Welcome to our new #AskMNLCT initiative! Read further in this post to see answers to questions most asked by our clients last week. Click the button below to watch a recording of the interactive webinar from Thursday, April 30 where members of the Settlement and Community Mental Health Teams answered participants questions in real time.

Do you have topic suggestions or questions you’d like answered in future editions? Send a note to our Communications Team: communications@mnlct.org.

You are eligible to apply if:

  • You have lost your job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. 
  • You are a contract worker and/or a self-employed person who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) and are unable to work due to COVID-19.
  • You are still employed but are not receiving income because of disruptions to your work situation due to COVID-19.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is available to workers who meet all of the following conditions:


  • live in Canada and are at least 15 years old
  • stopped working because of COVID-19 or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits
  • have not voluntarily quit their job
  • had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application.


As of April 15, 2020, the government has changed the eligibility rules to support more Canadians. These changes are meant to:


  • Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB.
  • Extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits and are unable to undertake their regular seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Extend the CERB to workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.


The changes made on April 15, 2020 will be retroactive to March 15, 2020.

You can apply either through Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or Service Canada. Please give us a call if you need help/guidance to apply.

To get this support as soon as possible, please apply on the specific day of the week that corresponds to the month you were born. See below:

Mondays: January, February or March
Tuesdays: April, May or June
Wednesdays: July, August or September
Thursdays: October, November or December
You may apply Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays regardless of the month you were born in.

Before applying, make sure that you:

  1. Have a valid Social insurance Number (Temporary Foreign Workers and International students with a valid SIN may qualify)
  2. Sign up for an online account with CRA or Service Canada

If you cannot create an online account, please contact 1-800-959-2019.

Please click on the links below for current information:

The Government of Canada is expanding access to CERB:

Service Canada – CERB:

Canada Revenue Agency – CERB:

Steps to Justice – CERB:

Yes, you can submit applications – online or paper – but processing is taking longer than usual. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is doing its best to keep clients informed during the current emergency about their application status. Through the IRCC website, you can learn about medical and police checks, how to appoint a representative, and how to protect yourself from fraud. You will also find forms that are easily downloadable. Sign in or create an account to check the status of your application, confirm processing times, and pay fees. 

Note: If your Permanent Resident card is about to expire, or has already expired, this does not mean that you are losing your immigration status. Just make sure that you have the Confirmation for Permanent Residence or the Landing Immigrant document. These documents are the primary proof of Permanent Residency in Canada.

Citizenship and Immigration:

Create a secure IRCC account:

Find a form:

Check application processing times:

Ontario covers primary healthcare services through the Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP). To access medical services, you will need a valid health card. However, during the COVID-19 crisis, the Province of Ontario has made a few amendments to allow healthcare access to individuals. 

If your OHIP card has expired…
The province has extended the validity of all health (OHIP) cards beyond the expiry date. This means that you will be able to access medical services within Ontario even if your health card has expired. 

During COVID-19, renewal of OHIP cards has been postponed until further notice. Stay tuned for when health card renewal service becomes available. For detailed information, please go to: https://www.ontario.ca/page/serviceontario

If you are new to Ontario and do not have an OHIP card…
Ontario is waiving the three-month waiting period for Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage. 

If you applied for OHIP before March 19, 2020 and are currently in the three-month waiting period, your coverage started on March 19. If you need to seek medical treatment, call the Service Ontario InfoLine at 1-866-532-3161 to have your OHIP effective date adjusted and a health card issued.

If you are not eligible for OHIP and need medical attention during this period…
If you are a visitor or live under precarious immigration status in Canada and need medical attention – whether it’s COVID-19 related or not –  the Province of Ontario will cover the cost of medical services for uninsured peoplewho do not meet the criteria for OHIP coverage. These measures will also ensure that no one will be discouraged from seeking screening or treatment for COVID-19 for financial reasons.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms…
It is important that you seek medical care/guidance if you have COVID-19 like symptoms. If you are experiencing mild symptoms, please call your family physician or Telehealth Ontario: 1-866-797-0000. In case of an emergency, please call 911 immediately.

