On August 20, 2020, the Federal Government announced that the Canada Emergency Response Benefit ("CERB") would be extended for an additional four week to October 3, 2020 before transitioning to either Employment Insurance ("EI") benefits or the newly introduced Canada Recovery Benefits.

Temporary Changes to EI

As of September 27, 2020, temporary changes have been implemented to simplify the EI program. In ordinary circumstances, the number of insurable hours that a claimant must work to qualify for EI regular benefits is determined by the unemployment rate in the region in which they reside. Starting August 9, 2020, a minimum unemployment rate of 13.1% will apply to all regions across Canada, unless the unemployment rate for a region is higher than 13.1%.  This minimum unemployment rate will be in effect for a period of one year.

Claimants will also receive a one-time insurable hour's credit as follows:

  • 300 insurable hours for EI regular benefits (job loss); and
  • 480 insurable hours for EI special benefits (sickness, maternity/parental, compassionate care or family caregiver).

Effectively, this means that claimant will only need 120 insured hours to qualify for benefits.

The Federal Government has also introduced a minimum EI threshold of $500.00 before taxes for regular benefits or $300.00 per week before takes for extended parental benefits.

Finally, EI insurance premium rates have been frozen for a period of two years.

Canada Recovery Benefits

On September 30, 2020, the House of Commons unanimously passed a bill to introduce three new COVID-19 benefits to replace the CERB.

  • The Canada Recovery Benefit will provide $500.00 per week for up to 26 weeks for those are ineligible for EI benefits, still require income support, and are available and looking for work.
  • The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit will provide $500.00 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 will provide $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household for eligible Canadians unable to work due to specified caregiving obligations.

The legislation is expected to be considered by the Senate this week.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.