On August 20, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough announced revisions to the CERB and EI programs. Instead of terminating at the end of August as was previously indicated, CERB will be in place until September 27. At this time, those who are eligible will be transitioned to EI. As part of an effort to make EI more accessible, individuals will now only need 120 hours of work, instead of the previous 420 hours to qualify for EI. The minimum benefit will also be increased to $400 per week.
In addition, the Federal Government has announced three new recovery benefits for those who are not eligible for EI. Notably, these benefits will require parliamentary approval. Approval will not occur until at least September 23 as the House of Commons has been prorogued and is not scheduled to begin a new session until this date.
The three recovery benefits are as follows:
- The Canada Recovery Benefit allows self-employed and gig workers to apply for weekly benefits of $400 for up to 26 weeks if COVID-19 caused them to stop work or reduced their incomes. While this benefit allows individuals to continue to earn income, they will be required to repay 50 cents on the dollar for every dollar earned exceeding $38,000.
- The Sick Leave Benefit provides 10 days of paid sick leave if an individual becomes ill or has to isolate as a result of COVID-19 and totals $500 per week.
- The Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit was announced to support caregivers of children under 12 years of age who cannot work because their child’s day program or school is shut down. This benefit provides $500 per week per household for a maximum of 26 weeks.
Until these benefits receive parliamentary approval, it is uncertain whether they will be available to Canadians at the end of September. This makes it unclear what the transition from CERB to EI will look like for those who would not otherwise be eligible for EI.
More details are available on the Canadian government website here.