If you are in lockdown and need to access a virtual walk-in clinic…
Cover Health is a convenient at-home digital access to healthcare that is free for all those living in Ontario. OHIP covers your visit; but if you don’t have one, the Ontario Ministry of Health has announced that physician services are now to be covered for all patients in the province. This includes those who are not currently insured under OHIP or another provincial plan. All you need is your address and phone number and they’ll take care of the rest.
This is how it works. Visit the Cover Health website and click on “start online visit” button to request a secure conversation with a doctor. Once you register and your appointment is confirmed, a doctor will call you as soon as they are finished helping other patients in line.
Cover Health: https://cover.health/
To find out more about how virtual care works in the province, visit Ontario Telemedicine Network (www.otn.ca).

For additional information on accessing healthcare services during COVID-19, please click on the following link:

Since the Province of Ontario declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak, this has had an impact on workers. The Ministry of Labour has published information related to this matter and provides information to employees about their rights during the time of a pandemic emergency. Employees have the right to take job-protected unpaid leave with no repercussions from the employer.

For more information: https://www.ontario.ca/document/your-guide-employment-standards-act-0/infectious-disease-emergency-leave#section-1

Please contact the food bank directly, their staff will guide you on what to do – most of them have services available in different languages. If you need support with interpretation, please let us know at 647-776-205 and our receptionist will be happy to connect you with a Settlement Worker who speaks Arabic, Mandarin or Spanish.


The 519 Community Centre 
519 Church Street | https://www.the519.org | 416-355-6782 
Monday to Friday: Take away meals given out at 1pm and 4pm
Saturday and Sunday: Take away meals given out at 12:30pm
Come to the Fabarnak Café patio to receive your meal.

Drop-in at 1884 Davenport 
1884 Davenport Road | https://www.thestop.org/contact-us/ | 416-652-7867 ext. 227 
Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays: Take away meals only; 9-10am for breakfast and 12-1pm for lunch 

Daily Bread Food Bank 
191 New Toronto Street | https://www.dailybread.ca | 416-203-0050 | info@dailybread.ca 

North York Harvest Food Bank 
Multiple Locations | https://northyorkharvest.com/find-a-food-bank/ |
416-635-7771 ext. 0 | info@northyorkharvest.com 
Phone the referral line or email them to determine what food banks are still open and how to gain access.

The Scott Mission 
Various Locations | https://www.scottmission.com/covid-19/ 

502 Spadina Avenue
Prepackaged groceries will be provided at front doors located at the Northern end; Prepackaged take away meals will be available at the south end of the building 

1550 O’Connor Drive
Prepackaged groceries will be available every Tuesday from the front doors.

The Stop Food Bank 
1884 Davenport Road | https://www.thestop.org/contact-us/ | 416-652-2294 
For those in the catchment area: Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 12-3pm; call to confirm.

Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre 
439 Dundas Street East | https://www.councilfire.ca/index.html |
Serving meals outside of the building in place of regular drop-in food programming; call to confirm.


211 Central 
24/7 | https://www.211toronto.ca/ | TTY 1-888-340-1001
Residents who need to access, or are seeking information on, social and community supports and services (including food banks), should call 211 for non-emergency requests and information.
Live Text Chat Support available Monday-Friday 7am-9pm by texting 21166 

Chalmers Bot 
24/7 | https://chalmers.app/  A web/phone app that uses your current location to find the closest free meal/drop-in/clothing resource/etc.

City of Toronto
New food access supports and resources are available for seniors and other vulnerable people experiencing hardship related to COVID-19.

If you do not want to go grocery shopping, you can order online. Many companies are offering free or reduced-rate delivery. If you need help, please let us know at 647-776-2057, and our receptionist will be happy to connect you with a Settlement Worker who speaks Arabic, Mandarin or Spanish.

