Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion: OGGO Appearance on Government’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, May 11, 2020

Table of contents

  1. Opening remarks
  2. Qs and As – May 4th OGGO meeting
  3. Costing of ESDC COVID-19 response measures
  4. List of economic measures – Government of Canada
  5. List of ESDC measures
  6. Qs and As – COVID-19 special measures
  7. Student assistance
    1. Student financial support
    2. Jobs and skills opportunities and youth
    3. Canada Summer Jobs
  8. CERB and service delivery update
  9. Vulnerable population and COVID-19
  10. Support for charities during the COVID-19 pandemic
  11. Chart – People with disabilities and COVID-19

1. Opening remarks

Speaking Notes for the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion: For an appearance before the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates (OGGO) on Measures to support Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ottawa, ON May 11, 2020

Check Against Delivery
2020 PA 000482

Thank you, Mr. Chair and Committee members.

I am pleased to join you today to speak about measures to support Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic as they pertain to my portfolio.

Accompanying me today from my department are:

  • Graham Flack, Deputy Minister
  • Benoît Robidoux, Associate Deputy Minister
  • Mark Perlman, Chief Financial Officer and Senior Assistant Deputy Minister
  • Cliff Groen, acting Chief Operating Officer for Service Canada

Before I begin, I’d like to thank the Committee for its study on the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Your work is essential to our democratic process.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians are experiencing unparalleled disruptions in ordinary life. Across the country, they have lost their jobs or have had to temporarily stop work. And they face an uncertain future.

To give you a sense of the scope of the need, we’ve made 13.4 million payments to date under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, both through Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency, worth XX billion dollars.

We’ve also implemented measures to support temporary foreign workers and other vulnerable Canadians, such as students and persons with disabilities.

I’ll begin with the CERB, which is the biggest portion of aid coming from my portfolio.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit Act

Through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, our government is providing direct support to workers who have stopped working for reasons related to COVID-19 and is helping stabilize the economy.

The sole purpose of this Benefit is to provide income support to Canadians when they need it most.

It was created directly in response to this immediate and extraordinary public health situation.

Support measures were needed quickly, but I can assure Committee members, that although we acted rapidly, we also followed due process.

We passed legislation in Parliament and made amendments to the Employment Insurance Act in consultation with the Employment Insurance Commission, the Minister of Finance and the President of Treasury Board, as required.

The result is that we’re getting urgent help out to Canadians. We are watching closely how the situation and adjusting our policies as needed as the impact of the pandemic evolves.

Take the CERB for example. For eligible workers, the benefit provides temporary income support of $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.

After we launched the benefit on April 6th, we quickly recognized that there were some gaps. We listened to Canadians and expanded the eligibility criteria for this benefit to make it more inclusive. For example, we expanded to include seasonal workers and people working in the fishing sector who may have exhausted their EI benefits but cannot find work because of COVID.

I want to address the issue of maternity benefits and the CERB. Some people who qualify for the CERB but who are going on maternity and/or parental leave shortly have had questions about how their claims have been processed.

There was a limitation with the CERB system when expectant mothers disclosed they were pregnant, and women were being immediately put on EI benefits regardless if they should have been on the CERB. We have figured out a way to address this, and I’m pleased to report that as of last Friday, May 8th, women who should have been receiving the CERB will have their claims converted retroactively to the CERB. People will see this change as early as their next payment.

Temporary Foreign Workers

Now a word about supporting temporary foreign workers and ensuring Canada’s food supply.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult to bring in the temporary foreign workers needed to meet Canada’s food security needs.

In response, we have implemented emergency changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker program to make it easier and faster for employers to hire and retain these workers, while at the same time safeguarding everyone’s health.

I also want to say that there continue to be jobs for Canadians who wish to work in the agriculture and agri-food sector. We are currently working with our partners to explore ways to better communicate these opportunities to Canadians.

Students and youth

A word now about students and youth.

We recognized very quickly that students and youth were facing unique challenges, and that many were not eligible for the CERB.

That is why we announced comprehensive support for post-secondary students and recent graduates representing an investment of approximately $9 billion.

An Act respecting Canada emergency student benefits has enabled the four-month Canada Emergency Student Benefit. Students who are not eligible for the CERB can receive $1,250 per month between now and August.

Students with permanent disabilities and those with dependents could receive an additional $750 per month.

We’ve heard a lot in the past few weeks about how these payments might disincentivize students to work.

This is not my understanding of the effect of the benefit. It is not wrong to be supporting students with income during this difficult time.

We've heard very clearly from the students that they want to work and want to serve in their communities in this time of crisis.

This is why our measures don’t just end with the CESB.

That is why we announced the creation of 116,000 additional jobs and training opportunities, including jobs in the agriculture and processing sectors, through mechanisms like our Youth Employment and Skills Strategy and the Canada Summer Jobs Program.

Other important measures to help students during the COVID-19 pandemic are changes to the Canada Student Loans Program.

We are expanding eligibility for the Program for September.

We are also doubling the value of Canada Student Grants and increasing the cap on Canada Student Loans from $210 to $350 per week of study.

These new measures come in addition to earlier measures to pause the repayment of student and apprentice loans, interest-free, until September 30, 2020.

Conclusion

Mr. Chair, we undertook the noted measures with the aim of helping Canadians and supporting the economy. As the situation evolves, my cabinet colleagues and I are ready to take further action as needed.

I would now be happy to take your questions.

-30-

2. Questions and answers from OGGO – May 4th, 2020

1. Who is still left out of ESDC measures?

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is available to workers, both employed and self-employed:

  • 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 or fishing 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

Recipients of the CERB cannot earn more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for 14 or more consecutive days within the initial benefit period, or over the entire 4 weeks of subsequent benefit periods.

Additional investments in the Supports for Student Learning Program will help to digitize critical wraparound supports (for example, tutoring and mentoring) for vulnerable children and youth, particularly those who have relied on after-school supports to stay on track in their learning. While it is anticipated that these new online supports and programming will reach many vulnerable young people, such as low-income youth, there may be additional challenges in reaching youth living in regions where there are significant barriers related to infrastructure and access to technology, including Northern and Indigenous communities. As this new initiative rolls out, there will be an emphasis placed on ensuring that these young people can also benefit from these critical online supports in a meaningful way.

The Government is continuing to explore ways for Canadians to get the support they need in these challenging and unprecedented times.

2. What are the projections of the cost for CERB?

[One sentence redacted] However, it is expected that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) will reduce the take up of the CERB, but the impact will depend on factors including firm and individual behaviour and timing. Once initial take-up for the CEWS is observed the Government will be in a better position to update its costing. [One sentence redacted]

3. During good economic times, the EI account claimed surpluses. What is the status now of the EI account? Is it exhausted? How much, if there are numbers that can be advised?

Canada is in the midst of unprecedented times, and the Government is taking the necessary steps to ensure that Canadians have the support they need to look after their families. In this context, there has been a historically-high volume of applications for Employment Insurance by Canadians whose jobs have been disrupted by COVID-19. We have taken extraordinary measures to ensure that these claims can be processed quickly and that Canadians receive benefits on a timely basis. Between March 16 and May 7, Service Canada received a total of 3.72 million claims for the EI – Emergency Response Benefit, with 3.66 million claims processed and over $14 billion in benefits paid. The Canada Revenue Agency has processed applications from nearly 4.5 million additional applicants under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, with almost $15 billion paid out.

Clearly, the current situation has placed a significant unanticipated pressure on the EI Operating Account. The annual EI premium rate is set according to a seven-year break-even mechanism, as forecast by the EI Senior Actuary. Annual changes to the premium rate are subject to a legislated limit of 5 cents. The seven-year break-even mechanism aims to ensure stable and predictable premium rates for Canadian workers and employers, and is also intended to ensure that EI contributions are only used for EI purposes. The Government is carefully monitoring the situation and will consider the implications for the EI Operating Account.

4. Many people who are ineligible receive CERB payments. What are the mechanisms in place to prevent this? Why are some ineligible people receive payments?

The CERB 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 or fishing 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

When submitting their first claim, applicants 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 their claim.

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

Provided it is allowed in their province or territory, claimants may also receive provincial or territorial support payments at the same time they receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is being jointly administered by ESDC (Service Canada) and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to ensure that Canadians receive the money they are entitled to as quickly as possible. As two organizations are administering the CERB independently, there may be situations where clients mistakenly applied for the benefit through both streams, which would result in a double payment. Canadians should only apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit from either Service Canada or the Canada Revenue Agency, not both. If they have already applied for Employment Insurance benefits but haven’t received their benefits yet, claimants should not submit another application. While there will not be any penalty for Canadians if they have received a payment in error, they will have to repay the CERB benefits for which they are not entitled and will receive a letter from the CRA providing them with further information about the repayment process. Specifically, if they have received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit twice for the same benefit period, they are requested to return one of the payments to the Canada Revenue Agency.

Additionally, CRA has now implemented a validation check at the application stage. If the applicant has already been approved for benefits with EI/Service Canada, they will be redirected to continue through the EI stream. They will not be able to continue further with the CRA-CERB application.

The CRA will be verifying that individuals are eligible to receive the CERB. In cases where claimants are found to be ineligible, they will be contacted to make arrangements to repay any applicable amounts. Further information on repaying the CERB can be found at [URL embedded in text]

The approach to delivering the CERB follows the best practices promoted by the International Public Sector Fraud Forum and their five principles of Fraud Control in Emergency Management. As such, an integrity framework focused primarily on post payment measures was designed.

5. Could you tell me a little bit more about the support offered specifically to seasonal workers and self-employed workers, and about eligibility for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit is available to workers, including self-employed workers.

To help more Canadians benefit from the CERB, the government announced on April 15 it was changing the eligibility rules to:

  • allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB
  • extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their usual seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak
  • extend the CERB to workers who recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19

The Benefit 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 or fishing 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

Seasonal workers who used up their entitlement to EI regular benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020 are eligible to apply for the CERB if they are unable to return to their seasonal employment due to COVID-19.

Self-employed fishers are encouraged to apply for Employment Insurance fishing benefits.

If a self-employed fisher does not meet the criteria to establish a new EI fishing benefits claim, or if they have exhausted their EI fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020 and are unable to work due to COVID-19, they may be eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, provided they meet the eligibility criteria.

You cannot be in receipt of Employment Insurance benefits (including fishing benefits) and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for the same period.

6. There are individuals, sole proprietors, who did not pay themselves any wages and who probably cannot show they have earned $5,000. How are we supporting them?

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit is available to workers, including self-employed workers.

Small Business owners can receive income from their business in different ways, including as salary, business income or dividends. In determining their eligibility for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit:

  • owners who take a salary from their business should consider their pre-tax salary
  • owners who rely on business income should consider their net pre-tax income (gross income less expenses)
  • owners who rely on dividend income should consider this as self-employment income provided it comes from non –eligible dividends (generally, those paid out of corporate income taxed at the small business rate)

The Government is continuing to explore ways for Canadians to get the support they need in these challenging and unprecedented times.

7. If seasonal workers do not have a work season, new premiums or new hours, then from an Employment Insurance perspective, does that mean that they will go through the winter with no other income afterwards?

You are eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit if you are a former Employment Insurance claimant, including seasonal workers, who used up your entitlement to your Employment Insurance regular benefits or fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020, and are unable to find work due to COVID-19.

The date for which you would potentially become eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit would be the week following your last Employment Insurance benefit payment or March 15, 2020, whichever is most recent. You may not receive EI benefits and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for the same period.

The Government is continuing to explore ways for Canadians to get the support they need in these challenging and unprecedented times.

8. As the economy recovers, some employers will opt for part-time staff, depending on their needs. Will there be adjustments to the CERB program to allow part-time workers who earn more than $1,000 not to lose their benefits altogether?

The Government is continuing to explore ways for Canadians to get the support they need in these challenging and unprecedented times.

3. ESDC COVID-19 Response measures – Announced

Measure

Waive the one week waiting period for EI sickness: for individuals in imposed quarantine and are EI eligible.

Target population

EI-Eligible individuals who become ill with COVID 19.

Total costs

Up to $5M.

Notes

Total operating costs have not yet been determined, however full reporting will be provided during the fiscal year.

