Québec’s new Temporary work assistance program
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose challenges for Canadian employers, particularly in relation to the various measures put in place by governmental authorities to encourage workers’ self-isolation. In order to alleviate the economic consequences of self-isolation measures in these exceptional times, the government of Québec announced on March 16, 2020, the establishment of a Temporary Work Assistance program (the Programme d'aide temporaire aux travailleurs) (PATT).
According to the government's most recent press release and to the PATT website, in order to be eligible for the PATT, workers must first be residents of Quebec and 18 years of age or older.
Secondly, workers must be in self-isolation as ordered by the government of Canada, the government of Quebec, or another responsible entity, for one of the following reasons:
- they have contracted COVID-19, or have some of its symptoms;
- they have been in contact with a person infected with COVID-19;
- they are returning from abroad.
Finally, workers in self-isolation will only be eligible for the PATT if they are not otherwise compensated:
- by an indemnity paid by their employer;
- by a private insurance;
- by a governmental program, such as the government of Canada's Employment Insurance scheme.
As a result, workers will not be able to combine, for example, employment insurance benefits and PATT benefits, or compensation from a private insurance and PATT benefits.
The lump sum amount granted to a worker benefiting from the PATT is $573 per week, which corresponds to the maximum amount provided under the Employment Insurance program, for a period of 14 days of isolation. This period may be extended to a maximum of 28 days if the worker's health condition warrants it. Workers may apply for the PATT starting Thursday, March 19, 2020.
The PATT is thus essentially intended to provide financial support to workers in self-isolation who are not eligible for an income replacement program, such Employment Insurance, which we discussed in a previous blog post. One of the objectives of the PATT is notably to provide assistance to self-employed workers.
The PATT is all the more relevant at this time considering the fact that many employers will unfortunately be forced to consider workforce adjustments, or even temporary layoffs, which constitute situations we have discussed in previous blog posts available here (workforce adjustments) and here (temporary layoffs).
We therefore suggest that provincially regulated employers (Québec), as a good practice measure, inform their employees of the existence of this program when their employees have to place themselves in self-isolation.
We understand that this is a challenging time for all employers and workers. Our National Labour & Employment Group is available to assist clients on a 24/7 basis. If you need assistance, please reach out to any member of our team whenever you need to.
 March 16, 2020 press release : http://www.fil-information.gouv.qc.ca/Pages/Article.aspx?motsCles=&listeThe=&listeReg=&listeDiff=&type=&dateDebut=2020-03-13&dateFin=2020-03-16&afficherResultats=oui&idArticle=2803165211