“Canadians have shown tremendous strength in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and we know that it is still here with us. Our Government remains committed to helping Canadians through this extremely difficult time. Parliamentarians of all stripes have come together to make sure Canadians continue to have the income supports they need and that we continue to provide sufficient resources for the fight against COVID-19.”Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland
In response to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government has taken immediate and significant actions to prioritize the well-being of Canadians by introducing multiple temporary social and financial aid programs.
The existing social security programs were modified to provide additional financial support to its recipients, among this was the one-time increase of $300 per child of the Canada Child Benefit, while the Good and Services Tax (GST) was doubled. In addition to this, the income tax deadlines for 2019 were extended.
In March 2020, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was provided to Canadians who have lost their income as a result of COVID-19. CERB paid $500 a week to qualified Canadians and was made available from March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020.
While, CERB has closed, the Government of Canada continues to offer relief programs for Canadians who remain financially affected by COVID-19. The Government will transition from CERB to a flexible and more accessible Employment Insurance (EI) program, starting September 27, 2020.
EI Regular Benefits and EI Special Benefits. EI regular benefits provide assistance to employees who lose their jobs involuntarily and are actively looking for work. EI special benefits provide assistance to employees or self-employed individuals who are absent from work due to specific life circumstances, including sickness, maternity, parental benefits, as well as compassionate care or family caregivers.
Insurable Hours Credit. To help individuals qualify with a minimum of 120 hours of work, EI claimants will receive a one-time insurable hours credit of 300 insurable hours for claims for regular benefits and 480 insurable hours for claims for special benefits. The insurable hours credit will be available retroactive to March 15, 2020 and will be available to new EI claimants for one year.
Standard Minimum Unemployment Rate for Calculating EI Benefits. For one year, starting on August 9, 2020, individuals in EI regions with an unemployment rate lower than 13.1% will have their EI benefits calculated on the basis of the 13.1% rate, while those in regions with a higher rate will have their benefits calculated using the actual higher rate. This measure will set a standardized eligibility requirement for EI regular benefits at 420 hours of insurable employment (before the hours credit is applied), provide a minimum entitlement of 26 weeks of regular benefits, and set 14 as the number of best weeks of earnings used in the calculation of the weekly benefit rate. When combined with the hours credits noted, individuals can qualify for EI benefits with 120 hours of insurable work.
Minimum Benefits Rate. Individuals, with new EI claims as of September 27, 2020, will receive a minimum weekly benefit rate of $400 per week or $240 per week for extended parental benefits.
EI Premium Rate Freeze. The Federal Government is also freezing EI premium rates at the 2020 levels for the next two years. For employers who pay 1.4 times the employee rate, the rate will remain unchanged at $2.21 per $100 of insurable earnings.
New Temporary Recovery Benefits
For Canadians that are not eligible for EI, Government announced the introduction of the COVID-19 Response Measures Act (formerly Bill C-4), to create three new temporary recovery benefits to support Canadians who are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19, these benefits will be in place for one year beginning September 27, 2020:
Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)
The Canada Recovery Benefit will provide $500 per week (taxable, tax deducted at source) for up to 2 weeks effective September 27, 2020 for 1 year to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they are sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19. Workers would need to have missed a minimum of 50% of their scheduled work in the week for which they claim the benefit to be eligible, they would not be required to have a medical certificate to qualify for this benefit.
The individual could not claim this benefit and receive other paid sick leave including CRCB, CRSB, short term disability benefits, worker’s compensation benefits (WCB), EI benefits and/or Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) benefits for the same benefit period.
Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)
The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) will provide $500 per week (taxable, tax deducted at source) for up to 26 weeks per household to employed and self-employed individuals unable to work for at least 50% of the week because they must care for a child under the age of 12 or family member because schools, day-cares or care facilities are closed due to COVID-19, or because the child or family member is sick and/or required to quarantine or is at high risk of serious health implications because of COVID-19. This benefit will be paid in one-week periods.
The individual could not claim this benefit and receive other paid sick leave including CRB, CRSB, short term disability benefits, worker’s compensation benefits (WCB), EI benefits and/or Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) benefits for the same benefit period.
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)
The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) will provide $500 per week (taxable, tax deducted at source) for up to a maximum of two weeks to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work for at least 50% of the week because they contracted COVID-19, self-isolated for reasons related to COVID-19, or have underlying conditions, are undergoing treatments or have contracted other sicknesses that, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, person in authority, government or public health authority, would make them more susceptible to COVID-19. This benefit will be paid in one-week periods.
The individual could not claim this benefit and receive other paid sick leave including CRB, CRCB, short term disability benefits, worker’s compensation benefits (WCB), EI benefits and/or Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) benefits for the same benefit period.
To learn more about these benefits, check After CERB: Transitioning to new benefits