What factors will influence costs, if any

No additional benefit costs as this is simply a reduction in how long clients must wait before being put in pay (from one week to zero).

Measure

Working-Sharing Program: extending agreement duration from 38 weeks to 76 weeks, easing eligibility requirements and streamlining the application process for employers affected by COVID-19. This measure will provide income support to employees eligible for Employment Insurance who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers.

Target population

Business and workers.

Total costs

$12M

*will increase due to increased volumes.

Notes

Increased volumes will result in additional benefit and operating costs over and above the $10M and $2M which was announced.

What factors will influence costs, if any

Volume of applications and duration of agreements will influence final costs. Costs will also be dependent on the utilization rate.

Measure

Waive the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness and caregiving benefits.

Target population

EI-Eligible individuals.

Total costs

$0

Notes

This measure reduces the administrative burden on the health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What factors will influence costs, if any

N/A

Measure

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 every 4 weeks for up to 16 weeks to eligible workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19.

An online questionnaire is provided to help direct Canadians to the service option that best fits their situation (i.e. eligibility for Employment Insurance benefits or not).

Eligibility for CERB has recently been expanded to allow for earnings up to $1,000 for the four week period as well as to include additional potential claimants (e.g. artist royalties, seasonal claimants).

Target population

Workers.

Total costs

[Section redacted]

Notes

[Section redacted]

What factors will influence costs, if any

  • Take up of wage subsidy - will reduce CERB costs (Finance cost includes estimated impact of the wage subsidy)
  • Speed and timing of business reopening, i.e. if businesses reopen early and workers go back to work, CERB costs will be reduced
  • Speed and sustainability of school re-openings, i.e., if parents are able to send their kids to school, they could go back to work
  • Continued flattening of COVID-19 curve would mean fewer cases of sickness and quarantine

Measure

Temporary Foreign Worker Program: air travel exemptions, additional authorities (Quarantine Act, IRPR), arrivals readiness, LMIA and other flexibilities [proposed LMIA refunds].

Target population

Current TFW eligible businesses.

Total costs

Current TFW eligible businesses.

Notes

[Section redacted]

What factors will influence costs, if any

N/A

Measure

Temporary Foreign Worker Program: travel exemptions for temporary foreign workers and program flexibilities to reduce administrative burden.

Target population

TFW employers.

Total costs

$0

Notes

Part of March 20 announcement led by IRCC, that TFWs are able to travel to Canada as of March 26. Program flexibilities include priority processing and recruitment waiver for key agricultural occupations, and piloting 2 year LMIAs for low wage occupations.

What factors will influence costs, if any

N/A

Measure

Temporary Foreign Worker Program: additional compliance authorities through the Immigration, and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).

Target population

TFW employers and workers.

Total costs

$0

Notes

Regulatory amendments entered into force on April 20 including an enhanced ability to enforce employer compliance with public health requirements.

What factors will influence costs, if any

N/A

Measure

Six-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.

Target population

Students.

Total costs

$187.2M.

Notes

Over one million students in repayment will benefit from a repayment pause from March 30, 2020 to September 30, 2020.

Service provider costs related to this measure are about $1M.

What factors will influence costs, if any

Substantial changes in interest rates could affect projected carrying costs for the government.

Measure

The Canada Emergency Student Benefit will provide support to students and new graduates who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Will provide monthly financial support for eligible students, with an additional support for eligible students with dependants or disabilities. The benefit would be available from May to August 2020.

Target population

Students.

Total costs

Estimated at $5.2B for benefits. Operating is TBD.

Notes

Part of the April 22 announcement by the PM for the comprehensive support of nearly $9B for post-secondary students and recent graduates.

Approximately 1 million (875,400) students will receive this benefit from May to August 2020, for a total cost of $5.2B.

What factors will influence costs, if any

Costs will be influenced by how quickly the economy re-opens, as well as summer jobs created through CSJ.

Measure

Double the Canada Student Grants for all eligible full-time students to up to $6,000 and up to $3,600 for part-time students in 2020 to 21. The Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with Dependents would also be doubled.

Broaden eligibility for student financial assistance by removing the expected student’s and spouse’s contributions in 2020 to 21, in recognition that many students and families will struggle to save for school this year.

Enhance the Canada Student Loans Program by raising the maximum weekly amount that can be provided to a student in 2020 to 21 from $210 to $350.

Target population

Students.

Total costs

  • $1,555.1M
  • $88.7M
  • $286.7M

Notes

Part of the April 22 announcement by the PM for the comprehensive support of nearly $9B for post-secondary students and recent graduates.

768,000 students will benefit from these measures or nearly all CSLP clients.

Benefit amounts include estimated payments made to non-participating provinces and territories (Quebec, Northwest Territories and Nunavut).

What factors will influence costs, if any

Substantial changes in PSE participation could alter the costing forecasts.

Operating to be funded internally.

Measure

Supporting students through expanded student and youth programming

  • $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
  • Changes to the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy's Canada Summer Jobs program, including 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 21
  • $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

Target population

Students.

Total costs

  • $153.7M
  • Existing Resources
  • $80M
  • $15M

Notes

Funding breakdown is as follows: $25M for ESDC’s Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) Program and a total of $128.7M for the YESS programs delivered by the Departments listed below.

Breakdown of allocations per Department provided by Finance for the $153.7M is as follows: [Section redacted]

  • $25.0M in 2020 to 21 to ESDC to fund national projects providing youth placements in environmental, transport, agricultural, food security, and community service sectors
  • $128.7 million in 2020 to 21 for other government departments for their YESS programming to fund programs serving high-demand sectors such as agriculture, technology, health, and essential services, allocated as follows:
  • $9.2 million to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • $11.4 million to Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • $30.6 million to Indigenous Services Canada
  • $46.7 million to Innovation, Science and Economic Development ($6.7 million for Computers for Schools and $40.0 million for Digital Skills for Youth)
  • $15.0 million to the National Research Council; and
  • $15.8 million to Natural Resources Canada

These new measures are being supported by a reallocation of existing operating resources. ESDC is already internally funding $9.8M in operating to support the increase in Summer 2020 spending.

$80M is for the Student Work Placement Program to expand placements in health care and other sectors in demand [Thirty-five words redacted]

Total operating costs for the Supports for Student Learning Program have not yet been determined, but are estimated to be approximately $200K.

What factors will influence costs, if any

N/A

Measure

Delivering essential services to those in need (Emergency Community Services Fund): $350 million to support vulnerable Canadians through charities and non-profit organizations that deliver essential services to those in need.

The investment will flow through national organizations that have the ability to get funds quickly to local organizations that serve vulnerable populations.

Target population

Vulnerable Canadians.

Total costs

$351.1M

Notes

Breakdown as follows:

  • Canadian Red Cross Society $80M;
  • United Way of Canada $120M;
  • Community Foundations of Canada $75M;
  • Reserve $75M

What factors will influence costs, if any

N/A

Measure

Increasing the Canada Child Benefit:

Extra $300 per child through the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for 2019 to 20. This will mean approximately $550 more for the average family.

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

Those who already receive the CCB do not need to re-apply.

Target population

Families.

Total costs

$1.91B

Notes

Benefit costs of $1.91B. To be delivered by CRA.

What factors will influence costs, if any

N/A

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.

Target population

Vulnerable Canadians.

Total costs

$157.5M.

Notes

Operating costs from the COVID-19 funding allocation are estimated at $600K.

Of the remaining program funding ($156.6M), $133.8M has already been allocated through the program’s various funding streams:

  • $83.2M to the Designated Community stream outside of Quebec
  • $19.7M through the Indigenous Homelessness stream outside of Quebec
  • $1.5M through the Territorial Homelessness stream
  • $7M through the Rural and Remote Homelessness stream outside of Quebec; and
  • $22.5M to the Designated Communities, Indigenous Homelessness, and Rural and Remote Homelessness streams in Quebec

The remaining unallocated funding of $22.8M has been reserved to invest as needs emerge. The process to allocate this funding is underway.

Note: Numbers have been rounded.

Reaching Home funding is complemented by the Government’s investment of $40M to Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE), of which:

  • up to $30M will address immediate needs of sexual assault centres; and
  • $10 million is to be provided to Indigenous Services Canada's existing network of 46 emergency shelters on reserve and in Yukon to support Indigenous women and children fleeing violence

What factors will influence costs, if any

Operating costs are estimated at this time. Existing resources were used where possible.

Measure

Launching a new national service initiative

The Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) and I Want to Help portal will help students contribute to their communities while at the same time providing Not-for Profit organizations with much needed help during the COVID‑19 pandemic.

CSSG will provide up to $5,000 per participant. Requirements for hours completed and levels of the grant are not yet approved.

Target population

Students.

Total costs

TBD.

Notes

Part of the April 22 announcement by the PM for the comprehensive support of nearly $9B for post-secondary students and recent graduates.

Total operating costs have not yet been determined, however reporting will be provided during the fiscal year.

What factors will influence costs, if any

N/A

Measure

Expanding the Canada Service Corps Micro-Grant Program

ESDC will also be implementing a complementary enhancement to the Canada Service Corps program that will increase Micro-grants from 1,800 to 15,000 for youth led service projects to address COVID-19 needs. A monthly stipend of up to $1,250 will be made available to youth leading service projects to address financial barriers to participation.

There are three micro-grant levels, designed to fund projects with different levels of ambition and complexity: $250, $750, $1,500. Youth apply for CSC micro-grants directly on a dedicated website created and managed by TIG.

Target population

N/A

Total costs

$74M.

Notes

Up to $74.0 million to increase the number of micro-grants (1,800 to 15,000) and expand the Canada Service Corps to increase youth volunteer activities.

This amount is to be offset by reprofiling $11.1 million in existing resources for the Canada Service Corps from 2019 to 20 into 2020 to 21.

What factors will influence costs, if any

N/A

4. Summary of Economic measures - Announced

Measure

Waive the one –week waiting period for EI sickness: for individuals in imposed quarantine and are EI eligible.

Target population

EI-Eligible individuals who become ill with COVID 19.

Measure

Working-Sharing Program: extending eligibility to 76 weeks, easing eligibility requirements and streamlining the application process.

Target population

Business.

Measure

Waive the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness.

Target population

EI-Eligible individuals.

Measure

Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): provide income support for workers aged 15 and older who have stopped working for reasons related to COVID-19 or have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020 and unable to find a job due to COVID-19. Claimants must have not earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for 14 or more consecutive days within the initial four-week benefit period of their claim and for the entire four-week benefit period subsequently.

Target population

All Canadians.

Measure

Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy: subsidy covers 75% of an employee’s wages – up to $847 per week - for employers of all sizes and across all sectors who have suffered a drop in gross revenues of at least 15% in March, and 30% in April and May.

The program will be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.

Target population

Business, workers.

Measure

Temporary 10 % Wage Subsidy: a three-month measure allowing eligible employers (such as individuals, partnerships, non-profit organizations, registered charities etc.) to reduce the amount of payroll deduction required to be remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Target population

Business.

Measure

Temporary salary top up for low income workers: through a new transfer to provinces and territories to temporary top up to the salaries of low-income workers (those who earn less than $2,500 per month on a full time basis), that the provinces and territories have deemed essential in the fight against COVID-19.

Target population

Low income Canadians.

Measure

Canada Emergency Commercial Rental Assistance (CECRA): Government intends to introduce a program for small businesses to provide loans and/or forgivable loans to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June.

Implementation of the program will require a partnership with provincial and territorial governments who are responsible for property owner-tenant relationships.

Target population

Small business.

Measure

Temporary Foreign Worker Program: air travel exemptions, additional authorities (Quarantine Act, IRPR), arrivals readiness, LMIA and other flexibilities.

Target population

Current TFW eligible businesses.

Measure

Six month interest free moratorium on repayment of Canada Student Loans.

Target population

Students.

Measure

Improving access to food: $100 million to national, regional, and local organizations across Canada to: Purchase, transport and distribute food and other basic necessities; hire temporary help to fill volunteer shortages; and implement safety measures, such as the purchase of personal protective equipment, to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among volunteers and clients.

Target population

Vulnerable populations.

Measure

Additional $157.5 million to Reaching Home: to continue to support people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Target population

Homeless.

