OTTAWA — Last week, the federal government announced an additional four-week extension of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to a maximum of 28 weeks. Temporary changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program were also announced, as well as the creation of three new benefit programs for workers who do not qualify for the EI.
After the September 27, CERB recipients still out of work will transition to the EI program or one of the new benefits.
The revised EI program was designed to include those who would not have qualified for EI in the past by providing a temporary, one-time credit of insurable hours. Those receiving EI will be eligible for a taxable benefit rate of at least $400 per week, or $240 per week for extended parental benefits, and regular benefits will be accessible for a minimum duration of 26 weeks. The government will also freeze the EI insurance premium rates for two years, so Canadian workers and businesses will not face immediate increases to costs and payroll deductions due to the additional expenses resulting from the pandemic.
The new benefit programs, which will be in effect for one year, are designed for the self-employed and those not eligible for EI; those who are ill or self-isolating; and those unable to work because they are caring for a child, dependent or family member.
The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) will provide $400 per week for up to 26 weeks, to workers who are self-employed or are not eligible for EI, still require income support and are available and looking for work. It will support Canadians whose income has dropped or not returned due to COVID-19.
The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) will provide $500 per week for up to two weeks, for workers who are sick or must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19.
The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) will provide $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household, for eligible Canadians unable to work because they must care for a child under age 12, a family member with a disability or a dependent who is not attending school, daycare or other care facilities due to COVID-19-related closures or health risks.
“At a time of great uncertainty, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit has provided millions of Canadians with the financial support they needed to get by,” says The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion. “As we carefully and gradually re-open parts of our economy, we are transitioning to more nimble and flexible programs that will help get Canadians back to work, while ensuring we are able to quickly respond to any further labour market impacts due to the ongoing pandemic.”