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.


CANADIAN EMERGENCY BUSINESS ACCOUNT (CEBA)

May 28, 2020 update:
On May 19, the Government of Canada announced the eligibility criteria for the CEBA program has expanded. We are still waiting for the details from the federal government, so are not yet able to process applications under the new criteria. As soon as we have this, we will update our online application so businesses can apply utilizing these new measures. Please check back for updates over the next couple of weeks.

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:


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?

At this time, eight of Synergy’s branches have reopened to the public. 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:

Can the transaction be completed using one of our online or self-serve tools? We continue to recommend these tools as a first choice:

  • Online banking offers many of the same services that you can access by coming into the branch, including paying your bills and making loan payments.
  • Synergy Mobile App works on most mobile devices, offering the most sought-after features of online banking, whenever and wherever it suits you.
  • Member Contact Centre representatives are available with extended hours to assist you with your banking needs by phone (1-866-825-3301 or 1-306-825-3301), email (webmail@synergycu.ca) and by Live Chat.
  • INTERAC e-Transfer† a quick and secure method to transfer funds. All you need is your recipient’s email address or mobile phone number to send money in just a few quick and easy steps.
  • ATMs are available at a number of locations in our region to provide easy access to cash, make deposits, check balances and pay bills.
  • Night deposit is a safe and secure way to deposit your funds.
  • Deposit Anywhere allows you to remotely deposit your cheque into your personal account pack – anytime day or night, anywhere you have an Internet connection – using the Synergy CU Mobile app.

If the online or self-serve options will not work for you, please consider making an appointment. We are subject to Saskatchewan Health Authority guidelines for building capacity and social distancing; therefore, we must limit visitors to our branches at any one time. Members who make appointments will be given priority.

If you enter one of our branches, please be aware the experience will be different as we take the following steps:

  • 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.


The following branches will be open to the public Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Lloydminster, Lashburn, Maidstone, Neilburg, Paradise Hill, St. Walburg, Kindersley and Denzil. The Marsden branch will continue to be available by appointment. Our Marshall branch will remain closed at this time.


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 PayGoogle 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 PaySamsung 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.

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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† Trade-mark of Interac Inc. Used under license.

™Deposit Anywhere is a trademark of Central 1 Credit Union and used with their permission.

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