In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has announced plans to extend Canada’s COVID-19 benefits.
Officials intend to introduce regulatory and legislative amendments to the benefits, which would increase the number of weeks that they’re available to Canadians.
This is expected to impact all of Canada’s new recovery benefits, in addition to Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits.
Now that an extension has been proposed, here’s what you need to know:
Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)
The CRB provides support to employed and self-employed Canadians who are working less or no hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), it offers eligible claimants $1,000 ($900 after taxes withheld) for a two-week period.
Before the latest proposed update, qualifying Canadians were able to apply for the benefit for up to a total of 26 weeks (or 13 eligibility periods) between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.
The proposed changes would increase the number of weeks the CRB is available to up to 38 weeks.
“By increasing the number of available weeks for these important benefits, the Government is giving certainty to workers in hard hit sectors and their families,” a statement from the government explained.
Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)
The CRCB offers income support to those who are unable to work because they’re caring for somebody else during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This includes Canadians who are looking after young children, in addition to those caring for somebody who needs supervised care.
Also administered by the CRA, it offers $500 per week ($450 after taxes withheld) per household.
Like the CRB, it’s currently available for up to 26 weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.
However, the proposed regulatory and legislative amendments would up this to 38 weeks.
The maximum length of the leave related to COVID-19 under the Canada Labour Code is also set to be extended, to ensure employees in the private sector can access the 12 additional weeks.
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)
The CRSB is another of Canada’s three new recovery benefits, which aims to support Canadians who are sick or self-isolating due to COVID-19.
This includes people who have underlying health conditions that make them vulnerable and people who have COVID-19 or related symptoms.
It offers eligible claimants $500 per week ($450 after taxes withheld) for a one-week period.
Currently, it’s available for up to a total of two weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.
However, the government wants to increase this to four weeks to continue to support those who may become ill during the pandemic.
Going forward, provincial and territorial governments may need to update their job-protected leaves to facilitate employees’ access to the extra weeks of CRSB and CRCB benefits.
Employment Insurance (EI)
EI provides regular support to Canadians who are out of work due to no fault of their own (for example, due to shortage of work or lay-offs).
It’s there to help people who are available to work but are unable to find a job.
There have been several updates to the benefit during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the temporary waiving of the waiting period when applying.
Under the new proposed legislation, the government wants to increase the number of weeks EI can be claimed by up to 24 weeks.
This means a maximum of 50 weeks will be available for claims made between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.
If the proposed updates are given the go-ahead, self-employed workers claiming EI will also be able to use a 2020 earnings threshold of $5,000, compared to the previous threshold of $7,555.
“This change would be retroactive to claims established as of January 3, 2021 and would apply until September 25, 2021,” explains the government.