Since March 2020, more than 9 million unique CERB applications have been submitted to the Government of Canada. With the benefit coming to an end on October 3rd, 2020, Employment and Social Development Canada announced a plan that will see an approximate 2.8 million Canadians transition to EI.
Additionally, three new temporary benefit programs were announced to support Canadians who are ineligible for EI but still cannot work due to the pandemic.
• EI to replace CERB as the primary program supporting Canadians out of work for COVID-19 related reasons
Proposed legislation debated to introduce 3 additional programs:
• Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) - support self-employed and contract workers affected by the pandemic
• Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) - provide short-term financial relief to workers forced to quarantine because of COVID-19
• Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) - support individuals who cannot work because they must take care of a child or relative who are sick or required to quarantine
The government of Canada made temporary changes to the EI program to help support Canadians who require assistance by modifying the eligibility criteria to be more encompassing. Canadians with at least 120 insurable hours worked within the past 52 weeks will be able to apply for one of the two EI programs for up to 26 weeks:
The regular EI program provides a taxable benefit at a rate of at least $500 per week
The extended parental and maternity benefits program provides $300 per week
Eligible Canadians currently receiving CERB through Service Canada will be automatically enrolled in the new program.
If you have been receiving CERB through the Canada Revenue Agency, you will have to apply for the EI program.
On September 24th, the House of Commons conducted the first reading of Bill C-2, which proposes three new temporary support programs for Canadians who are unable to work for COVID-19 related reasons but are ineligible for EI. Although incomplete, some preliminary eligibility criteria for all 3 programs can be found here.
The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) program aims to support self-employed and contract workers. The nature of their work is unpredictable, prompting the CRA to make changes to this program to increase its eligibility.
Under the modified terms, you can apply for the CRB if you have not returned to work because of the pandemic OR if you have experienced an income drop by at least 50% due to COVID-19 related reasons.
For those eligible, the program would provide $500 per week for up to 26 weeks.
The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) will provide a payment of $500 per week for up to two weeks for workers who are sick or had to self-isolate for COVID-19 related reasons.
Although eligibility criteria and other details are still pending legislation, suggested criteria include the requirement that the applicant has missed at least 50% of their regular work, and a minimum personal income of $5,000 in 2019 or 2020 or in the past 12 months.
Individuals receiving CERB, EI, CRB, CRCB, or paid employment leave are ineligible for this benefit.
Finally, for those who are unable to work because they must care for a child under the age of 12 or family member because they are sick, required to quarantine, or because schools, day-cares, or care facilities are closed due to COVID-19, the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit will provide up to $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household.
As these programs come into force, and as other programs get updated and created, we will do our best to keep you updated on what we think is important. In the meantime, we invite you to get in touch to see what programs you or your business may be eligible for, or to discuss strategies on how to manage through this uncertain period and prepare a plan for a possible 'second wave'.