FEWO Appearance on Government’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the impacts on women July 8, 2020

Official title: Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion FEWO Appearance on Government’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the impacts on women July 8, 2020

Table of contents

1. Opening remarks

Official title: Speaking Notes for the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion COVID-19 Measures: What we have done so far and Impacts on Women To the Standing Committee on the Status of Women (FEWO) July 8, 2020

Check against delivery 2020 PA 000782

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I am pleased to be able to join you today to talk about the emergency measures our government has taken within ESDC’s portfolio to support Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic, and their impacts as they pertain to women and gender equality.

These emergency measures, like all the measures put in place by the Government of Canada, are aligned with our government’s commitment to equality, equity, inclusion and diversity.

Accompanying me today are Catherine Adam, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Service Policy Branch; Andrew Brown, Director General, Employment Insurance Policy and Philippe Massé, Director General, Temporary Foreign Workers Program

Let me get right to it.

Given the speed of severity in which the pandemic struck our country, we made a decision to act as quickly as possible in order to assist Canadians by issuing financial assistance immediately, sometimes within two days—Ms. Chair, we lost no time—we acted swiftly and promptly with the CERB, CESB, Wage Subisidies and other measures. Now, admittedly, with the speed in which we acted, came some opportunity costs.

Right off the top, I will tell you that there were no GBA studies done for those programs. We wasted no time though—we put money into the hands of Canadians without delay.

Further, I will say, the CERB provides income support for men, women and families facing a broad range of situations due to COVID-19. Those facing job loss, sick or quarantined due to COVID-19, or caring for a sick or quarantined person are eligible for CERB.

As well, workers who need to take time away from work to care for a child whose school or daycare is closed or a dependent whose care facility is closed due to COVID-19 can get the support they need during these uncertain times.

To help ensure we leave no one behind, our Government will commit to conducting rigorous Gender Based Analysis Plus as we gradually take measures to reopen the economy.

My department is proud of its GBA+ Centre of Expertise, which has evolved over the years, and it will play a key role in ensuring that GBA+ is incorporated into our programs, policies, and initiatives as we move forward.

I will now provide an overview of our emergency measures.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit

As the pandemic made its way to Canada and began having tremendous impacts on our economy and our daily lives, our government acted quickly to create the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. This benefit was created to help Canadians who stopped working due to COVID-19.

Through this benefit, all eligible workers receive $500 per week. The CERB supports workers who have lost their job or who are unable to work because of sickness and/or the need to self-isolate or provide care to children or dependants due to COVID-19. It also provides financial support to workers who are still employed but making under $1,000 every 4 weeks.

In putting the CERB in place, we tried to be as flexible as possible. We recognized, for example, that women are generally overrepresented in minimum-wage and low-paying occupations which were among the ones hit the hardest by the pandemic.

To give you a sense of the scope of the need, more than 8 million workers have been paid more than $53 billion in benefits.

We recently extended the Canada Emergency Response Benefit by 8 weeks, to a maximum of 24 weeks. This is to ensure Canadians get the support they need while the economy continues to reopen.

We recognize our best strength for recovery is getting people back into the labour force. This is why, with the extension of the CERB, we are encouraging workers who are able to return to work to do so, provided it is reasonable based on their individual circumstances.

Students and youth

Now over to students and youth. We knew from the beginning that this pandemic would have an impact on these two groups of Canadians and had to think of innovative and targeted ways to support them.

One significant way we are helping students and youth is why the Canada Emergency Student Benefit. Students who are not eligible for the CERB could be eligible to receive $1,250 per month during these important summer months that so many count on for financial stability.

As we know in Canada, women can account for up to two-thirds of the student population in our universities, meaning this benefit is significantly benefiting young women.

And keeping in line with our GBA+ lens, it was decided that eligible students with permanent disabilities, and students with dependents would receive an additional $750 per month.

Impacts on women - Pay equity/Families

The CERB and the CESB have been providing much needed support to millions of Canadians and millions of Canadian women. But we know that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted women, putting them at greater risk of job loss, poverty, food insecurity, loss of housing and domestic violence.

These disproportionate impacts could have long-term and far reaching consequences.

To further help families, and as part of its COVID-19 response plan, our government provided a one time enhancement of $300 per child for families receiving the Canada Child Benefit.

The overall increase for families receiving the child benefit was approximately $550 on average.

And starting July 20, the CCB will be increased once again to keep up with the cost of living.

We continue to move forward on closing the gender pay gap and promoting equitable workplaces. We introduced a proactive pay equity regime that will require employers to ensure that women and men in federally regulated workplaces receive equal pay for work of equal value.

Persons with disabilities

In addition to women facing heightened barriers and challenges during this pandemic, persons with disabilities are also disproportionately impacted.

According to the latest available data, more women in Canada have a disability than men – 2.1 million women and 1.7 million men have disabilities. Women with disabilitites are particularly vulnerable at this time, as they are more likely to work in sectors of the economy hardest hit; and 60 percent of women with disabilities experience violence.

In the spirit of “Nothing Without Us” and the Accessible Canada Act, and to support Canadians with disabilities, we established the COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group.

The Advisory Group has put an intersectional disability lens on the pandemic and has raised key issues affecting Canadians with disabilitites. With their advocacy, PHAC released guidelines to ensure persons with disabilities in Canada were protected, listened to, supported and accommodated as necessary during this pandemic. And thanks in part to the Advisory Group’s advice, we recognized the need to provide financial support to persons with disabilities to address the extraordinary expenses incurred during the pandemic.

On June 5th, the Prime Minister announced that Canadians who are certificate holders of the Disability Tax Credit as of June 1, 2020 would receive a one-time payment of $600.

Our government’s effort to pass legislation to support implementation of this payment did not proceed as intended. Opposition parties could not agree on the legislation, therefore the process to roll-out this benefit has been delayed. However, we remain committed to finding a solution that delivers this supplement to Canadians living with a disability.

Seniors

I would now like to talk about seniors in Canada and the supports we have put in place to help them through this pandemic. As we now know, seniors are the most vulnerable to COVID-19.

Statistically, in Canada, women over the age of 65 have a slightly longer life expectancy than men. As of July 1st, 2019, 54% of the Canadian population over 65 were women.

Our government is providing a one-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the Old Age Security pension, with an additional $200 for seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

This measure would give a total of $500 to individuals who are eligible to receive both the OAS and the GIS, and will help them cover increased costs caused by COVID-19.

Eligible seniors are receiving their one-time payment this week. I know this will be a welcome support for seniors in Canada, especially senior women.

Systemic discrimination

Recent events in the United States and in Canada have reawakened public concern with systemic discrimination.

This has led to calls on the Government to take bolder action to ensure that our institutions are free from the often unconscious and invisible assumptions and practices that underpin inequality.

This includes the workplaces where many Canadians spend much of their time. As I previously mentioned our federal pay equity regime, I want to highlight our commitment to look at whether our current approach to employment equity needs to be modernized, beyond the introduction of pay transparency. This is just one step, but an important one nonetheless.

Closing

Madam Chair, our government has been working relentlessly to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus and protect Canadians’ health and financial security during the pandemic.

Our emergency measures during the pandemic have been implemented through an equality, equity, inclusion and diversity lens.

However, we know there is more work to be done.

As we emerge from this crisis, we have an opportunity to design approaches to recovery that promote gender equality and a more inclusive society.

This is what this Government intends to keep doing.

Thank you.

I am happy to answer your questions.

-30-

2. ESDC COVID response measures (announced)

Measure

Waive the one - week waiting period for EI sickness: for workers in quarantine.

This measure came into force on March 15, 2020 and was overtaken by the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

  • CERB provisions came into force retroactively as of March 15, 2020
  • New claims for EI sickness benefits with an effective date on or after March 15, 2020 are processed for the CERB that has no waiting period

Claimants are benefitting from the CERB rather than the waiver of the waiting period at the moment.

Target population

EI-eligible individuals who become ill with COVID-19, including women.

Accessible to all.

Measure

Working-Sharing Program: extending eligibility from 38 weeks to 76 weeks for employers affected by COVID-19 and other measures including:

  • the mandatory waiting period (up to 38 weeks) between agreements was waived for eligible employers
  • the previous requirements for a recovery plan was reduced to a single line of text in the application form
  • employers who have been in business for 1 year (rather than 2) are now deemed eligible to apply to the program
  • eligibility was expanded to Government Business Enterprises, public corporations (like Transit Authorities / Universities) and not-for-profit organization employers
  • an enquiry unit (email) for clients affected by COVID-19 was created, providing responses to employer enquiries within 24 hours

This measure will provide income support to employees eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers.

Since the special measures were introduced, over 3,525 Work-Sharing agreements have been approved representing over 108,769 workers now supported by this benefit. The cost of these agreements is over $1.3 Billion.

Target population

Businesses and workers.

Measure

Waive the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness, family caregiving and compassionate care benefits: those who are applying for EI regular or sickness benefits, a medical certificate is no longer required for EI claims beginning March 15, 2020 or later.

This was put in place to reduce the burden on the healthcare system in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. New claimants for family caregiving and compassionate care benefits are relieved from the requirement to provide a medical certificate. Data is not available on the take-up of this measure.

Target population

EI-eligible individuals, most individuals who will benefit are women.

Accessible to all.

Measure

Changes to EI for self-employed fish harvesters and sharespersons: considering potential measures or changes to EI that would allow self-employed fish harvesters and sharespersons to access EI benefits on the basis of insurable earnings from previous seasons (winter and summer claims). The details of this measure have not been finalized and it has not yet been implemented.

Target population

EI-eligible individuals, including women.

Measure

Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): provides a taxable benefit of $2,000 every 4 weeks for up to 24 weeks (8 additional weeks announced June 16th) to eligible workers aged 15 and older residing in Canada who have stopped working for reasons related to COVID-19 and who do not have more than $1000 in employment or self-employment income for 14 or more consecutive days within their first four-week period and for the entire 4 weeks of their subsequent periods. Individuals eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits as of March 15th 2020 or who have exhausted their EI regular or fishing benefits as of December 29th 2019 are also eligible.

As of July 5st, 2020, 8.25 million individuals have benefited from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The total dollar value of CERB benefits paid as of this date is $54.7B.

As part of the June 16th extension announcement, the government was clear that workers should be seeking work opportunities and/or return to work when their employer makes a request for their return provided they are able and it is reasonable to do so.

Target population

All Canadians, including women.

Accessible to all.

Measure

Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program:

Key actions taken:

  • Exempted TFWs from entry restrictions into Canada (March 26)
  • Implemented flexibilities to enable timely access to foreign workers (March 26)
  • Developed and communicated new requirements for employers to safeguard the health of Canadians and foreign workers (April 3)
  • Announced $50 million to offset costs of new requirements on employers related to COVID-19 in key sectors (April 13)
  • Implemented regulatory amendments and launched inspections of employers on new requirements related to COVID-19 (April 20 and 24, respectively)
  • The Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program (MISTFWP) provides support of $1,500 for each temporary foreign worker, to employers or those working with them to ensure requirements are fully met. The funding is conditional on employers not being found in violation of the mandatory isolation
  • Strengthened assessment criteria for all new and existing applications under review to help ensure Canadians have the first opportunity for available jobs
  • Agriculture and Agri-food Canada launched “Step up to the Plate – Help Feed Canadians” initiative to encourage careers in the agri-food sector, and help match Canadians with jobs (April 21)
  • Service Canada inspectors have begun collaborative assessments with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Labour, and local health units to assess the living and working conditions on some farms where outbreaks have occurred (June 24)
  • Established a Mexico-Canada Contact Group to collaboratively and effectively respond to COVID-19 outbreaks (June 25)

These measures ensure Canadians have first available opportunity at jobs and that Service Canada is currently prioritizing occupations that directly support and ensure the safety of the Canadian food supply chain.

Target population

Current TFW eligible businesses.

Measure

6-month interest-free moratorium on repayment of Canada Student Loans: a pause on all Canada Student Loan repayments and interest accrual from March 30, 2020 to September 30, 2020, which applies to all Canada Student Loan and Canada Apprentice Loan borrowers.

This measure will provide relief to nearly 1 million Canada Student Loan Program (CSLP) borrowers in repayment.

Target population

Students: The CSLP targets students from low- and middle-income households. Women make up about 60% of CSLP recipients, which is consistent with broader trends in post-secondary attainment (StatCan data shows that in 2016, 57% of PSE graduates were women).

