This post is time sensitive, with implications for your mortgage, cashflow, and credit for April - Sept 2020, all due to Covid-19.
I am not a medical professional. I know NOTHING about health. There are hundreds of news stories out there about Covid-19. Many more about government actions. About social distancing. This is NOT one of those posts. It should also be noted, that as with everything Covid, the situation is fluid and changing.
To be clear, a deferral just means you'll make the mortgage payment at a later date, whether higher payments in the next term (raising about 12.3% based on 5 year terms and 3% interest), or added to the end of your mortgage (adding on roughly 13 months to your mortgage). Feel free to review the math:
Deferred payments are discretionary. They do NOT need to agree that you need a deferral
No payments are FORGIVEN, just deferred
True hardship must be demonstrated. This isn't just a method of increasing cash flow.
Max Deferral Time is 6 months.
Defers the mortgage portion of your payment only. If you pay your property taxes or insurance through your mortgage, this portion is still due
Contact the lenders BEFORE missing payment
Credit SHOULD not be impacted
The last part in regards to credit is one that worries me. While I agree that you shouldn't need to worry about your credit being impacted by a deferral agreed to by your lender (as part of Canada's Covid-19 Mortgage Payment Deferral Program), I fear that many will be impacted. You have to remember how incredible new this program is and how so much of financial lives are automated.
Every month, the credit bureaus (mainly Equifax and to a lesser extent, Transunion) get information from virtually every one of your accounts, if you paid, if you paid late, how much the payment was, and what the outstanding balance is. They also have information on where you live, your occupation, and other details. This is ALL automated. Should we trust that all the lenders have been able to update automatic programs they've had in place for years / decades in the last week? How many lenders will be reporting the payment as "late"?
My advice. If you have the funds to make the payment, do so. If you are just starting to have issues, consider applying for May, allowing the banks 5x longer to fix the systems (1 week to 5 weeks). If you are suffering TRUE hardship, then call the bank to defer now.
In a few months, when life returns to normal, consider pulling your own credit and seeing if it was incorrectly damaged. There are steps to fix errors.