COVID-19: Federal government updates EI support benefit

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COVID-19: Federal government updates EI support benefit

Last updated March 26, 2020. We will update blog posts when more information is released.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday that the House of Commons has passed an emergency bill, which is now before the Senate, for the government’s COVID-19 emergency response.

The new Canada Emergency Response Benefit will replace the Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit announced last week. Trudeau said the benefits were combined to streamline the process.

“We will adapt our approach wherever needed,” he said.

What is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is a taxable benefit that will provide $2,000 a month for the next four months to workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19.

In a press release from the Department of Finance, the government said this benefit will "support Canadian workers and businesses and help stabilize the economy by helping Canadians pay for essentials like housing and groceries, and helping businesses pay their employees and bills during this unprecedented time of global uncertainty."

Who can apply for the CERB?

According to the Department of Finance, the CERB would cover Canadians who have stopped working due to COVID-19. This includes Canadians who:

  • Have lost their job

  • Are sick

  • Quarantined

  • Taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19

  • Are working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures

The CERB will include people who would not normally qualify for Employment Insurance including wage earners, contract workers and self-employed individuals.

Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation, would also qualify for the benefit.

The government says this will help businesses keep their employees and resume operations as soon as it's possible.

How do I apply to the CERB?

An online portal will be available to submit applications.

The hope is that this system will be running by April 6th, Trudeau said.

How long will the benefit run?

The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.

People will start to receive money within 10 days of applying.

Does the CERB replace Employment Insurance?

The Finance Department says Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB.

Here's the information they've released so far about the CERB and EI:

  • If your EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, you could apply for the CERB if you are unable to return to work due to COVID-19

  • If you've applied for EI and your application has not yet been processed, you don't need to reapply

  • If you qualify for EI, you can continue to access your normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB

The government has seen a high volume of EI applications received in the past week.

About one million people have applied for EI, with 143,000 claims processed to date. The federal government has boosted the team that processes claims by 13,000 people.

“We recognize that this is an unprecedented situation with an overwhelming amount of demand,” Trudeau said.

The government’s response needs to be reliable and quick, he added.

Disclaimer: The material above is provided for educational and informational purposes only.

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