If you were hoping to take a trip abroad and then claim one of Canada’s COVID-benefits, you may need to double-check the rules. 

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) eligibility criteria just got an update and it’s no longer open to those completing mandatory isolation after overseas travel.

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What is the CRSB?

The CRSB is one of Canada’s new COVID-19 benefits, designed to replace the CERB and provide more specific support to those who need it.

It gives income support to Canadians who are employed and self-employed, but who are unable to work due to health concerns associated with COVID-19.

This includes people who have tested positive, as well as those who need to self-isolate after displaying symptoms.

Individuals with underlying health conditions who may be considered at-risk can also apply.

The CRSB pays out $500 for a one-week period, although the claimant receives $450 after taxes are withheld at source.

It can be claimed for a total of two weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

What is the new eligibility criteria?

While the CRSB aims to support people who may be sick or at-risk of COVID-19, it also helps those who are in isolation or quarantine.

Thanks to a loophole in the eligibility criteria, this previously included those completing the mandatory two-week quarantine period after travelling abroad.

After this “accident of law” was discovered, federal officials announced plans to update all of the new COVID-19 benefit’s eligibility criteria, including the CRSB.

This means Canadians who have taken non-essential international trips will no longer qualify for the $500 per week payment, retroactive to January 3, 2021.

Why did it get updated?

Benefits like the CRSB aim to support those who are at home during the pandemic due to no fault of their own.

Following the discovery of the loophole, some Canadian politicians argued that taking a discretionary trip abroad is not a sufficient reason to be eligible for federal support.

Furthermore, several officials said it would be “unacceptable” and “absurd” to pay people who have been vacationing abroad against public health advice.

Addressing the issue, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the benefit is "not there to pay for people’s post-vacation quarantine."

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough confirmed that she would propose legislation to prevent travellers from claiming money for the period they’re isolating.

This is set to include “people returning from vacation, visiting loved ones, and attending to real estate matters abroad.”

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