Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) – Employment and Social Development Canada

Coronavirus Disease

Read the latest Public Health Agency of Canada facts on Coronavirus.

Important notice: Service Canada offices are changing how you can access their services

Our priority is the health and safety of all Canadians, while maintaining service to the public. We are temporarily closing in person Service Canada Centres to allow us to better prioritize capacity and to ensure critical service delivery to vulnerable clients.

Read the full Service Canada notice.

For individuals

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

If you have lost income because of COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will provide you with temporary income support.

The CERB will provide you with $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.

We are targeting April 6, 2020 as the date when we can start accepting applications.

Learn more about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Changes to Service Canada Centres

Our priority is the health and safety of all Canadians, while maintaining service to the public. We are temporarily closing in person Service Canada Centres to allow us to better prioritize capacity and to ensure critical service delivery to vulnerable clients.

  • Service Canada Centres:
    • All in person Service Canada Centres are closed to the public.
    • Clients can apply for critical services online.
    • Our Citizen Service Officers will be providing personalized service support for EI and pensions applications through an e-service available online and on mobile phone.
    • To support access to critical programs and services for clients without access to technology, Service Canada Community Outreach and Liaison Service staff are contacting communities to offer alternate service delivery methods that will continue to support accessing critical programs, services and benefits.
  • Service Canada call centres:
    • Call volumes are expected to be high for the foreseeable future. Please visit Canada.ca for information. If you have difficultly getting through, please try again later.
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN) services:
    • Effective March 20, we are only accepting SIN applications submitted by mail. Service Canada is only responding to critical service enquiries at this time.
  • Employment Insurance and pensions processing:
    • We are experiencing a high volume of requests and are responding to critical services on a priority basis. We appreciate your patience during this difficult time and have shifted staff to help process requests as quickly as possible.
Employment Insurance

Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits provide up to 15 weeks of income replacement and is available to eligible claimants who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine, to allow them time to restore their health and return to work. Canadians quarantined can apply for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits.

If you are eligible, visit the EI sickness benefits page to apply.

Service Canada is ready to support Canadians affected by COVID-19 and placed in quarantine, with the following support actions:

  • The one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined so they can be paid for the first week of their claim
  • Establishing a new dedicated toll-free phone number to support enquiries related to waiving the EI sickness benefits waiting period
  • People claiming EI sickness benefits due to quarantine will not have to provide a medical certificate
  • People who cannot complete their claim for EI sickness benefits due to quarantine may apply later and have their EI claim backdated to cover the period of delay

Important: If you are directly affected by the COVID-19 because you are sick or quarantined and you have not yet applied for EI benefits, please submit your application before contacting us. This will allow us to better serve you and prevent delays in establishing your claim.

If you have already completed the application for EI sickness benefits whether you are sick or quarantined and would like to have the one-week waiting period waived, call the new toll-free phone number below. It is important to note that no other request will be actioned on this phone line. We will take action only for sick or quarantined clients affected by the COVID-19 for which the application for sickness benefits has been filed.

  • Telephone: 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free)
  • Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-800-529-3742

If you are experiencing symptoms such as cough, fever, difficulty breathing or you are in self-isolation or quarantine, do not visit or enter any Service Canada office.  As an alternative, you may access our services online or by calling 1 800 O-Canada.

Canada Child Benefit
  • Eligible recipients will receive $300 more per child with their regular May CCB payment.
  • If you have previously applied for the CCB, you do not need to re-apply.
  • For more information on the Canada Child Benefit such as how to apply and eligibility requirements, go to Canada child benefit or call 1-800-387-1193.
Public pensions (Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security)

An important note for people applying for Canada Pension Plan, Canada Pension Plan Disability or Old Age Security.

You can apply online through your My Service Canada Account for the following:

  • Canada Pension Plan Retirement Pension
  • Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefit, or
  • Old Age Security/Guaranteed Income Supplement

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Service Canada is strongly encouraging you to apply for these benefits online, from the comfort of your home. You will not be required to submit documentation to support your application at this time. Service Canada may be requesting these documents at a later date, but in the meantime, we can begin working on your application.

Full time student aged 18 to 25: Disabled contributor’s child’s benefit and surviving child’s benefit - Canada Pension Plan

Students under 25 who are applying for or renewing their benefit are normally required to have the Declaration of Attendance at School or University signed by the registrar at the educational institution they are attending. If the student is no longer attending classes, they are normally required to notify us.

If you are over the age of 18 and currently receiving a child benefit

If your educational institution has closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, your benefits will continue to be paid without interruption until the end date we currently have in our system. For most students, this date would be September 2020 or when you turn 25. There is no need to advise Service Canada.

If you are turning 18 and your parent/guardian is in receipt of a child benefit

You should have received a Declaration of Attendance at School or University. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Service Canada is waiving the requirement to have your educational institution sign Section C of the Declaration of Attendance at School or University. Please complete the form and send to Service Canada.

