As you may know, Bill C13, An Act respecting certain measures in response to COVID-19, passed in the wee hours of March 25 and received Royal Assent later yesterday:
As you will read (for EI scroll to Part 18), the EI responsible Minister Carla Qualtrough, has new time-limited ‘superpowers’ to add, modify, or take away provisions in EI for the purpose of responding to COVID. This is key, since normally changing anything in EI (legislation, regulation and even policy) can take a very long time.
Importantly, among the checks and balances prior to changing EI, there is a consultation clause with the EI Commission ‘for greater certainty’ on any actions taken by the Minister. Please note that both the Minister’s office and the Deputy Minister’s office have been touching base with EI Commissioners often daily, so amid the crisis there is a quite direct avenue to advance ideas and ask questions.
Here is what is being done…
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
Below in bold italics is what the Minister’s Office provided regarding the new CERB.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will be replacing the previously announced Emergency Care and Emergency Support Benefits and will provide temporary income support to workers who are without employment or self-employment income for reasons related to COVID-19.
The CERB will be available to workers residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old, and who:
• Have earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the year prior to their application from any of a combination of the following sources: employment, self employment, Employment Insurance maternity and parental benefits, and/or similar benefits paid in Quebec under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP); and
• Are without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in a four-week period, for reasons related to COVID-19, including if they have temporarily stopped working, lost their job, are sick or in quarantine, or need to care for a child or a family member.
Both EI and non-EI eligible individuals will be able to access this new Benefit. The new Benefit will provide a flat amount of $2,000 a month, paid in four week instalments for up to 16 weeks. This Benefit is available until October 3, 2020 and retroactive to March 15th, 2020.
Workers will be able to apply online for the CERB starting in April of 2020. As more details are available on the roll out of the CERB we will be sure to keep you up to date.
Employment Insurance (EI)
Commissioners have been briefed/consulted on how the government proposes to modify the EI system to cope with the already over a million claims in the EI system, in order to dovetail with the CERB.
The idea around the modifications is that individuals—EI eligible– who have filed EI benefits applications should not have to abandon their claims in order to take up the CERB, which will be administered through CRA.
For EI purposes (not CERB), it remains important that EI Records of Employment (ROEs) for employees are correctly filled for the circumstances (e.g. quarantine/sickness, shortage of work).
The bulletins (FR, EN) on this which the Canadian Payroll Association kindly prepared and allowed our Commissioner (Employers) office to share previously, remain openly available to everyone on their website:
The department is currently preparing an information piece with FAQs about the EI role in this crisis, and once it is available our office will share it widely.
EI Work-Sharing (WS)
Important for your members, EI Work-sharing –which allows companies to share the available work around with employees having EI support for their off-times—has been vastly streamlined to expedite approvals and get the WS plans up and running.
Arrive at the WS information page via the department’s COVID-19 site:
New and prominently featured on the WS page is an external enquiry unit as part of the services offered to support employers and workers understand the Program.
Below are the details (EN, FR):
Service Canada has created a bilingual enquiry unit for employers affected by COVID-19 that are seeking information related to the Work-Sharing Program. Enquiries can be sent to the mailbox below for specific Work-Sharing information or to request general information about the Program:
Service Canada a créé une unité de renseignements bilingue pour les employeurs touchés par COVID-19 qui recherchent des informations relatives au Programme de travail partagé. Les demandes de renseignements peuvent être envoyées à la boîte aux lettres ci-dessous pour obtenir des renseignements précis sur le Travail partagé ou pour demander des renseignements généraux sur le programme :
Director, Workplace Initiatives
Skills and Learning Branch
Department of Labour and Advanced Education
Phone (902) 424-6803
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