Backgrounder: Wage Earner Protection Program (WEPP)
The WEPP provides financial support to Canadian workers, under federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions, who are owed money when their employer files for bankruptcy or becomes subject to a receivership. The WEPP provides timely payment of eligible wages, up to an amount equalling four weeks maximum insurable earnings under the Employment Insurance Act ($3,977 for 2018). The Government is now moving forward on its Budget 2018 commitment by increasing the maximum payment from four weeks to seven weeks of insurable earnings, which will total $6,960 in 2018; this will amount to an increase of close to $3,000. The increase to the maximum payment came into force on Royal Assent (December 13,2018), and applies retroactively to bankruptcies or receiverships that occurred on or after Feb. 27, 2018, the day the budget was tabled.
Currently, approximately 46% of recipients are still owed money after receiving WEPP payments. Under thise increase, it is expected that this will drop to 32%, and will increase the number of applicants that are fully compensated for eligible wages by approximately 1,600 per year on average.
Trustees and receivers in bankruptcy are obligated to inform workers of the WEPP program, and provide workers information about amounts owing to them. From the date of bankruptcy or receivership, trustees and receivers have 45 days to submit Trustee Information Forms indicating the amounts owing to workers and workers have 56 days to submit their application to the WEPP. The current processing time for a WEPP payment is within 35 days of receipt of a completed application and Trustee Information Form.
WEPP is delivered by Service Canada and information can be obtained by visiting a local Service Canada office, their website https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/wage-earner-protection.html or by calling the WEPP call centre at 1-866-683-6516. From its inception in July 2008 to June 30, 2018, over 110,000 workers have received payments from WEPP, totalling more than $267 million.
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