Canada's big six banks are offering mortgage payment deferrals for up to six months for homeowners who are unable to make payments because of the COVID19 pandemic.
Neil Parmenter, president of the Canadian Bankers Association, tweeted March 18 that RBC, TD, BMO, Scotiabank, CIBC and National Bank would put the program into place "effective immediately."
He added the banks would also offer "opportunity for relief on other credit lines."
The message concluded with the instruction "Talk to your bank" for customers who believe they should get the relief, which will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
In a combined press release, all six big banks said they were also working with commercial customers to provide "flexible solutions" for Canadian businesses struggling because of the virus outbreak.
On the same day, credit union Vancity announced that it was also implementing mortgage payment deferrals of up to six months for struggling homeowners.
It wrote in a statement: "Vancity initially responded by introducing a three-month loan deferral program for our members. It is clear the effects of the pandemic will last longer, so today we are announcing an extension of that deferral program for a term of up to six months. This includes mortgages and other loans and will support members facing financial uncertainty and vulnerability from the fallout of coronavirus."
Vancity said that personal banking and business customers should contact their customer service line to find out how the credit union can help.
It wrote: "Each case will be assessed individually to help people through these difficult times... Other support for Vancity members facing financial difficulties owing to the virus include providing emergency working capital [and] buying back foreign currency at the rate it was sold, for customers impacted by travel disruption, to ensure they do not suffer financial loss."
Tamara Vrooman, CEO of Vancity, stated, "Many people and businesses will be directly affected by this pandemic, and we're here to support them. I encourage any members with concerns on how to deal with the impact of the Coronavirus to contact us. We will work with you to identify what supports you need, including options such as emergency working capital and mortgage payment flexibility. Vancity will continue to find more solutions during this challenging time as the situation evolves."
None of the mortgage lenders has announced whether the payment deferrals will be interest free or whether they will accrue interest.