Measure

Essential services through New Horizons Seniors Program: Organizations encouraged to use existing funds to provide immediate and essential services to seniors impacted by COVID-19.

Target population

Seniors.

Measure

Canada Child Benefit.

Target population

Children and families.

Measure

GST Tax Credit.

Target population

Low and modest income Canadians.

Measure

Making personal hygiene products and nutritious food more affordable: additional $25 million to Nutrition North Canada to increase subsidies, so families can afford much-needed personal hygiene products and nutritious food.

Target population

Northern communities

Measure

Indigenous Community Support Fund.

Target population

First Nations, Inuit and Metis Nation communities.

Measure

Youth mental health: $7.5 million in funding to Kids Help Phone.

Target population

Youth.

Measure

Supporting women and children fleeing violence: supporting women and children fleeing violence, by providing up to $50 million to women's shelters and sexual assault centres, including facilities in Indigenous communities, to help with their capacity to manage or prevent an outbreak in their facilities.

Target population

Vulnerable women and children.

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 will flow through national organizations that have the ability to get funds quickly to local organizations that serve vulnerable populations. It will support a variety of activities.

Target population

Vulnerable Canadians.

Measure

Reduced minimum withdrawals RRIF.

Target population

Seniors.

Measure

Supporting the delivery of items and personal outreach: $9 million through United Way Canada for local organizations to support practical services to Canadian seniors such as the delivery of groceries and medications.

Target population

Seniors.

Measure

Mortgage support.

Target population

Homeowners.

Measure

Extra time to file 2019 tax returns.

Target population

All Canadian taxpayers.

Measure

Canada Summer Jobs: Temporary changes to allow employers to: receive an increased wage subsidy, so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100 per cent of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee; extend the end date for employment to February 28, 2021; adapt their projects and job activities; and hire staff on a part-time basis.

Target population

Students.

Measure

(Overall) Financial Support for Students: announcement of $9 billion in financial aid for post-secondary students in response to claims that too many young people were falling through the cracks in existing COVID-19 support programs.

Target population

Students.

Measure

The proposed Canada Emergency Student Benefit, which would provide support to students and new graduates who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. This benefit would provide $1,250 per month for eligible students or $1,750 per month for eligible students with dependents or disabilities. The benefit would be available from May to August 2020.

Target population

Students.

Measure

Double the Canada Student Grants for all eligible full-time students to up to $6,000 and up to $3,600 for part-time students in 2020 to 21.The Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with Dependents would also be doubled.

Broaden eligibility for student financial assistance by removing the expected student’s and spouse’s contributions in 2020 to 21, in recognition that many students and families will struggle to save for school this year.

Enhance the Canada Student Loans Program by raising the maximum weekly amount that can be provided to a student in 2020 to 21 from $210 to $350.

Target population

Students.

Measure

Supporting students through expanded student and youth programming

  • $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
  • Changes to the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy's Canada Summer Jobs program, including 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 21. These new measures are being supported by a reallocation of existing resources
  • $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 serve an additional 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

Target population

Students.

Measure

The new Canada Student Service Grant, 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.

Measure

Increase existing distinctions-based support for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation students pursuing post-secondary education by providing an additional $75.2 million in 2020 to 21.

Target population

Students

Measure

Extend expiring federal graduate research scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships, and supplement existing federal research grants, to support students and post-doctoral fellows, by providing $291.6 million to the federal granting councils. In addition, the government intends to enhance work opportunities for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows through the National Research Council of Canada.

$40 million to Innovation, Science and Economic Development to support Mitacs in order to create 5,000 new job placements. The Business/Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) will also create a further 5,000 to 10,000 new student placements, by reorienting existing federal support and building online tools.

Target population

Students.

Measure

The Government of Canada will remove the restriction that allows international students to work only a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session, provided they are working in an essential service or function, such as health care, critical infrastructure, or the supply of food or other critical goods.

International students and their employers should consult Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada's Guidance on Essential Services and Functions in Canada during the COVID-19 Outbreak to determine if the work the student is doing would allow them to work more than 20 hours per week during the academic session. This temporary rule change will be in place until August 31, 2020

Target population

Students.

Measure

Deferral of sales tax remittance and customs duty payments until June.

Target population

Business.

Measure

Business Credit Availability Program: $40 billion of additional support through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC).

Target population

Business.

Measure

Canada Emergency Business Account: Provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where revenues are temporarily reduced.

Target population

Small Business and Not for profit sector.

Measure

Insured Mortgage Purchase Program: Purchase up to $150 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Target population

Facilitate liquidity to consumers and businesses.

Measure

Lowering domestic stability buffer (Banks): This action will allow Canada’s large banks to inject $300 billion of additional lending in to the economy.

Target population

Economic stability.

Measure

Increasing credit available for agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture: Farm Credit Canada to provide an additional $5 billion in lending to producers, agribusinesses, and food processor.

Target population

Farmers, Fishers, food producers.

Measure

Support for airports: Waiving ground lease rents from March 2020 through to December 2020 for the 21 airport authorities that pay rent to the federal government

Target population

Airports, airlines.

Measure

Support for northern air carriers: $17.3 million to the governments of Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut to support critical air services to Northern and remote communities, in partnership with investments by the territorial governments, to ensure the continued supply of food, medical supplies, and other essential goods and services to remote and fly-in communities.

Target population

Northern air carriers.

Measure

Support forb: Waived licensed fees.

Target population

Broadcasters.

Measure

Support for operating costs (Territories): $15 million in non-repayable support for businesses in the territories to help address the impacts of COVID-19. This support will assist businesses with operating costs not already covered by other Government of Canada measures.

Target population

Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon.

Measure

Support for tourism operators: working with tourism operators in national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas to defer payments on commercial leases and licenses of occupation without interest until September 1, 2020.

Target population

Tourism operators.

5. ESDC COVID Response measures - Announced

Meaure

Waive the one - week waiting period for EI sickness: for individuals in imposed quarantine and are EI eligible

Target population

EI-Eligible individuals who become ill with COVID 19.

Meaure

Working-Sharing Program: extending eligibility from 38 weeks to 76 weeks for employers affected by COVID-19.

Target population

Business.

Meaure

Waive the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness

Target population

EI-Eligible individuals.

Meaure

Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 every 4 weeks for up to 16 weeks to eligible workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19.

An online questionnaire is provided to help direct Canadians to the service option that best fits their situation (i.e. eligibility for Employment Insurance benefits or not).

Target population

All Canadians.

Meaure

Temporary Foreign Worker Program: air travel exemptions, additional authorities (Quarantine Act, IRPR), arrivals readiness, LMIA and other flexibilities.

Target population

Current TFW eligible businesses.

Meaure

Six-month interest free moratorium on repayment of Canada Student Loans.

Target population

Students.

Meaure

The Canada Emergency Student Benefit will provide support to students and new graduates who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. This benefit would provide $1,250 per month for eligible students or $1,750 per month for eligible students with dependents or disabilities. The benefit would be available from May to August 2020.

Target population

Students.

Meaure

Double the Canada Student Grants for all eligible full-time students to up to $6,000 and up to $3,600 for part-time students in 2020 to 21.The Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with Dependents would also be doubled.

Broaden eligibility for student financial assistance by removing the expected student’s and spouse’s contributions in 2020 to 21, in recognition that many students and families will struggle to save for school this year.

Enhance the Canada Student Loans Program by raising the maximum weekly amount that can be provided to a student in 2020 to 21 from $210 to $350.

Target population

Students.

Meaure

Supporting students through expanded student and youth programming

  • $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
  • Changes to the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy's Canada Summer Jobs program, including 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 21. These new measures are being supported by a reallocation of existing resources
  • $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 serve an additional 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

Target population

Students.

Meaure

Delivering essential services to those in need: $350 million to support vulnerable Canadians through charities and non-profit organizations that deliver essential services to those in need.

The investment will flow through national organizations that have the ability to get funds quickly to local organizations that serve vulnerable populations.

Target population

Vulnerable Canadians.

Meaure

Increasing the Canada Child Benefit:

Extra $300 per child through the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for 2019 to 20. This will mean approximately $550 more for the average family.

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

Those who already receive the CCB do not need to re-apply.

Target population

Families.

Meaure

Mortgage payment deferral

Homeowners facing financial hardship may be eligible for a mortgage payment deferral of up to six months.

The deferral is an agreement between homeowners and their lender. Typically, the agreement indicates that a homeowner and their lender have agreed to pause or suspend mortgage payments for a certain amount of time. After the agreement ends, mortgage payments return to normal and the deferred payments — including principal and accumulated interest – are added to the outstanding principal balance and subsequently repaid throughout the life of the mortgage.

Target population

All Canadians.

Meaure

Additional $157.5 million to Reaching Home to support people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak.

[One paragraph redacted]

Target population

[One paragraph redacted]

Meaure

Launching a new national service initiative

We are launching the 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 CSSG will provide up to $5,000 for their education in the fall.

More details will be made available on the “I Want to Help” platform soon.

Target population

Students.

Meaure

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)

Agreement in principle with all provinces and territories to implement the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. This program will lower rent by 75 per cent for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.

The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50% of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June.

The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the small business tenants’ rent by at least 75% under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25% of the rent.

Impacted small business tenants are businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70% drop in pre-COVID revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.

It is expected that CECRA will be operational by mid-May, and further details will be announced soon.

Target population

Business.

6. Questions and answers

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

Date: April 20, 2020

1. Service Delivery

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

The government established the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This taxable benefit provides $2,000 every four weeks for up to 16 weeks to workers who lose their employment income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

Eligible workers apply through a simple portal. There is no waiting period and direct deposit payments will be delivered into accounts within three 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 April 16, 2020, CRA and Service Canada have received 7.9M applications, and processed more than 7.5M of them.

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

  1. We have redeployed significant number of staff from other functions to focus on processing
  2. We are focused on processing new claims and leaving adjustments aside
  3. We are deploying strategies to increase automation and increase self-service opportunities for clients
  4. With the new flexibilities in the Act, we would take additional steps to radically speed up our processing capability by implementing streamlined design changes

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.

c. I have been advised not to visit or enter a Service Canada Centre if I am experiencing symptoms such as cough, fever or difficulty breathing; in self-isolation or quarantine; or have travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days. If this applies to me, 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

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 Canadian population.

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

To support access to critical programs and services for Indigenous communities, Service Canada Community Outreach and Liaison Service (COLS) staff are contacting communities to identify how we can support them accessing critical programs, services and benefits. These may include an on-line for those with connectivity, dedicated phone lines to support clients, and other measures as developed with communities.

2. Employment Insurance

a. Will foreign students and persons with work permits be able to apply for CERB?

Foreign students and persons with work permits may qualify for CERB if they meet the eligibility requirements, which includes, for instance, residing in Canada and having a valid Social Insurance Number.

b. Will we adjust EI so persons with fewer hours be able to obtain EI?

The Government of Canada is continuing to take strong, immediate and effective action to support all Canadians who are impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is helping Canadian workers impacted by COVID-19 put food on the table and keep a roof over their head.

We are aware that not everyone is eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. The Government is continuing to explore ways for Canadians to get the support they need in these challenging and unprecedented times.

c. Will we eliminate 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, the Employment Insurance claim will be automatically processed through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit that has no waiting period.

d. Will parents receiving maternity/paternity benefit, or parents that are expecting a child, be able to obtain EI or CERB when laid off?

Workers who are receiving EI maternity or parental benefits may continue to receive those benefits as usual. They may apply for CERB benefits after receiving EI maternity or parental benefits as long as they meet the eligibility requirements for CERB.

Parents expecting a child can apply for EI maternity/parental benefits through the normal EI channel.

e. Are claimants who indicate they will be going on maternity/parental benefits later in their claim eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

The rules applying to EI maternity and parental benefit claims have not changed.

Workers who are going on maternity or parental leave soon may apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Claimants who have indicated to Service Canada that they intend to claim EI maternity and parental benefits in the coming weeks are currently processed under the traditional EI rules. This interim approach is intended to facilitate the future transition from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to EI maternity or parental benefits. A permanent approach is under development. Entitlements to EI maternity or parental benefits will not be reduced as a result of this transition.

f. Can employers keep their employees on payroll and top up their CERB without the employees being penalized?

