apply for CEBA is now Oct. 31, 2020. The BCAP deadline has been extended to June 2021.

Our application process includes the newly expanded Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA).  The expanded CEBA has broadened to include owner-operated small businesses that do not have a payroll, sole proprietors receiving business income directly, as well as family-owned corporations remunerating in the form of dividends rather than payroll.

The CEBA verification process is being updated and this is causing a delay in processing time for some applications. The processing time commences once your application form and all required supporting documentation are received by the Government of Canada. Once your application has been processed, you will hear from us per normal CEBA process. For more information on processing times visit the Government of Canada CEBA webpage.

If you have applied for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) and have questions, such as the status or your application, please contact the new CEBA Call Centre at 1-888-324-4201 to receive a status update on your application. The CEBA call centre is open Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. MST.

What is the CEBA?

Business and non-profit members may be eligible to receive an interest-free loan of $40,000 through the federal government’s $25 billion Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA).

This will help better position these members to quickly return to providing services to their communities and creating employment.

Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022, will result in loan forgiveness of 25% (up to $10,000).

Who is Eligible?

Businesses are eligible for CEBA funding through Synergy Credit Union if:

  • They are a Canadian operating company (ie. not a holding company) registered and in operation on or before March 1, 2020.Have an annual payroll expense is between $20,000 and $1.5 million, as evidenced on your 2019 T4 Summary of Renumeration Paid (T4SUM).  If you cannot locate your T4SUM contact Revenue Canada for reissue.
  • Have a 15-digit Canada Revenue Agency Number also shown on your T4SUM.
  • Synergy Credit Union is your primary financial institution.
  • Your account is in good standing as an existing member.

What can funds be used for?

The funds from this loan shall only be used by the borrower to pay non-deferrable operating expenses of their business, including, without limitation: payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, property tax and regularly scheduled debt service. The funds may not be used to fund any payments or expenses such as prepayment/refinancing of existing indebtedness, payments of dividends, distributions and increases in management compensation.

For more information on CEBA:


BUSINESS CREDIT AVAILABILITY PROGRAM (BCAP)

As part of the federal government’s new $65 billion Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP), Synergy Credit Union and Export Development Canada (EDC) are partnering to provide small- and medium-sized Canadian businesses with financing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This program helps businesses access the credit you need to cover payroll and other operating costs during this global health crisis. The EDC BCAP Guarantee provides businesses with up to $6.25 million in credit to cover operational costs like payroll and rent.

How does it work?


If your business needs a new loan to cover operational costs during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for the EDC BCAP Guarantee. Proceeds from the BCAP-supported loan cannot be used to repay or refinance existing debt (further restrictions apply to other non-operational costs). Export sales are not required to qualify for the program.

EDC fees related to this guarantee will be deferred for the first six months, giving some short-term relief to your business.

EDC will provide a guarantee to Synergy Credit Union on 80% of the value of your loan. By sharing risk with EDC, we can help your company access the financing it needs.

Please note: the guarantee on the loan is to your financial institution, not your business, so you remain responsible for the full value of the loan.

Next steps

  • Learn more information about the program.
  • Reach out to your Synergy representative to help decide if the BCAP program is a good fit for your cash flow needs.
  • Fill out the form on the EDC website.
  • Your Synergy representative will follow up with the next steps with you.

FRAUD PREVENTION

How can I protect myself from scams related to COVID-19?

During this time, it is important to be vigilant against those seeking to commit fraud. We will never send you unsolicited emails asking for confidential information, such as your password, PIN, access code, credit card, or account numbers. Please do not respond to unsolicited e-mails, text messages, websites, or pop-up windows that request this type of information. We also remind you not to open attachments or click hyperlinks in emails or text messages that are sent by someone you do not recognize.

TRAVEL CONSIDERATIONS

What should I know about travel insurance on my Synergy Credit Union Collabria Credit Card?

Our Synergy Credit Union Collabria Credit Card travel insurance provider (Desjardins Financial Security Life Assurance Company – DFS) is advising cardholders to take note of the Canada Travel, Global Travel Advisory, to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice.

If applicable, Cardholders can submit their travel insurance claim online. To do so, please visit the DFS website and click on “Claim” to find the right Claim form. Please note: there is an English language toggle button on the top right corner of the page as well. From there, follow the applicable steps to enter your claim details and send your information directly to the insurer.

Cardholders are also encouraged to visit the DFS website where frequently asked questions (FAQs) relating to the evolving COVID-19 situation and card insurance coverages are continuously updated. If you have further questions on your coverage, please contact DFS at 1-800-463-1623.

INVESTMENTS

I am concerned about my investments given some of the news reports relating to the coronavirus impacts on the markets. Should I be worried?

We hear you. There is a lot of information out there, but it's important to be able to determine what matters to you. It's also important to note that markets tend to fluctuate constantly, so it's imperative to maintain a long-term view even during what is a stressful time.

We suggest calling our Member Contact Centre (1-866-825-3301 or 1-306-825-3301) and they will be happy to direct you to the financial expert you have been working with. They can walk you through any potential impacts this pandemic could have — or not have — on your investment portfolio.

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