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COVID-19 FAQs

Quick answers to your most frequently asked questions

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We’re here for you

While the COVID-19 situation continues, our top priority is the health and well-being of our members, employees and communities. We will continue providing the essential banking services you need and the expert financial advice you rely on through these times of uncertainty.

We will continue to update this page when new and relevant information is available. 

 


​Financial Relief for Individuals

If you find yourself in a situation where you're struggling financially, please talk to us. Our team of expert advisors are here to help you find solutions. 

The government of Canada offers two EI programs to assist Canadians who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19, click the links for more information and to apply: 

You can find your direct deposit information in one of two places. If you have a cheque for your account, then you'll see the direct deposit information you need printed on the bottom of the front of your cheque. If you do not have a cheque, you can log in to online banking and get this information from the top right "Account Details" section on your account transactions screen. Learn more on our direct deposit support page. 

After you’ve applied to either program, you can apply to have the one-week waiting period waived by calling the government's toll-free number at 1-833-381-2725, or teletypewriter at 1-800-529-3742. ​

Inform your landlord of your inability to pay immediately but continue to self-isolate at home as per government health authority advisories. The province of B.C. recently announced a suspension of evictions, a freeze on rent increases and up to $500 a month for three months to help tenants make ends meet and keep their homes for the duration of the provincial COVID-19 emergency.  

The new ban means landlords cannot issue a new notice to end a tenancy for any reason and existing orders will not be enforced, though there are exemptions for the latter. The application portal from the provincial government is still under development. Check https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/home for updates.  

A variety of measures have been implemented to reduce the impact of COVID-19 for Mastercard cardholders.

  • Temporary increase in tap limits: Tap limits for contactless transactions are being temporarily increased to $250 from $100
  • Minimum payment deferral and interest rate reduction: Eligible cardholders can now receive up to six months in payment deferrals plus a reduced interest rate of 10.9% available on all purchases AND cash advances for the duration of the payment deferrals.
  • Minimum payment deferral: “Zero minimum payment” deferral options are being introduced to help reduce the financial stress on cardholders.
  • Travel insurance online claims: Cardholders can now submit their travel insurance claim online.
  • Expedited overlimit transaction approvals: Includes increased authorization limits in Collabria’s contact centre to reduce the turnaround time for most approvals.
  • Improving access to permanent credit limit increases: The requirement for an account to be six months old before a permanent increase can be considered has been waived.

Contact Mastercard cardholder support at 1-855-341-4643 to learn more.



Financial Relief for Businesses

CEBA is a Government of Canada loan program which was available for application until June 30, 2021 to qualifying small and medium sized businesses being negatively impacted financially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Qualifying businesses may receive up to $60,000 and a portion of this loan is eligible for complete forgiveness and requires no minimum monthly payments until December 31, 2023. You can find more information on this program on the federal government's CEBA website.

Review the FAQs and CEBA Document Upload Guide available within the federal government’s CEBA document upload application. If you are still experiencing issues, contact the CEBA Contact Centre at 1-888-324-4201.

You must complete and submit your eligible expenses on the federal government’s CEBA document upload application by July 14, 2021. If you are advised of issues with your documents, you have until September 3, 2021, to correct these.

If you receive a “technical difficulties” message, clear your browser and try again. If the browser you're using isn’t compatible, you will receive the following message: 

"This browser is not supported by the CEBA Document Upload Website. 

Please use one of the following supported browsers on PC: Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge version 83+ 

Please use one of the following supported browsers on Mac: Chrome, Firefox" 

Access the website, using one of the listed supported browsers. 

If you are still experiencing issues, contact the CEBA Contact Centre at 1-888-324-4201.

Review the FAQ’s and CEBA Document Upload Guide available within the federal government’s CEBA document upload application. If you are still experiencing issues, contact the CEBA Contact Centre at 1-888-324-4201.

CEBA enrolments are forwarded by us to the government who complete a pre-funding validation including verification with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) which can take 10-15 business days. Once we are advised of your application status, we will email you. You can also check the status of your application 5-7 business days after applying, through the Government of Canada’s CEBA status website or by contacting the CEBA Contact Centre at 1-888-324-4201.

If your application is declined, we will email you with the reason the government declined it and, if applicable, information on next steps such as how to provide additional information, make a correction or dispute the decline. 

Approval is based on criteria and pre-funding validation established by the Government of Canada. First West has no authority to grant exceptions.  

Your business may be eligible for other COVID-19 government support programs. Learn more here

CEBA loans can be repaid on or after November 1, 2022. Your CEBA loan is 0% interest and no payments until January 1, 2024, so continue to use your cashflow for essential or mandatory expenses.

If you have a CEBA loan balance on December 31, 2023, interest-only payments are required starting January 1, 2024 and until December 31, 2025. The loan must be repaid no later than December 31, 2025.

You can choose to repay the loan prior to the sale or the CEBA loan may form part of the sale contract and transfer to the new owner if the new owner uses the same CRA Business Number. As the CEBA program doesn’t allow a CEBA loan to transfer between financial institutions, the new owner would need to be approved for a membership at First West Credit Union.   

No. CEBA loans has a set repayment structure. Any outstanding balance is converted from 0% to 5% interest only on December 31, 2023.  On December 31, 2025, the entire outstanding balance is due.

If you wish to apply for a regular business loan or line of credit with First West and use the proceeds to pay the CEBA loan in full, that is always allowed. The request would be subject to approval using regular lending criteria, security, interest rate, fees, repayment, etc.

Any outstanding CEBA balance on December 31, 2023, will be converted to 5.0% per annum, interest only, payable monthly. There are no principal payments required. On December 31, 2025, the entire outstanding balance, plus any accrued interest, is due in full.

 


Credit Cards

 

A variety of measures have been implemented to reduce the impact of COVID-19 for Mastercard card holders.

