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What kinds of COVID-19 benefits programs has the government implemented?

Both the Federal government and provincial government in British Columbia are implementing new programs in effort to develop an economic response plan to the detrimental effects COVID-19 will ultimately have on our economy.

Due to the ever-evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, government programming has been fluctuating and changing on an almost day-to-day basis. Therefore, when you are investigating which benefits you might be eligible for, it is important to visit the Federal and provincial government websites to ensure that these programs have not changed.

At this time, the Federal government’s primary program is the “Canada Emergency Response Benefit” (CERB). CERB replaces the previously announced “Emergency Care Benefit” and the “Emergency Support Benefit”.

CERB aims to provide a taxable benefit of $2,000.00 per month for up to four (4) months to:

  • Workers who must stop working due to COVID-19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support.
  • Workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.
  • Working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.
  • Workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work.
  • Wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.

In early April a secure web portal and an automated toll-free phone number will become available so that workers can apply for CERB.

In addition to CERB, there are other employment-related programs from our Federal government that are not specifically related to COVID-19, that your circumstances might apply to, such as:

  • Employment Insurance; and
  • Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits.

As well, other government programming aimed at protecting the economic position of individuals affected by COVID-19 include:

Federally:

  • Delayed payment requirements for student loans;
  • Increasing the Canada Child Benefit;
  • Special Goods and Services Tax Credit;
  • Delayed deadline for income tax filing;
  • Mortgage support;

Provincially:

  • BC Emergency Benefit for Workers;
  • Climate Action Tax Credit;
  • Tax relief for businesses; and
  • Payment deferral options from BC Hydro and ICBC.

If you are concerned about whether your circumstances fall within the CERB eligibility criteria or are wondering if you are eligible for any of the other benefits or government programming being offered in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, please reach out to Doak Shirreff Lawyers LLP and we can assist you.

Please feel free to contact the Employment Law Group at Doak Shirreff Lawyers LLP for more information by contacting Nikita Gush 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.