There’s good news ahead for anybody claiming Canada’s COVID-19 benefits or Employment Insurance (EI) right now!

In a statement on March 18, the government confirmed that the maximum number of weeks some benefits are available for will be increased.

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The legislation that was first laid out by Justin Trudeau in February has now officially been approved.

If you’re claiming any of the government’s support benefits, here’s what you need to know.

Employment Insurance

Thanks to Bill C-24, those claiming EI regular benefits will now be able to claim a maximum of 50 weeks.

This is an increase of 24 weeks in total for claims made between September 27, 2020, to September 25, 2021.

The government says this will “give workers the certainty they need should their job be affected by COVID-19.”

Additionally, self-employed workers claiming the benefits will now be able to use a 2020 earnings threshold of $5,000. This is down from the previous threshold of $7,555.

The change applies to any claims made as of January 3, 2021 and applies until September 25, 2021.

Canada Recovery Benefits

In addition to Bill C-24, Canada’s recovery benefits are also getting extended.

This includes the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB).

Both the CRB and the CRCB will be increased by 12 weeks, taking the maximum duration of the benefits from 26 weeks to 38 weeks in total.

The CRSB, which was originally available for two weeks in total, will now be accessible for four weeks instead. 

“Individuals can access these additional weeks through the Canada Revenue Agency beginning on March 18, 2021,” confirms the government’s notice.

Will travellers be impacted?

As part of the new legislation, the government is cracking down on people travelling and claiming COVID-19 benefits.

Previously, a loophole allowed Canadians who’d travelled abroad to claim the CRSB upon their return.

This has now been changed so that “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.

Eligible people who are exempt from quarantine requirements, such as essential workers, will still be able to access the benefits.