In order to meet the CERB requirements, employees do not need to be laid off, the employer-employee relationship can be maintained. Employers may provide support to their employees provided that it does not exceed $1000 within the 4-week benefit period.

g. Will we extend EI Regular benefits for those who are currently on them and are soon going to run out? I.e. Seasonal Workers

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

h. Is there a way for employees to receive financial support 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, to help more Canadians benefit from the CERB, the government has changed the eligibility rules to allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB.

3. 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: include broadening eligibility requirements for businesses, easing recovery plan requirements, removing the requirement to provide detailed financial information and reducing the time required for processing and approving applications
  • These temporary changes are allowing more employers and workers across various sectors and industries to access the program when they need it most
  • 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 access to the program. For example, Government Business Enterprises (for example., Crown Corporations, other public corporations that run as profit-oriented entities that do not rely solely on public funds to operate) and essential staff who are typically not included

4. Emergency Benefits

a. What is the eligibility criteria for these new benefits?

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit is available to individuals 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 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
  • 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 individual cannot have earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for the entire 4 week benefit period of the new claim.

b. Will self-employed, contractors, gig economy workers, seasonal workers, etc. be eligible?

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

c. If someone who is Canadian earned income abroad, is he/she eligible? Are international student eligible? Can they earn the income outside of Canada or does it have to be income earned on Canadian soil?

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; and
  • 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, etc.).

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, etc.).

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

d. Is someone self-isolating and not in quarantine eligible for the emergency benefits?

Yes, the benefit is available to all workers who meet the eligibility criteria, including having not quit their job, but having no more than $1,000 employment income for at least 14 consecutive days within the initial four-week benefit payment period as a result of ceasing work for reasons related to COVID-19.

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

Individuals 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 income for at least 14 consecutive days within the initial four-week claim period. The is no waiting period for the benefit.

f. Does someone have to be laid off to access the new Benefit?

No.

They can remain attached to their company.

Individuals 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 income for at least 14 consecutive days within the initial 4 week claim period.

g. How much will people receive?

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides a flat $500 weekly amount for up to 16 weeks.

h. How will the new benefits be administered?

Applicants are able to receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for up to 16 weeks. The design of the measure has been kept as simple as possible to make the measure accessible and ensure that payments are issued quickly. The measure is being delivered through both Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency.

5. Service Canada

a. What are we doing to address wait times?

As of April 16, 2020, CRA and Service Canada have received 7.9M applications and 7.55M have been processed.

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

  1. We have redeployed significant number of staff from other functions to focus on processing
  2. We are focused on processing new claims and leaving adjustments aside
  3. We are deploying strategies to increase automation and increase self-service opportunities for clients
  4. And with the new flexibilities in the Act, we would take additional steps to radically speed up our processing capability by implementing streamlined design changes

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 service standard of 28 days.

b. 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 and adding new servers to improve processing capacity.

6. 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 Employment Insurance history reviewed to ensure that they have not recently laid off Canadians.

Further, the Program has strengthened its assessment criteria to ensure that a potential employer has a genuine need for the foreign worker, particularly if the work is not considered an essential service by the federal or provincial and territorial governments.

Given the current context, demand for workers has also decreased, and as a result, the Program has observed a corresponding decrease in applications.

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 travelers 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. Contravening these requirements could lead to fines or imprisonment, and under proposed regulations, foreign workers could be deemed inadmissible to Canada and face removal.

Employers have an important role to play in helping to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19. Like all Canadians, 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, also compel employers of temporary foreign workers to meet additional requirements, including:

  • paying 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 Quarantine Act and/or the Emergencies Act, as well as provincial/territorial public health laws related to COVID-19; and
  • additional requirements for employers who provide accommodations to workers

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 will 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.

Along with the Minister of Health, I outlined the Government’s expectations of employers in a letter dated April 1st. That letter was shared with all employers of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and is posted online.

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 which entered into force on April 20, 2020 will 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 would be initiated proactively, but also reactively, such as through tips, or reports of confirmed cases of COVID-19 at a worksite.

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 communicate additional information on requirements for inspections in the coming days.

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. Government quarantine facilities have been established, and using a risk-based approach, officers will determine whether workers should be quarantined in a Government facility, or at their final destination.

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.

In addition under new regulations employers are required to provide accommodations that enables workers to meet the requirements to quarantine, such as maintaining a two metre distance

And, we are offering compensation to employers in key sectors to defray some of the additional costs they may incur as a result.

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.

7. Canada Summer Jobs Program

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

When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, the implementation of CSJ was well underway. The program will continue to serve the same client group (youth aged 15-30) and the Department will work with employers which have already submitted applications in order to roll out CSJ 2020.

However, there may be some employers that may now have to withdraw while at the same time there may be other areas of the country where employers are able to hire and where CSJ could make a significant impact in addressing the economic challenges posed by COVID-19.

To encourage job creation through additional flexibilities are supports, CSJ 2020 will:

  • increase the wage subsidy from 50% to 100% of the provincial/territorial minimum wage for small businesses and public sector employer
  • allow for part-time work placements
  • allow for placements to extend longer—up until the end of February 2021
  • allow employers approved for funding to amend the activities to support the delivery of essential services

MPs have also been 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.

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

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

MPs have also been 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.

c. How is role of MPs changing for CSJ 2020 to respond to COVID-19?

CSJ is delivered through a constituency based funding model and MPs play an important role in CSJ.

Typically, MPs participate by promoting the program to potential employers in their constituency, identifying local priorities, providing input on project lists, and ensuring that local circumstances are reflected. MPs also notify employers when their project is approved for funding.

It is expected that even with the temporary flexibilities for CSJ 2020, there will be employers who will not be able to hire youth this year amid the current pandemic and the withdrawal rate of employers will be higher than previous years. w

In order to maximize opportunities for employers to hire youth, MPs are being asked to play a larger role than usual.

MP engagement has started earlier than previously planned (April 9) to help identify local organizations that provide essential services but may not have applied for CSJ funding.

This will allow the department to take advantage of MP’s real time understanding of the current situation in their area given how quickly things are changing.

These organizations will be solicited to submit applications to offer job placements.

In order to be approved for funding, organizations would need to meet the eligibility criteria for CSJ 2020 (i.e., quality job placements in safe, healthy and inclusive work environments).

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

The Government of Canada is investing $263 million in funding for the Canada Summer Jobs program in 2020 to support the creation of 70,000 youth jobs with an average duration of 8 weeks, 35 hours.

8. 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 in critical sectors.

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 critical sectors including, but not restricted to: agriculture and agri-food; biosciences and research; transport; environment; and, community service.

These critical service jobs will protect the health and safety of youth. Examples of jobs created include: telephone and online health and social support services, research and administrative roles, supporting roles for services to vulnerable populations, etc.

9. Student Work Placement Program

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

A one-year additional investment of $80M will be made, and temporary measures introduced, to increase access to the Student Work Placement Program for students and businesses impacted by COVID-19.

This includes:

  • $50M to create an additional 3,000 student placements in the health-care sector; and 2,000 placements in other front line sectors in 2020 to 21, like agriculture, food processing, transportation and retail.
  • $30M for temporary program flexibilities to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on student hiring, and increase the offer of student work-placements to post-secondary students. [Two words redacted]
    • [Paragraph redacted]
    • [Paragraph redacted]

These additional investments and program changes are expected to create up to 20,000 additional placements for post-secondary students in 2020 to 21.

10. 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 introduced a new Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), which will provide financial relief to students and recent graduates who are unable to find work because of COVID-19. The benefit provides $1,250 a month for up to four months, with an additional $500 per month for students with disabilities, as well as those with dependants.

The Government has also increased the value of Canada Student Grants and Loans and relaxed their eligibility criteria to support new and returning students for the 2020 to 2021 academic year. The value of Canada Student Grants will be doubled, the expected contributions from students and spouses will be exempted from the calculation of a student’s financial need, and the cap on Canada Student Loans will be increased from $210 to $350 per week of study.

These measures are in addition to the recent pause on repayment and interest for student loans for the period of March 30 to September 30.

b. Who is eligible to receive the CESB?

The CESB is available to students 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 recent high school graduates who are enrolled in PSE in the fall.

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

In order to receive the CESB, students will have to complete an application and be required to attest that they are not eligible for the CERB. Eligible students must reapply for the CESB every month.

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

The Government will increase the Canada Student Grants amount by doubling it to up to $6,000 as well as expand their eligibility. To ensure that students are not left with ‘unmet needs’, the Government will increase the cap on student loans, which has not changed since 2005.

Any increase in student debt is expected to be mitigated by the recent lowering of the interest rate on Canada Student Loans and enhancements to the Repayment Assistance Plan.

7. Student assistance

a) Support for post-secondary students facing the impacts of COVID-19

Issue

What is the Government of Canada doing to support post-secondary students facing financial challenges from COVID-19?

Key facts

  • All Canada Student Loan repayments have been paused and interest will not accrue for the period of March 30 to September 30. These measures will provide relief to nearly 1 million Canada Student Loan borrowers in repayment
  • On April 22nd, the Government announced the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, which will provide financial support from May to August to post-secondary students and recent graduates who cannot find summer employment due to COVID-19. Students with dependants or a disability will receive additional support. Approximately 1 million students and recent graduates are expected to benefit from this financial support
  • To support new and returning post-secondary students this fall, the Government also announced enhancements to Canada Student Loans and Grants that will be in effect for one year starting August 1, 2020. This includes:
    • Doubling Canada Student Grants for all eligible full-time students to up to $6,000 and up to $3,600 for part-time students. The Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with Dependents would also be doubled
    • Removing the expected student and spousal contribution, in recognition that many students and families will struggle to save for school this year
    • Raising the maximum weekly loan amount that can be provided to a student in 2020 to 21 from $210 to $350
  • Approximately 765,000 returning and prospective students are expected to benefit from these measures

Response

  • The Government of Canada is committed to providing financial relief to post-secondary students during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • To support student loan borrowers, the Government has temporarily paused the repayment of Canada Student Loans
  • Effective March 30, 2020, all student loan borrowers automatically had their repayments suspended until September 30, 2020. No payment is required and interest will not accrue during this time. Students do not need to apply for the repayment pause
  • On top of this, the Government recently announced the Canada Emergency Student Benefit which will provide financial support to students and recent graduates who cannot find summer employment due to COVID-19
  • Students who have dependants living with them or have a disability are entitled to additional financial support. Approximately 1 million students and recent graduates are expected to benefit from this financial support
  • The Government also recognizes that students and their families are facing financial challenges from COVID-19 that will affect their ability to earn income and save for their studies this fall
  • That is why the Government will be doubling Canada Student Grants for the academic year starting August 1, 2020 along with temporarily eliminating the student, spousal contributions, and raising the weekly loan limit so that students can get more funding. These measures will help over 765,000 students access and afford post-secondary education this fall
  • All together – the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, the new Canada Student Loans and Grants measures, and the loan repayment suspension – the Government of Canada is investing over $7 billion to provide financial support for students

Background

Students 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 (i.e., 16 to 29 year olds) would not be eligible for COVID-19 relief funds offered through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

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. Parents may also be facing financial challenges of their own, making it difficult for them to support their children’s education.

To provide immediate financial relief to students during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has announced the following series of measures.

Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)

On April 22nd, the Government announced the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) which will provide financial support to Canadian students enrolled in post-secondary programs that lead to a degree, diploma or certificate who depend on summer employment to help pay for their tuition and living costs. Recent post-secondary graduates are also entitled to the benefit as they may have difficulty finding a job after they graduate due to COVID-19 impacts on the workforce.

Beginning May 2020, eligible students and recent graduates can receive financial support they need for the period of May to August 2020. Students living with dependents or who have disabilities will receive additional support. These measures will provide relief to approximately 1 million students and recent graduates at a cost of $5.2 billion.

It is available to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, registered Indians and protected persons, including Canadians studying abroad. In order to receive CESB, a student must attest that:

  • for COVID-19 related reasons, they are unable to work, or are seeking work but are unable to find it; or
  • they are working but do not make more than $1,000 (before taxes) over the four-week period for which they are applying; and
  • they are not receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or Employment Insurance benefits for the same four-week period as their current application
Canada Student Loans and Grants

Canada Student Loan (CSL) borrowers in repayment may experience a loss of income due to the impact of COVID19, and should not have to worry about making their loan repayments during this stressful time.

