Government Announces Next Phase of Covid Relief
The federal government has announced a one-month extension to the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit, and a transition into a new EI benefit for gig workers, and the self-employed. The CFM is grateful to the government for recognizing the dire circumstances that the Covid-19 pandemic has created for performers, and for their rapid and focised response for our sector. We hope for a smooth and uncomplicated transition.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland and Minister of Employment Carla Qualtrough held a press conference to announce changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) system and the future of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The following is the Canada Council's summary of the announcements.
- The CERB will be extended for an additional four weeks, for a total claim of 28 weeks.
- When the CERB comes to an end, those eligible will transition to EI, while those ineligible will be able to access new benefits: Canada Recovery Benefit, Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit, and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit.
- The new benefits described below will come into effect following legislation to be introduced when Parliament returns in September.
- The new benefits and EI reform announced today will be for one year.
- Minister Qualtrough has also been tasked with identifying gaps and issues in the present EI system to bring forward changes in the longer term.
- In response to a question about universal basic income, Minister Qualtrough explained their position that the proposed targeted approach (new benefits) ensures that funds go to those who actually need it.
- The national employment rate of 13.1% has been standardized to ensure access to EI benefits across the country.
- Changes to EI are for a one-year period, and will come into effect September 27.
- A one-time top-up of insurable hours will enable more people to access EI.
- Those seeking regular EI benefits for job loss can receive a 300-hour top-up.
- Generally, this means that Canadian workers only require 120 hours of work to access EI benefits.
- Those seeking special benefits (i.e., maternity, parental, sickness) can receive a 480-hour top-up. The top-up for maternity/parental leave or other family assistance benefits will be retroactive to March 15, 2020.
- As of September 27, EI premiums will be frozen for two years (at the lowest level since 1980):
- Employers: $2.21 of every $100 of insurable salary
- Workers: $1.58 of every $100 of insurable salary
- Minimum EI benefit will be $400/week, ensuring that no one claiming EI receives less than those receiving other benefits. This is equal to the current CERB amount.
- New benefits were announced for those who are not eligible for EI (e.g., self-employed, gig workers):
- Canada Recovery Benefit: Self-employed and other workers not eligible for EI will receive $400/week, for up to 26 weeks over one year.
- Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit: Workers who must miss work to stay home to care for a child under the age of 12, a family member or dependent will receive $500/week, for up to 26 weeks over one year.
- Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit: Those unable to work due to illness or self-isolation can receive $500/week, for two one-week periods over the year.
- Both the new benefits and EI will allow the opportunity to work while claiming the benefits, as well as access to training and work incentives.
For more information, please visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/news/2020/08/government-of-canada-announces-plan-to-help-support-canadians-through-the-next-phase-of-the-recovery.html