Measure

Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB): provides financial support from May to August to post-secondary students and recent graduates who cannot find summer employment due to COVID-19 and who are not eligible for the CERB. Eligible students receive $1,250 per month, plus an additional $750 per month if they have dependants or a disability for a maximum of $2,000 per month. As the completion of the second four-week period CESB period nears, more than 600,000 unique students (over 1 million total applicants) received $1.42 billion in CESB.

Target population

Students with disabilities and with dependants receive an additional $750 per month, for a total of $2,000.

About 55% of all CESB recipients are women; for those with dependents, 82% are women.

Measure

Double the Canada Student Grants: to up to $6,000 for full-time students and up to $3,600 for part-time students in 2020 to 2021.The Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with Dependants will also be doubled.

No student or spousal contribution expected in 2020 to 2021, in recognition that many students and families will struggle to save for school this year.

Increase the maximum weekly amount of Canada Student Loans from $210 to $350 for the 2020 to 2021 school year.

Taken together, these measures are expected to benefit more than 760,000 students in loan year 2020 to 2021 at an estimated cost of $1.9 billion.

Target population

Students from low- and middle-income households, students with permanent disabilities and students with dependants.

Women make up about 60% of CSLP recipients, which is consistent with broader trends in post-secondary attainment (StatCan data shows that in 2016, 57% of PSE graduates were women).

Measure

Supporting students and new grads affected by COVID-19:

  • $153.7 million for the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy to help youth develop the skills and gain the experience they need to successfully transition into the labour market. Funding will support a range of measures in high-demand sectors such as agriculture, technology, health and essential services, creating over 6,000 additional job placements
  • $80 million for the Student Work Placement Program to support up to 20,000 post-secondary students across Canada to obtain paid work experience related to their field of study
  • $15 million for the Supports for Student Learning Program to help organizations that have established and trusted relationships with vulnerable children and youth, migrate their wraparound supports online. This funding will serve approximately 14,700 youth through support to complete high school and transition to post-secondary education in order to help ensure that vulnerable children and youth do not become further marginalized as a result of COVID-19
  • We are expanding existing federal employment, skills development, and youth programming to create up to 116,000 jobs, placements, and other training opportunities to help students find employment and develop valuable skills this summer and over the coming months

40,500 youth and students are expected to benefit.

Target population

Students and youth, including women.

Measure

Changes to the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy's Canada Summer Jobs program: changes include increased wage subsidies, expanded eligibility and new flexibilities for employers, to ensure it can continue to support up to 70,000 student job placements in 2020- to 2021. These new measures are being supported by a reallocation of existing resources. On June 25, an additional $61.7M in funding was announced for CSJ 2020 to support the creation of 10,000 additional jobs, expanding the CSJ 2020 work placement target from 70,000 to 80,000 jobs.

Target population

Youth, including women.

Canada Summer jobs 2020 National Priorities include organizations that provide services to or intend to hire youth who self-identify as being part of underrepresented groups or as having additional barriers to entering or staying in the labour market, and includes women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Measure

Delivering essential services to those in need: investment of $350 million to support vulnerable Canadians through charities and non-profit organizations that deliver essential services to those in need. The investment is flowing through national organizations that have the ability to get funds quickly to local organizations that serve vulnerable populations. It supports a variety of activities.

Target population

Vulnerable Canadians, including women.

Measure

Increasing the Canada Child Benefit (CCB): $300 per child through the CCB for families currently receiving the CCB. This will mean approximately $550 on average per family.

This benefit was delivered as part of the scheduled CCB payment in May.

Target population

Families, including women.

Measure

Supporting people experiencing homelessness: support to people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak by providing $157.5 million to the Reaching Home initiative.

The funding could be used for a range of needs such as purchasing beds and physical barriers for social distancing and securing accommodation to reduce overcrowding in shelters.

Reaching Home provides communities with significant flexibility in how funding can be used to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. For example, communities can use Reaching Home funding to place individuals in temporary, transitional, or permanent housing accommodations for the purposes of self-isolation; purchase supplies and materials to reduce the risk of transmission, such as personal protective equipment; and, hire additional staff to support the response.

Target population

Individuals (both men and women) and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness, including women and children fleeing violence.

Preliminary analysis that in the first 6 months of Reaching Home, out of a total of 1,237 projects, communities supported at least 128 projects with organizations that primarily serve women for a total allocation of $23,159,581. This includes 11 Violence Against Women’s shelters, for a total of 19 projects and $1,215,020.

Measure

Special one-time tax-free payment for certified holders of the Disability Tax Credit (DTC): Provides a special one-time-tax payment to individuals who are certificate holders of the DTC as of June 1, 2020, as follows:

  • $600 for Canadians with a valid DTC certificate
  • $300 for Canadians with a valid DTC certificate and who are eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension
  • $100 for Canadians with a valid DTC certificate and who are eligible for the OAS pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)

People who are eligible for this special payment will receive it automatically.

Target population

People with disabilities, including women.

Measure

Canada Student Service Grant: the new Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG), which will help students gain valuable work experience and skills while they help their communities during the COVID 19 pandemic. For students who choose to do national service and serve their communities, the new Canada Student Service Grant will provide up to $5,000 for their education in the fall.

Additional support for the Canada Service Corps to expand support for meaningful youth service projects that have positive impacts in communities across Canada, including increasing the number of microgrants from 1,800 to 15,000, and providing stipends to participants.

The launch of the "I Want to Help" Platform.

Target population

Students, including women.

Measure

Supporting organizations that provide essential services to seniors: funding of $9M through the New Horizons for Seniors Program to the United Way Centraide Canada to fund seniors’ serving organizations to adapt their frontline services to address the social inclusion, wellbeing and safety needs of vulnerable seniors in a safe and effective way during COVID-19.

Target population

Seniors, including women.

Measure

New flexibilities under the New Horizons for Seniors Program: the new flexibilities under the New Horizons for Seniors Program community stream allow organizations across the country to use previously approved project funding, approximately $50 million, for essential services to seniors affected by COVID-19.

Organizations that were approved for funding for 2019 to 20 can now use their funding for activities such as helping seniors stay connected to their community and family, and supporting the delivery of food and medication to self-isolated seniors at home.

Expanding the New Horizons for Seniors Program with an additional investment of $20 million to support organizations that offer community-based projects that reduce isolation, improve the quality of life of seniors, and help them maintain a social support network.

Target population

Seniors, including women.

Measure

One-time tax-free payment for seniors: providing additional financial support of $2.5 billion for a one-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension, with an additional $200 for seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for a total of $500. Allowance recipients will also receive $500. This measure will help seniors cover increased costs caused by COVID-19. The payment will be issued the week of July 6.

It is estimated that approximately 6.7 million OAS pensioners will benefit from the $300 payment, and 2.2 million of those pensioners will receive the additional $200 payment due to their eligibility to the GIS.

Target population

Seniors, including women.

Measure

Extending GIS and Allowance payments: temporarily extending GIS and Allowance payments if seniors’ 2019 income information has not been received. This will ensure that the most vulnerable seniors continue to receive their benefits when they need them the most. Seniors are encouraged to submit their 2019 income information as soon as possible and no later than by October 1, 2020.

Target population

Seniors, including women.

3. Gender-Based Analysis + Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many Canadians to stay home due to being quarantined, being laid-off, being sick or needing to take care of others. While some continue to work, others have had their income reduced or completely cut off due to insufficient work and closures of businesses. The loss of income resulting from the pandemic has caused financial strain on many individuals who can no longer afford to support themselves or their families.

The Government of Canada responded quickly to support Canadians affected by COVID-19 and launched the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to provide temporary income support to those who have lost employment income due to the pandemic. Available from March 15 to October 3, 2020, CERB provides a taxable benefit of $500 per week for up to 24 weeks to those who are eligible.

Labour force trends and impacts

  • As of the week of July 5, 2020, 8.25 million individuals have benefited from the CERB. As of that date, $54.7B in benefits have been paid
  • According to Statistics Canada’s Labour Force report, from February to April, employment fell by more than 3 million. The number of Canadians who remained employed but worked less than half their usual hours increased by 2.5 million, bringing the total impact of COVID-19 to 5.5 million
  • Women were harder hit at the beginning of the COVID-19 economic shutdown, with the impact hardest felt in the services sectors. By April, employment losses were similar for women (-1,537,000; -16.9%) and men (-1,468,000; -14.6%). Total employment increased more than twice as fast among men (+2.4% or +206,000) than women (+1.1% or +84,000) in May
  • Cumulative employment losses were particularly severe for youth and students aged 15 to 24 (-843,000; -33.0%) from February to May

Key demographics

  • Women are generally overrepresented in minimum-wage and low-paying occupations. According to Statistics Canada’s gender-based report, in 2015, the 3 industries with the greatest share of women were healthcare and social assistance (82.4%), educational services (69.3%), and accommodation and food services (58.5%). These industries were among the ones hit the hardest by the pandemic, resulting in women’s higher rates of job losses compared to men
  • According to Statistics Canada, in 2010, the average annual wages and salaries of immigrant men were 86% of those of native-born men, and those of immigrant women were 93% of those of native-born women. Furthermore, refugees tend to earn only 73% of the average Canadian wage, making them the least earning group out of all immigrants

CERB program criteria and impacts

  • Despite being among the most affected, women might also be disproportionately excluded from CERB as they have more chances of not having earned the required minimum of $5,000 in the last 12 months or in 2019. In 2015, 75% of part-time workers were women and 12.3% of core-working aged women had no earnings compared to 5.3% of men
  • CERB eligibility rules are more flexible than traditional EI rules in that the employment income can be earned from self-employment or be earned overseas. This facilitates access to self-employed individuals and recent immigrants

Forward GBA+ CERB analysis

  • The Government has announced the extension of the CERB by 8 weeks to continue to provide support to workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Extending the CERB will give workers greater confidence that they will continue to get the support they need as they face ongoing disruptions to their work and home situations due to COVID-19
  • Statistics Canada will continue to monitor labour market outcomes by key demographics as more COVID-19 restrictions are eased in the coming months, and the Department will analyse findings as part of continue GBA+ analysis of the CERB in relation to trends in benefit uptake

4. Canada Emergency Student Benefit GBA+ - Departmental summary

1. General information

Proposal title

  • Canada Emergency Student Benefit

Lead department

  • ESDC

Type of measure

  • Legislation or regulation
  • New

Timing of conduct of GBA+

  • Later stage (after proposals are finalized)

2. Brief description of proposal

Problem statement

  • The Government of Canada recognizes that students and recent graduates are being significantly affected by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Statistics Canada, in March 2020, the number of post-secondary working students, aged 15 to 29, dropped by 28% from February 2020
  • As many post-secondary students adapt to the new reality brought on by COVID-19, they are concerned about the effect of the pandemic on their ability to continue their studies, secure and retain summer employment, pay their bills, and save for tuition in the fall. Additionally, students who are about to graduate might struggle to find employment, which may in turn, have a negative impact on the value of their education over the long term

Approach

  • In response to the financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada introduced the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) to provide financial support to students and recent graduates who are facing challenges to find employment, pay their bills, and save for tuition in the fall
  • Through the CESB, students who do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or Employment Insurance (EI) benefits will receive $1,250 per month for up to four mounts (May to August 2020). Students with disabilities and students with dependants will receive an additional $750 per month. The CESB represents an investment of $5.2 billion and is expected to reach approximately 1 million students

3. Target group (policy intent)

  • Students
  • Persons with disabilities
  • Low income Individuals
  • Individuals of particular socio-economic status
  • Individuals of particular education level
  • Individuals with dependants or children under the age of 12

Students and recent graduates have been disproportionally affected by the shutdown of industries due to COVID-19 and it is estimated that 1.2 million post-secondary-aged students (like 16 to 29-year-olds) would not be eligible for COVID-19 relief funds offered through the CERB or EI.

With a disruption in earnings, or no longer having access to jobs that supplement their income, many students will be facing challenges to afford the cost of living and post-secondary education expenses.

