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Canada's COVID-19 Response for Workers

As the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 ramps up across the country the Canadian government has implemented immediate measures to help those who may be struggling or facing financial hardhsip as a result. In this article we'll take a look at the support that's been announced for individuals amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, while our other article will outline what measures have been put in place to help businesses. 


Interim Income Support for Parents and Workers

If you are sick, quarantined, or forced to stay home to take care of your children as a result of COVID-19 and do not receive paid sick leave from your employer, the federal government will be assisting in the following ways: 

  • For those who qualify for Employment Insurance (EI), the one-week waiting period to receive sickness benefits is being waived. The government is also waiving the need for a medical certificate to access these benefits. These changes went into effect March 15, 2020. 

New Emergency Care Benefit: this benefit will provide Canadians up to $900 every two weeks for up to 15 weeks. It will be doled out and overseen by the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) and provides income support to:

  • Workers (including the self-employed) who do not qualify for EI sickness benefits but are sick or quarantined as a result of COVID-19.
  • Workers (including the self-employed) who do not qualify for EI sickness benefits who must take care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19.
  • Parents who must take care of their children because of school or daycare closures and cannot earn employment income as a result, regardless if they qualify for EI or not. 

People will be able to apply for the new Emergency Care Benefit beginning in April, 2020. They will have to attest they meet the eligibility requirements listed above and re-attest every two weeks thereafter to reconfirm they're eligible. There will be three ways to apply for the benefit:

  1. by accessing it on their CRA MyAccount secure portal;
  2. by accessing it from their secure My Service Canada Account; or
  3. by calling a toll free number equipped with an automated application process.


Long-Term Income Support for Workers

If you've lost your job or face reduced hours as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government will be providing support in the following ways:

  • $5 billion for the new Emergency Support Benefit which will be administered through the CRA and go to those workers who are facing unemployment and not eligible for EI. More details on how this benefit will operate and how people can apply for it will hopefully be coming soon. 
  • An EI Work Sharing Program that provides EI benefits to those workers who have agreed to reduce their hours as a result of developments beyond their employer's control. The program has eased eligibility requirements, streamlined the application process, and agreements can be extended up to 76 weeks now. 


Other Important Measures and Support

Proposing a special one-time payment of the GST credit which will essentially double the maximum amount people can receive. This income boost works out to around $400 for individuals and $600 for families. 

Proposing to increase the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit amount 


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