Foreign payments

Canada Post is currently not accepting mail and parcels destined to a large number of countries. To learn more about which destinations are impacted, please visit the Canada Post Delivery Service Alerts page.

You are encouraged to sign up for Foreign Direct Deposit (FDD) so that your payments can be directly deposited into your foreign bank account. For more information about FDD and for a list of participating countries, please visit the Direct deposit for individuals with a foreign bank account page.

For more information on Public Pensions such as how to apply and eligibility requirements, go to Public Pensions or call 1-800-277-9914.

Canada Student Loans

To support student and apprentice loan borrowers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada is putting the following measures in place from March 30 to September 30, 2020:

  • Suspension of repayments of Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans
    • No payments are required on student and apprentice loans during this time
    • Pre-authorized debits will be stopped
  • No interest will accrue on student and apprentice loans

These measures will provide relief to nearly 1 million CSLP borrowers in repayment.

Go to the NSLSC or CALSC website for more details.

Passport services

Canadians with urgent travel needs may obtain passport services if they:

  • have a serious illness, or must tend to the serious illness or death of another individual they have had a relationship with;
  • suffer from economic hardships due to loss of job or business (the cost of an airline, bus or train ticket does not constitute economic hardship); or
  • must travel for humanitarian grounds, supported by the requesting organization.

If you meet one of the above criteria, you may contact the Passport Call Centre at 1-800-567-6868 or fill out the Service Canada e-form.

If you do not meet the above criteria, or are experiencing symptoms such as cough, fever, difficulty breathing or you are in self-isolation or quarantine, please delay submitting your passport application until further notice.

Social Insurance Number (SIN)

Where to find your SIN

If you don’t remember your SIN, there may be ways you can find it yourself. You can find your SIN in the following places:

  • on your income tax return
  • on your tax slips (T4s, T5)
  • on your record of employment
  • RRSP contribution, or
  • you can request your SIN from your employer

Applying for a SIN

We are still accepting SIN applications but will no longer be accepting them at our in person Service Canada Centers. We recommend that those applying carefully review the following instructions.

Non urgent applications

We request that you refrain from applying for a SIN at this time. We will update this page once more information becomes available.

Urgent applications

If your request is urgent, you can send your application by Canada Post or use a courier service. Service Canada will send the response using the same service you used to send your application (either Canada Post or courier). You will need to attach a note explaining why the request is urgent to your application. Please review the Applying for a SIN page for more information on the documents you need to provide with your application.

SIN issuance and delivery for mailed applications

If you sent your request by Canada Post, we would recommend you visit their website and consult posted delivery standards and review any applicable service delivery interruption web notices as delays may affect the timely receipt and processing of your application

If you sent your application via courier, verify with the courier service to confirm delivery of the application.

If your application is urgent, you can check the status by calling: 1-866-274-6627.

Employers can contact Service Canada's Social Insurance Registration Office at 1-866-274-6627 or 1-506-548-7961 if outside of Canada (long distance charges will apply) to confirm an employee’s SIN.

Temporary residents renewing expiring or expired SINs

Employers must ensure that employees with a SIN beginning with the number “9” are authorized to work in Canada and have a valid immigration document.

If you have applied for renewal of your work or study permit and your current permit has expired before a decision is made, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations provides you the right to continue working or studying under the same conditions as long as you remain in Canada. This is referred to as “implied status”. You retain implied status until a decision is rendered by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). For more information regarding “implied status”, visit the IRCC website or call the IRCC Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100.

In your workplace

Employment Insurance - Record of Employment

If your employees are directly affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) and they are no longer working, you must issue a Record of Employment (ROE).

When the employee is sick or quarantined, use code D (Illness or injury) as the reason for separation (block 16). Do not add comments.

When the employee is no longer working due to a shortage of work because the business has closed or decreased operations due to coronavirus (COVID-19), use code A (Shortage of work). Do not add comments.

When the employee refuses to come to work but is not sick or quarantined, use code E (Quit) or code N (Leave of absence), as appropriate. Avoid adding comments unless absolutely necessary.

Work-Sharing Program

In this section:

Work-Sharing (WS) is a program that helps employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary decrease in business activity beyond the control of the employer. The program provides EI benefits to eligible employees who agree to reduce their normal working hours and share the available work while their employer recovers. Work-Sharing is an agreement between employers, employees and the Government of Canada.

