On August 20, 2020, the Federal government announced several significant changes that will affect all workers currently receiving benefits through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (“CERB”).
The current CERB program has been extended by an additional four weeks, up to a maximum of 28 weeks of benefits. However, as of September 27, 2020, the Government will transition towards a simplified Employment Insurance (“EI”) program, in addition to the following benefit programs.
The simplified EI program consists of the following changes:
|Reduced Hours for Qualifying Period||The number of insurable hours required to qualify for EI is temporarily being reduced to 120 hours.|
|One-Time Credit||EI claimants will be provided with a one-time insurable hours credit to allow more individuals to qualify for EI. Specifically, claimants will receive credit for 300 insurable hours for claims for regular benefits (job loss), or 480 insurable hours for claims for special benefits (sickness, maternity/parental, compassionate care or family caregiver). These credits will be made retroactive to March 15, 2020, and the qualifying period will be extended as well.|
|Minimum Benefit Rate||As of September 27, 2020, new claimants will receive a minimum benefit rate of $400 per week, if that figure is higher than what the individual’s benefits would have otherwise been.|
|Premium Rate Freeze||The EI premium rate for employees will be frozen at the 2020 level of $1.58 per $100 of insurable earnings for two years. The rate for employers, who pay 1.4 times the employee rate, will also remain unchanged at $2.21 per $100 of insurable earnings.|
Canada Recovery Benefit
Individuals who already qualified for EI will transition back to EI once CERB ends on September 27th. Individuals who do not qualify for EI can apply for the Canada Recovery Benefit (“CRB”).The CRB will provide up to $400 per week for a maximum of 26 weeks. Claimants who receive CRB payments may be required to repay part of their CRB benefit if their annual net income, excluding CRB, amounts to more than $38,000.
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit
Another new benefit announced by the Government, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (“CRSB”), will provide up to $500 per week for a maximum of 2 weeks to any worker who has tested positive or been required to self-isolate as a result of COVID-19. A medical certificate is not required to qualify for CSRB, however workers must have missed at least 60% of their scheduled work in the week for which they are claiming the benefit.
Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit
The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (“CRCB”) will provide up to $500 per week, for a maximum of 26 weeks, to workers unable to work because they are responsible for the care of either:
a. a child under 12 years of age because either their school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19, or because their regular caregiver is unavailable due to COVID-19 related reasons; or
b. a family member with a disability or a dependent because their care program is closed due to COVID-19, or because their regular caregiver is unavailable due to COVID-19 related reasons; or
c. because one of the above (child under 12, individual with a disability or a dependent) has been instructed not to attend school or their care program on the advice of a medical professional due to increased risk of that individual contracting COVID-19.
A worker cannot qualify simultaneously for both CRCB and one of their other available benefit programs made available through the government.
We will continue to monitor and update you on any further developments. If you have any questions about your workplace and managing responses to COVID-19, feel free to contact Ryley Mennie, Lou Poskitt or Connor Levy from our Workplace Law Group.