CESB would provide support to the following students who do not qualify for the CERB or EI benefits, including:

  • students who are enrolled in a post-secondary education program (at least 12 weeks in duration) leading to a degree, diploma, or certificate
  • students who ended their post-secondary studies or graduated no earlier than December 2019
  • high-school graduates who have applied for and will be joining post-secondary programs before February 2021; and
  • Canadian students studying abroad meeting one of the above criteria

Students with disabilities, defined as someone having an impairment, such as a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment, or a functional limitation—whether permanent or episodic in nature, or evident or not—that, in interaction with a barrier, hinders a person’s full and equal participation in society, are eligible to receive additional financial relief from the CESB.

4. Expected outcomes

4.1 Direct benefits

Gender identity and sexual orientation

  • Women

Socio-economic, cultural and familial characteristics

  • Parents

Health characteristics

  • Persons with disabilities

Age and life stage

  • Students

Please select, as applicable

These traits describe multiple groups, rather than one distinct group with intersecting characteristics. Please explain below:

  • This temporary benefit will provide much-needed financial relief to post-secondary students, recent post-secondary graduates, and graduating high school students who are unable to find work as a result of COVID-19, looking for work but unable to find it or working but unable to earn more than $1,000 (before taxes) over the four-week period for which they are applying. It is intended to capture students who do not qualify for the CERB because they did not make the minimum amount of $5,000 in the past year. Special attention is paid to students with dependents and students with disabilities who will be facing financial challenges of their own, making it difficult for them to support their children’s education or to pursue their studies
  • Approximately 1 million students and recent graduates are expected to receive over $5 billion in financial support through the CESB
1. Students
  • According to Statistics Canada, in 2017 to 18, there were an estimated 2.1 million students enrolled in public Canadian post-secondary institutions with 1.3 million registered in universities and 700,000 in colleges—1.6 million studied full-time and 500,000 studied part-time.
  • Statistics Canada also reports that each year around 350,000 students graduate high school. Each year, around 25 percent of 19-year-olds go on to college and around 36 percent of 21-year-olds attend university.
  • As a group, youth aged 15 to 24 are more likely to hold less secure jobs in hard-hit industries such as accommodation and food services. From February to April, Statistics Canada reported that employment among youth declined by 873,000 (-34.2%), while an additional 385,000 (or one in four) who remained employed in April lost all or the majority of their usual hours worked (not adjusted for seasonality). Employment declined faster among those aged 15 to 19 (-40.4%) than among those aged 20 to 24 (-31.1%), reflecting the less secure jobs held by those in the younger age category.
  • Among students aged 15 to 24 in April, the unemployment rate increased to 31.7% (not adjusted for seasonality), signalling that many could face difficulties in continuing to pay for their studies. Among non-student youth, a little more than half were employed in April, down from three quarters in February (data not seasonally adjusted).
2. Women
  • According to Statistics Canada, women accounted for 57.3% of all graduates in 2017, and they outnumbered male graduates at every level of education except at the doctoral level, where they accounted for 45.6% of all graduates.
  • While women aged 15 to 24 tend to have lower levels of unemployment than men; they have been disproportionately burdened by the financial difficulties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Statistics Canada, among the population aged 15 to 24, employment losses from February to April totalled 480,600 (-38%) for women and 392,000 (-30%) for men.
  • Women aged 15 to 24 have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic in terms of employment. While the unemployment rate for males in this age group increased from 11.7 to 25.9% between February and April (+121%), the unemployment rate for females in this category increased from 8.8 to 28.6% (+225%) in the same time period.
  • According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, women make up just under half (47%) of all workers, but account for two thirds (63%) of all job losses; among workers in the core demographic aged 25 to 54 years, women represent 70% of all job losses in March.
3. Parents
  • According to Canada Student Loans Program administrative data, over 66,000 full-time and part-time students had dependants in 2018-19. Students with dependants (who are, for the most part, parents) face significant financial barriers, with nearly 95 percent facing unmet need of close to $10,000.
  • In the 2017 to 2018 school year, single parents accounted for only 4% of all CSLP students, 94% of them being women. Taking income levels into account, most of these households face financial challenges as 81% of student parents in CSLP are also low-income (income-level below $42,426 for a lone parent of one child for the 2017 to 2018 school year).
4. Persons with disabilities
  • Statistics Canada found that 13% of Canadians aged 15 to 24 report having one or more disabilities in 2017, with mental health disabilities being the most prevalent type of disability (8%). Among those aged, 15-24, 15% of women report having a disability, while approximately 10% of men do. Furthermore, according to CSLP administrative data for 2018 to 2019, over 50,000 students reported having a permanent disability.
  • Students with permanent disabilities also tend to be low- or middle-income students: according to CSLP administrative data, over 80% of them receive the Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities.
Long-term benefits

N/A

4.2 Indirect benefits

The benefiting group has the following demographic characteristics that are predominantly relative to the population at large. Please select at least one option in the Gender Identity box and select all other characteristics that apply.

Gender identity and sexual orientation

  • Women (60%-79%)

Socio-economic, cultural and familial characteristics

  • Lower income
  • Middle income

Geographic characteristics

  • Rural or remote populations

Please select, as applicable:

These traits describe multiple groups, rather than one distinct group with intersecting characteristics. Please explain below.

1. Women
  • According to Statistics Canada, women accounted for 57.3% of all graduates in 2017, and they outnumbered male graduates at every level of education except at the doctoral level, where they accounted for 45.6% of all graduates.
  • CSLP administrate data for 2018-19 shows that low- and middle-income students tend to be women, representing 60% of all CSLP clients and 66% of student loan borrowers benefiting from CSLP’s Repayment Assistance Plan (RAP).
2. Lower and middle-income students

The hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty about the future payoff of post-secondary education have significantly affected Canadian students and their families. CESB supports will benefit eligible students, particularly those from low-income and middle-income backgrounds, who may have difficulty paying for upfront post-secondary education costs.

3. Rural or remote populations

Similarly, for CSLP borrowers from rural or remote communities who live away from home, approximately 84% did not have their living costs matched by available loan and grant amounts. CESB supports will help alleviate the financial strain on these students and ensure they are able to afford and pursue their studies.

Long-term benefits
  • As noted above, youth, including students, between the ages of 15 and 24 have seen their employment prospects disappear or diminish due to the pandemic. Seeing that most would be excluded from CERB due to being unemployed before the pandemic or not reaching the threshold limit of $5,000, the introduction of the CESB is critical to ensure they are able to pursue post-secondary education.
  • Minimizing the impacts of COVID-19 and ensuing that post-secondary education remains accessible, especially to students from low and middle-income backgrounds, will facilitate access to the progressive benefits of wider post-secondary education attainment across Canada.
  • The positive outcomes of post-secondary education related to employment and income span Canadian society by contributing to greater individual purchasing power and economic engagement, and reduced government spending on social services (e.g., EI, health care, etc.).
  • Research shows that participation in post-secondary education leads to higher individual earnings and healthier lives, which in-turn contributes to higher quality of life for families. Post-secondary education attainment helps the economy be more productive and helps society have a healthier population with increased civic engagement, higher government revenues and lower government expenses.

4.3 Negative impacts

This proposal does not carry negative impacts.

Socio-economic, cultural and familial characteristics

  • Lower income
  • Middle income

These measures do not carry any direct negative impacts; however, they would result in students who do not have dependents or a disability receiving less income replacement than other workers, something stakeholders have criticized. There are concerns that the CESB—which is $750 less than the CERB amount—will be insufficient to allow lower-income and financially independent students (that is, who are not supported by their parents) to cover immediate expenses, ensure they can pursue their post-secondary education plans, or secure employment in the near future.

While an individual can be eligible for the CESB even if they earn up to $1,000 per month, the combined potential maximum of $2,250 per month could be insufficient for lower- and middle-income students and recent graduates facing significant financial pressures.

In addition, the CESB requires students to prove that they are looking for work, while the CERB does not. Critics have argued that this could put students in a position where they may need to accept work that could put them at risk of becoming infected or lose the benefit. However, as per CESB policy guidelines, students can accept a suitable job and they do not have to accept any job offered to them. Lower income students may be more likely to make this difficult decision out of financial necessity and would also be more likely to live with other people for financial reasons and in more crowded housing, which would put them at risk of spreading the virus to even more people.

That said, the recent and newly announced measures to support youth, post-secondary students, and recent graduates (for example, suspending repayment and interest on Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans; doubling Canada Student Grants; raising the maximum weekly Canada Student Loan amount; expanding eligibility to student financial assistance; changes to the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy and the Canada Summer Jobs program; introducing of the Canada Student Service Grant; etcetra) should help mitigate the impacts of the crisis on Canada’s youth.

Moreover, those who do not meet the CESB eligibility criteria could still avail themselves of other Government of Canada supports available for youth, students and recent graduates, such as the existing federal employment, skills development, and youth programming; expanded supports available through the CSLP, the new Canada Student Service Grant.

4.4 Income distributional impacts

What are the overall expected impacts of this proposal from an income distributional perspective?

Somewhat benefits low income individuals (progressive)

  • The CESB benefit is available to all eligible students, regardless of their personal / family circumstances. These supports are expected to be progressive and proportional seeing that this measure provides immediate support to students ($1,250 per month), in addition to providing increased support to students with disabilities and students with dependants ($2,000 per month)
  • As noted above, students with disabilities and students with dependants face significant financial barriers and are more likely to be low- and middle-income

4.5 Generational impacts

Identify the generation that is expected to benefit most from the proposal.

Primarily benefits youth, children, or future generations

  • The supports are targeted to post-secondary students, recent post-secondary graduates, and graduating high school students who have applied to a post-secondary educational program that begins before February 2021. Therefore, this measure will primarily support younger Canadians’ ability to pursue post-secondary education
  • The average age of a post-secondary student receiving CSLP support was 24 in 2018 to 2019

4.6 Data sources

What data sources were used to inform the expected outcomes for questions 4a to 4e? (Select all that apply)
Were there any notable data gaps? (Select all that apply)
  • None
Internal administrative data:
  • Canada Student Loans Program Administrative Data
Statistics Canada
  • Labour Force Survey, March 2020
  • Table 14-10-0287-01, Labour force characteristics, monthly, seasonally adjusted and trend-cycle, last 5 months
  • Postsecondary enrolments, by field of study, registration status, program type, credential type and gender (Table 37-10-0011-01)
  • Postsecondary graduates, by field of study, program type, credential type, and gender (Table 37-10-0012-01)
  • Postsecondary enrolments, by credential type, age group, registration status, program type and gender (Table 37-10-0015-01)
  • Unemployment rate, participation rate, and employment rate by type of student during school months, monthly, unadjusted for seasonality (Table 14-10-0021-01)
  • Women in Canada: A Gender-based Statistical Report, March 2017 (Catalogue no. 89-503-X2015001)
Data Gaps (specify)
  • In terms of conducting GBA+ on supports targeted at youth, students, and recent graduates more generally, it would be useful to have data on other demographic groups who have historically been underrepresented in, or faced barriers to accessing, post-secondary education. These groups include:
    • Visible minorities (preferably disaggregated by visible minority, if possible)
    • Indigenous Peoples
    • People with disabilities (currently, data on permanent disabilities is collected by the CSLP, but no other types of disability); and
    • Community of origin (like whether they come from an urban, rural, or remote community)

5. GBA+ responsive approach

There are no negative impacts that require responsive or mitigation measures.

6. Gender results framework

The proposal seeks to eliminate barriers or existing inequalities as part of its policy intent.

Gender Results Framework

  • This proposal is expected to advance the gender equality goals for Canada as outlined in Canada's Gender Results Framework
  • Education and Skills Development: choose an item
    • Equal opportunities and diversified paths in education and skills development
  • Economic Participation and Prosperity: choose an item
    • Equal and full participation in the economy
  • By providing support to students and recent graduates during the COVID-19 pandemic, this measure advances the ‘Education and Skills Development’ pillar. Also, by moving towards everyone’s equal and full participation in the economy, the proposal would advance the ‘Economic Participation and Prosperity’ pillar
  • Minimizing the impacts of COVID-19 and ensuing that post-secondary education remains accessible, especially to students from low and middle-income backgrounds will facilitate access to the progressive benefits of wider post-secondary education attainment across Canada. It would provide Canadians, and especially women, with more diversified educational paths and career choices, and support equal and full participation in the economy

7. United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (If applicable)

#10: Reduced inequalities

As with all supports provided in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this measure seeks to ensure that all Canadians continue to have equal access to the education and training they need for a fair chance at success. The CESB would ensure students are able to continue their studies, secure and retain summer employment, pay their bills, and save for tuition in the fall. As such, this proposal will help achieve the following targets:

  • 10.2: by 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status; and
  • 10.3: ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard

8. Public and stakeholder engagement

  • Employment and Social Development Canada consulted provinces and territories directly through the Intergovernmental Consultative Committee on Student Financial Assistance (ICCSFA), established to support the Canada Student Loan Program. While no other direct consultations took place, the department paid close attention to public appeals of other stakeholders, such as the National Advisory Group on Student Financial Assistance (NAGSFA), the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT)

9. Monitoring and evaluation

1. Will this proposal be delivered through a third party or government department?

CESB applications and payments will be administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on behalf of ESDC.

