Revenu Québec typically charges a 5% penalty on the balance not paid by the deadline plus 1% for every full month your return is late for a maximum of 12 months.
COVID-19 relief benefits
Canadians and Quebecers who received federal or provincial COVID-19 emergency benefits, including CERB and Employment Insurance — whose taxable income does not exceed $75,000 — will not be charged interest on any outstanding tax debt for 2020 until April 30, 2022.
"That means that any individual who received some form of COVID-19 relief benefit and owes money on their 2020 tax return will qualify for relief as long as their taxable income is no more than $75,000," Cabral said.
"Don't put off filing taxes because you’re worried you might owe money, or because you still don’t have all your tax slips. If you have amounts due, make sure to call the CRA or Revenu Québec to make a payment plan. [They] will cut off any interest as long as you respect the payment plan."
It's no surprise that the pandemic has had a negative impact on Canadians' mental health. The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) released the results of ongoing research on mental health in Canada throughout the pandemic, and the results are troubling.
The ARI asked Canadians to summarize how they had been feeling over the past few weeks. Of the 1,509 Canadians polled online from January 18 to 20, nearly half (48%) said that they felt "fatigued." That's more than three times the number of people who reported feeling "optimistic" (13%) or "happy" (12%). 40% of Canadians expressed feeling "frustrated," 37% felt "anxious" and 23% felt "depressed."
Although the major physical effects of the virus itself have been felt the most by older generations, Canadian young adults seem to be the ones feeling a mental toll, according to the Institute.
49% of respondents aged 18-35 reported feeling "not good" or "terrible" in the last two weeks. This rate is twice that of adults aged 55 and over (25%). Only 1 in 20 young adults (5%) reported feeling "untroubled."
The pandemic has also exacerbated pre-existing issues in young people. Three-quarters of young adults (76% of people aged 18 to 34) reported that anxiety and depression had worsened in their social circles during the pandemic. Just over 6 in 10 young adults believed that loved ones' alcohol abuse had gotten worse since March 2020.
The ARI attributes recent dips in mental wellbeing to the spread of the Omicron variant across the country.
"Prior to the Omicron wave, one-quarter (25%) said their mental health was not good," the Institute said in its findings. "Now, one-third (35%) say they are struggling with their state of heart and mind, including seven per cent who say they are feeling terrible, nearly double the amount measured at any point since October 2020."
The Quebec government announced on January 25 that over $1 billion would be invested over the next five years into bettering the mental health of the province. "This is the first mental health action plan with investments of this magnitude, which will contribute, among other things, to improving access to services, offering recovery-oriented care and promoting the implementation of best practices," the Quebec government said in their release.
Nearly $470 million will specifically go toward improving young Quebecers' mental health, "including $200 million for the promotion of mental health and addiction prevention in schools." More than $300 million is going into "improving access to services."
If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or mental health concerns, please reach out to a trusted peer, parent or health care professional. You can also contact a helpline which is available 24 hours a day to talk. Or click here, for additional resources.
If you need immediate assistance please call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest hospital. Support is available.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
Premier François Legault's proposed "unvaxxed tax" has been met with support, opposition and now, alternatives. The Médecins québécois pour le régime publique (MQRP), a group of 500 doctors, residents and medical students, have laid out six ways they say the Quebec government can increase vaccination rates without imposing a tax on the unvaccinated.
Their first suggestion is to make the vaccine available in more private and community spaces and without the need for a RAMQ card, such as "in community centres, shelters, places of worship, in people's homes, etc." This would allow people to be vaccinated easily, without a change in their daily routine.
According to the MQRP, community organizations should also have access to funding for local vaccination initiatives.
Next, the MQRP recommends offering the vaccine alongside other health care services, such as in family physicians' offices and the CLSC network. "Professionals who already have a trusting relationship with unvaccinated patients must be able to offer on-site vaccination as soon as the time is right."
Their fourth recommendation is to provide phone and in-person appointments for vaccine-hesitant people to have their questions and concerns addressed in an anonymous and non-judgmental environment. This is in line with the Quebec government's new pro-vaccination initiatives that were laid out on Monday.
The MQRP says inclusive, multilingual awareness campaigns with different literacy levels in mind are also needed.
Lastly, the MQRP suggests that those seeking to discuss vaccination with their unvaccinated loved ones should be provided "tools, guidance, and support."
The MQRP has been vocally opposed to an unvaxxed tax, citing long-term problems in the health care system that predate the pandemic.
