UPDATE: the 2 benefits previously announced by the Federal Govt have been combined into one: Canada Emergency Response Benefit or CERB. More info here .
As we are in uncertain times worldwide, many Canadians are already feeling the pinch, financially. Last week alone, Service Canada registered about half a million new EI claims. Many people are also in quarantine.
I thought it would be a good idea to summarize the different options available in Canada for everyone impacted by the pandemic.
# 1. I lost my job/was laid-off
If you have lost your job due to a shortage of work, you need to apply for EI as soon as possible. All applications are done online, here. Do not visit a Service Canada office, as the employees cannot process your application manually and will send you home.
You don’t need your Record of Employment -ROE- to apply for benefits. You can submit it later on.
In order to qualify for EI benefits, you need to have worked a minimum of hours. That number depends on your province of residence and its unemployment rate.
If you’re not sure you qualify, apply anyway. Service Canada will get back to you either way. Don’t bother calling them at this stage, you probably won’t get through. Just saying.
A few years ago, the entire EI application system was moved to automatic processing. It is pretty straightforward and fairly fast, about 1 week. The Federal government also waived the 1-week waiting period, so all new claimants will be paid an extra week.
The only caveat to this is if your application can’t be processed automatically. If it has to go through a manual review and approval, you will need to be patient as it could take a few weeks before you hear anything.
#2. I lost my job but don’t qualify for EI
You’ll have to apply for the Emergency Support Benefit. Applications open in April. At the time of writing, no information is available on eligibility. All we know is that Canada Revenue Agency will manage the program.
#3. I am self-employed and had to temporarily close my business
If you’re self-employed, you won’t qualify for EI, even if you are registered to the special benefits for self-employed people program.
You’ll have to apply for the Emergency Support Benefit. Applications open in April.
#4. I am sick with the virus and in quarantine
If you have short-term disability insurance via your company benefit plan or you are paying for it yourself, apply with your insurer. You will definitely need a doctor’s note, but it’s best to apply for short-term disability rather than sick benefits under EI. It will be quicker, and the amount paid to you will be higher than EI.
If you don’t have such insurance, apply for EI sickness benefit here. This benefit is also available to self-employed people registered to the special benefits program.
Both works for any sickness, BTW.
If you don’t qualify for sickness benefits, you’ll have to apply for the Emergency Care benefit. Applications also open in April. At the time of writing, no information is available on eligibility. All we know is that Canada Revenue Agency will manage the program.
#5. I have to stay home to take care of my children or a relative sick with the virus
You’ll have to apply for the Emergency Care benefit. Applications open in April.
# 6. I’m having a baby!
Congratulations! Stay safe. When you stop working, apply for maternity and parental benefits here. You’ll need your Record of Employment -ROE- and to have work a minimum of hours to qualify.
This benefit is also available to self-employed people registered to the special benefits program.
You’ll also be eligible for the Canada Child Benefit -CCB-.
There are definitely options for almost everyone. As you can see, however, you have to apply to receive financial assistance. Nothing is automatic.
Service Canada advises not to wait to apply for benefits. If you wait for more than 4 weeks, your claim may be denied.