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COVID-19 Layoffs and Employment and Emergency Benefits Available

With unprecedented layoffs in almost every industry and near-constant changes to the Employment Insurance Act and emergency legislation being implemented, below is a summary of benefits that are currently available to Canadians, have recently been updated and that will become available in short order to aid income losses during this time:

  1. Regular Employment Insurance Benefits:
    • These benefits are triggered by temporary lay offs (of 13 weeks or less) and permanent terminations without cause
    • Benefits are for up to 52 weeks of EI benefits up to 55% of insurable income over the last 52-week period to a maximum of $573/week.
    • A Record of Employment (ROE) is necessary with a valid reason code (i.e. temporary lay off or termination without cause).
    • There is a 1 week waiting period for benefits (deductible period).
    • The benefits are retroactive to the date of termination or last day of work (subject to the deductible period).
    • Employee must have 700 insurable work hours in the last 52 weeks.
    • Employee can apply online through Service Canada website or call 1-800-206-7218.
  2. Regular Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits (Updated for COVID-19 Pandemic):
    • These benefits are for up to 15 weeks of EI sickness Benefits up to 55% of insurable income to a maximum of $573/week.
    • This benefit is for people who are ill or sick (although there appears to be no limitation to strictly COVID-19 cases and it applies universally).
    • A ROE is not currently required (temporary waiver of this requirement).
    • A doctor’s note or medical certificate is not currently required (temporary waiver of this requirement).
    • There is currently no waiting period for benefits (i.e. no deductible period – this is normally 1 week).
    • Apply online through Service Canada or call 1-833-381-2725.
  3. New Temporary Emergency Care Benefits (Coming April 2020 – awaiting Royal Assent) For those who are Sick or Caregivers but not eligible for EI:
    • These benefits are for up to 15 weeks to a maximum of $900/bi-weekly.
    • These benefits are for individuals who are without sick leave from work (or out of days) or don’t have workplace accommodation and they are sick, quarantined, or forced to stay home to care for children.
    • These benefits are for employees, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent, but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
    • It is not clear if a ROE is required or not, but would likely be triggered with interruption to earnings in any event, so an ROE for a sick or other leave would result.
    • There is no waiting period / no deductible period.
    • Benefits are retroactive to March 15, 2020, regardless of when they are given.
    • No medical certificate is currently required.
    • Applications will be available online through the CRA and Service Canada websites.  The toll-free number is not yet available.
  4. New Temporary Emergency Care Benefits (Coming April 2020 – awaiting Royal Assent) for Parents unable to Work due to School / Day-Car Closures:
    • The benefits are for up to 15 weeks to a maximum of $900/bi-weekly.
    • These benefits are for parents with children who require care or supervision due to school or daycare closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify for EI or not.
    • It is not clear if a ROE is required or not, but would likely be triggered with interruption to earnings in any event, so a ROE for a leave would likely need to be issued.
    • There is no waiting period.
    • Benefits are retroactive to March 15, 2020, regardless of when they are given.
    • No medical certificate is currently required.
    • Applications will be available online through the CRA and Service Canada websites.  The toll-free number is not yet available.

NOTE: In the week of March 16, 2020 there was over 500,000 applications for EI and EI sickness benefits in Canada compared to the average of about 21,000. As such, there WILL be delays to getting any benefits.

Please feel free to contact the Employment Law Group at Doak Shirreff Lawyers LLP for more information by contacting Scott Chambers at [email protected], or call 250-763-4323, or through our toll-free number at 1-800-661-4959. We can consult with you remotely as needed.