For a period of six months, beginning March 30 2020, CSL borrowers in repayment are not required to make their monthly payments, and the Government will cover interests on these loans during this time.

At a cost of $186 million, these measures will provide relief to nearly 1 million CSL borrowers in repayment. All provinces and territories have aligned with this measure and are offering similar relief to the provincial/territorial portion of student loans.

To help students continue their studies in the fall, the government will be introducing a series of enhancements to Canada Student Loans and Grants. Pending Parliamentary approval, these measures would come into effect starting August 1, 2020 and be available to students for one year.

First, the Government will double the Canada Student Grants for all eligible full-time students to up to $6,000 and up to $3,600 for part-time students. The Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with Dependents would also be doubled.

Second, the Government will broaden eligibility for student financial assistance by removing the expected student’s and spouse’s contributions, in recognition that many students and families will struggle to save for school this year.

Third, the Government will enhance the Canada Student Loans Program by raising the maximum weekly amount that can be provided to a student in 2020 to 21 from $210 to $350.

Approximately 765,000 returning and prospective students are expected to benefit from these measures, for an estimated value of $1.9 billion.

Prepared by

Name: Milena Gulia

Title: Director, CSLP

Key contact

Name: Agata Frankowicz

Title: Director, Canada Emergency Student Benefit

Phone number: 613-618-4780

Name: Milena Gulia

Title: Director, Canada Student Loans Program

Phone number: 819-654-3670/613-897-0840

Approved by

Name: Atiq Rahman

Title: Director General, Canada Student Loans Program

Phone number: 613-898-5995

Date May 8, 2020

Date approved in ADMO: April 23, 2020

b) Support for students and COVID-19

Issue

What is the Government of Canada doing to support jobs and skills opportunities for students and youth during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Key facts

  • On April 22, the Prime Minister announced new investments to expand existing youth programming to create jobs and skills training opportunities for youth in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This includes:

  • $153,7M in the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy to create an additional 6,000 job placements
  • $80M for the Student Work Placement Program to increase the wage subsidy and create additional placements in critical sectors, such as health-care, for a total of up 20,000 job placements
  • $15M for the Supports for Student Learning Program to serve an additional 14,700 youth
  • Additional support for the Canada Service Corps, including a new Canada Student Service Grant
  • This is in addition to the temporary changes to Canada Summer Jobs 2020 announced on April 8 to support the hiring 70,000 students, including an increased wage subsidy, and flexibilities to target jobs in critical sectors

Response

  • The Government of Canada recognizes the profound effects of COVID-19 on students and youth and is committed to providing supports for jobs and skills opportunities for students during the pandemic
  • On April 22, the Prime Minister announced new investments and measures to expand existing youth programming as part of a comprehensive $9 billion package of supports for students and youth
  • This is in addition to the recent changes to Canada Summer Jobs 2020 announced on April 8, to ensure we can continue to support the creation of 70,000 jobs in 2020 to 21, including through increased wage subsidies, and expanded eligibility to target jobs in critical sectors
  • To complement this initiative, additional investments will be made in youth employment and training including $153,7M in the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy for the creation of up to 6,000 job placements in critical sectors; and
  • An additional $80M for post-secondary students to access work integrated learning opportunities in their fields of study through the creation of 20,000 student work placements, including in critical sectors such as health-care
  • In addition, The Government recognes the impacts on the learning needs of students, including those in secondary school who rely on after-school supports to help them stay on track with their learning. This is why we have announced $15 million to ensure that approximately 14,700 vulnerable children and youth can continue to access critical wraparound supports like mentoring and tutoring
  • The Government is also introducing initiatives for youth to serve their communities.
  • It is increasing the number of micro-grants from 1,800 to 15,000 and providing stipends to grant recipients; and
  • We also announced the introduction of the new Canada Student Service Grant which will provide up to $5,000 to support student’s post-secondary education costs in the fall
  • This is an opportunity for students and youth to mobilize and take part in national service activities that can provide valuable experiences, while giving back to their local communities

Background

CSJ 2020

Canada Summer Jobs provides funding for not-for-profit organizations, public-sector employers, and small businesses with 50 or fewer employees to create quality job placements for youth in safe, inclusive and healthy work environments.

The Canada Summer Jobs 2020 call for applications was open from January 30, 2020 to February 28, 2020. The Department received approximately 37,000 applications to support the creation of over 147,000 jobs representing approximately $897M in funding. Jobs could start as early as May 11, 2020.

The Budget for Canada Summer Jobs 2020 is $263M in order to create 70,000 jobs with an average duration of 8 weeks, 35 hours.

MPs can participate in the CSJ program by promoting it to potential employers, identifying local priorities, providing input on project lists and notifying selected employers.

MPs are invited to identify local organizations that provide critical services that had not applied for CSJ funding but could be solicited to submit an application to offer job placement and provide feedback on eligible projects received through the call for applications held in February 2020.

All funded employers will be provided with flexibility to amend project and job activities to support the delivery of critical services. This recognizes that many CSJ-funded positions occur in sectors and industries currently being impacted by COVID-19, and that the job activities initially proposed may no longer be possible.

Additional investments to expand youth and student programming

The Department is leveraging the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy and Student Work Placement Program to increase youth employment and skills development activities and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on the offer of work placements for students over the coming months, by focusing on addressing needs in critical sectors.

YESS

The Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) is a horizontal Government of Canada initiative led by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and delivered in collaboration with 10 federal departments and agencies.

Additional investments of $153,7M (for ESDC and other YESS federal partners) 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; and
  • providing additional training to increase job readiness and employability; and relevant supports, such as mentorship, access to computers, access to mental health supports

Additional YESS funding will support the creation of 6,000 jobs in critical sectors.

Student Work Placement Program

A one-year additional investment of $80M will be made, and temporary measures introduced, to increase access to the Student Work Placement Program for students and businesses impacted by COVID-19.

This includes:

  • $50M to create an additional 3,000 student placements in the health-care sector; and 2,000 placements in other critical sectors in 2020 to 21, like agriculture, food processing, transportation and retail

In addition, $30M will support program flexibilities to address the impacts of COVID-19 on student hiring. [One sentence redacted]

These measures are expected to support the creation of up 20,000 placements in this fiscal year.

Supports for Student Learning Program

Organizations that have established and trusted relationships with vulnerable children and youth will receive support to migrate their programming and supports online in order to ensure continuity to their critical supports. The measures are two-fold:

  • Support for the transition to, and implementation of, digitized services (for example., tutoring, mentoring); and
  • Support the connectivity of vulnerable children, youth, and their families, in partnership with other federal government and private sector partners
Canada Service Corp

The Canada Service Corp Microgrants fund small-scale, youth-led projects to address community needs or challenges. There are three micro-grant levels, designed to fund projects with different levels of ambition and complexity: $250, $750, $1,500.

Micro-grants pay for the costs of the service project that youth design, develop, and implement at the local level.

These projects cannot displace paid work. Youth aged 15 to 30 are eligible.

To encourage students to participate in the COVID-19 response, the government will launch a new national service initiative to recognize students' significant contributions to the COVID-19 efforts, and provide support through a new Canada Student Service Grant which will provide up to $5,000 to support student's post-secondary education costs in the fall.

More details will be made available on the I Want to Help platform over the coming weeks

Prepared by/ Key contact

Name: Sarah Plouffe

Student Work Placement Program

Skills and Employment Branch

Phone number: 819-635-4572

Myra Latendresse-Drapeau

Title: Director, Youth Employment and Skills Strategy

Name: Kelly Campbell

Title: A/Director, Learning Branch (SSLP)

Phone number: 873-353-4612

Approved by

Name: Catherine Demers

Director General Skills and Employment Branch

Phone number: 613-697-7917

Name: Ritu Banerjee

Director General, Canada Service Corp

Phone number:

Name: Patricia Wilson

Title: Director General, Program Operations Branch

Phone number:

Date

Date approved in ADMO / COO

c) Canada Summer Jobs 2020 and MP feedback

Issue

Flexibilities were introduced to Canada Summer Jobs 2020 to support employers and youth in the context of COVID -19. Members of Parliament have been asked to identify new organizations that provide essential services in their community that could offer quality safe jobs for youth, while also providing feedback on projects received via the call for applications.

Key facts

  • On April 8th, the Prime Minister announced temporary changes to the Canada Summer Jobs 2020
  • All funded employers will be eligible to receive a wage subsidy up to 100% of the provincial or territorial minimum wage; offer part-time placements; offer placements until February 28, 2021; and, amend jobs activities to support the delivery of essential services
  • Outreach has been undertaken and webinars were held on April 16 and 17 with Members of Parliament to support them in their role to provide feedback on eligible projects and to identify new organizations

Response

  • Temporary changes introduced for Canada Summer Jobs 2020 are aimed at helping employers hire the workers they need to continue to deliver essential services and provide youth access to quality, safe jobs
  • However, we know that even with these flexibilities, some employers may not be able to hire youth this year amid the current pandemic
  • We want to leverage Members of Parliament’s knowledge of the circumstances in their communities by asking them to identify additional local employers that provide essential services in their community to help address the COVID-19 situation even if they did not apply for Canada Summer Jobs funding
  • These changes will help youth stay connected to the labour market, save money for their future, and find quality jobs in safe, inclusive, and healthy work environments

Background

CSJ provides funding for not-for-profit organizations, public-sector employers, and small businesses with 50 or fewer employees to create quality job placements for youth in safe, inclusive and healthy work environments.

79,279 quality jobs for youth were created through Canada Summer Jobs 2019.

The Canada Summer Jobs 2020 call for applications was open from January 30, 2020 to February 28, 2020. The Department received approximately 37,000 applications to support the creation of over 147,000 jobs representing approximately $897M in funding. Jobs could start as early as May 15, 2020.

The budget for Canada Summer Jobs 2020 is $263M in order to create 70,000 jobs with an average duration of 8 weeks, 35 hours.

MPs can participate in the CSJ program by promoting it to potential employers, identifying local priorities, providing input on project lists and notifying selected employers.

MP feedback

On April 9th, MPs were invited to identify local organizations that provide critical services that had not applied for CSJ funding but could be solicited to submit an application to offer job placements and provide feedback on eligible projects received through the call for applications held in February 2020. The Department also introduced a new MP Feedback tool to streamline the process from previous years.

The Department held webinars on April 16 and 17 to support MP’s to provide feedback and identify new organizations.

During the webinars, MPs raised concerns that there is no additional funding for the new employers they were asked to identify. They noted that with the increase to the wage subsidy, the number of total jobs offered in their riding would be lower this year than last. They also expressed concerns that they were asked to provide feedback on the list of recommended employers before the Department confirms whether these employers will be able to create a job for a youth in a safe environment. MPs have also asked for clarifications on how funding would be allocated between additional projects identified and projects from the call for applications.

It is expected that even with the flexibilities, there will be employers who will not be able to hire youth this year amid the current pandemic and that the withdrawal rate this year will increase from previous years where withdrawals range from 12% to 16% of approved employers.

Since MPs were invited to provide feedback on April 9, 2020, an extension was provided and they now have until April 24 to provide feedback on the list of eligible employers and identify additional employers, should they wish to do so.

Following MP Feedback, the Department will contact all employers recommended for funding in late April and early May to discuss the flexibilities and confirm their participation with the intent to have jobs begin by Mid-May and support employers as early as initially planned. The Department will prioritize funding for the new employers based on the level of priority identified by MPs either as immediate, ahead of the projects received through the call for applications, or potential investment if funding from their constituency budget becomes available.

MP feedback tool

Service Canada has implemented a new tool to simplify the review process for MPs. Feedback will be accurately captured by clearly denoting projects from the call for applications to be funded, projects to be funded if resources become available and projects not to be funded even if funding becomes available in the constituency budget.

The constituency budget initially provided for 48 constituencies in the new feedback tool was incorrect due to an administrative error. The constituency budget should have reflected the same amount allocated in 2019. MPs have now received a revised feedback tool with correct amounts. The Department remains available to support MPs in using the new tool and answer any additional questions they may have about the process.

