Support to workers and families increases with the passage of EI legislation and the coming into effect of recovery benefit regulations
March 18, 2021 Gatineau, Quebec Employment and Social Development Canada
The Government of Canada continues to help and support Canadian families and workers struggling to make ends meet because of the COVID‑19 pandemic. Over the past year, this support has included the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, three recovery benefits and a more flexible and accessible Employment Insurance (EI) program.
To give workers the certainty they need should their job be affected by COVID-19, the government put forward legislation to increase the maximum number of weeks available to workers through EI regular benefits. Last night, this legislation, Bill C-24, received Royal Assent. Workers claiming EI regular benefits can now access up to a maximum of 50 weeks for claims established between September 27, 2020 to September 25, 2021.
In addition, self-employed workers who have opted in to the EI program to access special benefits are now able to use a 2020 earnings threshold of $5,000, compared to the previous threshold of $7,555. This change is retroactive for claims established as of January 3, 2021 and applies until September 25, 2021.
As part of this legislation, all international travelers who need to quarantine or isolate upon their return to Canada, including people returning from vacation, are ineligible to receive support from any of the recovery benefits for the period of their mandatory quarantine or isolation. These changes are retroactive to October 2, 2020.
As previously announced, individuals who would normally be exempt from the mandatory quarantine requirements under the Quarantine Act, such as health care workers who need to cross the border for work or truck drivers, are still eligible to apply following their return to the country. An exemption also applies to those who travel to receive a necessary medical treatment or to accompany someone who is travelling for such treatment and requires assistance.
In addition to Bill C-24, new regulations to increase the number of weeks available under the Canada Recovery Benefits have come into effect. This includes an increase in the number of weeks available under the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) by 12 weeks, extending the maximum duration of the benefits from 26 weeks to 38 weeks. It also includes an increase in the number of weeks available under the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) from 2 weeks to 4 weeks. Individuals can access these additional weeks through the Canada Revenue Agency beginning on March 18, 2021.
By increasing the number of available weeks through EI and the Canada Recovery Benefits, the Government of Canada is continuing to support Canadian workers through the next phase of the pandemic recovery.
“The passing of this legislation provides certainty to the hardest-hit Canadian workers and their families and follows through on our promise to always be there for them through this pandemic. It is allowing us to continue offering income support to millions of Canadians while also providing them with access to important resources and tools to get back into the workforce. Our labour market gained 259,000 jobs last month, which is a demonstration of how our plan to create a million jobs and promote middle class growth is working. We know this is still a really difficult time for many workers and their families, especially those whose job is taking longer to return. We will continue to be there for them and make sure that our supports go to those who really need it.”
–Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough
“Today’s announcement demonstrates our Government’s continued commitment to supporting Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic. These extended measures will provide financial peace of mind for Canadians, and allow them to put their health and safety first. The Canada Revenue Agency remains committed to its continued collaboration with ESDC to support Canadians during this time.”
– Minister of National Revenue, Diane Lebouthillier
As of March 5, 2021, the numbers of unique applicants that have accessed the recovery benefits are:
- 1,781,370 for the Canada Recovery Benefit;
- 347,450 for the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit; and
- 420,680 for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit.
As of March 14, 2021, there were 2,026,420 active EI regular benefit claimants.
In order to continue to receive benefits, EI clients must complete their biweekly reports and meet the ongoing entitlement conditions.
Individuals must meet all eligibility criteria for the Canada Recovery Benefits including the requirement to be residing in Canada and be present in Canada for the period for which the individual is making the claim.
On January 11, 2021, the CRA updated the application process for the three recovery benefits so that every applicant indicates whether they were self-isolating or in quarantine due to international travel.
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
- Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
- Government of Canada proposes increase to number of weeks for recovery benefits and EI regular benefits to ensure continued support for Canadians who have been hardest hit
- Legislation to support new recovery benefits and extend funding for COVID-19 measures receives Royal – Assent Backgrounder: The COVID-19 Response Measures Act
For media enquiries, please contact:
Office of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough
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