COVID-19 Update - The Emergency Response Benefit Complements the Employment Insurance Regime

In response to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Federal Government of Canada has announced several measures to assist Canadian workers who may not be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). Given these measures and others related to EI, it has been reported that close to 930,000 Canadians have applied for EI as of March 23, 2020. This is compared to the normal average for 2019 at this time, which was 27,000

As reported in our earlier post (COVID-19 Update – Federal Government Announces “Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan”), as part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, $27 billion dollars will be provided to Canadian workers and business. Certain measures included:

  • Waiving the one-week waiting period for those individuals in imposed quarantine that claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits (as announced previously). This temporary measure is in effect as of March 15, 2020;
  • Waiving the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits; and,
  • Providing a wage subsidy for eligible business equal to 10 per cent of remuneration paid for a period of three months, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.

On March 25, 2020 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed details of the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit forthose that have lost income as a result of COVID-19. The Benefit has combined the Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit in an effort to streamline the process.

A worker is eligible for the benefit if:

(a) the worker, whether employed or self-employed, ceases working for reasons related to COVID-19 for at least 14 consecutive days within the four-week period in respect of which they apply for the payment; and

(b) they do not receive, in respect of the consecutive days on which they have ceased working,

(i) subject to the regulations, income from employment or self-employment,

(ii) benefits, as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Employment Insurance Act,

(iii) allowances, money or other benefits paid to the worker under a provincial plan because of pregnancy or in respect of the care by the worker of one or more of their new-born children or one or more children placed with them for the purpose of adoption, or

(iv) any other income that is prescribed by regulation.

Eligible Canadians could receive a maximum of $2,000 per month for a period of four months and may apply for the Benefit for any four-week period falling within the period beginning on March 15, 2020 and ending on October 3, 2020.

The government expects that direct deposits will start being made within 10 days of the application portal coming online.

Please also regularly check our COVID-19 Hub for updates and additional information and insights.



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