Allows Employers to:

  • retain qualified and experienced workers, and
  • avoid recruiting and training new employees

Allows employees to:

  • keep their jobs, and
  • maintain their work skills

Key program features

  • WS unit: A WS unit is a group of employees with similar job duties who agree to reduce their hours of work over a specific period of time
  • Equal sharing of work: All members of a WS unit agree to reduce their hours of work by the same percentage and to share the available work
  • Expected work reduction: A WS unit must reduce its hours of work by at least 10% to 60%. The reduction of hours can vary from week to week, as long as the average reduction over the course of the agreement is from 10% to 60%
  • Agreement length and extension: A WS agreement has to be at least 6 consecutive weeks long and can last up to 26 consecutive weeks. Employers may be able to extend their agreements up to a total of 76 weeks

Work-Sharing temporary special measures to support employers and workers affected by COVID-19

  • Effective March 15, 2020 to March 14, 2021, and not limited to one specific sector or industry, the Government of Canada is introducing temporary special measures.
  • Extension of the maximum possible duration of an agreement from 38 weeks to 76 weeks
  • Mandatory cooling off period has been waived for employers who have already used the Work-Sharing program so that eligible employers may immediately enter into a new agreement
  • Reduce the requirement and expand eligibility to employers affected by accepting business who have been in business for only 1 year rather than 2, and eliminate the burden of having to provide sales/production figures at the same time

Eligibility

Employers
Eligible employers 

To be eligible for a WS agreement, your business must:

  • be a year-round business in Canada for at least 1 year
  • be a private business, a publicly held company or a not-for-profit organization, and
  • have at least 2 employees in the WS unit
Ineligible employers

Your business is not eligible for WS if it is experiencing a reduction in business activity due to:

  • a labour dispute
  • a seasonal shortage of work
  • a pre-existing and/or recurring production slowdown, or
  • the decrease in business activity is due to a recent increase in the size of the workforce
Employees
Eligible employees

To be eligible for WS, your employees must:

  • be year-round, permanent, full-time or part-time employees needed to carry out the day-to-day functions of the business (your "core staff")
  • be eligible to receive EI benefits, and
  • agree to reduce their normal working hours by the same percentage and to share the available work
Employees that are not eligible for WS include:
  • seasonal employees and students hired for the summer or a co-op term
  • employees hired on a casual or on-call basis, or through a temporary help agency
  • employees who are needed to help generate work and/or who are essential to the recovery of the business. For example:
    • senior management
    • executive-level marketing/sales agents
    • outside sales representatives
    • technical employees engaged in product development
  • employees who hold more than 40% of the voting shares in the business

How to apply

Note: Timeline for employers submitting Work-Sharing documentation 

Employers are now requested to submit their applications 10 calendar days prior to the requested start date.

Prior to COVID-19, employers were requested to send their Work-Sharing application (and supporting documentation) 30 calendar days prior to their requested start date.

The streamlined measures undertaken by Service Canada will aim to reduce the processing time to 10 calendar days.

To apply for the Work-Sharing program, employers must submit:

Please send your application to one of the following email addresses, based on the area your business is located:

Atlantic Provinces

Email: ESDC.TP-ATL-WS-TP.EDSC@servicecanada.gc.ca

Quebec

Email: QC-DPMTDS-LMSDPB-TP-WS-GD@servicecanada.gc.ca

Ontario

Email: ESDC.ON.WS-TP.ON.EDSC@servicecanada.gc.ca

Western Canada and Territories

Email: EDSC.WT.WS-TP.ESDC@servicecanada.gc.ca

Contact us

For more information on the Work-Sharing program, employers across Canada may call toll-free.

Canada and the United States

Toll-free: 1-800-367-5693
TTY : 1-855-881-9874

Outside Canada and the United States

Telephone: 506-546-7569 (collect calls accepted)

Hours of operation: 7:00 am to 8:00 pm, Eastern Time, Monday to Friday.

Service Canada has also created an enquiry unit for clients affected by COVID-19 that are seeking information related to the Work-Sharing Program. Enquiries can be sent to EDSC.DGOP.TP.REP-RES.WS.POB.ESDC@servicecanada.gc.ca for specific Work-Sharing information or to request general information about the Program.

Alternate formats

Employer toolkit

Employee toolkit

Labour Program and federally regulated workplaces

In this section

Coronavirus (COVID-19) in federally regulated workplaces

With the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), employers and employees in federally regulated workplaces may face significant disruptions in the workplace. We are monitoring the impact of COVID-19 closely and taking it very seriously.

Health and safety in the workplace is a shared responsibility. Both employers and employees must take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Employers should be aware of the legal framework within which they can prepare for, manage and address developments caused by the spread of this virus. It is important to ensure employers meet their workplace obligations and protect employee rights.

Roles and responsibilities

The Labour Program is responsible for administering Part II of the Canada Labour Code (the Code).

The Public Health Agency of Canada is responsible for preparing for and responding to any infectious disease emergencies that may happen in Canada.

Employer responsibilities under Part II of the Canada Labour Code

Employers are responsible for protecting the health and safety of employees at work. They are required to implement preventative measures to ensure employees are not exposed to conditions that could be harmful to their health or safety while working.