Amazon https://www.amazon.ca/grocery/
Bulk Barn https://www.bulkbarn.ca/home-en/
Fresh City Farms – https://www.freshcityfarms.com/
Freshco  https://www.inabuggy.com/FreshCo-Toronto-GTA–Grocery-Delivery–S1 
Healthy Butcher https://thehealthybutcher.com 
Hello Tomato app https://m.hellotomato.ca/index.html 
Instacart  https://www.instacart.ca 
Loblaws https://www.loblaws.ca/quickshop
Longos https://www.grocerygateway.com/store/ 
Mama Earth https://www.mamaearth.ca 
No Frills https://www.nofrills.ca/online-grocery-shopping
Onfresh http://onfresh.ca/ 
Walmart https://www.walmart.ca/en/grocery/N-117  

If you are a senior and want to order fruits and vegetables over the phone, please call:
Friendly Neighbour Hotline: 1-855-581-9580, available in 180 languages.
Good Food Box: https://goodfoodbox.foodshare.net/pages/covid-19-updates

Due to COVID-19, many Ontarians are asking questions such as:

  • How am I going to be able to pay rent, property taxes, utility bills?
  • Can I be evicted if I find myself unable to pay rent?
  • Does my building have health and safety measures in place?
  • What about my rights as a tenant?

Please note that every situation is different, and that although there are some universal benefits available during COVID-19, you may want to speak to a settlement worker directly so we can have all the facts about your specific case. Please feel free to contact us for a personalized appointment at 647-776-2057, and our receptionists will be happy to direct your call accordingly – services are offered in English, Spanish, Arabic and Mandarin.

Those concerned about facing eviction, please note that in response to COVID-19, there will not be eviction orders issued until further notice. However, this does not mean that you should just stop paying rent. Know that there are some universal benefits that you can access in the meantime:

All stress is caused by wanting this moment to be something it is not. As the COVID-19 outbreak unfolds, stress has been one of the most common reactions due to the alarming information, uncertainty, unemployment, financial changes, and social isolation among others.

If you are feeling a mental strain, try to shift your thinking and explore ways to use your own strengths during the crisis. 

The first thing is to understand that your reaction is natural and normal. When we’re in a very stressful situation, our brains switch to survival mode with only two priorities: fight or flight. This instinct developed over time to help us stay safe. During this mode, it’s very difficult to think or focus.

It’s helpful reconnect with your body in order to ground yourself and regain your focus. This can be done through activities like deep breathing or meditation.

Deep breathing is a simple technique that is ideal for managing emotions. Not only is this exercise highly effective, it is also easy to do at any time or place. Sit comfortably and place one hand on your abdomen. Breathe in through your nose deeply enough that the hand on your abdomen rises. Hold the air in your lungs, and then exhale slowly through your mouth with your lips puckered as if you are blowing through a straw. The secret is to go slow: time the inhalation (4 seconds), pause (4 seconds), and exhalation (6 seconds). Practice for 3 to 5 minutes.

After that, you can start to separate yourself from your emotions. For example, picture yourself as the sky – you will experience the clouds, the storms, the lightening, the stars, but you are not those things, you are uniquely the sky. In the same way, you are not your emotions, you are uniquely you. You can say “I am having a feeling of depression” instead of “I am depressed”.

Finally, identify your immediate needs and take small actions to address them. You can use the format: “At this moment, I need ________ so I will __________.” 

Here are some examples of actions you can take:

“At this moment, I need to feel connected with my friends, so I will phone a friend tonight.” 

Connect with friends.  Remember that we as human beings are social, and we are used to living and connecting with others. For this reason, it is important to reach out to family, friends and colleagues regularly via phone, text, video chat or other virtual platforms. Play games, tell stories, listen to music together, and even dance virtually. Checking in regularly with our families and friends will allow us to overcome isolation – just knowing they are well and sharing experiences and anecdotes will create the sense of belonging and acceptance needed to overcome isolation.

“At this moment, I need to stop thinking about the coronavirus, so I will take a break from reading or listening to the news today.

Take a break from the news. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread and remains the media’s main focus, listening to the news can be very upsetting and stressful. Taking a break from social media and the news can be a good way to distract yourself for a while. It is important to take this situation seriously and stay informed, but becoming obsessed with the media coverage regarding the virus can be detrimental to your mental health.

For more information on managing stress during the COVID-19 crisis, the Self-care and Resilience Guide (https://theworkingmind.ca/sites/default/files/twm_self-care-resilience-guide.pdf) prepared by the Mental Health Commission of Canada offers great advice.

