New COVID Recovery Benefits Announced

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New COVID Recovery Benefits Announced

Last updated October 14, 2020. We will update blog posts when more information is released.

The federal government has now closed the CERB Program.  The CRA is still accepting applications for "Period 7" (August 30 to September 26) retroactively.  Applications are accepted through CRA My Account or through the automated toll-free list at 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041. 

To support Canadians who are transitioning from CERB and still need help, they’ve announced temporary changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program and introduced three new benefits.

“As we safely restart our economy, many of those Canadians will still need support while they continue to look for work,” said Employment and Social Development Canada in a statement. “That is why the government will transition people who have been receiving the CERB to a more flexible and generous EI program for those who qualify, which will provide them additional features and tools to get back into the workforce.”

We provide a summary of the changes and new programs that may impact your employees below.

Changes to Employment Insurance

The government has adjusted the number of hours needed to qualify for EI, since many Canadians haven’t been able to work due to the pandemic.

Access to EI is based on the number of insurable hours worked in the year prior to the worker's application, or since their last claim.

Normally Canadians need 420 insurable hours for EI regular benefits or 600 insurance hours for EI special benefits such as sickness, maternity/parental, compassionate care or family caregiver benefits.

To increase access to EI, Canadians will now need just 120 hours of eligible employment to qualify for EI.

Effective September 27, those eligible for EI who are still unable to work will receive a taxable benefit rate of at least $400 per week, or $240 per week for special benefits, and regular benefits will be accessible for at least 26 weeks.

Most Canadians who received CERB through Service Canada will be transitioned to EI, while those receiving CERB through the CRA will have to file a new EI application.

To reduce the financial burden of the changes on employees and employers, the government will freeze the EI insurance premium rates for two years.

The EI premium rate for employees will stay at the 2020 level of $1.58 per $100 of insurable earnings for two years, and the rate for employers will stay at $2.21 per $100 of insurable earnings.

They’re also implementing temporary measures to support self-employed fish harvesters who rely on EI fishing benefits in the off-season.

These measures will allow EI fishing benefits for these workers to be calculated using either fishing earnings for their current claim, or fishing earnings from the previous year’s claim in the same season, whichever is higher.

New benefits for Canadians

The government announced three new benefits for Canadians who won’t qualify for EI. All the new benefits are taxable and will be administrated by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

The three new benefits will be in effect for one year following the end of CERB, retroactive to September 27.

Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)

The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) is for self-employed workers and other workers not eligible for EI, or Canadians who've had their employment/self-employment income reduced by at least 50% due to COVID-19.

Those eligible for the CRB can receive $1,000 ($900 after taxes withheld) for a 2-week period. If their situation continues past 2 weeks, they will need to apply again. They may apply up to a total of 13 eligibility periods (26 weeks) between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

Who qualifies for the CRB?

This benefit would be available to residents in Canada who:

  • Were not eligible for EI benefits

  • Are at least 15 years old and have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN)

  • Have stopped working due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are available and looking for work

  • Or are working and have had a 50% reduction in their average weekly employment/self-employment income compared to the previous year for reasons related to COVID-19

  • Had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019, 2020 or in the 12 months before the date they applied

  • Have not quit their job or reduced their hours voluntarily on or after September 27, 2020, unless it was reasonable to do so

  • Were seeking work during the period, either as an employee or in self-employment

  • Have not turned down reasonable work during the 2-week period they're applying for

  • Did not apply for or receive any of the following: Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB), short-term disability benefits, workers' compensation benefits or Employment Insurance (EI) benefits

Recipients are able to earn income from employment and/or self-employment while receiving this benefit as long as they meet the other requirements above.

However, if their annual net income, excluding the Canada Recovery Benefit payment, is over $38,000, they will need to repay some or all of the benefit through their income tax return.

How do I apply?

Applications opened October 12, 2020 through CRA My Account.

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)

The government will provide $500 per week for up to two weeks, for workers who are sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19, or have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19.

If they're eligible for the CRSB, they can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for a 1-week period. If their situation continues past 1 week, they will need to apply again. The worker may apply up to a total of 2 weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

Who qualifies for the CRSB?

Workers can apply if:

  • They are unable to work at least 50% of their scheduled work week because they are self-isolating for one of the following reasons:
    • They are sick with COVID-19 or may have COVID-19

    • They are advised to self-isolate due to COVID-19

    • They have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19

  • They did not apply for or receive any of the following: Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB), short-term disability benefits, workers' compensation benefits or Employment Insurance (EI) benefits

  • They reside in Canada, are at least 15 years of age and have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN)

  • They had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019, 2020 or in the 12 months before the date they applied

  • They are not receiving paid leave from their employer in the same period

How do I apply?

Applications are open through CRA My Account.

Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit (CRCB)

The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care. This applies if their school, regular program or facility is closed or unavailable to them due to COVID-19, or because they're sick, self-isolating, or at risk of serious health complications due to COVID-19.

If they're eligible for the CRCB, their household can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for each 1-week period. If their situation continues past 1 week, they will need to apply again. The worker may apply up to a total of 26 weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

Who qualifies for the CRCB?

Workers can apply if:

  • They reside in Canada, are at least 15 years of age and have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN)

  • They had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019, 2020 or in the 12 months before the date they applied

  • Have been unable to work for at least 50% of their normally scheduled work within a given week because they are caring for a family member 

  • They are caring for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care because they are at home for one of the following reasons:

    • Their school, daycare, day program, or care facility is closed or unavailable to them due to COVID-19

    • Their regular care services are unavailable due to COVID-19

    • The person under their care is:

      • Sick with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19

      • At risk of serious health complications if they get COVID-19, as advised by a medical professional

      • Self-isolating due to COVID-19

  • Not be in receipt of paid leave from an employer in respect of the same week

  • They did not apply for or receive any of the following for the same period: Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), short-term disability benefits, workers' compensation benefits or Employment Insurance (EI) benefits

How do I apply?

Applications are open through CRA My Account.

Contact FBC

If you’d like to learn more about this or other COVID-19 programs for Canadian businesses, please call us at 1-800-265-1002 or email [email protected] Unlimited consultation related to tax matters is a key benefit of FBC Membership. You can also book an appointment.

Visit our COVID-19 Resource Centre for the latest information, advice and insights for small business owners.


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