Key contact

Name: Jacinthe David

Title: Director

Phone number: 613-404-6948

Approved by

Name: Patricia Wilson

Title: Director General, LMSDPO

Phone number: 819-219-1255

Date

Date approved in ADMO / COO:

8. CERB and Service Delivery Update

Context

Please refer to the following article from the Toronto star

Questions

  • Some Canadians applied for CERB and did not receive their benefit. Can you explain?
  • How many cases are outstanding?
  • Which cases take longer to process?
    • What is the percentage
    • Why does it take longer?
  • Please provide an update on duplicate CERB payments
  • What are the measures in place to improve call centre accessibility and wait times?

Current Status of Payments and Processing Update

As of May 6, 2020, over 11.1M CERB applications have been received by Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency, and over 98% of these applications have been processed. Over $25B in CERB and EI benefits have been paid during this time period.

These applications are continuing to be processed as they are received with the objective of paying Canadians their benefits as quickly as possible.

New processing capacities, both for the online service as well as for reporting by telephone, have been added to the system in order to respond to these growing needs, and more capacity will be added in the coming weeks. Service Canada has also recently redeployed almost 3,000 additional staff from other less critical activities to focus on supporting the delivery of EI and the new CERB.

Since the implementation of the CERB, the program policy parameters have continued to evolve, requiring the systems to be adjusted on an ongoing basis, which may cause some delays in processing as the updates take place. For example, there was a limitation with the CERB system when expectant mothers disclosed they were pregnant, and women were being immediately put on EI benefits regardless if they should have been on the CERB. This was happening regardless of whether the expectant mother became eligible for EI before or after March 15th. As of May 8th, women who should have been receiving the CERB will have their claims converted retroactively to the CERB. They’ll see this change as early as their next payment.

Claimants who applied for the CERB through Service Canada and the Employment Insurance program, must complete bi-weekly reports to prove their eligibility and continue receiving benefits.

In order to complete these bi-weekly reports, claimants require an access code, which can be found on the EI benefit statement that is mailed to them shortly after they submit their EI application. Once they receive their access code, the bi-weekly reports can be completed online or by telephone.

There have been issues identified when clients are trying to complete their reports, then getting blocked and advised to contact the EI Call Centre to provide further information to proceed. As of April 9th, an automated solution was put into place to address the majority of issues for most claimants. However, for some claimants, depending on the information they submitted, they may still be required to contact Service Canada to speak to an agent to resolve their issue. Efforts to mobilize the EI processing network are underway to resolve these issues within the coming weeks.

To better help clients understand the process, the Department has initiated an active campaign to educate clients, by way of email, updated web content and social media, of their obligation to report on a bi-weekly basis to continue to confirm entitlement. Further, in regular circumstances, clients must complete their reports no later than three weeks after each due date of their next bi-weekly report; however, to allow clients more time to action these reports, this deadline has been temporarily extended to eight weeks. The Department continues to actively monitor the situation.

Duplicate CERB payments

The CERB is being jointly administered by Service Canada and the CRA to ensure that Canadians receive the money they are entitled to as quickly as possible.

As two organizations are administering the CERB independently, there may be situations where clients mistakenly applied for the benefit through both streams, which would result in a double payment. For example, millions of workers who applied for EI benefits were processed for the CERB and received a payment through Service Canada. If they were not aware that the payment was coming, they may have applied through CRA in error and thereby received a double payment – one from each organization.

Efforts have been made to mitigate against double payments including:

  • Before sending the initial payment, Service Canada does a data match with CRA. A stop payment can be made before issuance of payment
  • CRA has also implemented a validation check at the application stage. If the applicant has already been approved for benefits with EI/Service Canada, they will be redirected to continue through the EI stream. They will not be able to continue further with the CRA-CERB application

There have been 221,000 duplicate payments to clients.

Service Canada and CRA are working together to ensure that these situations are reconciled and payments to eligible clients do not exceed the maximum allowable benefit of $8,000 over a 16 week period.

For those clients that have received two payments of $2,000, they will be proactively contacted by letter with details on how to repay the amount owed. They do not need to contact the call centre.

Update on EI and CERB call centres and wait times

The EI Call Centre is experiencing an unprecedented volume of calls, impacting accessibility and increasing wait times. While the current average wait time for the EI Call Centre is approximately 2 hours, we are continuing to work on increasing the capacity of our call centres.

  • As a result of accelerated hiring at the end of the previous fiscal year (2019 to 20), the EI Call Centre will have increased the number of call centre agents by close to 20%y by the end of May, with further increases in the following months which will result in an approximate 50% increase overall call handling capacity by August. Additionally, we are planning to nearly triple capacity by the end of the 2020 to 21 fiscal year
  • At the end of April, we increased the platform capacity of the telephone reporting service for EI and this service now has nearly 100% accessibility, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which means that virtually all callers are now able to get through to this automated system
  • These measures have started to result in real improvement in EI Call Centres service, for example:
    • Starting in the week of March 15, more than 200,000 calls a day were blocked from accessing the automated system. Now, virtually all calls can access the automated service
    • Average wait times for clients, which were over 2 hours, have reduced by close to 25% in recent weeks. From March 12 to May 6, 2020, more than 9M calls were resolved in the IVR and over 560,000 calls have been answered by agents

To support the CERB, a new Virtual Call Centre was established on April 6th within Service Canada with close to 1,500 staff, who were deployed from other non-critical Service Canada operations.

  • A great number of 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
  • This virtual call centre, which supports clients who are applying or have already applied through EI for CERB, has shortened wait times of under two minutes and is 100% accessible
  • This call centre answered 490,000 calls within a month of opening, from April 6th to May 6th

Service Canada continues to work on improvements to the EI Call Centre Network in order to ensure those wanting to speak to an agent are able to do so in a timely manner.

The key message for clients is to call the number that is most appropriate to respond to their needs, and if in doubt, they should start with the CERB automated telephone service at 1-833-966-2099.

If they have already applied to CERB through the employment insurance and want to ask additional questions, they can reach a Canada Emergency Response Benefit agent at 1-833-699-0299.

For information on EI Maternity, Parental, Fishing, Family Caregiving and Compassionate care benefits, as well as all other claims established prior to March 15th, or if they have completed your bi-weekly reporting and need to speak to an agent, they can contact the EI call centre at 1-800-206-7218.

9. Vulnerable populations and COVID-19

Issue

What is the Government of Canada doing to address COVID-19’s impact on vulnerable Canadians?

Key facts

  • COVID-19 is having a disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations less prepared to deal with the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic. Risks of stress, hardship and abuse rise as isolation increases and gaps emerge in the social supports on which these Canadians rely. In-person and often in-home contact as well as group activities play a key role in supporting vulnerable populations
  • As part of Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, the Government announced, on April 21st, $350 million for an Emergency Community Support Fund to help community organizations adapt frontline services for vulnerable Canadians during the pandemic
  • Demands on community support programs are growing rapidly at a time when the number of volunteers is falling. Significant challenges are emerging as front-line staff work to adapt and deliver essential services while minimizing social contact
  • The Emergency Community Support Fund will help to ensure safe, uninterrupted service to vulnerable Canadians such as seniors, children and youth at risk, people with disabilities, women and members of the LGBTQ2 community during COVID-19

Response

  • One of the most important roles of our Government during this pandemic is to support vulnerable Canadians, including seniors, children and youth at risk, people with disabilities, women and members of the LGBTQ2 community
  • The need to reduce social contact to limit the spread of COVID-19 has opened gaps in programs for vulnerable people. It has led to:
    • New challenges in connecting vulnerable persons with the supplies or services they need (for example. too few volunteers to deliver meals or take seniors to medical appointments)
    • Elimination of in-person, one-on-one support for vulnerable persons (for example. cancellation of friendly visits to elderly people or in-home supports for persons with disabilities); and
    • Cancellation of group programs (for example. cancellation of day programs for seniors)
  • The Government will work alongside a small number of national intermediaries, such as the United Way Centraide Canada, the Canadian Red Cross and Community Foundations of Canada. These intermediaries will channel funds through their regional and local partners to local community organizations who support a wide range of vulnerable populations
  • The Government anticipates that community organizations receiving funding will, for example:
    • Increase volunteer-based home deliveries or transportation services (for example. delivery of medications or accompanying/ driving seniors or persons with disabilities to appointments)
    • Scale up help lines that provide information and support (for example. increasing access to the 211 service of the United Way)
    • Provide training, supplies and other supports required so that volunteers can continue to make their invaluable contribution to the COVID-19 response
    • Replace in-person one-on-one contact and social gatherings with virtual contact through means like phone calls, texts, teleconferences or the internet
  • The intermediary model will focus investments on community-identified immediate needs through local organizations with an intimate knowledge of local priorities. It also provides the flexibility to offer additional support and address the different needs of communities as the pandemic evolves
  • The Emergency Community Support Fund complements other recently announced measures to support charitable and non-profit organizations in addressing COVID-19-related issues for vulnerable Canadians.

Background

Community organizations are on the frontlines, serving critical community needs both in times of stability and crisis. Many vulnerable Canadians, such as seniors, children and youth at risk, people with disabilities, women, racialized communities such as Black Canadians and members of the LGBTQ2 community rely on these organizations, and that reliance often rises in times of hardship. They provide meals to isolated seniors, services to children and youth at risk, shelter for the homeless, support for those fleeing domestic abuse, addiction counselling, settlement services for recent immigrants, and countless other contributions.

Over the last number of weeks, the Government has heard from stakeholders serving vulnerable populations, such as Children First Canada, Down Syndrome Resource Center Canada, United Way Centraide Canada and the Canadian Red Cross.

These stakeholders raised concerns and offered suggestions on how the Government could best provide support in this challenging time. Stakeholders provided up-to-date information on COVID-19 realities, such as the challenges of pivoting services to keep clients safe while at the same time meeting rising demand.

To-date, the Government of Canada has announced a number of initiatives that support charitable and non-profit organizations in addressing COVID-19-related issues. Examples include: $100M for Food Banks and Local Food Organizations, $9M to United Way Canada through the New Horizons for Seniors Program to support isolated seniors in all regions across Canada, $157.5M in additional funding to the Reaching Home-funded communities to support people experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak, and $50 million to women’s shelters and sexual assault centres to help with their capacity to manage or prevent an outbreak in their facilities.

The $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund will complement these investments and support community organizations serving vulnerable populations to adapt and reorient their services in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Emergency Community Support Fund will be delivered through the Social Development Partnerships Program (SDPP) of ESDC. SDPP is a flexible and responsive program focused on supporting children and families, including seniors, persons with disabilities and Black Canadians. ESDC has pioneered innovations in federal funding to charities and non-profits, and has found the intermediary model to be an efficient mechanism that can rapidly distribute funds in a manner that is responsive to community needs.

To support a wide range of community organizations serving vulnerable populations, the Emergency Community Support Fund will rely on three main intermediaries, the United Way Centraide Canada, the Canadian Red Cross and the Community Foundations of Canada.

Those three intermediaries will:

  • flow funding quickly to local organizations that need it the most
  • conduct fair and transparent assessment processes
  • minimize duplication through national and local coordination, and
  • be accountable for the use of the funds and its results

In addition, ESDC will work with the Canadian Red Cross to train and equip the volunteers of community organizations to safely provide services; and the United Way to explore the enhancement of the social services helpline 211.

Prepared by

Name: Jessica Slade

Title: Policy Analyst

Key contact

Name: Susan MacPhee

Title: Director, Social Programs Division

Phone number: 613-567-3607

Approved by

Name: Monika Bertrand

Title: Director General, Social Innovation and Community Development Directorate

Phone number: 613-315-4598

Date: April 18, 2020

Date approved in SADMO / COO:

10. Support for charities during the COVID-19 pandemic

Issue

Charities in Canada are requesting supports to withstand the pandemic’s economic disruptions and to pivot their services to support vulnerable groups through COVID-19.

