CERB extended and EI benefits expanded.
The Government announced that the CERB benefit will be extended by 1 more 4-week period to September 26, 2020. This extension is followed by the addition of three new benefits being added to replace CERB, for a period of 1 year commencing September 27, 2020. Steps are also being taken to make qualification for the Employment Insurance (EI) program easier: Reducing required insurable hours, increasing minimum weekly benefits, and increasing minimum weeks eligible for EI.
This means that workers who began receiving the CERB in March and who would otherwise have had their CERB benefit come to an end, can now continue to claim the benefit for an extra four weeks.
The “simplified” EI program becomes effective September 27, 2020. Under the new program, workers will need to have worked 120 hours in the last year to qualify for a minimum EI benefit ($400 weekly) for 26 weeks. Those with more insurable hours will qualify for higher benefits. A limited amount of part-time earnings will be permissible while collecting EI benefits.
Despite the expected increased cost of the new EI program, the EI premium rate is being frozen for two years at $1.58 per $100 in insurable earnings for employees and $2.21 per $100 in insurable earnings for employers.
Three new benefits
Three new Recovery Fund benefits will become available September 27, 2020. For now, the government indicates these new benefits will expire in one year.
The Canada Recovery Benefit
Those who have stopped working due to COVID-19 but who remain ineligible for the new EI programs, because they have not contributed to the system (e.g. the self-employed, gig workers) will be eligible for the new Canada Recovery Benefit. Provided claimants had an income of at least $5,000 in either 2019 or 2020 (and are not refusing work), they can expect to receive $400 per week of taxable benefit for up to 26 weeks from EI. Claimants will have to repay some of these benefits if their income for the year exceeds $38,000 (excluding received benefits).
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit
This taxable benefit will pay $500 per week for up to two weeks in a one-year period (starting September 27th) for workers who are unable to work because they are sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19. Claimants must be either employed or self-employed at their time of their claim and have earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or 2020. Workers must have missed a minimum of 60% of their scheduled work week. Medical certificates will not be required.
Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit
For Canadians who are unable to work because of caregiving responsibilities for children under the age of 12 or a family member with a disability or dependent, the government has announced the Caregiver Benefit which will provide claimants with $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household. Claimants must have earned a minimum of $5,000 in 2019 or 2020 and been unable to work for at least 60% of their normally scheduled work week.
Eligible caregiving situations include where schools and daycares are closed or where they may be operating on limited or alternative schedules. It also includes situations where a dependent cannot attend school or daycare under the advice of a medical professional, or where a usual caregiver is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19. At the moment, this program does not appear to provide benefits to parents with children over 12 years of age, or those who simply decide to keep their children home from school or daycare, unless the situation qualifies under one of the above criteria.
We will continue to keep you updated on new government income-program announcements. If you need any additional resources, please feel free to contact us anytime.
Click Here if you want to review more detailed information on any of the above program changes.
In the meantime, stay safe and stay well.
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