August 25, 2020 By PrintAction Staff
On August 20, the Government of Canada announced changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program and new income support benefits. In order to prepare for this transition, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will be extended by an additional four weeks, to a maximum of 28 weeks. This means that Canadians that would have exhausted their benefits by the end of August can now access an additional month of support.
As the economy reopens, the government will also be transitioning CERB recipients that qualify to a more flexible and generous EI program, which will provide Canadians with additional features and tools to get back into the workforce.
The government has also announced changes to the EI program, including making it available to more people, such as those who may not have qualified for EI in the past, which will add more than 400,000 people into the program. Those receiving EI will be eligible for a taxable benefit rate of at least $400 per week, or $240 per week for extended parental benefits, and regular benefits will be accessible for a minimum duration of 26 weeks.
The government will also freeze the EI insurance premium rates for two years, so Canadian workers and businesses will not face immediate increases to costs and payroll deductions due to the additional expenses required following the pandemic.
In addition, the government is proposing three new benefits:
- The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) will provide $400 per week for up to 26 weeks to workers that are self-employed or are not eligible for EI but still require income support and who are available and looking for work. The benefit will support those whose income has dropped or has not returned due to the pandemic, and will provide access to tools and training opportunities to help people successfully return to the workforce.
- The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) will provide $500 per week for up to two weeks for those who are sick or who must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19.
- The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) will provide $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household, for eligible Canadians unable to work because they must care for a child under age 12 due to school closures related to COVID-19; a family member with a disability or a dependent because their day program or care facility is closed due to COVID-19; or a child, family member with a disability or dependant who is not attending school, daycare or other care facilities under advice of a medical professional due to being at high risk if they contract COVID-19.
While CERB payments are made in advance for pay periods, EI and the new benefits are paid in arrears. All three proposed new benefits will be in effect for one year, following the end of CERB payments. Canadians will be able to apply for these benefits through the Canada Revenue Agency. The government intends to introduce new legislation to support the implementation of the new benefits.
Because the province of Quebec provides its own maternity, paternity, parental and adoption benefits through the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan, Quebec residents are not eligible for the measures relating to maternity and parental benefits, but they would be eligible for the three new recovery benefits, as well as those related to sickness, family caregiver or compassionate care, as well as regular EI.
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