2. When implemented, how will the impacts of the proposal on different groups be monitored and evaluated?

ESDC and CRA will be responsible for collecting, monitoring and evaluating data received throughout the CESB program administration. Data gathered will be collected and merged with CERB and EI data to ensure those who received the benefit were eligible, and other data will be gathered to validate the applicant’s attestations.

3. Please describe the proposed approach for the collection of disaggregated administrative data and the reporting practices associated with this proposal. If no plans are in place, please explain why.

Plans are currently underway with respect to establishing the approach for collecting and managing disaggregated administrative data. ESDC will maintain ownership of the data despite the administration being conducted by CRA and will be used to support the administration of the CESB program and to enhance future ESDC efforts.

10. Partial funding

N/A

11. Summary GBA + statement for publication (500 words maximum)

As many post-secondary students adapt to the new reality brought on by COVID-19, they are concerned about the effect of the pandemic on their ability to continue their studies, secure and retain summer employment, pay their bills, and save for tuition in the fall. Additionally, students who are about to graduate might struggle to find employment, which may in turn, have a negative impact on the value of their education over the long term.

CESB provides emergency financial relief to students and recent graduates who are unable to work, or unable to find work, due to reasons related to COVID-19. It is also available for those who are working but not making more than $1,000 (before taxes) over the four-week period for which they are applying.

Students, including those studying abroad, are eligible for the CESB if they are a Canadian citizen, including dual citizens; a registered Indian under the Indian Act; a permanent resident; or a protected person. There are no age restrictions for who is eligible for the CESB.

Students and recent graduates can apply for the CESB through the CRA’s My Account, and will need a Social Insurance Number to apply. Eligible Canadians are encouraged to choose the direct deposit payment option and ensure their contact information is up-to-date prior to applying to ensure a smooth and timely receipt of funds.

Eligible students must reapply for the CESB for each 4-week period and must meet the eligibility criteria each time. Since individuals can only receive this benefit during a four-week period, students cannot receive the CESB if they are receiving the CERB or EI for any part of the same 4-week period.

CESB is available for 4 months from May 2020 to August 2020 but students will be able to retroactively apply for this benefit until September 30, 2020.

While CESB will benefit all eligible students, these measures are expected to benefit more women than men since a greater percentage of the total PSE population in Canada are women.

[Note to Draft: Detailed Data Sources]

5. Disability one-time payment GBA + Data Collection and Reporting Plan

Disabilty Tax Credit (DTC) administrative data have been used to support the measurement of the GBA+ impacts of the proposal:

Gender

In 2018, 51% of DTC recipients were male and 49% were female.

Age

The DTC is available for all Canadians with a qualifying disability and provides access to benefits, credits as well as providing a supplement for Canadians under the age of 18 with a qualifying disability. All eligible DTC recipients are eligible to claim the disability amount. If they do not have any tax payable, they can transfer the disability amount to a supporting person with tax payable.

Income

Data on the income levels of DTC recipients is not available. DTC recipients or their supporting person can receive a federal non-refundable tax credit. In order to utilize this credit individuals must have tax payable or be able to transfer it to a supporting person with tax payable. In the 2018 tax year, 844,020 individuals benefited from claiming the disability amount.

Region

The regional distribution of DTC recipients reflects that of the total population.

6. Issue - Access to EI Maternity and Parental Benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic

Context

Recent news articles have highlighted the cases of expectant parents who stopped working for reasons related to COVID-19 and, as a result, are unable to accumulate the 600 hours necessary to qualify for EI maternity or parental benefits.

Suggested Response

  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Government has focused on keeping all Canadians and their families safe, and getting them the help they need to get through this crisis
  • We know that this pandemic is also a particularly stressful time for Canadians who are getting ready to welcome new children into their families
  • Employment Insurance maternity and parental benefits are important supports for Canadians welcoming new children into their families
  • With workplaces closed or with scaled-down operations, we are aware that some parents do not have enough insurable hours to qualify for the Employment Insurance (EI) benefits that many of them are counting on
  • Parents who cannot return to work after their maternity or parental leave because of reasons related to COVID-19, may be eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which can be paid until October 3, 2020
  • We recognize the concerns of expectant parents regarding access to EI maternity and parental benefits and continue to explore measures to take action to address the health, social, and economic impacts of COVID-19
  • If pressed on benefits for parents who do not have enough hours
  • While the Government continues to work on how to address the challenge of those parents who do not have enough hours to access EI maternity and parental benefits, we will encourage those individuals to access the CERB, which is available until October 3, 2020

Background

EI Maternity and Parental Benefits

EI maternity benefits are provided for up to 15 weeks to eligible mothers who are pregnant or who have recently given birth in order to support their recovery.

EI Parental benefits provide temporary income support to parents who take a leave from work to care for their newborn or newly adopted child or children. Eligible parents, including adoptive and LGBTQ2 families, can choose between standard or extended parental benefits. When shared, standard parental benefits provide up to 40 weeks of benefits paid at 55% of average weekly earnings over 12 months. No parent can receive more than 35 weeks of benefits.

Parents selecting the extended parental benefits can receive up to 69 weeks of benefits paid at 33% of average weekly earnings over 18 months. No parent can receive more than 61 weeks of benefits.

In order to qualify for EI maternity or parental benefits, employed claimants require 600 insurable work hours in the 52-week period preceding their claim. Self-employed individuals may receive EI special benefits (including maternity and parental benefits) but are required to opt in at least one full year prior to claiming EI special benefits and must have earned a minimum amount in self-employment earnings during the previous taxation year. For claims in 2020, claimants must have earned at least $7,279 in 2019.

EI maternity and parental benefits are available across Canada except Quebec, which provides maternity, parental, paternity, and adoption benefits to its residents since 2006.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides temporary income support to workers who have stopped working related to COVID-19. The Benefit provides $500 per week for a maximum of 24 weeks, and is available to workers:

  • residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old
  • who have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits or have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020
  • who had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
  • who have not quit their job voluntarily
  • parents who cannot return to work due to COVID-19 following their maternity/parental leave would be considered to have stopped working. If they meet the other eligibility requirements they may receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit

The EI maternity and parental benefits and benefits from Quebec Parental Insurance Plan that were paid will count towards the $5,000 income requirement for those individuals receiving the CERB delivered by the Canada Revenue Agency.

Interaction between EI Maternity/Parental and the CERB

Service Canada asked CERB applicants if they are pregnant and anticipating going on maternity/parental benefits to ensure that the claims are properly established with all the necessary information to allow the client to transition over to maternity / parental at the appropriate time without having to reapply.

There was a limitation with the CERB system when expectant mothers disclosed they were pregnant, and women were being immediately put on EI benefits rather than the CERB. This was happening regardless of whether the expectant mother became eligible for EI before or after March 15th.

Expectant mothers who lost their job and are eligible for EI prior to March 15th, should have received EI regular benefits, and when eligible, transition to EI maternity and parental benefits following the birth of their child.

  • The benefits will be paid at the rate established under EI rules

Expectant mothers who lost their job and are eligible for EI after March 15th should receive the CERB (to a maximum of 16 weeks) and when eligible, transition to EI maternity and parental benefits following the birth of their child.

  • CERB benefits will be paid out at the rate of $500/week
  • An expectant mother could potentially claim EI regular benefits in between the end of CERB and the beginning of EI maternity and parental benefits

As of May 8th, women who should have been receiving the CERB had their claims converted retroactively to the CERB.

  • Those who had been receiving less than the $500 per week received a payment to get them up to the $500
  • Those who had been receiving more than the $500 per week will not have any money clawed back, but are receiving the $500 per week flat rate from the time their claim is converted going forward
  • The weeks for which they collect the CERB will not impact the number of weeks of maternity and parental benefits they may receive

The maximum number of weeks of EI regular and maternity and standard parental benefits any claimant can receive is 50 weeks, or over a longer period for claimants who choose the extended parental benefits.

  • Whereas EI regular benefits count towards this 50-week maximum, CERB benefits do not
  • In all cases, maternity and parental benefits will be paid at the rate established under EI rules

Prepared by

Magalie Brochu

Manager

819-654-3103

Key contact

Benoit Cadieux

Director

819-654-4069

Approved by

Andrew Brown

Director General

819-654-6849

Date

July 6, 2020

7. Issue - Access to EI Benefits for caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Context

Minister Qualtrough is attending a meeting of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women (FEWO) on July 8th, 2020. She will be speaking on ESDC measures during COVID-19.

Suggested response

  • Canadians who need to leave work to care for loved ones have a few choices available to them during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The Employment Insurance Family Caregiver benefit provides support to workers who are temporarily away from work to provide care to a family member with a critical illness or injury, while the Compassionate Care Benefit provides support to workers providing care for family members at end-of-life
  • These benefits remain in place during the COVID-19 pandemic and most often provide support to women who continue to shoulder the majority of family. caregiving responsibilities in Canada
  • At the same time, the CERB, in place from March 15 to October 3, includes a caregiving element. Workers who need to stop working to take care of children/family members because their usual place of care, such as school or daycare, is closed due to COVID-19 may receive up to $500/week for 24 weeks
  • In order to facilitate access and to reduce the burden on the health care system during the pandemic, the requirement to obtain a medical certificate has been temporarily waived for the EI benefits and was never put in place for the CERB
  • We continue to explore other measures to support Canadian workers as part of our response to COVID-19

Background

EI caregiving benefits

The EI family caregiver benefit and EI compassionate care benefit play an important role in assisting Canadians to balance work and caregiving responsibilities. They provide temporary income support to eligible workers and self-employed individuals participating in the program. Employees must have accumulated a minimum of 600 hours of insurable employment during their qualifying period. Self-employed persons may qualify if they opted into the EI program and meet the minimum self-employment eligibility.

1. Family Caregiver Benefit for adults (Critical Illness)

Available since December 3, 2017, the Family Caregiver Benefit for adults provides temporary income support for up to 15 weeks to EI eligible persons who take time away from work to provide care or support to critically ill or injured person age 18 or over. This benefit can be shared among eligible claimants either concurrently or separately. In 2018-19, there were 10,100 claims for the benefit for adults (69% of which were made by women).

2. Family Caregiver Benefit for children (Critical Illness)

The Family Caregiver Benefit for children provides temporary income support for up to 35 weeks to EI-eligible persons who take time away from work to provide care or support to critically ill or injured person under the age of 18. This benefit can be shared among eligible claimants either concurrently or separately. Effective December 3, 2017, the eligibility criteria for the benefit was expanded to include any family members, rather than only parents. In 2018-19, there were 5,500 claims for the benefit for children (79% of which were made by women).

3. Compassionate Care Benefit (End-of-life Care)

The Compassionate Care Benefit currently provides temporary income support for up to 26 weeks to EI-eligible persons who leave work to provide care or support to a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks. The benefit can be shared among eligible claimants either concurrently or separately. In 2018-19, there were 8,400 claims for the benefit (71% of which were made by women).

Family caregiver benefits for adults or children can be combined with compassionate care benefits with respect to the same family member if all eligibility criteria are met.

Improved Access to EI Caregiving Benefits

As of December 3, 2017, medical doctors and nurse practitioners are able to sign medical certificates of any of the EI caregiving benefits.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit is available to those who stop working for reasons related to COVID-19, for example:

  • they have lost their job
  • they are in quarantine or sick due to COVID-19
  • they are taking care of others because they are in quarantine or sick due to COVID-19; and/or
  • they are taking care of children or other dependents because their care facility is closed due to COVID-19

There may be other reasons related to COVID-19 beyond these examples why an individual may have stopped working. However, they cannot voluntarily quit their job.

