The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) has been instrumental in supporting those affected by the current global COVID-19 pandemic. While providing $2,000 every four weeks helped to stabilize a questionable point in economic history, the benefit plan has ended. But, that does not mean Canadians who depend on that support are left without some form of aid. The end of CERB brings with it a new support plan.
The federal government is currently enacting a $37 billion transition plan to help Canadians move to a more feasible and accessible Employment Insurance program. Many Canadians were not traditionally provided access to such a program, prompting the government changes to the current EI structure. This change bring the creation of three new temporary benefits.
The end of CERB leaves many Canadians worried about the impact and financial recovery from COVID-19. Luckily, the EI program’s new and expanded measures will still provide relief. However, it is crucial to know the changes are only effective for the next year. Therefore, it is vital to understand the available options and take advantage.
Easing the Transition with the End of CERB
The federal government does not wish to make the required transition more complicated than necessary. Canadians who currently meet the EI program’s eligibility requirements and are collecting CERB through Service Canada do not need to do anything; the transfer will be automatic. The end of CERB should be seamless for you if this applies to you.
If collecting through the Canada Revenue Agency, recipients will need to apply for EI. The discrepancy is due to the operation of the EI program, which is run through Service Canada. As the two agencies are separate, current datasets are not compatible, requiring manual applications.
While the government is doing all it can to make the transition seamless, unlike with the CERB program, Canadians participating in the EI program will need to reapply every two weeks. Self-reporting of employment status is necessary for receiving EI support.
In preparation for the transition away from CERB, the federal government has created temporary changes to the EI program. This change should potentially allow 400,000 more people to qualify for the program than before. Unfortunately, the expanded eligibility requirements still won’t account for all current CERB recipients. However, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives estimates more than half of CERB recipients will now qualify.
Regular EI benefits aid individuals who lost their job involuntarily and who are actively seeking employment. The new expanded EI benefits will cover those who have a job but cannot work due to specific circumstances, such as:
- Parental leave
- Compassionate care
The changes mean that Canadians with three-and-a-half weeks of work, or 120 insurable hours, can still receive the same level of financial security provided under the CERB program – $500 per week for up to 26 weeks. Many Canadians may also be eligible for extended parental benefits of $300 per week for the same term.
As an added incentive, the government is also enacting the Working While on Claim Rules. Under the provision, EI claimants may still receive a portion of their benefits and the entirety of their earnings from work.
New Benefit Plans for Those Ineligible for EI
Unfortunately, while the EI expansion is meant to secure benefits for those most in need, it will not account for every CERB recipient. The CCPA expects that more than two million CERB recipients will still not be eligible for the EI changes. To further help Canadians through the pandemic financial crisis, the government passed Bill C-4, which expands benefits through three new programs: Canada Recovery Benefit, Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit.
Canada Recovery Benefit
The Canada Recovery Benefit benefits gig workers or self-employed Canadians. These individuals are not eligible for the EI program, even with the expanded eligibility rules. The CRB will provide the same financial relief as the CERB programs – $500 per week. But, it will only extend to those affected by COVID-19, or who have seen a 50% drop in their income due to the virus. Individuals who apply for the CRB benefits must be actively seeking work and must accept any reasonable offer.
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit
The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit provides financial relief to those who must self-isolate or who are sick. The benefit provides $500 per week for up to two weeks. The measure is meant to ensure that all Canadians have paid sick leave.
Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit
The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit is a benefits package for those individuals who need to care for a family member or a child under 12. With the virus shutting down many daycare facilities and schools, the $500 per week CRCB benefit is a supplement to help people over the next 26 weeks. The CRCB is also useful to those caring for people who are required to quarantine or are sick.
The federal government is doing all they can to help support Canadians during this time of need. However, even with the expansion to EI and additional benefits, some Canadians will be left without support. If you fall into this unfortunate category, then consider looking for additional funding solutions through LoanConnect.