Recently, the federal government announced its intention to make changes to simplify EI applications, extend the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) an additional four weeks, and introduce three new benefit programs to take the place of the CERB once it expires: the Canada Recovery Benefit, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit. The new benefit programs require legislative approval.
Changes to Canada Emergency Response Benefit
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will be extended by an additional four weeks to a maximum of 28 weeks. This means that for the many Canadians expecting to exhaust their CERB benefits at the end of August, they will now be able to access an additional month of support.
Changes to Employment Insurance (EI)
EI will now be available to more Canadians, including those who would not have qualified for EI in the past, adding more than 400,000 people into the program.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 continue to work with provinces and territories to ensure Canadians receiving EI benefits have access to skills training and employment supports, to help them get back to work.
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 following three new EI benefits are proposed:
- 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 and who still require income support and who are available and looking for work. This benefit will support Canadians whose income has dropped or not returned due to COVID-19. The benefit will allow Canadians to earn more income while on claim as well as include links to Job Bank, Canada’s national employment service, with career planning tools for those seeking employment. In addition, the government will be working with provinces and territories to share information to ensure that Canadians have access to tools and training opportunities to successfully return to the workforce.
- 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 due to the closures of schools or daycares because of COVID-19.
- a family member with a disability or a dependent because their day program or care facility is closed due to COVID-19.
- a child, a family member with a disability, or a dependent who is not attending school, daycare, or other care facilities under the advice of a medical professional due to being at high-risk if they contract COVID-19.