In April, the federal government introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to provide Canadians with the financial support necessary due to the fallout from COVID-19. The benefit is retroactive to March 15th and extends to October 3rd. While CERB will be coming to an end at that point, the government is introducing three new benefit programs to take its place for those who continue to require financial assistance. Below, we provide an overview of the new benefits.

Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)

The CRB is aimed at those who are self-employed or otherwise ineligible for EI benefits. The benefit comes into effect as of September 27th, and is available for those who meet the following qualifications:

  • 15 years old or older, with a valid Social Insurance Number
  • not working due to COVID-19, or had income reduced due to reasons relating to COVID-19
  • ineligible for EI
  • earned an income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or 2020
  • have not quit their job voluntarily

Applicants will be required to apply for the benefit every two weeks, and re-attest as to their eligibility each time. There is a repayment requirement as well, to encourage securing the fund for those who need it most. While applicants are permitted to earn money outside of the benefit, they must repay part or all of the benefit if their other income exceeds $38,000 for the year.

Claimants will be required to repay half of every dollar paid through the benefits for every dollar they earn over $38,000. For example, if a recipient earned $46,000 in 2020 outside of the benefits they received through the CRB, they will have exceeded the threshold by $8,000. If they received a total of $4,000 through CRB, they would be required to repay the full amount, as it is equal to half of the income they received in excess of the threshold.

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit

The CRSB is intended for those who are unable to work because they become sick with COVID-19, or are required to self-isolate due to exposure to COVID-19. This benefit was created in conjunction with the Safe Restart Agreement between the federal and provincial governments to allow employees up to two weeks of sick leave due to COVID-19, if necessary. Eligible applicants will be provided with $500 per week for up to two weeks to cover their illness/self-isolation period.

Eligible applicants must be at least 15 years old with a valid SIN, be employed or self-employed and have earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or 2020. Applicants are not required to provide proof of a positive test result to qualify, but they must have missed at least 60% of their scheduled work time in the week during which they claim the benefit. Lastly, they must not receive paid sick leave through their employer during any period for which they claim the benefit.

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit

The CRCB provides benefits to those who are not able to work because they are required to care for dependents at home. This could be related to childcare, necessary due to the closure of schools, or care for any dependent who needs care due to COVID-19. For example, if an employee has a relative at home with a disability who would normally be cared for through a service or program that has shut down due to COVID-19, they would be eligible for the benefit.

The benefit is equal to $500 per week for up to 26 weeks, per household, meaning that only one person per household can qualify for the benefit for any given period of time. As with the CRB above, an eligible applicant may not also receive paid leave through their employer to cover any time for which they apply.

For more information about these benefit programs and the eligibility requirements, please click here. Both employers and employees should be aware of their rights and obligations with respect to leave and available benefits relating to COVID-19, as the rules are changing often to adapt to the current situation.

The law and government programs relating to COVID-19 are always evolving and changing. We are here to provide real-time practical insight into the law and how it applies to your specific circumstance. For advice on this issue and all employment law matters, contact the offices of Toronto employment lawyers Grosman Gale Fletcher Hopkins LLP. Contact us online or by phone at 416-364-9599 to schedule a consultation.