Alternatively, they can apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit if:

  • they are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits; or
  • hey are a former Employment Insurance claimant who used up their entitlement to their Employment Insurance regular or fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020

To get the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, they may not earn more than $1,000 for a period of at least 14 consecutive days within the initial four week period of their claim or $1,000 in total for each subsequent claim.

Prepared by

Ian Cote

Senior Policy Analyst, EI Special Benefits

873-354-5351

Key Contact

Andrew Brown

Director General

EI Policy

819-639-3532

Approved by

Andrew Brown

Director General

EI Policy

819-639-3532

Date

July 7, 2020

8. Subject - Labour market impact of investing in Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC)

Issue

How is investing in Early Learning and Child Care supporting the labour market participation of parents and contributing to economic growth?

Key facts

  • Child care is a key social infrastructure that enables economic activity. Access to affordable child care spaces is critical for the full participation of parents in the labour market, particularly for women and those from lower and middle income families
  • The federal government is investing $7.5 billion over 11 years, starting in 2017 to 2018, to support and create more high-quality, affordable child care across the country, particularly for families more in need. Our current target of creating up to 40,000 affordable child care spaces has been largely achieved
  • We are working collaboratively with the provinces and territories to extend the existing Early Learning and Child Care Bilateral Agreements
  • Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan includes a number of measures that provide financial relief to regulated child care centres and family child care home providers experiencing economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program. Some provinces and territories have also announced additional measures to support the ELCC sector
  • More recently, the federal government has announced it is ready to contribute up to $14 billion to support provinces and territories as they reopen their economies. This contribution includes funding to support vulnerable people, securing personal protective equipment and work on child care

Response

  • Investments in high-quality child care can produce significant economic returns to governments in terms of increased GDP, reduced poverty, and improved intergenerational economic mobility
  • As the Canadian economy reopens, access to affordable, high quality child care is necessary for the labour market participation of many parents to the labour market, especially for mothers
  • Our government is ready to contribute $14 billion to support provinces and territories as they reopen their economies. This contribution includes funding to support vulnerable people, securing personal protective equipment and work on child care

Background

Labour market impacts of investing in early learning and child care

Affordable, high quality child care is critical to the labour force participation of many parents, especially mothers. The unequal sharing of family responsibilities, including child care, remains one of the main barriers to full female participation in the labour force.

While most women return to work once their children are older, many return to part-time positions or other flexible arrangements to be able to balance their work and family responsibilities. These jobs can put them on a career trajectory with fewer promotion opportunities and that is generally lower paid compared to men’s career trajectories. A growing body of evidence suggest that this “motherhood penalty” is the main factor behind the gender wage gap.

Overall, investments in high-quality child care can produce significant economic returns to governments in terms of increased GDP, reduced poverty, and improved intergenerational mobility. The impact of Quebec’s child care reform in the late 1990s shows how public investments in child care can increase women’s labour force participation and yield large economic benefits. A study found that the returns from Quebec’s child care reform outweigh public investments: Every $100 of child care subsidy paid by Quebec generates a return of $104 for the Province and $43 for the federal government.

Risks threatening the viability and sustainability of ELCC operators

A failure to restart activity in the ELCC sector at a capacity similar to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels would have cascading effects and create an important vulnerability for the economic recovery. A shortage of affordable, regulated childcare spaces resulting from reduced ELCC system capacity could create additional barriers for labour market participation of parents, especially women, during the recovery period, leading to sub‑optimal labour market outcomes and slower economic recovery.

Federal COVID-19 measures relevant to the ELCC sector

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) will support employers and prevent further lay-offs, including in ELCC Centres, by providing up to 75 % subsidies of salaries for 3 months.

The Canada Revenue Agency is allowing private businesses, including ELCC operators, to defer the payment of income tax amounts. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during the deferment period.

Extending Work Sharing through the temporary Work Sharing (WS) measure can reduce the likelihood of layoffs of affected child care workers.

A new Indigenous Community Support Fund, totalling $305 million, is helping to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities, which could include child care services and other supports to parents.

More recently, the federal government has announced it is ready to contribute up to $14 billion to support provinces and territories as they reopen their economies. This contribution includes funding to support vulnerable people, securing personal protective equipment and work on child care.

Key quotes

N/A

Prepared by

Name: Raphaël Mercier

Title: Policy Analyst, Early Learning and Child Care

No. phone number: 819-993-9368

Key contact

Name: Elizabeth Casuga

Title: Director, Early Learning and Child Care Policy

Phone number: 819-654-3665

Approved by

Name: Elizabeth Casuga

Title: Director, Early Learning and Child Care Policy

Phone number: 819-654-3665

Date

Date approved in SADMO / COO:

9. Questions and answers on gender equality issues

1. How are the emergency measures that the Government has introduced helping women?

  • The emergency measures that the Government has introduced will have an important impact on women
  • Students will benefit from the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) which provides financial to post-secondary students and recent graduates who cannot find summer employment due to COVID-19 and who are not eligible for the CERB. Eligible students receive $1,250 per month, plus an additional $750 per month if they have dependants or a disability for a maximum of $2,000 per month
  • About 55% of all CESB recipients are women; for those with dependents, 82% are women. As well, women accounted for 57.3% of all graduates in 2017 and outnumbered male graduates at every level of education except the doctoral level
  • Women working in the labour force will benefit from the CERB and the CCB enhancement
  • The CERB is available to those who stop working for reasons other than job loss, including sickness, quarantine and care responsibilities related to COVID-19. These circumstances tend to disproportionately impact women, especially those in caregiving roles
  • In 2015, the proportion of women who provided care to an adult family member or friend was almost three times that of men (3.3% vs. 1.2%). Women are also overrepresented as caregivers among lone-parent families (71.8% of women and 28.2% of men) and couples with no children (57.4% of women and 42.6% of men)
  • To further help families, and as part of its COVID-19 response plan, the Government of Canada provided a one‑time enhancement of $300 per child for families receiving the Canada Child Benefit. The CCB is generally paid to mothers
  • Senior women will benefit from the One-Time Payment to Seniors and the enhancement to the New Horizons for Seniors Program
  • The one time Payment to Seniors is a non-taxable payment of up to $500 to seniors to mitigate financial impacts of the pandemic. More women than men would benefit from this payment as 54% (3.6 million) of OAS pensioners are women and 46% (3.1 million) are men
  • The one-time funding of $20M for 2020-21 to enhance the New Horizons for Seniors Program will better support Canadian seniors recover from the response to the pandemic. While the program does not specifically target seniors based on gender, more Canadian seniors are women

2. Why are there more women unemployed right now yet fewer women receiving the CERB?

  • Statistics Canada data on labour force trends, combined with administrative data from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Service Canada (SC), can provide insight on the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the gendered impacts of the CERB
  • Employment losses amongst women and men were comparable, and women and men have applied for the CERB income support in comparable numbers
  • According to Statistics Canada data, by April 2020, employment losses were similar for women (‑1,537,000; -16.9%) and men (-1,468,000; -14.6%)
  • CRA and Service Canada administrative data show that 48.3% of CERB applicants are female, 51.7% are male, and 0.1% are gender diverse
  • GBA+ will continue to be conducted on the CERB going forward. Statistics Canada will continue to monitor labour market outcomes by key demographics as more COVID-19 restrictions are eased in the coming months, and the Department will analyse findings as part of continued GBA+ analysis of the CERB in relation to trends in benefit uptake

3. How does ESDC support GBA+?

  • Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) is incorporated into all proposals by the responsible program and informs the development of every policy, program or initiative to ensure alignment with the Government of Canada’s commitment to equality, equity, inclusion and diversity
  • In order to ensure the highest quality GBA+ assessments, the Department has a GBA+ Centre of Expertise that has a mandate to advise, collaborate with and support each of the programs within the Department incorporate GBA+ in policies, programs and initiatives
  • The Centre of Expertise provides training on how to integrate GBA+, emphasizing the need to do so early in the policy development process, and provides resources (such as research, data, and guidance) on how to do this
  • The Centre reviews GBA+ assessments for all proposals, Memoranda to Cabinet and Treasury Board Submissions and plays an important challenge function to ensure that the equity and equality aspects of the proposal by gender and by other groups (such as families, persons with disabilities, visible minorities, seniors, the LGBTQ community) are considered
  • A Black Canadians lens is in the process of being incorporated into ESDC's GBA+ processes in recognition of the unique historical experience and lower socioeconomic outcomes of Black Canadians in Canada

4. What is the government doing to prevent the trafficking of temporary foreign workers and assist TFWs victim of human trafficking?

  • In the context of the TFW program, human trafficking speaks to the broader problem of unethical recruitment, which exploits the vulnerability of a migrant worker for financial gain. Unethical recruitment is a global issue, which many countries, including Canada, are trying to address
  • Unethical recruitment affects migrant workers in low-paid, precarious sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, domestic work and hospitality and food service sectors. Practices can include the charging of high recruitment fees that may lead to debt bondage; misrepresentation concerning a job offer or position, or salary or conditions of work; failure to provide workers with a labour contract; and false promises regarding work permits or permanent residence status
  • Regulating recruitment is challenging for several reasons as there are many actors, the international recruitment industry operates in highly organized networks that can involve multiple overseas intermediaries and key parts of the process occur outside of Canada. Unethical recruiters are difficult to detect, as they are motivated to remain underground. As well, victims may be reluctant report exploitation or abuse due to language barriers or threats of abuse or deportation
  • Canada is committed to ending trafficking in persons at home and abroad, including in collaboration with provinces and territories. The primary international instrument to combat trafficking in persons is the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. Canada ratified the Convention and its Protocol in 2002
  • In Budget 2018, the Government announced the establishment of a National Human Trafficking Hotline under Public Safety. It is a bilingual, 24/7, toll-free line, referral service and resource center that receives calls, emails and texts about potential human trafficking in Canada. The National Hotline refers victims and survivors to local law enforcement, emergency shelters, and a range of other trauma-informed services and supports, dedicated and relevant to those who have experienced or are at-risk of human trafficking
  • IRCC conducts large-scale administrative investigations into trafficking in persons networks to proactively identify victims and perpetrators of fraud for trafficking purposes. The Department also works with law enforcement partners (CBSA, RCMP, local police), including providing support for criminal proceedings related to exploitative recruitment and labour conditions. Results of these can be prosecution of employers or recruiters (under IRPA or the criminal code) and protection offered to victims. The number of investigations into suspected cases of human trafficking has been increasing on a yearly basis
  • If through investigations and compliance activities under the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program inspectors are made aware of activities which may be criminal in nature and/or amount to labour or human trafficking, they are referred to the appropriate law enforcement authorities, such as the RCMP and the CBSA, for investigation
  • Work is also underway to help temporary foreign workers exercise their rights. Since 2018, the Department has piloted the Migrant Worker Support Network in B.C., which works with a range of partners and stakeholders, as well as workers themselves, to improve workers’ understanding of their rights, and their ability to exercise them. Funding of $1.1M has flowed to 20 non-profit organizations, to support workers including anti-human trafficking initiatives

10. Questions and answers

Official title: Questions and answers: COVID-19 economic response plan: support for Canadians and businesses.

Hot topics

1. Canada Emergency Response Benefit

General information

a. What are the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?

The CERB is available to workers residing in Canada who are age 15 and over and who are employees or self-employed. To be eligible, individuals must:

  • have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19 or be eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits or have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular or fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020
  • have had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and, have not quit their job voluntarily

When submitting the first claim, an individual cannot have earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for 14 or more consecutive days within the 4-week benefit period of the claim.

When submitting subsequent claims, the applicant cannot have earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for the entire four-week benefit period of the new claim.

On June 16, 2020, the Prime Minister announced that the government is extending CERB by eight weeks, for a total of 24 weeks of benefits, to ensure Canadians have the help they need as they transition back to work.

b. How much do people receive?

As per the June 16th announcement, the CERB provides a flat $500 weekly amount for up to 24 weeks, either through Service Canada if they are Employment Insurance (EI)-eligible or the Canada Revenue Agency. This means that people who are reaching the original maximum of 16 weeks in July will be able to receive 8 additional weeks provided they continue to meet the eligibility criteria.

c. How is the maximum of 24 weeks calculated?

The calculation of the 24 weeks begins with the first week for which you are receiving the Benefit. However, the 24 weeks do not have to be taken consecutively. For example, you could receive the Benefit for 4 weeks beginning March 15th and reapply for your second benefit period a few months later based on your personal situation.