The Government of Canada has launched Wellness Together Canada (https://ca.portal.gs) which provides free online resources, tools, apps and connections to trained volunteers and qualified mental health professionals when needed. 

If you would like to talk to someone because you feel anxious or distressed due to COVID-19 and physical distancing, please feel free to contact us at 647-776-2057. Our MNLCT receptionists will be happy to direct your call accordingly – services are offered in English, Spanish, Arabic and Mandarin.

Managing relationships with family members while locked down at home for weeks can be frustrating. When confined with loved ones 24 hours a day for such a long period of time, we can start to experience extreme behaviour due to this frustration or anger.

The first thing to do is to understand your own thoughts and behaviours; there are some good tips in the answer to the previous question.

Once you are feeling better, you will be better equipped to support your family. Ask yourself and your family some questions to find your unique shared experiences and strengths.

  • What do you like to do together? E.g. go for a walk, watch a movie, bake cookies.
  • What meaningful events have you enjoyed together? E.g. the birth of your youngest child, a wedding, a vacation.
  • What is your family grateful for? E.g. each other, a special food, a family treasure.
  • What things can you imagine your family doing together in the future? E.g. going on vacation, having a meal with your extended family, adopting a pet.

Use the responses to your questions as cues for how you can spend meaningful time together. Some ideas:

  • Create a poster together that shows the responses and hang it in a place you all can enjoy.
  • Do some of the activities you identify together, modifying the activities as you need to for your current situation.
  • Plan some future activities in detail, and enjoy imagining the possibilities.

You can see more suggestions for supporting children in the answer to the next question.

This emergency period can trigger a stress reaction in children. Kids do not express emotions like adults. For this reason, it is important to pay attention to their comments and behaviours. For instance, when they say “I am bored…” they may be expressing stress or anxiety or a need for a comfort. Other expressions of anxiety can be tantrums, excessive attachment to parents, nightmares, nail-biting, refusing to sleep alone, and acts of regression where they behave like younger kids. 

Children are driven by emotions and it’s an adult’s responsibility to learn how to read their behaviour because they are still developing communication skills. Parents need to adopt an attitude of non-judgement and acceptance. 

Moreover, parents may be overly stressed, and their engagement with kids can be difficult if they worry about financial and physical safety. They can’t focus on their kid’s emotional necessities and they feel overwhelmed. There are some good tips in the answer to the question “I am worried about having a breakdown after being isolated for a long period. What should I do?” on ways for parents cope.


Stick to a routine
It’s important to establish a consistent routine – daily and weekly – that will help maintain a positive and harmonious living environment. You want to ensure that your kids are waking up, getting dressed and having breakfast around the same time they usually do on a normal day. Set aside time for school work and other activities with proper breaks in between. 

Encourage physical exercise
Take a stroll, cycle or play outside while still maintaining physical distancing and adhering to the city’s updated regulations on being in public spaces. When inside, you can explore various activities – workouts, dancing, and yoga are just some examples.

Urge them to stay connected 
Remember that kids too have a social life so encourage them to phone and video call their friends, relatives and colleagues. Not only will this keep them interacting with the outside world, but they will learn how others are coping. 

Enjoy more family time
Take advantage of this moment to strengthen your familial bonds – and what better way to do it than to engage in fun activities like board games, puzzles, playing cards, and other activities your family enjoys. Take on a project together – cooking, gardening, building model airplanes, watercolor painting or exploring a new musical instrument. 

Stimulate their intellect
The public libraries are closed, but who says your reading days are over? The Toronto Public Library has launched an Instant Digital Card (for residents who do not have a library card) which gives free, temporary access to OverDrive – their largest collection of e-books and audiobooks. The card is available to anyone aged 13 and older with a Toronto cell phone that can receive text messages. To register, log on to tpl.ca/digitalcard.

Practice mindfulness 
Stay positive and teach your kids to focus on positivity. Discuss their emotions and focus on the things that are going well for the family. Encourage them to appreciate – we’re talking an attitude of gratitude. Practice daily positive affirmations that will help them manage stress in a positive way. Choose activities that you notice improve their mood.

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"The Mennonite New Life Centre and its BEMC program came in very handy for me at the lowest ebb of my life by providing a lifeline and I am eternally grateful for that,”

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