Nova Scotia

Worried about your bills? Here's what utilities, banks and others are saying

Several utilities, banks and other companies say they will offer some leniency around paying bills during the COVID-19 outbreak and are asking people to call customer service lines to discuss options.

Several companies say they will be lenient with customers who cannot pay bills during COVID-19

Nova Scotia Power said it will not disconnect customers for non-payment during the COVID-19 outbreak. (The Canadian Press)

COVID-19 has caused many workplaces to shut down or require employees to work from home, and has even led to layoffs and to many people questioning how they will afford their bills.

Because of this, several utilities, banks and other companies say they will offer some leniency around paying bills and are asking people to call customer service lines to discuss options.

Nova Scotia Power said it will not turn off the electricity for people who are unable to pay their bills for at least the next 90 days. The company is also expanding its emergency assistance program for low-income customers.

Those with federal and provincial student loans are also getting some relief.

Premier Stephen McNeil said on Friday provincial student loan payments will be suspended for six months.

Also, Canadians with federal student loan debt are getting a break on payments and interest over the next six months.

On Friday, March 20, Scotia Fuels assured its customers it would be there for them to rely on during the pandemic.

The company is extending credit terms for all customers and will be stopping interest charges on all overdue accounts for the months of March and April. This means interest will not be charged until at least May 25 on accounts outstanding more than 30 days.

Scotia Fuels said it has suspended cutting off customers from oil delivery, so they won't have to worry about losing heat or hot water. It has also suspended charging fees for non-sufficient funds on bounced cheques and pre-authorized payment rejections.

Eastlink announced on Friday it is offering flexible payment options, waiving mobile travel fees and offering more free entertainment options with an expanded list of free preview channels.

Halifax Water said between March 13 and July 31, customers may defer payments on accounts, no interest will be charged on overdue accounts and fees for non-sufficient funds will be waived.

As well, disconnections for non-payment of service are suspended until July 31.

For now, people are still required to pay their property taxes in Nova Scotia and are asked to do so online.

Halifax Transit also waived its fares for buses and ferries this week in an effort to practise social distancing.

Halifax Transit said it will not collect fares. (Robert Short/CBC)

The country's six largest banks also announced plans to provide financial relief to those impacted by COVID-19.

Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank and TD Bank have all said they will work with customers on a case-by-case basis.

The banks say the support will include up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages and some relief on loans or credit cards. HSBC has also pledged to work with customers facing financial challenges.

Credit unions in Nova Scotia are asking customers to contact their local branches if they are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Internet and phone companies have started to offer some leniency for customers. Bell, Eastlink and Telus have temporarily suspended data limits on all home internet plans.

Telus and Koodo are offering flexible payment options for customers and have waived all easy roam charges for customers outside North America, Central America and the Caribbean until the end of April.

Rogers has promised not to suspend or disconnect service for any customers over the next 90 days and will offer flexible payment options for those who are struggling. The company has also waived roaming and long distance fees until April 30.

Here are some customer service numbers:

  • Nova Scotia Power: 1-800-428-6230
  • Halifax Water: 902-420-9287
  • Heritage Gas: 902-466-2003
  • BMO: 1-877-788-1923
  • CIBC: 1-800-465-2422
  • National Bank of Canada: 1-888-835-6281
  • RBC: 1-800-769-2511
  • Scotiabank: 1-800-472-6842
  • TD Bank: 1-888-720-0075
  • HSBC: 1-888-310-4722
  • Bell Aliant: 1-888-214-7896
  • Eastlink: 1-888-345-1111
  • Telus: 1-866-558-2273