  • Temporary increase in tap limits: Tap limits for contactless transactions are being temporarily increased to $250 from $100
  • Minimum payment deferral and interest rate reduction: Eligible cardholders can now receive up to six months in payment deferrals plus a reduced interest rate of 10.9% available on all purchases AND cash advances for the duration of the payment deferrals.
  • Minimum payment deferral: “Zero minimum payment” deferral options are being introduced to help reduce the financial stress on cardholders.
  • Travel insurance online claims: Cardholders can now submit their travel insurance claim online.
  • Expedited overlimit transaction approvals: Includes increased authorization limits in Collabria’s contact centre to reduce the turnaround time for most approvals.
  • Improving access to permanent credit limit increases: The requirement for an account to be six months old before a permanent increase can be considered has been waived.

Contact Mastercard cardholder support at 1-855-341-4643 to learn more.

Your Island Savings Mastercard credit card now features a temporary limit increase for contactless transactions from $100 to $250. This benefit is available to you wherever merchants have enabled higher contactless transaction amounts. This increase will allow you to complete more contactless payments and reduce the need to touch the PIN pad or terminal.   

If you had to cancel or interrupt your trip due to COVID-19, some expenses that you incurred on your Island Savings Mastercard credit card may be eligible for reimbursement. You can now submit your travel insurance claims online. To do so, click “Claim” on our insurance partner’s page to find the right claim form that fits your submission. Follow the applicable steps to process your claim and send it directly to the insurer. This insurance is available on select Island Savings credit cards, including the Travel Rewards Gold, World, US Dollar, and Platinum Business Mastercards.  

The requirement to wait six months before getting a higher credit limit has been waived and if you’ve been impacted by COVID-19, you receive priority service. In addition, if you’re currently stuck outside of Canada due to COVID-19 and struggling to meet basic living requirements while waiting to return or need funds to return, Mastercard is temporarily increasing credit limits and creating faster turnaround times for approvals on those limit increases. Contact Mastercard cardholder support at 1-855-341-4643 to learn more. 

 


Banking Options

We can serve nearly all your banking needs in ways that don’t require you to visit a branch in-person, through: 

  • Our online banking services, available to you 24/7, including Unlimited Interac e-Transfers® free of charge (just like always) with our Simply Free Account®.  
  • Mobile banking services, available to you 24/7 but with the added benefit of being able to deposit cheques from anywhere using your smartphone camera. 
  • Our ATMs, available to you 24/7. You can use any ATM on THE EXCHANGE® ATM network free of charge. 
  • Our Member Advice Centre, available by phone at 1-888-597-1083 from Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. We appreciate your ongoing patience with higher-than-normal call volumes. 

We have many digital solutions to meet the financial needs of your business including payroll, preauthorized payments, remote cheque deposit, Interac e-Transfer, and of course our industry-leading online banking and mobile banking app, available to you 24/7.  

You can also call our Member Advice Centre at 1-888-597-1083 and speak to one of our financial experts Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. We can serve almost all of your routine transactional and banking needs remotely, without you needing to leave the comfort and safety of your home or business. We appreciate your patience if call volumes are higher than normal during this time.  

Our ATMs remain accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Remember, you can use any ATM on the Exchange network, free of charge – this includes ATMs of most other credit unions, HSBC and others. 

Yes, our night deposit service continues to be available at all branches. If you currently do not have night deposit access and want to access it, please visit one of our branches to gain access to this service.  

Check our branch locator for up-to-date information on branch hours. You can also use the branch locator to find the next closest branch location. 

We’re continuing to follow the direction from the Government of Canada and the Government of B.C. by taking proactive measures to ensure our members and our employees are optimally protected. We have enabled work-from-home arrangements wherever possible, put in place guides for recommended physical distancing guidelines of two-meters are followed in our locations. Branches are held to the highest standards of cleanliness and we’ve implemented enhanced disinfection procedures and have installed plexiglass shields for Member Advisors at all our open branches.   

We’re also requesting your help in protecting our employees and your fellow members by avoiding in-person visits to your branch unless necessary.

Debit card tap limits are set by Interac® as a security measure and those limits can’t be increased. Similarly, Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay also have $100 limits for security purposes. 

Your Island Savings Mastercard credit card, however, now features a temporary limit increase for contactless transactions from $100 to $250, which is available at merchants that have enabled higher contactless transaction amounts. 

One of the ways we protect our members from fraud is by maintaining hold limits on cheque deposits. The length of the hold depends on a variety of factors including the type of membership and where the deposit took place. Contact us to learn more. 

 


Fraud Prevention

 

Unfortunately, there are individuals who will see these times as an opportunity to take advantage of people. In your online or phone interactions, always use safe internet, email, text messaging and phone practices. Never click links that ask you to update personal information and never give out personal information on the phone. Island Savings will never call you and ask you for your personal details. The only time we may need to verify your identity over the phone is when you call us. If you have any concerns, please call our Member Advice Centre at 1-888-597-1083. 

An unauthorized transfer doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve been scammed. Look for unfamiliar vendors and odd transfer amounts (for example, $1). If you know the vendor and the amount doesn’t seem out of the ordinary, there’s a good chance it was simply a mistake and you can dispute the charge. If you suspect fraud, contact us as soon as you can. 

If you suspect that you may have been in contact with a fraudster, stop using the device that you think the fraud may have involved and change your banking passwords. If you can successfully change your password, there is no additional risk to banking online from another device. 

 


General

 

We are actively recruiting for roles across our credit union. Because of COVID-19, however, the start date for new employees could be impacted. We are also conducting interviews via video conference and telephone as opposed to in person. For more information on recruitment during COVID-19, visit firstwestcu.ca/recruitment-during-covid-19/