On March 18, 2020, the Federal government announced a number of new measures to assist employees and business owners through the numerous closures and restrictions imposed due to COVID-19. The general feedback was that the application process for many of these benefits would overwhelm the current EI system. Over 1 million Canadians have applied for EI benefits in the last 10 days, resulting in long wait times and the inability to process claims in a timely manner.
On March 25th, 2020 the Federal government provided revised guidance on the emergency benefits announced last week. They have proposed a simplified application process for combining EI benefits, Emergency Care Benefits, and the Emergency Support Benefits. The portal for applications under the CERB program has not been made available, however, it is suggested that this will be available in early April.
The requirements to access CERB benefits would follow the same guidelines of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support benefit, resulting in effectively the same benefits with a more seamless application process.
We have included the news release from the Federal government below:
government introduces canada emergency response benefit to help workers and businesses
March 25, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Finance Canada
The Government of Canada is taking strong, immediate and effective action to protect Canadians and the economy from the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic. No Canadian should have to choose between protecting their health, putting food on the table, paying for their medication or caring for a family member.
To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, the government has proposed legislation to establish the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB would be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.
The CERB would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).
Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for the CERB. This would help businesses keep their employees as they navigate these difficult times, while ensuring they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as it becomes possible.
The EI system was not designed to process the unprecedented high volume of applications received in the past week. Given this situation, all Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, would be able to receive the CERB to ensure they have timely access to the income support they need.
Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB. If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, they could apply for the CERB once their EI benefits cease, if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19. Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed would not need to reapply. Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits would still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB.
The government is working to get money into the pockets of Canadians as quickly as possible. The portal for accessing the CERB would be available in early April. EI eligible Canadians who have lost their job can continue to apply for EI here, as can Canadians applying for other EI benefits.
Canadians would begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.
This benefit would be one part of the government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, to support Canadian workers and businesses and help stabilize the economy by helping Canadians pay for essentials like housing and groceries, and helping businesses pay their employees and bills during this unprecedented time of global uncertainty.
working with tpc financial
During this time of insecurity and unknown, we strongly encourage all TPC Financial clients to reach out to their advisor to determine how these changes have impacted their specific situation. This is a difficult time, and having access to professional advice concerning your personal and business needs should help to provide clarity on what options are available. We encourage all recipients of this newsletter to share with friends, family, and colleagues that may benefit from this information. We have also committed to providing extended consultations to any member of the public who has questions regarding their finances. This, of course, would be 100% complementary, as we strongly believe all Canadians should have access to high-level planning during difficult times.