Key facts

  • Charities and non-profits employ 2.4 million people across approximately 170,000 organizations (86,000 charities and around 90,000 non-profits). They added $169 billion to gross domestic product in 2017 (8.5% of GDP). Community charities and non-profits (those outside the health, education and business sectors) employ 611,000 people
  • Charities and non-profits range from very large to extremely small organizations. They work at the local, regional, provincial/territorial and national levels and are active in almost every area of social, economic, environmental and community life. They provide meals to isolated seniors, services to children and youth at risk and people with disabilities, shelter for the homeless, support for those fleeing domestic abuse, addiction counselling, settlement services for recent immigrants, assistance to urban Indigenous people and other countless contributions
  • COVID-19 will have a significant negative economic impact on the charitable and non-profit sector. Income has already fallen as charities and non-profits have realized steep drops in sales of goods and services (28% of income to community charities and non-profits in 2017) and donations (18% of income in 2017)
  • Imagine Canada, an umbrella group for the charity and non-profit sector, modelled the pandemic’s economic impact on charities (excluding hospitals, universities and colleges). Because of the pandemic, it is estimated that registered charities could see financial losses of between $9.5 billion and $15.7 billion, and layoffs of between 118,000 and 194,000 of 2.4 million total employees

Response

  • The Government of Canada sees charities and non-profits as vital partners in the fight to overcome the health, social and economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is why we are working with partners to increase the support to ensure organizations on the front lines of COVID-19 can continue to serve those Canadians who need it most
  • Most recently on April 21, 2020, the Government announced an investment of $350 million to support vulnerable Canadians through charities and non-profit organizations that deliver essential services to those in need.
  • This announcement builds on the work that has been done for vulnerable Canadians, including increased support for those experiencing homelessness, help for women and children fleeing violence, counselling services for children and youth, and support for seniors
  • Charities and non-profits can also apply for economic supports offered as part of wider COVID-19 response measures including the Canada Emergency Business Account, Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the Temporary 10% Wage Subsidy and the Work Sharing Program if they meet the eligibility requirements
  • Workers and volunteers in the charitable and non-profit sector who meet the requirements are also eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit

Background

Over the last number of weeks, the Government of Canada has heard from a large number of stakeholders who have requested support to address impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

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The Department has also been hearing from organizations about immediate challenges facing charities and non-profits and actions required to address these needs. This includes Children First Canada, Vanier Institute of the Family, Canadian Camping Association and Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada. Imagine Canada, an organization representing the charitable sector, has also written to the Government of Canada to request support on behalf of the sector.

[Paragraph redacted]

The Government of Canada is taking measures to help support charities to ensure that vulnerable Canadians can get the supports they need during the COVID-19 crisis. The Government has made investments to support charities and non-profits including:

  • $9 million through United Way Centraide Canada for local organizations to support practical services to Canadian seniors including the delivery of groceries, medications, or other needed items, or personal outreach to assess individuals' needs and connect them to community supports
  • up to $50 million to women's shelters and sexual assault centres, including facilities in Indigenous communities, to help with their capacity to manage and prevent an outbreak
  • $7.5 million in funding to Kids Help Phone, a registered charity, to provide young people with the mental health support they need during this difficult time
  • $100 million for organizations across the country including Food Banks Canada, Salvation Army, Second Harvest, Community Food Centres of Canada, Breakfast Club of Canada, and local-level organizations who serve people experiencing food insecurity; and
  • $350 million to the Canadian Red Cross, Community Foundations of Canada and the United Way Centraide Canada to provide funding to ensure business continuity for charities and non-profits who have already started trying to adapt their frontline services to address the social inclusion, well-being and safety needs of vulnerable Canadians during COVID-19

If they meet the eligibility requirements, charities and non-profits can also apply for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the Temporary 10% Wage Subsidy, and the Work Sharing Program. Workers and volunteers in the charitable and non-profit sector who meet the requirements are also eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Charities and non-profit corporations that are eligible for the Canada Emergency Business Account can apply for interest-free loans of up to $40,000, a portion of which can be forgiven if the loan is repaid on or before December 31, 2022. Some charities and non-profits (large organizations who, in normal times, can count on a predictable income) might be able to manage the burden of a loan; many (small organizations of unpredictable income) might not.

Citations / Key quotes

“While COVID-19 is affecting all Canadians, some people are more at risk to the impacts of the pandemic. Recent announcements will further help our most vulnerable Canadians and ensure organizations have what they need to help. Canadians need to look out for one another in these difficult times. We will get through this together.”

—The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

“The Government of Canada strives to support the most vulnerable in our communities. This pandemic means that some of our fellow Canadians need help now, more than ever. That is why we are working with partners to increase the support to ensure organizations on the front lines of COVID-19 can continue to serve those Canadians who need it most.”

—The Hon. Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

Prepared by

Name: Jessica Slade

Title: Policy Analyst

Key contact

Name: Susan MacPhee

Title: Director, Social Programs Division

Phone number: 613-567-3607

Approved by

Name: Monika Bertrand

Title: Director General, Social Innovation and Community Development Directorate

Phone number: 613-315-4598

Date: April 21, 2020

Date approved in SADMO / COO:

11. People with disabilities and COVID-19

Official title: Federal COVID-19 measures and their implications for persons with disabilities v. 2020/05/06

1. Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

Description

A taxable flat-rate benefit for four months, from April 2020 to July 2020.

Amount (to individuals)

$2,000/month.

Eligible individuals/Actors

Those eligible are:

Worker has earned $5000 in previous year has stopped working for reasons related to COVID-19 but did not quit their job, not receiving EI, not receiving employment income.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will be accessible through a secure web portal starting in early April. Applicants will also be able to apply via an automated telephone line or via a toll-free number.

Implications for PWDs

Workers with disabilities more likely to have precarious employment, they would be more likely to be laid off and less likely to have EI coverage.

Workers who are caregivers of children and adults with disabilities provided they meet the earnings threshold and are not receiving EI benefits would be more likely than other workers to receive the CERB. The loss of support services due to the pandemic would make it necessary for many of these caregivers to stay at home.

2. Expanded access to CERB and support for essential workers (April 15, 2020)

Description

Changing the eligibility rules to:

  • Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting CERB
  • Extend CERB to seasonal workers who exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their usual seasonal work due to COVID-19
  • Extend CERB to workers who recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19

Amount (to individuals)

Can now earn up to $1, 000 per month while collecting CERB.

Eligible individuals/Actors

Eligibility criteria made more flexible:

  • Workers and seasonal workers who recently exhausted their regular EI benefits and cannot find employment due to COVID-19 are entitled
  • Workers earning up to $1,000 a month can still collect CERB

Implications for PWDs

As a result of the above, the exemption for $1,000 in earnings per month and continued aid for those who exhausted EI will help many PWDs.

3. GST special payment

Description

One-time special payment to individuals eligible for the Goods and Services Tax credit (based on 2018 filing data). To be available for early May.

Amount (to individuals)

Approx. $400 for single individuals, $600 for couples.

Eligible individuals/Actors

Available to those currently receiving the GST credit, no application required.

GST credit is available to any low and middle income Canadian resident age 19 and over (credit phases out at $49,649 in net family income for individuals with no children).

Implications for PWDs

Rate of low- and modest-income is higher among Canadians with disabilities than among their peers without disabilities. As a result, persons with disabilities and, in particular those with severe disabilities, are likely to disproportionately benefit from this measure. Finance estimates about 85 percent of single DTC Eligible individuals will qualify for this payment as well as about 50 percent of DTC Eligible individuals who are coupled.

4. Improved access to Employment Insurance sickness benefits

Description

The one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits is waived for new claimants who are sick, quarantined or directed to self-isolate. Medical certificates are not required for these claims.

Claimants struggling to apply due to quarantine can also apply later and have their claim backdated to cover the period of delay. Claimants can also apply online or call to access services.

Amount (to individuals)

N/A

Eligible individuals/Actors

Available to EI Eligible individuals.

Implications for PWDs

Rate of low- and modest-income higher among PWDs, so immediate access to income support will be of significant help to PWDs. Persons with disabilities are more likely to need to self-isolate due to pre-existing conditions.

On the other hand, persons with disabilities are somewhat less likely than their peers without disabilities to be EI eligible (due to more tenuous labour market attachment).

Alternative means of access to EI services provides more options for PWDs who require accommodations for transportation/delivery. Waiving medical certificate requirement also supports PWDs who would require accommodation for accessing medical support and preparing documentation during quarantine.

5. Increasing the Canada Child Benefit (CCB)

Description

This will provide an extra amount per child through the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for 2019 to 20. This benefit will be delivered as part of the scheduled CCB payment in May.

Amount (to individuals)

$300/child

Eligible individuals/Actors

The CCB is paid to parents or others primarily responsible for the care of a child under 18. It is an income-tested benefit based on family net income. Because it is phased out gradually most Canadian parents/guardians receive at least some CCB.

Families currently receiving the CCB will receive the additional $300 amount. No additional application is required.

Implications for PWDs

This measure will assist parents/guardians of children with disabilities and parents/guardians who have disabilities themselves in the same way as others, but there is no special provision for their additional expenses. There is no increase to the Child Disability Benefit.

6. Canada Emergency Student Benefit

Description

Provide support to students and new graduates who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Available from May to August 2020.

  • Note: On April 29, 2020, Parliament passed Bill C-15 to establish CERB, which includes an additional $250 for students with disabilities and students with dependents, bringing the total to $2,000

Amount (to individuals)

$1,250 per month for eligible students.

$2,000 per month for eligible students with dependents or disabilities.

Eligible individuals/Actors

Students and new graduates who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Implications for PWDs

Research by the National Educational Association of Disabled Students shows that students with disabilities are less likely to find employment throughout their studies, including summer employment and part-time work during the school year. This additional income is even more vital during COVID-19, where there are less employment opportunities and access to campus services, which can include accommodative housing, assistive technology, and course material in alternative formats at a reasonable prices

7. Double Canada Student Grants for eligible students

Description

Double Canada Student Grants for all eligible full-time and part-time students in 2020 to 21.

The Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with dependents would also be doubled.

Amount (to individuals)

Up to $6,000 for full-time students in 2020 to 21.

Up to $3,600 for part-time students in 2020 to 21.

Up to $4,000 (currently $2,000) for Students with Permanent Disabilities

Up to $400 per month (currently $200) for Students with Dependents.

Eligible individuals/Actors

Full- and part-time students eligible for the Canada Students Grants in 2020 to 21 academic year.

PWDs who are eligible for Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities.

Caregivers of PWDS who are eligible for Canada Student Grants for Students with Dependents.

Implications for PWDs

Coupled with the Canada Emergency Student Benefit and other eligible grants and loans, students with disabilities are receiving a lot of targeted financial support to help them in their post-secondary studies during COVID-19.

On average, students with disabilities are less likely to find employment opportunities throughout their PSE career. COVID-19 presents additional costs for this demographic, as there are now less employment opportunities and access to campus accommodative services.

8. $350M for Emergency Community Support Fund

Description

$350 million to support vulnerable Canadians through charities and non-profit organizations that deliver essential services to those in need.

Replacing in-person, one-on-one contact and social gatherings with virtual contact through phone calls, texts, teleconferences, or the Internet.

Amount (to individuals)

N/A

Eligible individuals/Actors

Funding is earmarked for the following:

  • increasing volunteer-based home deliveries (e.g. delivery of groceries or medications)
  • increasing volunteer-based transportation services (e.g. accompanying or driving seniors or persons with disabilities to appointments)
  • scaling up help lines that provide information and support
  • providing training, supplies and other required supports so volunteers can continue to make their invaluable contributions to the COVID-19 response; and
  • replacing in-person, one-on-one contact and social gatherings with virtual contact through means such as phone calls, texts, teleconferences or the Internet (e.g. seniors centres without walls)

Implications for PWDs

Persons with disabilities are identified as a target beneficiary.

Persons with disabilities are expected to disproportionately benefit from all eligible activities that receive funding, as they largely involve reducing barriers for people who otherwise cannot access essential supplies and services.

In addition, this funding responds directly to needs identified by the disability community to develop training for volunteers and to develop virtual contact measures to replace in person services.

9. Government of Canada connects Canadians with mental wellness supports during COVID-19

Description

A portal dedicated to mental wellness on Canada.ca/coronavirus. The service will connect Canadians to peer support workers, social workers, psychologists and other professionals for confidential chat sessions or phone calls, and will make it easier to find credible information and help address mental health and substance use issues.

Investment of $25 million, announced April 15, 2020

Amount (to individuals)

N/A

Eligible individuals/Actors

Free, accessible support for anyone reaching out via phone, text, mobile app or online website.