Updating or creating a hazard prevention program

Hazard prevention programs are prepared in response to the hazards at a particular workplace.

Employers are required to update or create their own hazard prevention programs, including updating their hazard prevention program to address a biological hazard such as COVID-19.

Workplace parties should consider whether doing certain tasks puts employees at greater risk of exposure to coronavirus.

When the workplace identifies a new hazard such as COVID-19, employers must:

  • develop and implement changes to the workplace hazard prevention program, and
  • monitor their effectiveness

Supporting the Internal Responsibility System, the employer must make all revisions to the workplace hazard prevention program by consulting with:

  • the policy health and safety committee
  • the workplace health and safety committee, or
  • the workplace health and safety representative

If personal protective equipment is required, employers must:

  • inform the employees
  • provide training and procedures on how to use the equipment, and
  • keep training records

Employees’ responsibilities include:

  • following safety procedures
  • using safety equipment, devices and clothing as required, and
  • reporting any safety issues to management

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has prepared a fact sheet with information on what workplaces can do to mitigate the impact of COIVD-19.

Employee rights under Part II of the Canada Labour Code

Under the Code, employees have 3 basic rights:

  • the right to know
  • the right to participate, and
  • the right to refuse dangerous work

Definition of danger: "any hazard, condition or activity that could reasonably be expected to be an imminent or serious threat to the life or health of a person exposed to it before the hazard or condition can be corrected or the activity altered."

More information on the right to refuse dangerous work and the investigation process: Right to refuse dangerous work

Mental health

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees may be experiencing:

  • a high degree of uncertainty
  • worry
  • anxiety, and
  • stress about the health and safety of their loved ones and themselves

Employees may also be experiencing disruptions to their work and personal lives. Some may also be experiencing harmful behaviours from colleagues.
Employers must address these behaviours in the workplace’s violence prevention policy. The policy addresses factors which are components of psychological violence, such as:

  • bullying
  • teasing, and
  • other aggressive behaviour

To learn more about how to address psychological violence in the workplace:

The Mental Health Commission of Canada has created a resource hub for mental health and wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic with credible information and resources.

Employees’ rights and leaves of absence

The Code provides employees in federally regulated workplaces with a number of job-protected leaves if they are ill or if they need to take care of their family.

Leave related to COVID-19 (new as of March 25, 2020)

Employees working in a federally regulated workplace are entitled to up to 16 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave if they are unable or unavailable to work due to COVID-19. For example, employees may take this leave if they are:

  • being quarantined or asked to self-isolate as a result of COVID-19
  • being required to provide care to a family member as a result of COVID-19, or
  • otherwise unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19

To take this leave, employees must: 

  • provide their employer with written notice, as soon as possible, of the reason for the leave and the length of leave they intend to take, and
  • notify their employer in writing, as soon as possible, of any changes to the length of the leave 

While they are on leave, employees may have access to the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Application for this benefit will be available in April 2020.

Note: This leave is on a temporary basis and is not retroactive. On October 1, 2020, this leave will be repealed.

The Code establishes minimum requirements. If a collective agreement or arrangement providing better protections exists, the most favourable provisions apply.

Temporary removal of medical certificate requirements (effective March 25, 2020)

In response to the COVID-19 emergency, as a temporary measure, employees are not required to provide a medical certificate to take the following leaves:

  • medical leave
  • compassionate care leave
  • leave related to critical illness (note: Employees are also not required to provide documentation in support of the reasons for the leave or change in the length of the leave)

On September 30, 2020, medical certificate requirements will be reinstated.

Reporting requirements

Employees are required to report hazardous occurrences to their employer. This includes reporting their own potential exposure to COVID-19 that caused or is likely to cause illness to themselves or to any other person.

Employers are required to:

  • report continued refusals to work to the Labour Program as soon as possible once all workplace investigations have taken place
    • contact the Labour Program at 1-800-641-4049 (toll free). An official delegated by the Minister of Labour will follow up with employers to review Code requirements related to refusals to work
  • investigate instances of employees with confirmed COVID-19 resulting in exposure to other employees, and for preventing recurrence of exposure, and
  • report known cases of employees confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 in the workplace using the Hazardous Occurrence Investigation Report

What is coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people and others cause illness in animals. Human coronaviruses are common and are typically associated with mild illnesses, similar to the common cold.

Information and updates about coronavirus: Canada.ca/coronavirus

Information and resources

Information about coronavirus and prevention for employers:

Information on workplace health and safety, and federal labour standards:

Contact the Labour Program

If you are an employer or employee in a federally regulated workplace and you have concerns or questions about coronavirus, please contact the Labour Program at:

  • 1-800-641-4049 (toll-free)
  • Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-800-926-9105

Related links

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: