New Increased Access to EI and Additional Recovery Benefits for Canadians (Effective September 27, 2020)

The Canadian Government has been continuously taking significant and decisive action to support Canadians and protect their employment during COVID-19. First, they introduced the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) along with many other financial support programs on March 15, 2020. 

Now that the Canadian economy is beginning to restart, the Federal Government has introduced a new simplified Employment Insurance (EI) program that will be effective September 27, 2020. To assist with the transition to the new EI program, the CERB benefit will be extended 4 weeks, for a new maximum of up to 28 weeks of benefits. 

New Simplified EI Program

The new Simplified EI Program has been put in place to ensure more Canadians are able to access EI benefits. Below is a chart showing the main ways the Government has changed the EI program to be more beneficial and accessible to people.

Summary of Temporary Measures to Help Canadians Access EI Benefits More Easily

Pre-COVID Post-COVID – Starting September 27, 2020
  • Require between 420 and 700 hours of insurable employment to qualify
  • Must have worked the 52-week period immediately before the start of your claim
  • Need 120 hours of insurable employment to qualify 
  • The government will offer a one time insurable hours of credit of either 300 insurable hours for claims for regular benefits OR 480 insurable hours for claims for special benefits 
  • The insurable hours will be retroactive to March 15, 2020
  • No requirement for working immediately before starting your claim 
  • The amount a person receives, how it is calculated and how long they receive the benefit is dependant on the unemployment rate of their specific region
  • An unemployment rate of 13.1% has been added to every EI Region commencing August 9, 2020 and will be in place for 1 year
  • Decreases the number of hours required to be eligible to 120
  • Increases the minimum amount a person is able to receive to $400 per week 
  • Increases the minimum amount of weeks a person can receive EI to 26 weeks 
  • Increases overall availability for someone to qualify for EI benefits 
  • Maximum benefit amount of $573 per week or $2,000 per month
  • Minimum benefit of $400 per week or $1,600 per month 
  • Minimum of 14 weeks of benefits 
  • Minimum of 26 weeks of benefits 

New Recovery Benefit Programs 

The Canadian Government has also introduced 3 new recovery benefit programs to assist those who may not qualify for regular EI benefits. The details of each benefit are outlined below. 

  1. Canada Recovery Benefit
  2. Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit
  3. Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit
1. Canada Recovery Benefit 2. Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit 3. Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit
  • Effective September 27, 2020
  • Purpose is to assist those who are self-employed and including those working in the gig economy
  • Effective September 27, 2020 for 1 year
  • For workers who are unable to work because they are sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19
  • Effective from September 27, 2020 for 1 year
  • For workers who are unable to work because they are required to stay home and provide care to children or support other dependants who had to stay home
Eligibility (must meet all the requirements) 
  • At least 15 years old with a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Have stopped working due to COVID-19 and are available and looking for work or are working and have had a reduction in their employment / self-employment income for reasons related to COVID-19
  • Are not eligible for EI
  • Had employment or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in 2020
  • Have not quit their job voluntarily
  • Resident of Canada who is at least 15 years old with a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Worker is employed or self-employed at the time of the application 
  • Worker earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or 2020
  • Reside in Canada
  • Be at least 15 years on the first day of the period for which they apply for the benefit
  • Be employed or self-employed on the day immediately preceding the period for which the application is made
  • Have earned at least $5,000.00 in 2019 or 2020
  • Have been unable to work at least 60% of their normally scheduled work within a given week because of ONE of the following conditions:
  1. They must care for a child who is under 12 years old on the first day of the period 
  1. They must provide care to a family member with a disability or dependant
  1. They are not in receipt of paid leave from an employer
  1. They are not in receipt of the CERB, EI Emergency Response Benefit, Canada Recovery Benefit, Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, Short Term Disability, Workers’ Compensation ot any EI Benefits for the same week
  • $400 per week up to 26 weeks for workers who are not eligible for EI
  • $500 per week for up to 2 weeks 
  • $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household 
  • Must apply every 2 weeks to remain eligible 
  • Must re-pay $0.50 for every dollar of their net annual income that is above $38,000.00 in the calendar year
  • NOT required to provide a medical certificate to qualify 
  • Cannot claim for Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and receive other paid sick leave fort he same benefit period
  • Need to have missed a minimum of 60% of their scheduled work in the week they claimed the benefit 
  • Workers must apply for the period they are seeking income support and attest they are meeting the requirements 
  • 2 members living in the same household can not receive the benefit for the same period
  • The benefit is taxable 

How to Apply

Canadians who are already receiving benefits through Service Canada will be transitioned to the Simplified EI Program once they have received the maximum CERB benefits for which they are entitled. 

Canadians who are currently receiving CERB through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) who wish to apply for EI may do so through Service Canada after September 26, 2020. 

How The New Assistance Programs Help Employees

The new Simplified EI Program and Recovery Benefits introduced are extremely beneficial for Canadian workers. The Simplified EI program allows for more people who usually would not be eligible to receive EI to receive benefits and financial assistance throughout this uncertain time. The 3 new Recovery Benefits broaden the range, even more, to allow for those who require temporary assistance or are not eligible for the Simplified EI Program to receive monetary benefits and compensation.

Scenario for the Canada Recovery Benefit: Self-employed worker whose business is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Anna is a self-employed bookkeeper in Toronto, ON
  • She earned $34,000 in 2019 but his business has slowed due to COVID-19
  • Anna applied for and received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) but her benefits will run out in September
  • While her business has begun to rebound, it is still not business as usual and she is only back to working at 40% capacity

What could Anna qualify for:

  • With the Canada Recovery Benefit, she could receive $400 per week for up to 26 weeks. If her annual net income for 2020 is above $38,000 (excluding the Canada Recovery Benefit payments), she would need to repay some or all of the benefit when she files her annual income tax return for 2020.

Are you in a situation where you need help to navigate the new government aid or have you lost your job? It is important to get good legal advice. We offer a free 30-minute phone consultation.

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