Please note that the 24 week count does not restart when you reapply for the CERB after taking a break because you found employment.

d. How will the CERB support workers as they transition back to work, now that the economy is starting to reopen?

As we begin to restart the economy and get people back on the job, Canadians receiving the benefit should be actively seeking work opportunities or planning to return to work, provided they are able and it is reasonable to do so.

We encourage Canadians receiving the benefit to find employment and consult Job Bank, Canada’s national employment service that offers tools to help with job searches.

Canadian workers collecting the CERB can earn up to $1000 over a 4-week period and still receive the CERB to encourage them to take available work.

Over the next few weeks, the government will monitor international best practices, the economy, and the progression of the virus and, if needed, make necessary changes to the program so more people can have the support they need. We will also look at ways to ensure all our supports, including the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and EI, are working effectively to help Canadians get back on their feet.

e. Why is the Government adding eight weeks of benefits under the CERB)?

While we are seeing positive progress in the number of people returning to the workforce, many Canadians continue to face real financial challenges.

Individuals who have collected the CERB continuously since March 15th received the former maximum $8,000 in benefits over 16 weeks, but will now be able to receive up to $4,000 more in benefits over 8 additional weeks if they remain eligible.

Extending the CERB will give workers greater confidence that they will continue to get the support they need as they face ongoing disruptions to their work and home situations due to COVID-19.

f. How can the Government extend CERB without legislation?

Under both the Canada Emergency Response Benefit Act and the Employment Insurance Act, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion may change the maximum number of weeks of income support through regulations/interim orders to ensure the CERB continues to provide timely and efficient support to workers.

Specific Eligibilities

g. Is someone self-isolating and not in quarantine eligible for the CERB?

The CERB is available to those who stop working for reasons related to COVID-19 but who do not voluntarily quit their job.

An applicant who is placed in quarantine or directed to self-isolate by a public health official, a medical doctor, or a nurse as a result of COVID-19 would not be considered to have stopped working voluntarily and therefore, would be eligible for CERB.

h. Does someone have to be without work for 14 days (is there a waiting period) before they can apply for the Benefit?

Applicants will be asked to certify that they have stopped or will stop working for reasons related to COVID-19, have not quit their job and will be earning no more than $1,000 as employment/self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days within the initial four-week claim period and for the entire four weeks in subsequent periods.

i. Can employers keep their employees on payroll and top up their CERB without the employees being penalized? Is there a way for employees to receive CERB without having to be laid off first? 

Workers do not need to be laid off to qualify. The employer-employee relationship can be maintained.

In addition, Canadians receiving the CERB can earn up to $1000 in employment/self-employment income within the benefit period.

j. Are self-employed, contractors, gig economy workers, seasonal workers, etc. eligible for the CERB?

Yes, the CERB is available to workers, regardless of the nature of their employment, provided that they meet the eligibility criteria.

k. Do you have to be Canadian and/or earning your income in Canada to be eligible?

The intent is to support workers in the Canadian labour force who stopped working as a result of COVID-19.

  • The income does not have to be earned in Canada
  • The person does have to be residing in Canada
  • The person needs to have to have a SIN

A Canadian who earned income abroad and who is now residing here is eligible as long as the other conditions are met (if they ceased working due to COVID-19 and meet all other eligibility criteria.)

An international student with a SIN and currently residing in Canada is eligible if other conditions are met (if they ceased working due to COVID-19 and meet all other eligibility criteria.)

Service Canada requests the work permit from international students and temporary foreign workers to validate the 900-series SIN. Applicants must also prove that they are legally allowed to work in Canada. This is evidenced by the conditions of their work permit.

A Canadian currently residing abroad is not eligible (even if he/she worked in Canada last year).

Employment Insurance (EI) and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

l. Are parents receiving EI maternity/parental benefits, or parents who are expecting a child, able to obtain the CERB?

You cannot receive maternity or parental benefits at the same time as the CERB.

If you cannot return to work due to COVID-19 following your maternity/parental leave, you would be considered to have stopped working due to COVID-19. If you meet the other eligibility requirements you may receive the CERB.

Expectant mothers who lost their job and are eligible for EI prior to March 15th, should have received EI regular benefits, and when eligible, transition to EI maternity and parental benefits following the birth of their child. The benefits will be paid at the rate and duration established under EI rules.

Expectant mothers who lost their job and are eligible for EI after March 15th should receive the CERB (to a maximum of 24 weeks) and when eligible, transition to EI maternity and parental benefits. The weeks for which the CERB was collected will not impact the number of weeks of maternity and parental benefits they may receive.

m. Are we adjusting EI so persons with fewer hours are be able to obtain EI?

The CERB was designed to address the needs of workers affected by COVID-19 as quickly as possible while having a system in place that would hold up to an unprecedented high volume of individuals applying for financial support. It was therefore essential, at the onset, to have simple eligibility rules in place.

Further, the CERB has been expanded to help more Canadians benefit from the program, including:

  • allowing people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB
  • extending the CERB to self-employed fishers who have exhausted their EI fishing benefits and are unable to work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak
  • extending the CERB to workers who exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job because of COVID-19

The Government recently extended CERB eligibility for 8 additional weeks.

The Government is considering next steps, once this extension ends.

n. Are we eliminating the one-week waiting period on regular EI?

For anyone who became eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits on March 15, 2020 or later, their EI claim was automatically processed through the CERB, which has no waiting period.

o. Are we extending EI Regular benefits for those who are currently on them and are soon going to run out (for example Seasonal Workers)?

The government has extended the CERB to workers, including seasonal workers, who exhaust their EI regular or fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020 and are unable to return to work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

p. What is the Government doing about fraud?

The CERB Act includes provisions to support the verification of compliance with program rules. These provisions are being used to prevent the payment of CERB to ineligible applicants whenever possible.

People who unknowingly made errors in their application are required to repay any CERB payments they received for which they were ineligible, but would not be subject to additional penalties.

2. Temporary Foreign Workers

a. What flexibilities has the Government introduced to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to ensure employers have access to workers?

Recognizing the continued importance of foreign workers to ensuring Canada’s food security, on a temporary basis, we have streamlined requirements for employers hiring workers in occupations related to agriculture and food processing, and are prioritizing those applications.

Given the persistent need for foreign workers in full-time/full-year positions under the low-wage stream of the program, which include occupations related to meat, fish and seafood processing, we have introduced a pilot to increase the maximum duration of a Labour Market Impact Assessment from one to two years. This initiative is expected to reduce processing times and costs for employers and the Government.

We have also implemented additional administrative flexibilities to enable employers to adapt to the COVID-19 situation, such as expediting the process for employers wishing the change the name of an already identified foreign worker, and eliminating the requirement for an employer to advise us of minor administrative changes.

b. With so many Canadians unemployed, why can’t we require employers to hire them rather than foreign workers?

I share this concern, and acknowledge that there may be cases where a temporary foreign worker fills a position that could have been filled by a Canadian. That being said, these are extraordinary circumstances, the situation is evolving rapidly, and it is critical that we ensure continued trade, commerce and food security.

With respect to agriculture, temporary foreign workers have been integral to Canada’s food production since the 1960s. Last year, approximately 60,000 temporary foreign workers came to Canada to work in agriculture and food processing jobs.

The agriculture and agri-food sectors have traditionally had difficulty in recruiting and hiring Canadians, despite the requirement that they advertise to Canadians first. The jobs are seasonal, often located outside of major urban centers, and based on recruitment efforts to date, do not appear to be attractive to many Canadians.

In the current context, especially where many farms have already started planting for the season, pivoting quickly to an all-Canadian agriculture workforce would pose significant challenges. At the same time, it is likely that fewer temporary foreign workers will come to Canada this year, putting additional pressure on the sector.

We continue to encourage employers to hire Canadians, and jobs are posted – and continue to be available – for Canadians who are interested. In addition, we are exploring additional ways to shore up our domestic labour supply.

c. Given the rapid rise in unemployment due to COVID-19, how is ESDC assessing employer applications for temporary foreign workers?

Applications to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program involve an extensive assessment of a number of factors, including labour market need, with a view to ensuring that Canadians and Permanent Residents are considered first for available jobs. This includes an assessment of labour market information.

While the rapidly evolving situation has reduced the usefulness of current labour market information to make objective assessments of labour shortages, the Program’s assessment of employer requests includes a number of criteria that take into account the state of the labour market.

For example, most employers must prove that they have made credible efforts to hire Canadians or Permanent residents, and will have their EI history reviewed to ensure that they have not recently laid off Canadians.

In response to COVID-19, the Government has strengthened its assessment criteria for all new and existing applications under review:

  • the program is refusing to process applications for certain positions in the accommodation and food services and retail trade sectors in any region of Canada
  • the program is strengthening its assessment of the legitimacy of the employer’s business and job offer by assessing whether they are essential according to relevant authorities
  • with the exception of key occupations, such as those related to ensuring Canada’s food security, employers must demonstrate that they have taken efforts to recruit Canadians after March 15, 2020

We are also exploring other potential adjustments to enable the program to adapt to the evolving context more quickly.

d. What is the role of employers of temporary foreign workers in safeguarding public health during this pandemic?

Like all travellers to Canada, temporary foreign workers are responsible for complying with orders made under the Quarantine Act, including the current requirement for mandatory quarantine or isolation.

Employers are expected to follow the latest public health and safety requirements and guidance from the Government of Canada and their provincial/territorial and local authorities.

Amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, which entered into force on April 20, 2020, compel employers of temporary foreign workers to:

  • pay workers for the initial quarantine/isolation period upon entry into Canada, regardless of whether they can work
  • not prevent a worker from meeting their requirements under orders made under the QuarantineIncomeand/or the Emergencies Act, as well as provincial/territorial public health laws related to COVID-19; and
  • comply with additional requirements for employers who provide accommodations to workers, such as space to allow for physical distancing and access to cleaning supplies

Employers who do not comply with the requirements could be subject to penalties of up to $1 million and a ban from hiring foreign workers, depending on the seriousness of the situation and number of workers affected.

e. How do you enforce employer compliance with the new requirements?

Communication has been the cornerstone of our approach to ensuring employers understand and comply with the new requirements related to COVID-19.

The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion and the Minister of Health outlined the Government’s expectations of employers regarding COVID-19 in a letter shared with all employers of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and posted online on April 3.

Additional guidance to employers, informed by the expertise of public health officials, as well as extensive stakeholder engagement at the officials’ level, have also taken place.

Amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations now enable enforcement of the new requirements through inspections and the application of penalties for non-compliance under the existing administrative monetary penalties framework.

Given the critical importance of protecting public health, these amendments include the ability for enforcement officers to conduct inspections regarding COVID-19 early, quickly, and make final determinations faster. Inspections are being initiated proactively, but also reactively, such as through tips, or reports of confirmed cases of COVID-19 at a worksite. To date, over 1100 inspections have been initiated.

The Government will continue to work with provinces/territories, partner countries, employer associations, worker support organizations, and other stakeholders to address issues and questions, and make adjustments as the situation evolves.

Service Canada inspectors have begun collaborative assessments with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Labour, and local health units to assess the living and working conditions on some farms where outbreaks have occurred.

f. Why doesn’t the Government take responsibility for quarantining workers?

Together, we all have an important role to play in protecting public health throughout this pandemic, and we share a key objective – to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Government of Canada has implemented a number of measures to screen travellers, including temporary foreign workers, before they leave for Canada, and upon arrival.

In addition, I understand that some provinces are imposing additional requirements for foreign workers upon arrival.

Under current program rules, many employers of temporary foreign workers, especially those in agriculture, provide housing to workers. We have been engaging with employer groups, and communicating with employers directly, to ensure that this housing enables workers to meet the requirements of quarantine. New regulatory amendments enable enforcement of these requirements.

We are also offering compensation to employers in key sectors to defray some of the additional costs they may incur as a result of the new requirements.

Importantly, this approach will help to ensure the health of the public, including foreign workers, is protected not just for their first two weeks in Canada, but throughout their entire period of employment.

g. What is the Government of Canada doing to address COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths amongst Temporary Foreign Workers?

The Government of Canada takes the health and safety of foreign workers very seriously, and expresses its deepest condolences to the families of Mr. Santos, Mr. Romero and Mr. Chapparo.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has worked with provincial and territorial governments, employers, community service and migrant worker organizations as well as source country governments on actions to protect the health and safety of the temporary foreign workers and communities.

