COVID-19 has not only affected the health of many Canadians but the finances of individuals and businesses alike. To support Canadians during this financial crisis, the government has implemented measures to help bolster the economy. Canadian workers, in particular, are concerned about what financial support they will receive in the event they are laid off or have to quarantine themselves due to COVID-19.
Thankfully, on March 18, the Government of Canada delivered its COVID-19 Economic Response Plan which included up to $27 billion dollars to support Canadian workers and businesses. However, on the morning of March 25th, the government announced it will increase the aid to $52 billion. We noticed five ways you can receive additional income assistance:
- Employment Insurance (EI)
- Canada Emergency Response Benefit
- Goods and Services Tax credit
- Canada Child Benefit
- EI Work Sharing Program
Are You Eligible For Employment Insurance?
Employment Insurance is a government benefit that provides you with up to 15 weeks of financial assistance if you lose your job through no fault of your own or in the event you cannot work due to sickness. If you qualify, you may be eligible to 55% of your earnings, with a cap of $573 a week.
Do you meet the requirements?
In order to receive this benefit you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be unable to work due to medical reasons
- COVID-19 exception – Due to the pandemic, the government has declared that people who are in self-quarantine will not have to provide a medical note for proof
- You must have accumulated 600 hours of insured work before applying for the benefit
- Your income decreased by over 40% for at least one week
How do you apply?
You may apply for employment insurance online by visiting the Government of Canada website. If you applied before March 15th, your application will be processed under the pre-existing Employment Insurance rules. For those who have applied on March 15th or later, your application will be processed under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. As such, you will receive $2,000 for the first four months even if your EI eligibility is a lower amount. After the 4 months, your regular EI will kick in.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit
On March 18th, the government introduced an Emergency Care Benefit package for those who don’t qualify for Employment Insurance. However, the “Canada Emergency Response Benefit” is now replacing this benefit after the government announced it would be increasing the amount of aid ($27 to $52 billion) it will be providing. This package will provide Canadians with $2,000 dollars a month for up to 4 months. However, since the CERB is considered a one-time payment, you must re-apply every 4 weeks if you require the money beyond the first month.
Do you meet the requirements?
- Are you a Canadian resident who is over 15 years old?
- Did you earn at least $5,000 dollars in 2019 or in the last 12 months?
- Have you stopped work due to COVID-19 reasons?
- Are you a worker (including self-employed individuals) who is sick or quarantined with COVID-19 and are unable to get employment insurance, paid leave or other income support?
- Are you a worker who cannot work because you are taking care of a family member (e.g. elderly mother) with COVID-19?
- Are you a parent who is unable to go to work because your children require care and you cannot send them to school?
- Are you a worker who is still an employee but cannot return to work due to a lack of hours?
If you answered yes to all three questions then you may apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
Seasonal Workers, Part-Time Workers And Those Out Of EI
On Wednesday, April 15, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an expansion on the grounds of eligibility for the CERB. These new eligibility rules would include:
- Canadians who make up to $1,000 a month.
- Seasonal workers who had work lined up but can’t perform due to COVID-19.
- Canadians whose Employment Insurance (EI) has run out since January 1, 2020.
Justin Trudeau also announced that the federal government will be working with the Provinces to provide a pay increase to essential workers in Canada who are making less than $2,500 a month.
How do I apply?
When you apply you will need to provide your personal information, you SIN and other documents to confirm you are eligible for CERB. You may apply for the benefit online through the CRA MyAccount portal or an automated toll-free line: 1-800-959-2019. If you do not have a CRA account but you have a My Service Canada Account, you can access the CRA application portal through there as well. You will receive your money within 3 business days through direct deposit or 10 business days by mail after application. The program will end on October 03, 2020.
The portal to apply for the CERB will be open on April 6th. In order to reduce the site from crashing, the government of Canada has created a schedule of when you should apply based on your birth month.
- January, February and March – Apply on any Monday starting April 6th
- April, May and June – Apply on any Tuesday starting April 7th
- July, August and September – Apply on any Wednesday starting April 8th
- October, November and December – Apply on any Thursday starting April 9th
- January to December – Apply on any Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Goods And Services Tax Credit (GSTC)
The Government of Canada will also provide low to modest-income families with a one-time payment to boost their GSTC payment for the year 2019-2020. The payment will provide individuals with up to $400 and $600 dollars to families. The payment itself will be made in May 2020. If you believe you will receive this benefit, the Government of Canada suggests filing your tax return as per usual, instead of the deferred date to ensure you get the payment in May.
Canada Child Benefit (CCB)
For families who require CCB, the government is injecting another $2 billion dollars by providing families with an extra $300 per child. The CCB along with the GSTC will provide families with 2 children an extra $1,500 dollars in income support. If you already receive CCB you do not have to re-apply for this benefit, however for those who would like to apply, please call 1-800-387-1193 or visit the Government of Canada website.
EI Work Sharing Program
The EI Work Sharing program is long-term income support for workers who lose their jobs or have reduced hours due to COVID-19. According to the Government of Canada, this program provides employment insurance to “workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours as a result of developments beyond the control of their employers”. By reducing hours, the employer can continue business and avoid layoffs. For workers in the steel and forestry industry, the duration of support has increased from 36 to a maximum of 76 weeks, in response to COVID-19. For more information, you should visit the Government of Canada website.
How The Government Is Helping Businesses Support Workers
Along with direct income support to Canadians, the Government of Canada is also helping support workers by supporting businesses. For example, the government is providing eligible small business employers with a 3-month wage subsidy so that they may continue operations while retaining their employees.
More On Government Assistance
The COVID-19 situation is new and continuously evolving, as such, the government response will likely be updated and further statements on other programs to assists Canadians during this pandemic should be announced. To keep up to date or for any other information regarding the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, please refer to the Government of Canada website.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find additional COVID-19 financial assistance?
My business revenue stream has been affected by COVID-19, is there government financial assistance for me?
When will I receive my benefits?
- Employment Insurance (EI) – Usually payment starts 28 days after you apply. However, since it’s being rolled over to CERB, it will take 3-5 business days through direct deposit or up to 10 business days by cheque.
- Canada Emergency Response Benefit – 3-5 business days through direct deposit or up to 10 business days by cheque.
- Goods and Services Tax credit – Early May
- Canada Child Benefit – Early May
- EI Work Sharing Program – Immediately after approval