"By the time the pandemic hit Quebec, we were already seeing how stretched the health care system was, following many years of austerity and centralization reforms," the MQRP explained in their release on January 12.
"The last 30 years of erratic management and chronic public underfunding of health care, which have led to difficult working conditions for health care workers, staff shortages and service disruptions, cannot be used as an argument for imposing such a [tax]. Blaming the current problems in the health care system on the unvaccinated population is a dubious shortcut."
"In other words, a better-supported system would be able to more easily care for a population with 88% immunization coverage."
According to a new study conducted by Maru Public Opinion, 27% of Quebecers would approve of forcing the unvaccinated to "serve up to five days as part of a jail sentence for endangering others/overwhelming health care system," which is in line with the national average.
More than half of Quebecers (55%) surveyed wouldn't even feel bad for unvaccinated people who end up really sick — or dying — from COVID-19, also in line with the Canadian average. Currently, 12% of Quebecers surveyed admit to refusing the vaccine.
Maru contacted 1,506 Canadians — including 387 Quebecers — between January 14 and 15 for this survey. They note that "for comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size has an estimated margin of error (which measures sampling variability) of +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20."
The reasons cited in the study for avoiding the vaccine were varied, ranging from the understandable to the ludicrous. Civil liberty was a concern for many: 45% of unvaccinated Canadians claimed they are defending their right to make their own choices, and 22% say they just don't like the government telling them what to do.
Fear seems to be another strong motivator: 42% of unvaccinated Canadians claimed to be waiting for more data about the vaccine's safety, and 28% said they're anxious or scared of the effects the vaccine may have.
32% of unvaccinated Canadians, meanwhile, simply said that their immune system could beat the virus if they got it, so they don't need a vaccine.
Misinformation and conspiracy theories have also contributed to anti-vax sentiments. 21% said they're concerned that the vaccine will affect their genetic structure. 9% still think that COVID-19 is a hoax, while 7% believe the vaccine is just a ploy to keep drug companies rich and 4% think it's a global conspiracy to control those who get it. 3% think the vaccine will give them COVID-19.
Finally, only 1% of unvaccinated Canadians claimed it was against their religion to get the vaccine.
On the other end of the spectrum, 67% of Quebecers think that the vaccine should be mandatory, which is just above the national average of 66%. 78% of people in Quebec support the provincial government's decision to require a vaccine passport to enter the SAQ, the SQDC and large stores. And amid the controversy, 66% of Quebecers support an anti-vax tax.
The strain on our health care system remains a concern for Quebecers. 60% of respondents think the unvaccinated should pay out of pocket for any medical assistance they need due to COVID-19, and 35% believe the unvaccinated shouldn't be treated in public health care facilities at all.
Make sure to watch your mailbox and your e-mail inbox in the coming months, because you may get a letter stating that your benefits are being reviewed by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) this year. But don't worry, you won't be the only one.
The government agency released a notice saying that up to 200,000 Canadians will be contacted about their eligibility for different benefits and credits to ensure that they're receiving the proper amounts this year.
The CRA told people to "keep calm and respond" if they receive a letter and questionnaire about their benefits being reviewed.
For those who do get a letter, it's important that you reply and send all of the information requested as soon as possible. This process can be done via mail to the address listed on your letter or through the My Account portal on the CRA website
Are your benefits being reviewed? It\u2019s not just you \u2013 we send about 200K letters a year to confirm we have the right information on file. Here\u2019s how to respond if you hear from us http://ow.ly/KWBQ50Ho0ij\u00a0 #CdnTaxpic.twitter.com/AnMc2ILz7g
Don't worry, if you're currently receiving payments from the Government of Canada, you won't stop getting them while your information is in the process of being reviewed.
But, if you don't reply to the letter, the CRA will "adjust your benefits based on the information [they] have." This could potentially result in your benefits being decreased or even stopped altogether.
Some Canadians could also be asked to send the government back money if it was received incorrectly. So essentially, making sure you respond to the letter is in your best interest.
The CRA confirmed that "files are selected based on risk and whether you’ve had a life event that affects your benefits and credits. The CRA uses impartial and non-discriminatory criteria when selecting files for review, and doesn’t target specific communities or groups of people."
#DYK our phone lines are open longer so you have more time to ask us your tax and benefit questions? \n\nOur hours are:\n\nMon-Fri 8AM\u20138PM (local time)\nSat 9AM\u20135PM (local time)\n\nhttp://ow.ly/jXla50Hl1va\u00a0 #CdnTaxpic.twitter.com/Jt54tmMivx