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The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Federal legislation to establish the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) received royal assent today.

This new program collapses and combines two previously announced benefits from last week — the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit — into one.

The program would operate for the period beginning on March 15, 2020 and ending on October 3, 2020.

The CERB will be a taxable benefit and would provide up to $2,000 a month for up to four months (up to 16 weeks) for workers who lose their income (for at-least 14 consecutive days within a month) as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CERB would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures.

The CERB would apply to FT wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).

All Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, would be able to receive the CERB to ensure they have timely access to the income support they need.

Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today (March 25th 2020), would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB. If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, they could apply for the CERB once their EI benefits cease, if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19.

Canadians who are eligible for regular EI  and EI sickness benefits would still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB.

Canadians would begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.

No applications for this benefit will be permitted after December 2, 2020.

This new program streamlines the financial support the Federal Government is offering workers as it copes with an unprecedented volume of employment insurance claims last week into this week – almost a million applications to date.

The application process is scheduled to open in early April, 2020. In the meanwhile, Employment Insurance (EI) eligible Canadians who have lost their job or who are applying for other EI benefits can continue to apply for EI here,

FROM AN ONTARIO STANDPOINT:

The Ontario legislature has recently (March 19th 2020) passed Bill 186, Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020 which provides a job protected leave of absence without pay, for workers, “if the employee will not be performing the duties of his or her position because of various reasons related to a designated infectious disease, including that the employee is under medical investigation, supervision or treatment; that the employee is in quarantine or isolation; that the employee is providing care or support to another individual; or that the employee is affected by travel restrictions.

Stay tuned for more, as we continue to work through this crisis, and provide you with relevant updates as they happen.