Like all travellers to Canada, temporary foreign workers must follow orders made under the Quarantine Act, including the current requirement to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival into Canada.

The Government has implemented new regulations, which compel employers to meet the new requirements. This includes not preventing a worker from meeting their requirements under the Quarantine Act, as well as provincial and territorial public health laws related to COVID-19. Employers who provide accommodations to workers as part of the requirements of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program must also meet new requirements to limit the potential spread of COVID-19.

Employers who do not comply could be subject to penalties of up to $1 million and a ban from hiring foreign workers, depending on the seriousness of the situation and number of workers affected.

In addition, the Government is communicating directly with employers and workers and producing multilingual guidance to facilitate understanding of these requirements.

While provinces and territories are responsible for establishing and enforcing health and safety rules for most workplaces, the Government of Canada works with the appropriate provincial and territorial governments and other partners when outbreaks occur to safeguard the health and safety of workers and mitigate the risk to public health.

The Government of Canada is looking at ways to strengthen current approaches to ensure the rights and health of migrant workers are protected in collaboration with provinces and territories and organizations that support migrant workers.

3. Service Delivery

a. How is the Government of Canada supporting Canadians affected by COVID-19?

The Government established the CERB, a taxable benefit that provides $500 per week for up to 24 weeks to workers who stop working as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and do not have more than $1000 in employment and self-employment income for a period of at least 14 consecutive days in their first 4-week period and for the entire 4-weeks of any subsequent period. Individuals eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits as of March 15th as well as those who have exhausted their EI regular or fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020 are also eligible.

The Government of Canada’s priority is to ensure that Canadians receive the money they are entitled to as quickly as possible. That is why the CERB is being jointly administered by Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency.

There is no waiting period and direct deposit payments will be delivered into accounts within three to five business days of applicants being eligible to receive it, and cheques within 10 days.

b. What are you doing to address wait times?

As of July 5, 2020, Canada Revenue Agency and Service Canada have received and processed 18.9million applications. The Department has received and processed over 4.3 million applications for EI (including CERB for EI eligible applicants).

The Department is putting in place strategies to ensure the timely delivery of benefits.

  1. Service Canada has recently redeployed almost 3,000 additional staff from other less critical activities to focus on supporting the delivery of EI and the CERB. We are continuing to work on accelerating and increasing our hiring plans for the remainder of the year (a 250% increase)
  2. We are focused on processing new claims and leaving adjustments aside, while also providing adequate assurance of quality and appropriate stewardship of public funds
  3. We are deploying strategies to increase automation and increase self-service opportunities for clients. Clients can resolve their enquiry through our CERB informational automated service, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is 100% accessible to clients
  4. To support the CERB and to increase the capacity of our call centres, a New Virtual Call Centre was established on April 6, 2020 within Service Canada
  5. This virtual call centre, which serves clients who are applying, or who have already applied through EI for CERB, has shortened wait times. From April 6, 2020 to June 26, 2020, the average speed of answer for CERB was 27 seconds and 890,130 calls were answered

Taken together these measures will ensure we get Canadians the benefits they need when they need them most.

We have been able to get payments out to the overwhelming majority of applicants ahead of our EI service standard of 28 days. Through radical policy simplification and a technical bypass eliminating the bulk of EI processing system requirements, the vast majority of applicants received their CERB payments in a matter of 3 to 5 business days.

c. The Service Canada Centres are closed, how can I access services?

As an alternative to in-person service, Service Canada programs and services are available online at Canada.ca/service-canada-home or by telephone at: 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232) - TTY: 1-800-926-9105.

You are encouraged to apply online for benefits and/or to mail your applications or supporting document to us. Service Canada services and mailing instructions are available online at Canada.ca/service-canada-home.

Additionally, you can contact our specialized call centres for program specific support:

Employment Insurance: Toll-Free: 1-800-206-7218, TTY: 1-800-529-3742

Canada Pension and Old Age Security: Toll-Free: 1-800-277-9914, TTY: 1-800-255-4786

If you are applying for the CERB and you require additional support, you can reach an agent at 1-833-699-0299.

Hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. local time, Monday to Friday

Please Note: Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are experiencing higher than normal call volumes. We encourage you to use self-serve options to access our programs and services online, and to avoid calling Service Canada if your request is not urgent.

We ask Canadians for their patience at this time so that we can focus our efforts on the most vulnerable Canadians.

d. Will there be higher IT capacity?

The Department has been working with Shared Services Canada to increase its IT network and system capacity to address the significant increase in EI applications. Measures taken to-date include enhancing the IT infrastructure to enable more staff to telework, ensuring stakeholders are able to access online services and improving processing capacity.

System usage is being monitored very closely and the Department is prepared to take additional measures to augment capacity as required.

e. How are we reaching Indigenous communities? How can they apply if they don’t have internet access or access to a Service Canada Office?

Service Canada delivers critical services to Canadians and continues to work hard to ensure that Canadians have access to these services during the COVID-19 situation.

Even though our doors are closed, our services to Canadians continue.

Service Canada launched the e-Service Canada channel at the end of March 2020. It is designed to protect the health and safety of our staff while ensuring continued access to service by Canadians. These activities mirror the service provided by clients who come into Service Canada Centres for application support.

Clients with internet access who require assistance in applying for benefits are able to reach in person staff through an online service request form at canada.ca/service-canada-e-service or they can scan the QR code provided on posters outside of Service Canada Centres. Once clients fill out the service request form, a Service Canada Centre employee will call clients within two (2) business days. Service Canada employees will provide personalized service support for EI and pension applications for clients with internet access.

In addition, Outreach staff have contacted communities and trusted partners across the country to make them aware of eServiceCanada, and to encourage them to share the contact information with their members and clients.

To supplement the new eServiceCanada approach, Service Canada launched a new Outreach Support Centre on April 14. This is a toll-free service for Indigenous communities and other vulnerable clients facing barriers to accessing ESDC’s critical programs and benefits. As of July 2, 2020, 13,642 calls have been received.

As of July 2, 2020, 8,758 contacts have been made to Service Delivery Partners and Indigenous, Northern and remote communities.

Skills and Employment

1. Work Sharing

a. Are we able to streamline the work-sharing program?

  • The Government of Canada has taken steps to reduce the time to put an agreement in place from 30 days to just 10 days
  • The Government of Canada has also taken concrete steps to significantly simplify mandatory requirements. Such actions include: broadening eligibility requirements, easing recovery plan requirements, and removing the requirement to provide detailed financial information
  • These temporary changes are allowing more employers and workers across various sectors and industries to access the program when they need it most
  • Since the special measures were introduced, over 3,525 Work-Sharing agreements have been approved representing over 108,769 workers now supported by this benefit. The cost of these agreements is over $1.3 Billion
  • The COVID-19 special Work-Sharing measures are in effect until March 14, 2021

b. What other changes have been made to the work-sharing program?

  • In addition to streamlining mandatory requirements of the work-sharing program, temporary special measures have been introduced that extend the duration of agreements from 38 to 76 weeks
  • The mandatory cooling-off period between agreements has also been waived, allowing employers with recently expired agreements to immediately apply for a new one
  • Eligibility has also been broadened temporarily to allow more employers and workers access to the program. For example, Government Business Enterprises (for example, Crown Corporations, other public corporations that operate as profit-oriented entities and/or do not rely solely on public funds to operate) and essential staff who are typically not included
  • Service Canada created a dedicated Work-Sharing email support service whereby employers can receive answers within 24 hours to their Work-Sharing questions. To date, this unit has responded to over 6,000 questions on Work-Sharing

2. Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) Program

a. How is the CSJ Program changing for summer 2020 to respond to COVID-19?

CSJ continues to serve youth aged 15-30 and the Department is working with employers which have already submitted applications to roll out CSJ 2020.

To encourage job creation through additional flexibilities and supports, CSJ 2020 has:

  • increased the wage subsidy from 50% to 100% of the provincial and territorial minimum wage for small businesses and public sector employers
  • allowed for part-time work placements
  • allowed for job placements to be offered beyond the summer months, until the end of February 2021
  • allowed employers approved for funding to amend the activities to support the delivery of essential services

MPs were also invited to identify local organizations that support the delivery of essential services but have not applied for funding and could provide youth a job placement.

Interested job seekers are now able to search Job Bank and apply for CSJ jobs in their community.

As of July 3, 2020, there were over 56,000 Canada Summer Jobs posted on Job Bank. Many other positions have already been filled and removed from Job Bank. More jobs are expected to be posted in the coming weeks targeting approximately 80,000 placements. This site is the leading source for obtaining jobs and labour market information. Job Bank offers users occupational and career information on job opportunities, educational requirements, wage rates and salaries, as well as current employment trends and outlooks. More information may be found at: www.jobbank.gc.ca.

On June 25, 2020, an additional $61.7M in funding was announced for CSJ 2020 to support the creation of 10,000 additional jobs, expanding the CSJ 2020 work placement target from 70,000 to 80,000 jobs.

The Government of Canada is investing $ 324.7 million in funding for the Canada Summer Jobs program in 2020 to support the creation of 80,000 youth jobs.

b. What program adjustments have been put in place to better support the delivery of essential services?

All employers approved for funding are provided with the flexibility to amend project and job activities to support the delivery of critical services.

MPs were also invited to work with the Department to identify local organizations that provide critical services that have not applied for CSJ funding but could be solicited to submit an application to offer job placements.

Interested job seekers are now able to search Job Bank and apply for CSJ jobs in their community.

c. How much funding is being provided to the CSJ Program in 2020?

On June 25, 2020, an additional $61.7M in funding was announced for CSJ 2020 to support the creation of 10,000 additional jobs, expanding the CSJ 2020 work placement target from 70,000 to 80,000 jobs.

The Government of Canada is investing $ 324.7 million in funding for the Canada Summer Jobs program in 2020 to support the creation of 80,000 youth jobs.

3. Youth Employment and Skills Strategy

a. What changes are being introduced under the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) program in response to COVID-19?

Additional investments in the YESS program will increase employment opportunities and supports for youth across the country who are impacted by the pandemic by:

  • funding employers and not-for-profit organizations to create youth employment opportunities in critical sectors and services supporting vulnerable populations impacted by COVID-19
  • offering additional training opportunities for youth to increase job readiness and employability; and
  • provide relevant supports, such as mentorship, access to computers, access to mental health supports, to ensure youth, including those who face barriers, can benefit from these new employment opportunities

b. How many jobs for youth will be created in emergency sectors through additional investments?

With approximately $153.7 million in funding, the Government will support the creation of at least 6,000 jobs and supports for youth in high demand sectors such as agriculture, technology, health and essential services.

c. What youth will benefit? Will these changes support youth facing barriers?

YESS programming is available to all youth aged 15 to 30.

Additional supports, such as mentorship, access to computers, access to mental health supports, are aimed at ensuring youth facing barriers to the labour market can benefit from these new opportunities.

These enhancements to YESS complement other measures introduced to support youth and students impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, including the enhancements to Canada Summer Jobs Program.

d. Which critical sectors will these additional job placements help? What type of jobs are being created?

These youth jobs will begin quickly to support high-demand sectors including, but not restricted to: agriculture and agri-food; biosciences and research; transport; environment; and, community services.

These placements in high-demand sectors will protect the health and safety of youth. Examples of jobs include: telephone and online health and social support services, research and administrative roles, supporting roles for services to vulnerable populations, etc.

4. Student Work Placement Program

a. What changes are being made to the Student Work Placement Program in response to COVID-19?

An additional investment of $80M will be made in 2020-21 to help post-secondary students access paid work integrated learning opportunities in their fields of study through the creation of up to 20,000 student work placements, including in critical sectors such as health-care and other front line sectors.

Temporary program flexibilities are also being introduced under the Student Work Placement

Program to support employers in creating student work placements over the coming year, including

  1. an increase to the wage subsidy to up to 75% (up to a maximum of $7,500 per placement) for all placements, from the current 50% for regular placements and 70% for placements targeting under-represented youth; and
  2. waiving the criteria requiring employers to offer more placements than they did in previous years, in order to receive Student Work Placement Program funding

These changes are temporary and will be in place until March 31, 2021.

5. Financial support for students

a. How is the Government of Canada supporting students facing financial challenges as a result of COVID-19?

