The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program has ended. But there are new Employment Insurance (EI) rules and three new recovery benefits to help people affected by COVID-19.
The CERB was introduced in March 2020 to give money to people who stopped working because of COVID-19. The last day a person can get CERB payments for is October 3, 2020. And the last day to apply for this money is December 2, 2020.
To replace the CERB, the government of Canada changed EI rules to benefit more employees, and introduced three new Canada Recovery Benefits for people who don’t qualify for EI. Some of the changes to EI are explained below.
Changes to the number of insurable hours
The number of insurable hours needed to qualify for EI has been decreased. And the first time an employee applies for EI during COVID-19 they will get 300 bonus hours for regular benefits, or 480 bonus hours for special benefits like sickness, maternity, and parental benefits
Changes to amounts and how long EI benefits last
Usually, EI gives employees 55% of their weekly earnings, to a maximum of $573 a week. But now EI will pay a new minimum of $500 a week for both regular benefits and special benefits. This means that employees get either 55% of their normal weekly earnings or $500 a week, whichever is higher. Employees who choose extended parental benefits will get $300 a week.
Regular EI benefits are normally available for between 14 and 45 weeks. The new minimum is now 26 weeks.
New benefits replacing the CERB
The government has introduced three new benefits for people who do not qualify for EI. For example, this includes people who are self-employed or independent contractors, sometimes called “gig-workers”
The new benefits are:
- Canada Recovery Benefit
- Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit
- Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit
Each of these programs pays $500 a week and is available to people who:
- live in Canada, are at least 15 years old, and have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- are not eligible for EI
- had at least $5,000 in income in 2019 or 2020
- are earning 50% less in a week because of COVID-19
People apply through their online CRA MyAccount. They must wait until after they’ve missed work to apply. But must apply within 60 days of missing work
Canada Recovery Benefit
The Canada Recovery Benefit is for people who have lost work because of COVID-19. For example, a driver for a ride-sharing company may have less work because of the impact the pandemic has had on the economy.
People can get this benefit for up to 26 weeks. But they’ll have to keep looking for work during this time and cannot turn down a “reasonable” offer of work. A person cannot get this benefit if they quit their job.
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit
The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit is for people who have to stop working because:
- they have or might have COVID-19,
- they’ve been told by a medical professional that they’re at extra risk from COVID-19, or
- they’ve been told by their employer, a medical professional, or public health official that they have to self-isolate.
People can get this benefit for up to 2 weeks.
Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit
The Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit is for people who have to care for a child or other family member because of COVID-19.
A person qualifies for this benefit if the child or family member they’re caring for:
- cannot go to their normal school, daycare, care home, or day program because it’s closed or accepting fewer people because of COVID-19,
- was ordered to stay home because they have or might have COVID-19, or they have a condition that makes them vulnerable to COVID-19, or
- their regular caregiver is not available because of COVID-19.
People can get this benefit for up to 26 weeks.