Implications for PWDs

PWDs at all stages in life have less access to credible services and resources as a result of COVID-19. Loss of access to peer networks and the need for physical distancing also exacerbates symptoms for people with stress disorders, depression, and many other conditions.

This service is also particularly helpful for young people with disabilities, as mental-health related disabilities are the most prevalent type of disability among young Canadians.

10. Support for virtual care and mental health tools

Description

$240.5 million to develop, expand, and launch virtual care and mental health tools to support Canadians.

Funding will also support the previously announced Wellness Together Canada online portal.

Amount (to individuals)

N/A

Eligible individuals/Actors

  • Funding to help Canadians engage with healthcare providers and health services via phone, text, or video-conferencing
  • Support access to mental health supports/reliable info in safe manner
  • Support F-P/T initiatives to expand virtual services

Implications for PWDs

This funding will help PWDs regain access to credible, timely, and helpful services for mental health and well-being.

11. Enhancing the Reaching Home initiative

Description

Continue to support people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak by providing $157.5M in funding 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.

Amount (to individuals)

N/A

Eligible individuals/Actors

Reaching Home: Canada's Homelessness Strategy is a community-based program aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness across Canada. This program provides funding to urban, Indigenous, rural and remote communities to help them address their local homelessness needs

Implications for PWDs

Persons with disabilities and chronic health conditions, especially mental health-related, are generally reported to be over-represented in the homeless population, although limited data is available. Some research suggests that persons with disabilities are more at risk of hidden homelessness which could be a particular at risk group during this crisis. Not clear if any specific funding is being targeted to the needs of the homeless population with disabilities.

12. Funding for Kids Help Phone

Description

$7.5 million in funding to support counsellors and trained volunteers working at Kids Help Phone—an e-mental health service phone line that offers counseling to children in need in both official languages.

Amount (to individuals)

N/A

Eligible individuals/Actors

Free, accessible support to any young person reaching out via phone, text, mobile app or online website.

Implications for PWDs

Mental-health related disabilities are the most prevalent type of disability among young Canadians. This funding could also increase professional services tailored to particular disabilities and mental health conditions.

13. Funding for food banks and local food organizations

Description

The Local Food Infrastructure Fund is investing $100 million to organizations that support people and communities experiencing food insecurity:

  • $50 million to Food Banks Canada
  • $20 million divided evenly between Salvation Army, Second Harvest, Community Food Centres Canada, and Breakfast Club of Canada
  • $30 million for local-level organizations who serve people experiencing food insecurity

Amount (to individuals)

N/A

Eligible individuals/Actors

Eligible activities for this funding include the purchase of food, support for the transportation and distribution of food, hiring temporary help to fill volunteer shortages, and activities to implement biosecurity measures, such as the purchase of personal protective equipment, to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among volunteers and clients.

Implications for PWDs

Food Banks Canada estimates that about 1 in 5 of those accessing food banks are on provincial disability supports.

Access to food banks and local food organizations is more difficult during COVID due to (1) increased demand and (2) self-isolation measures. Part of the funding is to find innovative ways to overcome these access barriers, and PWDs are disproportionately affected by these barriers.

14. Surplus Food Purchase Program

Description

$50 million fund designed to help redistribute existing and unsold inventories to vulnerable Canadians.

Amount (to individuals)

N/A

Eligible individuals/Actors

Existing and unsold inventories of food product, including potatoes and poultry, to local food organizations who are serving vulnerable Canadians.

Implications for PWDs

This initial investment will complement the $100 million funding for local food organizations, which was intended to help food banks find innovative ways to overcome barriers presented by self-isolation. PWDs are disproportionately impacted by the loss of access to local support networks.

The redistribution of unused food stock to vulnerable groups will disproportionately benefit PWDs. As mentioned, Food Banks Canada estimates that about 1 in 5 of those accessing food banks are on provincial disability supports. Correspondence from PWDs suggests that access to and inability to afford groceries is a very common barrier during COVID-19.

15. Indigenous Community Support Fund

Description

$305 million for a new, distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. This funding will also provide support to regional, urban and off-reserve Indigenous organizations.

Amount (to individuals)

N/A

Eligible individuals/Actors

The Indigenous Community Support Fund will be distributed as follows:

  • $215 million for First Nations
  • $45 million for Inuit
  • $30 million for Métis Nations
  • $15 million for regional and urban Indigenous organizations

Implications for PWDs

About a third of the Indigenous population in Canada identifies as having a disability. The extent to which Indigenous persons with disabilities will benefit will depend upon specific initiatives and projects and how individual communities choose to allocate resources.

16. Health and social support for northern communities

Description

$305 million for a new, distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. This funding will also provide support to regional, urban and off-reserve Indigenous organizations.

$72.6 million to Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut to support their COVID-19 health and social services.

Up to $17.3 million to support northern air carriers.

$15 million in non-repayable support for businesses in the territories to help address the impacts of COVID-19.

$25 million to Nutrition North Canada to increase subsidies so families can afford much-needed nutritious food and personal hygiene products.

Amount (to individuals)

N/A

Eligible individuals/Actors

$72.6 million to help territories address critical priorities to minimize outbreak.

$17.3 million for aircraft carriers to ensure supply of food, medical supplies, and other essential goods and services to remote communities.

$15 million in non-repayable support to help businesses with costs not covered by other Federal measures.

Funding for Nutrition North Canada will subsidize a list of foods and essential items, such as cleaning and personal hygiene products

Implications for PWDs

21.2% of the population of the territories identify as having a disability with a slightly higher prevalence among women. As such persons with disabilities are likely to disproportionately benefit from these measures. Persons with disabilities living in isolated, northern communities face additional barriers and risks to accessing essential services, including food, hygiene products, medication, etc.

This funding is intended to aid many Indigenous communities in northern communities. About a third of the Indigenous population in Canada identifies as having a disability.

17. Funding for community services to Canadian seniors

Description

$9 million in funding to United Way Canada for local organizations to support services to Canadian seniors (delivery of groceries, medications, and other needed items and personal outreach to assess individual needs).

Amount (to individuals)

N/A

Eligible individuals/Actors

Senior citizens and local community organizations for senior citizens that are supported by United Way.

Implications for PWDs

37.8 percent of Canadians 65 and older identify as having a disability. Among those over 75 years of age this rises to 47.4 percent. Seniors disproportionately experience more barriers due to disabilities, and they are more likely to lose access to vital support services due to self-isolation and quarantine. This funding should help ensure that support services continue.

18. Support for women’s shelters and sexual assault centres

Description

Supporting women and children fleeing violence, by providing $40M in funding to Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE), $30M of which will address immediate needs of shelters and sexual assault centres.

Up to $26M to Women’s Shelters Canada for roughly 575 violence against women shelters across the country.

Up to $4M to the Canadian Women’s Foundation for sexual assault centres across the country.

10M to Indigenous Services Canada’s shelters on reserves and in Yukon.

Amount (to individuals)

N/A

Eligible individuals/Actors

Women’s shelters and sexual assault centres

Implications for PWDs

Women with disabilities are much more likely than other women to be victims of abuse and violence. According to a DAWN study on violence against women 60% of women with disabilities are likely to experience some form of violence in Canada. Women with disabilities are also more prone to be victims of abuse by caregivers which could escalate during the crisis. Research suggests that women with disabilities are less likely to get the support they need at women’s shelters for accessibility reasons. The funding announced does not provide any conditions for accessibility of services

19. Moratorium on student loan repayments

Description

Six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans. No payment will be required and interest will not accrue during this time.

Amount (to individuals)

N/A

Eligible individuals/Actors

Available to all student loan borrowers. No application required.

Implications for PWDs

Would be of benefit to those persons with disabilities currently participating in PSE and those who entered the labour market.

Persons with disabilities are less likely than their peers without disabilities to be participating in post-secondary education. Those that are participating in PSE, however, are more likely to have lower household incomes and to rely on financial aid (including student loans). Those with severe and permanent disabilities who are the least likely to be able to work would already have access to loan forgiveness through other mechanisms in the student loan program (e.g., Severe and Permanent Disability Benefit).

20. Wage subsidies

Description

Wage subsidies of up to 75 per cent for qualifying employers, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020.

Amount (to individuals)

Up to $847/week

(75 per cent of a salary on the first $58,700)

Eligible individuals/Actors

Available to any employer (private or non-profit) who experiences a decrease in revenues of at least 30 per cent. Size of employer does not matter.

No employee-specific eligibility requirements

Implications for PWDs

Persons with disabilities are more likely to work in some of the more heavily affected sectors (Accommodations and Food Services; Retail Trade; and, Not-For-Profit)

21. Support to protect Canadian jobs

Description

Over $1.7 billion for targeted measures, including:

  • $675 million for small and medium-sized businesses that cannot access existing COVID-19 support measures
  • $287 million for rural businesses and communities, including access to capital
  • $500 million to set up COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations to help organizations support artists and athletes

Amount (to individuals)

N/A

Eligible individuals/Actors

Funding for businesses that face unique barriers.

This includes small and medium-sized business that cannot access existing COVID-19 support measures and rural businesses/ communities that need access to capital during the outbreak.

Funding for Cultural, Heritage, and Sport Organizations will help artists and athletes

Implications for PWDs

PWDs are more likely to work in some of the more heavily affected sectors (Accommodations and Food Services; Retail Trade; and, Not-For-Profit). They also face additional barriers while living in remote communities that rely heavily on fewer businesses and organizations.

A large amount of cultural, heritage, and sport organizations assist artists and athletes who face unique barriers, like discrimination: https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/funding.html

22. Changes to Canada Summer Jobs program to help businesses and young Canadians affected by COVID-19

Description

Increase to wage subsidy: private and public sector employers receive up to 100% of the provincial/territorial minimum wage for each employee.

Extension to end date for employment to February 28, 2021.

Allow employers to adapt projects and job activities to support essential services.

Allow employers to hire staff on part-time basis.

Help create up to 70,000 jobs for youth aged between 15 and 30.

Amount (to individuals)

N/A

Eligible individuals/Actors

Competitive process. Eligible employers (private, public, and non-profit) who submit application for wage subsidies are assessed based on 3 criteria:

  • provide quality work experiences for youth
  • provide youth with opportunity to develop and improve their skills
  • respond to national/local priorities to improve access to labour market for youth facing unique barriers

Implications for PWDs

Expanding this program encourages more employers to hire and assist PWDs.

Employers who accommodate employees with disabilities are eligible for additional funding and flexible work schedules options.

Under assessment criteria, points are awarded to employers who provide services to PWDs or intend to hire youth with disabilities.

23. Extending the Work-Sharing Program

Description

Extend the maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program from 38 weeks to 76 weeks. The Work-Sharing program is offered to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers. Their lost earnings are then offset by Employment Insurance payments.

Amount (to individuals)

Varies.

Eligible individuals/Actors

Available to EI-eligible, core employees (year round permanent full-time or part-time employees who are required to carry out the everyday functions of normal business activity).

Implications for PWDs

Would benefit those persons with disabilities currently working for an employer who must scale-back operations. It ensures that they retain their employment and all corresponding benefits (including any health benefits).

Canadians with disabilities may be somewhat less likely than those without disabilities to qualify for this measure given that they are somewhat less likely to qualify for EI and to qualify as ‘core employees’ (due to more part-time or temporary work).

24. Public health guidance

Description

The Public Health Agency has released guidance on a range of public health issues related to coronavirus including:

Infection Prevention and Control for COVID-19: Interim Guidance for Home Care Settings provides guidance to home care providers (formal and informal) with the aim of preventing the transmission of COVID-19 in home care settings; and

COVID-19 and people with disabilities in Canada which provides an overview of how persons with disabilities are at risk for COVID 19 and how to protect them in various health care and community settings

Amount (to individuals)

N/A

Eligible individuals/Actors

N/A

Implications for PWDs

Some people with disabilities are at higher risk of infection or severe illness from COVID-19 because of their age, underlying medical conditions or the nature of their disability which may put them more at risk of being exposed or acquiring the infection.

Guidelines specific to persons with disabilities and the settings in which they live help to raise awareness of the specific care needs of persons with disabilities during the pandemic and reduce the risk of exposure and infection.

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