The Government of Canada has recently announced a number of measures to support students who are facing financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

First, the Government introduced a 6-month interest-free repayment moratorium on all Canada Student Loans between March 30 and September 30, 2020. This measure will provide relief to nearly 1 million Canada Student Loans Program borrowers in repayment.

Second, the Government introduced the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), which is providing financial support from May to August to post-secondary students and recent graduates who cannot find summer employment due to COVID-19. Eligible students receive $1,250 per month, plus an additional $750 per month if they have dependants or a disability for a maximum of $2,000 per month. The CESB is available to Canadians who are enrolled in a post-secondary education program. Over one million applications have already been processed for $1.4 billion in CESB.

Third, to ensure that returning and new post-secondary students can afford to pursue their studies, the Government has announced significant increases in grants and loans for the 2020-2021 school year. These changes include doubling the Canada Student Grants up to $6,000 for full-time students and up to $3,600 for part-time students. Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with Dependants will also be doubled. Students with disabilities will receive $4,000, while full-time students with dependants will receive up to $3,200 per child and part-time students with dependants will receive up to $3,840 per year. Students will also have access to more loans because we are raising the cap on Canada Student Loans from $210 to $350 per week of study, and no contribution will be expected from students and their spouses, in recognition that many students and families will struggle to save for this school year.

b. Who is eligible to receive the CESB?

The CESB is available to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, registered Indians, and protected persons who are enrolled in a post-secondary education program leading to a degree, diploma, or certificate; or who ended their studies no earlier than December 2019. It is also available to high school graduates (or equivalent) who have applied for admission in a post-secondary educational program beginning before February 1, 2021.

  • When applying, students must attest that for COVID-19 related reasons, they are
  • unable to work; or
  • seeking work but are unable to find it; or
  • working but unable to earn more than $1,000 (before taxes) over the four-week period for which they are applying

In addition, students are not eligible for CESB if they are receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or Employment Insurance benefits for the same four-week period as their current application.

c. Do students need to do anything to receive this benefit?

Students must apply for each monthly period through their CRA My Account and meet the eligibility criteria. They must attest that the information they are providing is accurate.

d. Why is the government increasing the student loan burden for students?

The primary focus has been on providing students with higher grant amounts so that they need to rely less on loans. This is particularly important now since COVID-19 has made it harder for students to save for their education, especially in the wake of higher tuition fees introduced by some institutions. That is why the Canada Student Grants have been doubled for the coming year and grants are always paid to students first, with loans making up the difference. However, the Government does recognize that some students, particularly those in higher costs programs, may have “unmet need” even after all of the grants are paid and loans provided. That is why the Government has increased the cap on student loans, which has not increased since 2005. Increasing the loan cap means will allow more students to go to school and even prevent many from accessing loans from private institutions that would have higher interest costs and none of the repayment supports the Government provides borrowers. That is why increasing the loan cap makes sense. Combined with the other steps that the Government has recently taken to make post-secondary education more affordable and student debt more manageable, which includes tripling of students grants since 2015, lowering of interest rate on Canada Student Loans and enhancing the Repayment Assistance Plan such that no student has to repay their student loans until they are making at least $25,000 per year, increasing the loan cap will materially help students.

6. Supports for Student Learning Program

a. What supports are being provided for vulnerable young learners in response to COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on children, youth, and their families, particularly as they adapt to school closures and disconnection from the social networks. These families now face challenges supporting their students in the transition to online learning. Traditionally, youth-serving organizations have been an anchor to help vulnerable children, youth and families through periods of transition. However, the current environment requires these organizations to accelerate access to digitized mentoring and tutoring supports so that no child in Canada is left further behind because of COVID-19.

This is why the Government will invest $15 million to help organizations working in the after-school space to reach approximately 14,700 vulnerable children and youth, focusing on those with the most acute need, through the delivery of online wraparound supports and increase the connectivity for these young learners and their families.

b. How will these new supports for digitized services help students during this pandemic?

Many of ESDC’s existing partner organizations have established trusted relationships with vulnerable children and youth facing barriers to education, and who need critical supports such as tutoring and mentoring. To maintain continuity of the supports and services they provide, and to ensure that approximately 14,700 vulnerable children and youth do not become further marginalized as a result of COVID-19, this investment will help organizations to migrate their programming and supports to digital delivery platforms.

In addition, given that a significant digital divide exists in terms of connectivity and access to technology, particularly for low-income and rural and remote families, this investment will help organizations ensure that youth have access to internet and adequate technologies at home. By making sure that youth do not disengage from their academics and important social outlets, this will help to prevent a negative impact on high school graduation rates, post-secondary enrolment and persistence, and employment readiness for years to come.

c. Which organizations will deliver this new funding?

The initial funding is being provided in response to urgent requests from organizations that have existing relationships with ESDC and which have demonstrated positive results helping vulnerable children and youth overcome barriers to education. [23 words redacted] For the remaining balance, ESDC is reaching out to and reviewing proposals received from other partners that could benefit from additional funding, with priority given to those that support students with disabilities, and students in rural, Northern, and remote communities.

Vulnerable populations

1. Homelessness

a. What is the Government of Canada doing to address COVID-19 for those experiencing homelessness or those at-risk of homelessness?

One of the most important roles of our Government during this global pandemic is to support those who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness (both men and women), including women and children fleeing violence.

This is why as a Government we are monitoring the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak very closely. The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to work in close collaboration with provincial, territorial and local public health authorities to ensure appropriate responses are in place across the country.

The Government announced has invested $157.5 million for Reaching Home: Canada's Homelessness Strategy, to address the needs of those experiencing homelessness in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. Reaching Home provides a community-based approach to deliver funding directly to municipalities and local service providers. Reaching Home funding can support a range of programs and services at the community-level, including those tailored for the needs of women and women and children fleeing violence.

Beginning on April 1st, 2020, additional funding has been provided to the 58 Designated Communities (including the seven in Quebec), 30 communities receiving funding directly under the Indigenous Homelessness stream, and the three territorial capitals. Funding has also been made available to Rural and Remote communities across Canada.

In addition, $15 million of reallocated funding was provided to seven large communities at the end of the 2019-20 fiscal year.

Overall, the approach to incremental funding has been designed to focus investments on urban centres where the risk of viral spread is highest, while also providing funding to support rural and remote communities. It also provides the flexibility to offer additional support to communities dealing with more significant outbreaks over time.

2. Seniors

GIS Annual Renewal

a. What was announced on May 12?

The Government of Canada announced that the deferred tax filing deadline would not have an impact on Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and Allowance benefits. This means that low-income seniors will continue to receive their payments without interruption if their 2019 income information is not available to reassess their entitlement. This new measure will ensure that GIS and Allowance recipients continue to receive their benefits during this difficult time.

b. What does this measure change for GIS and Allowance recipients?

GIS and Allowance recipients normally need to file their income taxes or declare their income to Service Canada before the end of June every year in order to avoid interruptions in payments. GIS benefits are renewed annually in July and are calculated based the income information from the previous year. This new measure will now allow beneficiaries to receive the same amount of GIS/Allowance in July that they received in June, if their 2019 income is not yet available.

Benefits will be adjusted retroactively to July 2020 once Service Canada has received the 2019 income information from the Canada Revenue Agency, or directly from the recipients. Seniors are encouraged to file their tax return as soon as possible and no later than October 1, 2020, as it is the best way to ensure that they continue to receive all the benefits to which they are entitled.

c. Why is the Government of Canada taking this measure?

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the delivery of crucial services to low-income seniors across Canada, including free tax clinics. As per the eligibility requirements of the program, GIS and Allowance recipients need to file their income taxes every year, or provide their income information directly to Service Canada, in order to avoid interruptions in payments.

To ensure that this vulnerable group continues to receive payments during this difficult time, the Government of Canada will authorize that their GIS/Allowance payments continue uninterrupted if their 2019 income information is not available to reassess their benefits.

d. How long will this interim measure last? Will clients be cut off at any point?

This measure is a temporary one to address the potential impact the pandemic may have on the ability of beneficiaries to report their income or file their income tax return. GIS beneficiaries will still need to provide their 2019 income to Service Canada or file their income tax return. To avoid an interruption in payment in January 2021, seniors are encouraged to file their tax return as soon as possible, and no later than October 1, 2020

e. How and when will the GIS benefits be adjusted?

GIS benefits will be adjusted retroactively to July 2020 once Service Canada has received the 2019 income information from the Canada Revenue Agency, or directly from the recipient.

f. Were seniors at risk of not receiving their GIS benefits before this measure was introduced?

As a result of the pandemic, the Government of Canada deferred the 2019 tax filing deadline from May 1, 2020 to June 1, 2020.

The service standard to process tax returns at the Canada Revenue Agency is two weeks for electronic tax returns and eight weeks for paper tax returns. Many seniors use paper tax-filing when filing their tax returns. In addition, self-isolation or illness among seniors, and the lack of availability of free tax filing services on which many low-income seniors rely, could affect their ability to file their tax returns.

In light of these factors, some clients’ income information may not be available to reassess the GIS entitlement for July. GIS recipients who do not provide their income information to Service Canada by that date would have typically seen their benefits suspended.

By ensuring that GIS benefits continue to be paid without interruption, the Government of Canada is taking a proactive approach to ensure the financial security of low-income seniors during these difficult times.

Interaction with CERB and GIS

g. Is income from the CERB used in the calculation of GIS benefits?

The CERB provides temporary income support to workers who have stopped working related to COVID-19. The Benefit is taxable, and will be included in the calculation of net income under the Income Tax Act. This means that, for seniors who were employed pre-COVID, it must be considered when determining entitlement to the GIS and the Allowances.

This being said, the CERB will not affect GIS and Allowance payments for about a year. Income received from the CERB in 2020 will only be considered for GIS eligibility purposes beginning in July 2021, as those benefits will be based on 2020 income.

To provide support during the pandemic, the Government of Canada is providing additional financial support of $2.5 billion for a one-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension, with an additional $200 for seniors eligible for the GIS. This measure will give a total of $500 to individuals who are eligible to receive both the OAS and the GIS, and will help them cover increased costs caused by COVID-19. It is estimated that approximately 6.7 million OAS pensioners will benefit from the $300 payment, and 2.2 million of those pensioners will receive the additional $200 payment due to their eligibility to the GIS.

The Government has also provided more than 4 million low and modest-income seniors an average of $375 for singles and $510 for couples through a one-time special payment of the Goods and Services Tax Credit.

New horizons for seniors program (NHSP) – additional funding

h. How do you intend to spend the $20 million incremental investment in NHSP?

The NHSP supports the social participation and inclusion of seniors by funding activities that make a difference in the lives of seniors and their communities. At this time when COVID-19 is affecting our communities, seniors need our support to overcome the impact of the pandemic. New funding in the amount of $20 million will go towards projects that assist seniors impacted by COVID-19 as well as broader recovery efforts to safely reduce social isolation and promote social participation of seniors in their communities. Priorities will include a focus on seniors’ mental health, supporting virtual connections and other activities. The funding will be invested to help ensure seniors from communities across the country are well-supported during the COVID pandemic. The investment approach will focus on timely delivery of supports, leveraging the very successful 2019-20 Call for Proposals of the program, including unfunded eligible projects that can support seniors during the pandemic.

3. New Workplace Accessibility Fund Stream under the Opportunities Fund

a. How will this additional funding help persons with disabilities?

The $15 million in additional investment in 2020-2021 through a new National Workplace Accessibility Stream of the Opportunities Fund will help Canadians with disabilities and their employers to improve workplace accessibility and access to jobs in response to COVID-19.

It will achieve this by helping employers set up accessible and effective measures, including supports and accommodations, to make workplaces more inclusive. The types of activities supported by this fund will include:

  • helping employers set up accessible and effective work-from-home measures
  • expanding online training opportunities
  • providing employer-focused supports to create inclusive workplaces, whether virtual or physical
  • connecting people with disabilities, including those working from home, and employers
  • training for in-demand jobs; and
  • providing/expanding wage subsidies to encourage the hiring of persons with disabilities

It is expected that these measures will enhance the employability of persons with disabilities in the short term, while also helping to create inclusive and accessible workplaces and accommodations to improve labour market outcomes of persons with disabilities moving forward.

b. How will you ensure this funding will be rolled out quickly?

ESDC officials will work closely with organizations that have existing projects under the OF program and the expertise to take on this new line of work. Work has already commenced and we anticipate supports to be rolled out soon.

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