In the past couple of weeks, the Federal Government has announced extensive changes to financial aid for individuals affected by the global pandemic. These announcements included changes to existing benefits such as Employment Insurance, as well as the addition of new financial assistance programs directed at supporting Canadians affected by COVID-19 who may not qualify under EI. Applying for benefits can be a confusing and onerous process even when it’s not in the face of a global pandemic. In this article, we will try to break down the various ways employees can apply for benefits in this ever-changing landscape.
Regular Employment Insurance Benefits (EI) [Federal Government of Canada]
Who Should Apply
Eligible employees who have been laid off from their employment due to no fault of their own, such as a shortage of work, or workplace closure due to COVID-19. Employees should apply as soon as they receive notice that they are losing their employment. Failure to do so could cause a loss in Employment Benefits.
Am I Eligible?
Employees in Calgary must have worked a minimum of 630 insurable hours in the past 52 weeks in order to qualify for regular EI Benefits. 630 hours is equivalent to approximately 21 weeks of work at 30 hours per week. Your Record of Employment (ROE) from current and past employers will show a breakdown of your insurable hours.
For most people, the basic rate for calculating EI benefits is 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount. Generally, the maximum you can receive under this benefit is around $573 per week.
Employment Insurance Medical Benefits [Federal Government of Canada]
Who Should Apply
Eligible employees who are unable to work because of illness, injury, or quarantine. Employees quarantined due to COVID-19 are eligible to apply for these benefits.
Employees in Calgary must have worked a minimum of 600 insurable hours in the past 52 weeks in order to qualify for EI medical benefits. Your Record of Employment (ROE) from current and past employers will show a breakdown of your insurable hours.
Changes to the Application Process Post COVID-19
Employees required to quarantine due to COVID-19 are no longer obligated to provide a signed medical certificate to qualify for EI medical benefits. In addition, the 7 day waiting period for EI medical benefits has been waived.
For most people, the basic rate for calculating EI benefits is 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount. Generally, the maximum you can receive under this benefit is around $573 per week for a period of 15 weeks.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) [Federal Government of Canada]
What is it?
Announced on March 25, 2020, this benefit combines the previously announced “Emergency Care Benefit” and “Emergency Support Benefit” into one accessible benefit
Who Should Apply?
The CERB would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as 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 would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for EI.
Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for the CERB.
This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Canadians would begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.
How to Apply
The portal for accessing the CERB will likely be available in early April on the Government of Canada Website. Please visit https://www.canada.ca/en.html for further details.
Emergency Isolation Support Payment [Government of Alberta]
What is it?
Eligible working Albertans can receive a one-time emergency isolation support payment of $1,146 if they are required to self-isolate or are the sole caregiver of someone in self-isolation and they have no other source of pay or compensation.
This is a temporary program to “bridge the gap” until the Federal Canadian Emergency Response Benefit is available in April.
Who Can Apply?
Eligibility requirements for this benefit are quite stringent. Potential applicants should review eligibility requirements and potentially apply for benefits by visiting https://www.alberta.ca/emergency-isolation-support.aspx